Elderly couple lives on meager income, collecting cans and food from trash dumpsters to get by
“We manage to pick up about $15 a month collecting cans, and Meals-on-Wheels brings us our lunch three times a week.”
“Herman doesn’t walk real good,” she said. So often times when her husband goes out, Mrs. Peterson collects cans too. Herman searches the dumpsters at the Ponderosa apartment complex where the two reside. “We have to do it to make ends meet,” Mrs. Peterson said.
“If you don’t have the money, you can make almost anything you need with what you already have,” Mr. Peterson said. “Neighbors don’t help each other like they used to,” he added. “I guess time changes things, but what makes a person is heart and mind.” The couple gets by with what they have, Mr. Peterson says. “If you ain’t got no money, you can’t help it. It’s not all milk and honey. I’ll put it that way.”
NOTE: As a couple of young college journalism students, Carrie Stiles and I didn’t mention in the story that the Peterson’s relied on digging through dumpsters for food, out of fear we might cause embarrassment. The original story ran in our college newspaper in 1989. Nearly 20 years later, as I post this story on the internet, it’s important to bring up that aspect of the story. I’m sure the Peterson’s story isn’t unique. It’s one story of thousands, perhaps millions about people living in poverty in America.