Thursday, September 26, 2013

Witch Hunting: Salem, Massachusetts

Live re-enactment of the trial of Elizabeth Proctor at the Witch Dungeon Museum.


About a month ago Jonah and I talked about the Salem Witch Trials.  I have no idea how we got onto the subject or why, but we ended up discussing witchcraft and "witchhunts" and hangings and 1692 in the colonies.  After our discussion I knew I wanted to take him to Salem.

As a teenager my parents allowed me to choose our destination for vacation one year, and I chose Massachusetts.  I have always been a Revolutionary history buff, and I wanted to see all the things for myself - especially Salem.  Even then the Witch Trials were fascinating to me.  I am sure it had something to do with the required reading of Arthur Miller's The Crucible in high school.  Regardless, the town did not disappoint, and I left with Salem as the ultimate highlight of my family's adventures in the state of Massachusetts.

Later, Michael planned our surprise honeymoon around our favorite cities in the East, and one was Boston.  I made sure that we had a Salem excursion during our time there - again, a highlight of the trip.

And so I hoped it would be for The Boy.  It was hard to rip him away from the unlimited internet offered at our friends' house - he found several games he was into and loved having access to Netflix again, but I finally convinced him and the two of us braved the highways surrounding Boston and made it to Salem's cheapest parking garage in a little under an hour.

We jumped on the Red Line that runs through the city and jaunts through all of the most interesting historic locations.  Our first stop was the Salem Witch Museum.  If you've been to Salem, you've likely visited this museum.  There is a wax figure retelling of the story of the 1692 trials followed by a brief introduction to witchcraft through the ages, including the midwives of paganism all the way through Dorothy and Toto and up to today's peaceful practitioners of Wicca.  Jonah and I were able to discuss religion for quite some time after that visit.  There was also a plaque discussing The Crucible, a show I had the pleasure of acting and directing at different times after my initial 11th grade required reading.  This led to a discussion about McCarthy-ism and the Modern American Witch Hunt during the Cold War.

We stopped in several novelty shops in Historic Downtown and tried on Harry Potter scarves and looked at mugs and hoodies and plastic wands.  We checked out the local comic book scene (quite expansive).  We had some lunch at a place Jonah scoped out.  I had an exquisite tuna salad sandwich and Jonah dined on gourmet hot dog and fries.

We ended the day at the Witch Dungeon Museum, pictures above.  The tour begins with a live re-enactment of Elizabeth Proctor's trial, using the actual transcripts from the court.  It ends with a tour of a dungeon replica and replica of Salem Village, including creepy wax figures in the cells and hanging from trees by their respective nooses.

It was a somber way to end the day - a good day, all around.

It was nice to have some time with only Jonah to bond and talk.  So often with more than one child it's hard to be sure you are making time to get to know them, rather than just putting out fires and keeping them from interrupting one another.  Even better than a date, this day gave Jonah enough attention for satiation - he was able to have undivided attention, see things that interested only him, and make a lot of independent choices:  a good day.

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