Letter: Thanks for making my case on civic clubs

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I wish to reply to a letter, “Women Didn’t Kill Civic Clubs,” Dec. 12 [Xpress]. The writer is to be commended for taking the time to share her thoughts with your readers.

First, let me thank Mountain Xpress for publishing my original letter, “Changes Forced on Civic Clubs Yield Leadership Decline,” in the Oct. 10 issue. Also, you graciously printed a follow-up reply from me to a reader on Nov. 28 [“Let’s Get Back on Track With Civic Clubs”]. We’re proud and fortunate the public has your paper to provide a free flow of ideas and information.

Now, I wish to reply to the [Dec. 12] letter. I want to thank Martha S. Bradley, Esq., for agreeing with me that the country has gone into a funk since the 1980s. That is the period when the courts declared service clubs had to become coed. In a word, the country has been on a downward spiral ever since that time. So, let me thank her for concurring with me.

My service club experience was with the Johnson City Jaycees and the Mars Hill Civitan clubs, both now defunct. Could it be that the reason they failed is the loss of the right of free association?

She boasts that she is “as stubborn as hell.” I wonder if that is what they used to call “a hard-headed woman?” But let me congratulate her for being a service club president. It takes a lot of dedication and hard work to reach that pinnacle.

Let me add one final point to a flippant remark she made. In all my days of male service club membership, I do not recall any man being asked to “pull up his big girl pants.” Furthermore, I wouldn’t want to become a member of any club where they did.

So let me thank her for making my case.

— Anthony Ponder
Mars Hill

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6 thoughts on “Letter: Thanks for making my case on civic clubs

  1. SpareChange

    “Could it be that the reason they failed is the loss of the right of free association?”

    Seems a perfect example of correlation without causation. TV and computers contributed far more to the decline of so-called civic clubs than did any of the court rulings that said you had to share the sandbox with girls. Your buddies got preoccupied watching Charlie’s Angels and The A-Team.

    Beyond that, I think your trouble probably also began with Run DMC’s collaboration with Aerosmith on the 1986 release of “Walk This Way.” Talk about causing a rift in the culture!

    • bsummers

      Beyond that, I think your trouble probably also began with Run DMC’s collaboration with Aerosmith on the 1986 release of “Walk This Way.”

      That’s certainly where my trouble started…

      But as for Anthony’s problem, how about this? They were already ‘pondering’ this back in 1996:

      …a drop of roughly one-quarter in group membership since 1974 and a drop of roughly one-third in social trust since 1972.
      https://prospect.org/article/strange-disappearance-civic-america

      A huge loss of trust beginning in 1972-74… hmmm… what happened in that two year period…?

      Oh! It’s Nixon. Nixon was the embodiment of the square, “silent-majority”, red-baiting, law-and-order Republican… And he turned out to be a gigantic narcissistic liar who broke the law and undermined the Constitution and plunged the country into chaos just to preserve his ego and solidify political power. I’d drop out of the Elks and drink full time, too, if I placed a lot of faith in a man like that only to see him for what he really was. Oh, and then there was Vietnam. But sure, blame the gals for screwing things up. That’s easier.

      I wonder what we’ll be talking about 30 years from now?

      • bsummers

        BTW, note that the decline in civic clubs started long before the event that Anthony tries to blame: a court ruling requiring these clubs to admit women. The decline actually started during the 60s and 70s – a period where people realized their leaders (like Nixon) lied to them massively about issues of life and death, about national security, about war.

        Back in the day, the desire to participate in your local service club was rooted in the belief that you’re part of a whole that you can believe in. That essential American value was dashed on the rocks during the Vietnam/Nixon era. No wonder people looked for more solitary pursuits.

        Blaming it on women is shameful, IMO.

  2. Jason Williams

    As much as he complains about “hard-headed women,” Mr. Ponder sure doesn’t know when to drop things himself.

  3. Mike

    I wonder how the Knights of Columbus avoiding having to go co-ed.

    • SpareChange

      A major factor is that KOC is a religious affiliated (Catholic) organization. Something like Jaycees, on the other hand, is secular and involved in a very wide range of business and civic activities. Religious organizations often get treated differently under the constitution and laws due to the First Amendment and other such provisions.

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