I heard one of my dear friends say that America was at its best in 1956. I'm not sure what he used as a criterion for this opinion, but at this point in my life, I can see his point. Starting at age 5, we walked to school about a mile away with our friends. We all lived in the same tract house development without security gates or fences. It was a time, under some circumstances, when talking to a stranger wasn't dangerous.
As a young child, I was free to explore the woods and creeks in our backyard to discover nature on my own terms. My connection to the home on any given day off from school was food. If I was hungry, I either took something with me or stopped home. Otherwise, being on time for dinner was my only requirement. If I wasn't home on time, I might not get any dinner.
I think most parents in my neighborhood practiced "healthy neglect" with their children. We were on our own most of the time, paling around with friends and getting into mischief every so often. We played games that might occupy 10 or 12 kids at a time with only a pinky ball. There were some mean kids, maybe a neighborhood bully, but for the most part, kids were nice to each other. If there was a fight, it was settled with fists. No kicking or beating someone over the head with a blunt object.
Either from a lack of technology or otherwise, we were not bombarded with the terrible things everyone, even young children, see and hear these days.
The adult pictures your mother didn't want you to see were often in magazines of general circulation. Women didn't seem to take their clothes off as much. You might catch an underwear ad for women in your mother's favorite magazine but to cut it out of her favorite magazine was problematic.
It was a time when taking an airplane required a suit and tie. No, the airline company didn't insist on this, but everyone knew what was expected of them. These days everything seems to be "OK". What is expected has become a mystery.
Kids today might think life must have been very boring in the 1950's. Zegar Mazel might very well dispel them of that notion.