One of the best things Marland did as a writer was to introduce the Snyder family.
Just as the character of Kim was arguably Irna Phillips’ most autobiographical creation, so was the Snyder family for Douglas Marland, who had grown up on a small farm in upstate New York. (A farm on Snyder Road, as it were.)
I loved the textures and shades Marland brought to these characters.
- Matriarch Emma, strong, stern and loving.
- Seth, the “man” of the house (after his father’s death) who just wanted to be a writer.
- Iva, the oldest daughter suffering with a few explosive secrets…..
- Holden and Meg, two siblings with a desire to leave the farm behind them (and a manipulative nature to make it happen).
- Caleb, the wild boy with a heart of gold.
- And Ellie, a city girl at heart who had different ideas about life than her mom and siblings.
The Snyders remind me a great deal, of course, of the Frames of Another World. The Snyders were such a great set of characters for ATWT. I’d argue that a great deal of the strength that the show had over the last few decades was because these characters were on canvas.
The Snyders’ relative poverty to the upper middle class Hughes clan and the mega-rich Walshes made for enormous conflict. (Class conflict and economic conflict is a story that almost all of daytime has forgotten how to tell – odd to have forgotten that in the midst of a huge recession.)
Of the original children, only Holden still holds a place of prominence in Oakdale. He’s become an interesting man, a caring father to his children and a patriarch in his own way. Meg 2.0 bore little resemblance to the character as originally conceived, so the less said there the better. (Later, of course, there was Jack and Brad, though Jack often seemed to be on his own story island with – and primarily defined by – Carly, Carly, Carly.)
At the end, I think I’ll miss the character of Emma the most. Played by a phenomenal theater actress (Kathleen Widdoes), Emma was supposedly based in part on Douglas Marland’s own mother. Emma was the kind of warm maternal figure that we all want in our lives, but there was such a richness in her own personal life. Her romances with John and Cal were captivating, and her stint as a writer reminds me of my own mother’s desire to be a writer.
At the end of the World, it was the Snyder farm kitchen set that had changed the least from the show’s heyday. I am saddest that this corner of the World no longer exists.