"We were never
poor," says his father, Lloyd Carter, a reedy man in his 60s. "I always
supported my family. The kids never wanted for things. But Rubin got in with
the wrong gang. They looked to him as a leader. He was the bully. He wanted the
was the violent type," Carter says. "I used to throw stones and break
windows. I'd fight with teachers. I had to go to disciplinary school—P.S. 22 in
Riverside. I wasn't dumb, just hard to control."
The incident of
the polo shirts was just one in a long string of what might be called
rebellious pranks. What was Carter rebelling against? His father? School
discipline? The color of his skin? All of them, probably, and none that he knew
of. But the arrival of the police his father had summoned filled him with
terror and hate.
that howsoever a man sows, that's what he reaps," said Lloyd Carter as he
recalled the event recently in the living room of his overfurnished home in
Paterson. "When I seen them sweaters I knew Rubin didn't buy them. I don't
support a crook."
obviously had not foreseen the consequences of ringing in the cops. "I
thought they would just scare him up," he said. "Rubin had done so many
Carter has never
forgiven his father, although from time to time he moves back into the house in
Paterson. "There still is resentment," he says. "And sometimes I
don't talk to him for a long time. If my son had done that I would try to
handle it myself. After all, all I did was bring them home and try to give them
to my brothers and sisters. They were so pretty. It wasn't like stealing. It
was more or less of a game."
After that, Carter
had to play his games at Jamesburg reformatory. The zealousness with which he
approached this occupation is attested by the fact that he spent five years at
Jamesburg, and when he left no one else thought it was a very good idea. "I
excaped," he says, slipping into the street jargon he sometimes appears to
have beaten through prison reading. "When I got to be 17 I started to
realize women. When I first went there I didn't care about women. What did I
know? Then I started noticing dancing, clothes, just life. It got pretty
dreary. So I excaped."
notified immediately, were expecting him when he got to Paterson. When Rubin
offered to enlist in the Army, his father relented somewhat and signed the
necessary papers. Carter did not know it, but this was the start of a career in
which he would get paid for something he had done free all his life—fight.
One evening in
Bamberg, Germany, where Carter was stationed with the 11th Airborne Division,
he and an older buddy, a man who had done some amateur fighting, were drinking
3.2 beer. "You have to drink a lot of it to get the way we wanted to
be," Carter says. They drank a lot of it. Bragging, Carter confided to his
friend that he, too, was a boxer. (He was a fighter, but he had never put on
gloves.) It happened that the reeling pair stumbled on a field house where the
division boxing team was training. "We seen the lieutenant and asked if we
could try out," Carter says. "Probably we'da got beat to death. We
wasn't feeling no pain. But the lieutenant said to come tomorrow."
Came the dawn and
Carter turned a sober if somewhat bloodshot eye on the events of the night
before and sighed with relief. Fighting seemed like a terrible idea. The
lieutenant, however, was not letting the lads off that easily. He intended to
teach them a lesson. "I didn't feel like going," Carter said. "But
the lieutenant sent for us, and I had to. They put me in with a fella named
Nelson Glenn. He was a heavyweight."