Halloween Die-ary: October 6, 2018

We’d decided to do a day trip today. Maybe see some foliage. However, in gauging the foliage maps (maps which I have no clue whether they’re trustworthy or not), it looked like we’d have to drive outside of our imminent-baby-defined comfort zone.

We decided on a southern route instead, away from the strongest foliage, to the South Shore of Massachusetts. It was close enough to be within the comfort zone, and I had a good route of oddities mapped out for it. That’s also why we watched Witchery-or-whatever-it’s-called last night. That film site would be the endpoint on the map

This morning, though, Lindsey couldn’t take the misery of late-stage pregnancy on the road for any distance. She pushed me out the door to do the route by myself, while she and the kids enjoyed a more laid-back Saturday.

An hour and a half later I was on the Scituate shore, the ocean waves striking the beach like they were pissed at it, the thin horizontal line of an old lighthouse in the distance. My fears around the accessibility of the Witchery site were confirmed. It’s at the tip of a peninsula, most of the length of which is private. Judging by Google maps, it looks like maybe it’s subdivided into various properties connected by three quarters of a mile of road. On the ground, that area was blocked by a gate and some Private Property signage.

The gate was open, though, and I thought about using my New Hampshire license plates as an excuse for getting lost “looking for my AirBnB rental.” Although it would have been fun to talk about David Hasselhoff with a dumbfounded beach estate owner. Just wasn’t my day for trespassing, though, especially on a private beach community. Private beach people can get vicious.

But I was prepared for writing this part of the trip off as a scouting mission. Instead of turning around, dejected, for an hour-and-a-half ride back, I officially started my oddity jaunt. The thing about dead ends is that you know exactly the right direction to go from there.

A few minutes away, I found the grave of the author who popularized the phrase "Friday the 13th," Thomas Lawson. I’ve written about his tower before but had never visited his grave. It was as peaceful a plot as I’ve seen in a while and set in a quaint cemetery surrounded by a rock fence by a white church in a residential area. Way more welcoming than a private beach.

After that, I headed to Dedham to see sites related to the murder of Elizabeth Fales by Jason Fairbanks in 1801. She was 19, he was 21, he wanted marriage, she did not. Fales stabbed her 11 times and slit her throat. He then ran to her parents and claimed…suicide? He was hanged five months later in Boston after a brief, but thrilling escape from the Dedham jail.

The house he lived in, which was built in 1637, still survives. It claims the honor of “oldest surviving timber-frame house in North America.” For some reason, I expected a private home, but it’s a house museum, one you have to join a tour to see. Which I would have, especially since Wikipedia told me, “There is evidence that some residents practiced folk magic in the house, including placing hex marks and various objects in the house to ward off witches and other evil spirits.” But my timing was such that it would be a 45-minute wait for a 50-minute tour.

Thinking that my time would be better spent wandering outside in a graveyard (although I hope to tour the Fairbanks House at some point), I headed to the local historic cemetery to find the graves of both the murderer and the murdered. After half an hour of pleasant searching I found them and was rewarded with an epitaph on Fales’ tomb, which laid out her cause of death right in the rock.

After that, it was on to the ruins of Brook Farm, a mid-19th century utopian community that once boasted Nathaniel Hawthorne as a resident. Only one building remains, boarded up and awaiting some future restoration. While I was there, I met and had a nice chat a writer from Florida who was checking out sites for a manuscript she had just finished based on the area. I also met a woman who lived across the street and worked at the adjacent cemetery who warned me not to stick my head inside because it was full of pigeon poop and pigeon poop is poisonous.

Finally, I hit up the Norumbega Tower, an 1889 monument in Weston built in and dedicated to America’s hidden Viking history. It’s supposedly built on the site of a Viking fort. The door to the tower was open, so I ascended to the top, slithering up a claustrophobic set of winding stone stairs to a tiny and extremely vertiginous platform 40 feet above the forest floor.

The jaunt took about six hours all told, and I made it home by 3:30. We made some popcorn balls, watched whatever was on Freeform with the kids (The Goonies), ignored all the Christmas commercials, and then Lindsey and I capped off our night movie-wise with the television debut of You Might Be the Killer, a fun campground slasher inversion that, in real life, is based on a twitter conversation between two authors. This world, man.