My family, adventurers from Colorado, moved to the shore of Lonnie’s Pond when I was 8. The year was 1941. But the adventure really began a bit later, when I climbed into a rowboat for the fist time, figured out how to make the oars move and set off across Lonnie’s Pond to get the mail at our mailbox on Monument Road.
Our driveway and road to the tip of Mayflower Point was a two-lane dirt road. If there was any traffic, it came about three feet from our house.
My mother bought a Sharpie sailboat we named First Encounter. Sharpies were common sailboats on Pleasant Bay in those days, and even some of the fine long-gone sailing camps had them in their fleet.
We thought the Sharpie was on the cutting edge of sailboats. Even though it was big, clunky, flat-bottomed, and carried a heavy canvass sail, we learned to move her with the breeze across the pond with an oar stuck through a hole in the stern.
I grew to love horseshoe crabs. Blue crabs shared our ladder and nipped our toes if we disturbed them. Eels got caught in our eel trap and were fried up for supper. Flounder came in on the tide and a jig or two on the line usually caught one.
Fred Higgins, from across the road, fished for mackerel. My mother would fry them up for breakfast.
And, the clam bar—-a once a week feast. We all dug for clams. Too squishy for me, l liked the hunter-gatherer experience but preferred peanut butter for supper. Still do.
Schools of minnows, big and tiny, swam in and out of seaweed looking for food. Jellyfish arrived in June, not stingers, but unpleasant in their slippery touch. I surrendered my bit of pond until they moved on. Only a few minnows now, and a scattering of jellyfish makes a lonely swim.
Schools of fish swam up the Herring Run and buckets were used to gather them for bait. Fish numbers dwindled. With the help of herring counters, and town committee and the harbormaster’s department improving the run, their numbers improved
Water quality, our major issue right now, was not a major concern back then. How long we used our privy I do not remember, but we were certainly up to date before the war ended.
At the same time we exchanged the pump in the kitchen with running water. We didn’t even think about the quality of the water then…it looked fine to us.
The birds used the dock, and still do, for sunshine shell smashing and, I believe, for target practice. The old fresh water springs still flow into the pond. Drinking from them is still common practice for birds and, in the quiet of dawn and dusk, the deer, fox and coyotes find the cool woodland spot under overhanging trees.
I wonder, did the Native Americans drink here, too?
Lonnie’s has surely seen a multitude of changes. If you ever float into Lonnie’s in a kayak or inner tube, remember the pond’s ancient history. Respect it, treat it gently and enjoy it.
Pamela Herrick is a long-time resident of Orleans and an advocate for clean waterways. Water Water Everywhere is a monthly contribution of the Orleans Pond Coalition. Info: orleanspondcoalition.org.