Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Don B Snyder. Part 13: Women

Don B. Snyder

This is Part 13 of a 13-part blog series sharing my Grand-uncle Don’s life story, in his own words, via an autobiography sent to me by Don’s grandson, Ron Oldfield, after Ron stumbled across one of my prior posts about his grandfather. It is shared with the permission of both of Don’s children and Ron Oldfield. [Note – Anything in brackets with green type is my added explanation of something in Don’s text.]

Don’s story: 

Part 13 – Women

One time my wife, Florence tried to talk me into moving to Florida. I said no. I had just got out of debt, things were going good. As the kids were gone we enjoyed our company very much. We kind of hated to see them go but they had a life with their husbands and kids. Time passed by and occasionally she would talk again about moving down there. What I didn’t know was my brother would call her when I was at work. He lived beside the Withlacoochee River in Florida and owned a house across from his and wanted me to rent it from him. His wife had Alzheimer’s and his purpose was to have Florence look after her so he could play golf, etc. We did move and it took me three months to get my barber’s license. I think the rebels didn’t like us yanks coming down there taking customers away from them.

By Arkyan [GFDL CC-BY-SA-3.0  or CC BY-SA 2.5] via Wikimedia Commons ]

I rented a nice shop that had been a lawyer’s office in this little town of Inglis on Route 19. I had only worked about a month when I came home about 5:30 P.M. Florence had cooked a nice meal and as we were eating she told me her heart had been hurting her all day. I asked, “why didn’t you tell Clarence so he could come and let me know?” She was a quiet lady and didn’t want to bother anyone. I wanted to take her to the hospital but she didn’t want to go. I insisted and she let me take her there. I did and I put in emergency. An hour or so later they told me she wasn’t going to make it. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked. I said, “you mean die?” They said yes. I went into the waiting room so she couldn’t see me crying. I was stunned. She had told me a couple days before that she was glad that was over. I asked what and she replied that she had the ‘ague’ all week. That’s lung inflammation. I said, “why didn’t you tell me?” Her, being a quiet person, she didn’t want to bother me. The doctors said it was a virus that had left her lungs and settled in her heart. She had been taking a lot of prescription drugs and had lost her immunity. She woke up the next day, smiled and told me “I love you,” then went back to sleep and a half hour later she died. A team of doctors tried hard to save her but couldn’t do so. As they left my doctor passed by and I asked him “did she die?” He nodded yes and I saw tears in his eyes.

I had her flown to Findlay, Ohio where I will be buried with her. She was a very good wife and we had 21 years of happiness. I think I said that before, but it’s worth repeating.

Findlay relative to Hancock County and Ohio

We have all done a lot of good things and I don’t want to say bad things, but I will say things that we regret. I’ve done my share of that. I feel I shouldn’t mention them, but I will.

When I was nineteen and winning most of my fights, I met a woman named Mae that I thought was not just pretty, but beautiful. She also had a good personality and a stunning figure. She had just arrived in town with her sister who was also pretty. I had the main go in the fight that night and I stopped to pick up the semi-finalist. He wanted them to go with us. Her sister said ok and she hesitated. I felt “hell no!” she wouldn’t want to go with me, so I acted as if I didn’t care, but she said yes. Later she told me that she was not going to let me snub her, so that’s why she went. We got them ringside seats and I knocked out my opponent. The next day I accidentally met them in a restaurant and asked her if she would go out with me that night and she said yes. We dated every night till the following Thursday. She came and saw me fight again and I won easily. Later I said, “what do you want to do tonight?” She said “let’s get married,” so we did. I was in seventh heaven and she was happy, too.

We talked a lot. She was honest with me and had told me she had been married five times. It didn’t bother me. I always thought one should not be too critical about another’s past. It’s now and the future that counts. In all the time I knew her, I never asked her about her past and she never told me about it. After we were married, her 16-year-old sister was going to church and met another girl and they became friends. Once my wife met the girl’s mother and I noticed them talking friendly as if she knew her. Later I asked her about it. She said her picture had been in the news all over the country about her having been married five times while being under 23 years of age. The girl’s mother had seen her picture in the paper and thought she lived in Little Rock. The lady recognized her.

I was a hothead and we got in an argument. I packed my suitcase and with her crying and holding on to my arm, I left. I dearly loved her and she always said she loved me. We would get together sometimes but I didn’t feel that I could afford to have her living the lifestyle she was used to, so even though she kept asking me to live with her, I said no. Six months later she left town and moved to Pittsburgh and married an old boyfriend who had a top job in a big corporation. Every time she came to Findlay she would look me up. I met her once in Lima, Ohio and once in Toledo. When I was active in the union and would travel out of town she would find where I was and call and say she loved me. Once, I was in Cleveland at a wage conference, no one knew where I was. At two o’clock in the morning, I got a phone call from her telling me she still loved me. I never did find out how she managed that. She had a lady friend in Findlay that knew me, maybe that’s how. Anyways, I went in the army in 1940. Once, I was in the Philippines and was about to go on a dangerous patrol and the mail came in and oh boy, I got a letter. Guess what, it was from her, wishing me well and still saying she loved me. A few years later I had remarried Ardith and one night at two A.M. the phone rang. It was her saying she loved me and wanted to go back with me. I said I couldn’t as Ardyth and I had remarried. She said something about not having much time. I figured she was looking for sympathy and Ardyth could hear every word. I didn’t want to do it but I asked her to not call me anymore. She was crying when we hung up. Three months later I was getting gas for my car and the attendant putting in the gas was her friend’s husband. He commented that it was too bad that my ex-wife had died. I said “what!” and he repeated it. I broke out crying and asked him when. He replied about three months ago. That would be close to when she last called. He showed me an obituary column with her picture in it. The heading was “Pittsburgh beauty dies,” etc. God, fifty-two years later and I still love her. What amazed me was the fact that I was short, had a good job, but no future. She was two inches taller than me and she didn’t care. Sometimes she wore high heeled shoes but didn’t mind. What fooled me was she could have any tall good looking man but chose me.

Another thing that always will bother me is a waitress I was going with. I went in the army and asked her to come to Mississippi. She did, rode down with the 1st sergeant’s wife. She was separated from her husband for a year and we had talked about her getting a divorce, and getting married. Her husband had been inducted in the army, came to our company and I was his platoon sergeant. She and the 1st sergeant’s wife came to our company and parked. Just then her husband was on KP and walked into the kitchen and saw her in the car. They did not talk but a few days later he said to me “I see you are going with my wife.” I was embarrassed but said yes. He didn’t seem mad, but I had a guilty conscience so I had him transferred to another platoon. He didn’t say anything about it and we got along. After three months I had her go back home as I couldn’t afford it.

Later I got a furlough and went back home. That’s when I met Ardith. She worked in the same restaurant that Mae had worked. A friend of mine worked there and introduced us. Wow, I went for her like a ton of bricks. He wanted me to go out with her that night and I kept saying no. I finally said yes and we went to his house. I fell for her and she me. I didn’t love my girlfriend, but I did like her. Anyways, I wanted to be honest and told her. She accepted it and didn’t seem mad. Years later she married twice and her husbands died. We kept in touch and later she had a stroke that paralyzed her whole left side thus going to a nursing home. I felt sorry for her and it was 15 miles away but every two weeks I would visit her and take her some cakes or candy. I had remarried and I told my wife and she got peeved. I said, “my god, she is helpless and in continual pain.” From then on I didn’t tell her and she didn’t ask. This went on for about 10 or 12 years. When I would leave she would always say “I love you.” I wanted to reply the same but I was married and just couldn’t say so. I was going in the hospital for open-heart surgery and she worried about me and asked me to call her and tell her how I made out. I went in the hospital on Monday and didn’t get out till Friday. Of course, I couldn’t drive and since she had no phone in her room I didn’t call her till Saturday. When I called, the manager asked if I was a relative. I was thinking “it’s none of your damn business,” but being the nice guy I am (sarcasm) just said “a friend.” He replied, “she died last night from a heart attack.” I felt terrible and do to this day. The funeral was 20 miles away and since I couldn’t drive, I didn’t make it. In a way, I’m kind of glad I couldn’t, as I have a very guilty conscience.

I mentioned Ardith, whom I married. We had two children. A son, Phillip, and a daughter named Kathryn (Kathy). We were married for nine years, divorced for one year, and remarried for nine more years and divorced again. It was after that that I married Florence Fry who had four children. We had a very happy 21 years being together. After she died, things changed much to my disappointment.

Other Related Posts (links):

Saturday, April 21, 2018

Don B Snyder. Part 12: Caving

Don B Snyder

This is Part 12 of a 13-part blog series sharing my Grand-uncle Don’s life story, in his own words, via an autobiography sent to me by Don’s grandson, Ron Oldfield, after Ron stumbled across one of my prior posts about his grandfather. It is shared with the permission of both of Don’s children and Ron Oldfield. [Note – Anything in brackets with green type is my added explanation of something in Don’s text.]

Don’s story: 

Part 12 - Caving

          Exploring caves became my next venture. I took an interest in the ‘wild’ caves. That is a cave that is not commercial. You should always explore with someone in case of an accident or getting lost. I didn’t care for that, so mostly I caved alone. I remember once I was in a wild cave alone and I couldn’t find my way out. Three other guys entered the room and were also lost. They went off and down a level. I’d go down a passage and it would end with a tight crawlspace. I’d go through this and end up where I started. I did this three times and was getting nervous. I thought I’d go down to a lower level. There were a lot of stalagmites in the room I was in. If I’d been experienced I’d have known that most stalagmites are in the upper levels because of water seeping down, forming them. Anyways, I had nothing to lose so I saw an opening to another lower level. I thought “I’ll follow the stream and see where it goes.” The water was above my knees and I hoped it wouldn’t get deep. It didn’t and after going a ways I went around a bend and glory be, I saw a pinpoint of light. Now I hoped it would be big enough to get out. It was and it taught me a lesson. After that, I’d put little cardboard arrows on rocks pointing out.

(from Pixabay.com)

          There was a stream below Sandy Cave that went into a hill. The water reached the top of the rock and I couldn’t go in it. At the side of the hill, I found an opening maybe two feet high. It had about two inches of water in it. I crawled back in it to see if a cave was there. I didn’t see one, got nervous and crawled out. Dumb. If I’d have gotten stuck or a rock came down they never would have found me, just like Floyd Collins. Other times I took chances. Some paid off, some didn’t.

Cavers do a lot of climbing and repelling on ropes, 200 or 300 feet more or less. Sometimes at the bottom, one might find a new cave. I’ve only did a bit of that. Ninety feet is the most I’ve done. I had the karabiners etc. plus 80 feet of rope like they did in mountain climbing. It’s a kind of rope that is strong and won’t spin you around. Some cavers in our grotto think nothing of going down 300-400 feet. I knew one young fellow in our grotto who was hooked on repelling down and climbing up in pits. He really knew the caves and pits. One day we were out looking for caves and pits. He lived in Huntington, West Virginia with his father. He said, “let me show you our old family farm.” We went down a back road and he stopped and pointed to a house on a hill. No one was living in it, as his father still owned. He said there were two pits there about 50 or 60 feet deep. His great-grandmother and grandfather lived there. The grandfather was mean and had pushed someone or a relative down in one of the pits. Of course, it would kill him. It got his wife mad and one day she pushed him down it. Spider Hall went down all pits, so I asked him if he went down it. He said no and let the matter drop. Maybe he thought there were ghosts there as no one ever went down the pit. I wondered if the law ever investigated it. I doubt it as this was pretty hilly, boondock country and I rather doubt if the law paid too much attention to the area. 

Sand Cave KY By Nicholas Frost
CC BY-SA 3.0, from Wikimedia Commons 
I mentioned Floyd Collins. He was trapped in a cave in Kentucky. They tried to get him out but new cave-ins blocked the passage. It made all the papers countrywide. I was just a kid, but I remember, after dark, paper boys were going through the neighborhoods shouting “extra, extra, read all about it.” It was about Floyd Collins, but I don’t remember what it was all about. They had to call in the National Guard to keep order as crowds and a carnival attitude had gathered. This was hill country and there was a lot of moonshine in the crowd. One little reporter got to him and handed down some soup, etc. His feet were tied down by fallen rocks. More cave-ins stopped them from getting to him. Heavy equipment was called in and a parallel shaft was drilled to him but he was dead, having drowned from seeping water. His family had his coffin put in Crystal Cave, which they owned. I was in that cave once and have a picture of me standing by his coffin. Also a picture of me crouching down in the cave he died in. I kind of wanted to go in aways, but I decided no way. 


(Watch a three-minute news report on The Unfortunate Fate of Floyd Collins)

I’ve sometimes wondered why anyone would take the chances of exploring caves. I’ve heard of people asking “why do you like that?” The reply is “if you have to ask, you wouldn’t understand,” and I believe it. If one couldn’t cave anymore, one would enjoy just being near the entrance, it being quiet, hearing only the dripping water, etc.

One time I met two guys (not cavers) and we went into Sandy Cave together. At the back end of the cave (one-quarter mile back) were two pools of water separated by a mound of dirt. In the right pool was a mudslide down and a little tunnel to the left. They stayed standing above the slide looking down. I told them I was going to check it out to see if it connected with the cave on the other side of the hill. I took off most of my gear as the tunnel was too small. I crawled about 20 feet and found a tunnel (same size) going to my left. I went that way and came to a tunnel going right again. I went in that and it ended in about 15 feet. I looked down and found a flashlight which meant someone else had been there. All of a sudden I discovered it was my flashlight. Then I remembered. Above the left pool was a small tunnel and I had crawled back in it the year before. Then I went back to the pool, went around it and over the mound of dirt. There were the two guys I had been with, looking down the slide. They were probably wondering what had happened to me. I got an idea. I quietly came up behind them and yelled “hey!” They almost jumped out of their shoes. I remember it well and I bet they still do. We left the cave and I never saw them again.

(from Pixabay.com)

I’ve heard an old tale of using a divining rod to find water. You take a coat hanger one wire in one hand and one wire in the other. Walk slowly and when you get over water it will bend down. I tried it at home and it worked. We tried it on a hill. I walked with it and it went down. I didn’t know of any water there but I remembered it was over a cave.

I’ve caved several times with an elderly lady named Sarah Corrie in our grotto. Although up in years she loved to climb ropes. As a caver, she was almost a legend in the caving circles. Small but agile. I’ve known her to repel several hundred feet. Her one ambition was to repel down Angel Falls in South America. No one had ever done that, as it is I think over a thousand feet. I think she could have done it but, unfortunately, she got sick and died of cancer.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Don B Snyder. Part 11: Barber

Climbing My Family Tree: Don B Snyder
Don B Snyder

This is Part 11 of a 13-part blog series sharing my Grand-uncle Don’s life story, in his own words, via an autobiography sent to me by Don’s grandson, Ron Oldfield, after Ron stumbled across one of my prior posts about his grandfather. It is shared with the permission of both of Don’s children and Ron Oldfield. [Note – Anything in brackets with green type is my added explanation of something in Don’s text.] 

(I'm sorry, I've tried and tried to fix the fonts and line spacing on this post, and it's all okay until it posts, then it goes haywire and just won't conform. I've tried for an hour. I'm giving up. What is, is. ) 

Don’s story: 

Part 11 – Barber


I have often thought how foolish that was. I was a top worker on a top job, tire builder as well as inner tube splicer (putting the two ends of the tubes together, plus the valves). I soon realized that jobs were scarce and I couldn’t find one. I took a job sailing on ore boats on the Great Lakes. I kind of liked it but didn’t like being away from my family. One day I was on a detail while leaving Duluth, Minnesota. There was a cold wind and of course, the water was very cold. I asked what we were doing, putting a cable from the bow to the stern. I was told it was a lifeline that you hooked on to as in the fall sometimes it got pretty stormy and the water comes over the sides. I thought “hmm.” After the job was done I went to the captain’s office and told him I would be getting off at Toledo. He was a nice old man and he replied “oh no.” I said “oh yes,” and I did. At that time you could leave any time and it was not held against you.  (See a 2:25 minute YouTube video “Shipping Iron Ore on the Great Lakes, 1955”)

Next I worked in the auto plants in Toledo, driving 100 miles round trip each day. Getting laid off, as I had no seniority. One time I got a job with the Gandy Dancers railroad crew. There were about 30 blacks and myself plus another guy my size. They treated us fine. One time I passed a big guy who never talked. He looked at me and said, “you’re going to get schotted.” I wasn’t going to take any crap from him and I said: “what did you say?” He repeated it and I did too. My buddy got nervous and spoke quietly to me “I think he means scorched.” I was bare from the waste up and it was hot. I said, “you mean scorched.” He said yes and we both laughed.

Climbing My Family Tree: Railway workers drag a railway cross tie using tie tongs, Practical track maintenance, Track series, vol. II, Railway educational press, inc., 1916
Railway workers drag a railway cross tie using tie tongs,
Practical track maintenance, Track series, vol. II, Railway Educational Press, inc., 1916

Since I couldn’t seem to find a good steady job, I built 250 small lawnmower engines from the castings and assembled them. My neighbor was an engineer and I enjoyed working for him. My wife Ardith suggested I go to barber school. Me! A barber, no way. However, I did change my mind and went to Andrew’s Barber School in Toledo under the G.I. Bill. They paid for my schooling and compensation besides, as I had a combat disability. We had classes for half a day and cut hair the other half. We all seemed to like it and felt sort of bad when we graduated, as we knew we wouldn’t see each other again.

Barber Pole (from Pixabay.com)

The new students started in the back room where we had about six or seven chairs. Haircuts were 25¢ and facial shaves free. That was not hard to figure as the razors were very sharp and we nicked a lot and sometimes cut a guy. Of course, most of them were down and out on the streets and felt it was nice getting out of the cold and being treated nice. A lot of them got pimples removed (accidentally). Doctors get paid for that but we didn’t.

One time a middle-aged woman came in and sat in my chair. I asked her what she wanted and she replied “a haircut.” I’d never cut a woman’s hair but I hacked, thinned, cut, and sheared till I had hair all over the floor. She paid her 50¢ and didn’t complain, for which I was glad.

Barbershop (from Pixabay.com)

I was interviewed by a barber who had a five-chair shop. I worked for him for nine years. Then I took over another shop where two guys had failed. I made it for nine years and later started another shop. I later moved to Florida where I had a shop. When my wife died I got lonely and moved back to Toledo.


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Don B Snyder. Part 10: Cooper Tire

Don B Snyder

This is Part 10 of a 13-part blog series sharing my Grand-uncle Don’s life story, in his own words, via an autobiography sent to me by Don’s grandson, Ron Oldfield, after Ron stumbled across one of my prior posts about his grandfather. It is shared with the permission of both of Don’s children and Ron Oldfield. [Note – Anything in brackets with green type is my added explanation of something in Don’s text.]

Don’s story: 

Part 10: Cooper Tire

Climbing My Family Tree: Cooper Tire Ad
Cooper Tire Ad

After the war, I went back to the Cooper Tire Company where I already had eight years of service. I served as a tube splicer and later as a tire builder. My friend Harold Wise was president of the Union. He talked me into running as a secretary and I was elected. After Harold’s and my term were up we didn’t run again. His old rival had wanted to be president real bad and he got elected. Shortly after that, at a board meeting, he didn’t get his way on something so he wrote his resignation on paper and went home. He figured they would call him back and he would have his way. Not so, they didn’t. I got a phone call at 2:30 in the morning and they wanted me to take over the Union Presidency. I didn’t want to but they persisted and I finally gave in and said ok. There would be a special election in two months and figured I couldn’t do too much damage in that short time. When the election came they wanted me to run again. I said alright and ended up with no opposition. Surprisingly, I got an idea. The man I replaced had always been a thorn in the side of the union. I picked him out to be on the executive board and he accepted. Sometimes I asked his opinion and this pleased him. Now he couldn’t complain and I ran the show.

When I was secretary, the vice-president and I served on the job evaluation committee. The company had always wanted this and I did too. The two of us would meet with the treasurer and cost accountant. I had known the treasurer before and felt he was an honest man, which he was. I was not so sure about the other one, but he had little to say. Each job was rated on a point scale which determined how much the rate paid. Skilled jobs got more pay, also lesser jobs got points for dust, dirt, heat, and noise. Most of the 250 different jobs got a raise in pay. Tire building was the highest skilled of jobs. The bead wrappers (women) were making as much money as the tire builders, so they got a cut in wages. Boy, did I make enemies! The women were furious. I had appointed the machine shop steward to the executive board. He was a real nice guy and we got along just fine, but his wife was a bead wrapper and she never forgave me.

Climbing My Family Tree: Aerial View of Cooper Tire - 1950s
Aerial View of Cooper Tire - 1950s

We had never had a change in our contract with the company, so the first thing I did was to ask for a new contract. The company agreed and we both gained by it. Funny thing. I led the negotiations and wrapped it up. Before we signed it, my time was up and my chief steward, whom I supported to take my place, signed it first. It was my baby, but I had become his chief steward so I signed it second. He never had anything to do with it. The union had been established for six years. I was the only president to change the contract and it was a good one. As chief steward, I often got calls in the middle of the night and sometimes I had to go to the plant to settle things. My wife got fed up with this and wanted me to quit. I had thirteen years of seniority and as a union officer had top seniority in the plant. I finally gave in and quit. A year later during a lay-off I went back to the Cooper Tire Company once at 2:00 A.M. The president of the company walked by and I told him it was my last night as I was called back to Toledo. He tried to talk me out of it. I said “but I lost my seniority.” He said “yes, but you have longevity.” I was going to say ok, but I thought my wife would be mad, so I said no.