“To me, at that time, New York felt more like a giant small town. You had a million little small towns, inside New York.”
“People would knock on her door with suitcases of money.”
Herbert Pollard, 54Current Owner
I was born in Brooklyn in 1961. I stayed here until I was about 18, went into the military for four years, and then I came back, to the same house where grew up. There were much more kids on the block back then than there are today. There were the Ectors — Mrs. Ector still lives in the house now. There were two sons. One of ’em, Jervey, that was my best friend. We’d ride our bikes up and down the block, around the neighborhood, play touch football in the street, a little bit of stickball. Jervey was a year ahead of me at school. He got into communication arts at Brooklyn Tech, and he got me into photography. I begged my parents, and I ended up with a Fuji. At that time, you had Popular Photography and Modern Photography. So he used to get a subscription to one, I’d get a subscription to the other, and we’d sit like this on the stoop and read and swap.
In the Air Force, I was stationed for basic training in San Antonio, Texas. Then I went to Rantoul, Illinois. Downtown Rantoul was about eight blocks. It was dead. You’d look out the window and watch freight trains go by. From there, I went to Fairchild Air Force Base in Spokane, Washington. I got to see how other people lived. I got to meet a lot of people from all over the country. People I probably would have never met any other way. Most places, where most people come from, they lived a much slower lifestyle. A lot of the guys, that was their first time on an airplane. A couple of guys, this was the first time they’d seen a black guy. I was in Washington for Mt. St. Helens.
In a lot of respects, the block is pretty much the same. It was a quiet block then. It’s quiet now. I know people around here much less now. It doesn’t bother me. But it’s different. When I was a kid, everybody knew everybody. Then again, I worked with a guy, and he lived out in Levittown. He told me that when he lived in Glendale, Queens, he knew his neighbors much better than he did in Levittown.
Interviews by: DW Gibson, Christopher Pomorski, and Kim Velsey. Photographs by: Francis Agyapong for New York Magazine. Additional reporting by: Katie Levingston, Kiannah Sepeda-Miller, Eleanor Shanahan, Danielle Smith, Manuela Tobias, and James Walsh. Edited by: Genevieve Smith. Production: Sarah Caldwell and Abraham Riesman. Design and Development: Leslie Shapiro, Sarah Ruddy, and Kristen Dudish.