“We grew up in the New York of the 1980s, and our childhood was in no way some kind of crime-addled haunted house. And this wasn’t because we led some particularly cosseted or rarified existence, rather it was because we—like millions of other New Yorkers—led perfectly normal lives for the times. We don’t want to minimize the fact that crimes like mugging and graffiti were much more common occurrences 25 years ago; we remember riding those grimy, tagged Redbird cars, and we remember our excitement at the introduction of the new cars—gleaming and silver and full of yellow and orange seats—that now seem old and somewhat grimy themselves. And we remember our father telling us stories of the times he’d been mugged and how our mother refused to let us walk to school by ourselves even though we were nine whole years old because of how she’d been attacked when she was a girl walking to the same school that we went to now. We remember the Riverside Park playgrounds with splintered equipment and being hustled through Times Square very quickly lest we see too much through the windows of the peep shows or adult video stores. We remember being afraid of the Zodiac Killer and frantically trying to figure out with our friends which sign we really were, because we were born on a cusp and were we safe or were we in imminent mortal danger? We remember bugging our parents to let us walk to the corner store on our own and hearing them talk amongst themselves about Etan Patz and how it wasn’t worth the risk. We remember all these things.
But we also remember how our neighborhood was full of stores owned by people who actually worked in them, and how the butcher would give us slices of bologna to munch on while our mother placed her order for that night’s dinner. We remember how hard it was to even walk a few blocks with our grandmother without running into a dozen people she knew, because she’d lived in that area for decades. We remember that magical feeling of not only being a part of an intimate community, but also something larger and grander than we could ever really know at that age but happily knew we’d spend a lifetime trying to figure out. We don’t remember feeling afraid. We don’t remember it as a horror show. We remember it simply as our childhood, one we shared with millions of other people, one which we could have despite being a part of a decidedly middle-class family—and not one in which our parents’ income needed to be in the mid-six-figures.” – Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen