By Henry John Steiner
Historian of Sleepy Hollow
A Personal Beginning
I have strange reading habits—more on that in another post… As an undergraduate student, I studied literature—English literature—and I started out in a Catholic university named Saint Bonaventure. I confess that, at the time, I had little interest in continuing my formal education. This was after graduating from Sleepy Hollow High School…
One of the things that most attracted me to literature, particularly the classics, was the historical component, be it the writings of Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys, or pre-Shakespearian drama. People who are aware of my role as Sleepy Hollow Historian often assume that I was a college history major. History has always been a passion of mine, and I have searched for it in out-of-the-way places. I don’t know specifically how I contracted the history “bug.” It might have been my father’s early morning tales of World War II—he occasionally threw a war story off on his way to work. He usually told me the funny ones—about his buddies in the army counter-intelligence corps—not the tragic ones. Or maybe it was my mother who connected me with history, who had taught school in France, who sat telling me stories of ancient Greek myths and the “Song of Roland,” the stalwart knight of Charlemagne.
Somehow or other history and stories of the past seeped into my veins. Many years later I found a kindred soul in Washington Irving himself—his not so crazy mix of history and story. Who can blame me for my history “habit,” seated as I have been with a front row seat on the lower Hudson River, with an unobstructed view on the scene of America’s War of Revolution? Here I can easily see where so many of the players in that epic struggle left their footprints. So little time, so many stories of the past!