Assignment Topeka: Great People and the Best Capital in Kansas

Topeka Capital-Journal
February 25 , 1995

The executive editor, who really is a very dear friend of mine, said a special edition was in the works, and he wanted me to write something nice about Topeka.

I gave him my most engaging grin and said, “Isn’t that a isn’t that request a little oxymoronic? You know, like ‘Army intelligence’ and ‘honest government’?

Doesn’t saying nice things about Topeka have the same ring to it?”

The executive editor, who really is as nice a fellow as you’d ever want to meet, wasn’t smiling. “This is not a request,” he said. “It is an order, and I won’t repeat it.”

He was glaring at me now, displaying the same cordiality he did when I referred to the “giant Goodrich plant North of Topeka” in a recent column.

In an ominous tone, he said, “I will only remind you that you are hanging on by the thinnest of threads here, so it behooves you to comply with this order promptly.”

Well, that being the case, plus the fact the executive editor really is one of my all-time favorite people, I will get right to it.

Let me begin by saying that, unlike many Topekans, I am here not by chance, but by choice. I wasn’t born here. I moved here of my own free will not just once, but twice. Continue reading

Barbara Linville Snider

Barbara Linville Snider, 89, passed peacefully in her sleep at home in Chesapeake, Va. Wednesday Jan. 22 surrounded by family.

Barbara Alice Linville was born on a farm in Harveyville, Kan. Jan. 8, 1931, the fifth of seven children of Oscar and Nellie Linville. As a young girl, she taught elementary students in a one-room school she also attended as a student, riding a horse to the school to load and light the wood stove to begin the day. She later attended Harveyville High School for a time, earning her degree from Topeka High School while working as a copygirl for the Topeka Daily Capital.

Barbara Snider

In the nation’s capital, she was a founding member of THIS – The Hospitality and Information Service, a volunteer organization of Kennedy administration families devoted to helping counterparts in the community of foreign diplomats adjust to living in Washington and the US.

Spending the next decade in Washington suburb of Kensington, Md., she was active in her children’s schools and in the social life of her community. In subsequent years, the family moved to Wichita, Kan. and Des Moines, Iowa. She and Dick later lived in Boulder, Colo., returning to Topeka in 1981 where he was an award-winning columnist at the Topeka Capital-Journal and the Topeka Metro News.

Following Dick’s passing, she moved to Chesapeake in 2012. She is survived by sons Steve (Mary Ann Allison, Hyattsville, MD) and Kurt (Rory Bennett, Del Mar, CA) daughters Anne Comer (Gary Comer, Chesapeake, VA, Amy Nelson (Duff Nelson, Southlake, TX) and Mary (Laurie Shedler, Washington, DC), nine grandchildren, and one great grandson.

In her later years, she shared lines from a favorite quote by author and artist Flavia Weedn along with her own thoughts in a note to her children: “’Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints.’ If anyone is more blessed than I am with Steve, Kurt, Anne, Amy and Mary, then they have the same joy in life that I have. The only inheritance I can give to them is my thankfulness. Only God can give them more.”

A memorial service for friends and family will be held Saturday March 28 at the Harveyville United Methodist Church. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in the name of Barbara Linville Snider to the Dick Snider Scholarship for Communications and Mass Media in care of Washburn University, 1700 SW College, Topeka, Kan. 66621 .

Shaking Things Up for Grandson Cole

Topeka Capital-Journal
April 29, 1998

Ten of us were having dinner at a long table in a Mexican restaurant appropriately named “Los Gringos Locos” when I suddenly felt the floor roll to one side and then the other. I looked up and caught the eye of son Kurt, who lives here, and he gave me a funny grin and said, “That was an earthquake.”

No kidding? I figured we might have been hit by a runaway train, or that the place had slid into the ocean and we were rocking and rolling. I looked at diners around us and was relieved to see they didn’t seem to be concerned about anything beyond their rice and refried beans.

I was about to decide it was all a joke when the television set over the bar offered a ‘special report’ saying there has indeed been a quake, registering 3.8 on the Richter scale, with its epicenter at nearby Alhambra. Continue reading

How Many California Sniders Does it Take…

Topeka Capital-Journal
Oct. 20, 2000

DEL MAR, Calif. — It is a Snider family trait to be alarmed and even fearful of anything that creeps, crawls or runs inside the house, and hides under the furniture, so when our son Kurt spotted a mouse in his home here, he took it very seriously. He armed Barbara and me, ordered his wife Rory and their son Cole, 2, out of the combat zone, and declared war.

He gave Barbara a tennis racquet and me a straw broom, and told us to stand back and hammer the mouse when he flushed it out into the open. She looked at him closely to see if he was serious, and he was, and I knew he was. He’s a chip off the old block. Continue reading

An Evening With Dean Smith and Other Kansas Superstars

Topeka Capital-Journal
Feb. 6, 2002

Saturday evening, Gerry Barker and his wife, Lois, picked up my wife and me for a trip to Lawrence to have dinner with the 1952 Kansas basketball team, celebrating the 50th anniversary of its national championship season. The 87-year-old Barker drove like there was nothing to it.

I wasn’t worried. He had plenty of advice, back seat and front, and I know he’s physically sound because in golf he has shot his age 125 times, and is still doing it. I can’t shoot my age, but I can shoot our combined age with a little to spare, and on a good day can shoot my temperature and my 1948 IQ. Continue reading

Among those whose dreams drowned in 1951 flood – Topeka Owls

Topeka Capital-Journal – July 11, 2001

It is not my intent to make light of the events that followed what historians call the worst chapter in Topeka’s history — 50 years ago this week — but there was some humor in that disastrous flood. One piece of it is a story that still makes me laugh, when I probably should weep.

It happened in the old Topeka Daily Capital newsroom at 8th and Jackson, when water 15 to 20 feet deep covered North Topeka, and nobody yet knew how bad it really was.

Some background: When the flood hit here, the Topeka Owls were in first place in the Class C Western Association pennant race and were drawing good crowds. Their ballpark was in North Topeka, near US-24 highway, east of where the China Inn is today.

Owls’ owner Link Norris was a happy man, because he was looking at his best season financially, which would make up for some that hadn’t gone so well. But suddenly, the flood turned his world upside down. Continue reading

Once the right pictures were hung, surgery was a breeze

Topeka Capital-Journal – May 2000

When my wife, Barbara, and I learned last Thursday she would have surgery on Saturday I called our daughter, Amy, told her about it, and asked her to call the other four offspring. I called her because she lives near Dallas, and it was cheaper to phone her than any of the others, who are scattered from coast to coast. She also was the least likely to forget to make the calls.

She made them, and she also got to Topeka so fast I barely had time to dig out the pictures of her children and display them prominently around the house. We like to make whichever child is visiting think he or she is No. 1 in our hearts and in photo display space.

GrandmaBefore the Thursday decision there had been tests conducted or ordered by the renowned gastroenterologist, Dr. Robert Ricci. It would be an exaggeration to refer to him as the late Dr. Ricci, but he has been known to run, as he puts it, “on Ricci time.”

He was punctual, however, in reporting to us that the tests indicated surgery was called for, and in making an appointment for us to see the surgeon, Dr. James Hamilton, who is famous for having separated me from my gall bladder four years ago, and for writing learned letters to the editor on matters ranging from medicine to neighborhood blight.

When we went to see him we were accompanied by Michelle Meier, a close friend, a neighbor and a nurse who is administrator of the Kansas Medical Clinic. It wasn’t exactly the same as taking your lawyer to a real estate closing, but it made us feel more comfortable.

Dr. Hamilton explained in detail why the surgery was necessary, and what he would do. In layman’s language, he would remove a segment of bad colon, then sew the two loose ends together. It sounded simple enough. Continue reading

The Abdows & Roye Weeks

Dick Snider
Topeka Capital-Journal – 1999

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — George and Calema Abdow and their five children were neighbors of ours for about 10 years when we lived in Kensington, Md., and during that time we saw them go from near financial ruin to riches. More specifically, they went from a busted fast food franchise to the beginnings of a business empire, and they did it the hard way.

George started over by selling flowers on a street corner in downtown Washington, D.C. By the time we moved back to Kansas he was the dominant figure in this end of the business, with other vendors working for him all over D.C. and into Maryland and Virginia. In the years that followed he became one of the biggest, if not the biggest, flower wholesaler in the area. Continue reading