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The Greatest Generation: Crisis From FDR to Obama


After all these years, we still can't trust the banks.

The following article is by 93-year old Florida resident Anna Adler Hecht, as told to her granddaughter, Minyanville's Sarah Potts.

The economy broke down when I was about 10 years old and I remember people gathering on corners and discussing that the banks were closing and that you were going to lose all your money. The banks weren't insured then and you weren't insured by the banks so everyone was losing their money. And then in 1929, when I was about 12 years old, Wall Street went kaput and all the rich people who had a lot of money to invest didn't have anything left either.

My mother was worried that her bank had failed. She'd heard that a bank on the corner had closed and she was afraid it was her bank. She had $500 in that bank, which was a lot of money. After that, she kept her money in a little homemade pouch safety-pinned to her brassiere.

I haven't looked at it from an economic viewpoint that I could write a book about. I looked at how it affected me personally. Even the chickens went on a diet. The chickens were called "spring chickens" because people couldn't afford to buy a big chicken so they used to kill the little chickens and they were just skin and bones. There was hardly any meat on them.

Today, I find that my income is not keeping up with the economy. Interest rates are down so I don't get any income from my money. I don't trust the banks. Every time I collect some interest, I take some on the side in case the bank goes kaput. You can't take money if the bank goes kaput, you have to wait until they dole it out.

Everything is going up in price -- food and medicine. The same medicine that was $74 a year ago is now $130. I go in for two little medicines and now it costs $300 -- one is $170 and one is $130 so I'm complaining to my doctor.

I can't see it getting better with all the money that Obama has put into the war. Where is he going to get it back? He's going to print more money? Money's already devalued and from whom is he going to get the money? He has to pay it back, so he'll print more money? So that devalues the dollar more. He's already borrowed so much money from China. Can you imagine? They're very industrious people and they're very bright. And Obama makes a good speech but it seems that he doesn't see where things lead.

What about your grandkids and the next generation?

Oh I hope they have a good future. I hope everything will work out. We were very hopeful when Roosevelt became president; it was like an angel came. They're still trying to give him a bad name. That's why he was elected four or five times -- because everyone hated him? They loved him! He was only interested in giving people a chance. He came from the rich people, not that he was so rich, but he thought of humans and his wife did too. He thought of other people. He wasn't looking to grab all the money in the world. He had different things where people were involved in jobs-whether you were a doctor or a lawyer. If you went to college, college didn't cost much. I would never have gone to college if it cost me more than $10. A term cost me two and a half dollars! And I got as good an education as you did and as your brother did. Believe me, so many years and I still remember my French, my Spanish, and Geometry.

It's going to be a different world. With all the inventions that are going on, it's a different world all together. We're no longer manufacturing clothing. Even the agriculture, they're taking away from the agriculture. What they're growing is so expensive! How can a poor family feed children a nice salad? A tomato, a rotten tomato, these little plum tomatoes, they don't even let them get ripe and they have no taste.

Take corn-bread prices go up because they're selling corn to make oil and they're using agricultural products from one thing and another and things are getting more expensive, so bread is more expensive. And a poor child could never go to college. And if they go, they're burdened with such a debt. Thousands of dollars and they aren't able to get a job to pay it off. And they're burdened for the rest of their lives like that. That's all I paid-two and a half dollars.
No positions in stocks mentioned.

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