Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Massachusetts: August 4, 2003

A continuation of the cross-country adventure I shared with Ben during the summer of 2003....

Day 59--Monday, August 4, 2003

We woke up early after not nearly enough sleep, showered, broke camp, and got on the road to Massachusetts.  We drove for the vast majority of the day, arriving in Salem around 4:30.  Our first stop was the Witch Dungeon Museum.  We had to wait for the show to start, so we poked around the gift shop, and I picked up a couple of books that I thought would be useful in teaching The Crucible to my juniors.  I also took plenty of pictures throughout the rest of the afternoon for that purpose.

The tour began with a reenactment of Mary Warren's accusation of Elizabeth Proctor.  The actors were pretty good, if slightly melodramatic.  The second half of the tour consisted of a walk through a scale model of the Salem underground prison.  The manikins they had set up didn't do it justice, but seeing the size was very interesting.

We also learned some interesting facts during the tour.  For one, two dogs were hung during the witchcraft craze.  Girls swore the dogs had given them the evil eye, so they thought that witches may have changed form in order to avoid suspicion.  Also, there is a possibility that at first, those doing the accusing were actually  having hallucinations and believed what they were saying.  Apparently the whole town got their bread from Salem Village, which is now Dansbury, where we spent the night.  At any rate, there was apparently a bad fungus in the grain that year.  I forget the name of the fungus itself, but our guide said that it is now a main ingredient in LSD.  Funny!

Our next stop was the memorial set up for the witch trial victims.  It was a tiny little park with stone benches lining both sides.  Each bench had the name and death date of a victim carved into it.  I took pictures of many of them, but I'm not sure the names will show up.  We also took a brief look into the Salem cemetery.

Our last stop of the afternoon was the Witch Trial Museum.  We didn't want to pay for the tour, but they did have an interesting free little walk-through, so we did that.  It was about the roles and stereotypes of witches over time, and the conclusion of the exhibit did a bit on scapegoating, which I thought was interesting.

After a brief glance at the already-closed Visitors' Center, we got on our way.  It had been raining on and off all afternoon, so we were slightly soggy from our walk through Salem.  We drove to our hotel, got checked in, and went to Denny's for dinner.  We did crossword puzzles while we waited for our food.  The most remarkable part of the evening was that the older couple at the table next to us got up and left when their order arrived (without paying) because there was mayo on the sandwich.  Our poor waitress was really upset, but she did a great job with us, so we left her a big tip.

25 / 40

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