By Henry John Steiner
Historian of Sleepy Hollow
Jim Laird was a friend of mine, and over the years we spent a lot of time together. Much of that time was spent playing tennis and platform tennis. For a long time Jim organized a regular, Sunday morning pickup match at the old—now defunct—Tarrytown platform tennis courts, on the Hudson River waterfront. They were old wooden courts in bad shape. During their last decade of existence, little was done to keep them in operating condition. I guess there was virtually no Tarrytown constituency left to squawk about keeping them in shape. (Apparently, if you turn your back on something long enough, the constituencies fade away.) Our own group of men players were interlopers there—we were pretty much all from Sleepy Hollow. So, we had no standing to complain about the condition of the courts—or even to be on them! But we never got hassled for our clamorous, early-morning, Sunday platform tennis bouts.
Jim was the ring leader. He was persistent about lining up players for those pickup matches, just as he was dogged about so many of his pursuits—the renaming of the Village of Sleepy Hollow for instance—but I’ll get to that later. It was a mistake to mention a cherished idea to him in passing, because he would continually remind you of it in subsequent discussions, “holding your feet to the fire.”