Fond Memories of Earlier Times

My birthday was yesterday, seventy-four years to recall in memory. As the day approached, one of the things I fondly remembered was that I shared birthdays with one of my very best friends from our younger years, Chuck Funderburk. As nearly as I can recall, we first met in kindergarten, the Funderburk Kindergarten which was operated by Chuck’s parents in a building next to their home, a few blocks from Park Circle in North Charleston.

My family had moved to the area around Park Circle only a year or so before, but we all discovered it was a great place to live. Likewise the kindergarten was an ideal setting for all of the kids who attended, always warm and welcoming thanks to Chuck’s parents and the rest of the staff. At meals and snacks I believe we had milk from his grandparents’ dairy business. The upstairs room even housed a huge (at least to young eyes) model train layout, a source of great fascination to some of us. Our time in kindergarten provided our introduction to formal education and the socialization experiences that came with our group activities. For many of us kindergarten was the place where we formed our first friendships beyond the circle of our immediate families. Most of my fellow students there continued as close friends throughout our elementary school, high school, and college years until time and other places called us away.

As incredible as it seems in today’s world, at the age of five I was allowed to ride my bicycle the mile or so from my home to the kindergarten. But then, we rode our bikes everywhere, at least from our time in kindergarten through the end of elementary school. Cars frequently relegated our bicycles to the garage once we were able to get our drivers’ licenses at age thirteen in South Carolina. Until then, on foot or by bike, we covered the area of a circle about two miles in diameter, more or less centered on Park Circle. If we didn’t have something else to do, we would say, “Let’s ride over to ________ (fill in the blank) and see what they’re doing.” We usually could find someone or something to occupy us until time for supper. We visited at friends’ houses, enjoyed various sports and other activities at Park Circle or in backyards and vacant lots, explored the undeveloped woods and marshes, walked along the train tracks, examined houses under construction in new neighborhoods, and created all sorts of other adventures for ourselves. Chuck and I (and I believe some of our other friends) even became young entrepreneurs and set up stands in front of his grandparents’ home on Montague Avenue to sell used comic books and perhaps other treasures and Kool-Aid. Like some later business ventures in my life, that effort was lots of fun but not particularly rewarding financially.

Memories tend to wander around, one recollection leading to another and then heading off in a different direction and this one has been that way for me. I started with a shared birthday and have revisited a number of other events and people and places in my mind over the past few days. I’m sure the pattern will continue and I look forward to recalling my past experiences and the people with whom I’ve shared them. I may not still be with those people in those places, but they certainly continue to be a part of my life.

I knew I had some special photos from those earliest days which I wanted to share in case some of the folks who were part of that time might enjoy recalling their own memories. I’ll attach a few kindergarten and first grade photos and hope some readers will find them interesting. It’s amazing to me looking at the faces of so many of those five- and six-year-olds that I recognize them, recall some memory about them, and in many cases remember their names even after seventy years; I don’t do that well with lots of people I met last week. Take a good look at each face and see what comes into your mind. If you see yourself and are willing, please let me know where you are in each photo. If you recall names of other classmates, I’d be happy to receive those also. And if these words and photos spark other memories or remind you of early photos you have, it would be great for you to share those as well. Most of all, just enjoy looking back at some special earlier times.

 This must have been a performance of some sort (I can’t recall what) and perhaps our graduation also since we appear to be holding rolled certificates.

Aren’t we cute?

Our first grade classes at North Charleston Elementary School.

Our first grade class play. I still remember my Frosty the Snowman song and dance (such as it was).

A Christmas play with all of us in authentic Middle Eastern costumes.

A May Day celebration in the playground area behind North Charleston Elementary, possibly later than first grade. What a lovely setting!

7 Replies to “Fond Memories of Earlier Times”

  1. Interesting. I could find you and Kay Martin. Maybe Jean Qualtlebaum. Never found Chuck and really can’t think of many folks your age. I was at Funderburk’s the following year. I remember long afternoons in the attic of that kindergarten/house. I was supposed to nap, but never could. It seemed Mama would never come. Russ could fall asleep the minute his head hit that hard mat. I guess your mother wasn’t teaching yet. She was probably still home with Nancy. I don’t remember the trains. I do remember an old school bus in the back yard that we thought was fun. I remember “buddy walks” through Nirth Charleston. I remember big “Johnny” cookies they often gave me because I was such a picky eater and would not eat their lunch. That has certainly changed!

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Linda. I also found Kay Martin and Jean Quarterman in several of the pictures. I believe in the wedding picture Chuck is the third person standing to the left in the picture from me (the groom). In the class picture, I think he is on the top row, the twelfth person from the right side of the picture. I think I am able to identify many others in the pictures, but I’ll wait and maybe post my own who’s who later, hoping some other viewers will look at the pictures and make their own identifications. Thanks for your memories of kindergarten. I had not recalled the school bus. I think the trains may not have been accessible to the kids except possibly on limited occasions–too many things for excited young hands to get hold of.

  2. Didn’t attend North Charleston BUT did attend Midland Park Elementary. Had absolutely the most wonderful teacher of the name of MRS Wynn …. your mom. Ronnie your mom had such important impacts on so many lives. There were some who would have taken the wrong path in life if it wasn’t for your mom…. especially me.
    Also remember trying to tackle a guy named Ronnie Wynn in many Saturday Morning on the park circle playground football field. Darn your were fast. I believe your were the only North Charleston High School Sub-freshman to make the Varsity Football team. You were some kind of good ball player and a brain to boot. You were and still are a good guy Ronnie Wynn. Thank you for your friendship of all these years even thought we live on the other side of the country my ole friend.

    • Thanks for your comments, Al. Mother always enjoyed seeing former students and would certainly have appreciated knowing how you felt about her and her teaching. I also am grateful for your remarks about me. I may have been fast back then, but now I move at a much more leisurely pace. We all had some good times in those earlier days. The friends and the memories of them continue with us throughout the rest of our lives. I see in your Facebook page that you have moved to Georgia. We are still in Boone, NC, not quite next door, but not quite “the other side of the country” either. It’s always nice to hear from you.

  3. I lived 2 houses down from the Funderburks in the early 60’s directly across from the church. Looking at Google maps that house no longer exists. I attended their preschool program and my best friend was Dave Funderburk. Probably the younger brother of Chuck. Do you know if the Funderburks still own that property?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *