Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Cantaloupe memories.

I am blessed at work to interact with a group of young people who weren't yet alive when I moved into New York City from the leafy green of suburbia in 1979. They like, some of them, to hear my stories of Olde New York, where an apartment could be had for $90/month and a cuppa joe at Chock Full o' Nuts was just 32-cents.

That was just five years after President Gerald Ford famously decided not to bail out the city. It was just two years after the blackout and subsequent riots and looting of July, 1977.

Suffice to say, the city seemed to have jumped its rails and was careening, or, better, had careened out of control.
I was living on 116th and Amsterdam in 1979, across the street from Morningside Park, a park so notorious for crime that I never set foot in it--after all my years in New York--until probably 2011.

There's no question the city was more dangerous then than it is today--despite the fear-mongering of Donald Trump. In 1979, the year I moved to Manhattan, there were 1733 murders. Murders peaked in 1990 at 2245. In 2015, the last full-year of records, the were 352 murders--fewer than one a day.

Despite the chaos of New York in those days, I was never mugged, nor was my wife. I had a confrontation with a heroin addict on the subway once, and another confrontation on the train some other time. But my prodigious size and scowl stopped those confrontations well-short of fisticuffs. 

In fact, the scariest thing in New York in those days occurred in the famous Fairway fruit stand and supermarket on Broadway between 74th and 75th Street.

The Upper West Side in those days was populated primarily by old Jewish widows living in sprawling apartments on tiny pensions and social security payments. 

Fairway had something those days called "Bruised Fruit Tuesday." They would place in a giant bin all their damaged fruit and sell it for pennies on the dollar.

Let me warn you now, in case these hard-times ever come back.

If you get in the way of a social security widow on her way to a 19-cent cantaloupe you're as good as dead. 

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