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.

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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.


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