THE RIP VAN WINKLE BRIDGE

 

Rip Van Winkle

We missed the turn for the Taconic headed north on our way to Canada last week. It was the very first leg of our trip, and we made it almost all the way to Connecticut before we realized we’d made a mistake.
On our way back to our proposed route we ended up near the West Taghkanic Diner, on Rte. 9. We had lunch there in February with a few friends after Maggie Estep’s funeral, and were surprised to run across it.

west Tachkanic diner

Finally we drove through Hudson, NY to get to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, which we needed to take if we wanted to get across the river to the NY State Thruway.
We passed the Helsinki on Columbia Street; this was the place where we’d attended the memorial. The lovely Danusia asked if we might visit Maggie’s grave, since we’d missed the actual funeral that cold February day.
“I don’t know where the Cemetery is, or where the grave is, for that matter,” I said.
We had passed the actual cemetery, and surprisingly saw the people at the graveside on our way to the Helsinki the morning of the funeral. I had a picture of the spot burned into my brain and was sure I could find it again. But getting lost that morning and already an hour behind schedule I didn’t think it was a great idea to go walking through a cemetery looking for a spot I’d glimpsed briefly from a moving car seven months ago.
We drove on across Columbia Street and turned onto Rte. 9 south to the bridge; and eventually many hours later, Oshawa, Ontario.
We returned to New York Friday night, and the trip wasn’t much shorter despite having followed our Google maps directions to a T, almost three hours past the estimated time on the map. Time for Google maps to re-calibrate.
We were to stay at Danusia’s friend’s house in Pleasant Valley till Monday, but when her friend called Sunday morning I knew it was bad news. They were returning that evening and we had to go.
“I’d rather stay in a hotel or motel somewhere up here for a night rather than go home,” Danusia said.
“How about finding a place in or near Hudson, and maybe we’ll visit Maggie’s grave in the morning?” I suggested.
“Great, let’s book a room someplace.”
I started looking on line, and there was one place, The St. Charles Hotel right in downtown Hudson. The pictures of the rooms on their website were nice, and the boasted free Internet, flat-screen TVs and a small refrigerator in every room. A coffeemaker is available on request. $265 a night.
That was a little steep for us, so I kept looking. After reading a lot of dismal reviews I found a B&B called “The Country Squire” two blocks from the main drag in Hudson. No fridge in the room, but the rooms looked nice and breakfast was served. It was $100 less than the St. Charles, so I made a reservation.
We got there later than expected, Danusia had wanted to wash the sheets of the bed we’d slept on before we left her friend’s house; and there was no stopping her.
As we approached the B&B I realized that it was on Rte.9A and we’d passed right by it on our way to the Rip Van Winkle Bridge the week before. This was getting spooky.
The proprietor and host, Paul answered the door and showed us the room, which he called the Black and White room. The bedspread was black and white and a black and white cowhide was on the beautiful parquet floor.
After Paul left Danusia said; “Is that a cow?”
“A dead one, honey,” I replied.
We unpacked and drove to the cemetery, which was on the other side of town. We found the spot that looked likely from our recollections. There was a gate that said HUDSON CITY CEMETERY. We went in and walked around, looking. My friend Jenny Meyer who had been Maggie’s closest friend told me on the phone that the stone had not been placed on the grave, so we could only guess where the site was, since the office was closed. It was almost dark.
“It might have been here.” I said after deciding it was the right distance from the road. The only other thing we had to go on was a picture of the gravesite with the plain pine box beside it that Jenny had sent me the day of the funeral.
“I don’t think that’s the spot,” Danusia said.
“We’ll come back in the morning and ask,” I said.
We drove back west to the B&B and stopped at some Mexican restaurant for dinner, eating amid a flurry of texted photos Jenny was sending from the funeral.
There was only one that had a landmark in the background, a red brick building.
“I didn’t see a red brick building today,” Danusia said after looking at the photos.
“Well, we weren’t looking for one, were we?” I answered.
“There was no red brick building there,” Danusia stated with certainty. I wasn’t going to argue with that. We walked around town after dinner, and as we came to the end of Warren Street, the main drag I spotted a sign for the St. Charles Hotel across the City Square.
“Look, honey, the overpriced St Charles Hotel!” I exclaimed. Just at that moment, an elderly man in a car stopped beside us and the man asked: “Can you tell me where the St. Charles Hotel is?” I pointed across the square and said, “right over there,” like I’d been living in Hudson forever.
The next morning after a wonderful breakfast served by our host Paul (Ham quiche or broccoli?) we headed back to the cemetery. Danusia was right, there was no brick building visible from the spot I’d declared correct.
“Maybe it’s on the other side of the cemetery?” I said in a vain effort to save a little face.
What we discovered was that we were in the wrong cemetery, there was another one called CEDAR PARK CEMETARY right next door. We drove on and simultaneously said, “There’s the building!”

Cedar Park Cemetary

We parked the car and walked over to the gate, and using the picture Jenny had sent we found the spot where two fresh holes were dug for headstones.

Maggie's grave

I wondered why there were two stones, and thought it was the wrong spot, but using the pictures (one of which has another gravestone in the background) we determined that this was indeed where Maggie was buried. We both said our own private (and now proper) goodbyes to Maggie and walked back to the car. I’m sure Maggie would have gotten a kick out of our detective work and determination.

About xaviertrevino

I like to write, take things apart and put them back together, turtles, and my lovely wife Danusia.
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