Friday, June 21, 2013

Flashback Friday Salem MA 2010

 My daughter, my youngest and I planned a long weekend trip to visit Jeanine, (my good friend and college roomie) who, at the time lived about 45 minutes south of Salem, and another 45 minutes North of Boston. What a great opportunity to visit my dear friend, and see some sights. I had been to Boston twice prior, but had longed to visit the home of the witch since well BC (before children) and my interest had been in the occult, I even took a noncredit just for fun course at BOCES on Tarot reading and Ghost hunting. I had longed to take a trip to Salem and had made many plans to do so we just never made it there for a visit. This seemed like a perfect opportunity, and I so missed Jeanine. The kids and I traveled to my mother in laws in the Lake George area, then set out the following day to hit Jeanine's home around 4pm. The following day we took the trip to Salem MA, home of the witch.
Roger Cunant, Founder of Salem, stands across from the Salem witch Museum
(I am going to apologize ahead of time about the pictures as they have been beautifully scrapped in my memory albums, and I have several shots darkened or with the flash reflected.)
So what is so attractive about Salem MA? Well, it has a long standing historical history of being an important shipping port for the bringing of goods, which also included pirates, it was home to author Nathanial Hawthorn and book of the same name; The House of the Seven Gables. (Although I think we counted like 12 or 13), it has a multitude of  homes and buildings reeking of a culture founded on Puritan beliefs and religious structure, but most important it is the site of perhaps one of the most horrific crimes against ones neighbor in the history of America. The Salem Witch Trials.
We started out our day tour at the visitor center, where were entertained and encouraged to purchase a vast number of tour based attractions, as well as artifacts from the towns history. We passed on the tours deciding that we could save some cash, by making our own tour through out the town. We made our way to The House of the Seven Gables meandering along cobblestone streets, charming store fronts, and even spied a black cat before we were at the doorsteps of this House made a historical novel; The house of the Seven Gables. I never did read the book, and honestly was not that interested in a visit within the walls. ( I toured inside the White House and found that a complete Boar, I just knew that this would be a snoozer and I am terribly cheep.  $12.50 adults, $7.50 kids., although I understand there are some pretty interesting things inside I personally was not interested.) I did get several pictures around the home, and we spent some time by the bay enjoying what we could see of the back yards garden over the fence.   
We then made our way down the streets taking in shops with cute witch like names in their titles. (Wish I had more pictures, I did have several odd pictures that I took, but deleted them once I got them onto my old computer's hard drive).
After our visit to the House of the Seven Gables, we went to the Salem Maritime Museum. This is also one of the National Parks and we obtained a stamp for our passport book. The museum is fairly small, but it was FREE and it had a few historical things of entertainment, the kids tried on old fashioned clothing and eagerly stamped the passport book. Usually there is a historical ship; The Friendship that is docked in this bay area, but it was not there on our trip.

Gavin and I toured the bay, while Jeanine and Lexi explored some local shops.
Gavin walking near the port docks.

Here are some of the Historical Buildings along the seaport. We continued to walk around town and by chance came upon a walking tour complete with a period clothed tour guide. (Now I know this isn't proper, people pay good money to take these tours, but what harm is done? We just happened upon the tour, nothing criminal about walking on the streets.) We were able to catch a few parts of the guides informative discussion and entered into the Memorial of the victims of the Salem Witch trails.
(these pic's I took from the internet although I took several at the site, once again they are in my old computer.)
It is suddenly very humbling once you enter into the memorial, just how fortunate you are to be living in a day when the suspicion of others dose not cast you into a trail to defend your life. It is hard to conceive the thoughts that must have been in these peoples heads. Family members, neighbors, friends, people you had know all of your life charged with a sentence with death as the result. There had to be someone somewhere who knew that this wasn't right, but for fear of their own lives failed to defend. I learned that there were some towns people who defended one women, (I cannot remember which one), and they too became suspect of being a witch. It is so incredibly sad to think what these people must have gone through. These are not the actual graves, and from what I remember there is no actual validation of where these graves are as they were in unmarked locations through out Salem. There is talk of certain tree's being the hangman tree, and some attractions boast they sit atop the actual grave sites, but we may never know. The memorial was built in 1992 right next to the town cemetery. Solidified in  cement benches throughout this small park are the names of the 24 people whose lives were taken innocently purely out of fear.

 It is all so unbelievable what had happened to these people.
Even though we did not pay for the tour, the guide in period costume was willing to have a picture taken with my kids. After the memorial, we visited the grave yard. There is something so spooky about any grave yard, but this one was really errie, jut thinking about it made my skin crawl.
These were taken in the day and they were creepy, the old twisted tree's added to the affect, and tell me that this angel skeleton on this grave isn't just a little scary. It was really neat to see the graves, we spent some time wandering these plots before we headed to the Witches Dungeon.
The Witches Dungeon is a play/wax museum of the Salem Witch Trials. Before we had left, I had done several google search's on what tourist place was the best, and this one looked like for the price, you would get a performance and some of those wax figures, it was also s guided tour, so for the price I thought it was the best combo. There are tons of other Witch trial museums/wax sights/pirate tours and even a tour of the infamous Lizzie Bordon who is believed to have hacked her father and step mother to death. There is pretty much anything and everything you can imagine witch/cult/death/ or otherwise in Salem. We passed up on most of the attractions, but the dungeon sounded like it would be fun.
My daughter poses with our friendly and knowledgeable tour guide.
We were entertained by the drama which played out the story behind the Hysteria of the Witch Trials, (I was grateful I could voice The Lords prayer as that is one of the true tail signs of a witch if you cannot.) The performance was a little cheezy considering there were only two actors (actresses) and a line up of wax figures who played the judge/jury. These two women did a great job in the roles however, and the lesson surrounding the story was delivered well. Once the performance had ended we were escorted by our personal tour guide to the basement of the building to the wax figures representing scenes of the days when ANYONE could be called a witch. The picture below represents the several hangings that took place. This is one of those pictures I scored a before and after orb, I just don't have the picture here. ( I am sure Salem is haunted, why wouldn't it be?)
 Once we toured the dungeon where the wax figures were locked, learned a few interesting facts; the youngest imprisoned and charged was a four year old girl, the conditions of the jail were horrific, and the size of some cells were no larger then the old fashioned phone booths. (for those to young to recall this was pretty small.), we headed to the gift store where I purchased a parchment which would charge someone of being a witch. I got it for my husband. (He will never be able to say the Lords prayer). There were all kinds of crazy conditions to establish guilt and ANYONE from the community could make claims against you.  It really is scary to think about it!
 Again in the daylight we strolled the streets, viewing traffic signs that read Broom only parking or the entire car sized painted zone of a witch on a broomstick. The kids visited the gallows as I took pictures, and we made our way to the most famous TV statue in history. Samantha from the 1960's tv show Bewitched.
I had pictures of the kids with Samantha, but this I took from the internet. I remember being a kid and watching the tv wishing I could be her or daughter (who also was a witch) simply so I could make things happen. This media representation of witches made being a witch a "good" and positive thing, and not so evil and scary and the witch pictured below. Now isn't see pretty?
 We did a little more touring of the community and hit several stores featuring can you guess?ANYTHING WITCH. My son picked out a mini-voodoo doll (actually not scary at all kind of cute) as his souvenir, while I picked up a magnet for myself.  The streets seemed to be getting crowded and it looked like a good time to put an end to our day in Salem. We headed back to the car and on our way to Jeanine's with plans to visit Boston the following day.
Pro's- What an interesting place filled with History sprinkled with 16th century charm. Easy walking to see most attractions, not over crowded, easy bathroom accessibility, no parking issues and LOTS OF FREE things to SEE and DO. GREAT PICTURE opts. (So sorry I had some few to post). I would definitely return.

Con's- To "many" witch attractions to choose from. I pondered over the con's of Salem monopolizing on the witch thing,(I've been to several historical tragedy sites that has not used such loss for profitable gain having gift shops or museums on every corner.)  and considered it as also being a con, but then decided that despite the interest in the events that unfolded during this hysteria, part of the "fun" if you will, is the enchantment of what a witch represents and concluded that my personal feelings on being a witch, unless you are the evil ones from the Wizard of Oz, is somewhat exciting and powerfully mysterious, and therefore raise a toast to the witch, those wrongfully accused and those who have honorably disclosed their witch status today in a world accepting and not so fearful of things unknown to them.