The Historical Society had Linda Ford, formerly of Sleepy Hollow, come in and tell spooky stories for the season. Linda now lives in northern Florida, and you can take the girl out of Sleepy Hollow but NEVER take the Sleepy Hollow out of the girl.
Linda retold The Legend of Sleepy Hollow as well as told stories that I had never heard before. They were great. She told a story by Ray Bradbury, who had given her permission to tell it years ago, that I later found out scared a friend of mine out of her wits when she first read it. The sanctuary of home, of that place where we are invincible and nothing can harm us, is turned upside down after a long, scary walk through a hollow that turns out to be the place of relative safety, as the woman who arrived home unfortunately found out.
I got a chance to talk with Linda for a few minutes. She misses living in Sleepy Hollow but, like all retirees–and younger people of normal means–are discovering, the taxes in Westchester are too high to be affordable. I cannot own a house here, which is why I only rent. (Actually, I’ve rented everywhere I’ve ever lived, except when I was in my parents’ house.) She would love to return to the area, but would have to live a few hours away. Thankfully in that regard, there are some options. She did, however, have some wonderful things to say about the southern storytellers with whom she had met and discussed their craft.
The following Sunday, I attended a storytelling session with David Neilsen, formerly Major André, who did a wonderful telling of stories in the Washington Irving Memorial Chapel in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Whereas Linda Ford told her stories from memory, Neilsen read his from a book, but his reading was very dramatic.
My favorite story was the one where the students are gathered in the cemetery trying to raise the dead on Halloween and a young British boy shows up and talks with them. They believe that he is a ghost and call for him to go back to where he came. He does–the parking lot, where his parents were anxious to leave. He explains that there are so many interesting people you can meet in the cemetery–like the group of high school students who were killed one Halloween night by a runaway truck.
Two different storytelling techniques, both exceptional in their own way.