Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Inspirational Interviews

..... Yesterday was St. Patrick's Day, a holiday featuring green, green, and more green. To continue this tradition, I am now green with envy after meeting a man by the name of Gerry Esker at the O'Connor Woods senior living center. Good job for reading this far after experiencing that painful cliche!
..... Esker is indeed a part of history. In addition to experiencing The Great Depression, he was also featured in Life magazine in a short article about tires, which earned him only $1 even though it was printed worldwide. Esker can also take credit for being involved in the creation of a local building here in Stockton: St. Mary's Dining Room. He is also a lifetime member of the Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic fraternity. As a brother knight he says that their main goal was keeping people fed in those hard financial times. The Knights of the Holy Sepulchre are also proud to claim him as a member, meaning that Esker has visited Jerusalem and the Holy Land.
..... But why am I so inspired by this man? Is it the fact that even during the Depression, he shared what little he had with the community? Is it because he's a brother knight in an organization I hope to be a part of one day? Or is it that even though he has accomplished so much, he still has a humbleness about him? Well in truth, it's all of these things and then some. Esker embodies the sort of generosity not found these days. From the rest of the senior interviews at O'Conner Woods, I realized that the Depression moulded generations of good neighbors. Of the three seniors we spoke with, not one of them ever said that the Depression was a horrible time in their lives. Contrary to popular belief, they said that it though rough, it was still a great time to live in.
..... Back then, they said that people where friendlier and the community was closer. Nowadays, you're lucky to even know your neighbors last name. Two of the seniors were from the Midwest so they related their memories of pie socials, county fairs, and snowstorms. Being from Illinois, it was nice hearing about such things from my home region.
..... Esker also expressed the idea that religion helped him and his family cope with the Depression. This is evident from his work with the Knights of Columbus and his involvment with St. Mary's Dining Room. During the Forties, Esker also remembers being part of the Stockton parishes of St. Mary's, Annunciation, and St. Bernadette's. An interesting thing I found out was that though Esker's childhood was marked with poverty, his family still found it appropriate to keep religion central in their lives by paying for the sacraments of their children from First Communion to Confirmation. Esker in turn raised his four children Catholic and instilled in them the values of generosity by leading by example. One of his sons also became a Knight of Columbus.
..... History can indeed come alive when you talk to someone who has experienced it. The elderly have so much to give us young people, whether its their memories or general advice. They have been through life and so are qualified to give advice. Let's try and spend some time with people like Esker. You just might be surprised by what you find.

- Jeremy Dela Cruz


  1. This isn't about religion all the time jeremy. why not give us a blog that isn't conservative or religion based. there's alot more to life.

  2. I have a different take. I especially appreciate Jeremy's comments. And yes, he may see things often through a certain filter, but that is what gives him strength as a person and as a journalist. I look forward to more Stagg Line journalists becoming frequent bloggers and similarly developing distinctive voices.

  3. Ok, I'll back off. His conservatism is always good fodder for discussion. Its just that in being his friend and writing on Mrs. Dei Rossi's blog, it is a constant uphill battle. Sometimes it is hard to come up with a counter argument that expresses how I feel without being excessively cruel.