Bank regulators in Texas are about as busy as the Maytag washing machine man. They haven't closed a bank in 11 months.

That's right, no failures - zip, zero, a fat goose egg - from the state that used to lead the nation in boarded-up banks.

What's more, only 24 of Texas' 1,000 or so commercial banks were losing money as of June 30, down from 153 just 2 1/2 years ago.

" That's good news," said Bill; W. McCandless, president and chief executive of Groos Bank, a healthy $250 millionasset institution in San Antonio that came close to extinction in 1991.

Indeed, Texas' recovering economy has helped the cause, and Mr. McCandless, who sweated through many a night, now bubbles with excitement.

"Real estate values are back," he said. "The attitude [among bankers] is good."

Groos Bank's parent company this week raised $16 million in an offering and its stock is now traded publicly.

Other bankers are upbeat, too, but some would rather talk about pressing issues like interstate branching and consolidation instead of rehashing the past.

"The worst thing that can ever happen to the banking industry is consolidation," said E. Reginald Brewer, president of Baytown State Bank, which opened in 1969 and prospered through the state's problems.

Indeed, the business of banking in Texas has come a long way from the dark days of the 1980s and early 1990s when it wasn't uncommon to have more than 100 banks fail in a year. In 1988, 117 banks failed, 134 failed in 1989, marking the peak year, and 102 were closed in 1990.

Plaza Bank of New Braunfels closed on Oct. 14, 1993 - was the last Texas bank to go down, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Mr, McCandless remembers the down times well: six-day work weeks, and a list of problems that had to be addressed immediately.

"I wouldn't say it was tough to come to work, but I didn't sleep regularly," he said.

He acknowledges that the memories are fading. "It seems like a long time ago," he said.

Ross V. Waldrop, senior financial analyst with the FDIC, says few-people call anymore for statistics on Texas.

He said the state has a diversified economy and should see solid growth without the huge run-ups in land prices that were evident in the 1980s.

Another bright spot is that bankers are making more business loans. For the 12 months ended June 30, 1994, commercial and industrial loans grew 8.7%. And troubled real estate assets fell to 2.49% of total real estate assets at June 30, from 2.79% in March.

"The banks are pretty clean at this point," Mr. Waldrop said.

"I don't think the experiences of the '80s have been forgotten. The possibility of a return of the bad old days ... doesn't seem anywhere imminent right now."

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