Leona Frances Shively Snider

Topeka Capital-Journal
December 6, 1985

We buried my mother, Leona Frances Shively Snider, last week in Oklahoma City. Her grave is on a wind-swept hill near the chapel in Resurrection Cemetery, beside my dad, her husband of more than 50 years, Daniel William Snider.

He was buried there in 1968. He died at 88, she at 96.

Their children were there, and a lot of their grandchildren, and even a couple of their great-grandchildren. They all came, from coast to coast, to say goodbye.

The priest who said the funeral mass is the chaplain at St. Anne’s, where my mother lived her last 13 years. He said she showed great courage, faith and patience in the last few months of her life.

I disagreed. Courage and faith, yes, patience, no. She was impatient with death. She prayed she could die and join my dad. I have the feeling that at least three times a day she looked God squarely in the proverbial eye and said, “what are you waiting for?” Continue reading

Fall and Fair Recollections

Topeka Daily Capital
Sept. 13, 1959

It is fair time again, and that reminds me that I’ve been to a few – and that statement reminds me of one of the oldest sayings in Oklahoma. A long time ago, it was proper to express amazement by saying, “I’ve been to two hawg-callings, a turkey shoot and a county fair but I ain’t never seen nothing like this.”

Actually, it was a long time before I ever got to a real fair, but I had a pretty good buildup to the real thing.

It started in the little town of Oakwood, Oklahoma, were the only thing that brought a carnival atmosphere to this Dust Bowl setting was something called a “Booster Train. At least, I think they were called Booster Trains. Some kind of trains.

They’d whistle into town and whoever was sponsoring the train’s excursion into the sticks would give away candy and goodies, and maybe there’d be some entertainment and a speech or two.

I can vaguely remember my older brothers screaming, “Booster Train” and we’d run for the tracks. At least I think they said “Booster.” I know we ran for the tracks.

Later, in Veteran, Wyoming, there was a rodeo or two and the exhilarating experience of buying a sack of peanuts. There was a trip to Cheyenne, too, for a big rodeo and my first movie, and I remember my mother telling me, “they say that someday we’ll be able to hear them talk on the screen.” Continue reading

Family Money: Carving the Oklahoma Pie

Topeka Capital-Journal
April 28, 1997

You’ve heard this before: put some relatives and family members around a table, and in the center put some money or valuables to be divided among them, and you’ll see some greed, resentment and even some skullduggery. I am speaking as a victim when I say I’ve been there.

I was done in by my own blood brother, who lives in Dallas. Like most highbinders, he says now it was all a mistake, and he even places the blame on an Oklahoma lawyer, one of the worst kind, who is now deceased, making him one of the best kind.

I’d like to believe him, but his mistake – if you want to call it that – was so enormous, and the stakes were so high, that it is difficult for me to do. I’ll tell you the sordid story, and you be the judge.

As you read this, consider the possibility of a conspiracy among all the relatives involved in this, and try to think of a reliable lawyer who might represent me. I realize “reliable lawyer” is oxymoronic, and I may have to settle for considerably less. Continue reading

Black History Month perspective

Topeka Capital-Journal

This being black history month, what follows is some black history from a personal viewpoint:

In Oakwood, Okla., where I was born, and in Veteran, Wyo., where I lived for a time as a very young lad, there were no blacks.  But, in Veteran, we learned something about mixing and getting along.  At sugar beet harvest time, many Mexican families came north to work.  They were called “beet toppers” and they brought along young kids my brothers and I played with as both sides overcame the language barrier.

In Britton, Okla., where I did most of my growing up, I remember hearing black people talked about, and always referred to with the “n” word by young and old alike.

Continue reading