Thursday, October 8, 2015

Massachusetts: Salem and MarbleHead (2/2)

     Welcome back to Salem Massachusetts.  

     In Yesterday's Article we had a look at some of Salem's history.  Although the Puritan's witch craze lasted less than two years, its legacy had become an identity of sorts for the town.

    A few lesser known facts about the witch hunt - two dogs were executed for being accomplices to witches.  And one of the people executed was an accused man who openly scoffed at the trials and refused to participate in such a farce.  So rather than hanging him they kept laying stones on top of him until he suffocated.

     In modern day Salem, there are many shops that cater to the reputation, selling all manner of baubles and trinkets dealing with witchcraft.  Numerous palm readers and psychics have set up shop.  A number of those small tourist trap "museums" have opened for business.  There are tour guides and tour buses, and a large contingent of young men and women strut the streets dressed in black and seemingly trying to out-do each other with their spookiness.

     We meet Bettyann, a lifetime resident of Salem who was born on Halloween.

     Bettyann runs one of those shops that sell beads and baubles.  She is quick with a laugh and a smile, but she can slip just as quickly into the hushed tones used to promote various witching implements.

     I couldn't get enough of all the cute signs in her shop.

     This next one was my favorite.

     This is great too.  Witchcraft for Dummies.  

     The perfect Christmas present for that friend who has "everything."

     And the skeleton set - another great gift.

     This next one is a common item here.

     They are called "witches' balls."  Evil spirits are lured into the ball and then become entangled in the web.  It is very similar in concept to the "blue bottle trees" we saw in the Gullah Culture on Daufuskie Island in South Carolina.

     There are all manner of symbols and signs - many having apparent roots to a particular culture or religion.

     I could spend a week photographing faces here.  

     This next fellow carried himself with an air of aristocracy.

      Rick set out to find me a few real witches to talk to.  It seems this month is so busy that none of them could sit for a spell with me.

      I did talk for just a couple of minutes to a witch - she is the daughter of the "high priestess" of the local witch coven.  I am sure I have the terminology all wrong.  She was actually very perceptive and engaging.  She is intuitive and quickly grasped and expressed interest in this journey and how I am "living in the stream of life."  She said she would love to connect with the energy behind this venture.

     I would love to interview her and some of the other witches - but it wasn't to be this trip.  But later I got to thinking - a witch in Salem Massachusetts told me she wanted to connect with my energy.  Should I be nervous about that?

     I guess I will just have to trust that Rick and Bettyann can watch my back.

     Next we move down the coast to Marblehead.

     Rick is a full time fire-fighter here.  This is the station house he is based out of.

     They are a one-truck firehouse, and at least one man is always on duty and ready to fire up the truck.

     As we drove around town Rick pointed to numerous places that they have put fires out at.  The streets here are very narrow - it is really a nightmare to try getting a big vehicle around.

     You know those old fire alarm boxes you see around in older cities?

     Those are still in operation here.  They set off an alarm at the location and at the firehouse, and they trigger a ticker-tape machine that prints out the box number where the alarm was pulled.

     Above the ticker-tape machine is a big board with a directory of locations that correspond with the three digit box codes.

     The alarm goes off, the number prints on the tape and you head off in the direction of the box.  

     Marblehead is a wealthy town, which always brings an extreme mix of people.  A fire they put out at a country club had folks wanting to lavish them with gifts - which they cannot accept.  But other folks think that they are far superior to anyone that is "blue collar."  It never occurs to them that most fire-fighters have numerous talents and could easily launch careers that pay far more than this job.  They are not in this job for money - they are in it for love - love of life and love of people.


     For Rick, it is the desire to be of service and the effort it takes to remain prepared for a wide variety of mishaps that he finds most enjoyable.  His job is to save lives - and although he has no desire to see anyone in harms way he constantly works to be sure that he is always ready to show up and prepared for whatever circumstance he faces.  

     The old town hall still occupies a circle of sorts in the middle of town.

      Claiming to be the birthplace of the US Navy (the third place we have visited that makes this claim - and btw Salem claims to be the birthplace of the National Guard) it is home to 19,000 folks.

     Scores of homes built in the 1700's and 1800's line the streets.

     A point juts out into the harbor, home to Fort Sewall.

     Built in 1644 and expanded in 1742, this is one of the oldest forts in the nation.

     Its biggest moment of fame came during the Revolutionary War.   The USS Constitution was under attack by two British ships.  The fort provided covering fire while the ship slipped into the safety of the harbor.  

    As you can see from the camera angle on this next photo, the fort has a high vantage point.

     This is some of the most expensive ocean front property going.  Many mansions are built on the ledges overlooking the Atlantic.

     Real estate prices have been driven up so much that few of the people who grew up here a few decades ago can afford to live here now.  I think I saw a half dozen large yacht clubs - but no one has gated anything off.  I always find it interesting how much of the most expensive real estate is on public roads.  For the most part I have found "gated" communities to be rather mundane.

     Temperatures are dropping - the leaves are changing quickly.  

     That brings us to today's "Faces in the Crowd," taken on the street in Salem.

     And today's parting shot:

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Make it a great day !!

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