Letters 08-31-2015

Inalienable Rights This is a response to the “No More State Theatre” in your August 24th edition. I think I will not be the only response to this pathetic and narrow-minded letter that seems rather out of place in the northern Michigan that I know. To think we will not be getting your 25 cents for the movie you refused to see, but more importantly we will be without your “two cents” on your thoughts of a marriage at the State Theatre...

Enthusiastically Democratic Since I was one of the approximately 160 people present at when Senator Debbie Stabenow spoke on August 14 in Charlevoix, I was surprised to read in a letter to Northern Express that there was a “rather muted” response to Debbie’s announcement that she has endorsed Hillary Clinton for president...

Not Hurting I surely think the State Theatre will survive not having the homophobic presence of Colleen Smith and her family attend any matinees. I think “Ms.” Smith might also want to make sure that any medical personnel, bank staff, grocery store staff, waiters and/or waitress, etc. are not homosexual before accepting any service or product from them...

Stay Home I did not know whether to laugh or cry when I read the letter of the extremely homophobic, “disgusted” writer. She now refuses to patronize the State Theatre because she evidently feels that its confines have been poisoned by the gay wedding ceremony held there...

Keep Away In response to Colleen Smith of Cadillac who refused to bring her family to the State Theatre because there was a gay wedding there: Keep your 25 cents and your family out of Traverse City...

Celebrating Moore And A Theatre I was 10 years old when I had the privilege to see my first film at the State Theatre. I will never forget that experience. The screen was almost the size of my bedroom I shared with my older sister. The bursting sounds made me believe I was part of the film...

Outdated Thinking This letter is in response to Colleen Smith. She made public her choice to no longer go to the State Theater due to the fact that “some homosexuals” got married there. I’m not outraged by her choice; we don’t need any more hateful, self-righteous bigots in our town. She can keep her 25 cents...

Mackinac Pipeline Must Be Shut Down Crude oil flowing through Enbridge’s 60-yearold pipeline beneath the Mackinac Straits and the largest collection of fresh water on the planet should be a serious concern for every resident of the USA and Canada. Enbridge has a very “accident” prone track record...

Your Rights To Colleen, who wrote about the State Theatre: Let me thank you for sharing your views; I think most of us are well in support of the first amendment, because as you know- it gives everyone the opportunity to express their opinions. I also wanted to thank Northern Express for not shutting down these types of letters right at the source but rather giving the community a platform for education...

No Role Model [Fascinating Person from last week’s issue] Jada quoted: “I want to be a role model for girls who are interested in being in the outdoors.” I enjoy being in the outdoors, but I don’t want to kill animals for trophy...

Home · Articles · News · Features · Revisiting the Salem Witch...
. . . .

Revisiting the Salem Witch Trials

Erin Cowell - October 25th, 2010
Revisiting the Salem Witch Trials:‘May thy souls rest in peace’
By Erin Crowell
October settles over the New England coast, bathing its small towns in
warm colors of red, orange and gold. I chase the foliage by car,
taking a 2,500 mile road trip out East through New York, Vermont and
down along the shores of Connecticut and Rhode Island.
With Halloween fast approaching, a stop in Salem, Massachusetts seems
appropriate. So I plug the address into the GPS on my
dashboard—Margaret, as I’ve named it—and let her even, monotone voice
guide me to the coastal town famous for the witch trials of 1692.
Located just north of Boston, Salem is home of the 20 men and women
who were tried and punished by death on suspicions of witchcraft near
the close of the 17th century.
When picturing Salem—a place of rich U.S. colonial history—I envision
a small town buried in maple trees, a single main road leading
visitors to a town square and a sign that reads, “Salem, site of the
1692 witch trials. May thy souls rest in peace.”
From there, travelers would be directed via free pamphlet to a handful
of rickety houses, museums and shops, manned by one grey haired and
adorable local whose great, great grandmother’s godmother was one of
the tried victims.
Imagine my surprise.

After exiting the commuter-ingested Highway 128 into gridlocked Salem,
it takes me another 20 minutes to enter the downtown area.
It’s a constant play on words in this town: Monster Mini Golf, Witch
Ice Cream, Wicked Dry Cleaners. Scary is a business and everyone’s
looking to make bank.
Since I don’t have an exact destination, Margaret leaves me wandering
aimlessly, looking for any sign of the real Salem. While the
attractions are many, the authenticity is few and far between.
An illustrated map directs me to the following amenities: The Salem
Witch House, Salem Witch Museum, The Witch Dungeon Museum, The Witch
History Museum, World of Witches Museum, Spellbound Museum, The New
England Pirate Museum, Pioneer Village, The Salem Trolley, Count
Orlok’s Nightmare Gallery, Nightmare Factory, the Wax Museum, Haunted
Village and a slew of other must-see exhibits claiming to provide
total access to the history of Salem and the historic events of 1692 –
for a minimal fee.
It’s getting dark, so I look for shelter instead.
Throwing away the plan of staying in the capacity-filled state park
campground, I relegate myself to a Motel 6—one of the only places that
accepts dogs—in the quiet town of Danvers, located just minutes away
from bustling Salem.
It’s a Wednesday and every week the Danvers running club hosts a
community 5k fun run.
What the heck? I decide.
The group of 30 some runners, including myself, takes off in the dark
through the neighborhood streets, finishing at a local
landscape/gardening business where there’s a small hot potluck and
cold beer for everyone.
“You came all the way from Michigan for this?” asks the enthusiastic
Brad between sips. “What are you doing all the way out here?”
I tell several of them I wanted to see Salem. It’s almost Halloween, right?
“Oh, you’re actually in the town where things went down,” says Aaron.
“Danvers is really where it’s at.”

The unassuming town of Danvers, Massachusetts (then known as Salem
Village) has little to no witch advertising – no psychic palm readers
or wicked ice cream parlors. If they exist, it’s quiet and off the
beaten path.
Aaron tells me briefly about Rebecca Nurse, the oldest woman to be
hung during the 1692 trials. The 80-year-old woman’s homestead is
located directly behind the building we stand in – actually, Aaron
notes he’s related to Nurse in some distant way.
Nearby is the family burial ground, including the grave of victim
George Jacobs, one of just a handful of men accused of witchcraft
during the trials.
Aaron tells me he most admires Giles Corey, also of Salem Village, who
after being accused of witchcraft was sentenced to stone pressing -- a
torture technique where a board is placed on the victim’s chest and
stones are added, suffocating the person to death.
“Lay more!” Corey had defiantly declared.
Danvers was the location of the original Salem Village Meeting House
where many of the witch examinations took place. Today, one of the
only real linkages Salem has to the trials (besides its few residents
who were accused; and Gallow Hill, the location of their hanging) is
the house of witch trial Judge Jonathan Corwin.
Salem Village became independent from Salem in 1752, dividing into the
regions of Peabody, Danvers and Beverly – and while old Salem Village
wanted to mend and be forgotten as the place where such ghastly events
took place, Salem embraced it.
“When Salem wanted all the recognition and notoriety, Danvers was
like, ‘Here, you can have it,’” says T.R, another fun run member.
“They saw an opportunity and ran with it – it’s pretty ridiculous how
much of a tourist trap that place is.”

Rumor has it the accusations of witchcraft were started when a young
Cuban servant girl had shared with others her knowledge of voodoo. A
sickness took hold of several young girls in the community and many
Christian followers saw it as a takeover by the devil – fueled more so
by then popular “Memorable Providences,” a book written by Cotton
Mather, who claimed to have witnessed witchcraft in Boston.
Rev. Samuel Parris was considered a pivotal character in the trials,
providing names of “Satan’s workers” to be tried. He was described as
self-serving with knee-jerk reactionary behavior – ready to throw
accusations at anyone who did not follow his parish.
While the witch hysteria only lasted a year, it was a time of much
paranoia and accusation between family and neighbors, enemies and
friends, where over 120 people were accused of witchcraft and 20 were
killed for that belief.
“If it was the last moment I was to live, God knows I am innocent,”
said victim Elizabeth Howe.
“Oh Lord, help me! It is false. I am clear! For my life now lies in
your hands,” cried Rebecca Nurse.
“If it be possible no more innocent blood be shed…I am clear of this
sin!” said Mary Easty.
Had the victims known about their infamy before their demise, would
they have been proud or ashamed of us? Has the Salem Witch Trials of
1692 served as an example of what paranoia can do to a community? To a
nation? What have we gained from the events of 1692 besides a haunting
tale for our children at Halloween or a place to buy some quirky witch
In a 2008 Salem News article, Tom Dalton writes, “This old city, some
say, is locked in an eternal wrestling match with itself. Is this the
historic seaport of art and culture, or the ‘Witch City’ of psychics
and ghost tours?”
The city rejected a request by a paranormal research team from Rhode
Island to conduct a ghost hunt in the Witch House (Jonathan Corwin’s
house), saying it “‘would be in bad taste to allow ghost hunters to
go inside an historic, 17th-century house that is tied to such an
important and tragic event.’”
“We have to have respect for the gravity of the injustice that
occurred in 1692,” said Park and Recreation Commission board member
Chris Burke.
Yet, Salem’s police patrol cars bear the image of a witch and children
are sent to Witchcraft Heights School.
Perhaps the scariest aspect of Salem is how such a tragic past could
create a positive future – a sense of pride and profit. After all,
tourism is the number one import for Salem, providing substantial
profit to small businesses and the town itself (The Witch House made a
$175,000 profit that year).
The next morning I wake early and drive to the homestead of Rebecca
Nurse. The early sun casts shadows through the empty grounds and over
the dew-saturated grass. It’s quiet here, and somewhere in that
quiet—while scanning the old buildings and crosshatched fence—a wave
of sorrow and respect sweeps through me.
This is Salem, I think to myself.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5