Foreclosure: Up Close and Personal

How Repossession Feels

For a long time we've been told that we're living through the greatest economic turmoil since the Great Depression, and I've believed that . . . but I didn't really feel it until last night. Like many other people, my wife and I have bills to pay and credit cards to pay off, and we continue to give to charities and have shared generously helped our children and grandchildren stay afloat. But I never really knew what it felt like to struggle through it all with such emotion until last night, when I read Chapter 9 of Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath.

It's a book I've never read before, though I've read lots of books - some of them classics. For some reason, I decided a few weeks ago that I should add it to my waiting list. Last week the waiting was over. I'd finished the book I'd been working through, a long one, and turned to Steinbeck's masterpiece. The introduction itself by a Steinbeck scholar of 20+ years is long and detailed, and heavy-duty in terms of content, as is the novel itself. But it wasn't until I got to this little chapter of four pages last night that it hit home, that what the characters in the novel were experiencing (and by definition all those who lived through the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl era) is so similar to what people today confront.

We have a child going through foreclosure and a friend who's daughter and son have gone through the same experience, and it's heart-wrenching. I could lay out in detail their situations, but I want to protect their privacy and spare some of you the bother of excusing it all by saying that's just anecdotal stuff and doesn't amount to much.

Instead, I urge you to read Chapter 9 of Steinbeck's Grapes and use the faces and possessions of someone you love like an overlay on the author's words. Then you'll know what I mean, and what I went through last night and this morning as I read and re-read that potent capsule describing what it's like to sell, give away or burn most of what you own.

Read Steinbeck's novel and then ask yourself if you don't have a different perspective on the current housing crisis.

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