Tag Archives: Tarrytown New York

Decorating the Historical Society for Halloween

(2014-10-11 004)It fell to me to put up most of the Halloween decorations in the Historical Society. Karen, who donated the decorations, was going out of town for a few days, but she dropped off the decorations and said that we could do it. So rather than continuing to unpack the Civil War papers of Charles Rockwell, I spent my volunteer time finding (tasteful) ways to make the first floor of the house festive.

Halloween has always been my favorite holiday. I love decorating for it, too. This year I don’t think I’ll have time to decorate my apartment. (I’ll post why in another entry.) When I was young I used to have a Halloween party, which was basically a bunch of guys getting together and running around in costumes and eating. We originally went trick-or-treating the first and second year, but by high school it just isn’t the same. So we would entertain ourselves acting out Star Wars scenes or scenes from other science fiction movies and shows.

(2014-10-11 001)The first floor of the Historical Society is the museum, where displays are set up every so often for people to visit. There is one large room, and two smaller rooms. The second floor is where the library and the archives are kept; the third floor and basement are used for the storage of materials. The current exhibit is on childhood, so artifacts are on display in the rooms from different periods of childhood. The main room is set up like a classroom with old desks and books. Mannequins of a teacher and student are also there to provide atmosphere.  In another room, a mannequin is dressed as a Boy Scout.

Decorating was fun. If you look at the photos I took a week later, you can see what I did. Sara told me that people had commented on the decorations. I was going for simple yet elegant–as elegant as Halloween decorations can be. I didn’t use all of the decorations that Karen had donated. I figured that everyone else would do follow-up and finish decorating. Apparently what I did was enough because not much of anything had been changed and only one thing was added and that was on the second floor.

So I got my Halloween decorating fix for the year.

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Filed under Holidays, Museums, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown

September 23, 1780: the Capture of Major John André

Capture of Andre By John Paulding David Williams and Isaac Van Wart at Tarrytown NY Currier & Ives c1876 (Small)It was in September that Major John André, the British soldier, was captured.

He had come up the Hudson from New York City to meet with Major General Benedict Arnold, who was in command of West Point. Arnold, frustrated that he was under-appreciated and passed over for promotion, decided to betray the colonials and join the British. The plans to West Point were supposed to seal the deal, only André was caught, put on trial, and hung. And he was captured in Tarrytown not far from where Warner Library and the monument to his three Revolutionary war captors stand. (The stream flowing through Patriot’s Park between Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow is named André Brook.)

André was told three things: first, do not travel by the main roads; second, stay in uniform; and third, do not to miss the boat from the British frigate that had sailed up the Hudson to deliver him near West Point to meet Arnold. André did not follow any of the advice, and then was surprised to find himself arrested as a spy. Though he had requested a gentleman’s death (firing squad), he was hung. The rules of war were quite clear. Had André been arrested in uniform and been convicted as a spy, he would have been shot.

André's self-portrait (from Wikipedia)

André’s self-portrait (from Wikipedia)

It has been said that André’s execution was a payback for the British execution of Nathan Hale, whom the British executed for being a spy on September 22, 1776 in New York City nearly four years to the day of André’s death.

To celebrate the anniversary, the Historical Society had two events: Cookies with André and Wine with André. A local actor played John André at both events. The cookies event was for children, but the audience was mostly adults (five children out of 25), which included myself. Everyone enjoyed the performance, including the children. It is hoped that, with some fine-tuning, that the act can be taken to schools to educate the young on American history.

I also heard that the wine event was well-attended.

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Filed under History, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown

At the Historical Society

Jacob Odell House (Historical Society of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown) (2013-03-15 001)

The Jacob Odell House (Historical Society of Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown)

Though another winter storm is expected Monday, the weather has been looking up. Spring is just around the corner. Besides, our bit of Earth is moving too close to the sun, so even if we get snow it cannot last long.

I officially started volunteering at the Historical Society, Inc. Serving Sleepy Hollow and Tarrytown. The Historical Society is in the Jacob Odell house, built in 1848. Odell was a resident who left his house for the Historical Society.

I’m working on the Charles H. Rockwell papers. Charles Rockwell was a resident who served in the Union Army as the assistant quartermaster of volunteers in New Orleans during the Civil War. There’s about two boxes of papers and a box of ledgers. It’s going to be my job to create a finding aid for the collection.

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Filed under History, Libraries, Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown

The Dogs of Whimsies

(2014-02-18 019)Whimsies Incognito is closing its doors this Sunday, February 23. I stopped there on Tuesday to see how things were going, and a lot of the merchandise that I knew from visiting for months is gone. The store still looks like it has a lot, but to the trained eye you can see that things are starting to get bare. Where there was once merchandise hanging from the ceiling and high up on the walls are now barren.

While there, I snapped this picture of Jackie’s dogs, Linus and Trevor, who is looking at the camera. The dog has good ears; he heard me turn on my camera, which “woke” him. I love Labradors: they are big, dumb, lovable dogs. Once he knows you, Linus enjoys showing you his bone/toy of the moment. Trevor is more reserved, at least around me. Still, he always comes over and “says” hello before trotting back to lay down.

Aren’t they cute?

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The End of Whimsies

Whimsies Home 2 (Resized)For those of you who have been following my blog for awhile, you’ve heard me mention Whimsies Incognito, a local Tarrytown shop that’s been around for over 25 years. Whimsies is closing its doors in February. Owner Jackie has decided to retire.

As was stated in Whimsies’ the last blog post, the retail business has changed over those 25 years. You now have 24/7 shopping thanks to the Internet. People don’t shop like they used to before the Internet was created. Whimsies was online only to advertise what was in the store, not to sell. This is how Jackie wanted it.

Whimsies was more than just a store but a place to visit to see Jackie, her dogs and her staff. This is where I met Karen, Hilary and Sarah. Whimsies helped sell me on the Tarrytown-Sleepy Hollow area to live. I would stop in to say hello and see how everything was going. A lot of people would do this. Jackie and Co. were part of the Tarrytown community. It was also fun to look at the new merchandise that came in since the last visit.

And Whimsies would sell some very eclectic things that were simply cool. The Original String Doll Gang from Thailand were a big hit when they first appeared; I have several hanging around my apartment. There were always handmade ceramics for sale from different vendors from around the country. Birdhouses, bird feeders, dog and cat paraphernalia, cooking utensils, baking pans, cutting boards–you name it, Whimsies probably had some form of it in the store. What was sold came from small, independent artists and creators whose merchandise was made by hand. That was what made Whimsies special.

In February 2009, Whimsies was forced to move from their long-time location on Main Street to the current one on South Broadway. Whimsies was now away from the regular foot traffic that walked from the Tarrytown train station and up into town. Even though Whimsies was now only around the corner and up the hill from Main Street, it was in the opposite direction from the main businesses on South Broadway. This had an effect on business.

There’s a 30% everything sale going on right now. Already there are bare areas to be seen in the store. Many of the nicest things are already gone, never to be replaced.

If you are interested in stores selling the unusual, make a stop at Whimsies before the doors close for good. And though Whimsies will be gone, I intend to stay in touch with Jackie and Co., whom I consider friends.

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Fall, and Christmas

The above photographs were taken on the train into work one morning. The photos do not capture the vibrant colors of fall. Yesterday I passed by the same coastline. Gone are the colors. There is still some yellow here and there, and an occasional red splotch, but everything else is brown, and dull.

On October 28th, I went into a Stop and Shop grocery store and was stunned to see Christmas decorations covering several shelves. The Halloween decorations were shoved off to one side , and the holiday hadn’t even come yet! I saw Christmas decorations as early as September in some stores.

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This was taken through the Silver Tips Tearoom window on Broadway. Again, the photo doesn’t capture the beauty of the sunlight dancing on the leaves

The day after Halloween, I went to the Westchester Mall, Many places were already selling Christmas decorations, but what really irked me was that the PA system was paying Christmas music.

There seems to be an obsession with the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas. Retailers make their most sales during this time, and as the United States has become the center of über-capitalism, the time has been expanded. It has been creeping back to Halloween for quite sometime. At the beginning of the second week of November, I found a tree and other Christmas decorations in the Japanese restaurant.

Franklin Roosevelt one year tried to move Thanksgiving back one week to increase the time for shopping during the Depression. Ironically the then-Republican Party, attempting to curry favor with the masses over an unpopular decision, had legislation fixing the holiday on the last Thursday in November. FDR was apparently ahead of his time.

A few weeks ago, I went to Danbury, Connecticut, to meet my friend Lucye. (It was my turn to come up there.) We usually meet in the Christmas Tree Shoppes and then go to lunch, movies, shopping or whatever. This time, though, I couldn’t even find a parking place. The traffic was terrible. We ended up abandoning any attempt to shop in the afternoon. The only time I’d seen traffic like this was during the Christmas shopping season–which has apparently already started.

After ChristmasThen there’s the insanity of the day after Christmas. There’s all this craziness from around Halloween that culminates on Christmas Day, when the after Christmas sales ads appear on television and in print. However, it’s day after Christmas that resembles a quickie Las Vegas wedding where everyone was drunk and happy when the celebrating was going on, but then the next day everyone realizes what a mistake it was and tries to forget the whole thing ever happened. Retailers cannot get rid of the Christmas merchandise quick enough. The shelves are stripped bare and the Christmas junk is shoved together down one aisle, which keeps getting shoved into smaller and smaller piles until it simply vanishes. I’ve always found it amazing how people toss out Christmas trees before New Year’s. For me, the season starts on Thanksgiving and ends on January 7th, Orthodox (or Old) Christmas. It’s after this that I take down my decorations.

I do understand the complaints about the commercialization of the season. It is getting ridiculous. Are we going to start Christmas sales in June?  We already have patio furniture, gardening materials, clothes and other spring and summer merchandise appearing in January to take the place of  Christmas. Winter just started! Who shops for patio furniture when there’s snow outside?

Perhaps this example summarizes the insanity best. In the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day last year, I found Easter candy in a Stop and Shop store!

Just sayin.’

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Why I Love New York

(2013-07-09 097)

This marker is the supposed place where Major John Andre was captured during the American Revolution by militiamen John Paulding, David Williams and Isaac Van Wart. It stands at the entrance to Patriots Park, which is shared between Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow. The local monument nearby also celebrates the capture of the British spy–in a grand way.

Andre’s capture was a major coup for the colonials. Had Andre gotten through the American lines the plans to the fortifications at West Point, which Andre was given from Benedict Arnold, would have fallen into British hands. In effect, the British would have been able to seize West Point and gain total control of the Hudson River, thereby opening a major route for their forces from Canada and effectively severing New England from the rest of the colonies. This incident also forced Benedict Arnold to flee to the British before he was arrested for treason.

This whole area was involved in the American Revolution, one of the more interesting parts of American history.

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Filed under History, New York (State), Sleepy Hollow, Tarrytown