Every school in America teaches about the Salem Witch Trials, which occurred in this Massachusetts town in 1692. For non-Americans (or Americans who might need a quick recap): New England was founded by Puritans as a refuge from oppression in Europe. They wanted to live a simple, Bible-inspired life. Their churches were completely bare of any art, for example, nor were there musical instruments (outside of church though, the story was different). As can be the case with isolation and fanaticism, mass hysteria hit the Salem area in the early 1690s in the form of a literal witch hunt. More than 200 people were accused, though "only" 20 were killed.
Fast forward to the 21st century. I have been to Salem twice, the first trip a bit more satisfying than the second. Mainly because the city wasn't flooded the first time.
July 2007: My Aunt Kathy, 10 year old cousin Malia, best friend Dan, and I took a day trip from my aunt and uncle's house in New Hampshire down to the town. It was a beautiful summer day, and the four of us enjoyed a long walk around the town. The architecture is charmingly New England, and is a great place for a stroll.
After a lunch of delicious Mexican food eaten on an outdoor patio, we made our way to the Witch House (not pictured, I just liked how haunted that house looked). It's legal name is the Jonathan Corwin House and is the only structure left in Salem that still has a connection to the witch trials. Corwin was the chief investigator into the sorcery claims against the accused. No legal activities actually occurred here, but it was his house. Today, it is a museum that offers tours that explains 17th century New England life. It was an interesting museum, and even entertained the 10 year old with us (the ultimate litmus test!)
March 2010: As mentioned in the Spring at 20 blog, my mother and I found ourselves in a Nor'easter on our Spring Break New England trip. No matter where we went in Massachusetts, there was flooding. And nowhere was this worse than in Salem. We got off the highway and were greeted with signs saying that basically the entire city was shut down. We trolled the edge of the town, but even the roads that were open were dodgy (see photo). At least I had been there before, but Mom was devastated. I cannot overstate how interested she is in the Salem Witch Hunt (and it's cultural remnants. As I am writing this in October, I feel the need to tell you all that she will absolutely be watching "Hocus Pocus" at least 20 times this month).
After we "drove" through Salem that day, we headed away from Massachusetts for the rest of the week. However, as our flight back to Minneapolis was out of Boston, we had to be back in the area the night before. That last morning, we awoke to a perfect spring day - sunny, great temperature, everything. Throwing caution to the wind, Mom told me to get in the car and we drove like mad women to Salem. We didn't have time to go into any museums, but she was able to stroll the streets for about 15 minutes while I cooed at a cat that had no interest in me.