Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Leaving Salem

     In Salem, when we weren't in cemeteries, we were walking around the city. Visiting the magic shops, the mystical places that offered stones to help with stress, love and other things in life. We saw the shops selling Halloween goods, and museums dedicated to the trials. And we saw the statue of Elizabeth Montgomery, the actress who played the witch character of Samantha on the 1960s-1970s TV series.

      We saw the other side of Salem, the histroy unrelated-- directly-- to the witch trials. The places of Nathaniel Hawthorne, starting with the Customs House. At the Customs House, we were given an incredible tour by a US Parks Ranger who wore his interest for the writer Hawthorne on his sleeve. We saw the original, striking and initimdating eagle statue famously described in Hawthorne's novel "The Scarlett Letter," and we toured a ship outside the Customs House at the Salem Maritime Musuem. We then saw the real House of the Seven Gables, which is famously the setting of Hawthorne's ghost story. Photos were not allow in the House, but there was a cat who lived there. And the tour was taken up a concealed staircase to an attic room where enslaved people slept. The air in this attic was, to say the absolute least, heavy, and hard.

     From there we saw the Witch House, the only building still standing with an actual connection to the Witch Trials. The House of Judge Jonathan Corwin, aside from providing a look at how a home was kept at the time of the trials, also gave us an opportunity to see a spoon believed to have been owned by trial victim John Proctor.

     But leaving Salem, we made the most meaningful stop of all. Before we left, to begin the drive home, we drove to a street in Danvers, and drove down a narrow driveway in between two houses and properties to some woods. A Massachusetts historical sign proclaimed this the "Samuel Parris Archealogical Site." Just in the first few trees in these woods, there is a stone foundation left from what appears a small home. This foundation belong to Samuel Parris, and it was here in his house where the hysteria was born; where Tituba entertained the girls who would go on to accuse women and men of witchcraft with her fantastical stories. Being on the quiet grounds is deeply moving, bringing the magnitude of the tragedy so great it has become a tourist attraction because of its history and the lore it produces home to a place where you know, so clearly, this was all so real.

No comments:

Post a Comment