EDITOR’S NOTE. Jonathan now does his thing in the Old Dutch Church of Sleepy Hollow through the month of October. Click here to read the article on this fantastic performance.
About a year or so ago I get a message on my voice mail by a guy calling himself “The Sleepy Hollow Storyteller,” who says in essence he’s doing a book on how the Headless Horseman lost his head, and would I let him use some of my photos in his book? “The Sleepy Hollow Storyteller” I muttered to myself. “Sure he is, and I’m the Easter Bunny.”
I looked the fellow, Jonathan Kruk up online, and sure enough, he is the Sleepy Hollow Storyteller. And every so often for the next few months, we’d wander around the Hudson Valley, looking for sites associated with legends, him recounting the tale, me scrambling up cliffs, down into the Bronx River and other locations, trying to get the shots.
The first time I got a hint of his storytelling prowess was when I brought my little boy, Teelin along with us. Like most eight year olds, he’s hard to shut up. But he sat spellbound, listening to Jonathan. And ever since, I’ve been doomed to try to repeat Jonathan’s feats, never measuring up.
Then last October, Jonathan got me into Legends Weekend at Philipsburg Manor to take photos. It was a bit of a moist night as I wandered in before the crowd, and by the time people started trickling in, it was pouring. I figured that was it, but when they say “rain or shine” in Sleepy Hollow, they mean it. Surprisingly, people did show up, and Jonathan gathered them around and launched into the tale of the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Within a few minutes there were a hundred people or so, standing in the pouring rain, watching him perform the tale with unbridled energy. And they stood there till the end.
After they left, he took a drink of water, gathered another crowd and began the routine again. I lost count of how many times he performed the tale that evening, which eventually ended in a deluge so fierce they did have to shut it down. But I learned two things that night.
First, is the power of storytelling hasn’t been diminished over time. And second, Jonathan truly is The Sleepy Hollow Storyteller.
How do you put a price on a story well-told? How do you compensate a person for the smiles he puts on children’s faces, on the faces of adults, for stimulating the imagination in a way which is all but lost today? It takes strength to continue to live this tradition, day in and day out. It’s a sacrifice, and everyone who gets the chance to be in the audience is all the better for it.
Those interested in Jonathan’s work could do no better than to visit his website, www.jonathankruk.net , where you can see his schedule and buy the cds (plenty of fun and a much better babysitter than the tv). He also performs as part of the Hudson River Ramblers, who can be found here.