1955, 'Doo Wop' music was what life was all about for a kid in the South Bronx. Singin in hallways, hallways that were all marble, built turn of the 20th Century. Of course Tito Puente, and the Latin bands were still cool too. We knew nothing of white music, the Perry Como's, the Doris Day's.
We had access to WADO Radio out of Harlem, something the NBC's and CBS's of the world feared most, a break through of minority music. Their sponsors would not hear of that.
Our heroes in music were never heard on national radio, and TV, no chance.
VIDEO:: "The Teenagers"
The neighborhoods were all changing in the 50's...The Italians, the Jews, and the Irish were taking flight to Long Island, and Westchester County, and some to Florida....(and NYPD cops walked a beat, alone.) Me, we were not financially able to relocate in the 50's.
The Bronx, and Brooklyn where I spent lots of time were going through changes that did not sit well with a large majority of older folks. The exodus of the middle class also caused the city to go into a state of dysfunction. Schools, business, were starting to run down, because they would not respond to the integration, they resisted. You could still at this point in time, in some newspapers or Jet Magazine, yes in NYC 1950's read about lynchings in other states.
|Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.|
Then came the 1960's. The decade aside from the 1860's when the Civil War was fought, that changes America more than any other. Young people had...had enough. We did everything we could to rebel.
Smoked weed, did acid, walked barefoot, the women went bra less, everyone had long unruly hair, and we campaigned for candidates that also wanted change. Bob Dylan lead that fight.
The words of Dylan
In the 60's New York City lost it's self esteem. Empty apartment buildings, vacant businesses, an administration that refused to clean the streets, police the parks and subways...this all lead to a crime ridden city of Wall Street, Fifth Avenue and a series of Ghettos.
Alphabet City, the area of Avenues A.B,C,D from Houston Street to 14th Street, had a patrol of Missionaries that went through each morning to pick up corpses that had OD'd or been shot the night before. It was a haven for the drug dealers from Columbia and Cuba.
Young people were to blame!! That's what the establishment position was. Well, the young took it to them. We occupied, Universities, police stations, parks and streets, in a peaceful attempt to get change. To the youngsters of today, nothing you can read, can ever explain the total changes that took place in the 1960's..it was truly a 'movement' lead by young people, a feeling, a calling.
|Occupy Columbia U 1968|
they were wasting 20 hours a week getting to work, and the cost of it was now making a difference. Hmmm they needed a solution. Soooooo...
In the 80's the money makers and the politically connected purchased whole blocks of the vast ghetto areas, and the city bent over backwards for them, to lock up the tax revenue they would bring.
This was the dirge for the neighborhoods that we knew in Manhattan. The candy store, the local grocer, the TV repair guy and all other 'Mom & Pops' could not pay the corporate rentals and carry the insurance they were compelled to carry:: They were forced out. The family of three or four being able to afford an apartment in Manhattan was gone. This was the start of a time you could live in a building and not know or ever speak to anyone else in the joint. I grew up knowing everyone for a two or three block area, this was a sad time for me...I moved back to Las Vegas.
|For real, that's what the subway looked like.|
When I was a kid, the grocer, Mr Feldman, had a black composition notebook, I would go in, buy groceries, he would add it up and put it in the book....and Friday my dad would go in and settle up for the week...
YEAH, in my lifetime...OK that's NYC History as I saw it.....Hey you better go put some money in the parking meter....1980.
follow me:: Pete Carma