The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Good evening, bookworms! Happy hump day and I apologize for the delay in posting. If you follow me on social media (theblabbingbibliophile), you’ll have gotten the announcement regarding the lack of post. I’m prone to getting pretty severe headaches about twice a week (on average. Sometimes more, sometimes less), and yesterday I was hit pretty hard. When I got home from work, I just had to crash and re-charge. Tonight, I still feel it niggling just above my eyes, but I think it’s time to keep calm and carry on. Side note: if anyone has some magical remedy, feel free to share, because I’ve tried everything and can’t seem to kick the pain once it hits me.

Okay! now that I’ve whined a little bit, time to get to some bookish stuff. I’m still playing around with when I’ll be posting to the blog, but I do think I need to shift some stuff around, so I might aim to do reviews on Wednesday and other literary topics on Friday perhaps? I’m still tossing the best days around in my head, so once I know, I’ll keep you posted!

Now, tonight is going to be a bit of a twofer for the impending holiday since I’ve been slacking on my posts. I’m going to discuss/review a creepy classic, and also take a literary adventure to the location of the story.

With All Hallows’ Eve lurking around a dark corner, I thought I’d revisit The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving.

This is a tale I read in my American Lit II class in college years back, but it’s also one I’ve been familiar with since I was a kid thanks to the magic of Disney. For some reason, however, I wasn’t able to recall the original tale clearly enough, so I gave it another read this past Sunday… after I took an eerie drive the night before.

One of the benefits of living in a tiny state like New Jersey is being able to hop state lines pretty readily. The town of Sleepy Hollow from the Irving tale is just over an hour from where I live, so on Saturday afternoon, my friend and I got in the car, and took a ride across the Hudson in search of the infamous headless horseman.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow is exactly that, part of the legend and lore of American Literature. Rumored to be a Hessian solider captured by the American militia during the Revolution and promptly beheaded, his ghost is said to still wander the area. Irving, of course, took this hearsay and developed it into the story we all know and love today. He introduced us to the lanky yet suave, new-to-town schoolmaster, Ichabod Crane, and the object of his affection, Katrina Van Tassel. When Ichabod is invited to a fall party at the home of the Van Tassel family, he can’t help but go and make merry. He eats, drinks, and dances, before settling in with most of the town to hear from stories of ghouls and goblins. It’s the story of the headless horseman that really spooks Ichabod and makes him nervous to wander back home. It’s said that the horseman appears at night and hunts down your head, unless you make it to the covered bridge. That’s a line he can’t cross so if you make it over the bridge, you get to keep your head. When Ichabod is partway home, is when he and his old horse meet the terror they were dreading. What happens to the poor schoolmaster is unclear. Some say he became one of the countless victims of the local legend, while others say they had seen him in later years living quietly in another town. No one knows for sure, so they all make sure to keep an eye out for the horseman and save their heads.

My friend and I didn’t quite plan ahead when we made our way to the small town. The Hollow has quite a few events for the fall season, and tickets always sell out. You can venture to the haunted house at Phillipsburg Manor, the Jack O’Lantern Blaze, take a lantern tour with a guide in the Sleepy Hollow cemetery and visit the graves of Irving and the Van Tassel family, or you can head inside the Old Dutch Church and listen to a dramatic reading of the short story. Like I said, we didn’t have tickets to any of the events, but we figured we’d cruise on up and wander around.

The town itself is pretty small, just as you’d imagine it from all those years ago, but it is slightly spaced out. You couldn’t really park in one spot and wander from one end of town to the other without doing a fair bit of hiking. Unfortunately, some of the only parking my friend and I came across had a fifteen minute limit. The larger lots were reserved for people who had tickets for all the evening activities. I’m not saying it’s not doable to have an enjoyable time here, but during the Halloween season, it’s always good to be prepared because this place is pretty popular. You can also find other historic and literary stops in neighboring Tarrytown or at the Rockefeller State Park Reserve.

Since we didn’t get to stroll much, I took the only picture I could while I sat at a red light. This is the Old Dutch Church where you can listen to the story and wander the cemetery. It’s also famous for being featured in Irving’s pages, and is a nationally registered historic landmark.

If you’re looking to get your spook on these next few days, you should re-visit this tale if you’d like to read something that will send a few shivers down your spine. Or, if you’re in the area, or feel like migrating and finding a fall activity, keep Sleepy Hollow and their events in mind. Head to their website, and see where the legend lives here.

Until next time, guys. Happy reading, and Happy Halloween!

My Final Rating: four out of five stars


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