Becky Snyder’s lasting influence

Published 2:28 pm Thursday, January 18, 2018

Her tools were scissors, an X-Acto knife, wax and clip art books.

At a tilted desk, Becky Snyder designed elaborate ads every week for the Davie County Enterprise-Record and Clemmons Courier with methods considered crude and old-fashioned by today’s computerized standards.

She was an artist.

She produced weekly two-page “double-truck” ads for Heffner’s Land of Foods and Crown Drugs. She designed elaborate ads for furniture stores, jewelers, politicians, banks and mom-and-pop stores. She was everybody’s ad representative.

She had a drawer full of border tapes in various sizes and neatly cut them to shape borders around the ads. That same technique is done with a quick computer click and keystroke these days.

Becky Snyder worked during the golden age of newspapering, before the dawn of remote ad agencies and the invasion of chain stores into small towns that pushed out many locally owned businesses.

She produced ads with “horse and buggy” tools, before Steve Jobs and Apple computers and Bill Gates and Microsoft retired the X-Acto knife and turned ad designers into computer operators.

For 30 years she worked as ad director of the Enterprise Record, retiring in 1999.

Her funeral this week reminded me of the many changes in the newspaper business we’ve experienced in recent decades. She was dependable and true, armed with an old-school work ethic that didn’t allow her to quit until the job was done. She labored as intently over a tiny personal ad as she did the full pages.

We still recite Beckyisms in the office, her trademark expressions that linger long after her retirement. “Monday is Tuesday” means we’re publishing a day early for a holiday. And she taught all of us how to precisely tie a bundle of newspapers bound for the Post Office. Every knot I tie prompts a memory of Becky’s training. Technology has changed the way we do things, but Becky Snyder’s artistry and eye for detail remain vital ingredients of newspapers.

Thank you, Becky.

Our condolences to the family, including son Lyndsay and daughter Julia Lynne and grandsons, Zach and Josh, of whom she was so proud.

• • • • •

It was a mother’s worst nightmare.

Little Andy Devine ran — and fell — with a curtain rod in his mouth. The rod pierced the roof of his mouth.

When he recovered, Andy was saddled with a peculiarly scratchy voice that wheezed and cracked oddly for the rest of his life.

That oddball voice won him roles in more than 400 movies and TV shows, including some really big ones. He was never the star, but he had significant roles alongside Hollywood’s biggest names.

We drove down Andy Devine Avenue last year in his hometown of Kingman, Ariz. on Route 66, and ate at a restaurant with his picture painted on the building.

Kingman has an annual festival in his memory.

He played in a lot of John Wayne’s movies. He drove the stagecoach in Stagecoach. He played the cowardly marshal in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart.

I pulled out Liberty Valence last week to watch again. The black and white John Ford-directed movie was released in 1962. It includes lots of young actors who continued to appear in Westerns for many years.