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Field Trip – Fall ’74

February 23rd, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

And you may see me tonight with an illegal smile,
it don’t cost very much, but it lasts a long while.
Won’t you please tell the man I didn’t kill anyone,
No, I was just trying to have me some fun.

~~~ John Prine
http://www.bluelyrics.net/j/john_prine_lyrics/illegal_smile_lyrics.html

View of the mighty Hudson River, from Sleepy Hollow, looking northwest towards Haverstraw Bay.


Last summer, I wrote a nostalgic post about my hometown, Tarrytown, NY
Landscapes of Memory and Meaning

Amazingly, in a quirk of the internet where nothing dies, that post started circulating among Tarrytowners via email and I strangely started getting calls from people I hadn’t seen or heard from since high school (35+years ago). I even got a letter from Arizona from a neighbor now in her 80′s – in a long hand written letter, she told the story of how her son came across my post and fondly recalled how I used to cut through her yard and was a real wild one.
All this got me to thinking I’d write something about growing up in Tarrytown again – and then out of nowhere I got a note from a real good friend I hadn’t seen in many years – Randy. Randy followed in his dad’s “Bill Bill” footsteps and was a plumber. He wrote to tell me that he’s now working on geothermal energy systems in the Bronx.
So I decided to take a drive up to Tarrytown and take a hike down memory lane.
The hike – and this post – is a memory of a crazy field “trip” we all took in the late fall of 1974 -our senior year in High School – to a spectacularly gorgeous place right behind Randy’s house.
I’ve since forgotten the name of the rock pictured below, but we used to call one part of the wild place “Eagle Mountain”, but it is now called “Rockefeller State Park Preserve“.
This will be a lengthy post, with many pictures and a weird story (but even good pictures really can’t convey the beauty of this place, which must be seen and experienced).
The Trip starts at the end of Gorey Brook Road – which runs parallel to the Croton Aqueduct and is just east (above) Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Walk about a quarter mile down the trail, take a right up the hill at the first carriage path to reach the top. This is the rock I can’t recall the name of. But I vividly still recall that our our “field trip” back in “74 centered on this spot, where we all spent the day engaged in the natural beauty that you see here. It was a spectacular day, with trees literally exploding with brilliant fall colors and swaying in the breeze. Everything about the place – the trees, the dirt, the river, the breeze – was incredibly alive and connected in a cosmic dance.

“Picture yourself in a boat on a river,
With tangerine trees and marmalade skies.
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.
Cellophane flowers of yellow and green,
Towering over your head.
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes,
And she’s gone.”

~~~ The Beatles
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A7F2X3rSSCU

“Timothy Leary’s dead.
No, no, no, no, He’s outside looking in.
Timothy Leary’s dead.
No, no, no, no, He’s outside looking in.
He’ll fly his astral plane,
Takes you trips around the bay,
Brings you back the same day,
Timothy Leary. Timothy Leary.

Along the coast you’ll hear them boast
About a light they say that shines so clear.
So raise your glass, we’ll drink a toast
To the little man who sells you thrills along the pier.

He’ll take you up, he’ll bring you down,
He’ll plant your feet back firmly on the ground.
He flies so high, he swoops so low,
He knows exactly which way he’s gonna go.
Timothy Leary. Timothy Leary.”

~~~ Moody Blues
http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/moodyblues/legendofamind.html

But this electric day – just like the times we were growing up in – was not just a bowl full of cherries. Sometimes the shadows look like ghosts and things can get more than a little scary, especially to kids growing up in the land we were told was once roamed by Ichabod Crane, the Headless Horseman. (Warning Kids: don’t try this at home).
When the truth is found to be lies,
and all the joy within you dies.
Don’t you want somebody to love.
Don’t you need somebody to love.
Wouldn’t you love somebody to love.
You better find somebody to love.

~~~ Jefferson Airplane
http://www.mksnyder.org/popculture/Pop%20Music/somebodytolove.htm

Eagle Hill Trail sign

That’s “Eagle Mountain” in the background of the picture below, Probably about 250 feet or so in elevation, but we called it a “mountain”. Guess the NY State Parks folks couldn’t do that with a straight face. They call it “Eagle Hill”

That’s Gorey Brook – at the foot of Eagle Mountain and a tributary to the Pocantico River and source water for historic Philisburg Manor mills.

“The sun beaming down between the leaves,
(Grazin’ in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it).
And the bir-ir-ir-irds dartin’ in and out of the trees,
(Grazin’ in the grass is a gas, baby, can you dig it).
Everything here is so clear, you can see it.
And everything here is so real, you can feel it.
And it’s real, so real, so real, so real, so real, so real”

http://www.stlyrics.com/lyrics/anchorman/grazinginthegrass.htm

I even managed to locate the fire ring from our campsite, on an amazing night the year before, back in the fall of 1973. I recall it must have been 1973, because Mike L. was there and he was a year older than most of us (Randy, Mitch, Steve, Robby,were there, maybe others I’ve forgotten). We were 16 and before we were even driving we could buy beer at a deli (Manny’s?) iust off Beekman Avenue. But how on earth did manage to smuggle it a 1/2 mile up Beekman avenue, walking right past the police station?

At this location, a friend named Chris N – fondly and aptly nicknamed “Cave Man” – lived in the back of his pickup truck. “Cave” was building stone walls during the day and sleeping under the stars at night. Can’t ask for more than that.
Bruce Berry was a working man
He used to load that Econoline van.
A sparkle was in his eye
But his life was in his hands.
Well, late at night when the people were gone
He used to pick up my guitar
And sing a song in a shaky voice
That was real as the day was long.

Tonight’s the night, yes it is, tonight’s the night
Tonight’s the night, yes it is, tonight’s the night.

~~~ Neil Young
http://www.human-highway.org/lyrics/lyrics-10.html

This was “Cave Man’s” home, at the end of Gorey Brook Road – just at the base of Eagle Mountain

The story ends where the hike began – Gorey Brook Road – I left out many of the details. Probably best, yes?

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  1. blarneyboy
    February 24th, 2009 at 14:45 | #1

    So, despite Thomas Wolfe’s assertion, you can go home again!
    Great pictures.
    The Hudson River
    High above, eagles fly
    Under blue skies.
    Down under,
    Saplings grow
    On the river bank.
    New light shines over the horizon
    Running water
    Is crashing into the bank,
    Veering here and there
    Eating away at the
    Rock.
    By John Hordines, age 11 !!
    2008 Finalist
    New windsor, N.Y.
    Vales Gate High Tech
    Teacher: Barbara Oliver

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