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Transcript of interview with Bill Snyder by Claytee White, November 21, 2008

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2008-11-21
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In 1978 Bill Snyder came Las Vegas for a heavyweight championship fight between his homeboy, Larry Holmes and Ken Norton. During that visit, he saw cranes dotting the cityscape so he returned home and proposed that the family move across country and settle in the desert. His wife, Joy, gave him a year. And as they say, the rest is history. And what am amazing history it is. In this interview, Bill Snyder talks about his life from its beginning in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he discovered the challenge of architecture first by perusing books in the library and then by hands-on construction experience. But his love of art built the foundation to this treasured craft that has allowed him to design homes, office buildings, airport terminals and the McCaw School of Mines on the campus of McCaw Elementary School in Henderson, NV. The projects that Mr. Snyder seems to prize most are those that include the imagination of children. The people who shaped his life are introduced and the impact of his military training is wonderfully expressed. His connection with young people is paramount throughout the oral history that is beautifully documented with images of many of the projects that displayed children's art in an exciting way. Bill and Joy are the parents of two sons. Dana age 36, lives with his wife Christine in Hollywood, California, and works as a voice actor best known for his role as Master Shake on the cartoon Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Their younger son, Mike age 31, owns The Krate, a clothing, music, and art shop in Santa Cruz, California, where he lives with his wife Mandy and daughter Maya. A husband, father, sports car enthusiast, runner, thinker and lover of teaching and trusting young people, Bill Snyder is a brilliant architect and manager of people. He is dyslectic and never expected a school to be named in his honor but the William E. Snyder Elementary School was dedicated in 2001 with overwhelming community support. One of his current goals is to dream an architectural project that rivals the McCaw School of Mines for his own school. I trust that you will learn to love architecture in a different and very profound way as you read this interview just as I did during my conversation with Bill.

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OH_01730_book
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Snyder, Bill Interview, 2008 November 21. OH-01730. [Transcript.] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections & Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vegas, Nevada

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An Interview with William Snyder An Oral History conducted by Claytee D. White The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Oral History Research Center at UNLV Libraries University of Nevada Las Vegas ©The Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project University of Nevada Las Vegas, 2007 Produced by: The Oral History Research Center at UNLV — University Libraries Director and Editor: Claytee D. White Assistant Editors: Gloria Homol and Delores Brownlee Transcribers: Kristin Hicks and Laurie Boetcher Interviewers and Project Assistants: Suzanne Becker, Nancy Hardy, Joyce Moore, Andres Moses, Laura Plowman, Emily Powers, Dr. Dave Schwartz' ii The recorded interview and transcript have been made possible through the generosity of Dr. Harold Boyer and the Library Advisory Committee. The Oral History Research Center enables students and staff to work together with community members to generate this selection of first-person narratives. The participants in this project thank the university for the support given that allowed an idea the opportunity to flourish. The transcript received minimal editing that includes the elimination of fragments, false starts, and repetitions in order to enhance the reader's understanding of the material. All measures have been taken to preserve the style and language of the narrator. In several cases photographic sources accompany the individual interviews. The following interview is part of a series of interviews conducted under the auspices of the Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project. Additional transcripts may be found under that series title. Claytee D. White, Project Director Director, Oral History Research Center University Libraries University Nevada, Las Vegas iii Table of Contents List of Illustrations Preface Interview Index v vi 1-52 53-54 Appendix Edutopia article by Roberta Furger "Bringing the Rainforest (and the Ocean) to Las Vegas" List of the Top 50 Architectural firms in the Country From Architect, May 2010 Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects - No. 18 iv List of Illustrations Snyder Family Frontispiece Following page Powell Residence 5 Operations Sergeant - Vietnam War 17 Bill's Sketch of Dillard Tower 17 Hugh Moore's Architectural Studio 20 Mclnerey Residence 20 George Tate 22 Windom Kimsey 22 Tate Snyder Kimsey Building (TSK Studio) 29 Berry Plastics 32 McCarran Art Wall 32 McCarran Art Wall Dedication Ceremony (2) 32 Snyder School Art Wall 36 Bill's Running Club 38 Bill's Race Car 38 Kids Tour of Firs Station 3 9 Girls on Fire Truck 40 McCaw School of Mines 43 McCarran Satellite D Terminal - Architectural 47 McCarran Paper Plane Mobile Mills Lane Justice Center - Architectural 47 Mills Lane Stained Glass Wall 48 v Preface In 1978 Bill Snyder came Las Vegas for a heavyweight championship fight between his homeboy, Larry Holmes and Ken Norton. During that visit, he saw cranes dotting the cityscape so he returned home and proposed that the family move across country and settle in the desert. His wife, Joy, gave him a year. And as they say, the rest is history. And what am amazing history it is. In this interview, Bill Snyder talks about his life from its beginning in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he discovered the challenge of architecture first by perusing books in the library and then by hands-on construction experience. But his love of art built the foundation to this treasured craft that has allowed him to design homes, office buildings, airport terminals and the McCaw School of Mines on the campus of McCaw Elementary School in Henderson, NV. The projects that Mr. Snyder seems to prize most are those that include the imagination of children. The people who shaped his life are introduced and the impact of his military training is wonderfully expressed. His connection with young people is paramount throughout the oral history that is beautifully documented with images of many of the projects that displayed children's art in an exciting way. Bill and Joy are the parents of two sons. Dana age 36, lives with his wife Christine in Hollywood, California, and works as a voice actor best known for his role as Master Shake on the cartoon Aqua Teen Hunger Force. Their younger son, Mike age 31, owns The Krate, a clothing, music, and art shop in Santa Cruz, California, where he lives with his wife Mandy and daughter Maya. A husband, father, sports car enthusiast, runner, thinker and lover of teaching and trusting young people, Bill Snyder is a brilliant architect and manager of people. He is dyslectic and never expected a school to be named in his honor but the William E. Snyder Elementary School was dedicated in 2001 with overwhelming community support. One of his current goals is to dream an architectural project that rivals the McCaw School of Mines for his own school. I trust that you will learn to love architecture in a different and very profound way as you read this interview just as I did during my conversation with Bill. vi ORAL HISTORY RESEARCH CENTER AT UNLV Boyer Early Las Vegas Oral History Project Use Agreement Name of Narrator: X\/iIKakA F^A. IA Name ol Interviewer: Llmt^ 7). l/l*ii£ We, the above named, give tfc> tli^OraJ History Research Center of UNLV, the recorded mterview(s) initiated on HIjJ MQdb as an unrestricted gift, to be used for such scholarly and educational purposes as shall be determined, and transfer to the University of Nevada Las Vegas, legal title and all literary property rights including copyright. This gift does not preclude the right of the interviewer, as a representative of UNLV, to use the recordings and related materials for scholarly pursuits. There will be no compensation lor any interviews. Library Special Collections 4505 Maryland Parkway, Box 457010, Las Vegas, Nevada 89154-7070 (702) 895-2222 I'm Claytee White. And this is November 21st, 2008. And I'm in the office of- Bill Snyder. Bill Snyder is with which firm? Tate Snyder Kimsey Architects. Thank you so very much. So how are you today? I am fine. And you? Wonderful. Great to be here. Tell me a little about your childhood and where you grew up. I grew up, born and raised in Pennsylvania in a place called Easton. And I grew up pretty much in a blue-collar town and a very diverse town of a lot of immigrants that migrated from New York a little bit further East. Easton is a very historical town. So we grew up around a lot of history. George Taylor, one of our founding fathers in the city of Easton, was one of the original signers of the Declaration of Independence. So never really being a history buff as a student growing up, you don't realize what you lived amongst until you move away and become interested in reading and you discover you have a love of reading history. And then you realize that you lived next to it and you never took advantage of it. So you were talking about your love of history. Yes. And Easton is not very far, only maybe 15, 20 miles north of where George Washington crossed the Delaware. And I lived a few blocks off the college campus of Lafayette College, which was named after General George Lafayette, who was part of General Sullivan's army. And General Sullivan marched through our area. And one of the streets that's within a block or so of my home that I grew up in was called Sullivan's Trail. So all the history is there. And I'm glad I can go back and visit it now that I've read a little bit of history about it. Good. So do your friends, your parents, do they appreciate that history? I don't think they do. I think people grow up in an area and you never really take advantage of what's in your own backyard. And, of course, when you're going to school as a young student, you're learning history out of a book. You're not learning about the that's history in your backyard. So history growing up to me in school was something that you had to memorize something from a book for Friday's test and you got graded on it. And that wasn't very much fun. But I think when you experience things, then you have a desire to know more about them. And I think that part of my love of architecture started by sneaking into the Lafayette College library as a kid pretending I was a student and going off into the architectural section and just pulling books off the shelf and just immersing myself for hours going page by page and dreaming about, wow, wouldn't it be nice to be able to go to college and become an architect and do all this. Oh, that's great. So no one influenced you. It's just that curiosity. The curiosity, yes. I always enjoyed building things as a kid. When you're a little kid and you build forts and tree houses, you're the one that has to figure out how to get the lumber in the tree and how to make it work. And that's kind of fun and that sort of develops. And I always loved art. I always was very good in art. I was not a very good student at all. But I made up for it with art. I just loved to draw. So I did a lot of drawing and a lot of hammering of nails. And I think as a kid growing up I used to spend a lot of time sneaking into construction sites and climbing all over everything and experiencing construction that way and working construction when I had a chance as a kid to have a job working as a laborer or cleaning up around a construction site. So I always had a love of construction and a curiosity of construction. And I loved to draw. So it became natural I think to become an architect. Tell me about your parents. What kind of work did your father do? My father spent his time working - he worked for the city. The last 20 or so years of his life he worked for the Parks Department in the city mostly outside cutting grass and repairing things. And prior to that he worked as a machinist in a machine shop. And that plant either closed down or he got laid off or something. And that's when he went to work for the city for the last 20 or so years of his life. Prior to that my father worked for a family business. My great-grandfather started and owned a resale wholesale fish market. So a fish market was always part of our family. As a kid when Catholics had to eat fish on Good Friday or every Friday, I got to play hooky from school on many Fridays to help deliver fish on the fish trucks. So I would be out early riding as somebody's helper running orders door to door with a fish truck. Oh, that's interesting. So growing up in a family business you had no fear of going into your own business. 2 Well, my father actually worked there. It was my great-uncles that actually ran it. So I guess I'm not quite sure what fear you have going - no, I had no fear going into business. But watching my father and my father-in-law, who both worked very hard their whole lives but never really had anything to show for it - they were both World War II veterans. My father-in-law got out of the navy after World War II and went to work for a company. And that is the only job he ever had. And every time that company reached a strike, he would go on strike with everybody that went on strike. And every time they came back. And, finally, one day the company just decided to close down. And at that point he was too old to go get a job anywhere else and he had nothing to show for it. And growing up as a baby-boomer being told you've got to study hard, you've got to work hard, there's so many people going for jobs - and I think the baby-boomer generation became successful because we grew up with such pressure from our parents that you have to do well, and teachers, because you have so many people looking for those jobs. And so I think that was part of just something that was instilled upon you growing up, at least in our area where many of the people were factory workers and there were a lot of factories. Some of the factories in Easton, the companies — Crayola Crayons is headquartered in Easton. And I never had problems getting crayons as a little kid because I had aunts that worked there. Dixie Cup is another company from Easton. My first architect that I worked for; his father was the founder of Dixie cup. So it was that kind of a city. Bethlehem Steel, a lot of my neighbors worked at Bethlehem Steel. You know, Bethlehem, Easton and Allentown all sort of run together. And then there was Ingersoll-Rand, which was just across the Delaware River in Phillipsburg, New Jersey. So it was very, very industrial. That's all changed now because a lot of those businesses have moved or shut down. (Billy Joel sang about this - Allentown.) But that was sort of the blue-collar community that I grew up in, hard-working, very hard-working people, and a very diverse ethnic group. It was never hard to find a good Italian restaurant or a good pizza place. It was just a great place to grow up. We knew no racial divides. We knew no ethnic divides. We had a lot of Jewish people and we had a lot of bagels. And, you know, you just grow up and you wonder growing up in the 60s where there were all sorts of riots and things other places and you grew up thinking, What is that all about? We don't have that. So I think, just growing up where you're a kid and your best friends are from all different walks of life, it gives 3 you a real appreciation of people. And what you don't know and what you don't understand, it is really kind of fun to be drug into somebody's house for dinner and experience a whole new kind of food that you never had or staying overnight with your friends or vice versa. It was just a great place to grow up. It sounds like it. That's wonderful. Tell me about high school and then college. High school is interesting. I enjoyed sports. I was the captain of my wrestling team in high school. Art was a big thing in high school. The other subjects were really not very good. As a matter of fact, I think in high school I learned how to negotiate because I did do a little bit of negotiating for my grades with painting pictures and doing artwork for teachers and convincing them that if they would just give me a passing grade I promise I would be a good person and I wouldn't hurt anybody. So I was able to exchange a few pictures. I'm not sure if my artwork was that good or if they felt sorry for somebody that was trying to make an extra effort beyond the subject matter and in some cases I was successful. Is any artwork in here your artwork? Yeah. Those sketches up on the wall are mine. Oh, good. Wonderful. I see why they accepted it. But it was kind of fun. I was not a good student. I'm dyslexic. I didn't realize that at the time. Sol was in some special education classes when I was in elementary school. I think I did a little bit better when I was in high school because you can move a little bit different at your own pace. But my grades were not very good, not at all. But I did have some wrestling scholarships to different colleges if I wanted to take advantage of them. So where did you end up going to college? I didn't go to college. I did not go to college. How can you become an architect? Well, you still can in several states. When I moved to Nevada and while I was still in Pennsylvania, I was a partner in an architectural firm with three young architects. We started a design-build company called The Architectural Studio where we actually built several of the houses and editions that we designed. It was a great experience because we didn't know enough to know that you couldn't do that. We didn't have any experience. So we just said, well, we'll get it. We'll do it. So 4 we found people that liked us enough that said, okay, we'll take a chance with you. It was a very good learning experience to be able to build things that you designed and be very close with the clients you're working for. In one case we did a house for a young couple. He was a teacher. And he and his wife came out every Saturday and Sunday and worked with us building their own house. It was a great experience. We worked right through the winter. So his wife would tend the fire that kept us warm so we could warm our hands. Doug was his name. And he worked right along with us as a laborer. He did whatever we needed him to do and helped build his own house. And that was a great experience. My partners and I, we worked all week in the office with whatever work we had. But this was the way for the four of us to be able to go into our own businesses. We used to get together Friday afternoons and have a couple of beers. And I worked with the architect in his small office. The other two worked at two separate offices. And we would always get together every Friday and have a couple of beers and discuss the week, what they were working on and what we were working on. And we would always fantasize about what would we have to do to start our own office and just all work together? And I wound up finding some clients, which I was doing a house for. And I said, well, why don't we build this house and start a design-build construction company and between what little work we have as architects we'll supplement that with what little money we'll make building this house and we'll all be able to work together? And that's kind of what we did. As a matter of fact, I was just back in New York two weeks ago with two of those partners. We all got together. And this is 30 years later. And we went to Connecticut and toured the Philip Johnson Glass House together. So we still stay in close touch. Have you ever gone back to see one of those first houses that you did? I do once in a while. I do. I drive by a couple of them. Describe one of those to me. The first house was built in a beautiful lot in a place called Bushkill Township, which was about 15 to 20 miles north of our office in Easton, Pennsylvania [Powell House], It was a beautiful wooded site. And we designed a house that was small because they had a limited budget. We did a little bit 5 of an open concept. It was a two-bedroom house. We made provisions so they could add a third bedroom at some point. But, in the meantime, the third bedroom area that we had carved out was just an outside deck. So the space was basically there. We did not have a garage. It had a carport. And the carport had a deck on top of it that was a roofed area that they could take advantage of overlooking the deer on their site, which was pretty interesting. And one whole wall was a stone fireplace that I built myself. That was fun. We gathered the stones from the site. We laid all the stones out and we handpicked each stone before we put it in. And we built scaffolding, as we got higher. I think I spent probably three weeks building that stone fireplace. And my fingers were just all sore from all of the lime and the mortar. We didn't wear gloves. We packed all the mortar » Do you have any fingerprints now? Actually, I don't. I don't. But that was our first. And it was a lot of fun. And the clients were so good. It just was such a great experience for us all. And we became good friends with the clients. That was our first. How did you learn all the skills that I think an architect has to have? That first person you worked for, was that like an apprenticeship in the beginning? Well, the first person that I worked for - let me back up. That was my firm, The Architectural Studio, which I was a partner in for approximately four years before I moved here to Las Vegas, which was in 1978. When I was in high school, I was constantly drawing. And my aunt, who I lived next door to, was an interior designer. She was a graduate of Pratt Institute. And she had worked when she got out of school for Macy's for a while and then just raised a family and never pursued the career any longer. But I remembered discovering this great book that she had. And it was called Architectural Graphic Standards. And I would borrow that book and I would go page by page by page. And I was just fascinated by all the knowledge in that book. And one day I came across what I thought was the secrets to the universe. And it was a chapter on how to do perspective drawings. And I taught myself how to do perspective drawings with projections of the plan. And I just thought that was the greatest thing in the world that you could draw to scale something in perspective and it was no longer just a sketch. And I did that. And so when I was in high school, I had art in high school every day. 6 Every day? Every day. I elected art as a major, however you do that. And I had art every single day. I had a wonderful art teacher. And he was a big inspiration in my life. Anyway, whenever we had an opportunity in art class to do a free project, you could do whatever you wanted. Well, I would wind up doing these great perspective drawings, paper and ink drawings and then watercolor washes. And they were perspectives. So it would up when I graduated from high school, I had all of these perspective drawings. I graduated from high school at 17. My birthday was like the first day of school, which was really kind of a bummer as a birthday date. Your birthday party is always the first day of school as your birthday. I mean it's wild. And being dyslexic and not really enjoying school very much — I enjoyed art. I enjoyed people. I enjoyed wrestling. But words didn't jump off the page at me. And I had a hard time following what page we were on. And teaching back in those days was a lot of intimidation. You know, why can't you read as fast as this person or that person? And I couldn't read very well. So I developed this sort of kind of teacher-friendly class clown where I wound up having to sit next to the teacher's desk a lot. But timing is everything. And when the teacher's really mad, you ve got to make sure that you she's really mad. And when she's not you can get away with a little. As long as it's funny enough for the teacher to laugh, she really can't discipline you. So I wound up in that position a lot. I sat next to teacher and painted a lot of pictures for grades. But in any case, I forget your question now. We were talking about teaching yourself. Oh. Well, when I graduated from high school, I worked construction. And where the Lehigh River flows into the Delaware River, there was an old dam that was built probably back in the very early 1800s. And I got a job working as a laborer. I wasn't 18. So I really wasn't old enough to join the union. So I was just the timekeeper and the gofer. And I got that job because my uncle was the city politician. And he was able to get me that job because this large construction company from Philadelphia was working there. And that was a very interesting job this old historical dam. We were tearing it apart. We built a cofferdam to close off half the river. And we tore half the dam out and diverted the water around; working around all that. And then during the summer that was the job. 7 And then once the summer was over they were falling behind schedule. So they put on two shifts. Now, the day shift was a union job. The night shift was non-union. And I wound up working the night shift as well as the day shift. So I worked 16 hours a day. During the day I was the timekeeper and the gofer. And at night I was a rod man tying steel reinforcing rods. I was the youngest kid on the job. You know, even to this day I think construction workers have a tendency to take a kid under his wing. When I was working during the day with the union guys, there would always be some bulldozer operator who would grab me and throw me up on the bulldozer and say, Come on up here, kid. You see those guys in the ditch down there. You don't want to be down there when you're 60 years old digging a ditch. You want to be up here. You want to learn how to operate this equipment. So they would teach me how to operate their equipment. Well, that was great and that was fun during the day. But at night I was the only guy who knew how to operate the equipment. And I was 17 years old. So I got to bring a load of this down with the loader or bring a load of that with that or use the dozer to do that. And I was a rod man because building a dam there's a lot of reinforcing rods and a lot of concrete work. So that was my job at night. And during the day I was the timekeeper. Then even on the weekends I was kind of the weekend watchman because I lived in the city and everybody else lived in Philadelphia. So I would drive through the job site three or four times a day. When we were curing the concrete, we would cover it up with plastic tents. And we'd have to keep heat on it because it was wintertime part of the time. And I'd have to go every few hours during the weekend and fuel up the heaters to keep the stuff going. So I worked about a hundred hours a week. Yes. And you were rich when you finished this. Actually I was. I got this sense of ~ actually, in that very first job I usually had seven or eight paychecks in my wallet that I never had time to cash. And I actually made more money than my parents put together. And that was my first job out of high school. So I had this really very different perspective of what life and money was all about. And I did that for probably a good year. My uncle, the politician, tried to get me to go to school because he knew I had some talent. He was always friends with the local architect in town. And that was Hugh Moore, Jr. And he made an appointment and took me to see his friend the architect, Hugh Moore, Jr. And my uncle's idea of taking me there was to have Hugh Moore, Jr., talk me into going off to school. A great uncle. Good 8 idea. Okay, fine. But that was my uncle's intention. Little did he know what you needed to do to get into architectural schools. But while I was there — I took my portfolio. And Hugh Moore, Jr., was impressed with my work and said, "I could use a guy like you around here. Why don't you come to work for me and be my apprentice?" And what did the uncle say? And my uncle was amazed. So I got the job. And I worked for Hugh Moore, Jr., for probably about a year and a half. I just thought that was great. Instead of going to work every day for 16 hours a day -- and that job was done anyway for me ~ now I got to go to work with a suit and a tie. I mean this was pretty nice. And, again, I'm the young kid in the office and everybody wants to teach me everything. And I worked directly with Hugh. He would doodle out designs, schematic designs. And he would give them to me to refine. So I got a great chance to learn how to do some design work. It was just a very, very unusual experience. This is a charmed life. It really was, although it came to an end soon. Before we get there I want to go back and I want to know your mother and father's names. And you said something about your father's work. So I want to know about your mother's work. And I want to know more about the art teacher and that influence. My mother's name is Eleanor Snyder. She worked one job her whole life. She started working part time at a bakery, a large bakery when she was in high school as a part-time job. I think it was in the cake decorating department or something. And when she got out of high school, she went to work there. She never left that job. Her last position was - and she's been retired now ~ my mother's in her 80s. But I think she retired when she was close to 70,68 or 70. But for the last 12 years with the bakery she was their head computer programmer. So when they first put computerized the bakery with the data processing and all that stuff, that's what she did. And she was working long hours because she always had to go in and run all these different programs and come home for dinner. And I always remembered her having to go back after dinner to run this program or run that program. But my mother worked very hard and worked at the bakery her whole life. You sound like your mother. I mean she probably trained herself on those computers. Yeah, she did. She did because she didn't go beyond high school. 9 My father left high school. He got a diploma. But my father left high school during the war efforts and he joined the Merchant Marines. My father just passed away this year. When my father passed away he had a small notepad in an old ammo box that he had kept where he kept all of his insurance policies. And he never shared that with us. But that is the history of two of his Atlantic crossings during the war, which he told me once that ~ I mean he never really spoke much about it. But that is full of incidences where they were being dive-bombed by German dive-bombers where ships next to them are getting torpedoed and sinking. It's a very, very harrowing account. And this is just two of the trips that he made across the Atlantic during the war. He made 17. After the war he wasn't able to work for two years. I guess not. Have you ever thought about writing a book? I don't know. Well, actually, I deciphered those notes and I just made copies of them so I could give a copy to my brother and my nephews. So it's kind of interesting. I should. I should do three generations of war. My great grandfather - I'm getting off your story line. Sorry. No. But I want to know. When I went to Vietnam, my father gave me a Bible, a little Bible with a metal cover on it. They wore that in their breast pocket over their heart. And it was a Bible that my grandfather carried to the front in World War I. And it was pretty interesting because my grandfather put in the front cover where he was on which fronts in the chronology of his World War I experiences. And then my father put that back cover with his experiences through the different countries that he was in during World War II and gave me that to carry to Vietnam with me. And you still have it? I do. I do. Oh, this is amazing. So I'm now starting to rethink about my own history. And one of the great things - I shared that with you about my father. My grandfather died when my father was seven years old. So I never knew my grandfather. And when my grandmother passed away, many years ago, I was given this leather suitcase that my grandmother wanted me to have because I am my grandfather's namesake. The suitcase had all the letters that my grandfather wrote from the trenches in World War I to my grandmother. 10 Oh, my goodness. m\ grandmother was the little girl next-door neighbor of my grandfather. She was about 10 or > ears \ ounger than my grandfather. She idolized him. He was the big guy next door. And she • rote him letters and he wrote her back. And she kept all those letters. And when she passed away, sho yave me one °f those old leather suitcases and it had all those letters in there. And I was in the process ot going through all of that, which was pretty interesting talking about the Battle of the \. gonne Forest and some of the experiences that he had gone through. There were also some letters there that he had written to his father. So I have to decipher all that. ()h, 1 can think of plays and all kinds of things. This is amazing. What is your father's name? Richard L. Snyder. Vnd now tell me a little about the art teacher. Richard Fox. Mr. Fox. Does he know how much he influenced your life? I don't know. I'm not sure he's still alive. Mr. Fox was a very talented guy. We had a very special relationship. He was involved with the local theater group that used the high school theater after hours. And he and my English teacher, Ms. McClay, they were big into the theater. Because I was good in art and Mr. Fox's right-hand guy, I got drafted to do a lot of work on sets and always working in the auditorium, which in itself was kind of fun because we'd be up behind the stage building stage sets and we'd have access to the catwalks. And they used the auditorium for «they used to have study halls in those days. So we would be up on the catwalks and nobody knew where we were or what we were doing. You can just image the kind of things that you could get away with up there. So we had a lot of fun. But Mr. Fox also did a lot of set design for Broadway theaters. So he was always working on sketches. And I remember one day he was working on this sketch, pen and ink sketch. And I came up behind him when I came into the room and I slapped him on the back. Hey, Mr. Fox, how are % ou doing? And the ink spilled on the sketch. And he was so angry because it was ~ and he made me redo the sketch for him, which I thought at the time it was punishme