It was a nice evening at Lyndhurst. The dead were quite lively, in some cases more than the living!
I unfortunately got there a bit late (I forgot that it started at six), but apparently I didn’t miss much. The party was down from the house, across from the stables and in a huge tent with chandeliers. There were several local Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow restaurants and bars that were at different stations to serve the crowd. There was different fare available, from pulled pork to duck to polenta. Wine and beer was available at three stations. At the entrance were the silent auction items, everything from a tarot reading to dance classes to a portrait of the Headless Horseman. Though this was supposed to be a walk around and mingle, some small tables had been put out with chairs, which were quickly filled with a handful of people while the rest of us stood around.
I talked to a few of the dead. Washington Irving was quite friendly. He was a bit younger than I imagined he would be, but when you’re dead I guess you can come back at any age you want. I told him that it was his story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, that got me to move to the Hollow in the first place. He was touched. We discussed his location at the beginning of the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery and how crowded his plot was with all his relatives. (He wasn’t too happy with all of them crowded around him. He thought that he should have bought a much smaller plot.) I explained how “okay” is really the only word understood in just about every part of the world.
Then there was Lydia Locke, the opera singer who was married seven times. (Killed one husband in self defense and was acquitted; two others died under mysterious circumstances.) Ms. Locke was dressed in fiery red, ready to set the place on fire. I chatted with her on two occasions. The first, she joined Mr. Irving and I as we conversed. When asked if he had met her, Mr. Irving told me that he had already had enough of Miss Locke, and quickly retreated. She was fascinated with digital cameras, since she was such a narcissist and loved having her picture taken while living. The foot camera against the wall where one could take a picture then upload it onto Twitter, Facebook or some other Internet service, fascinated several of the dead.
Minna Irving was very pleasant. Having been a poet in life, she was very nice to talk to and acquiesced to Karen and I each taking her picture. Being from Pittsburgh, I avoided the Carnegies. The 1895 Homestead Strike is history, but the attempt to break the union by Carnegie’s henchman, Henry Clay Frick, by calling in Pinkerton stooges as strike breakers that cost people their lives, is still remembered in the Steel City. It really is a shame that Samuel Gompers could not have come back. We could use his leadership in reinvigorating the unions in this country.
The evening ended with a hilarious talk by author and humorist Joe Queenan. His talk had everyone laughing as he discussed people that he wouldn’t mind seeing dead and the history of the area. The party was over by nine. It remains to be seen how much money was raised for the Historical Society and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. Before I left, I was asked to take a photograph of the cemetery tour guides, which I did.
There is one addendum to the night. A mysterious woman in a white mask and gown with a long train was seen mingling and talking to the guests. Who was she? No one seemed to know. I thought of Marie Antoinette, but Lydia Locke was nonplussed. She told me that she had had her fun with her seven husbands, while poor Marie lost her head. I did point out that the doomed queen did have her one true love, a foreign diplomat, who did try and save her. Lydia was not amused; she insisted that she had more fun than Marie which, when remembering the way the queen’s life ended, you really can’t argue.