When a grandparent took the boy to live with relatives in Chicago, the boy missed his bedtime stories. So Burgess would write them down in longhand and mail them to his son. A friend of his saw some of these stories and said that they ought to be published. He contacted Little Brown and Company, and they published a compilation of them in a book, Old Mother Westwind, in 1910. Gradually, he began to write more stories about animal characters and his popularity started to grow. Since he wrote about animals, he began to study their habits and habitat. Suddenly, he became a very knowledgeable individual. He was one of the pioneer naturalists and environmentalists—he and fellow naturalists were instrumental in getting Congress to pass the Migratory Bird Act. And through what he called the Green Meadow Club, he had children urge farmers and landowners to set aside segments of their land as wildlife sanctuaries.
There are villains in Burgess’s stories, but there’s always a moral. Good or right or virtuous behavior always wins out.
A lot of people think living on Cape Cod means you don’t have this or that, but if you look in the paper, there’s certainly plenty to do. There are some wonderful institutions here that have great exhibitions. The Cape Cod Symphony has certainly become a very important force on the Cape. We go to Boston for the Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts, but Cape Cod is providing us with fine classical music—without having to endure the traffic.
J.K. Lilly, Jr., the father of the founder of Heritage Plantation, commissioned the artist Frank Vining Smith to do a series of paintings of interesting scenes on Cape Cod. He thought that Cape Cod was going to change as time went on, and he wanted to capture some of these views on canvas. When I was at Heritage, we exhibited those paintings on occasion. It was very interesting to look at them. Some of the views were identical to what they are today. And others have changed very, very dramatically.