Sunday, October 28, 2007

A Visit to Sleepy Hollow

Today was one of those perfect autumn days - cool, breezy, and crystal clear. The sky was stunningly blue. So I boarded the 9:02 Metro North heading to Poughkeepsie, and got off in Tarrytown. In "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow," Washington Irving explains how Tarrytown got its name:

"In the bosom of one of those spacious coves which indent the eastern shore of the Hudson . . . there lies a small market town or rural port, which by some is called Greensburgh, but which is more generally and properly known by the name of Tarry Town. This name was given, we are told, in former days, by the good housewives of the adjacent country, from the inveterate propensity of their husbands to linger about the village tavern on market days."

Well, I didn't see that tavern Irving wrote about, but I did attend the 10am service at Christ Church, where the writer "tarried" as a warden back in his day. The wife of friend and co-worker David (my travel partner in Africa) is rector of Christ Church. The service was wonderful - just the right way to kick off my day in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow, which is about a mile up the road.

Not in the Halloween spirit? A visit to Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow will get you in the mood. They decorate the streets and lamp-posts for Halloween like most towns used to decorate for Christmas. Scarecrows, pumpkins, witches, and ghosts are everywhere. The funniest sight I saw (and I'm sorry I didn't photograph it) was the ghost on the lamp-post in front of the funeral home. Ha! Was it intentional, I wonder, or just the luck of the alternating ghost/witch decorating draw? No matter. It got a chuckle outta me, I tell ya'.

Both Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow are lovely Hudson Valley villages. You have to work your way up to them, however, from the train station that's located next to the river. The towns sit on a ridge overlooking the Hudson and the views are just spectacular. I got a lot of exercise slogging up and down those hills today!

Two big disappointments on an otherwise perfect day-trip. One, no Headless Horseman. Not event a fake one. You could say that Sleepy Hollow is Headless Horseman-less. But, OK, I didn't really expect to see the Headless Horseman. But I did really want to see the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. It's huge, I know, and I asked several people where it was and either got shrugs or misleading directions. I figured there'd be maps everywhere leading me there, but, no. I had a general notion of where it was, but I must've either walked too far in the wrong direction or not far enough in the right direction. Well, I'll just download my own map and make another trip up that way soon.

Even without HH and the cemetery, I had a great time roaming around these two old villages. It was a perfect pre-Halloween excursion. And it was worth it just to see the ghost decoration on the lamp-post in front of the funeral home.


PT said...

Maybe Mr HH now only turns up on Halloween? Or perhaps Tim Burton now owns the rights to the HH and he isn't allowed to appear without permission?

Actually, I am genuinely amazed that Sleepy Hollow is a real place! I assumed it was fictional. Then again, my entire knowledge of the story of the Horseless Headman is from the cartoon version of the story that was popular (and scary) back in the early to mid 1970s.

MaryB said...

Well, actually, the village of Sleepy Hollow (the name, I mean) went away for about 300 years - known as North Tarrytown, I think. In 1996, the local government decided to revert back to the original name to - ur, cash in, shall we say? - on the Irving legend. Baffles me why they didn't do it much earlier.

Still - no Johnny Depp or Christina Ricci or even Bing Crosby-voiced Ichabod (from the Disney cartoon). You're right - could be trademarked.

Anonymous said...

Sounds fabulous! I always thought Sleepy Hollow was fictional. Who knew?! XOXO


PT said...

I just found that Disney cartoon on Amazon and was amazed (again!) to discover that it dates back to 1958. And was originally paired with another cartoon featuring Mr Toad of Wind In The Willows fame. Slightly less scary!