Monday, March 8, 2010

Pretty Sande and Phillip the Goose ~ chapter 2 in her life

Phil Snyder was the son of a coal miner from a small town in Illinois. Not poor, but certainly not rich, Phil was raised by tough parents who worked hard for their family. His mother died when he was young, so his father remarried and had two more boys after he and his older brother. Phil did not want to be a coal miner and he did not want to stay in the town that he grew up in. Not one to keep still, Phil decided that the Army was where he wanted to be, it was where he would find himself as a man. He had a brief marriage that produced a son of his own, but he did not find joy in that marriage. He was a striking young man and quite funny, so he was soon looking for another love in his life. Enter the saucy blond that he picked up on the corner of Main Street, the one who looked like Sandra Dee.

Phil was just as much a rebel as Sande was, so the fit was combustible, lustful and genuine. They had a rocky courtship by Sande's terms because Gertie, her mother, was not too fond of the cool motorcycles riding guy who was stealing her baby's heart. Gertie was a good read of people and she continually told Sande that she did not think Phil was right for her, that he was not the man that Sande's father was. Gertie did not approve, which just gave Phil that much more appeal to Sande. As any woman will tell you, when your heart is happy it is hard to listen to any one else's opinion. Sande was taken with Phil, so much so that she disregarded what her family was advising and she went head first into a new and exciting relationship. Things were great for Sande, she was truly happy in the love that she had found and she though she cared what her family thought, she did not let them shape her relationship with Mr. Snyder. They continued to fall in love, much to the dismay of her mother.

Viet Nam was the big topic of the day and since he was a soldier, it was soon revealed that Phil would leave to fight a war that so many in America opposed. When many were evading the draft, Phil was the first in line to volunteer to fight for his country. He wanted to marry Sande, to do right by her before he left. So in a courthouse they were married without fanfare, without bridesmaids and groomsmen, without Sande's mother in attendance. (Believe me, this was not a great subject to bring up with Gertie. Remember, Sande was her constant companion after "Cap", her husband and Sande's father, died. Gertie really did not like that Sande was being so defiant, so stubborn when it came to Phil.) Shortly after they were joined in union, he deployed to Viet Nam. Sande was proud of him, she was loyal to him. She waited for him to come back so they could start life together. The problem was, Phil liked his job. He liked it a lot. So when his tour was over he immediately signed up for another tour, then another. This was alright by Sande, like I said she was proud of him. So they wrote and longed for each other over a couple of years while he fought in the jungle that was Viet Nam. Demolition expert was his passion, he had found something that he was good at, something that made him feel important, something that he took pride in. He loved fighting for his country.

Winter of 1969 Phil took some much needed R&R from his battlefield. He sent word to Sande that he was arranging for the two of them to go to Hawaii so they could finally have that honeymoon that was so long overdue. Sande had never been out of the Midwest, let alone out of the country. She was excited, thrilled, jumping at the chance to see her handsome man after a such a long absence. She boarded a plane for the Aloha State and there, she and Phil had a romantic trip that removed them from the harsh reality of war, the reality of life without each other, for those few days they were the only people in the world. She told me that it was the most fun she had ever had in her life. She told me that trip was life changing for her, that she had never felt so happy and so complete. She was glowing the entire time they were there. And it was on that island romp that they conceived a child. In that child would be the best of both of them. In that child Sande would find her true purpose in life, to be a mother.

August 7, 1970 I was born. Kelsey Marie Snyder, a plump chunk weighing over 8 pounds, I was the spitting image of them both. Sande was instantly in love, and Phil was proud that he was able to produce the first Snyder girl in over 80 years of his family's history. (Yes, I am so very special...LOL!) They were finally going to be a family the way they had talked about for so many months. Stationed at Fort Leonardwood in Missouri, they soon found housing, day jobs and settled into life as man and wife, with baby in tow. I began to grow and was told that I was the apple of my father's eye. I was one of those kids who smiled a lot, laughed a lot and some how made others laugh at a very young age. One time we were at my Aunt's house when I heard someone talking about my father. I pipped up and said..."Are you talking about Phillip the Goose?" My mother spit her drink all over the table and was gagging on the liquid that went down the wrong pipe. Everyone was laughing and asking what I said. I repeated myself, again saying Phillip the Goose. My mother asked me why I was calling him that. I told her that I had heard her say it, I liked it, so I wanted to call him Phillip the Goose. She said that she had never called him that, not that she could remember, so she asked when specifically she had referred to my father as a winged bird. I told a story from the week earlier when my father did not come home on time after work and her dinner was ruined. I heard her say..."Phillip the Goose, where have you been!" She then laughed even harder. You see, my father's middle name is Bruce. When she was angry, she used his middle name to make a point. But I did not hear "Bruce" in my 3 year old mind. I heard "Goose", Phillip the Goose. My family still chuckles about this story, and it was always one of my mother's favorites to tell.

It was a funny antidote for a time that was very hard for my mother. Things were not so happy in the Snyder house, but I did not know it. I would soon be a statistic in the eyes of the world. I would be the product of a broken family, a child of divorce in a time when divorce was not the norm. I was an apple that was about to fall far from the tree and the bruises were deep rooted underneath my skin.


Deb Bibart said...

first Snyder girl in over 80 yrs..............woohoooooooooooo
so glad you were