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WHO YOU TAKING TO THE WITCH BURNING?
29 April 2006
Well, actually nobody. Did you know that nobody was actually burned for being a witch? I did know that, but you can't go into any store in Salem and not read the stories of the little girls who caused the hysteria about witches in the area around Salem, and of the people who were executed, or imprisoned for years, for being witches.
As you can guess, we went to Salem today. Jeri had classes to teach, so we amused ourselves by driving up to check out pirates and witches. It was another beautiful day. A little cooler than the day before. The day started with another fabulous breakfast at the Taylor House and then a sad farewell to all that opulence, and the two dogs, and off onto the highways and biways of Massachusetts.
Salem is a lovely little town. Funny, but it looks like all the pictures you've seen of New England coastal villages.
We started at the Visitor's Center, where we found a cheaper/more convenient parking garage, so Walt went back to the meter where we'd left the car and my mother and I walked around the displays and discovered that there was a 27 minute movie about the history of Essex County starting in 10 minutes, so we called Walt on the cell phone and told him to meet us in the theatre.
Actually, quite interesting, watching the change from Native American to Puritan, to today. And of course, we heard (for the first time), the story of the witch trials.
While there we picked up a brochure for a restaurant down on the water where we could get clam chowder and decided that sounded good for lunch. It was across the street from the Pirate Museum, which Jeri had recommended.
Unfortunately the wait was too long for lunch and the Pirate Museum doesn't open until May 1, but we did stop in some grungy fish market which boasted a small dining room and had what is probably the best clam chowder I'd ever had. Warmed the body as well as the soul.
Near the Pirate museum was a building dedicated to Lydia Pinkham, a name I haven't heard in decades. Near as I can tell she was the "it" girl for preparations for menstrual and bowel problems in the mid to late 1800s, a preparation she first brewed in her kitchen. Later in the day, we saw another building named for Ms. Pinkham. I guess she is still hot stuff in Massachusetts.
After the non-tour through the Pirate Museum, we went to one of the six museums about the witch trials. This appears to be the biggest one (at least it had the biggest ad in the brochure, and the biggest building).
It was ... uh ... interesting. Sort of. You went into this giant room surrounded with life size diaramas, which told the story of the trials. The narration was by some actor who took his role Very Seriously and was Very Emotional throughout.
This guy was quite emphatic that the charges were false and that the punishments were unfair. I began to get the point of it all when the story was finished and we moved to the next part of the "tour," a small hall where our tour guide, a pre-pubescent boy, who was about 10-12 years old, guided us through a history of witches and witchcraft, and the Wiccan religion, and gave examples of scapegoats today.
By the end of the tour, there was little doubt in my mind that this whole display is presented and run by Wiccans. Which is fine. Just interesting to hear the blatant propaganda, all gussied up as a "witch museum." Kind of brings it all full circle in a good way, sort of!
I did love it that they have a wall dedicated to various forms of witches, including a scene from the Wizard of Oz with, according to our tour guide, "Glinda, Dorothy and Elpheba." Since the Wicked Witch of the West doesn't get an actual name until Wicked comes along, I thought that was funny. (Harry Potter was not included in the mixture, which did include a scene from Bewitched, a scene from The Crucible and other like-photographs.
Finally we had our fill of witches and headed back to Boston, where we checked into the Holiday Inn, decidedly a huge step down from the Taylor House, and then got into the car to drive to Jeri's.
Ned and Phil cooked dinner for all of us.
We had the best time sitting around, reminiscing and laughing about theatre history in Davis. These guys have been doing shows in Davis since they were in junior high and have been part of all of the theatre companies in town and have lots of memories. I can't remember when I've laughed so much with the kids. Always so much fun reminiscing.
I'm writing this in the lobby of the Holiday Inn and my time is up. It was just another wonderful, great day.
I love getting together with our kids!
PHOTO OF THE DAY
(We are looking at a bank of cameras lined up to take self-photos!)