I was born in Castro Valley, Alameda County, CA. I attended A. L. Schilling Elementary School, Silva Junior High, and Memorial High School all in Newark, Alameda County, CA.
I grew up in a what I would consider a middle class area. Typical Americana. A mom, a dad, a three bedroom home, in those days it was one bathroom! Instead of a white picket fence, dad built a redwood picket fence. Hey! We are talking California here!
When mom and dad married, he was in the Army. Stationed at Fort Ord. Once out of the army he attended a trade school in Hayward, and became a cement mason. He was all personality, never met a stranger, and opinionated. He was very authoritarian but most parents were in those days. He liked to wrestle, and I’d bet he didn’t even know his own strength because I remember crying a lot when he played with us. Dad was a hard worker, and I would be willing to bet that he played hard too, when he played. I know he was not perfect, I won’t go into those imperfections here. He’s dead and there is no point anymore. Dad died at 43 years old. I was married, pregnant, and twenty-one years old when he died. I can look back now and realize that I was pretty much still a “kid”.
Dad, was I believe honest for the most part of who and what he was. He was proud to be an “Oregonian Okie”, and before he died he left mom and us and went back to Oregon. One of my aunts or uncles told me he did that cause he didn’t want us to see him die. I don’t know, what I know is that when he left, that kind of took the lid off off me as a teenager, it more or less set me free. Dad was the force in the home that kept me in line. I was 15 when he left home. He felt we children were old enough to live without him at that point.
Looking back, it would have been nice had he stayed a little longer. I’d probably attended college instead of getting married, but it’s all water under the bridge now. He left, a boy came into my job and would not leave, and the rest is just history. That boy became my first husband as soon as I graduated from high school.
The marriage lasted for 14 years before I filed for divorce. On paper, in legal terms it lasted for 16 years. I filed for divorce in June of 1994. I had been becoming more and more educated in terms of what certain acts in the home that are perpetrated against wife and children are.. i.e. Domestic Violence. I asked my husband to try counseling and in all reality he gave it a shot. But, I felt it was lip service. He would say he was sorry in one breath and then turn around and do the same actions over and over.
Back to dad: I learned some pretty neat things from my dad. He preached honesty, though he probably wasn’t 100% himself. He was active in local politics, and stayed in touch with his family, even cousins who were distant. Dad taught me that hard work never killed anyone… dad taught me to keep on keepin’ on. The man broke his back (or at least to a little girl it was a broken back) and had to have back surgery when I was a little girl… he started having heart problems in his early 30’s. When one realizes that he spent the last 10 years of his life just trying to survive what happened to his heart, it’s really amazing. I’m there now, my heart has stopped twice on the table. I know what it feels like to have so much pressure on the heart that it can not function properly… I know what it’s like to be afraid I might not be alive tomorrow. Dad lived with that a long time. There are so many things you want to say and do before you go, everything must become life affirming… and yet, the words, “life affirming” probably wasn’t even in his vocabulary. He was a simple man who WANTED to live.
Mom was gave me a lot of gifts too. Mom was/is a perfectionist and it was known that she expected us to always do our best. In some ways she absolutely hovered, and over protected us. In other ways, there were times when she was barely there. In her defense, she was hit by a car when I was a little girl, and that left her permanently disabled. The fact that she continued working at all is in of itself a miracle. Mom was / is a great talent! She could cook, she sewed, and crocheted. Mom handmade some of our clothes, and they were really very cute. She was good with hair and we were always sporting really interesting hair-do’s when we were little. We went to bed with ‘rag-curls’ in our hair every so often. She could be playful at times, though I remember her playing with my sister far more than she played with me. I played for hours with my mom-made Barbie clothes & Barbies. Let me tell ya, these were well made real miniature clothes! Mom canned vegetables from the garden, tended to us when we were sick, and stuck by my father during all the hard times. She did not leave him, he left her. She endured poverty (due to health) while he was down from back injury, heart attack, and a tendon repair (on a finger)… and she stayed probably when she should have left. Dad walked off of at least one job probably due to temper. Rumors abound of his affairs of the heart, which is fairly normal behavior with my Rowe/McClaskey bunch. And yes, there was domestic violence. I was a very little girl, but still remember it vividly, hanging on to his knee and begging him to not hit “mommy”.
Switching gears a bit, I loved my grandparents, and I was…boy was I, a grandpa’s girl! I loved my grandpa, and I am pretty sure he loved us girls too! He called us his “little sugar feet” or “sugar foot”.
My grandparents really pretty much saved my life. When things were rough at home, as they had a tendency to be, my grandparents always let me know that I was loved. I’m sure they were human and had their imperfections, but I can tell you through my child’s eye, I never saw them.
There are many, many missing years here… My first child Pamela Ann, was born December 21, 1983. Today, after adoption by my second husband and a legal name change she is known as Victoria (Viki) Ann Snyder. My second child, Wesley William Miller was born January 5, 1991. He was also adopted by my husband and is now known as Wesley William Snyder. Another child was born in 1998, Diane Marie Watson, is the child of a ‘boyfriend’. I was in a bad situation and it seemed right at the time. She’s an angel and a true gift. But, he got dumped long ago.
In 2004, I met Clyde L. Snyder. He was the answer to many a prayer. A true partner, someone I could trust and lean on, tell everything to. He listens and when appropriate answers me honestly, yet fairly and gently. He is a big boned man who stands 5′ 10″. I’d never held hands with a man who’s hands were so big. It so totally impressed me that such a big man could be so gentle. He is smart and articulate, and has an honorable past. He can hold his head up knowing he has been honest and hard working. Our backgrounds are so similar that we often can finish each others sentences. Sometimes it just seems we were made for one another.
The pastor that married us, a friend since the year 1999 (or so) said that this marriage that came to be in 2005 was truly my first marriage. We’ll be married six years this May. This truly amazes me, that it’s lasted this long and that I still “like” him. Sheez! That I still love him… love him more now than ever!! That there is still respect, trust, communication! I have no doubt we can keep going, and I’ll tell ya, with my first husband, I’d said we could keep going, but on the inside I knew I’d never made it, and with the boyfriend– I never pretended it was going to work.
In 2010, Together Clyde & I adopted Janea, born November 13, 1984. I’ve been “mothering” her for well over 10 years now. Truthfully, closer to 15 years now. The kids have been calling her their sister for years. It was a joy to make it legal.
Welcome to the family, Janea Elizabeth Dotterer Snyder!
So, this website is really all about me, and who and what made me who I am. A large scale self-analysis, self psychoanalysis… So many things have happened over the years, and I happen to be the kind of person that asks, “why?” The answers include such variables as survival, culture, nationality, immigration, poverty, cruelty, and just “that’s how things were done in that time.”
This website is about me AND mine. It’s a story about mom , dad, grandma, grandpa and all those who came before us all and paved the way for us who are here now. It is unique, and at the same time it is a plain vanilla white-European immigration story. I have Dutch ancestors who came to America as early as the 1600’s to New Amsterdam (New York), Danish Ancestors who came to America in 1865, and German ancestors who came over between them in the 1700’s. It IS my story. I’m proud of it, and I’m proud of my family. As it turns out I come from pretty good stock: honest, hard working people.
It IS my children’s story. So they will know who they are and why.
If you made it this far, you really are a glutton for punshment! LOL 🙂 1/22/2011 Peg