TARRYTOWN — Washington Irving once said, “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”
Having grown up with “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving being one of my favorite stories I always wanted to visit the town. The idea of Sleepy Hollow has fascinated me my whole life.
You focus so much on the story of Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman that you forget there is a whole beautiful story within the gruesome horror.
My next adventure starts on the Tappan Zee Bridge, where I learned the art of waiting endlessly in city traffic; even though my destination was only six miles away.
My grandmother, Verna Jean, had first come across the Tappan Zee Bridge with my grandfather, Donald Martin on their honeymoon many many years ago. It brought delight to my grandmother to be crossing that bridge once more decades later.
Once across the historic Tappan Zee Bridge it came time to get acquainted with Tarrytown, Sleepy Hollow, and Irvingston.
I had marked several things on the list of things to do. The first was seeing the 1750s version of Sleepy Hollow, which is known as the Philipsburg Manor. However, my mother, Lisa, grandmother, and I went on a three hour grand tour to the Rockefeller estate, known as Kykuit first.
Once a bus takes you to the luxurious estate you are ready to take a ton of photos, and get ready for one hell of a workout. The estate is filled with beautiful buildings, fountains, gardens, galleries, and a rich landscape that stretches out to the Hudson River.
We used up every second of those three hours to our advantage. Sadly, we couldn’t take any photos inside the mansions.
It was humbling to go from how the one percent lives to the manor, which to be fair was once owned by one of the wealthiest of the era.
The manor is breathtaking. It takes you to a place that fills in the images you take from “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.”
The manor still operates like it did in the 1750s, and the historians that enjoy keeping this small part of old time Sleepy Hollow alive are more than happy to share it.
A visit to the Old Dutch Church gives some insight into the people that inspired “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and why Irving loved it so much. This church is among the oldest in America that is still being operated by descendants of the original congregation. It was built in the late 1600s.
After surviving a mini hurricane at Barely On The Hudson we made our way back over the Tappan Zee Bridge.
The next day we thought we would be rained out, but I had a mission. I wasn’t going to leave without visiting Irving’s homestead known as Sunnyside.
We made a stop at Lyndhurst first and again got to see how the other half lives.
There was priceless artwork, lovely architecture, and the best part is we could take photos.
It was nice to see how names in our history changed their small part of the world. There is art hanging on those walls you won’t see anywhere else; just like at Kykuit.
Visiting Sunnyside was among the highlights of the whole trip. Of course we were cut off from picture taking inside. I learned a lot about this beloved author by visiting his home. Irving was the author that every author in that time period wanted to know. He was meant to be a lawyer and serve justice, but instead he was a starving author until 1820 when he published his bestseller “The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow.” Irving died at the age of 76 in the home he built along the Hudson River of a heart attack. He never married or had any children. He had companionship with his friends, fellow authors, and three girls he called his nieces.
Irving kept Edgar Allen Poe from quitting before he became the famous horror genre author we all grew up loving, and he was the object of “Frankenstein” author Mary Shelley’s affection. His brother, Ebenezer Irving, inspired Charles Dickens to write the beloved Christmas classic “A Christmas Carol.”
As we made our way home form our latest adventure I reflected on the simple truth that any story worth telling begins with the heart, and ends with the notion that even the Headless Horseman can't defeat it.