Great Depression Survivors Reflect on 1930s, Current Economic Troubles

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

With all of the economic uncertainty facing the country, some are wondering if we are heading towards a depression. 11 News spoke with three survivors of the Great Depression who say that might not be too far off the mark.

Today, 91-year-old Viola Ward, 99-year-old Elsie Halvavson, and 100-year-old Ethel Poage all live comfortably at Larchwood Inns. But they say that wasn't always the case.

"People were starving," said Ward. "People went from millionaires right down to nothing."

"All the banks closed and our money was gone, and it was pretty hard on us," said Halvavson. "We finally almost lost our home -- well, we did have to sell it for very, very cheap."

"We moved out to Gateway and there wasn't anybody out there who had any money," said Poage.

All three of them lived in Colorado during the Great Depression of the 1930s, and they say they were some of the fortunate ones. Living on ranches, they were able to can their own meat and vegetables, and had a steady supply of food.

"If it hadn't been for that, we wouldn't have had anything to eat," said Poage.

But there were other problems.

"We couldn't pay the bills," said Halvavson. "We couldn't pay the mortgage, we couldn't hardly feed the cows. It was pretty hard."

And for some, food was the least of them.

"There were a lot suicides and a lot of people killing themselves because they'd lost their money. Everywhere it was kind of a sad time."

They say it was a time that taught them a lot about life.

"We lived, we survived because we didn't want everything," said Ward.

"Maybe it did some of us good because we've learned to get along on less and appreciate what we do have," said Halvavson.

"To not be cranky," said Poage, with a laugh. "But it doesn't do any good, I'm cranky anyway."

While they say they've never been through anything else like the depression, they say they're weary of things they're seeing now. They say as more and more people lose their homes and financial corporations go bankrupt, it's almost like deja vu.

"Yes, we are in a bad situation," said Ward.

"I just hope we don't have another depression like that," said Halvavson. "But it's kind of scary right now."

While we may still be a long way from where the country was in the 1930's, they say they hope things get better sooner than they get worst.

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