We have a tendency, perhaps in part due to the massive social changes that occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, to view the 1950s as a halcyon era. A picture from a cool photo essay at The Gothamist about Red Hook, Brooklyn, NY disabuses us of that notion. The picture:
Cocktail party balked. Detective Michael Walsh of Brooklyn West Youth Squad examines homemade ‘Molotov cocktails’—gasoline-filled bottles with gas-saturated wicks—which were among 20 seized yesterday by police who broke up scheduled teenage gang war in Red Hook.
That’s right. Teenagers were going to firebomb each other. Not exactly peaceful.
Eek. While the lethality of the drug wars of the 1980s was horrific due to the firepower involved (essentially, military grade weaponry was being used), it’s not clear to me that the inclination towards violence was any worse. In fact, if things like teenage pregnancy are correlated with the inclination towards youth violence, then the kids are doing much better these days (teenage pregnancy rates were higher in the 1950s than today).