The Three Amigos: A Story of the Old Times and the New

Jan 10, 2019

The year is 1946. A gallon of gas costs 21 cents, milk 67 cents, eggs 59 cents and a loaf of white bread, a whopping ten whole cents. The Second World War has just ended, and instead of spiraling into the economic depression that followed WWI, the U.S is arguably thriving. The Young Man’s Christian Association (YMCA) has made headlines as one of its leading members. John Mott has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for the Y’s groundbreaking role in raising global awareness for the organization’s humanitarian efforts.

When current SDYMCA member Charles “Chick” MacDougall moved to the New Hampshire Seacoast in the same year of 1946, he had no idea that Mott’s work with the YMCA would come to affect him decades later. Like most teenagers, MacDougall was focused on surviving high school and playing football, basketball and baseball (all three sports of which he is still a fan of, albeit as a passionate spectator.) His athletic endeavors prepared him for the Navy, as his drill instructor commanded five daily exercises for the Navy men: sit-ups, push-ups, chin-ups, squats and squat jumps.

During my conversation with Chick, it was clear that he remembers his athletic pursuits fondly and that his dedication to fitness is not something of the past. He may not be able to squat jump anymore, but Chick is an avid walker and can be found on brisk mornings walking along Swasey Parkway or the Exeter Cemetery to offer a prayer for his beloved before heading into the Y. When asked about what motivated him to first walk through the YMCA’s doors, he credits his two sons for suggesting he try it out. Not one to shy away from trying something new (he is, after all, a smelt fisherman, plays in Exeter’s Brass Band and 30-year Mason), Chick whole-heartedly agreed.

About mid-way through our conversation, Paul Smith (another SDYMCA member) joined us. As Paul approached and greeted Chick, it became clear that their camaraderie is a huge benefit of their memberships. A life-long resident of the Seacoast, Paul has been a member of the SDYMCA for several years. Like Chick, Paul appreciates the opportunity to connect with his community and stay healthy. In Paul’s words, “It gets me out of the house and, although I am meeting my buddies, I’m getting exercise as well. We need to keep moving at our age!” He followed up with, “The Y provides a purpose, especially for men like us at retirement age.”

When Mell Fuller walked in the door, he eagerly joined in on our huddle. Patting Chic and Paul on the shoulder, he unabashedly announced, “It’s a better day when I see Mr. Smith and Mr. MacDougal.” Like Chic and Paul, Mell uses the Y to stay healthy. Mell shared that he appreciates an environment that allows him to move indoors and keep his fitness level on track. He also appreciates the nutrition classes that are offered throughout the year.

Seeing the three men together made it clear that they use the SDYMCA for more than its workout facilities; they use it as a gathering space to connect with good friends. Without a doubt, the three men have each other’s backs, much like teammates. Today, they are a band of brothers and bond over staying fit, staying friends and staying supportive. All three men expressed gratitude to the SDYMCA for providing a space to get together each day, share a joke, laugh at the old times and look forward to the new. Given their commitment to one another and their personal fitness, one might even call them the “Three Amigos.”

Southern District YMCA is a cause-driven organization that is for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.