Doesn’t everyone like a spooky tale??
I am only interested in them when it is based on a true story (http://bit.ly/2ALAYMX).
The Salem Witch Trials combine both.
I knew for me no visit to Boston would be complete without a side trip to Salem, Massachusetts. Salem is about forty minutes north of where I was staying in the city. While there is much to do within Boston’s city center when I plan my itineraries I like to include the activities and sights that have been on my mind ever since I learned about a place that I have longed to visit. My research is simple but exhaustive (http://bit.ly/2BcJEPq). That is why Salem managed to grab an all important stop.
Salem has several different witch related activities to take part in but I went with the Salem Witch Museum. I heard it had an excellent overview of the 1692 hysteria.
When I arrived in front of the museum the first thing that caught my was a statute of Robert Conant. Conant was from England but arrived with his family in Massachusetts about two years after the pilgrims. As a key leader of Salem in it’s early years he is known as it's founding father. Despite the location of his monument to the Witch Museum he had nothing to do with that era. In fact he died in 1679 long before the crazy began.
The Salem Witch Museum exhibit has two parts. The first recounts the details, trails and all, of the witch hunt which lasted from March 1692 until October 1692. All totaled twenty people were murdered because of this alleged association, fourteen women and six men. They were executed on multiple days: June 10, July 19, August 19, September 19 and 22 of 1692.
This first portion of the museum uses was figures, dimmed lights, and overhead narration to engage and enlighten the audience.
The second exhibit is much shorter. It includes a tour guide explaining how our culture has interpreted witchcraft through numerous centuries especially how it was so misconstrued during the late seventeen century in New England.
I found the first part of the exhibit interesting but I thought they could have done a better job. I don’t know what I was expecting but turning around to see a fixed light pointed towards one wax figure or another started to get boring. I knew most of the information ahead of time so there wasn’t anything new I learned. If anything having a live re-enactment would have brought the story to life.
But if I was disappointed with the first part the second was worse. It was like a mini school science fair with some cardboard signs with brief tidbits of historical perceptions about witches on it. It was a bit unnecessary.
I would say that the mystery and history that surrounds Salem might be more interesting than it is in person but that was before I headed to my second destination that day.
The second part of my stop in Salem was the part I was most eager to visit. I wanted to pay my respects and see with my own eyes the Memorial for those who had been murdered at the height of the chaos for being apart of witchcraft.
In 1992 Holocaust survivor and Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel dedicated the Witch Trials Memorial not fifty feet from the Salem Witch Museum. It is said to have been inspired by the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. and it has twenty granite benches, one for every “witch”, with their name and date / means of execution engraved on it.
Though I was freezing I walked all around this Memorial though it felt more like a cemetery to me than anything else.
I was sure to read each and every marker stopping from time-to-time to take it all in. It is one of those moments in life where what you read in a textbook in school comes to life in a really incomprehensible way. It seems impossible to image that kind of terror creating a mob psychology so severe that a community would end the lives of twenty innocent people that they knew. Then again all it takes is watching the news to be reminded of the real terror rising in our world.
The Salem Witch Memorial was a solemn, profound stop. In many ways looking back it reminds me of the Holocaust Memorial I visited in Brooklyn not too long ago (http://bit.ly/2AE9VDs). Whenever lives are lost tragically the loss is great. There are no excuses, just sadness.
Though this memorial mimics a cemetery keep in mind these folks are not buried here. It is said that three of them were buried under assumed names elsewhere but there has never been an actual account of what happened to the bodies after they were executed. A final act of disrespect.
Salem is much like Sleepy Hollow, New York, but with a historical edge. Both towns have an extensive list of actives during the month of October for those interested in visiting at that time of year. Sleepy Hollow too has a cemetery full of names and lives you have heard about before (http://bit.ly/2jOOWX6).
Other notable sights in Salem are The House of Seven Gables where author Nathaniel Hawthorne lived and wrote the famed story. The house itself has been listed as the most beautiful historic home in all of Massachusetts.
But I believe film buffs and fans of Hocus Pocus will be happy to know that many of the scenes in the movie were actual filmed in Salem and are right there waiting for you! I know my brother was thrilled to spot them accidentally during our time there. So definitely be sure to keep an eye out or the Sanderson sisters might just put a spell on you!!
If you are hungry and in Salem I hear that A & J King Artisan Bakers and Harbor Sweets are deliciously worth checking out.
As for me, if you read the prior post, you know I headed back to Boston. I had a schedule to follow after all.
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