The Confessions of a Bank Swindler
Lucius A. Parmelee
Waterloo, QC: Duval, 1968
Born in 1889, Lucius Parmelee was blessed in being a member of family of affluence and influence. Newspaper editor and three-term Liberal member of parliament Charles Henry Parmelee – that's him on the right – was an uncle. Another uncle once served as Quebec's Minister of Protestant Education. The latter's good work is reflected in this, nephew Lucius' only book; until Conrad Black, The Confessions of a Bank Swindler was likely the best written work by a Canadian criminal. I provide as evidence this passage in which the author looks back to his earliest years in Waterloo, Quebec:
One must remember that in this day there was no auto, radio, TV, and the thousand and one distractions, which are today offered to gratify our jaded appetites. Nor were they distracted by the innumerable incidents of a bizarre, and even sinister nature, which is the record of our daily lives. I do not agree with the French philosopher Rousseau, that the solution to the world's ills consist of a return to a state of nature. I do feel that there have been times in the past history of mankind, when the clock of destiny could well have been arrested, for a temporary breathing space, at least. Our characteristically North American attitude of service to the Gods of progress, may well mean serving an illusion.
No common criminal.
As a young man , Parmelee set off down the straight and narrow as a bank clerk, only to develop a rooted resentment toward the very industry in which he was employed. The low pay, which our grand banks expected to be supplemented by clerks' families, led to his resignation. Parmelee tried his hand at a number of occupations, including farmhand and barkeep, but returned to the banks as an unwelcomed visitor during the Great War:
From a moral point of view I had no scruples whatever. They paid their employees atrocious wages. They offered very little in the way of a life career. They obtained subsidy from the general public, due to the fact that their employees must have help from their parents for a few years, and in the case of the institution in which I served they had no pension plan. All in all I considered them bigger, and more cowardly robbers than myself.
Object: A trade-size paperback, my copy is signed and includes a Weekend Magazine clipping that appears to have been used for promotional purposes. The first edition, I think, the only other I've seen – also signed – was published in mass market by a short-lived Montreal house called Bodero.
Access: There are no copies of either edition listed for sale online; look instead to the Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec and the Toronto Public Library. Seven of our university libraries hold the book. Library and Archives Canada? Don't ask.* This was the very same printer that two years earlier produced John Glassco's self-published Squire Hardman.