When I was a kid growing up in the sixties in the Bronx there was never any fear of being molested or abducted. We’d leave the house and disappear for hours and our parents never worried. There was no reason to. People watched out for each other. If you got out of line some parent would drag you home by the ear and tell your Mom what you’d done.
Your mother would politely thank him/her for bringing your transgressions to her attention, then once your accuser was out of earshot, she’d beat the crap out of you. Not only for whatever stupid thing you did, but for making her look like a bad parent.
“You little bastid!” she’d bellow as she knocked you around.
Fortunately that rarely happened to me. But one thing happened back then, that if it occurred today, would cause all kinds of problems.
Back in those days we had air raid drills because things between us and the Soviets were pretty intense. They’d announce on TV that an air raid drill would occur at a certain time and everyone was to get off the streets.
For a kid, that got old fast. I wasn’t going to sit in the house on a beautiful day just because sirens were going off.
So I snuck out of the house.
I had gone down the block looking for something to do when this old guy called out from his window. “Hey kid! Don’t you know enough to get off the streets during the air raid drills?”
I waved him off.
But he persisted. “Get up here right now!” he shouted. “You wanna get dragged off by the cops?”
That struck a chord. I hadn’t considered being ‘dragged off by the cops’. My grandfather was a cop and had warned me to ‘stay on the straight and narrow’ because if I didn’t, the cops would drag me downtown and…” It was at this point he’d give this hard, knowing look and say, …“They would straighten me out.”
From the sound of it I sure as hell didn’t want to get straightened out. I was just a kid, five or six at the time. So I went into the guy’s house.
And you know what happened?
Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
The old guy was in a wheelchair. Had some kind of muscular disease but other than that he was just a guy. He directed me to the kitchen table and once I got settled, he brought over cookies and explained why it was necessary to stay off the streets during the drills. He asked if I knew how to play any games. I said I could play both checkers and chess as my uncle had taught me, so he brought out a board and we played a game or two.
I got to know the old guy pretty well in the two or so years that followed. His name was Ralph, he had been in World War 1, held the same job for decades until his illness forced his retirement. I met his wife and saw pictures of his kids who lived in another state. I’d drop by and hang out whenever I was bored or wanted somebody to talk to.
Another time, at around the same age, I had fallen off my bike and gotten a deep cut above my eyebrow. I was scared to death when I saw all the blood. Fortunately, some passing guy saw me, pulled me up onto his shoulders and said, “Where do you live, kid?” I told him and he ran to my house and turned me over to my father.
That doesn’t happen these days.
Nowadays there are preditors behind every corner. I’ll give an example. I was walking into church a little while ago and saw this 3 year old kid sprint out the door and toward the street. I immediately spun to go after him then realized (fortunately) that if I grabbed the kid just before he ran into the street and at the same time his parents exited the church looking for him, it would appear as if I was running off with their kid.
I saw a teen girl heading toward the church and called out for her to stop him.
She did and grabbed him just as he was about to run into traffic.
Immediately afterward the parents charged out of the church looking for their child and saw the teen walking toward them with the little guy in her arms.
The parents were relieved, the teen was a hero. However, if the parents had come out and seen the kid in my arms you can bet I’d have been hauled off in handcuffs.
What happened to us? How did we get here? When did it become necessary to ask oneself “How does this look?” before taking action to help?
Sorry for taking so long between posts but I’m updating and revising Ari Publishing’s Facebook page. There will be a lot of big changes and I’m hoping you’ll stop by when I roll it out.
In the meantime the Noon Revolution is going stronger than ever now that Noon 2: The Resurgence has been released. Check out the original video that started it all here: