“Then it is dark; it is a night where kings in golden suits ride elephants over the mountains.”— John Cheever
Ossining, New York‘s most famous resident, the writer John Cheever, moved on to more ethereal digs about 30 years ago. But he embodied so many different spirits during his life and career that the house which contained him is surely still imbued by them. Cheever’s very patient wife, Mary, lived in the big colonial in Westchester County until April, when she died at 95. So even though John departed during Reagan’s first term, the house still bears his signature. With his books still on the shelves it may look more like John Cheever’s house than today’s America looks like Reagan’s America.
And now it’s for sale–the house that is, not–overtly, anyway–America. A mere half a million dollars will get you five acres lush with greenery just a 40-minute train ride from Grand Central Station. It is a train ride the men in Cheever’s books knew well. An article in the Times considers the low price and reports that the roof is bad and the place is noisy from nearby Route 9A. Cheever might not have noticed the noise: his typewriter was known to make quite a racket. And he sometimes drank himself deaf in Ossining too, though for his last seven years he abstained completely. Whatever his formula, he became one of the great American writers of the 20th century–delivering himself from his demons over and over again to produce prose that probably has no equal as a contemporary influence. It’s night now finally at the Cheever house–kings and elephants all gone. And it’s a pretty good deal for five acres, leaky roof, ghosts and all.