Salem 2.0 – Danvers & Lynn, Massachusetts

The first adventure of our Salem excursion was finding the smoky Econo Lodge we stayed at in Danvers. It was hidden behind a creepy abandoned building with an Econo Lodge sign out front. We drove by, looked at the sign and the abandoned building, and repeatedly asked ourselves “Is that it? Is that really it?” We pulled in and found the Econo Lodge behind the abandoned building in the back of the parking lot, and were so relieved that it instantly made the place look more welcoming.

IMG_20171021_110328609.jpg This is the back side of the abandoned building in front of the Econo Lodge.

The lady at the front desk was so uninterested in being there she could barely be bothered to answer the one question that we had, and once we opened the door to the room we were hit with the surprisingly strong smell of fresh cigarette smoke. We burned some incense matches at night that we had bought in Salem, but when we woke up in the morning the smell was back with such a fury we both had headaches and frogs in our throats. Needless to say, we were in a hurry to get out of there in the morning.

We decided to grab breakfast before we went back home, and came across a little place known as the Portside Diner. Five minute wait, great service, and (surprise!) award winning food! Even the coffee was delicious!! The diner has a little bit of a history in the area, too. It was brought to the spot more than 50 years ago (in 1959) but was started in 1948 as Cape Ann Grill, and has been in operation for almost 60 years. Pretty impressive for a little box car diner on a street corner.

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Danvers was known as Salem Village when it was settled in 1636 and was re-named in 1752 after Sir Danvers Osborn, an English nobleman who was revered by the colonists for ensuring they received supplies, and regulation of the local trade, among other things. He became the Royal Governor of the Province of New York in July of 1753, and in October of the same year his dead body was found in the garden of his home showing evidence of strangulation. The man who replaced him as acting governor upon his death, James De Lancey, suggested that he had committed suicide due to grief over his wife’s death during childbirth ten years prior.

Additionally, one of the victims of the Salem witch trials, Rebecca Nurse, lived in Danvers and her homestead can still be visited today.

Lynn, Massachusetts

After breakfast at the Portside Diner we decided to head to Lynn, Mass, less than half an hour away. Lynn sits on the Atlantic Ocean, only 10 minutes from downtown Boston, which means great views of the ocean and the Boston skyline are visible around every turn.

Lynn’s proximity to Boston reminds me of a piece of Salem history. In 1877 Alexander Graham Bell demonstrated how “long distance” phone calls worked, placing a call from Salem to The Boston Globe in Boston – a distance of only sixteen miles. According to my ghost tour guide from Salem, in a strange turn of events, some of the people helping with the demo were electrocuted and died, which adds to Salem’s haunted history. Thank you Alexander Graham Bell for your contribution to society, history, and Salem’s haunted history!

We decided to grab some lunch at a little place called the Porthole back in Lynn. This restaurant has great character, great views, great service, the best fish and chips I’ve had in a long time, and a delicious chocolate and peppermint schnapps dessert drink. I wasn’t surprised when I learned that they’ve been in business for over 40 years!!

History of Lynn

Approximately 10 miles away from Boston, Lynn is actually a part of the Greater Boston area. The English settled there in 1629, not long after the arrival of the Mayflower at Plymouth in 1620. Lynn became a center for shoe-making starting in 1635 and supplied the boots worn by Continental Army soldiers during the Revolutionary War. Shoe-making drove the city’s growth all the way up to 1981 when the last shoe factory closed and, interestingly, that same year the city was engulfed by an inferno that destroyed several former shoe factories and seventeen other downtown buildings. The importance of shoe-making to the city’s growth is reflected in the city’s seal, which includes the image of a colonial boot.

Lynn became a popular summer resort location in the mid 1900’s with the unveiling of Lynn Shore Drive in 1910. There was a lot of new development along Lynn’s coastline during this time, and many of the buildings constructed then are now part of the Diamond Historic District, which is listed on the National Register of historic places.

Fun fact: Lynn was long referred to as a “city of sin.” Lynn’s reputation for crime and vice gave rise to a taunting rhyme about it: “Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin, you’ll never come out the way you went in, what looks like gold is really tin, if you ask for water they’ll give you gin, the girls say ‘no’ but they’ll give in, Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin, if you ain’t bad, you can’t get in.” In order to counter its reputation as “the city of sin,” Lynn launched a “City Of Firsts” advertising campaign in the early 1990s, which boasts some interesting facts like: in 1875 a Lynn resident named Lydia Pinkham became the first woman to use her image to sell a product.

 

Salem, Massachusetts – The Witch City

This little town in Massachusetts typically needs no introduction. It has a larger than life reputation as “The Witch City” due to the infamous witchcraft hysteria that took place there in 1692. This has been referred to as the most notorious case of mass hysteria in Colonial American history, and is famously memorialized in the play “The Crucible” written by Arthur Miller in 1953 and adapted to film in 1996. This notorious dark history draws people from all over the world, especially in the month of October (the witching month), and the town of Salem does not disappoint, designating the entire month to “Haunted Happenings” for curious tourists. There are many witchcraft museums and modern-day witchcraft shops dotting the cobblestoned Essex Street, where tourists are free to wander in costume (or among costumed figures), sign up for psychic readings at any one of a variety of psychic fairs, go on various ghost tours, or attend a séance…

The pictures above clockwise from left to right: St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1733 on land donated by Phillip English, an accused witch who fled Salem during the witchcraft trials, only to return when the threat was over to find his rich properties had been pillaged. The land he donated to the Episcopal church was part of the restitution he received after holding the corrupt sheriff’s dead body hostage for payment, but he never received all of his riches back (there is also a haunted history associated with this church); the second picture is of the John Ward house, which was built in 1684 and is on the list of the oldest buildings in the US (along with several other buildings in Salem, including the Pickman house, which also has a haunted history); and the third picture is of the famous Salem Witch Museum (which is not the one I visited and talk about below).

Eating, Drinking and “Being Witchy”

There are some restaurants on Essex Street, but they don’t all have the most convenient hours, and can fill up quickly. The Village Tavern is advertised as having the best burger in Salem, but had a line at least twenty feet out the door at 1:00 pm so we opted out. We went across the street to the Olde Main Street Pub, but they close at 3:00 and re-open at 5:00 and were not taking any new patrons before their pre-mature closing. So we went around the corner to Bambolina’s on Derby Street and found the wait was only about 5 minutes and the service was great! They are mostly a pizza joint, but I wanted to try something different so I ordered the Arrostito appetizer (which was roasted eggplant, red onion, roasted pepper, and tomato) and was actually surprised by its incredibly unappetizing appearance when it was delivered to the table – its simple ingredients were so unrecognizable it actually caused us to pause before taking a bite. I can’t complain about the portion, it was a very large portion, and it had pretty good flavor, but it wasn’t delivered with enough flatbread on top of its questionable appearance, so once the bread was gone the rest of the dish was wasted. We were more pleased with our main dishes – the Bolognese and the sausage Fra Diavolo. Giant portions, mouthwatering presentation, and good flavor.

At night we attempted to dine at Rockafellas, but found their kitchen closes at 9:00 pm, so we walked on and found ourselves at Tavern on the Square, which had a bit of a wait, but a great outdoor patio space and good food. Though the grilled avocado and steak salad was small and expensive, the steak was tender and perfectly grilled. Food served to other tables appeared to come in much larger portions, so maybe we just ordered the wrong thing. The cocktails were well done. The lemon and berries in mine just so happened to fall in a way that looked like a skull, so I snapped a picture.

Witch History Museum

During the day, we visited the Witch History Museum on Essex Street. The entrance fee was $10, the line moved quickly, and the tour moved quickly once inside. Groups were led down a flight of stairs and through several staged scenes that, coupled with live tour guides and recorded narrations, provided an interesting summary of the town’s infamous past. The room where the tour started included pictures of historical sites that can be visited today.

The pictures in the bottom row above are of just a few of the scenes staged inside the museum. From left to right: Tituba telling stories of witchcraft to the Reverend’s niece and daughter (the start of the hysteria); capturing “The Devil” (authorities went two hours outside of Salem to make this arrest); accusations start to fly (once the panic started everyone took part in accusing others, fueled by personal vendettas, religious differences, etc.); Gallows Hill (where nineteen accused and convicted witches were hanged).

Now for my favorite part…

…The Ghost Tour…

First of all, let me say that I am not a ghost hunter and do not try to or purport to capture ghostly phenomenon ever. I love history, and haunted history is just another element of that, but the pictures I take are simply to remember where these events occurred. The pictures above are of a reportedly haunted square in Salem, which I thought would be pretty with the hanging lights above if nothing else. I found it very strange that my camera did not want to focus when I was in this square, because it had been focusing without a problem the entire rest of the time. I snapped a few pictures in a row to try to get one good photo, and I posted the trio above as well as a larger version of the second photo. It could just be a weird trick of light in a blurry photo, but I can’t explain what would have caused that light streak. It’s not in the other photos (one taken directly before and one taken directly after).

Due to the town’s age and infamous past there is an element of the paranormal to be explored, so we signed up for a ghost tour and started at the Pickman house, built in 1664. This was once the home of a family who owned an indentured servant. The servant contracted small pox and died quarantined to the attic. The father of the next family that moved in set up a workshop in the attic and was so tormented by visions of the dead girl that he went mad and murdered his wife and daughter before killing himself on the property. Below is an up close picture of the attic window, where people claim to see the spirit of the indentured servant girl. I took several pictures of this window and nothing strange appeared…

It’s worth noting that the Pickman house is situated next to two interesting landmarks: the Witch Trials Memorial and Old Burying Point Cemetery. The Witch Trials Memorial was created in remembrance of the twenty people who were put to death as witches in 1692, and is surrounded by a granite wall that has twenty granite stones jutting from it, each inscribed with a name. There is much more symbolism used in the design, so please click on the link to the memorial to learn more about it, it’s very interesting. The Old Burying Point Cemetery is the oldest cemetery in Salem and final resting place for at least one hanged witch, Martha Corey, as well as the hanging judge John Hawthorne  and his family (except Nathaniel Hawthorne, the famous writer of The Scarlet Letter). There is also an interesting story about one of the graves in this cemetery. Apparently, someone was laid to rest there who was killed by a lightning strike. A tree started to grow from his grave that has a tear in its back side because it has also been struck by lightning. I don’t have a picture of the tree because by the time I learned about it the cemetery was closed.

Another of the stops on the ghost tour was the witch dungeon, where we learned a little more about the dark underbelly of the witch trials. Some of the cells inside this dungeon were known as coffin cells, because they were no larger then a coffin. People couldn’t sit or lay but could only stand with hands by their sides. There were no bathrooms in these cells, and people weren’t taken out, so they had to use the bathroom where they stood and stand in their own excrement. The youngest person to be kept in the dungeon was only 4 years old.

The 4-year-old Dorothy (or Dorcas) Good was arrested along with her mother on charges of witchcraft. She was forced to testify against her mother, which lead to her execution. Dorothy was kept in a coffin cell for nine months after her mother was put to death. She survived, but the conditions were detrimental to her development, and she died in her teens due to complications from her time in there. Her mother, Sarah Good, was also pregnant at the time of her arrest, and gave birth in her jail cell to an infant who died before she was hanged.

We also learned elements of the town’s past that weren’t related to the witchcraft trials. For instance, we discovered that the Parker Brothers used to live in Salem, and the murder house that inspired them to bring the game Clue to the US is in Salem, too, right on Essex Street. The once owner of the home was a rich sea Captain who used to brag about the chest of gold he kept at the foot of his bed. His housekeeper found his dead body face down in bed, his head bludgeoned in with a heavy object, and the police assumed the motive was the gold. However, the gold at the foot of his bed was untouched and, when they turned his body over, they discovered that he had also been stabbed seven times, so they were no longer sure which weapon had delivered the fatal blow.

The captain had only one living relative, a niece, that he wasn’t that close to. He left only a portion of his riches to her in his will and the rest was to go to charity. His niece thought that if she killed him and destroyed his will she would get all of his riches, so she hired two men to kill him and destroy the will that he kept in the chest of gold. It turned out the captain’s real will was on file at his attorney’s office, though, so she didn’t benefit from her crime. The poor captain died for nothing, and his estate is now the property of Salem.

The pictures below were all taken outside of his home around the same time. Again, I’m not claiming to be a ghost hunter or to have captured anything ghostly; but this is supposedly the most active location for paranormal photos, and it’s interesting to me that orbs appear all around the same tree in the first two pictures, while in the third picture there isn’t even one.

Salem History – Witch Hysteria

It started in 1692, with Reverend Samuel Parris, his slave Tituba, his 9-year-old daughter Betty Parris, and 11-year-old niece, Abigail Williams. The story goes that Tituba shared stories of witchcraft and enchantment with the girls, who then started re-enacting these stories by having “fits” that included screaming, throwing objects, and contorting into unnatural positions (among other bizarre things). A doctor was called to examine them, and when he found no physical ailment to explain what they were experiencing, he diagnosed them with being afflicted by the devil. Soon other girls in the village started exhibiting similar behaviors.

Tituba was the first person accused. She confessed and named others, which spurred the hysteria on. Due to her confession and naming others, she was spared trial and the gallows, and she may well have known that this was her best chance of surviving.

This hysteria took place just as a wider spread witch trial phenomenon in Europe was waning – one that started when the summis desiderantes affectibus was issued by Pope Innocent VIII in 1484 in response to a request to prosecute witchcraft in Germany.

Those convicted of witchcraft and killed in Salem, MA in 1692:

  • Bridget Bishop, hanged June 10, 1692
  • Rebecca Nurse, hanged July 19, 1692
  • Sarah Good, hanged July 19, 1692
  • Elizabeth Howe, hanged July 19, 1692
  • Susannah Martin, hanged July 19, 1692
  • Sarah Wildes, hanged July 19, 1692
  • George Burroughs, hanged August 19, 1692
  • George Jacobs Sr., hanged August 19, 1692
  • Martha Carrier, hanged August 19, 1692
  • John Proctor, hanged August 19, 1692
  • John Willard, hanged August 19, 1692
  • Martha Corey, hanged September 22, 1692; wife of Giles Corey, who was pressed to death September 19, 1692
  • Mary Eastey, hanged September 22, 1692
  • Mary Parker, hanged September 22, 1692
  • Alice Parker, hanged September 22, 1692
  • Ann Pudeator, hanged September 22, 1692
  • Wilmot Redd, hanged September 22, 1692
  • Margaret Scott, hanged September 22, 1692
  • Samuel Wardwell Sr, hanged September 22, 1692

For a complete list of victims please visit historyofmassachusetts.org and/or legendsofamerica.com/ma-witches

 

 

21 Oak and 41 Closets – Manchester, CT

21 Oak

21 Oak is a GREAT little vegan restaurant in the heart of downtown Manchester. Let me pause a moment to clarify…I am not a full time vegan. I am an adventurous food eater and it’s an added bonus when it’s good for you AND tastes good (and I don’t call it great when it’s vegan unless it’s both). However, it does take a little bit of an adventurous eater to step out of their comfort zone and try something new – whether it be plant-based food, or something like an African peanut tofu stew.

Named for it’s street address, this little restaurant partners with local farmers to offer these flavorful 100% plant-based options. The restaurant is cozy, and can get crowded, which may slow the service down a little bit, but the food is worth the wait!

We tried the cheezy nachos, and for anyone who has never had vegan cheese before let me tell you – when it’s done right you don’t even realize it’s not cheese, and these cheezy nachos were perfectly prepared! The chili spice was just right, there were enough toppings for every chip, and enough chips for a table of four to enjoy!

From left to right clockwise below: spicy eggplant tacos, cheezy nachos, sweet potato scallion cakes, African peanut tofu stew and vegan sausage and peppers. Everything was prepared well and full of flavor, so you could forget it was a plant-based dish.

We also enjoyed the butternut squash and moonbeam soup and vegan French onion soup, which isn’t pictured but is definitely worth a mention. In my opinion, the French onion soup at 21 Oak came in just above the well-done traditional French onion soup at the Willbrew, mainly due to the flavorful broth.

For more pictures and information go to their website: 21Oakmanchester.com

41 Closets

41 Closets is a funky upscale consignment boutique on Main Street Manchester with an eclectic steam punk inspired style that permeates the entire shop – from the unique and stylish selection of clothing and accessories to the vintage decor, this shop is a place to check in on once in awhile. At the time I was there they were running a 50% off sale so keep your eyes peeled for great sales too! To learn more, like them on Facebook here: 41 Closets on Facebook.

If you’re lucky enough to meet the manager, you’ll understand instantly where the stores charm comes from. She is an incredible artist who sells her hand-crafted journal covers at the shop. Delicately molding each detail out of clay, using trinkets she has on hand (so she is always recycling goods as well), her journal covers take between 10 – 15 hours to craft (even hand-crafting the eyes that are so real they sometimes appear as though they are looking at you). She also does pet portraits upon request.

A little about Manchester…

Manchester was settled in about 1672 as a farming community known as Oxford Parish. The land was originally part of Hartford, then East Hartford (when East Hartford became it’s own separate town) from 1783 to 1823.

There are several rivers and brooks in Manchester, which made it an industrial hub for many textile industries, and it houses two historic sites: the Pitkin Glassworks Ruin, and the Cheney Brothers Historic District. The Cheney Brother Historic District is a National Historic Landmark, which contains the mills and homes of the owners and workers of what was the world’s largest silk mill, which was started by the Cheney family in 1838.

There is much to do in Manchester today. There are museums dedicated to its history, Wickham Park and Case Mountain for hiking and biking, and abundant restaurants and shopping with the shops at Buckland Hills Mall and Evergreen Walk. There is also the world-famous Manchester Road Race held every Thanksgiving day, which has over 10,000 participants from around the world annually, and is second in popularity among New Englanders only to the Boston Marathon.

The information on Manchester’s history was taken from wikipedia.org/Manchester, Connecticut.

Many thanks to my readers who have made it this far with me! My next blog on Salem, MA will be posted soon…Just in time for Halloween (and Samhain)…Please leave comments or message me, I’d love to hear from you!!

 

 

 

 

 

The Willibrew and other things – Willimantic, CT

The Willimantic Brewing Company (“Willibrew”)

The Willibrew is a living landmark restaurant & pub brewery that offers fresh-brewed beer as well as a delicious selection of other beers, fantastic food, and great service, all in the historic ambience of a 1909 U.S. post office building. 5-beer flights are affordable, the menu is bountiful and the food is delicious! The Bavarian pretzels were the freshest I’ve ever had, and the cheesy ale sauce was the perfect compliment to it, without the overly bitter flavor that can come with beer cheese. The French onion soup was wonderfully cheesy and flavorful, and the tuna melt on marbled rye was perfectly toasted with a heaping portion of tuna and perfectly fried, fresh and salty steak cut French fries on the side. They also have a delicious vegan three bean chili, perfectly seasoned with just the right amount of heat warming your throat after each bite.

Situated on Main Street in Willimantic, CT, the building blends in as a stately old town building rather then standing out as a pub or brewery. Upon entering, you go down a hallway before coming to a small arcade room with vintage arcade games on top of old marble floors, and giant windows all around. Through a door on the other end of the arcade you see the bar and restaurant seating. Past the bar the seating wraps around to an area with vintage post office windows (below), where you find another door opening up to a large dining room with a bar.

If you’re looking for a bite and a brew and you’re looking to support local, small business in Connecticut, The Willibrew is worth a stop – and maybe some Willibrew merchandise as a souvenir!!

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Around Willimantic…

The Willimantic Food Co-op

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Right down the road from the Willibrew is the Willimantic Food Co-Op, which is getting a nod for it’s huge supply of oats, nuts, grains and spices, as well as for partnering with local farmers to provide local, high-quality food and other goods. It is a different type of grocery store that is owned and operated by its members. The prices are a bit high (and non-members pay 10% more than shelf price on all goods), but if you’re looking for a wide variety of fresh, local, high-quality items (good for folks with allergies or special diets too) then it may be worth a membership, which provides you with a bit of a discount as well as a range of other benefits. For more information you can visit the co-op’s website at https://www.willimanticfood.coop/.

Elm Package Store

This little package store gets a shout out for charm. It’s nestled right next door to the Willimantic Food Co-Op, has a mural of John Walker on the exterior wall, and hand painted windows inside affording views of the beautiful church across the street (yes, that window says “Beer” – they also have one that says “wine”).

A Little About Willimantic…

You may not know much about Willimantic, CT. I myself was only familiar with it as a sort of pass through town on the way to Misquamicut Beach, RI. In 2002, The Hartford Courant ran an investigative series on it called “Heroin Town,” which detailed the rampant use of heroin in the small town, making it uncomfortable for people even to just pass through on their way to other destinations. It generated enough concern with the state that they appointed a task force to look into the issue and today, several projects aiming to revitalize the town are underway. Some of the town’s distressed factory buildings have been turned into residential space and efforts to attract businesses to the area have turned other former factory buildings into space for small startups.

Its history…

Willimantic is located in the town of Windham, a town that was incorporated in 1692. The name Willimantic is actually an Algonquian term for “land of the swift running water,” which is due to the fact that the Willimantic River runs through it. This river was the source of the towns prosperity for decades. By 1828 there were six cotton factories along the river bank, and Willimantic became know as “Thread City.” The American Thread Company had a mill on the banks and was at one time the largest employer in the state as well as one of the largest producers of thread in the world. It’s factory was the first in the world to use electric lighting.

For decades, Willimantic was a center for the production of silk and cotton thread. Immigrants came from all over to work in the thread mills. Railroads added to the growth as Willimantic was one of only a few stops between Boston and New York on the high-speed train. More than 800 ornate Victorian homes were erected in the town’s Prospect Hill section, which is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Hard times ensued when the American Thread Company moved out of Willimantic (and Connecticut) in 1985, and though the town has not seen the same prosperity since, it is on its way back and is worth a stop in to check out some of its highlights.

This information was taken from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willimantic,_Connecticut