Another Birthday to Forget to Remember

(Editor’s Note: The 100th anniversary of Dick Snider’s birth is March 20, 2021)

Topeka Capital-Journal
March 27, 1992

I had a birthday a week ago, on the first day of spring, as usual, but it went largely unnoticed. A few days before the date, I mentioned my birthday on the phone to two of my children, but to no avail. One of them said, “When is it?” and the other said, “When was it?” Neither sent a present.

Five heartless children have caused me to grow old and weary before my time. They make me remember what my mother used to say: “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth is the sting of an ungrateful child.” Of course, she wasn’t talking about me when she said it.

My wife, who knows me best and obviously thinks of me as a pillar of strength, gave me a card, along with a nice gift. But other than that, the only card I received from anywhere in the family came from my brother, and it wasn’t what you’d call a joyous greeting. Continue reading

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 .

John Linville

Topeka Daily Capital
March 28, 1962

We sat under a big tree in a back yard in Burlingame, sipping drinks and watching the storm fade away in soft flashes of lighting. My father-in-law, Mike Linville, talked about bigger, better storms.

Once, he said, he had saddled a horse and ridden 14 miles from the family farm to check stories he’d heard that a storm had drive wheat straws into trees.

“I actually found some,” he said, “driven about a half-inch into trees.”

Another time, he rode out a storm in a ditch with his younger brother and mother. He told of silence and the vacuum that made it difficult to breathe, and then of the “roar of about 400 freight trains” that snapped trees like matchsticks… 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

Hate in the name of God is going around these days

Topeka Capital-Journal – Nov. 2, 2001

Osama bin Laden has been around so long, hating and killing Americans, that it’s a wonder he’s still alive. You’d think that by design or by accident someone on our side would have found him and made him history, or someone on his side would have turned on him, taken aim, and said, “Go with Allah.”

It’s a near-miracle that nothing bad has happened to him, considering he has made the terrorist rounds, setting up camps, recruiting suicide squads, giving interviews and even going on television to tell us he’s going to kill as many of us as he can.

We have a right to fear him. He apparently has enough money to carry out his threats for years to come, and he has thousands of believers willing to fly airplanes into buildings, or do anything else he asks.

Worst of all, he has time. He’s in no hurry. It could be months, or it could be minutes, before his next scheduled massacre, and it could happen almost anywhere. He has us living in fear, and we’ll continue to live that way until he’s gone.

It can be said of him that he truly is getting away with murder, and to stop him we have to find him, or get lucky with a 500-pound bomb or some subtler weapon, like 500 gallons of napalm in his favorite cave.

The life he’s lived up to now is the stuff of fiction, and the questions keep coming back: How does he get away with it? How much longer is he going to get away with it?

Topekans mulling those questions could be understandably discouraged. They ask: How can we expect this country to ever stop Osama bin Laden if we, the solid, upright, patriotic, fed-up citizens of Topeka, can’t stop a man who has been spreading hate here for years?

We ask, how much longer do we have to put up with a hate-monger who has buffaloed the law, the leadership and the local citizenry into believing he’s untouchable? What is it about him that makes him immune?

Fred Phelps doesn’t preach terrorism or violence, doesn’t threaten to kill anyone, doesn’t deal in weapons, doesn’t equip and train suicide squads, and he doesn’t hide out. He doesn’t need to, because so far nobody has figured out a lawful reason to round him up and herd him out of town. 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

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