So, I recently took a trip down to Salem, MA ~ not much of a haul as I live only about two hours away ~ to see and experience not only the Halloween festivities that wreak havoc all through the town, but the horror and mayhem that was the witch trials of 1692. I remember reading The Crucible in one of my high school English classes, and I've wanted to make the trip ever since.
Anyway, I never thought I'd get to go ~ at least not this soon. Living and growing up in South Texas doesn't exactly make travel to Salem, Mass convenient ~ those of you who grew up around the area probably went there on junior high field trips... us southern kids went to The Alamo. But lucky me, I was able to fulfill my dreams and move north, north, north, to Southern Maine, making one of my bucket list items completely possible.
I'm a huge fan of anything paranormal ~ no, really? I never woulda guessed... It's just fun to imagine a world that's bigger and more mysterious than meets the eye. And that obviously trickles down into a love of Halloween. Salem is pretty much the place to go if you want to dress in costume all day, stroll your way through haunted houses, and get an up close and personal look at how the stupidity and selfishness of a few rebellious teenagers can cause hysteria, turmoil, and ultimately, 19 executions and dozens of tainted lives.
The town was filled to the brim with tourists from all over the country. Banners hung from old fashioned lamp posts celebrating "Witchy Salem" and pointing us lost folks in the right direction toward attractions we'd circled on our printed-out agenda. We passed by shops with voodoo dolls in the windows, vials of hex powders lined up neatly on racks, and books of spells neatly displayed for any random Joe to take a gander at. In front of those shops, lining the blocked-off streets, were booths selling anything and everything Halloween. Masks, face-painting, festive jewelry, t-shirts, and yes, even fang fittings. Needless to say, it was very easy to get distracted from reaching your goal destination.
But even just wandering through the streets, was amazing to be walking over the same ground that was the site for the Salem Witch Trials. *Mind Blown*
|Witch Dungeon Museum|
We find ourselves back on the now darkened street. There are even more people in costumes and the bustle hasn't even begun to slow down. What to do next? The shops are amazing, and we stop in a few on our way to we don't know where. We hear bagpipes in the distance, and soon we can't even hear each other speak as a parade of played march by in traditional kilts and such. Completely random. We continue walking past the dozens of booths set up, and I find one that is selling venetian style masks, and I just have to pick one out. Everyone else is in costume, and I feel a little out of place dressed "normal."
After I have my black, sparkling mask firmly in place, we come upon a huge crowd, and not only do we hear the laughter and talking that comes with a large group of people, we can hear the buzz of a chainsaw and the screech of teenage girls screaming. Haunted house. Yes, please.
I've always loved haunted houses. My brother takes the lead, thinking he's pretty tough, but eventually I find myself in front, as usual, and have to turn around constantly to tell the others to hurry up. I find myself more curious than scared about what these "devils" might have up there sleeve, and I can't wait to see what's waiting around the corner.
There's always next year.
At a loss for what to do next, we pull out our completely touristy itineraries and maps to see what we've missed. DUH! The House of Seven Gables.... And we're in luck. They stay open until eleven.
We walk what seems to be a couple of miles (that may be a bit of an exaggeration...) before we reach the parking lot. They have two tours going on, and we pick the tour based on the book by Nathaniel Hawthorne. We'll go from room to room and meet the spirits and characters that make up the book. The house itself is beautiful. As soon we enter, you can feel the age of the creaking floorboards beneath your boots. There's a man sitting, seemingly asleep. I'm not really sure what to expect, but I sit down and wait. He "wakes up" from his little snooze and begins to tell us the tale of The House of Seven Gables and what we can expect from our tour of the house. He says we can enter, and right before I make my way through the next door, he taps me on the shoulder and acts as if he's going to tell me a secret. "BOO" he whispers. Crap.
We go from to room, meeting a very vengeful ghost, an old man with the mind of a child, a kind young woman, an overzealous and very loud stranger to the house, and the old woman who owns it. Not to mention the very persistent and mildly evil man banging on the door outside, begging to be let in, he "means no harm." This totally a book that I have to read, and I am completely surprised at myself for not having read it yet. The acting in this tour was incredible. Such an amazing and real feeling when you have a person standing or pacing in front of you, remembering or ranting, telling you their side of the story. It was as if the characters were real people who were each trying to get us on their side. It was an experience I'll never forget and would gladly go through again.
Once we exit the house, we find ourselves in the gorgeous gardens. It's the one rare moment that night that I wished it was day so I could see it in full effect. You could stand in front of it's beauty, but it's fairy-tale like quality is immediately contradicted by the dark House of Seven Gables looming behind it, casting shadows and exuding this ominous aura. Maybe it really is haunted, maybe it was just the theme of the night, but it certainly didn't feel like an empty house from where I was standing.
By this time, it's 11:30 and we're exhausted. We didn't get started until late in the day ~ around 5:00 PM ~ but with all the walking and excitement, we're ready to head out. There's so much I wish we could have done, but that just leaves more to look forward to for next year. Definitely more than a one night trip that I will be making again.
If you haven't been to Salem in the month of October, I strongly suggest you add it to your bucket list. :)
~ Keely ~