Sam Levenson was born and raised in a New York City slum. In his book, Everything but Money, he tells what it was like growing up in a poor family struggling to survive in a tenement. One day his father took him on a train that passed right next to other tenement buildings.
“Sometimes the train stopped between stations and we stared at the these people and they at us. They were like animals in the zoo, quiet, accustomed to their captivity. I would feel relieved when the train began to vibrate and we moved on and away.
“I shall never forget the faces in those windows. They disturbed me even as a child. We were poor, too, but these were the passive poor, the vanquished, the defeated, resigned to poverty. For them tomorrow would be as poor as today. In my home tomorrow was going to be better. We were sold on the idea that we could somehow erase the handwriting on the wall and scribble a few thoughts of our own on the subject of our destiny.”
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