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!


Kristina P. said...

I would LOVE to visit Salem. I wished I lived by you lovely ladies!

Me said...

A.M.A.Z.I.N.G! This is definitely another Must See to put on my list of places to visit.

I have to admit every time you post pictures of the scenery or places near your home to visit, I am envious! Living in the desert just doesn't compare to the view or history that lives in your end of the world.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

I barely finished writing my post about Salem. I'll be putting it up in the morning.

Anyway, that was such a great trip! One of my all-time favorites. I really do think we're kindred spirits. It's so nice to have a friend that actually gets all excited over history, books, and ghosts like me! It's a rare thing to find. I love it!

I was just thinking that you and I and the boys should take a day trip up to Boston while my older kids are at school.

Alyson (New England Living) said...

Oh, and by the way, my blog's new header is a picture I took in Salem. It's a view from the House of 7 Gables.

*MARY* said...

I think I need to take a break from all these new england blogs; I'm getting extremely jealous.

susette said...

beautiful! My daughter and her new husband just moved to Boston and I got to go visit her just a couple weeks ago. It was my first time in the East. I blogged all about our fun times there in Boston. One of the days I went out to Salem. It was all so fascinating. It was even more fun to see historical things because I had just been reading with my son and helping him with US History homework. It was a great refresher.

Wendyburd1 said...

I can't believe I have never been to Salem, I must go someday soon! I LOVE that shirt...I covet eth it, lOL

dougandcheryl said...

I want to go there so bad! I have never been there. We have traveled all over New England but there are still a few places I need to go. Your pictures and story are so much fun.
I love history and ghosts/witches too so this sounds like the coolest day to me. I am envious of where you live too! I wish I lived close to Boston! I've always loved it there. I think when you are a history buff New England is heaven!

Laura said...

Thank you for taking all the pictures. I loved the cemetary, twisted tree, all the beautiful scenery. The history makes it all so truly spooky. I also liked the story of how Hawthorne changed his name. Fascinating entry!!!

A New England Life said...

My girls and I were talking about Salem just before Halloween saying we need to go sometime. I've heard from other people it's best to stay during Halloween and make reservations months in advance. It's supposed to be incredible!

Love all the pictures! Thank you for sharing your great day! It's good you and Alyson were able to get out by yourselves. It's not often mom's get to do that, especially for a whole day!

Loved the tree's too. There was one that was leaning and twisted in the graveyard. I would think they would take it down before it falls on the old grave stones. The city reminds me of Portsmouth, NH. Another wonderful place to visit ; )


Kerri said...

Thanks for checking out my blog and entering my giveaway. It's great to meet you! Cute blog!

Donna said...

Alyson--I like the new header! I didn't realize at first that it was from Salem, but now I totally recognize the view. I'd love to take the boys up to Boston for the day; we'll have to talk about that and do it sometime soon.

Hi Susette. I know, it's so neat to read and study history and then to actually go to the places where it happened. I love doing that too!

Cheryl--You'd definitely like and appreciate Salem. I'm sure you'll find your way there at some point. History lovers usually do!

Hi Sharon! My husband and I spent a weekend in Portsmouth, NH in June for our anniversary and we loved it. You're right; it is reminiscent of Salem since it's right on the coast and has lots of good history and shops. Strawbery Banke was my favorite!

Karolynn said...

OH my gosh, I want to go too. Looks like a total blast!

Karolynn said...

OH my gosh, I want to go too. Looks like a total blast!

rachel said...

What a fabulous post Donna. I too love American history and I didn't know that about Nathaniel Hawthorne's name- how cool is that? Thanks for letting me live through you with the amazing photography and story you tell! I would love, love, love to visit there one day :)

Blog Buddy said...

What a great place to visit!! I love the historical facts and pictures. Thanks for taking the time to add in so many details. The "W' in Hawthorn and the graveyards are amazing. I need a shirt with that saying too :) My kinda' shopping-glad ya' had fun!

Alyson (New England Living) said...

Yeah, I took the picture with my telephoto lens. That's probably why the view doesn't look too familiar. We weren't actually that close.

By the way, I'm regreting not getting that witch shirt that you bought! I might just have to make another trip! :) How does it fit? Is it a long tee? I like them long.

Donna said...

I wanted you to get one when we were in that shop because I knew it would be totally cute on you and it kind of ties in with your ancestry. It's a longsleeve and it has a good fit. Kind of long but not too long. Next time you go back if you still want it, you know where to get it!

jaredandmatisse said...

Can I pay you to take me and my Mom on a Salem tour? You have done so much research. You could write a book. Did you hear the "Talk of the Nation" the day before Haloween about Witch Trials? It was so interesting. You sould get the podcast. I also noticed you love the movie clue. I love that movie sooooooooo much. We should have a movie night!