Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Salem in Summer

One of New England’s most famous ancient towns is Salem, Massachusetts. It is a great walking city and absolutely charming to visit. Begun in 1627 as Naumkeag for the river it sits on, the village was renamed Salem in 1629. It thrived as a quiet farming and fishing community until the January of 1692 when it learned the brutal results of mass hysteria. When old doc Griggs couldn’t find a reason for two women’s illness, he declared “I can’t cure it so it must be the devil” and told the town that the women had been bewitched. His snap diagnosis caused the hanging death of nineteen men and women as well as the subsequent death of at least 5 others from prison and crushings. What a guy… Of course he wasn’t alone. There were judges and trials and false testimonies that make for amazing reading at the Peabody Essex Museum. To commemorate the poor accused villagers the city of Salem has gone all out with a Salem Witch Museum. Just around the corner from this depressing museum is the “House of the Seven Gables” that was made famous by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The book was dull but the house is interesting and a great tour. There are so many fascinating streets and shops that spending a day in Salem will keep you in high spirits on a bright blue summer day.

Angie McCarl