Monday morning just after sunrise we took off for Salem, Massachusetts. Not much to report on the short cruise. Lots to discuss about Salem.
Most notably, Salem fully embraces what Salem is most known for, which is hanging townspeople who someone accused of witchcraft in 1692. We find this a bit surprising, since in most places lynchings are frowned upon and old lynchings are things most towns try to forget. Not Salem. It’s all about witches around here. But at least some of it’s historical. For example, this is Proctor’s Ledge, where the good folks of Salem hung 19 of them.
Judge Jonathan Corwin was on the panel that carefully weighed the evidence and determined that, in fact, these folks were witches.* Judge Corwin’s house still is here, ironically looking like a house where witches might live. Just down the street we found his grave. Wait, another Corwin was the sheriff who likely had a hand in arresting and charging the poor slobs? Yeah, that sounds fair.
Okay we get the history stuff. But that’s not all. Salem proudly claims the nickname “Witch City.” There are witches—real admitted witches—around every corner. At The Cauldron Black, they purvey not just occult goods, but fine occult goods. Only the top-shelf stuff. No pedestrian books of curses or magic potions like they might sell at Omen, the Witchcraft Emporium (where the Ghost of Doug appeared in the window).
Apparently every October witches and others of questionable sense travel to Salem from around the world to celebrate Halloween, or the Harvest, or the moon, or whatever strikes their fancy. Bizarre. Know who—besides us—wouldn’t come to Salem for Halloween? The Reverend Dan Reehill, who recently banned Harry Potter from Saint Edwards Catholic School because the books contain “real spells” which, when read, can “conjure evil spirits.” Yup, Father Dan partying like it’s 1692.** (In fairness though, he did consult with “several exorcists” before passing his judgment. Although that’s about as objective as Judge Corwin consulting with Sheriff Corwin.)
Happily, we found more to Salem than just witchery. Nathanial Hawthorne was born just down the street from our marina in 1804. We previously commented on The Scarlet Letter, which he conceived while working in the same customs office building that we passed every time Oscar went over to Derby Wharf to pee. Clearly Natty was fantasizing about things far more salacious than just levying customs duties.
Hawthorne’s birthplace is hidden behind a paywall, but we were able to sneak around on the street to photograph the House of the Seven Gables, which somewhat obviously served as his inspiration for The House of the Seven Gables.
We also toured the Peabody Essex Museum. We didn’t just tour it though. We actually participated in one of those modern art things. This one was designed to show how multiplying a small individual achievement can lead to big things. And in fact, when a large bunch of people make a small clay ball, the total is a large bunch of small clay balls. Ours are in there somewhere.
Later we popped over to Gloucester. Ever since reading The Perfect Storm, this has been a must-stop stop. Anyone who read the book will recall that Billy Tyne and his crew hung out at The Crow’s Nest bar the night before they left port, and the families all gathered there during the search efforts. Doug stopped by for a beer mostly to say he stopped by for a beer. It’s still just about the same as it was in 1991, although now that back wall has photos of the crew. The owner is Gregg, whose brother-in-law was on the Andrea Gail. He intentionally hasn’t used the story to market the bar, even though George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg and others frequented the joint while filming the movie.
Gloucester has lost thousands of fishermen, all of whom are listed on plaques surrounding the Fisherman’s Memorial. We’ve seen scores of memorials along our way, but this is one of our favorites.
We topped off our stay with a visit from George and Judi, who were traveling aboard their Nordic Tug Done Tacking when we first met them at Shady Harbor. Very enjoyable dinner and trip over to Jubilee Yacht Club.
The plan is to leave our nice slip tomorrow and head to Boston.
* In another post we wasted a reference to the classic Holy Grail witch scene. That was quite poor planning, since this obviously is the most appropriate place possible. If only Judge Corwin had thought to weigh the evidence in a more literal way.
** What about the witches in Macbeth? Ban Shakespeare as well? What about Bewitched, with Samantha and Darrin and then replacement Darrin? Where does the madness stop?