Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life, death and Washington Irving

After a few days in the New York area, including the real Sleepy Hollow town of Headless Horseman fame and the haunts of Bruce Springsteen in Asbury Park, New Jersey and to a death in Michigan, I return to Detroit and the Windsor area where I lived from 1959 to 1974.

This trip was intended to visit my aunt in northern Michigan who was 98 years old but she passed away while I was in New Jersey visiting a cousin who lives on the Jersey shore. My cousin lost her mother at birth and never knew who her father was and after 70 years still is searching as his identity has never been revealed.

I returned to Michigan last Monday and then my Detroit cousin and I drove to a tiny town upstate called Interlochen, known for it's internationally famous music camp. It was there that our aunt had lived out her life, the last of my mother's family.

And once again, I met two cousins, her children. I have a lot of cousins, from 16 years old to 72 years old.

Being gone a week now, I have begun to feel guilty that I am not working on Ghostkeeper, it's rather difficult as I can't always access computer time. I will be back next Wednesday in L.A.

And Washington Irving?

For those who don't know, Irving wrote the classic Legend of Sleepy Hollow short story which some of you would remember as a movie with Johnny Depp. He also wrote Rip Van Winkle. Both stories were often remade as movies. Irving was one of America's early writers, he was born in 1783 and died in 1859.

Sleepy Hollow is a real place about 28 miles north of Manhatten along the Hudson and I went to the cemetary that is a few hundred feet from where Ichabod Crane sighted the headless horseman. The church, which is detailed in Irving's story, was build in 1685 and there are many grave markers that go back nearly that far.

I trudged up a steep hill past several magnolia trees and found the Irving family plot and stood over his grave. Not far away, Leona Helmsley of hotel fame bought her piece of land where a huge, ostentatious maousoleum was built for the wealthy "Queen of Mean".

Irving's headstone is simple and slowly deteriorating but remains far more important than Leona's, who left $12 million to her dog.

I looked down at Irving's grave and something came to me;  I said it was good to meet him, a fellow writer and I finished with this:

"Just to let you know, Washington, things are still the same for us writers, they still need us and they still don't want to pay us."

Somewhere, Irving must be smiling.

No comments:

Post a Comment