Sunday, November 9, 2008

A Bewitching Day in Salem, Mass.

On Saturday, November 1st, my good friend Alyson and I went up and spent a fun day in the (in)famous, historic town of Salem, Massachusetts, which was fitting for the day after Halloween. We'd both been there before, though I hadn't been since high school (my hometown isn't very far from there). Salem is about 2.5 hours north from where Alyson and I live in Connecticut, and about a 1/2-hour up the coast from Boston. Okay, so that's enough geography. On to the pictures and the fun things we did and saw that day, including a number of real, practicing witches! I have to admit, they've always fascinated me.

The weekend before going up there, I read a popular new novel that's set in Salem, The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry, who lives there in town. It was fun to read it and get a feel for Salem from a native's perspective, and I felt more familiar with the sights and streets because of it.

One of the things the novel mentioned a few times was the statue of the first settler of Salem, Roger Conant, who settled there in 1626. The statue is located right near the town common, and it was one of the first things we saw when we got there.

We went to the Salem Witch Museum, which is in an old church and has a really cool presentation on the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, as well as a very interesting exhibit about the history of "witchcraft" and "witches" up to today, which I learned a lot from. I put those words in parentheses because of what I learned there. It was very informative!

Then we walked around and explored for a little while and had a delicious lunch of roast prime rib at a great little restaurant on the harbor.
Alyson and a really cool ship

Salem has a lot of fun little shops. I liked how the baskets hung from the ceiling in this one. That is such a classic colonial New England thing, and I love things like that. I feel like they're a part of my heritage, since this is how many of my ancestors lived.

The New England Pirate Museum is in Salem. Pirates and witches; what a combination! We didn't go into that Museum but Alyson did get friendly with a pirate:

These were a few of the other fun sights we saw while walking around downtown:

I'm pretty sure this was a real witch. Male witches (or rather, Wiccans) do not like to be called warlocks--that's a derogatory term to them. That's one of the things I learned at the Witch Museum.

A real witch shop, with what are most likely some actual witches waiting outside to go in. There were many Wiccans in town for the weekend because of Halloween.

We went to a really neat old cemetery near the town center. It's over 400 years old! Judge Hathorne, who unfortunately didn't exercise much good judgment during the Salem Witch Trials, is buried there, among many other people, including pilgrims who came over on the Mayflower. From what I saw the graves date back to the 1600s, possibly even earlier.

Isn't this tree perfect for a historic graveyard? I was amazed at how many twisted trees like this are in Salem; so much so, in fact, that I'm going to do a separate blog post devoted to the strange trees of Salem.

I love the deep sense of history that graveyards impart. They are so fascinating. It's a good thing they don't make history literally come alive, isn't it? Ha ha.

Who knew that old graveyards could be so lovely?

Next we went to The House of the Seven Gables, which dates back to 1668. It's the house that Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote his famous novel of the same name about. It's a fascinating, beautiful place, especially if you're a history lover and if you like reading classic literature.

There were very pretty gardens out back, and the ocean was just beyond that. It was beautiful.

This is the back of the house. I spy with my little eye three gables from this angle.

I got a kick out of this sign. In some ways, I'm totally a colonial girl at heart. It's in my blood!

Alyson and I are kindred spirits--among many other things, we both love American history, New England, books, photography, and...ghosts!

"Half way down a by-street of one of our New England towns stands a rusty wooden house, with seven acutely peaked gables, facing towards various points of the compass, and a huge, clustered chimney in the midst." -Nathaniel Hawthorne, The House of Seven Gables

Did you know that Nathaniel Hawthorne is related to the above-mentioned Judge Hathorne? He was so ashamed of the unfair Judge because of the innocent people's deaths for whom he was responsible in the Witch Trials that he put a "w" in his last name to distance himself from him.

The last thing we did before leaving to return home to Connecticut was the Terror Trail. We went to the Common for a walk around town led by a long-time resident who told really good, true ghost stories, ones from history and ones happening today to people he knows in town. We loved this!

Famous Salem Town Common.

These were a few of the sights during our ghostly walk:

I bought some good books and the cutest shirt that day. Check out the shirt. It's perfect for me, especially at certain times of the month:

It was a very fun day in a very cool place. I'll be going back again, many times in my life, I'm sure. Every American should try to visit Salem at least once in their lifetime because what happened there is such an important (albeit tragic) part of our history. If you liked reading about Salem here, you must go see Alyson's take on our trip at her blog, New England Living. She's an excellent writer and she makes her pictures look stunning, beautiful, and larger than life because of her amazing photography and Photoshop skills, and her blog has become pretty famous as a result!