Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State, b. 1937

Photo: Courtesy of Colin Powell

I had the nicest bike on Kelly Street, and I rode that thing everywhere—Pelham Bay Park, Orchard Beach, you name it, I rode it.

The trolley car went right by my house on 163rd Street. I really thought I was becoming a young man when I was able to get on the subway and go down to 42nd Street, the old 42nd Street, which was still a safe place for kids to hang around. For a nickel you could play a machine, you could go to a movie, or just walk up and down the street, having knishes.

When I was growing up, there was no class distinction. There was no one percent and 99 percent. Our parents averaged 50 to 60 bucks a week. Some of the families had cars, others did not, but we all lived in those flats. Nobody’s daddy made a lot more money than anybody else’s daddy. If they did, they wouldn’t be living there.

My block was bounded on both corners by Jewish shops—a bakery and a drugstore. Just around the corner, there was a Spanish bodega, a Chinese laundry, an Italian shoemaker, a Jewish candy store, and a Puerto Rican bar. It wasn’t until I went in the Army that I realized there were white Anglo-Saxon Protestants somewhere.

Colin Powell, Former Secretary of State, b. 1937