Salem, MA A town of two tales.
So we left our friends in Mystic, CT and headed to our friends in Boston, MA. We arrived early on Friday and had a couple of hours to kill so we headed up to Salem, MA. Salem was a fascinating place, a town of two tales.
Salem celebrates one holiday a year, Halloween and it was in full swing being late September. The Salem Witch Trials put this town on the map. Now many businesses thrive on the belief in witchcraft and the lore around the 11 months known as the Salem Witch Trials. As we walked through town we couldn't turn our heads without seeing an advertisement, art display or person dressed like a witch or having something to do with witchcraft.
First we walked by an art sculpture..
As we continued through town we saw a witch museum, magic stores, witch stores etc...
Finally we stopped at the graveyard where the people of the witch trials have grave stones.
We didn't stay long at the cemetery. Gigi had a weird feeling and I felt terribly sad. History tells us after the 11 month period of trials, the residents immediately felt they had done wrong. They still believed in witches and the devil but felt they had imprisoned and put to death people that didn't deserve it. To add to their guilt the village experienced drought, famine, small pox and Native American Indian attacks and believed God was punishing them for their actions. On January 15, 1697, about 3 years after the trials, the village proclaimed a "Day of Prayer" to ask for forgiveness. In 1711 a bill was passed exonerating many victims and gave a payment totaling L611 which was divided amongst the families. It wasn't until Oct 31, 2001 that the bill was amended to clear the remaining names on the list of victims.
Around this terrible dark spot in the history of Salem, there is a very rich and important history. It was one of the largest seaports in America during colonial times and gave our children an opportunity to earn a Junior Ranger Badge. All Nation Parks have a program allowing children the opportunity become Junior Rangers by completing exercises teaching them about the National Park they are visiting. This was the Salem Maritime Historic Site Badge.
One of the stories the ranger told us was about the transition from an English Tax collecting Custom House to an US Custom House. Because tax collectors were so hated during revolutionary times, the newly founded American Government could not call their tax collectors by name. So they renamed the tax collectors The US Custom Service and they became the primary source of income for the newly formed government. All goods imported into the US were weighed and taxed. If you could not pay the tax the Customs Service would store the goods for free until the tax could be paid. The US Custom Service would also help you sell some of the goods to pay the tax so your goods could be released into the market. Could you image a government built by the people for the people actually helping the people too?
Of course after a long day of learning they received their Junior Ranger Badges.
And were rewarded with ice cream.
Wandering through Salem I was surprised to find it has done a great job keeping a unique identity. Most of the business in town looked like locally owned stores. There were very few national corporate business and logos around town. I also saw an incredibly eclectic group of building. There was a mix of historic and new architecture. And there were some building were architects were allowed to have a little fun. Kids even found a fun little fountain to hop around in. Finally like Plymouth and their lobster art around town, talked about here, Salem had ladies honoring different historical times or important parts of the city and its history.
This was not an original planned stop on our trip but we are glad we stopped. It was a great day trip and I highly recommend experiencing what Salem offers, rich history and tremendous lore.