When I was a kid growing up in the 60s, the wheels had really fallen off the societal bus. If you look at world violence rates graphically, there is a fairly steady decline from World War II to present, except, of course, for bursts of violence like the explosions which began during our "Peace and Love" era of the 60s (through the 80s) when murder rates and other violent crime rates jumped through the roof.
I was mugged twice as a pre-teen or early teenager. Once two kids caught me on my bike as I rode through a rough neighborhood. I was able to startle one of them with a "karate chop" to the back of the neck and get away. The second time I took a shortcut on the way home from a friend's house, I cut through a Gristede's parking lot and a kid named Glen Hall came after me and any money I might have had on my person. Glen Hall was one of our neighborhood's few "negroes" and, as such, was considered bad and dangerous. I was able to commandeer a shopping cart and chase after him using it like a jousting lance and I got away from Glen with whatever change I carried. Later on when I was a 7th-grader Glen and I got into a fight--he pulled a knife on me--but I was able, somehow, to pin him to the ground before things were broken up. I think the fight, really, was over a nickel, or maybe a quarter.
We used to listen to the radio a lot in those days, primarily because we watched less television. After school we often went to Wilson's field, a large open lot covered in rocks and struggling grass where we would play whatever "ball" was in season--football when it was cold (we still had cold weather in those days) and baseball when it was warm. Usually one kid or another would bring a $3.99 transistor radio that you could buy at Korvette's, a discount store that was the Walmart of its day.
We would listen to music when we played, or the Yankees or Mets if they were playing a day game, which they did more often in those days.
There was a local manufacturer that made noodles called "Country Kitchen" that had a beautiful jingle that sounded like it might have been written and recorded by Harry Nilsson.
It went like this and was accompanied by a really wistful and beautiful melody:
"I was looking for a noodle
A different kind of noodle
That was golden right
Tastes so nice.
Then I found what I was after
With the taste as light as laughter…
Country Kitchen, pure egg noodle."
Despite the scrapes and bruises we got from playing ball, and the scrapes and bruises we got from neighborhood toughs, the world seemed an easier place than it seems now. We could get an ice cream cone for 17-cents and see a movie matinee for 50-cents.
Last night my wife and I treated ourselves to some frozen yogurt. Some teenagers came into the store after we did. One, with an ass as wide as the M-15 bus, ordered a banana split. She was charged $8.