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

Bucket List, Pails in Comparison

Topeka Capital-Journal
Dec. 19, 2005

I have been given a list of “20 Things You Should Do in This Lifetime” and it appears if I had intended to do all of them I should have started sooner. Maybe you should have too. Here’s the list and some comments.

1. Visit the country your ancestors called home. I’ve done that. I’ve been to England, Ireland, Holland and Germany, and didn’t see anybody I recognized. All I really know if that my mother came from Nebraska, by way of Indiana, and my Dad from Kansas, also by way of Indiana. I’ve been to those places too and didn’t see any monuments to Shively’s or Sniders.

2. Leave a dollar where a kid will find it. I’ve done that. I also left my car keys where a kid could find them. When the kids were young, the keys disappeared. When they were older, the car disappeared.

3. Fly over the Grand Canyon in a helicopter. No way. I wouldn’t fly over the Shunganunga in a helicopter. They were not meant to fly.

4. Lend money to a friend without expecting it back. I’ve done that countless times, and sure enough, I didn’t get the money back. The friends were my children.
Continue reading

They Also Serve…War Years in the Norman (Okla.) Navy

(From the Memoir posted on this site)

At boot camp, I was named the company mailman, and suddenly everyone looked up to me. The job allowed me to skip a few marching and running drills, and I kept telling our CO, a high school football coach from Texas, that I had to see to it that the mail got through, on time, rain or shine.

And when the eight-week boot camp was over, the Navy was nice enough to send me home to Oklahoma. Comedian George Gobel, stationed at Altus, Okla., Army Air Base, later bragged that not a single Japanese plane got past Amarillo.

He had nothing on me. In my years at the Naval Air Technical Training Command base in Norman, no Japanese vessel ever was sighted on the south Canadian River… Continue reading

Millionaires and Me

Topeka Capital-Journal – 1999

Just looking at me and my possessions, you wouldn’t think I was a millionaire, but it so happens I fit the mold — with one notable exception: I haven’t been close to a million bucks since the last time I shook hands with my doctor. Maybe it could be said I was even closer when he pulled on the rubber glove and gave me the examination guaranteed to cure you of being cross-eyed.

Probably because there were no more groups left to study, such as left-handed piano players or pilots with pacemakers, a Georgia State University professor has been researching the affluent for about 25 years, and his main conclusion is that most millionaires shun the trappings of wealth. Continue reading

When Radio Ruled

Dick Snider
Topeka Capital-Journal

Radio ruled the airwaves for 30 years, just as television has reigned for the last 50, but if you weren’t there at the time it may be difficult for you to imagine a family gathered around a talking box, listening to “One Man’s Family,” Fred Allen, Jack Benny or some other top show. If you were there, you remember this Benny classic:

Holdup man: “Your money or your life?”

Benny: (Silence).

Holdup man: “I said, your money or your life?”

Benny: “I’m thinking it over.” Continue reading

Grandpa was a Kansan

Dick Snider

One of my brothers, Alfred Courtney Snider of Dallas, became interested in the life and times of our grandfather, Alfred Snider, and particularly in his Civil War record.  He asked the National Archives for help, and what he has turned up so far gives me a Kansas background I never realized I had.

After reading the material, it is obvious I should have run for state office, citing my deep Kansas roots. My ancestors were Jayhawkers long before they were Okies. Continue reading

Now the Wilkinson Task is to Develop All-America’s Fitness

Oklahoma Today, Fall 1961

At Oklahoma, Charles B. (Bud) Wilkinson has produced many great athletes. Now, he has taken on an added task that is far more awesome in both responsibility and opportunity. He has been assigned by the President to produce a nation of physically-fit Americans.

It may surprise some to learn the two jobs have little if any, relation to each other. The answer to the physical fitness problem is not more football players. The pressing need is a program that will raise the millions of physically-deficient Americans up to minimum acceptable physical standards.

It is a tribute to Wilkinson, and to the coaching profession, that he was chosen March 23 a Special Consultant to the President on Youth Fitness. His appointment came after several conferences with President Kennedy. Although he is admittedly no expert in the field of physical education, Wilkinson outlined what he thought had to be done. The President told him to get it done. Continue reading

Growing Up in Britton, Okla.

Postcard from Britton

Topeka Capital-Journal

In these times of economic turmoil, stock market calamities and energy crises, I enjoy calling a time-out to remember the simple life in Britton, Okla., where I grew up.  Sometimes I think the only person in Britton who ever worried was my mother, who always was worrying about something.

Maybe she had a right to worry.  We moved to Britton in the late 1920s when my dad bought a drug store there.  His timing wasn’t exactly ideal.  Before he could get established in the town of about 2,000, there was the “Crash of ’29,” when the market collapsed, followed by the Great Depression.

Britton survived both.  There were some unemployed men in town, but pretty soon President Roosevelt’s WPA “made work” programs came along, and everyone who wanted to work could, and had a little money to spend. Continue reading