Golden Age on East 49th Street: Introduction to the rules of survival for young men

This story is about a part of my life in the 1950s. It was fun, it was exciting, it was scary, it was about bad behavior. It was about an introduction to other worlds and in so many ways it was about realizing that life was not always going to be like it was then. —Ralph Horner

A lot of people could think that moving to East 49th Street would not be a beneficial place for young people to grow up. I don’t know if that is true. But I can think of several examples of things that might be beneficial:

  • There was a large playground on East 49th. It was a perfect place away from the peering eyes of parents. And if you found yourself in danger when you were away from the playground, immediately get to the playground. Salvation in the form of your associates will be there.
  • Rules and regulations could be arbitrary. Right and wrong were not necessarily black and white. A well-placed punch in the face could quickly settle a disagreement between two individuals—providing an equitable solution.
  • Might did not prevail over logic (yes, it did).
  • Two wrongs could make a right—depending on who started the wrong.
  • Never deny, debate, or denigrate the Bielski brothers. The results of that could be depressing, debilitating, and devastating.
  • School was beneficial but could never teach you some of the valuable things that you learned on East 49th Street.
  • Prejudices could be overcome by just getting to know a person, or by having that person beat the tar out of you.

Ralph Horner
Ralph Horner

About the Author: Ralph Horner

Ralph Horner grew up in the 1950s and 1960s on Whittier Avenue in the Central and Hough neighborhoods. In the 1960s and 1970s, at the age of 19, he managed a French Shriner shoe store on Euclid Avenue, where he got to know many of the people who hung out on Short Vincent.  A self-proclaimed juvenile delinquent living in the inner city, Horner observed the characters who were regulars in the neighborhoods he lived and worked in. Now in his 70s, Horner shares the stories of some of his more memorable experiences on Short Vincent with the FreshWater series, Rascals and Rogues I Have Known.