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I’m 54 years old and I’ve forgotten a whole lot of things that have happened to me in the course of my life – but there is one incident that has stuck with me for right at 50 years; and will probably be with me for the rest of my life.

When I was four years old my mother moved us into a rooming hose on Calvert street on the west side of Detroit. All of the rooms in this place had their own doors, but we shared a common hallway, and a sun porch that we could access by a door right by the room where my mother and I slept.

There was a little boy the same age as me, named Marshall. He lived in an upstairs apartment; but we played together every day, on this sun porch.

One Christmas my grandmother gave me a little paper bag full of candy. Most of the candy was just candy to me; but there was one piece of candy that was so pretty that I couldn’t bear to eat it. It was a piece of very colorful ribbon candy; that I decided to save for last.

But Marshall coveted that piece of candy, and asked me several times if he could have it. Each time he’d ask I’d tell him, “no,” that I was saving it. But Marshall would not be deterred.

One morning I was awakened by the sound of...

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