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Salem, MA

October 31, 2010

Yesterday, K and I went to Salem, MA for the day, the home of the famous witch trials.  An appropriately spooky Halloween destination, we decided to partake in all the holiday offers!

Of course it was madness.  No sooner did we enter the town and we costumes galore.  Some were really fantastic.

We skipped most of the hokey witch trial attractions and went for a lovely walk around the town. This was K’s first time here and there was lots I wanted to show him. We started off at the Old Burying Point, which is so disgustingly overrun by tourists I feel so sorry for the poor souls buried here.

Look at the amount of people traipsing around!

We saw people sitting on the ground eating pizza, but nothing compares to the last time I was here, when I saw a family literally using a rectangular, horizontal gravestone as a table for their picnic.  Ugh.

Imagine living right next to the cemetery?

The Old Burying Point is actually really the second oldest burying ground in Salem, but the other one might not really count anymore. It’s been paved over for a parking lot.  The bodies and graves are still underneath though.  Lovely, huh?

Some of the gravestones are truly fascinating.

Some of the stones had some truly macabre quotes on them.  I think this one is particularly sardonic. K says he wants it on his headstone one day:

It reads:

Death is a debt to nature due/ I’ve paid my debt and so must you.”

 

Here’s another particularly “uplifting” one:

Stop dear youth remember you must die/Blooming in health as you so once was I/ A fair and favourite flower of living friends/ But death the unexpected summons sends/ One week in perfect health bright as the day/ The next united with his fellow clay/ Fatal sickness spoil’d the manly form/ And death consign’d him to his kindred worm/ Death is a debt to nature due/ I’ve paid my debt and so must you.

After the Old Burying Ground, we went to the Witch Trial Memorial, dedicated on the 300th anniversary of the trials.

19 people, (14 women and 5 men) were hung as witches, and 1 was pressed to death because he refused to stand trial.  The memorial consists of granite benches with the names of the victims, and the date and manner of their death.

Bridget Bishop was the first to be hung.

The tag on these flowers left here read:

Sarah Wildes. Very great grandmother. Remembered by your Maine relatives.

I’m guessing some one (Wiccan) had visited earlier in the day with offerings as many of the memorials had flowers and rosemary left on them.

This is Giles Corey’s bench.  He was the one who was pressed to death before a crowd over the course of 2 1/2 days – at 80 years old.  His wife followed him in death when she was hung 3 days later.

After we were done thinking about witches for awhile, we headed over to the Salem waterfront.

Salem was once one of the richest ports in the U.S.

We looked at the Friendship, a reconstruction of a 171-foot three-masted Salem East Indiaman built in 1797.

We then boarded the RawFaith.

 

I appreciated its message.

Once we were done with the waterfront, we started checking out the historic buildings.

The London Coffee House – circa 1698. This was a meeting house for the Sons of Liberty before the Revolutionary War.

This house was owned by Penn Townsend, circa 1771.

The beautiful Customs House.

We went by the House of the Seven Gables (written about by Nathaniel Hawthorne in a book of the same name – also the author of the Scarlet Letter) but didn’t go on a tour. Everything was packed.

After a whole afternoon of walking around, K and I were famished, so we went to Finz for dinner.

All the servers were dressed up, and I flagged down one dressed as MacGruber (awesome costume!) to get a photo. He said he’d be right back, and then promptly disappeared. LOL, oh well, I thought he looked so cool.

Our dinners were delicious.  I got sauteed scallops with pumpkin ravioli, swiss chard, and a sage cream sauce. So local and seasonal!

K got a lobster melt.

Both were SO GOOD.

After dinner, K and I got tickets for a late Ghost Tour around Salem. In the meantime, we costume-watched.  There were some awesome ones, but it was pretty dark and I didn’t get too many good pictures.

Here’s the back of a zombie Teletubbie, munching on an arm. We saw so many costumes, and so many really good ones! You had your usual witches and vampires, a Marie Antoinette with a dress easily 4 feet wide, a Chilean miner, lots of Sesame Street characters, Frankenstein, Mario and Luigi, and so many others.

Our Ghost Tour was great. It was a 1 1/2 hour walking tour all over Salem telling us about the paranormal activities. Lots of history thrown in there for this history nut. Our tour guide, Michael, was funny and knowledgeable. He’s consulted on shows like Ghost Hunters!

He took us all over, including the Manning House, where Nathaniel Hawthorne lived for 30 years, hating it.

Our sojourn in Salem ended after this and we made the long drive back home after enjoying a really wonderful day out in the place Halloween should be celebrated.  Happy Halloween!

 

 

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