“I gotta tell ya Dad…” Stacy looked up – twinkle in her eye, sh#!-eating grin, and affirmed: “Your friend Bob (pause)…Ya just gotta love him!”

(True, but her comment came somewhat out of nowhere. Moreover, I well knew that Bob is so OUT THERE, so up front in his image, that my daughter didn’t know how right she was. Heck, Bob is so BOB that many of his life-long compatriots, me included, sometimes forget how soft he is on the inside).

But I bit… “OK, why?”

“Because he knows exactly who he is. And he’s always confident, always comfortable…..Ya just gotta love him!”

Robert G. Snyder, part of my life since grade school, is everything the little one thinks, and more. I not only love him, but better yet, I like him.

Have we had our issues? Sure. In fifty years, who wouldn’t? Still, with all his mishigos, AND mine, we are two friends gracefully growing older, and maybe even growing up, together. I can still screw with him here and there, but I’ve come to realize that Brother Bob is more important to me than ever. I would, as I told his wife just recently, take a bullet for him.

You see you have to know Bob to really know Bob.

My daughter’s right. He’s so comfortable in his own skin, so reassured, so NOT AFRAID to stumble from time to time….that, again, if you didn’t really know him, you wouldn’t truly “get” the man behind the curtain. And while there’s probably not been one time I’ve labeled him my “best friend,” there’s been no time we weren’t the best of friends.

My first memory is sixth grade—about the time we discovered girls. He was cooler than me, full of confidence, even back then. To all…Bob was
the straw that stirred the drink.

Our first club, the Excels, was involuntarily disbanded. Bruce Schwartz’s mother complained when we excluded her son. Calling our parents, the school warned them that cliques created “juvenile delinquents.” We were summarily shut down.

Bob, Stuart, Joel, Alan, Rais…the guys…we resurfaced as R.E.N., a slightly larger group. Donning red and white banlon shirts we ruled. Me, I always thought Bob was the ruler.

He could dance; he could talk to women—the first kid on the block with a girl friend.

Bob Snyder’s been the Zelig in my life. You know: the Woody Allen character that always pops up…always there, be it front and center or the face in every crowd.

…A Saturday morning exhibition game—White Sox v. Tigers (circa 1961). I hit two over the fence at Nigrelli; Bob was at short for the second one and put his hand out as I rounded—just like on TV.

…The sixth grade football team he organized. The Bar Mitzvah circuit.
Club 222. Aleph Gadol in AZA. The night he got his driver’s license.

Truth is I never quite felt I belonged in Bob’s league. And maybe I didn’t. Somehow, though, through the years, we’ve always intertwined.

Playing ball, selling magazines, even divorcing…

For a short period we did drift. It was during our first lives and Bob was living in the high rent district. That chasm of a few years evaporated in August, ’82 when my step-dad died. There stood Bob, solo on a Monday afternoon, at my Mom’s door for Shivah.

In the eighties we all moved along—Stuart even to Connecticut. By the 90’s, though, Fenton was back. And so was Bob—with a vengeance.
Even then Snyder was Leader Of The Pack. He was driving force behind what he never understood could have been the worst show ever produced for Cleveland’s drive-time radio, “The Fabulous Boomer Boys.” (Fortunately, after two years of public appearances, mud-wrestling, sleeping in-studio, we were cancelled. Don’t tell Bob, though. He still thinks we’re on hiatus).

He’s been a true, lasting friend. And a caring one. I recall his concern in my first years of sobriety. And I remember, about that time, how upset he and Stuart were with one of my dalliances. Good friends don’t take your bullshit—they call you on it.

“Now, B, don’t tell me it’s over if it’s not! Don’t give me your BS.” (How many times did he say that?)

In all these years Bob’s never lied to me. (OK, once….the first Friday night with his ’66 Mustang). But on balance I can’t say the same. What I can swear to though is that as life ebbs and flows we’ve been there for each other. No questions asked. To this day.

It’s a funny thing—I know at times we frustrate each other. But we share an unconditional friendship, the flame of which no adversity can extinguish.

It’s special…knowing someone in and out—sensing they know you as well, and— words unspoken…having each other’s back. Win, lose or draw. It’s likewise special sharing a past with a pal, and also a present.

I spend a lot of time here in gratitude for friends, family and life. Bob’s loyalty goes back to my days of innocence. Like me, he can be a challenge. Like Alan, Stuart, Walt, etc. he remains steadfast.

With apologies to Terence Mann (James Earl Jones in “Field Of Dreams):

               “The one constant through all the years has been Snyder.

                 America has rolled by  like an army of steamrollers. It has

                 been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again.

                 But Snyder has marked the time.”

I tease him a bit—even have fun at his expense on this cite. Truth be known, though, time and change have surely shown we are the best of friends.

And ya gotta love him!

3 Responses to “THROUGH THE YEARS”

  1. alan wieder says:

    very sweet — now people can google snyder

  2. Stuart says:

    There is only one Bobby Snyder! I wouldn’t change one thing about him.

  3. Mark E says:

    I would change a lot about him. Are we all speaking about the same guy?

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