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01) Ted Snyder

Note: The webmaster of this website thinks it fitting that Ted Snyder be the first documented for this section of Unsung Heroes.  He unknowingly was party to the seminal event that inspired the creation of this and the associate www.walhalla.co  web sites. The narrative is in "first person" by Mike Davis.

In February of 2011 I was reading the book "Hot, Flat, and Crowded"* by Thomas L. Friedman.**  On page 357 I read the following:
 "The Walter A. Starr Award went to Ted Snyder of Walhalla, South Carolina, for spending more than 
thirty-five years fighting a proposed thirty-seven-mile road through the Smoky Mountains National Park that would have sliced through the largest roadless tract of mountain land in the east."

I knew of Ted at the time but not personally.  Recently, I had dinner with Ted and ask him to sign my book which he did graciously.  He commented that Thomas Friedman really had made a mistake because he (Ted) had been awarded "The Walter A. Starr Award" twice.

Ted has served as president of the Sierra Club (1978 - 1980).  Currently, Ted and his family currently live in Walhalla where he  practices law

* Hot, Flat, and Crowded like most of Thomas Friedman's books was on the New York Times best seller list for many months
** Thomas Freeman (from the book flap) - Thomas L. Friedman has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize three times for his work with The New York Times, where he serves as the foreign affairs columnist.  He is the author of four previous books, all of them bestsellers.


There is more to the story of the Snyder family.   John, Ted Snyder's younger broether, has just had a successful launch of his first book, “Hill of Beans: Coming of Age ub the Last Days of the Old South”.  As of February 1, 2011 the reviews at Amazon have been five stars indicating that those who have read and reviewed the book have awarded the book the highest possible grade.  So we see that not only Ted Snyder deserving for bringing recognition and honor to the community but also his younger brother, John deserves  kudos for the same.

As to the book itself there is no better review than one posted to Amazon by Augustus "Gus" Napier from Brevard , NC. 

"Hill of Beans is a splendid book! While the author's attitude toward his material is modest, even circumspect, the writing is elegant and quietly powerful. One never questions the rock-solid truthfulness of these coming of age stories set, as the cover describes, in "The Last Days of the Old South."

This is a family story--of a brilliant and troubled father ("Daddy"), of a compassionate and patient mother ("Ma"), and of the four boys they raised--first in the mountains of western North Carolina, which remain a kind of Eden for Snyder (as they are for this writer); and then, after the family tragedy, in the foothills just to the east in South Carolina.

The father is the book's most memorable character--smart, inventive, angry, and driven to succeed, he is also in a war with himself that eventually leads to his downfall. There are four sons, conspiratorial and adventurous; the two aunts, one of them quite crazy, who live in nearby Greenville, SC, whom the author and a brother are sent to live with to improve their education; Celia MaGaha, a beautiful teenager from a neighbor family who "helps out" with raising the boys, and who breaks their hearts by "running off" at nineteen to marry H.P. Clark. And a long succession of others, with their rich language and their mountain "ways"; and the intricate details of the places themselves that bring them alive for us.

Just a few of the memorable scenes: the probable arson that destroys the inn the father had built, changing the family's life forever; the night the collie dog came to the door and the kids let it in, and the father picked up the fire poker and tried to kill it, yelling, "Stand back; it could be rabid," the boys and Ma screaming in protest; the drowning of the half-breed puppies the father wouldn't accept; the frightening experience of the father trying to force the four and five-year-old boys to swim when they couldn't; the harrowing nights with Aunt Bess and her campaign of terror--as she tries to teach the boys the dangers of the surrounding world; the mother's dropping her dishrag to weep about her dead mother and the gentile life she misses; and on and on. Wonderful stories, wonderfully told.

One sees the author himself emerge from this recounting: sees his intelligence and curiosity and his courage, and the tenderness he feels for the people in his life. Four years in a row he wins first prize for the State for his model cars submitted to the Fisher Body Craftsman Guild. These entries are like his letters to the world. And the world answers, awarding him at sixteen a scholarship to the University of Chicago; how that happened (it was the father's idea) is an interesting read all by itself.

In Hill of Beans, you are drawn into the intricacies of a world that no longer exists, and you live in that world, and you are changed by the experience. The beauty of these rolling hills acquires a new depth; and now that you know these people better, you admire them more.

This book is a modern classic; and it will last."

Author's Note
My first thought when reading about Ted  and John was, "I wonder how many people in Walhalla  know this?".  I begin to think about the people I knew who had come from Walhalla that had accomplished "great and wonderful things".  It makes me feel proud of where I was raised and the values taught to me by my parents and the community.  My Dad made an interesting comment to me regarding the recognition and hullabaloo given him at the time of his retirement.  I ask him if he was proud of the awards he was receiving from the churches and civic organizations of Walhalla.  Without hesitation he responded, "I think they are wrong (to award me). I appreciate the support and opportunity the community has given me so that I could live and provide for my family in the manner I wanted".  I think frequently about my Dad's statement.