Hope Farm Press Publisher of New York Regional History, Folklore. Nature, Military History and Genealogy Books
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by Meredith Hughes
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An excerpt follows:
Prologue - Years ago, within the heart of the Dutch colony of New York, a man named Rip Van Winkle disappeared with his dog while hunting in the Catskill Mountains. He spent the afternoon drinking and bowling with little men who were thought to be Henry Hudson and his sailors. Lingering too long, he fell asleep. He reappeared twenty years later without his dog, thinking he had been gone for only a day and a night. The event became the famous legend of Rip Van Winkle.
There are stories that defy explanation. Inspired by strange events, they float into our lives and stay from generation to generation. Grandmothers tell them to the young, and the young delight in wondering whether something strange might happen to them on a dark moonless night.
Something strange happened to Gunther Van Winkle recently, and it was on a dark moonless night. Little did he know when he signed on Henry Hudson's replica ship, the Half Moon, that he would become one of those stories.
During 1989 and 1990, the new replica ship Half Moon was constructed at Snow Dock in Albany, N.Y. The ship was outfitted with authentic tools, furnishings and navigational instruments of the early 1600's Dutch Life. She became, inside and out, a fully functional floating museum.
From Albany, the ship sailed down the Hudson River to her new berth at the Half Moon Visitor Center and New Netherlands Museum at Liberty State Park in Jersey City, N.J. People from all over the world tour her there and learn about the Dutch involvement in the original exploration of the Hudson River.
In July 1992 the museum directors decided to send the Half Moon on a "Voyage of Rediscovery" tracing Henry Hudson's trip up the Hudson River 400 years ago. Visits were scheduled for local ports along the way, and an all volunteer boy crew signed on. Gunther Van Winkle was one of the boys signed to the crew.
When he was a small boy, Gunther had believed the story of Rip Van Winkle. But as he grew older, he knew it was only a legend. Becoming a member of the crew was his opportunity to learn, first hand, about a real story.
Tracing Henry Hudson's voyage was a true adventure. Gunther was thrilled to sail on the ship, to see what the explorer saw, and to learn how he felt on a long expedition thousands of miles from home.
Three days into the trip, the Half Moon rounded a bend in the River and there, beyond Kingston to the northwest, stood the beautiful Catskill Mountains. Gunther watched in awe, captivated by the dark shadows slipping across the peaks as puffy white clouds floated by. This was the land of his ancestors. This was where the stories he had been raised on happened. A sense of excitement and anticipation came over him as they made their way into the Rondout Creek and docked at the Maritime Museum in Kingston.
Without further explanation, here is his story. . . . .
Gunther Van Winkle looked out through the darkness from the mate's quarters hammock. Dim light flowed down the steps cast by the lamp hung in the galley. Something had awakened him, but he didn't know what. There . . . . he heard it again. Something was against the hull. He rolled to one side and dropped from his hammock to the cool wood floor. Without searching for his shoes, flashlight in hand, he crossed the hold and bound up the stairs to the main deck.
It had been a long day. After the captain and crew went ashore for the night, Gunther had stayed behind and slept in the gently rocking hammock. He loved the motion of the ship. It made him dream wonderful, adventurous dreams.
This night he must have been dreaming about the legend of Rip Van Winkle, because little men were bowling in a mountainous hollow. Each time they rolled a ball and hit the nine pins, lightning flashed and loud thunder rumbled across the mountains. Maybe the thunder from his dream was what had awakened him. Maybe he only imagined something was bumping the ship. He, the lone explorer, would see what it was and sent it on its way.
So begins the adventure. This is what reviewers had to say:
"Remembering the joy of the fanciful legend Rip Van Winkle, Meredith Hughes introduces us to Rip's adventurous descendant, Gunther.
Through the magical Catskills, Gunther encounters pirates, mayhem and "special treasure." With delightful illustration, artist and naturalist, Meredith Hughes recaptures a bit of youth for all adults and introduces a new generation to a whimsical tale of "little men" with tall hats, striped waistcoats and gigantic cutlasses....An escape into the world of winsome fun."
Mona T. Hallinan. EBR (Eclectic Book Reviews)
". . . the perfect antidote to dry elementary-school textbooks. If you teach in a local school, or your child attends one, we suggest that you recommend the slim paperback."
Hudson Valley Magazine
This 50pp trade paperback contains a nautical glossary and 23 b&w drawings, and sells for $9.95. The author/illustrator has selected her favorites which are availabe as signed, limited edition, numbered prints.
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