Salem

Way before we drove into Salem, part of the hyphenated metropolis of Winston-Salem, my mind had travelled before my body. It had daydreamed about The Salem of the witch trials. The prospect of chancing upon stories of witchcraft, swirled in my thoughts, of the detail being in the devil just as in the case of the Pendle Hill witches of Lancaster. Could the famed Lancastrian occultists have given their Salem counterparts a run for their money, who knows (it’s such tosh anyway).

In Salem the absence of the bad girls were notable. Where were they? Adi shrugged, saying: “I was hardly interested in the history of any place before you came into life, was I?” Yeah Watson, we should have headed to New England.You might be an an ace at the memory game, but my mind is a sieve, dear reader. On an important aside, there areΒ 26 Salems in the US.

Salem of North Carolina did not have the witches of its Massachusetts namesake, but it had the Moravians. Good old people of the faith with a solid moral compass, whose single men and women lived in the Single Brothers House and the Single Sisters House, respectively. The staid nature of their lives must have been challenged by the wilderness of North Carolina in which they found themselves when they arrived here in 1766, all the way from Pennsylvania. I think of them as adventurers who built a town from nothing, because there was no Winston then. It was just Salem.

After we had left behind the tall official buildings in Winston and its modern high street along with its brick town hall, it was as if we crossed an invisible wall into another time. Old clapboard houses, brick and dark timber-framed houses turned up along a leafy street, signs of tradesmen hanging from the eaves of some.

All of this linked to an event from the early 1400s. Years before Martin Luther, there was Jan Hus in Bohemia who daring to challenge the practices of the Roman Catholic Church was naturally burnt at the stake. His followers, who called themselves the Unity of Brethren, left the land and travelled to Saxony (Germany). Some took off to England. The rest of the Moravians, as they were called in England, moved to the New World.

Now the pity is that we had to vamoose. Our end game was a secluded cabin up in the Great Smoky Mountains. Tennessee was a four-hour drive from Winston-Salem, including stops. More if you slept in a McDonald’s car park after the torpor induced by a locally brewed ale from Salem (we are hard-pressed to pass up on liquid gold). As a result, we did not have time to wander into the living history museum of Old Salem, where they have tradesmen going about their various trades, for the sake of the curious visitor. Bakers, blacksmiths, tinsmiths, gunsmiths, carpenters operate within the walls of Old Salem, in a bid to forget the modern world.

What we had instead was a gander at the charming architecture around us, thinking that this was the kind of town we should have seen bathed in the warm glow of gas lamps. Met a woman sauntering down the road in her old Germanic dress of embroidered bodice and waistcoat, long skirt and pinafore, her hair masked in a white cap. Somewhere from afar the clip-clop clip-clop sounds of a horse carriage reaching our ears in the tranquility of the night.

However, it was not too bad, what we ended up with. Actually no, it was nothing less than anΒ esoteric triumph. Pumpkin muffins (oh yes, I have had my headstart on autumn) slathered (a touch too) greedily with honey butter, and a scrummy pecan pie, following Adi’s un-Moravian meal of beef burger and mine of a traditional chicken pie smothered in a thick broth. All ravished at a historic tavern where George Washington had dined during his tour of the Southern states in the spring of 1791.

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Published by

Arundhati Basu

The great affair in my life is to travel. I count myself immensely fortunate that my partner shares this passion. We are a team that likes to spend time planning and plotting out places to go. Destination check, flights check, accommodation check, cheesy grins check. Off we go.

60 thoughts on “Salem

  1. Great Post Dippy, finally one place that I visited from your travels .It is fascinating to read about the details and the history , I recall some of the Moravian part from the field trip this was like 4 years ago.Most of our time was spent in the old museum and loved seeing the culture and dressings of the people from those days.The pumpkin muffin was really good .Glad to see you had a great time .Now hope to read about the Great Smokies in your post as you mention about it..that’s been on our list of places to visit for the longest time.

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    1. Well pack your bags already for the Smokies! πŸ™‚ I shall bring up the post soon. I have been itching to, which is why I needed to wrap this up first.

      As you can see, we missed out on the museum — and that I hope to make right soon. Yet how we both loved the little time we spent in Salem. It was so atmospheric that I could feel an old movie play out in my mind’s eye.
      Dreaming of the pumpkin muffin. xx

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      1. Sure dear will look forward to the Smokies. I’m sure you had a wonderful time at Salem. Hope you come down to Raleigh as well sometime , this week has been rough with Florence now a tropical storm but all is well so far and keeping fingers crossed.

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      2. My sister-in-law lived for a while in Raleigh. So I have heard of it so many times. I am sorry to hear about Florence causing havoc at your end, Nisha. I have been tracking its effect through the news and it is terrible. Let us hope Florence weakens and vanishes.
        To your pretty part of the country recovering soon. xx

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      3. Thank you Dippy , it has weakened and we were fortunate to have only minimal side effects.Yes praying and hoping everything is back to normalcy soon.

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    1. It is quite so short. Adi did a double take.

      Thank you Captainji. I cannot tell you how good it feels. The key word would be liberating.

      P.S.: A pecan pie is the duchess of all pies.

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    1. Meet Connor the cat. He loves nuzzles with strangers. I clearly needed to have a word with his momma.
      That pie…I think I see why people live in the south. Have a great weekend! xx

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  2. Beautiful photos! Deserted streets, old buildings surrounded by shady trees, sleepy cat & mysteriously smiling woman, all these gave me the thrill of watching a Manoj Night Shyamalan’s movie. πŸ™‚

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    1. Ooh a Shyamalan movie! I would have fled the sets of it πŸ˜› Thanks Megala. Salem was a pretty find. x

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      1. The moment I read the words “The Salem of the witch trials”, I started seeing those pictures in a different perspective. Besides I watched one of his movies in the night before reading this post.
        But now after reading this post once again I find Salem really a beautiful & peaceful place. πŸ™‚

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      2. Hey no worries at all. Imagination always lends something special to every place. You can say anything here. It’s what they call ‘a safe place’. πŸ˜‰ Have a lovely rest of the week! xx

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  3. My family discovered this sweet little gem this summer as well. A nice Sunday afternoon walk! I hope you love the Smokies! I LOVE East Tennessee!!

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    1. I did savour our time in the Smokies and I shall post about it soon. It is just that I am such a snail at posting!
      So you could relate to my post on Salem then. It is a gem. For us, unexpected. Cheers!

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  4. Always a fun read and what a charming town. Your photos surely do it justice! I particularly enjoyed the food photos… and it’s never to early for pumpkin!

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    1. Cheers lovely lady. Your kind words are wonderful to read in the middle of a quiet week. Cannot wait for the rains to go away and liquid autumnal sunshine to arrive. xx

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  5. Oh, what a quaint and beautiful place (albeit not with such a quaint history..) it’s so strange, I was literally JUST watching the buzzfeed unsolved salem witch trials video πŸ™‚ Lovely photos as always (although absolutely MURDERING the wifi to load them lool πŸ˜‰ ) xx

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    1. Hey Mia in Australia…blimey that sounds so rhymey πŸ˜›
      Well how is it going? Sorry for confusing you, doll. This is actually not the Salem of the witch trials :-/ I had gone expecting it and found another Salem altogether. A more peaceful one. And thanks. Hope you are having a good week. xx

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      1. It does indeed! And oh .. well that is actually far better because I can now, guilt free, think this place looks wonderful! I was thinking it was a tiny bit morbid for them to go to such effort to keep it old fashioned to preserve the atmosphere of the burnings… Hope you’re having a good week too!xx

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      2. Hehe…I wish I had not wussed out of a trip to Lancaster and seen the haunted domains of the ‘witches’. I wonder about it still.
        You have a good week too, hun. Mine is rolling along. xx

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  6. Thank you for a little history, Dippy. Yes, there are many cities of Salem. There is one in Oregon. I love all the photos in this post. I just subscribe by email. Did you hire someone to design your theme?

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    1. Cheers Miriam. I am glad to you have you re-subscribe. I have spent all my pennies on the theme itself and designed it myself πŸ™‚ If you want to check it out, it’s the Ashe theme. Hope your Tuesday is going well. xx

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      1. Just saw this. Well, you could always look up in the free themes. They might have something similar?

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      2. Yeah I switched to a self-hosted site on siteground and chose Ashe as a paid theme.

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    1. Thank you Angela πŸ™‚ The pie was the winner. If I lived in the south here, it would be an easy route to Fat. xx

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