Source: My Personal Collection
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Growing up near New York City, my family took advantage of some of the historical places nearby. One year, I think I was about ten or eleven, my mother decided to take my brother and I to visit West Point. It was late fall and near Halloween. Along the way back, we stopped at Tarrytown, home of Washington Irving, about 30 miles south of the military academy.
I always and forever will associate Irving’s story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, with Halloween. Folklore says that the Headless Horseman, featured in the story, was a Hessian soldier whose head was shot off by a cannonball during the Battle of White Plains (New York) in 1776. The setting is Tarry Town, the fictional version of Tarrytown.
It was late in the day after visiting West Point and it was cloudy with very cool, crisp air. The wind was whistling through the trees and, as it got close to dark, the village took on a very spooky feeling. It had all the elements found in Irving’s story!
Although Irving’s home there – Sunnyside – is a tourist site, I have no memory of going in the house and I don’t think Mom would have paid for the three of us to go on a house tour. I think we might have eaten a snack she had packed while we sat in a public park. Since it was getting dark and it was feeling VERY spooky, I was only too happy to get in the car when it was time to go.
When I became a teacher of upper elementary school aged children, they heard me read The Legend of Sleepy Hollow year after year because I really liked the story and each class I taught seemed to enjoy it, too.
Do you have a favorite Halloween story?