Credit union remembers its roots

By Ryn Gargulinski: QCS

Those trekking through Tucumcari may need a double take when they notice what looks like the old train depot in the middle of Route 66. A second glance proves the building is not the railroad station at all, but Everyone’s Federal Credit Union.

Working with the Dallas architecture firm Financial Design and Construction, Inc., credit union CEO Andi Baum said they first showed her some of the standard designs for financial institutions. Although EFCU’s old building at the 505 E. Route 66 location was a windshield repair shop and Baum said most anything would be an improvement, she knew something could be provided that truly told their tale.

“We wanted to give back to the community something of historical value,” Baum said, “something that represented who we are.”

Since EFCU did, in fact, chug into existence 51 years ago in a Southern Pacific Railroader’s kitchen and then operate out of the actual depot for a while, Baum said the idea of a building fashioned after the original station came pretty naturally.

Baum, who has been with the credit union since early 2001, has her own railroad ties. She said her husband and father-in-law served Southern Pacific’s credit union for many years.

She also said EFCU’s chairman of the board is a retired railway worker and employee Kristine Husman has her own connections to the railroad.

Husman said the influence of her father, Ray Paulson, a chartering member of the original Southern Pacific Railway Employees Federal Credit Union (now renamed EFCU), definitely played a part on where she is stationed today.

“The credit union my dad helped establish always meant a lot to me,” Husman said, adding she was ecstatic when a bookkeeping position opened up at EFCU.

With an uncle, brother and dad who worked for the railroad, Husman said she knows the railway meant a lot to the community.

Judging from the reaction of the folks in town, she’s right on schedule.

“We about doubled what we’ve been getting,” said Baum of membership since the August grand opening of their depot building. Baum also said many people are bringing in nostalgic items for display as the interior has turned into a mini-museum of sorts, complete with an exterior train mural painted by Doug and Sharon Quarles.

“We have a conductor’s uniform donated by Dennis Sparks, pictures, and we are building another display case for a modular train,” Baum said. One of the photos is an old picture of employees, which Baum said attracts a lot of relatives and friends of folks in the photo.

“Visitors are always welcome for a tour. People from Kansas popped in the other day, not even from our credit union,” Baum said. “They even bought tickets to the quilt show when they were here.”

In addition to giving back to the community historically, their bulletin board is packed with community happenings and Baum said they are providing educational presentations to elementary schools on the importance of saving.