Great Depression survivors speak out

ARCADIA, Calif. Eyewitness News Reporter Leslie Sykes talked to people who lived through the Depression.

Esperanza Romero, 99, claims she can't remember much about her life. But memories of living through the Great Depression in California are clear in her mind.

"During the Depression, I bought everything as cheap as I could find. So I would buy day-old bread," said Esperanza.

Esperanza was in her 20s when the worldwide economic downturn of the 1930s devastated millions. While she is comfortable now, in an Arcadia convalescent home, she recalls it took grit to survive those difficult days.

"We had to save everything. For instance, whatever we used, we had to save it and use it again," said Esperanza.

"Gasoline was as hard to get then - or I think harder - than it is now," said Lois Will, who is now 100 years old.

Though more well-off, Lois says tough times were widespread and much worse than the economic crisis gripping the nation today. Lois, a lifelong music teacher who attended the prestigious Eastman School of Music in New York, is skeptical of the government's $700 billion bailout package.

"Well, I think it's bad. I mean, I don't think it's necessary," said Lois.

Lois believes there should be more regulation to put limits on things like skyrocketing gas prices.

Esperanza outlived three of her sons and offers her own advice in these uncertain times. She says you should save as much as you can, but remember some things are out of your control. In her case, she never expected that her centennial would be just around the corner.

"When I was 50, I thought, 'Two more years and I'll probably be dead.' And then when I was 60, I think, 'I'm not going to live that long.' I was always on the verge of dying and I never died," said Esperanza.


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