A Trip to Oakwood

Topeka Capital Journal
April 14, 1999

When my brother Al and I planned our trip to western Oklahoma, we knew we’d see the place where we were born, and places where a lot of our ancestors are buried. What we didn’t know is that we’d also see Rollin Shaw, our next door neighbor more than 70 years ago in Oakwood, our birthplace.

We hadn’t seen him since the Sniders moved from Oakwood in the mid 1920s, but shortly before we headed back down memory Lane, Al’s daughter Claire, found him on the Internet, listed him as a resident of Dewey County and giving a phone number.

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From left: Dick Snider, Al Snider, Rollin Shaw, Dan Snider circa 1925

We called him and he remembered us, and after he recovered from the shock we arranged to meet next day at the Phillips 66 station in Oakwood. We had lunch, he took us on a tour of what’s left of the town, and then we went to the farm home where he has lived for the past 57 years. Continue reading

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

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