Pennsylvania Memories is a special series marking the turn of the millennium featuring readers' memories of events, experiences, incidents, individuals, innovations or inventions that profoundly affected them or gave them a deep appreciation of personal history.

I was about four years old when the first cabins were rented out at Cook Forest, only one to a family, because there were only four or five. My parents decided to rent one of the cabins and a tent for a week for our family of six. My memories of this cabin are that it was very small and dark and that I was afraid to go to sleep at night, although I knew my parents were right outside the cabin. We went there in following summers when there were more cabins and we could rent two of the cabins. There was a wash-house and latrine facility across a footbridge from the ring of cabins. Mother usually went with both of her little girls. Right in the middle of the ring of cabins there was a sort of pit with a fire ring in it and a few grills over it and a couple of tables for all of the cabin inhabitants to eat from, taking turns using the fire. I believe that my big sister and brother were allowed to swim in the creek that ran through the “camp.”

I remember especially the Rhodo­dendron Trail as one that I liked to go on. It was short at that time (or my mother brought us back to the camp while the others went on).

It was not so good when it rained because there was little place to get under shelter, but I remember how much I liked the sunshine and being outside. My brother showed me a daddy longlegs and how they moved on the ground. There were lots of them and I could find them by myself outside the cabin!

One day we had gone on a walk in the afternoon and it wasn’t until suppertime that my brother realized that he must have dropped his knife on the trail and my parents allowed him to go back on the trail to look for it. He went bravely off down the trail. He soon came rushing back because he “saw a bear!” I suspect he saw a frightening shadow in the woods. None of us kids went into those woods alone again!

During one of those early summers, I remember sitting on the stoop in front of one of the cabins and holding a leaf in front of my eyes, just as my brother showed me, to watch an eclipse of the sun. I was pretty small and very impressed with the whole experience.

On the whole I would say all the Cook Forest summers at that time were truly wonderful. Through the years, I have come to love going down there to take a trail or just drive home from the east on Route 36 in order to see all the changes. We have found it a good place to take our exchange students to see another part of American culture.


Elizabeth Schabacker Beckman of Erie and her husband Charles, both fourth-generation Erie Countians, celebrated their fiftieth wedding anniversary in 2000 with their seven children, ten grandchil­dren, and four great grandchildren. Mrs. Beckman graduated from Wilson College and worked as a social worker for three years. Since her marriage she has been a homemaker and an active volunteer with her church and with public libraries, serving on the board of trustees for the Erie County Library through the sixties, and on the Governor’s Advisory Board for Library Development through the seventies. She is presently serving on a committee to choose sites for new branches of the Erie County Library. She has also served on the board of the Erie County Historical Society and is involved with its publications committee. In addition to her volunteer work, Mrs. Beckman’s hobbies include genealogy.