Lawton senior citizens compare Great Depression with current downturn

Lawton_The recession has made its way to Oklahoma as the Sooner State - along with eight other Midwest and Plains states - continued to lose jobs last month.  A new survey of business leaders bears that out.  7News tracked down some folks who lived through the Great Depression of the 1930s to compare it to the current recession.  Two Lawton senior citizens who call the Veteran's Center home painted vivid pictures about life during the Great Depression, and shared their thoughts on how that era compares with the current conditions.

Jimmy Davis and Paul Odel enjoy playing pool, and both remember the days when times weren't so good.  There were no video games, no internet, and no television - hard work was a way of life.  "If you happened to be lazy you'd starve to death," said Odel.  "People weren't lazy back in the day, and they weren't fat like we are today."  He says that during the depression work never stopped.  Shelling peas and snapping beans was the norm.  "If you come to see me I'd get you a pan, and while you were visiting us you'd be doing the same thing," he said.

While Davis didn't actually live through the Great Depression, he says he remembers when times were hard.  "People were wondering how they were going to get to work," he said.  He says people helped each other, and that many of today's problems are man-made, which wasn't the case during the depression.  "People that was farming would lose their whole farm - it just blowed away."

Both men say they are blown away by how many folks buy things that they can't afford.  Odel says that most of the items people now purchase in supermarkets, almost always came from his own land.  "We raised our own food," he said.  "You killed your own food, you caught your own food."

As for the possibility of another Great Depression, Odel says times haven't even begun to get hard.  "If you see another Great Depression you won't see all these cars running up and down the road," he said.  "You won't see people eating out - as long as you see people eating out, you're not in a depression."

Odel says he sometimes visits local elementary schools, and tells the youngsters about the drastic differences between then and now.  He says what astonishes him is how much money today's kids have on their person.  He says that when he was young, the most he ever had on hand was about 15 cents.

Harry Truman said a recession is when your neighbor loses his job, and a depression is when you lose your own.  Count on 7News for your latest news about the economy.