Wisdom of the aged
Four women who lived through the Great Depression in Chicago dish on those tough times and offer advice for the currently cash-strapped. Hint: Start growing pot.
ESTHER LARSON, 80, MCHENRY COUNTY
During the Depression, did anyone in your family work, other than your dad?
Oh, sure. My mother did housework, and she was more of a steady worker than my dad. She worked for these wealthy people on Leland Avenue. My older sister got a job in a factory when she was 14.
So the Depression hit your family hard.
We lived in six different houses or apartments. Rent was a factor at times—that’s why my sister went to work so young. I remember my mother counting out change to pay the rent. And I remember cutting soles for your shoes out of cardboard, which of course didn’t last.
Did you see the current economic downturn coming?
Yes. I could see the salaries of the CEOs on Wall Street skyrocketing. I’ve always been very aware of what’s going on in the stock market, and I just knew things could not go on the way they were. I kept thinking, What is the SEC doing? Their job is to keep an eye on this.
Any advice for people who are worried about the economy?
Buy stocks—even if it’s one share. Do it systematically. The first stock I bought was one share of Commonwealth Edison. I was 18.