Before there was internet your world was infinitely smaller so the chance of interacting with assholes was also infinitely smaller. The amount has remained the same.
On the subject of being taught things by "people up the street" that still happens when you allow your kids out on the street. I'm shure it's not this way in all of the US, but I've seen news articles about people getting child services after them because they let their kid walk to school by himself.
When i was young i frequently stopped by an old bicycle shop in the neighbourhood and the guy that worked there showed me how to fix bicycles. When i needed my bicycle fixed he would always refuse and instead tell me how to do it. I learned so much from that man, sadly he passed away last year.