For being such a hot topic on the internet today, the world hasn’t been able to uncover many details about President Donald Trump’s childhood. He’s one of the most talked about public figures in recent history, yet it’s unusually difficult to find childhood facts about our nation’s 45th president. What we do know is his life growing up in the 1940s and 1950s was a lot better than most people’s.
It’s often said your experiences as a child — particularly your family unit — shape your adult persona more than any other factor. So who was Trump as a child? And could his upbringing be the reason he is what he is today? Perhaps he was destined to troll Twitter from the Oval Office and intimidate leaders with unconventional handshakes. As we take a closer look at the fascinating facts behind Trump’s childhood, it all starts to make sense. Here are 15 things you probably never knew about young Donald.
1. His childhood home now rents for $4,000 a month
Donald Trump grew up in a five-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot home in the Jamaica section of Queens, New York. His father, Fred Trump, built the home they lived in until Donald Trump was 4 years old. The house was recently sold for $2.14 million after just a day on the market to a woman who chose to keep her identity a secret, according to The New York Times. This buyer then put the house up for rent and had no problem securing a tenant willing to pay $4,000 per month, which was 14% above the asking rent of $3,500.
Next: His friends remember him as a childhood bully.
2. Other kids his age knew him as an outspoken bully
A Washington Post piece uncovered a few of Trump’s childhood characteristics by interviewing some of his known associates as a kid. Apparently, his reputation as an outspoken bully the media loves to associate with the president today is one that he commandeered himself as a child.
“He had a reputation for saying anything that came into his head,” said Donald Kass, a former schoolmate. When Trump misidentified pro wrestler Rocca, Kass recalled, “We would laugh at him and tell him he was wrong, and he’d say he was right. The next time, he would make the same mistake, and it would be the same thing all over again.”
In his neighborhood, Trump and his friends were known to ride their bikes and “shout and curse very loudly,” said Steve Nachtigall, who lived nearby. “He was a loudmouth bully.”
In fact, The Art of The Deal claimed Trump once punched his music teacher in the face, but no one the Post interviewed appeared to recall the incident in question (not even the teacher himself).
Next: Young Donald could’ve traded Manhattan for the baseball diamond.
3. He was also known for his good looks and athletic nature
Before his bad hair became a “thing” on the campaign trail, Trump was actually regarded as handsome during his teenage years. Taller than his classmates, Trump exuded an easy confidence and independence. He was a fierce competitor and excelled at sports as a captain on the varsity baseball team. In fact, the Daily Caller reports Trump could pitch 80 mph and had the ability to go pro. He played football and soccer, too, but had a reputation as a sore loser if things did not go his way.
Next: Behavior problems led to military school.
4. His father, Fred Trump, sent him to military school to shape up
Some might assume years of getting what he wanted through money and power contributed to Trump’s complacency with rules. However, the antics he displays as an adult are nothing new. Trump misbehaved in school, and when his disobedient ways became too much for his father to handle, he sent Trump to military school for better access to daily structure and behavior modifications. He graduated from the New York Military Academy in 1964.
Next: The ladies loved Trump, even as a teenager.
5. His classmates voted him ‘Ladies Man’ in the high school yearbook
To find the last time Trump succeeded in a popularity poll, you’d have to travel back to 1964. His presidential approval ratings tend to hover around a dismal 40%, but his classmates at the New York Military Academy voted him “Ladies Man” in their high school yearbook.
Next: He dodged the draft.
6. He finagled his way out of the military draft
Most students who attend military schools end up enlisting in the army upon graduation. But not Trump. He was determined to capitalize on his real estate and economics education to begin building his empire. The Vietnam War took place while the president was in college, allowing Trump to obtain four student deferments. Upon his graduation in 1968, he received a medical deferment for heel spurs. The bone protrusions caused by calcium buildup made it difficult to walk anywhere long term, and the doctor permanently disqualified him from military service as a result. But he has stated he feels “guilty” for never serving in Vietnam in recent discussions.
Next: He occasionally broke the law.
7. He (illegally) rode between New York City subway cars
In an interview with The New York Times, Trump spoke about his plans to improve the city’s infrastructure as president. He also professed a childhood secret, claiming he used to break the rules while riding the subway system to Kew-Forest School every day.
“I’d take it to Kew-Forest School in Forrest Hills, when I lived in Queens. … I’d take it from Jamaica, 197th Street. Jamaica, right? To Forest Hills. I understand the subway very well. I used to ride between the cars.” He also claims his parents “weren’t thrilled” when they heard about his dangerous and illegal activity.
Next: The whole family liked to show off .
8. Success runs in the family — and they liked to show it off
Donald Trump comes from a successful family. His sister, judge Maryanne Trump Barry, serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit, and his father was a successful real estate developer. Fred Trump built over 27,000 apartments in New York over the course of his career, catering to soldiers returning from war.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Fred Trump had a passion for displaying his successes for the world to see. Everyone knew where the Trump family lived in Queens because of their mansion and the two fancy Cadillacs parked prominently in the driveway. Each car advertised a personalized license plate (which was uncommon at the time), with their owner’s initials, “FCT1” and “FCT2.” Unlike most neighbors, the Trumps had a cook, a chauffeur, color TV, and an intercom system.
Next: The Trumps lied about their heritage.
9. The Trumps pretended to be Swedish
In The Art of the Deal, Donald Trump claimed to be Swedish, not German. This falsehood was first constructed by Fred Trump due to a strong anti-German sentiment in the U.S. at the time. The family played along with the narrative until 1990 because the Trumps had countless Jewish tenants in New York and didn’t want to risk a failing business during World War II. In reality, Trump’s German grandmother lived across the street from the family, and their roots trace back to Kallstadt, a small town in southwest Germany.
A recent New Yorker article brings light to the fact that the German town is still crawling with Trump relatives today. There’s a long history of intermarriage between the Trumps and the Heinzes — yes, the Heinzes who founded the Heinz ketchup company.
Next: Trump wasn’t meant to take over the company as a young man.
10. Trump was not first in line to inherit the family business
Donald Trump’s success was certainly aided by what he learned from his father, Fred Trump, who brought him to building sites in Brooklyn as a teenager. It was here that Donald Trump learned the real estate business by watching his father routinely outbuild and buy out his rivals.
When he took over, Donald Trump renamed his father’s business The Trump Organization. This was not originally the plan, though, as Trump’s older brother, Fredrick Jr., seemed to have that right. But he had no interest in real estate. He was an alcoholic and died young.
Next: His friends gave him many fitting nicknames as a child.
11. He had better nicknames than ‘The Donald’ throughout his childhood
Donald Trump has never been one to shy away from any press, good or bad. So when his former wife, Ivana Trump, offhandedly referred to him as “The Donald” in an interview with Spy Magazine in 1989, the nickname caught wind and stuck for decades. She later clarified her term was the result of broken English, as English is not her first language, but her fourth.
It’s hard to imagine a nickname better than “The Donald.” But, alas, there was. Even as a youngster, The Donald upheld many fitting nicknames, thanks to his clever social circle. Friends often referred to young Trump as “Donnie,” “The Trumpet,” “Mr. Meticulous,” and, perhaps most suitable, “Flat Top” (for his hair, of course).
Next: He dabbled in the arts, too.
12. He had a passion for the arts
Not only was Trump a talented childhood athlete, he had an artistic side, as well. He earned a role as a sailor in his middle school production of the musical HMS Pinafore. What’s more, The Washington Post uncovered a prose poem he wrote at age 12 and published in the school yearbook.
“I like to hear the crowd give cheers, so loud and noisy to my ears,” Donald wrote. “When the score is 5-5, I feel like I could cry. And when they get another run, I feel like I could die. Then the catcher makes an error, not a bit like Yogi Berra. The game is over and we say tomorrow is another day.” Although his creation is not necessarily Pulitzer worthy, it is clever for a child nevertheless.
Next: There’s no place like New York for Trump.
13. His life revolved around New York City
Until he made the move to the White House, Trump spent most days in and around New York City. At one point, his presidential duties kept him away from the city for 107 days. That absence was the longest stretch he spent outside of New York since he was born in Queens in 1946, friends claimed.
Even after graduation from the University of Pennsylvania, he returned to New York to begin construction on his empire. As a child, he and his friends would travel to Manhattan to soak in everything the city offered to young hopefuls. This is partly why Trump began to focus his development in Manhattan, whereas his father tended to set his sights on Brooklyn, Queens, and Staten Island.
Next: Trump’s adult persona is just like his childhood persona.
14. He’s not so different today as he was back then
No matter how much political shade is thrown in Trump’s direction, the president remains unapologetic about his larger-than-life persona and considers himself to still be the same person as he was as a child. He admitted to his biographer that, “When I look at myself in the first grade and I look at myself now, I’m basically the same. The temperament is not that different.”
And why fix what isn’t broken? Forbes estimates the man has a net worth of $3.5 billion, though that might be lower than he usually claims. Part of his wealth stems from his ability to make millions licensing his name to other businesses.
Next: He was a bit of a childhood loner.
15. He didn’t have many close friends growing up
As is usually the case with successful entrepreneurs, young Trump excelled socially and academically but never forged lasting and meaningful relationships with close friends. According to Encyclopedia.com, his desire to succeed overshadowing his need for friendship. He’s even quoted as saying, “I realized then and there, that if you let people treat you how they want, you’ll be made a fool. I realized then and there something I would never forget: I don’t want to be made anybody’s sucker.”
Follow Lauren on Twitter @la_hamer.