A Prelude to Halloween in Salem

foliage

We have almost completed our first full week of October, and the month would not have had a proper ringing-in without a trip to my favorite place, mentioned multiple times on this blog – you guessed it, Salem, Mass! Each day of October in Salem is dedicated to Haunted Happenings, a compilation of numerous events taking place throughout the month that are related to either Salem’s history or Halloween. If you’re not a fan of crowds, I would suggest trying to take a weekday off for your Salem adventure. But do note that during Haunted Happenings, a lot of fun activities are held on the weekends, so you may just have to brave the masses if you want to experience it all!

I’m not too put off by crowds, but I happened to have Monday off and decided it would be great to visit Salem that day. The streets weren’t crowded at all and there was not a cloud in the sky. My goal was to fill my afternoon with some kind of activity and do it for cheap. I managed to accomplish this goal for under $20!

When I arrived in Salem, I was craving a beverage from a real coffee shop. I made a stop into the very cozy Red Line Cafe for a hot chai latte (priced around $3.50). I then decided to see which Haunted Happenings events that day sparked my interest. There was not too too much going on because it was a Monday, but I read about a tour called “Cemetery 101: Grave Matters” from Salem Historical Tours and that certainly captivated me. No matter how long I’d spent living in or around Salem (5 years) or how many historical/ghost tours I’d been on (at least 7 I would guess), there is always more to learn, and I hadn’t toured any of the historic cemeteries yet. This hour-long tour would teach the group about the imagery on historic headstones and backgrounds of several of the Salem residents buried there. One adult ticket was $10, which I was happy to spend on some further knowledge. I went to the tour office on Central Street and purchased my ticket ahead of time.

dreamhome

Dream home!

I had about an hour and a half to kill before I had to venture back to Salem Historical Tours and meet up with the guide. It was the most beautiful fall day, so I just decided to walk around the city. I visited my favorite neighborhoods within the McIntire Historic District. It’s a free adventure in itself, just viewing the lovely old homes of Salem decorated for autumn. I made my way down Chestnut Street and Broad Street, stopping to take pictures on the way. One house on Chestnut Street had the most grand entryway, complete with a happy group of Jack-o-lanterns.

cutedoor

I hadn’t eaten breakfast, and was seriously hungry for lunch after my walk. I didn’t need a full-on meal because it was just me, myself and I dining. I had yet to visit the Flying Saucer Pizza Company on Washington Street, but I had heard positive reviews. I walked through the front door and a friendly waitress greeted me. I told her I was interested in just a slice, and I wanted to sit outdoors if possible. She told me the slice of the day, and I really wish I remember what it was called (I can’t find it on their online menu). It featured the usuals like sauce and cheese, but it was topped with salami, bacon, pineapple, extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Hawaiian pizza is my favorite, and this sounded like a Hawaiian pizza on steroids. Count me in.

The view from my lunch table.

The view from my lunch table.

At Flying Saucer, the waitress will serve you even if you’re only getting a slice. So I sat outside enjoying the day while waiting for it to be ready. A little side note here: If there’s one thing writing this blog has taught me, it’s not to be afraid to go and just hang out by yourself. I used to have a really strange fear of sitting in any sort of restaurant alone, but now I don’t even care. I’ll be my own lunch date, and I’ll like it! Anyways, when the slice was presented to me, I was thrilled that it was the size of two large slices of pizza and smelled heavenly. The toppings were plentiful. I could have devoured the whole thing, but I took my time savoring it…and also because I still had a decent amount of time before the tour started!

After I did finish my lunch and pay the bill (around $6.00 with tip and my final purchase of the day), I headed back over to the Salem Historical Tours office. I was the first to arrive from the tour group and became introduced to our tour guide, Bob. He spoke about just how much he loves this job, which made me happy. I love seeing people who love what they do! The other members of the tour arrived, and there were only five of us in total. I liked this, because other tours I’ve been on have been weekends with many more people. I thought a closer interaction with the tour and guide would be beneficial in really learning.

We headed over to the Old Burying Point cemetery on Charter Street where the tour was to take place. I’d never been within the gates of the cemetery prior to this, but had stopped outside of it on a ghost tour with my family. For those who believe in ghosts, my sister was able to capture a phenomenal paranormal picture that still haunts my mind to this day. She has no recollection of taking this picture, and it did not appear on her camera until we uploaded the photos to her computer. I’ll have to find it and upload it here someday. If you’re into the supernatural thing, I suggest you stop by this cemetery after dusk one night!

This stone appears to be sinking into the ground! Ahh!

This stone appears to be sinking into the ground! Ahh!

tourguideSidetracked again – I won’t share every detail of the tour so you can enjoy it for yourself if you decide to, but we learned that Old Burying Point was where the rich folk of Salem were laid to rest. Notably, Old Burying Point is “home” to a passenger of the Mayflower as well as judges during the Witch Trials, among many others. In Puritan times, the gravestones had very simple designs, as being elaborate in any aspect was against the religion and highly frowned upon. As the times changed, more intricate carvings appeared on the gravestones, such as urns, willow trees and cherubs.

We heard tales of old burial rituals, such as putting coins on the eyes of the dead so they could pay their fee to the supposed ferryman who would take them into the afterlife. It appeared that visitors to the cemetery had started putting coins on some graves in regards to this. It was so interesting to learn about the history of a cemetery I had always been curious about – and it was also the perfect spooky afternoon activity as a prelude to Halloween!

This man was buried on the outskirts of the cemetery - people were prejudiced against the Irish in those days.

This man was buried on the outskirts of the cemetery – people were prejudiced against the Irish in those days.

Hard to read the wording, but a somber moment – the grave of 3 children, represented by 3 suns. Medicine in those days certainly was not what it is today.

After the tour, I was pretty tired and wanted to head home before rush hour. It’s been said by believers that ghosts drain you of energy when they are near – could that explain it? Maybe it was all the walking I had done that day, but for now since it’s the most frightful month of the year, I think I’ll stick with the creepier explanation 😉

Places Mentioned (in order):

Red Line Cafe – 188 Essex Street, Salem, MA 01970
Flying Saucer Pizza Company – 118 Washington Street, Salem, MA 01970
Salem Historical Tours – 8 Central Street, Salem, MA 01970

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