LET'S TALK

Don Wilding

Franklin and South Dennis,

Massachusetts

 

Nonprofit groups, schools, and other organizations interested in hiring Don for a lecture can contact him at donwilding@gmail.com

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SPEAKER'S FEE: $250

Don has presented his programs to a wide variety of audiences since 2001, including the Cape Cod National Seashore, the Boston Public Library, the Thoreau Society, the Cape Cod Museum of Natural History, the Eastham Historical Society, and the Thornton Burgess Society, as well as classes from the Orleans Elementary School, Captain Nathan Hill Middle School (Coventry, Conn.), Tahanto Regional High School (Boylston, Mass.), Chatham High School on Cape Cod, Penn State University, Emerson College, and Franklin Pierce University (New Hampshire). Don has led history walks at Cape Cod National Seashore, and taught Cape history courses at the Open University of Wellfleet and Nauset Community Education. 

See Don's schedule of events here.

Don’s talks include:

SHIPWRECKS OF CAPE COD: STORIES OF TRAGEDY & TRIUMPH

Cape Cod’s outer beach, often referred to as the “Graveyard of Ships,” has always been known for its shipwrecks. Between 1626 and the mid-twentieth century, this solitary forty-mile stretch of beach and sandbars saw the demise of over 3,000 vessels along its shifting shoals. It’s been said that if all the wrecks were raised, one could walk from Provincetown to Chatham without getting his or her feet wet. Don revisits some of these disasters and the heroic, and sometimes tragic, rescue efforts of the U.S. Lifesaving Service and Coast Guard.

CAPE COD AND THE PORTLAND GALE OF 1898

On the night of November 26, 1898, with a killer storm of historic proportions approaching, the steamer Portland set out from Boston. By the following night, the winter hurricane sent the vessel to the depths of Massachusetts Bay off Cape Cod, claiming nearly two hundred lives. On the Cape, a few dozen victims of the Portland disaster washed ashore, while ships piled up in harbors, high tides swept away railroad tracks, and the landscape and beaches were changed forever. Several Cape Cod mariners went to sea and never returned, caught in the gale’s evil clutches. Don revisits this disaster and the heroic deeds of the U.S. Life-Saving Service and the Cape’s citizenry in what came to be known as “The Portland Gale.”

HENRY BESTON’S CAPE COD

Henry Beston’s book, “The Outermost House,” is considered to be one of the great nature books ever written. Learn how Beston’s trail to Cape Cod began at the Battle of Verdun in World War I, how he tapped into the healing power of nature on Cape Cod’s Outer Beach, how “The Outermost House” inspired legislators in Washington to establish the Cape Cod National Seashore, and the influence that Beston and “The Outermost House” had on Rachel Carson, other nature writers, and the American environmental movement. 

RUM RUNNERS OF CAPE COD

During the era of Prohibition (1920-1933), rum running was big business on Cape Cod. Farmers and fishermen of the Cape took to the seas, heading offshore to "Rum Row" to bring the criminal yet coveted alcohol to the mainland under cover of darkness, while the possibility of being caught by the Coast Guard was always present. Busy harbors and remote estuaries, many of which are now popular tourist destinations, were all game for bringing the booze ashore, while law enforcement officials often turned a blind eye. Join Don for this comprehensive look at how "the Noble Experiment" turned into a profitable and potentially dangerous undertaking for many of the Cape's residents.

CAPE COD STORM STORIES

Sailors and settlers on the Cape have a long history of battling the elements, including vicious hurricanes and northeasters. Don takes a look back at the hurricanes of 1938 and 1944, Hurricanes Edna, Carol, Bob, and the near-miss of Edouard, as well as the JFK Inaugural Storm of 1961, "The Perfect Storm," the "Surprise Storm" of 2005, and the legendary "Blizzard of '78." 

CAPE COD LORE

Cape Cod's history is full of mysterious stories and legends, whether it be ghosts, pirates, witches, mystical dunes, shipwrecks, sea monsters, and tall tales that Cape Cod natives can't resist telling. Join Don for a look back at a collection of stories you may or may not want to believe.

WHERE DON'S BEEN ...

CAPE COD, MASS.

EASTHAM

Cape Cod National Seashore, Salt Pond Visitors Center.
Cape Cod National Seashore (walks).
Eastham Chamber of Commerce
Eastham Senior Center
Eastham Historical Society
Eastham Public Library
Nauset Fellowship (Universalist / Unitarian) of Chapel in the Pines.
Eastham 350th Anniversary celebration, 2001.
The Inn at the Oaks (Penn. State University).
Captain’s Quarters (tourist group from Georgia)

WELLFLEET
Massachusetts Audubon Society’s Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary.
Wellfleet Historical Society (at the Wellfleet Public Library).
Cape Cod National Seashore, Marconi Beach (for Tahanto Regional High School, Boylston, Mass.).
Open University of Wellfleet (at Wellfleet Preservation Hall).
Nauset Newcomers (at Wellfleet Cinemas).

TRURO
Truro Library, North Truro.

PROVINCETOWN
Seashore Point.
Provincetown Public Library.
Pilgrim Monument & Provincetown Museum (Provincetown 2020 event).
Pilgrim House.

ORLEANS
Nauset Heights Association, East Orleans.
Nauset Community Education at Nauset Middle School.
Cape Cod Hospital Auxiliary (Orleans branch) at Church of the Holy Spirit.
Snow Library.

CHATHAM
Atwood House Museum (Chatham Historical Society).
Chatham High School.
Eldredge Public Library.
Chatham Orpheum (Rough cut screening of footage from the Henry Beston’s Cape Cod documentary film).

BREWSTER
Cape Cod Museum of Natural History.
Brewster Ladies’ Library.
Brewster Men’s Club (at Ocean Edge)
Cape Cod Sea Camps.
Epoch Senior Center.

HARWICH
Harwich Council on Aging at Harwich Community Center.
Harwich Conservation Trust at Harwich Community Center.
Harwich Historical Society.
Brooks Free Library, Harwich.

DENNIS
Cape Cod Museum of Art.
Dennis Public Library, Dennisport.
South Dennis Free Library, South Dennis.
Dennis Memorial Library.

YARMOUTH
Mayflower Retirement Community, West Yarmouth.
Historical Society of Old Yarmouth at Old Yarmouth Inn.
South Yarmouth Public Library.
Cultural Center of Cape Cod (for the Cape Cod Film Society).
Thirwood Place, South Yarmouth.

BARNSTABLE
Cape Cod Community College, West Barnstable.
Cape Cod Writers’ Center (at the Cape Cod Maritime Museum).
Cape Cod Maritime Museum.
Tales of Cape Cod.
Barnstable Senior Center.
Cotuit Library, Cotuit.
Osterville Free Library, Osterville.
Sturgis Library.
Hyannis Public Library.

MASHPEE
Mashpee Public Library.

SANDWICH
Thornton W. Burgess Society (Green Briar Center).
Sandwich Council on Aging.
Sandwich Glass Museum (Talk of the Town Series).

BOURNE
Bourne Newcomers & Neighbors.

Bourne Historical Society

FALMOUTH
Woods Hole Biological Laboratory.
Falmouth Public Library.
Encore of Falmouth Newcomers (at First Congregational Church of Falmouth).

Falmouth Newcomers (at First Congregational Church of Falmouth).

MASSACHUSETTS (OFF-CAPE)

ABINGTON
Abington Public Library.

ATHOL
Athol Public Library.

BOSTON
Emerson College.
Boston Public Library.

South Boston Historical Society.

BOYLSTON
Tahanto Regional High School.

BRIDGEWATER
Bridgewater Public Library.

BROOKLINE
Brookline Adult Education.

CAMBRIDGE
Cambridge Center for Adult Education.

COHASSET
Paul Pratt Memorial Library.

CONCORD
Thoreau Society (72nd Annual.Gathering, 2013).

DOVER
Dover Town Library.

FOXBORO
Foxborough Historical Society.

FRAMINGHAM
Framingham Public Library.
Carmel Terrace.

FRANKLIN
Franklin Public Library.

HINGHAM
Hingham Public Library.

HOLLISTON
Holliston Public Library.

HOPEDALE
Bancroft Memorial Library.

HUDSON
Hudson Public Library.

MARSHFIELD
Ventress Memorial Library.

MANSFIELD
Mansfield Council on Aging.
Mansfield Public Library.

MATTAPOISETT
Mattapoisett Free Public Library.

MAYNARD
Maynard Public Library.

MIDDLEBORO
Mitchell Memorial Club (for the Massachusetts Beach Buggy Association).

MILFORD
Milford Town Library.
Cornerstone at Milford.

NATICK
Morse Institute Library.

NEWBURYPORT
Newburyport Film Festival, The Screening Room Theater (rough cut screening of film, 2014).

 

NEWTON
Newton Free Library.

NORFOLK
Norfolk Public Library.
 
NORTH ATTLEBORO
North Attleboro Historical Society.

NORTHBORO
Northboro Free Library.

NORTON
Norton Public Library.
Norton Institute for Continuing Education (Wheaton College).

PLYMOUTH
Plymouth Public Library.

QUINCY
Thomas Crane Public Library.

RAYNHAM
Raynham Historical Society.

SALEM
Hawthorne Hotel (2003 annual meeting of Annie’s Book Stop owners ).
Salem Athenaeum.

SHARON
Sharon Adult Center (at the Community Center).

SOMERSET
Somerset Public Library.
 
SOUTHBORO
Southboro Public Library.

STOW
Randall Library.

UXBRIDGE
Uxbridge Free Library.

WALPOLE
Walpole Public Library.

WEBSTER
Corbin Public Library.

WELLESLEY
Wellesley Free Library.

​WESTFIELD
Westfield Athenaeum.

WESTON
Weston Senior Citizens Club.

WINCHESTER
Winchester Public Library.

​MAINE

DAMARISCOTTA
Damariscotta Lake Watershed Association.

NOBLEBORO
National Literary Landmark dedication for Henry Beston’s Chimney Farm at Nobleboro Grange.

 

NEW HAMPSHIRE

HOPKINTON
Hopkinton Public Library.

​RHODE ISLAND

EAST PROVIDENCE
Weaver Memorial Library.

NORTH KINGSTOWN
North Kingstown Free Library.