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Friday, April 25, 2014

Appreciating My Returns from a Bank Failure

Chris Brady

Can you imagine us years from today?
Sharing a park bench quietly
How terribly strange to be seventy
Old friends, memory brushes the same years
Silently sharing the same fears.

“Old Friends” Simon and Garfunkel

The Advanta Alumni Association
A few weeks ago, I reunited with a group of women I‘ve fondly called the Advanta Alumni Association. We have been getting together for dinner or brunch for more than 15 years.

Advanta was one of the best places to work in Philly at one time, and now it’s gone, a victim (and some might say collaborator) of the 2008 banking industry meltdown. We knew and loved Advanta in its glory days when it was the sixth largest credit card company in the U.S., known for its sponsorships of the Cezanne art exhibit and professional tennis tournaments.  

I was the first in our group to voluntarily leave Advanta. The company had announced the sale of its consumer credit card business and my career instincts told me it was time to move on. As the business began to fail, and friends were getting laid off, we started getting together to commiserate about the end of Camelot. Over time, all in new jobs, our chats focused on our personal journeys, families and vacations.  

The group has been interesting because we're all so different. Our ages span 40s to 60s. Two are grandmothers, two have kids closing in on marriages, and another is a doting aunt. Two friends are still in the mommy life with teen and almost teen daughters. It’s fun for the empty nesters remembering those parenting years through their eyes. And we give the moms a view of life after kids that will come a lot faster than they realize.

Our dates have become less frequent over the years, but someone always comes forward after a lull and makes the case to meet, and we make it happen. The distance in time never seems to matter; we pick up where we left off, sharing our latest phone photos and hearing each person’s stories.    

I smile imagining our chats some 10-15 years from now.

Do you have group friendships that have endured over the years?  Share your story.


  1. Chris, am I having a senior moment, or did I really not know you worked at Advanta, yet another way we over-lap. I worked for Teachers Service Organization, TSO, the company that became Advanta in the eighties. They were a teacher's loan organization and while I worked for them they bought Colonial National Bank in Delaware. That is the strategic move that got them into the credit card business. I was one of their first employees to move from TSO to CNB. They sent me to a week of "bank Teller" school in Philly, then promptly promoted me to AVP of Branch Operations and H.R.
    Talk about learning by the seat of your pants.
    I have lots of fond memories of the company and owners.
    Girl, we need to talk!

    1. Carol, We did talk about your TSO days on one of our boardwalk moments. I won't call it a senior moment, but one of those things you forget because they don't matter. You only have so much random access memory to spare in your brain. It is kind of interesting that we share that same employer bloodline.

  2. Do you count as my group friendship?

    Julie V

    1. Yes, of course. You and Barb are my RMH group. Same sentiment as the Advanta girls.

    2. Chris, a couple hours after I commented, I vaguely remembered that boardwalk talk and trying to figure out if we shared co-workers. I don't recognize anyone from the picture, but of course it's been many years.
      Timely post because today, I'm getting together with my Mercy "group" Dot and Sharel--we've endured for 25 years.

  3. TSO was way before our time. None of those women would have been around. We were all employed in the 90s. Wow... a 25 year friendship... very nice.