In Memory of Dick Snider

By Peter Hancock
Special to the Topeka Metro News
Nov. 26, 2004

Babe Ruth hit his last home run as a player for the Boston Braves. The last uniform he wore (as a coach) was that of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Michael Jordan finished his career in the NBA with the Washington Wizards, and Joe Namath threw his last NFL pass for the Los Angeles Rams.

A lot of great people end their careers in places other than the one that made them famous, and so it was with Dick Snider who died this week at age 83, a month after publishing his final column in the Topeka Metro News.

Regardless of where he ended his career, most readers will always remember Snider as a longtime reporter and columnist for the Topeka Capital-Journal. And that’s as it should be, even though his short-lived career at this newspaper should never be forgotten or discounted.

I never had the privilege of knowing Snider personally, but I always admired his work. He had that rare ability to keep both the big world and the small world in their proper perspective – to write with equal eloquence and passion about city politics or a Snider family reunion.

He could be lighthearted and whimsical, or he could be dark and caustic. Either way, he never fell into the trap of taking himself, or his own opinions, too seriously.

Snider came to this newspaper after what can only be described as a less than amicable separation from the Capital-Journal. I don’t presume to know all the reasons for his departure from that paper, nor would I presume to pass them along here even if I did. 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

Alfred Courtney Snider

Alfred Courtney Snider with his niece, Amy Nelson

Topeka Capital-Journal
March 25, 1998

My brother, Alfred Courtney Snider, is a retired naval aviator, and also is retired from Texas Instruments, the semi-conductor giant. I call him A.C., a compromise between Al, as he was known in the Navy and in the corporate world, and Courtney, as the family calls him. He calls me Wretched Ass, close to Richard S.

He has lived in Dallas 24 years, and when I visit my daughter Amy in nearby Southlake we usually get together for a private lunch, no matter what else is going on. The most recent one was last Friday, which happened to be my birthday, and that may be the reason he paid.

Naturally, we toasted this latest milestone in my life’s journey, and other Sniders of note. We were down to third cousins before the gears in his brain loosened up, and, as I had hoped, he told me a war story. 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

Kansas Transplants and Native Sons

Dick Snider
Jan. 29, 1999

Kansas Native Sons and Daughters are getting together again this weekend, and it reminds me that I have a lot in common with the man generally considered to be greatest Kansan of all.

For one thing, both Dwight D. Eisenhower and I were in uniform during World War II, and for another, neither of us is a native son of Kansas. I was born in western Oklahoma; he was born in Baja Oklahoma. Also, he probably would share my feelings that it’s no big deal to belong to a club when everyone in it qualified by accident.

I came close to being a native son of Kansas. My dad was born in the state, in Miltonvale, and my mother in Nebraska. If they had met sooner, before both of them drifted into Oklahoma, it is likely I would have been a Jayhawker, rather than an Okie. I’m not sure how I should feel about the way things turned out. Continue reading

Remembering Peggy of the Flint Hills

Topeka Capital-Journal

June 16, 2000

Zula Bennington Greene never was sure where her given name originated. She would say her best guess was that her mother read a novel that had a character named Zula in it and gave it to her. That was in 1895 when she was born on a farm in Missouri.

Her first name never really mattered, because she became famous all over Kansas and beyond for the “Peggy of the Flint Hills” columns she wrote for the Topeka Daily Capital and The Topeka Capital-Journal. She wrote her first one in 1933 and continued them until her death 12 years ago this week at the age of 93.

Continue reading

After a morning in Eskridge, you hate to go home

Dick Snider
Aug. 27, 1999

I was given the opportunity to volunteer for one of The Topeka Capital-Journal’s weekly small-town, coffee-and-doughnut parties this week, so I did it. Actually, it was volunteer or else, and that’s why Wednesday morning found me in the Eskridge Cafe, doing decaf and doughnuts, plus one butter-soaked cinnamon roll.

It is possible I did the newspaper as much harm as I did my cholesterol count, but I must say I met some nice folks and got caught up on what’s happening in Eskridge, which is quite a lot. 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

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

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