Ninety-year-old Ramon Rodriguez thought a stubborn “No!” and a stern look might discourage construction of a bank where his modest little house stands.
So much for the little man standing in the way of progress.
The bank decided to go ahead with the project anyway, without the old man’s land, and simply wrap the building, horseshoe-style, around the house Rodriguez shares with his scruffy dog, Baby.
When Overton Bank and Trust Dallas opens in mid-August, an automated teller machine will dispense cash 15 feet from where Rodriguez sleeps. (He does not have an account at Overton and doesn’t plan to get one, either.) Drive-through customers will idle in front of his kitchen window. If he wants to know the time or temperature, he can poke his head out and check the 20-foot sign.
“I’ve lived here for 50 years, so why do they think I’d move now?” Rodriguez said as he rested in a rickety rocking chair on his front porch, less than 50 yards from the busy Dallas Tollway. “I don’t care what they’re building - I’m not going anywhere.”
Suburban sprawl and expanding business districts are forcing more people, often elderly, to choose between staying in the family homestead and getting out of progress’ way. In Atlantic City, N.J., an elderly widow is fighting to keep her home from Donald Trump, who wants to build a casino on her land.
In Rodriguez’s case, more than memories stand in the way of his decision to leave the home where he and his late wife raised four children.
“They just haven’t offered me enough money,” said the former chauffeur. He said the bank’s best offer was $68,000 - “a joke.”
“I know the house may not be worth much, but I know that the land, being right off this big road, must be worth a lot,” he said.
The home, on one-tenth of an acre, was appraised at $86,350 in 1996.
Jim Johnston, president and division manager of Overton, said the bank offered more than $68,000, but he would not say how much more.
He said the bank even offered to let Rodriguez live there for the rest of his life and pay his taxes, too, if he agreed to sell the land and let the bank have it upon his death.
“We knew before the blueprints were done that he might not move. We’re not losing any money because of this and we hope to be good neighbors,” Johnston said. “He’ll be at the top of our guest list for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.”