Before our trip, I had no idea what a big deal October is in Salem, Mass., home of the infamous Salem Witch Trials in colonial times. Let's just say that in the same way that Parke County does covered bridges, Salem does witches -- marketing the whole month as a festival.
Only we're talking hundreds of thousands of people, many wearing extraordinary costumes worthy of the finest movie set, taking to the streets of the city. I had hoped to get this post up before Halloween, but didn't. Maybe next fall I'll post a bunch of the costumed characters but for now, here's another.
I took a dozen or more photos of the characters, all happy to pose for the camera. Shows you what this Hoosier knows. I figured our trip to Salem would be visiting a sleepy little town where we would see some "witch" tombstones in a centuries-old graveyard, and maybe a history-laden film in a small museum, detailing the trials. Oh no.
"Witches" are big business here, and on a tour we took, for one small example, a whole coven of them, donning their pointed hats, had flown in from Texas, there for a "witches' ball" and sightseeing. Presumably they took a commercial airline.
Also, there are no "witch" tombstones to view. The girls who were tried and found guilty were hung outside of town at a site that was unknown until recently. There are no grave markers for them for at the time, our guide explained, they were held in such contempt that their remains might have been destroyed. So where they were buried, likely discreetly by their families, is unknown.
Along with the informal parade of fully costumed characters, there are vendors along the streets, as one would expect at, say, our Indiana Parke County Covered Bridge Festival. We arrived late afternoon, and stayed into the evening hours. We had a great visit with a police officer who said it's a calm enough place but late in the evening things get ... a little more challenging. We were tucked into our beds back in Boston before such a "bewitching" hour.
Our foursome thought we'd settle for street food, but then happened on a little cafe that was first-come, first-served, and we went in and were fed quickly. Ahhh, here's this trip's first taste of New England, with a classic:
I'll keep posting about our trip as time allows. There is so much to unpack! And I'm not talking clothes.
Brian has always enjoyed Halloween. While he doesn’t do anything with the Christmas tree other than tell me if it is leaning to one side (a particular pet peeve of his), and yes, tell me it’s pretty once it’s all decked out, he is the one who carves our pumpkins.
At this stage in the game of life, I’d be content to plug in a fake one and carry on, but not him. He always makes a production of selecting an annual pumpkin or two and carving them.
I came across this photo of him with a Parke County pumpkin 40 years ago. This was taken in his parents’ Rockville, Indiana basement the first weekend I met them.
We had been to the Parke County Covered Bridge Festival where he snagged a pumpkin (I probably got one too but don’t remember that). It was my 19th birthday weekend and Brian’s mother surprised me with a gift, a new wallet.
I’m pretty sure she made pumpkin pie. Boy, she could bake pies! In the fall there were always pumpkin pies on her counter top.
I have fond memories of trick-or-treating as a kid, throwing "spook-house" basement parties for the neighbor kids in my family's rustic basement, canvassing the neighboring farms for Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF and then going to the church basement for a party. And who can forget the full-sized chocolate bars out of Philomath?
I'm seeing a trend here ... Halloween and basements.
Then came the years of our boys and their Halloween parties and trick-or-treating. This is my favorite Halloween photo of Sam and Ben. It's actually one of my all-time favorite pictures of them period.
Last year, Brian had a little issue with his pumpkin. He carved it and set it on the porch. I wasn't paying much attention and didn't connect the dots when he asked if we had any Duct Tape. I told him we did and asked why.
"Oh, I probably won't need it," he hedged. I still didn't think anything of it.
Until the next day.
His carved pumpkin had Duct Tape wrapped around its head.
"I cut his nose off," Brian confessed.
I roared with laughter.
"It won't even show when the lights are out," he insisted.
To my surprise, he was right. The pumpkin looked just fine -- in the dark.
Here's this year's duo, carved yesterday while I was at work. Pretty cute.
What are your special Oct. 31 memories?
There is a legend in our family that I am stingy about Halloween candy. Sam says one year I bagged up cereal! (I do not remember this and think he dreamed it).
Brian always says I don’t buy enough. I think that myth dates to the first year we were married, 37 years ago, when we ran out and had to go buy more. But run out and buy more we did. I don’t think we’ve been short since.
In fact, the opposite is true. And that's exactly why we should not buy the most delicious candy.
In our hands, tiny bags of M & Ms are nothing if not gateway sweets to full-sized Reece Cups or even Jumbo Hershey Bars. Brian and I do not need candy. In fact, we need to avoid candy. That means we shouldn’t be entrusted with a bowl brimming with 160 small bars of Snickers! We should hand out Skittles or Three Muskateers or Milky Ways. Those, I can turn down.
But no, Brian picked out the best stuff.
If there are leftovers, and there will be, we need to immediately stash them somewhere like the trunk or the crawl space, somewhere that requires effort and a contemplative walk of shame to reach.
I was gone to a conference most of yesterday and today and didn’t figure I’d get home until the little goblins had come and gone. So I told Brian, weeks ago, that I was giving him more than two-weeks' notice that I had resigned from handing out candy this year. Turns out I got home early, but my resignation from these duties remains in effect. It’s all him.
I’ll be in the tub.
I remember a few unusual Halloweens. Years ago, Brian and I visited Abraham Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Ill. on this day. One year we transferred my father-in-law’s nursing home residency. A few years ago my brother and sister-in-law Tim and Jeannie Jobe and I went to the Exotic Feline Rescue Center on this date.
There were years I took the kids around locally. One of my favorite pictures of the boys is when they dressed up as Batman and Robin.
Then there was the year I married Bradley Rigsby. Bradley and I were in first grade and rode the school bus together. I was a bride that year, and I guess Bradley wanted to be a groom because we got hitched. On the bus. Gee, this must be our 51st wedding anniversary. Too bad he moved away after first grade.
Many years I went trick-or-treating with my relatives Mike, Lisa and Marlene. A couple of years, Barbara Earl and I created a haunted house in our basement and invited in the neighbor kids. We loved to scare them with things like eyeball grapes and spaghetti brains.
I have a memory of getting full-sized candy bars – Hershey Bars as memory serves – in Philomath. Apparently they got so few treaters that they went big for the local kids they knew. I always think of Philomath when I think of Halloween.
When I was very small, I attended the Halloween party in the Brownsville Gymnasium, long since burnt down. I remember Perry Floyd dressed as a clown. He scared me and I cried. Maybe that’s why I don’t care for clowns today. Perry was a nice man -- as long as he didn’t look like a clown.
It’s time to turn on the porch light and sequester the dog. I will tell Brian to unload those M & Ms first. They need to be gone when I emerge from my bath.