If there’s one benefit of passing 75, it’s the right to keep your shoes on going through airport security. Not sure there’s an age limit on belt removal.

I still find myself feeling like a refugee from an I Love Lucy gag each time I reach the other side of the radiation cage, holding up my pants and the line of passengers behind me while I retrieve and juggle my belongings on the conveyer belt. I envy that conveyer. It can keep its belt on all day.

There’s an uptightness that provokes the imp in me, the imp that would like to pull a prank, like have a live snake for a belt. I’m old enough, thankfully, to remember when you actually could pull a prank at an airport.

Back at the end of the 1950s, my teenage friends and I were the youth of the New Frontier, actually living on the grounds of the Old Frontier — Denver, Colo. We were the curious, that generation about to be more educated than their parents. We were giving it our all to think outside the box, the one built by the corporate world. We were shaped by voracious reading, including the recently departed MAD magazine. Yes, we were also worshippers of humor. And so we hatched a prank.

The formalized concept of security didn’t exist for all practical purposes. No TSA, no car seat belts, no bike helmets. It was the wild west — the wild, innocent west. When shootings were mostly on TV, where no one actually bled.

In the spring of 1960 right before high school graduation in Denver, right before Jack Kennedy and Dick Nixon became presidential candidates, Rudy Witthus, one of my best friends, decided to spend his pre-college summer bicycling around Europe, when it was allegedly $5 a day.

Nine of us decided we’d send him off with a surprise party of sorts — a glorious gesture of comedy or chagrin, depending on your outlook on life. We all dressed in black with black fedoras, trying our best to look like gangsters from an earlier era. We managed to obtain nine musical instrument cases, also black — the kind they used in bootleg battle movies to hide machine guns. We then crammed all of us and our cases into and onto a 1937 black Pontiac with running boards. Because one of us had pull at Stapleton Airport and United Airlines and because those contacts liked the gag, we were given the green light to speed onto the runway and squeal to a halt.

The car was owned by our driver, Paul Fishman. He stayed with the car, posing next to it ala Clyde Barrow, while the rest of us jumped out of the car like a bunch of menacing clowns and formed a phalanx, two lines of four guys each, instrument cases pointed in the air creating a burlesque of a bower.

This happened just as our honoree (or victim) was exiting the terminal heading for his flight. This was in the days before jetways, where you walked onto the tarmac and climbed stairs to board the plane. Our positioning forced our Euro-bound friend to walk through the gangster gamut in order to leave Denver. After a blink of shock, Rudy thankfully cracked up laughing — and so did the airport and airways personnel.

By the fall of 1960, all of us had scattered to various institutions of higher learning around the country. Nothing would ever be the same. We had come of age during a time when, unbelievably, it wasn’t even a federal crime to blow up a commercial airliner. Now look where we are.

Today, even Stapleton Airport is history. In the 1950s my family would go there for dinner. The Sky Chef restaurant served up a yummy strawberry shortcake. The new colossal airport is about 20 miles further away. That’s because things have gotten not only grimmer and out of whack but also bigger and out of hand. Metropolitan Denver is now about five times the size it was during my high school years. Is smallness behind us now? Innocence is behind us now. I don’t expect it to return, but I sure hope rationality and civility do.

My wife and I are going up to Vermont at the end of the month to do performances of our radio show, Says You! On this trip we will make our usual stop at the New Hampshire home of Rutherford Witthus, formerly known as Rudy, where he creates books as works of art, masterful hand-crafted, hand-bound limited editions. Born Rutherford, it’s really not a name to hang on a teenager. These days he still does Europe, but no way at $5 a day or on a bike.

Our 1937 Pontiac driver, Paul Fishman, survived this memorable prank, then graduated both law and medical schools, and became Colorado’s leading gerontologist as well as attending physician to my mother in her final days.

Arnie Reisman and his wife, Paula Lyons, regularly appear on the weekly NPR comedy quiz show, Says You! He also writes for the Huffington Post.