Opinion: The way we were

By former Assemblymember Steven Sanders

Listening to the political rhetoric of this year and hearing over again that we need to “make America great again” has got me to thinking. How good were the good old days? When was America and our cities great or at least greater than today? We tend to harken back to a time gone by and think nostalgically about those days. The problems never seemed as bad as the current ones. But were they? If we turn back the clock was this country better off 50 years ago than today?

So think back to 1966.

There was a war in South East Asia that would kill American soldiers at a rate of about 100 per week and ultimately spark violent protests in cities and across dozens of college campuses. Segregation was still very much a fact in this country including Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village. Those of us who grew up in this community in the 1950s and 1960s never saw a black or Hispanic family unless we ventured below 14th Street. And speaking of Stuyvesant Town, there was no air conditioning in the hot summer months when temperatures sweltered into the 90s. But at least we had the fountains in the Oval to cool us, and of course the ever present Sam the ice cream man who stationed his pushcart on 20th Street across from Lenz’s.

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