Sunday, October 2, 2011

Witch Way to Salem, Massachusetts?

October. Fall.  We are entering the witching season so where else should a family go on vacation than the Salem Witch Museum in Salem, Massachusetts?  Just thirty miles north of Boston lies the Village of Salem with all that that implies... witch history, colonial history, literary history (Arthur Miller's The Crucible, Nathaniel Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables) and currently practicing Wicca, all in one town for our enjoyment.  Again, what more could a family hope for?

Looked like a witch to me...
Seriously, Salem was a nice two hour stop on our way north to Maine and was an excellent history lesson for us and the kids.  The Salem Witch Museum located in the center of the Village of Salem right next to an ominous statue of a witch. (No, wait, that's a pilgrim man - Roger Conant, first settler of Salem, 1626. Never mind.)

The Museum entrance fee ($9 adults and $6 kids)was totally worth it!  We couldn't take pictures in the museum, but the initial show takes you through the entire witch trial drama from the beginnings with some bored colonial teenage girls to the unnecessary deaths of 19 innocent people.  The show is tame enough for kids ages 8 and up (No nightmares for our kids, ages 8, 10 and 12), but they do show a grotesque statue of the Puritanical Devil and one accused man being pressed to death.  Very lovely.  Kids have lots of questions about this part of American History and the museum does a great job answering these question with depictions of the events.  It seemed a little hokey, but overall, the show was very effective.

The second part of the Museum tour is a personally guided tour through the history of witches, from midwife to Oz to the Wicca religion today.  Again, this had a lot of historically correct and valid points about "witch hunts" from the Middle Ages to AIDS, but I think they needed to update the information as there was no mention of my favorite witch/wizard, Harry Potter.  But this Museum may have thought they were above pandering.  No wait.  The gift shop was showing (and selling) old episodes of Bewitched, but who doesn't love Samantha?

Long story short, Salem was well worth the stop and during lunch we had a great discussion about hysteria and accusations, and how teenagers blow everything out of proportion.  "Be careful of bored people.... Now finish your grilled cheese and let's head to Maine."

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