Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Writer's Journal: Trip to Salem, Mass

I've written very little over the past few weeks. Partly because I've been traveling--went to New York to visit my parents, and my sister and I took a road trip up to Salem, MA. 

Of course, we were fascinated by the history. Salem is notorious for the witch trials. About twenty people died within a period of four months, and the repercussions continue to this day. Four short months have overshadowed all the other history. At one time Salem was a port more powerful than Boston, until the merchants got greedy and built ships too big and heavy--so they bottomed-out, forcing trade into Boston. 

My sister and I stayed in a wonderful B&B, The Morning Glory . Our hosts, Bob and Marcel, are charming and so is their home. 

I'm sure Salem will inspire more stories. I wrote a short story about the area called Raven's Blood which appears in my (short) short story collection, Ghost Plane and Other Disturbing Tales. The story was influenced by time I spent in Gloucester on Eastern Point, long ago. I used to tramp around the woods for hours, imagining I was a nymph, among other things. The area is magical, and the ocean is always present. So green and humid, compared to Colorado where I now live.

Fog rolls off the water, and wraps the streets in mist. At one point, the harbor boasted sixty wharfs, filled with storehouses, like the one above. Across the street from this wharf is the old Custom House where everything was weighed and taxed. Before breaking free of the British Empire, trade was limited to West Indies. Dried cod was traded for sugar, and when the sugar reached Salem it was transformed into rum. There wasn't a lot of slave trade, because there weren't large plantations like you'd find down south. A rich household might have had a few slaves, and indentured servants were popular. Many slaves used as apprentices, trained in trades which allowed them to make a living once they were freed: rope-making, sailors, barrel makers, etc. 

It was a great trip, but now I need to get back to ancient Greece!


Susan u. said...

So much love your writing! Can't wait for the Salem story to find its way through the mystical maze of your muse!
Susan U.

Suzanne Tyrpak said...

Thanks, Susan! I'm sure it will sneak into something. :)

Hunter F. Goss said...

Salem-Essex-Peabody was also a big hide and leather producing area. I've been there more than once :)

By the way, read Hetaera and thoroughly enjoyed it!

Suzanne Tyrpak said...

Hi Hunter. I just noticed that you left a comment! Thanks for reading Hetaera ) interesting about the leather.