Snow, a longtime journalist from Plant City, tackled many subjects and interviewed some of America’s most famous people in her day.
You’d have been hard-pressed to find a Plant Citian with a personality as spunky as Panky Snow’s, and anyone who followed her work knows that for a fact.
Snow, whose family has deep roots in the city, had a life full of extravagant highs. Some were figurative, like when she interviewed Clark Gable or Eleanor Roosevelt. Some were literal, like when she befriended a circus animal trainer in 1953 and talked her way onto the back of an elephant, riding one into the big top to shock her parents.
Her decades of work between the Tampa Tribune and the Plant City Courier made for compelling reads regardless of the topic at hand and she especially enjoyed writing about her hometown’s history as only she could.
Snow, 93, born Dec. 9, 1927, passed away on Aug. 5.
She was known by several names throughout her career: Panky Morgan, Panky Glamsch and Panky Snow. She was born as Mary Frances Morgan into a family known for their eclectic nicknames. Her father was “Rat,” her mother was “Sulky” and her sister was “Dodo.” In college, Snow once wrote, she would write letters to her father and draw a rat on the envelope, followed by the last name “Morgan” and the family’s home address. The mail was delivered correctly.
Snow was always an outgoing, social person. If there was a social club at Plant City High School to be involved in, she likely joined it. She served in Student Government, joined several foreign language clubs and was active in several sports, trying her hand at basketball and cheerleading. She was involved in the school’s Glee Club, Dramatic Club and Thespian Society. Snow graduated from PCHS in 1945 and then spending one year at Florida State College for Women (now Florida State University). She was also a skilled illustrator and singer.
But it was writing that most appealed to her, and that reflected with her roles with the school newspaper and its yearbook club. She wrote her own stories and poetry on the side, and decided to make a career out of writing sometime after marrying her first husband, Horst Glamsch. Snow got her start writing for the Courier and stringing, or freelancing, for the Tribune and quickly took to life as a newspaperwoman.
“The one thing about her that was interesting, her real gift… it’s a quote by Albert Einstein,” Kerry Glamsch, her son, said. “‘I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.’ That was her. She was passionately curious about everything. That was her gift and her light shined on all of us: her family, friends and people who read her writings.”
Snow worked for the Tribune for more than 20 years as a reporter, feature writer for the Part IV section and eventually state woman’s editor. Her personality made her a good fit in one of the busiest newsrooms around as someone who could cut through tension and put her colleagues at ease.
“I think whoever coined the phrase ‘young at heart’ must have known someone like Panky,” Susan Green, who worked with Snow in the Plant City bureau, said. “She had a very fresh way of looking at the world. She had a very quirky sense of humor. Working in a newsroom can be stressful, but she could break the tension by telling an off-the-wall joke.”
Some of her proudest moments include her interview with Gable, whom she came across at Tampa International Airport in the late 1950s, Prince Rainier III of Monaco and Roosevelt, whom she picked up from Bradenton and drove to Tampa.
“Eleanor was visiting a friend in Bradenton, so we drove down from Tampa to pick her up,” Snow told the Courier in 2010. “The ladies didn’t want to have a bunch of reporters clamoring after Mrs. Roosevelt, so they chose me to do the interview and share what was said with the rest… it was a really difficult interview. Eleanor spoke with that high-pitched, unusual New England accent and I guess I had kind of a squeaky voice. There was a lot of ‘What did you say?’ from both of us during that ride. But she was a wonderful woman. Her strong influence on women’s equality and women’s rights was considered very outspoken at that time.”
Snow was particularly good at capturing the humanity of her subjects, letting their emotions come through on paper and picking out all the little details of a person that made them who they were, whether it was someone as well-known as Roosevelt or someone in Plant City having a porch party for the Florida Strawberry Festival.
Her byline changed from Panky Glamsch to Panky Snow while at the Tribune after divorcing in 1974 and later marrying Richard Snow. Snow and Glamsch had two sons, Horst B. and Kerry Glamsch, and she instilled in them a love of the arts from an early age.
“When my brother and I were kids, she offered to give us a nickel or a dime to memorize poems,” Kerry Glamsch said. “Some of the bigger poems were worth a quarter. In a way, she really planted a seed for reading and a love of literature. We would recite the poems. In a way, that was the start of a love of literature and something that possibly led to acting later. I was learning lines and performing.”
After she retired from the Tribune, Snow moved back to Plant City and started writing for the Courier again. She published a recurring column titled Reminiscing with Panky Snow, a look at Plant City history and stories from around town as only she could tell them. Topics she wrote about included the airport on Coronet Road that was used during World War II to train pilots, Bealsville and the Glover School, Don and Berta Richey’s floats and more. She wrote for Bridgestone Books’ Community Helpers series, and she also wrote a pair of books titled Radio Announcers and Chefs and Cooks.
Snow was an animal lover and always had pets in her life, but she especially loved cats and cared for as many as she could after her retirement. Her passion for acting continued well into adulthood and she was at one point performing with the Playmakers in Tampa. She loved to travel when she could and enjoyed life as a local celebrity when she was in Plant City.
“I would go to see her in Plant City, we’d have lunch downtown and people would stop and talk to her,” B.C. Manion, who worked with Snow in Tampa, said. “It took forever to get from point A to point B. She was a little celebrity in town. She’d done so many stories about so many people and had a lot of connections to people.”
Much of Snow’s work, from her high school days through the end of her career, was donated to the Dr. Scotty & Hsiu Huang History Center, Plant City Photo Archives, 106 S. Evers St., and is viewable there.
Information from the Dr. Scotty & Hsiu Huang History Center, Plant City Photo Archives, was used in this article.