Thanks to the Female Friends of My Youth

I am very grateful to the girls and young women with whom I shared the first twenty-plus years of my life. You meant a lot to me during that time. You contributed much to my development. You had a tremendous impact on my beliefs, my attitudes, and on the person I have become.

Many of you were my closest and most special friends during the years we were together. I bonded with you. I respected you. We worked and played together. We helped each other. We challenged each other. We could share strengths and weaknesses, admit them in ourselves and point them out in each other, and maybe help each other to use that knowledge to build upon.

You demonstrated that you were intelligent, self-confident, caring, sensitive, articulate. We could talk about ideas, cares, concerns, hopes, dreams, sorrows, plans. As you grew into young women, those important characteristics grew as well.

The community where we lived and the schools we attended were major factors in the attitudes we developed and the nature of the relationships that followed.

An important part of the lives of many of us during those earlier years was Park Circle and the variety of programs offered by the community center located there. The playground sports programs which were a popular part of the activities at Park Circle were available for both boys and girls beginning at elementary school age. While the leagues were separated by gender, the girls’ programs were given equal emphasis and were well-supported and well-attended. The girls’ athletic abilities were respected. Boys attended and cheered for the girls’ competitions and the girls did likewise for the boys. When we moved from playground to high school sports, the girls continued their participation and received the boys’ enthusiastic support.

The schools also had a profound influence on our development and our attitudes. North Charleston Elementary School and North Charleston High School valued and encouraged educational achievement. In classes both girls and boys were among the best students. The same group was usually together in most classes, girls and boys together, learning together, challenging each other, helping each other, respecting the abilities and accomplishments of each other. We enjoyed each other. Outside classes both girls and boys were involved in leadership and support roles in school organizations and clubs. The successful functioning of all the school activities depended on the contributions of girls and boys working together.

Because of these and many other early experiences, I never had any question about the equality of the sexes. I knew that females were at least as able as males. Sometimes boys came out ahead at something and sometimes it was girls who were ahead, but usually it was a mixture. It wasn’t one’s gender that made the difference in performance; it was one’s individual abilities and how they were applied that mattered.

When the women’s movement became a prominent force in the 1960s, there was no question in my mind that the changes sought were, of course, long overdue. Too frequently our society has relegated females to second-class status and has made it more difficult for girls and women to gain the recognition, respect, and rewards they merited. I knew that girls and women deserve to have their abilities, achievements, and value acknowledged by all of society. The importance of the girls and women with whom I had lived in North Charleston had always been abundantly clear. And in the years since my youth in North Charleston my spouse, my daughter, my granddaughters, my daughter-in-law, and numerous other girls and women have reinforced the lessons I learned during those early years.

While talking with some friends recently I’ve had the opportunity to tell them about the special relationships I shared with girls and women during my early years in North Charleston. I’ve not been in contact with most of the people I knew back in North Charleston, but I really wanted to tell my female friends and acquaintances from those days how much you have meant to me. I thank all of you and am forever grateful for the influence you have had on my life. I expect you have continued your development into even stronger individuals than you were during the years I was with you in North Charleston. And I hope that you have received appropriate recognition for all your achievements and true respect for your abilities and your contributions to those around you.

7 Replies to “Thanks to the Female Friends of My Youth”

  1. I have so enjoyed reading your blog and getting an insight into the man you have become. You have a gift for writing.
    The Ronnie Wynn I remember was from elementary school. You were the smartest boy in my class….I had a big crush on you back then. Several of us played ball in Kay Martin’s back yard until it was too dark to see. I always hoped you would come out and play, and occasionally you did. That would be the highlight of my day.
    I married Ronnie Gooding, we have 3 children and 8 grandchildren. About 15 years ago we purchased 65+ acres of woodland about 2 hours away. It is our place of peace. I understand your attachment to your mountain home.
    I look forward to seeing you at the reunion and meeting your wife.

  2. Hi, Sherry,
    Thanks so much for reading the blog and for your kind words. I hope you continue to find things of interest in what I write.
    We all had some good times back then–a special place and special friends. I think we played softball, kick ball, dodge ball, and probably other things as well. The games spilled over across several yards as I recall. We also had neighborhood badminton tournaments in the Walkers’ backyard across North Rhett. Did you get in on those also?
    I’m glad you have also found a woodland place of peace with your family. I used to love playing/exploring in the woods and marshes near home in North Charleston before everything got taken over by houses. Children don’t get to do that as much these days. I’m so glad we’ve found our place here and can’t imagine being anywhere else for very long at a time.
    I’m looking forward to seeing you and hopefully lots of others at the reunion.
    Ron

  3. Thanks for a lovely and fitting tribute to women of all ages who have been fortunate to know you and call you a friend! You were always “ahead of your times” in your thinking and reflected that mature mentality in your friendships. Always a gentleman, besides being a scholar and an athlete, you saw value in women and respected their contributions. You touched my heart and my head as my first male colleague who respected my intellect and my career ambitions. In turn I profited from that experience by learning to trust future male colleagues in my career and most importantly to expect equality as a member of the team.
    Thank you for sharing this with me.
    Charlene Stuart

    • I’m very grateful for your words, Charlene, and so glad that you were able to see my thoughts about you and all the other special women who have been such an important part of my life. All the respect and recognition you have received from me and others is certainly well deserved. It was good to visit with you on Saturday and to have the opportunity to meet your husband also. I look forward to future contacts; perhaps the blog can facilitate our staying in touch.

  4. Ronnie
    pardon me calling you “Ronnie”, but you will always be Ronnie to those of us who knew you as a top scholar and a top athlete.

    Having read the other post in this thread, I couldn’t help but recall one of the biggest impact on my life and I am sure on your life as well.

    Sure the area we knew as Park Circle was indeed a magical safe place to grow and live. Why was it so, I believe it was the caliber of the hard working men and woman who we fondly called, Mother and Daddy.

    They were genuine, unpretentious, morally sound, hard working blue collar and middle class men and women.

    Besides my Mother there was an elementary school teacher that helped shape me in becoming who I am today. The name of this wonderful soft spoken lady was Mrs Wynn.

    Ronnie, your Mom was indeed all the above and more. She helped so many of us knuckleheads that could have easily gone in the wrong direction. Seeing you this past Saturday night at our 55th High School Reunion brought back some of those wonderful memories I had of your mom.

    Thanks my friend. Looking forward to seeing you again in 2 years.

    Al Hall

    • Thanks for your wonderful words, Al. Our parents and the entire community were indeed very special. They were an especially supportive and encouraging part of the lives of all of us and we can certainly be grateful for the part they played in our development over the years. I was pleased to hear the positive comments from you and others about your memories of Mother as a teacher. She always was happy to hear from former students and would have appreciated knowing how you feel about her influence on you. Thanks again for making a point of letting me know your thoughts and feelings about her.
      I really enjoyed being with everyone at the reunion and look forward to having that opportunity again. In the meantime maybe we can manage to stay in touch through such things as Facebook and this blog. Thank you for reading, commenting, and subscribing to follow.
      By the way, you can call me “Ronnie” anytime you want.

  5. Hi Ronnie,
    Great to stumble across this. I’m not much for public posts, but have responded through FB messenger. Hope you find it.
    Linda Perkins McCrary

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