2018 Annual Guide: Orleans
East Orleans • Orleans • South Orleans
Rock Harbor is famous for its sunsets. On the other side of town, windswept Nauset Beach has photogenic waves, but don’t overlook the historic Jonathan Young Windmill on Town Cove. For more views of Town Cove, duck into tiny Meadow on the Cove park father east on Route 28—it’s especially pretty when wildflowers are in bloom.
Even if you don’t have a dog to walk, Kent’s Point is a peaceful retreat. Its 12 lovely acres are accessible with easy trails dotted with scenic lookouts. Bring a picnic. In downtown Orleans, you’ll find a lovely resting spot at the Village Green next to Snow Library, where rhododendron gardens surround the picnic tables.
Mom & Pops:
In the center of town, the Orleans Whole Food Store and Main Street Books are neighboring shops under common ownership, and both offer an intimate atmosphere and knowledgeable staff who will take the time to help—or just chat.
There’s always something going on in Orleans, but our perennial favorite is the Orleans Police Department’s Annual Block Party, typically held on a weeknight in August. Main Street is closed to traffic and open to music, games, food and fun. It’s a true hometown celebration, and everyone is welcome.
A day in the life of: Bonnie Snow, historian, volunteer, researcher and member of the Orleans Historical Society Board of Directors
By Deb Boucher Stetson
Bonnie Snow lives and breathes Orleans history. “I just love the history of Orleans. It’s my life,” says Snow, who has served on the Orleans Historical Society Board of Directors for more than 30 years.
Best known for her Main Street walks and cemetery walks, Snow is full of stories about past residents of Orleans, culled from old journals, letters and diaries. “I had a collection of letters from the Civil War era, written to ‘Dear Aunt Ruth’ Sears in Goshen, New York,” she says, “so when I do my cemetery walks I’m able to talk about ‘Dear Aunt Ruth.’ There was a lawyer who had started a school for sea captains in Orleans and it was his wife who wrote the letters.” Snow says she wishes she had the replies because she’s pretty sure she uncovered a murder in Goshen.
“I also got a diary from Nantucket found in the walls of a house being renovated in Orleans,” and through a great deal of research, “I was able to identify each of the 105 people in the diary,” Snow says. “I learned a lot about the families and all their struggles.”
Another find was more than 200 glass plate negatives of photographs taken by Harry Sparrow around 1911, discovered by an Eastham resident who was a neighbor of Snow’s daughter. Again, through her research, Snow was able to identify everyone in the photographs.
“One thing leads to another, leads to another,” Snow says of her adventures in local history.
Born Bonnie MacGregor in 1937, Snow was raised in Chatham. “My mother was a Knowles from Eastham, my great-grandmother ran the maternity home in Eastham. There were 65 babies delivered by my great-grandmother, and I think it’s interesting that my husband was one of them,” she says. She and Stanley Snow met at a barn in Eastham where her mother, a practical nurse, was tending a patient. “Later on he called to invite me to a picnic—and here we are, we’ve been on a picnic for 58 years.”
Trained as a nurse, Snow raised three children in Orleans with Stan, who helped run the family business, Snow’s Home and Garden. Today, their son James runs the store with his cousins, and one of Bonnie and Stan’s five grandchildren is now part of the team.
Honored with the Mercy Otis Warren Award in 2006, Snow’s volunteerism has included the town’s historic commission, a historic house survey in Orleans for the Massachusetts Historic Commission, the Red Cross Disaster Team, chairing the Town Cove Group in its campaign to purchase the Jonathan Young Windmill, and helping create the Town Cove Windmill Park. She was also very involved in rescuing Sea Call Farm and preserving its land for open space.
In her work with the Orleans Historical Society, she is most proud of developing the annual History Day for Orleans fourth graders, designed to help children gain a sense of local history.
Snow has been very involved with the society’s latest project, a plan to purchase the Captain Linnell House in 2020. She is excited about the plan, which will give the historical society much-needed space along with income from weddings and functions.
She is confident the historical society, which has some 400 members, can bring its plan to fruition. “People in Orleans support history,” she says.
Deb Boucher Stetson is the editor of Cape Cod LIFE.
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