She’s 97 and Homeless

She’s 97 and Homeless

Bessie Mae Berger, 97, and her two sons, Larry and Charlie, both in their 60s, tried to survive while living in their rusty '73 Chevy Suburban. (LAT)

Until recently, 97-year-old Bessie Mae Berger and her two sons lived a nomadic existence together in Los Angeles, sleeping in a rusty 1973 Chevy Suburban. Options for housing were limited because the three of them insisted on staying together. The brothers claimed their first priority was taking care of their mother. “Without her, my brother and I would be lost,” said one son, Charlie Wilkerson.

This Los Angeles Times audio slideshow chronicles their day, from a morning wash up in the supermarket bathroom, to meals eaten in the front seat. Although neither brother drinks or takes drugs, passers-by and the police frequently assumed that the men were abusing their mother for their own profit when she held signs begging for money. We are left wondering how they all ended up living this way, but the brothers are only seen treating their mother with obvious tenderness, even in these dire circumstances.

Berger and her sons eventually received a temporary home, compliments of a nonprofit Los Angeles housing group, as a result of this media attention. Bessie Mae Berger died Monday, Jan. 20, 2010 in a Sherman Oaks, CA hospital after suffering a stroke and heart attack.

CHANNEL: Los Angeles Times

Length: 2:56

Photography and audio by Ricardo deAratanha
Produced by Bryan Chan