An Ode to Bonnie Snow
Originally published in the Cape Cod Chronicle
I’ve noticed some things since arriving in Orleans a year ago. One is that no matter where I go, as soon as I’m identified as the director of the Orleans Historical Society, I get asked how Bonnie Snow is. And then if someone in the conversation doesn’t know who Bonnie is, the inquirer will undoubtedly inform their friend “you’ve never been on a Bonnie Snow walk? You have to go on a Bonnie Snow walk!” I always sit back and enjoy someone else doing my publicity for me.
Bonnie MacGregor Snow has been with the Historical Society forever. I could say her age, but she reads the Chronicle. She was actually born in Chatham- I like to say at the Orleans Historical Society, we have the best Chatham has to offer with the CG36500, Dick Ryder, and Bonnie. Bonnie married Stan Snow in 1959 and they moved to Orleans.. Noone, including Bonnie quite knows when she started volunteering and became a board member.
Bonnie’s role here has turned her into the Orleans Town Historian. If Bonnie doesn’t know something about the town, perhaps it’s not worth learning, although she is always willing to learn. For 23 years she has taken the Orleans 4th and 5th graders on field trips introducing them to both the town government and the town history.
She was one of the chairs of the Orleans Bicentennial in 1997, was instrumental in the bicentennial celebrations for the Battle of Rock Harbor, and currently she is busy organizing the centennial events for the attack of a German submarine on Nauset Beach. And she helps everyone in town with all sorts of questions, especially on the histories of the town. And I like to say she’s one of the only people who can keep the various families of Orleans lineages straight. She is the heart and soul of OHS.
Bonnie has all this knowledge and shares it in so many ways, but her walks are the most popular. She takes a group around in perfect weather, extreme heats, and driving rain. The only time we cancelled was for a hurricane. She doesn’t let the weather curtail any good story! And amazingly, when I keep an eye out for people returning from the tours early, I rarely see anyone.
There is a tour of Orleans cemetery where she tells the stories of some of the people buried there, most of it from her own research. She also tours of Main Street, giving the history of the houses as well as some of the people who lived in them. This tour is divided in two- alternating going north and south from the Meetnghouse Going on any of these tours results in knowing so much more about our town and the people who lived here. At a lecture at the library last week, Bonnie said it is the stories of people that make history interesting and she proves it on her tours. Sparrows, Linnells, Kendricks, Higgins, (but almost never Snows!) and other Orleans names come alive along with wash-ashores and other people who have decided to join our story.
The Walks for the 2018 season are about to begin. In honor of the centennial of the submarine attack and the end of World War I, Bonnie is adding stops and information directly related to those events. The tours are 10-12 Fridays on the first and third Fridays of the month. They’re $10 for adults, $8 OHS members, and students under 18 free. All walks start at the Meetinghouse Museum. The more specific dates for the Cemetery Walk are June 29, July 27, August 31, September 31, and October 27 for Halloween. The Main Street walk (OHS to Methodist Church) will be June 8 and August 10. The other half of Main Street (OHS to Barley Neck Inn) walk is July 13 and September 14.
So if you haven’t done a Bonnie Snow Walk yet, join us! And if you have, join us again- Bonnie has definitely added to it since you were last on one!