Great Depression Survivor on Economy

This is a rush transcript from "Your World With Neil Cavuto," October 29, 2008. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: All right, one reminder here. I was going to do this with Dave, but today is the anniversary of Black Tuesday. It was on this day in 1929, 79 years ago, that the market crashed, and a recession turned into something else, a depression.

People are comparing today's financial mess to a depression, to that kind of calamity.

My next guest says: Stop it. It isn't even close.

And he should know. He was there.

Jeno Paulucci is behind the Jeno because the Jeno's frozen food empire. But , before he was a very wealthy Jeno, he came from a very poor Jeno family.

Jeno, always good to have you. How you doing, Jeno?


Video: Watch Neil's interview with Great Depression survivor Jeno Paulucci

CAVUTO: Yes. How you doing, buddy?

PAULUCCI: I'm doing just fine. It has been some time since we talked last, when we first saw the economic turn — turndown coming, and we were concerned about people talking about the recession, as it was coming, becoming a depression.

And nothing could be further from the truth then, and nothing could be further from the truth now, as far as I'm concerned. I was there.

CAVUTO: You know — and I know we have an audio delay, Jeno. That's not your fault, not my fault. So, I apologize to our viewers at home and to you.

But a lot of people are instantly saying, this is a depression. And, yet, we know, it's 6.1 percent unemployment now. It could go higher, but certainly not close to the 30 percent it was that you remember as a kid.

What do we risk doing when we keep comparing things to the Depression, do you think?

PAULUCCI: Well, I think we are just making matters course. I feel very sorry for the people today whose 401(k)s have gone down maybe 30 percent, 38 percent, the housing, people with foreclosures and so forth.

But we have also got to remember that we're living pretty high on the hog. Every child or person has got a computer, got a car. The World — the World Series, 50 percent of the tickets were $1,500 or $2,500 for the last two games.

And, so, it's a situation where it's completely different than what it was during the Depression days. My God, when we had the Depression, when it started in 1929, people were jumping out of buildings, and they were more than one story. They were killing themselves.

The — the people were hungry. Hoover was not giving them anything. At least President Bush and Paulson and Bernanke did something about it, about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the — the insurance company.

But let's take a look at that Depression, because I was there. We had people jumping out of buildings. We had bread lines, where — for a slice of bread and scoop of water. We had cardboard jungles, where people, families, would live together. We had shantytowns that were called Hoovervilles. We had hobo jungles.

My God, we had to send — send children away to — to conservation camps, several conservation camps, one for girls, another one for boys, because they couldn't support — afford the whole family.

Take my — my family. My father used to make $25.20 a week, $4.20 a day, six days a week. He was put on one week every six. That meant $4.20 a week. And we had to pay $1.25 for rent, because we lived in a flat that was about three rooms and a half. And, so, we survived. But, by gosh, we didn't have computers coming out of our ears.


PAULUCCI: And we didn't have the BlackBerry, strawberry, what the hell it is.


PAULUCCI: You know, and let's face it.

CAVUTO: You're right, Jeno. You're absolutely right.

PAULUCCI: There's a big difference.

CAVUTO: We need that perspective, my friend. I'm glad you provided it.

PAULUCCI: All right.

CAVUTO: Thank you very much, Jeno. Be well.

PAULUCCI: Well, thank you.

CAVUTO: Thank you. All right.

Just a reminder, we like to do that now and then, because some people look at this and say, oh, things can't be worse.

Trust me, they can. They have. All right.


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