By Nicole Walker
When little Faith Snyder was SORASED to a pre-teen in 2006 to tackle storylines that included having a crush on her (second cousin by adoption) Parker Munson, dealing with her parents’ continually imploding marriage and battling an eating disorder, I couldn’t help but remember and wonder about another little girl who was Faith’s age, a little girl who had been a Snyder and almost Faith’s sister.
A little girl named Hope.
Flashback to 1998: David Stenbeck, the long-lost son of career criminal James Stenbeck, was corrupted from a merely ambitious lawyer to the rotten apple of his father’s eye after learning of his true parentage. In a long, twisted tale that involved a pregnant Lily giving birth while being held hostage, David deciding, after playing midwife, that he wanted to be a daddy, Andy Dixon having a one night stand with exotic dancer Denise Maynard in Chicago and unknowingly getting her pregnant, a little baby selling and a little baby switching, Lily and Holden ended up raising Andy and Denise’s daughter, Hope, for nearly a year while their daughter was practically being raised right under their nose by the mysterious Reid Hamilton (David Stenbeck in disguise) who moved to Oakdale months after David’s ‘death.'
The switch was discovered when little Hope developed an illness and it was revealed that neither Lily nor Holden could be Hope’s biological parents. A little detective work led Lily and Holden to Denise Maynard, who had arrived in Oakdale to track down the baby girl she had regrettably sold, and together the parents figured out the truth, each getting back their respective baby girls (although, for a while there, Lily and Holden were all to happy to keep Hope as well; but they relented when they realized how much Denise loved her daughter and wanted her back). Reid’s ‘daughter’, Melinda Hamilton, was renamed Faith Snyder and Hope Snyder became Hope Dixon. Denise finally enlightened Andy Dixon about his daddy status, and while initially overwhelmed at the thought of being a dad, Andy embraced creating a family with Hope and Denise, to the point of faking paralysis to keep Denise tied to him since she was in love with another man. Soon his lies were exposed, Denise left him, Andy left town to get his head straight, and shortly after that Denise and little Hope left Oakdale for Chicago to start their lives anew.
Now, given even that brief, torrid history of Hope and Faith, is there not just oodles (yes, I typed oodles) of story to be told not just with Hope, but with Hope returning to Oakdale and coming face-to-face with her onetime family and the girl whose life she almost had?
What if Denise and Hope didn’t find their happily ever after in Chicago? What if Hope’s health became an issue again, prompting her, Denise, and Andy (finally!) to come back to Oakdale to be treated by her grandfather, Dr. John Dixon, and/or step-grandfather, Dr. Bob Hughes? Would Lily and Holden, upon hearing about Hope’s health issues, gravitate back to this little girl they had called their own? Would Faith be curious about the girl Lily and Holden once believed to be theri daughter? Would Hope look at the Snyders, the family that was once hers and feels loss, anger, resentment? Might she befriend her ‘sister’ Faith while insinuating herself back into the Snyder fold in order to get back the family she lost?
Or might Hope and Faith have forged a friendship and bond because of their shared history and Hope become another legacy character interwoven into the fabric of Oakdale? One who allowed the show a unique opportunity to explore the journey of a bi-racial city kid from Chicago having to learn a whole new world as she strived to live in the less colorful Midwest with her father’s family, family that she barely knew, that she wasn’t sure she was a part of but was curious about nonetheless?
A lot of story was waiting to be tapped with this character. The Hope Dixon/Parker Munson/Faith Snyder/JJ Snyder teen quadrangle romance alone would’ve been gold, for Pete’s sake!
But alas, Hope was left in Chicago, living her presumed happily ever after.
Which, given just how quickly one’s life can take a turn when they hit the city limits of Oakdale (or any soap town for that matter), maybe was for the best.
Check out Denise, Andy, and Baby Hope in the below ATWT clip from Thanksgiving 1999 below (at around the 2:30 mark)!
What other opportunities do you think were missed on As The World Turns? The return of John Dixon and Iva Snyder’s son, Matthew John ‘MJ’ Snyder? Jennifer Munson’s possible doppleganger half-sister, Carolyn Crawford? Kirk Anderson returns to finally tell us what he’s been up to all these years? Something or someone else? Leave your ideas in the Comments below!
Nicole Walker is the Associate Producer of Another World Today. She holds an MFA in Screenwriting from Columbia University.