Comments by Ken Schory

Every summer as I was growing up, through the 1950's and into the '60's, I would spend a few weeks away from our home in the Chicago suburbs visiting my maternal grandparents at their antebellum home on Lake Ontario, a mile east of the town of Olcott, north of Buffalo. My great-grandfather had dubbed this place "Cedarcroft," a reference to its rows of cedar hedges which, by the time I came along, were enormous. Cedarcroft was a wonderful place, with a thousand things to amuse an inquisitive boy, as well as his grandfather. Gramps (G. Allen Burrows, the author of this journal) was forever engaged in all sorts of do-it-yourself projects, and he never minded my looking over his shoulder. He was a resourceful, self-sufficient kind of guy. Equally adept at prose and poetry, he would often work late into the night on letters, journals or articles he submitted to Popular Mechanics and other magazines for publication. More often, I would find him in his workshop, inventing new kinds of stringed instruments for his own entertainment or gizmos that would make him a millionaire, but never did.

Friends admired Gramps for his insights, wit and congeniality. His father, a minister and skilled carpenter, enrolled Gramps in the religious studies program (which he referred to as "Divinity School") at Hobart College in Geneva, New York, on Seneca Lake. However, after just a year or two, "all that dogma" didn't agree with him and he switched to Cornell's Forestry program in Ithaca, on Lake Cayuga, the next Finger Lake over. Following his graduation in 1916, he spent one summer as a Forest Service fire lookout in Idaho, worked as an engineer on the Niagara Power facility, took odd jobs like fixing radios during the Great Depression, and designed industrial equipment for several companies in the Buffalo area for the remainder of his career. But his heart was at Cedarcroft and in his many projects -- like this journal.

Our family has perhaps half a dozen of Gramps' journals, including one that describes his experiences at the family's summer cottage on Georgian Bay, on the east side of Lake Huron. In 1973, a year before he died, I visited him at his home. The moment we touched on the subject of photography, he immediately thought of this Idaho journal and, with a twinkle in his eye, went and got it. I had seen it previously on several occasions, but this time he made a special point of explaining to me that, of all the journals he had written, this one was his favorite.  He often reminisced fondly about that summer on Coolwater Mountain, and wanted me to know how important it was to him.

It took me ten years to get around to it, but in the summer of 1983, 67 years after Gramps' "Odyssey," I went to Idaho and spent a couple of days camping at Coolwater Lookout. Much had changed, but much was the same, near as I could tell from his photographs. While there, I took several photos of my own from approximately the same vantage points as his, and have included them in this section. The idea that I was standing in the same places he was, so long ago, gave me "chills." When you click on a "thumbnail" image you'll get a page with both versions of the image, for comparison.


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Forest Fire Lookout Association
Forestry Degrees & Careers: a guide for students
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