Letters From Leton: It’s Nine O’clock Somewhere!

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to Austin, Texas to attend the American Bankers Association’s (ABA) Summer Leadership Conference.

Bank CEOs, leaders of state Bankers Associations and ABA staff spent time discussing legislative, regulatory, cyber security, COVID and other issues impacting our industry. The all-day sessions were thorough and very informative (what you expect from an ABA meeting).

All work and no play can make Jack (and Leton) a dull boy.

On the last night of the conference, the ABA had lined up a tour of the Austin City Limits (great music show for the past forty years on PBS) facility followed by dinner at a nearby restaurant.

The tour composed of 3 parts – one for each floor of the building housing Austin City Limits. After the tour, each group was to proceed up the street to the restaurant for dinner. Given how many of us there were, we split into 3 separate tour groups. 

I was in the second group, but I hung around after each section of the tour (inspired by pictures of Johnny Cash on the walls) to share with the guides the story of Bristol as the Birthplace of Country Music (the guides were unaware).

This foray into regional promotion caused me to be late to dinner, and when I arrived, my group was already seated with no empty chairs. So, I was seated by myself waiting for arrivals from our next group.

The group arrived at the restaurant and several folks joined my table – a couple from Nebraska, the President of the Connecticut Bankers Association and his daughter, and Bryan Luke, a young fellow who is CEO of Hawaiian National Bank (I sense your reaction from here, Hawaii…aahh).

As dinner progressed, Bryan and I shared stories about the Bank, his travels, family. 

At some point Bryan was asked by the young lady from Connecticut about his home. He produced his phone and shared pictures which included a pool and mango tree in his back yard. Beautiful!

Subsequently, I showed Bryan pictures of my home and the backyard of three acres.

Leton's Backyard with a rainbow in the sky

He marveled at the size of the lot and asked about mowing. I shared that it takes a couple of hours, and if I mow after work I often do not finish until nine o’clock.

“Nine o’clock!” Bryan exclaimed. I said yes and asked why the excitement about mowing grass at 9 PM?

He said in Hawaii the sun goes down at 7pm in the summer. In the winter at 6. So, by the time he puts in a long day’s work and gets home, it’s usually dark. (I didn’t have the heart to tell Bryan that around summer solstice and for a few weeks into June it didn’t get dark until 9:30 here.)

In life we always seem to long for what is on the other side of the fence – the greener grass of which we often speak.

So here was a man from Hawaii, a place many folks consider paradise, speaking wistfully of the late summer sun of Appalachia – the evening light that is a special and invigorating time to enjoy family and life. 

Perhaps as Dorothy said in the Wizard of Oz, “There is no place like home”.

Stay safe and get vaccinated.

– Leton


“Letters From Leton” is a blog series comprised of the weekly updates that Leton Harding – President, Chairman, and CEO of Powell Valley National Bank, shares with the Bank’s team members. These newsletters are full of uplifting anecdotes and intriguing insights that are applicable beyond the Bank, so we want to share them with you.