OIn February, a friend and I spent a half day at the Ohio Genealogical Society outside Bellville. The OGS has past issues of the Bellville Star on microfilm. I began researching back issues of the Bellville Star, starting in 1941 in hopes that I would learn more information about my grandparents as well as my father and his siblings. Unfortunately, I have not been able to resume that research project as I have been inundated with work at the office since that time. I did, however, find some interesting information and thought that I would share with you some of that information.

1. During World War II, Marion (Lucas) Snyder was a member of the Navy Mothers Club. Her son Robert Lucas Snyder was in the Navy. I noted from various articles about the meetings of the Navy Mothers Club that Larry Hoffman’s mother, Mrs. C.W. Hoffman, was also in the same Navy Mother’s Club. I believe that Larry’s older brother, Warren Hoffman, was in the Navy in World War II.

2. Ora Otis (Pete) Snyder, Jr. , one of the sons of Marion and Ora Snyder, was a freshman at Bellville High School in 1942-43. While I knew that Uncle Pete played sports in high school, I did not realize what a great athlete he was. He earned varsity letters in both football and basketball in his freshman year. The basketball team won second place that year in the Richland County tournament, losing to Union. The article about that game noted that Pete Snyder was limping because of a bad ankle but nevertheless played.

3. As you might expect, I found numerous articles dealing with how World War II was impacting Bellville. Blackout tests were held in Bellville as part of air raid defense preparations. The Snyder Funeral Home in Bellville received the blackout warning notices and, in turn, transmitted them to the Bellville Mayor and Fire Chief. After the blackout orders were received, it was noted that a steady two minute blast of the village siren followed, which was heard for miles out into the county. Thereafter, Air Wardens followed up and reminded people to turn off all the lights. After the blackout tests were over, someone from the funeral home, usually one of the kids, would be sent up to the cemetery to advise city officials that the blackout test was over.

4. The Bellville Junior and Senior High Schools presented the operetta, “Rio Rio” in late March of 1943. Ora (Pete) Snyder was noted as having a leading part in this production and Gifta (Bowers) Snyder was noted as being one of the student directors of the production.

5. Every issue of the Bellville Star during World War II included a column entitled “News Items Concerning Bellville Service Men.” The December 3, 1942 issue of the Bellville Star included the following note: “Robert Snyder, who has been stationed at Great Lakes Naval Training School in Illinois, spent a sixty hour leave with his parents during the weekend. Other guests in the home of Mr. and Mrs. O.O. Snyder on Saturday evening included Mr. and Mrs. Richard Snyder, Stanley Parrott, Misses Betty Snyder, Dorothy Clever and Mary Shortes, all of Lexington.”

6. An advertisement from Stoodt’s Grocery indicated that a quart of peanut butter was 42 cents, a bottle of catsup was 15 cents, two boxes of Wheaties were 23 cents and 3 cakes of Lifebuoy soap were 21 cents.

7. One article that caught my eye was a letter in the August 5, 1943 edition of the Bellville Star written by two Bellville boys, Leo Fry and Charles Peters, who were stationed at Camp Carson, an Army training camp outside of Colorado Springs. This caught my eye because I believe that Dave Snyder was also stationed at that camp at one point during World War II and got his introduction to Colorado there. The letter read as follows:

“We want to write a few lines to the people of Bellville. Due to the fact that we can’t write a letter to each one, we address this letter to all. We are just fine out here in Colorado and we hope everyone back in Bellville is the same.

The Army is treating us fine. We have very good jobs. We get three square meals a day and plenty of hard work.

We certainly do miss the little city of Bellville and would like to see everyone. Our life is much different from that when we were home. We certainly enjoy reading our Star paper to the boys in the kitchen. When we start comparing our little town with some of the boys’ other home towns, we usually get a loaf of bread or a dishrag, or maybe even a broom, thrown at us, as everyone sticks for their own home town.

Cooking is a very interesting life. On maneuvers, it is a very hard job. Camp Carson is a very nice camp. It is located 7 miles south of Colorado Springs, Colorado at the foot of the Cheyenne Mountains, near Pikes Peak. The altitude of our camp is 7.000 feet. The climate is wonderful. The state of Colorado is the most beautiful state I ever saw. We have visited some very beautiful and interesting places, such as the Garden of the Gods, Cave of the Winds, The Great Royal Gorge and the worlds’ highest bridge. It is a state of beautiful scenery.

When we were camping on maneuvers at Lake George, Colorado, we saw numerous wild animals. Some of the boys from our division caught three young wildcats. One boy from our company caught a young eagle. It was a very pretty bird.

There is nothing more to say, so we will say so long, hoping to see you soon. “


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William Rinehart Biddle

William Rinehart Biddle

I mentioned in a recent post that two of our ancestors, William Rinehart Biddle and his half-brother, James Biddle, served in the Oneida Independent Cavalry in the Civil War. William Rinehart Biddle had a very distinguished career, not only as a Civil War soldier but also as a teacher, lawyer, prosecutor and state legislator. I found the following article about him in a Kansas State history published in 1912:

” William R. Biddle, a member of the bar of Fort Scott, and one of the best known attorneys of southeastern Kansas, is a native of the Buckeye State, born in Wayne county, Ohio, Nov. 22, 1840. He is a son of Rev. Alexander and Magdalena (Noftzger) Biddle, natives of Pennsylvania, the former born in 1810, of English and German extraction, and the latter in 1812, of German descent. The father was a United Brethren clergyman who educated himself by his own personal efforts, as opportunities in that day to acquire a college education were extremely limited. Shortly after his marriage he was sent to Ohio as a missionary and made his headquarters in Wayne county, though his work took him to all parts of Northern Ohio. He served as circuit rider and presiding elder, sixty-eight of the eighty-nine years of his life being passed in the work of the ministry. A history of the United Brethren denomination speaks of him as “a hero of the church.” He was one of twelve children, nine of whom grew to maturity. In his political views he was a Whig until the organization of the Republican party, when he cast his lot with that organization. He was always an ardent anti-slavery man and was never backward about making the fact known. He was married three times. His first wife died in 1849, at the age of thirty-seven years, and he was twice married afterward, but no children were born of the second and third marriages.

William R. Biddle was reared on his father’s farm, attending the district schools during the winter months, and completed his education at the United Brethren College at Westerville, Ohio.

In the spring of 1861 he left college and went to Hagerstown, Md., where he was engaged for some time in organizing government wagon trains, though not regularly enlisted in the United States service. In October of that year he went to Washington, D. C., where he enlisted, on the 10th, in what was known as the Oneida cavalry, an independent company from Oneida, N. Y., the members of which served as couriers and orderlies for the officers connected with the headquarters of the Army of the Potomac. On Dec. 4, 1864, he was mustered out as sergeant at Petersburg Landing, Va., on account of expiration of the term of enlistment, and returned home and at once entered Otterbein University, at Westerville, Ohio.

During the summer of 1865 he worked on his father’s farm, reading law as opportunity offered. During the winter of 1865-66 he taught school, still pursuing his legal studies, and in the fall of 1867 entered the law department of the University of Michigan. He remained a student in that institution, under the tutelage of Judge Thomas M. Cooley, until the following June—the close of the college year—and in July, 1868, was admitted to the bar at Bucyrus, Ohio.

Soon after his admission he went to Holden, Mo., with a view of opening a law office there, but three months later located in Mound City, then the county seat of Linn county, Kan. Here he practiced until the county seat was removed to La Cygne, when he moved his office to that place. In 1874 the county seat was again removed, this time to Pleasanton. Mr. Biddle followed the seat of justice and practiced at Pleasanton, with Hon. R. W. Blue, under the firm name of Biddle & Blue, until in 1887, when he removed to Fort Scott. Here he formed a partnership with Eugene F. Ware and C. F. Cory, under the firm name of Ware, Biddle & Cory, which association lasted until 1892 and acquired the reputation of being the leading law firm of Southeastern Kansas. Mr. Biddle then practiced alone for some time, when he formed a partnership with John H. Crain, under the name of Biddle & Crain. After the dissolution of this partnership Mr. Biddle again practiced alone until 1902, when he formed a partnership with Hubert Lardner, as Biddle & Lardner, which was dissolved Sept. 1, 1911.

Mr. Biddle is a Republican in his political affiliations. In 1872 he was elected county attorney of Linn county and served one term, and he was three times elected to represent that county in the state legislature—in 1876, 1877 and 1879—but has not sought political preferment since 1881.

He has probably made more public addresses in his home county and surrounding counties than any man south of Kansas City, principally at old settlers’ meetings, Memorial Day exercises, etc. Many of his addresses on these occasions have been printed in full in the newspapers. His practice extends to all the state and Federal courts and embraces all classes of litigation. Mr. Biddle is a Mason; a member of William H. Lytle Post, G. A. R., of Fort Scott; the Heptasophs; and the Knights and Ladies of Security. Mr. Biddle has had an extended acquaintance with the early leaders of Kansas. He was well acquainted with Col. James Montgomery and aided him to get a pension. He was also acquainted with Colonel Jennison, the leader of the Jayhawkers in the early border troubles. He also voted for John J. Ingalls for senator, and knew Plumb, Sam Wood, Legate, Cook and Cobb, and was chairman of the convention that first nominated Congressman Haskell, for whom he had unbounded admiration, and he sincerely lamented that gentleman’s untimely death. He was also intimately acquainted with Judges Lowe, Broodhead and Stevens, also many others of the builders of Kansas, who are still living.

On May 8, 1870, Mr. Biddle lead to the hymeneal altar Miss Lauretta S. Streeter, a native of Bucks county, Pennsylvania, but who at the time of her marriage was living with her sister at Mound City, Kan. Mrs. Biddle is a daughter of Benjamin F. Streeter, a native of Pennsylvania, who came to Mound City in his old age and there passed his declining years. Mr. and Mrs. Biddle have one daughter, Maude, the wife of G. W. Combs, of Portland, Ore., and the mother of two sons—William Biddle and Albert Nelson.”

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Oneida Independent Cavalry battle flag

Oneida Independent Cavalry battle flag

Two of our ancestors, James H. Biddle and William Rhinehart Biddle, served in the Oneida Independent Cavalry in the Civil War. They were half-brothers and were the sons of Alexander Biddle, a famous pastor. Alexander Biddle was the brother of Daniel Biddle. Daniel Biddle was the father of George Washington Biddle, who was the father of Martha Ellen (Biddle) Snyder, wife of Henry Albert Snyder.

I have some information about James H. Biddle and William Rhinehart Biddle that I will feature in upcoming posts but wanted to share with you what I have learned about the Oneida Independent Cavalry.

The Oneida Independent Cavalry served as an independent company not assigned to any regiment during the Civil War.

The Oneida Cavalry holds a unique position in the war’s history. It is the only unit to have served at the headquarters of every commanding general of the Union Army of the Potomac. The company furnished the escort, orderlies and couriers for the commander and his staff. The men of the Oneida cavalry served at the headquarters of Generals George B. McClellan, Ambrose E. Burnside, Joseph Hooker and George Gordon Meade. A detachment of 22 men from the Oneida Independent Cavalry was assigned to duty at General Ulysses S. Grant’s headquarters at City Point, Virginia, from 1864 until the surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865. The company served in the Peninsula Campaign and the battles of Antietam, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania Court House, Mine Run, Petersburg and Appomattox.

The men of the company experienced more than the routine work of orderlies. Although they were well known among the generals of the Army of the Potomac for their remarkable success in delivering dispatches and messages, quickly and reliably, they were also used on picket, raiding, reconnaissance, patrol and military police work.

The Oneida Cavalry was formed and organized in the Village of Oneida, Madison County, New York, by Daniel P. Mann. He was a businessman living in the village. He was granted permission to form a company of cavalry by the U.S. War Department on August 2, 1861. The men of the company were to enlist for three years and be ready to move within 30 days.

The company was easily raised in the time allotted. The company consisted of 89 men. They were from all walks of life. They were farmers, laborers, mechanics, carpenters, glass blowers, canalers, blacksmiths, clerks, merchants, teachers and students. Most of them were native born, but some were immigrants from Ireland, Germany and France. The majority of them were from Madison County, New York. Of the 55 men from Madison County, 22 were from the Village of Oneida.

The company was mustered into service on September 4, 1861. On September 6, the men were on a train heading to Washington, D.C., for outfitting and training. This was the beginning of a long tour that finally ended on June 13, 1865. At that time, the men were discharged and the company disbanded. The men of the Oneida Cavalry had served the Army of the Potomac during 18 major battles and it final victory at Appomattox.

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JON SNYDER (1971-2014)

I received the sad news recently that Jon Snyder has passed away. Jon was the son of Dan Snyder and grandson of Richard and Helen Snyder. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Dan and his family. The following is Jon’s obituary:

“A memorial service, to celebrate the life of Jon Snyder, age 43, of Marlton, NJ, formerly of Heath, Ohio will be held on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 7:00 PM at Criss Wagner Hoskinson Funeral Home with Celebrant Andrew Hoover officiating. Friends may call at the funeral home, 179 Granville Street, Newark, one hour prior to the memorial service, from 6:00 to 7:00 PM.

Jon, beloved son, grandson, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend was born in Toledo, Ohio on May 12, 1971 to Sheila (Bregant) Snyder of Ravenna and Dan Snyder of Mt. Vernon. He passed away at his residence in New Jersey on May 20, 2014.

Jon graduated from Heath High School and attended The Ohio State University. He was a general manager with Travel Centers of America for over 20 years. Jon enjoyed golfing, fishing, was an avid fan of the Cleveland Browns and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Jon was also an accomplished pool player, traveling and playing in pool competitions and many times finishing on championship teams. Jon never met a stranger and loved everyone he met.

In addition to his parents, he is survived by one sister, Melissa (Peter De Long) Snyder; one niece, Emily Snyder; uncles, Joe (Bennie) Bregant, Mark (Barbara) Bregant, Joe Snyder, Dennis Snyder, Michael Bregant and Z.B. Bregant; aunt, Shirley Snyder; maternal grandfather, Zane Bregant; paternal grandmother, Helen Snyder; cousins, Billy, Chrissy, Colleen and Jennifer Bregant; Weston, Andy and Christine Snyder; life-long friends, Tommy and Hope DeVary, Johnny DeVary, Jon Bullman, Rocky and Craig Reid, Brad Sowards, Mike Poulnott, Scott Buzzelli and Todd and Jessica Gauthier; his beloved dog, Maggie who stayed by his side until the end and a host of other relatives and friends.”

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Dan Snyder and Hi-Lo Trailer

Dan Snyder and Hi-Lo Trailer

Here is a photo of Dan Snyder on a camping trip with what Chuck Snyder says is a 1959 or 1960 Hi-Lo. Perhaps, Dan can tell us where and when this photo was taken.


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SnipImage (18)

I am simultaneously putting on the blog a great article written by Chuck Snyder entitled “The Early History of Hi-Lo Trailers,” which tells the story of Don Snyder’s invention of the Hi-Lo Trailer and the formation of Snyder Trailer Company, which later became Hi-Lo Trailer Company, a long-time leader in the recreational vehicle industry that was in business in Butler and Bellville for many years. Attached is the photo that accompanied that article.

I had long known that my Uncle Don (Donald Lance Snyder) had invented the Hi-Lo trailer but did not know the background or rest of the story. So, I was thrilled when Chuck volunteered to put together an article about the early history of Hi-Lo Trailers. Chuck’s article references an article published in the Mansfield News Journal on March 11, 1957. Chuck was nice enough to provide me with that article, which I found very interesting and wanted to share with you. The article appears below:

Constructs Trailer for Weekend Trips
By Marguerite Miller

Two years ago, Don Snyder of Butler, figured up a weekend trip for his wife and two children and found it cost around $40 – meals, lodging in motels and gasoline.

So, Snyder went to work building a trailer. Last summer, the Snyders traveled 3,000 miles taking 20 days and 19 nights. The expense: $39.
His trailer is a telescoping all-aluminum body invention.
Snyder, plant engineer at Tappan Stove Co. by day and trailer designer and builder by night and on weekends, wants to find out if someone else thinks the trailer is as useful as he does.

If they do, he has plans of going into business. The price which he intends to keep within the financial range of the moderate income group – is less than $800 for the 14-foot “Scout” trailer and less than $700 for the new “Cabana” 11- foot trailer. The big trailer sleeps six persons, the junior sized one, five persons.

“The whole idea for the trailer is to give the average family a chance to do a little traveling on weekends or during vacations without spending a lot of money for meals and lodging,” Snyder said.

He’s already made his first sale – at the Bellville Street fair last fall. In fact, the buyer bought the trailer right out from under his family so he had to quickly assemble a new one.

Built to appeal to both the traveler and the sportsman, the trailer weighs only 910 pounds so it can be pulled easily by any passenger car. The top section which weighs only 142 pounds telescopes down over the bottom section to a height of four feet, eight inches. The low position allows the trailer to be pulled behind a car without wind resistance, because it is as low as the auto.

In the “up” position – achieved by merely cranking the top up, the trailer gives adequate head room for even a six footer. Because of its folding feature, it can also be easily stored in a garage during the winter.
Combination stop, tail and directional lights on the trailer are hooked up to the car signals and a six-volt auxiliary light fixture in the trailer also is operated from the car.

One 110 volt light fixture with receptacles allows use of electrical appliances in the trailer when connected to facilities in state or trailer parks.

A bottled gas stove is optional in the trailer, but Snyder says a camp stove probably would serve just as well and would be more versatile for the weekend traveler.
The inside the trailer are four storage lockers; a dinette alcove, which becomes sleeping quarters by night. For daytime use the bunks are stored on angle tracks under the trailer roof giving full head room.
Over the wheel wells are built in drawers which hold linens and clothing, adequate for a family of four to six for a two weeks’ vacation.

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1961 Hi-Lo Trailer

1961 Hi-Lo Trailer

By Guest Blogger, Charles (Chuck) Snyder

The Hi Lo story began way before Don Snyder built the first Hi Lo trailer in his garage in Butler, Ohio in 1956. It began when he, as a small child, with his parents and younger brothers and sister, would go down Lost Lane to the family campsite which was beside a creek, under trees in the back recesses of the family farm near Johnsville, OH and camp when there was good weather and free time.

The young family loved to camp, be together around an evening camp fire and just in general enjoy being outside. So began Dad’s (Donald Lance Snyder) love of camping and being outside with his family.

The Tappan Stove Company, as it was known at the time, transferred Dad to Murray, KY in 1945 to oversee the building of their new factory. Murray was near Kentucky Lake and, you guessed it, we spent as much time on and beside that lake as was possible. Mom (Virginia Kurrich Snyder) and Dad bought a lakeside lot and a small free standing trailer, which I named Skunky – I was 4 years old, and set up a permanent campsite.

Next came boats that Dad built, he inherited his grandfather Tom Lucas’ gift for creative building, and Dad instilled in his young family the same love for outdoor recreation he learned as a child. Then in 1954 Tappan transferred Dad back to Mansfield. We moved to Butler leaving behind Kentucky Lake and all the outdoor activities there that had become a huge part of our lives.

In 1955 Dad borrowed a tent from Dory Swank, Butler’s Boy Scout leader at the time, and we went tent camping to Raccoon Creek State Park in Pennsylvania. In the middle of our first night in the tent, a loud series of metal crashes woke us up. Mom shouted that we were being attacked by bears and there was nothing to save us from the bears but “this flimsy canvas tent”. While I lay on my army cot waiting to be eaten by the bears, Dad was outside yelling at the bears, risking his life to save his family. Things quieted down outside and Dad came back inside and announced that the racket was a family of raccoons trying to get to the food inside the cooler we’d left sitting on the picnic table and that we could all go back to sleep – he did.

The next day we moved to another state park that didn’t have “Raccoon” in the name. We enjoyed being back outside in nature, but Dad and Mom agreed that they would like trailer camping better. Dad said that he would build a trailer for our future camping trips and from that failed attempt at tent camping the first Hi Lo trailer was born.

During the fall of 1955 and into the late spring of 1956 Dad built the first Hi Lo trailer. I was 14 and I’m his “Gopher”. One evening in the fall of 1955, I walked into the kitchen to find Dad sitting at the kitchen table drawing designs and plans for his trailer. I asked him if it was going to be like Skunky, and he said, “No, this one’s going to telescope so we can take it on trips”. I said, “What’s telescope”? Dad answered, “The top is going to be separate from the bottom and a little bit bigger so it can slide down over the bottom like the top of a shoe box.” My reaction was, “Wow”.

By late spring in 1956 the first Hi Lo trailer was finished and ready for camping. It was very basic compared to the beautiful and well equipped Hi Lo’s that were to come later. Number (1) had a plywood floor bolted to a steel frame. The sides were bright aluminum sheets, riveted together over a wooden frame. The trailer slept four and the two upper bunks were wooden troughs that held air mattresses. In the front of the interior, there was a small folding table with two bench seats. It wasn’t much larger than a camping tent, but it had hard sides, was off the ground and Mom was happy. And it cranked down, not like a tent camper which folded, the solid top went up and down on four tracks raised and lowered by a cable/pulley mechanism that was turned with a crank that was held in place by a rachet clip. When in the up position, there were planks that folded down from the top and fit onto the lower section for support. Dad called these “safety props”. We were ready to go camping and the bears (also known as raccoons) wouldn’t get us.

Our first outing with the new trailer was at East Harbor State Park near Port Clinton, OH over Memorial Day weekend in 1956. Dad backed the trailer into our camp site and we began to set up camp. The camp ground was nearly full and as Dad towed the trailer into the camping area people stopped to stare at the trailer. It didn’t look like any other trailer. When it was in the top down, travel position the trailer was low, no higher than the car. It had four windows – front, back and both sides – when the trailer was in the down position, what you could see through the windows was the aluminum of the bottom section of the trailer. People wondered, “Why have windows for if you couldn’t see out of them?” When Dad cranked the trailer into the up position, it drew a crowd of onlookers like flies to sugar water. “What is this? How does it work? Where did you get it?” they would ask. The answer, “I built it myself.” The question that was asked several times over that summer, “Can you build one for me?”

Later that summer of 1956 we took a week long camping vacation to Michigan and stayed in three different state parks. Raising the top into the upright position at each camp ground brought the same response – people flocked to see it work and ask questions. I believe that it was during that trip to Michigan that Dad realized that he had a viable commercial product with a unique feature. He did not build that first trailer with the idea of building more of them for sale and launching a business, but that is what happened.
On our way home we stopped to see the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village near Detroit. Dad was inspired by Henry Ford’s example – building a car in his garage and launching Ford Motor Co. Dad was a man on fire with excitement and ambition. He talked and planned and dreamed about building and selling these trailers all the way back to Butler. Dad showed the trailer at the 1956 Bellville Street Fair and sold it to a man from Loudonville, OH. Jim Snyder later reacquired the first Hi Lo trailer and it was parked behind the Hi Lo plant in Butler for several years.

On March 11, 1957, The Mansfield News Journal published a feature article about the trailer. The trailer was not called Hi Lo yet, the article refers to it as “the telescoping trailer”. This article was one of the first, if not the very first, media information pieces for Hi Lo trailers. This article helped Dad generate interest in the product within the Mansfield business community.

During 1957, Dad with the help of Everett Osier, who worked for Reeder Lumber Company and was a talented carpenter, built 3 more trailers. Dad parked these trailers in our side yard for people to see as they drove by our house on Main Street in Butler. On Sunday afternoons during warm weather, people would stop, attracted by the “For Sale” sign on the trailers. Dad talked to the people, cranked the trailers up and down, and sold all three before Thanksgiving. The next year, 1958, The Snyder Trailer Co. was formed, the trailers were called Hi Lo and we were in business.
With the help of members of the Mansfield business community, including Jack Beasore – Richland Bank, Walter Willis – Accountant and George Kaiser – Attorney, Dad was able to obtain venture capital funding, financial and legal guidance and incorporated the infant business as The Snyder Trailer Company Inc. Also about this time, Dad asked his brother Jim Snyder to join him in making Hi Lo a commercial success, and Jim did just that. Jim remained with Hi Lo for many years until his retirement and provided the leadership, dedication and passion that made Hi Lo a major player in the Recreational Vehicle Industry.

The highlight of 1958 for me, was being able to work the Cleveland Sportsman Show with Dad and Uncle Jim. We showed Hi Lo trailers at the show – it was the first big showing for Hi Lo. I wore a suit and tie, worked the floor showing the two trailers on display, and did a lot of cranking the trailers up and down. I got to room with Uncle Jim in a hotel. I was only 16, but man did I feel all grown up. That was my first business trip. In my corporate career, there would be many more, but that one remains with me as a special memory.

The big media break for Hi Lo came in March 1959 when a Hi Lo trailer was offered as a give-away prize on the live national television show “The Price is Right”. Though connections at the Tappan Co. Dad was able to arrange for Hi Lo trailers to be given away on the show. The show format was – contestants guessed at the price of the merchandise offered and the contestant who guess closest to the correct price won the merchandise. The prize was donated by the manufacturer and in exchange for the donation, the merchandise/prize was demonstrated to a live national TV audience. Being selected as a prize donor for the show was huge and it showed what a unique product the Hi Lo telescoping trailer was.

For the first show, Jim Snyder towed the trailer that was to be presented on the show to New York City. We (Dad, Mom, Regina and I) watched the show from our living room in Butler. The show was telecast live, in real time. The trailer was pushed onto the stage – Jim remained back stage – and the shiny aluminum sides gleamed in the bright television lights which was dramatic as the picture was in black and white, not color. A show staff person came to the trailer and cranked the top into the upright position while the show announcer explained the features of the trailer to the contestants and the television audience. The live audience in the studio gave an audible gasp as the top rose into the upright position. The announcer, Bill Cullen, said, “Price authority Snyder Trailer Company Butler, Ohio.” I was so excited, I couldn’t breathe. I sat in my rocking chair (I still have one) gasping. Dad looked over at me with a huge grin and said to Mom. “Ginny, look at Charles, he’s so excited he can’t breathe.” Yes, I was.

That was the first of many Hi Lo trailers that were given away on “The Price is Right”. The national advertising from the television coverage opened the path to expand the dealer network and to expand the company, it gave the Hi Lo trailers national recognition. Hi Lo was now a recognized brand.

In February 1957, Dad was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis by the doctors at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cleveland. From the beginning, the doctors were very clear and firm about Dad’s prognosis and long range health, and it was not positive. Many helpful treatments for MS exist today that did not exist in 1957. As a result of his MS, Dad made the decision to remain at the Tappan Company and not dedicate his full time efforts to Hi Lo which he passionately wanted to do. Dad remained a member of the Hi Lo Trailer Company Board of Directors until the company was sold shortly before his death in 1978.

There were many members of our large family who were associated with Hi Lo over the years. Each of us owns a piece of the history of Hi Lo and made a contribution to its long term success, but especially Uncle Jim Snyder. To this day when I drive the Interstates, I look for Hi Lo trailers, and when I see one, my heart skips a beat and I feel pride for my very small part of what was accomplished. I think of all the great vacation experiences and camping fun that families all over the Unites States have enjoyed in Hi Lo trailers. And that was very much a part of Dad’s vision for Hi Lo.

Charles Kurrich Snyder
May 9, 2014

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