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Betsy’s Corner: A Bewitching Month

It’s October once again. The leaves are starting to turn gold and red, and there is a chill in the air as the birds head south. Certain traditions reoccur like drinking apple cider; buying pumpkins and picking out Halloween costumes. It is a season of falling leaves and spooky sights at the end of the month.

The Ghosts in the Graveyard event is an annual favorite of mine in the Old Burying Ground behind The First Church on the town green. The format has changed this year. The event will take place on Saturday afternoon and early evening on Oct. 13. A small fee will be charged and sign up is online. Historical characters wearing colonial and civil war attire will reenact local people who died and are buried in our cemetery. It is a great educational experience for children and not too scary!
Looking at old gravestones is sort of a hobby of mine and there are many carvings and sayings that adorn these stones.

These are more than just stone markers; they are works of art to be looked at an appreciated. In the 1970s I even did grave rubbings! Check out this fun event sponsored by the Longmeadow Historical Society. Don’t miss it! Don’t be scared – the place is not haunted! Hours are 2-4 p.m. for families with younger children and 6-8 p.m. for adults and older kids.

All this talk of Halloween and ghosts reminds me of my obsession with witches when I was a kid. I am not talking about the wicked witch in the Wizard of Oz; she gave me nightmares and I was always so relieved when she melted! “I’m melting!”
The witch that I adored was named Samantha. Every day during my early elementary years we walked home for lunch. My home was a long walk to the school so I walked to my friend’s place because it was much closer. Every day at noon our favorite TV show would come on in black and white. It was “Bewitched” with Elizabeth Montgomery. She was a friendly witch with a family and a suburban lifestyle.

Basically she was a housewife like my mother but she had magic powers that I wish I had. All she had to do was snap her fingers or wiggle her nose (with a special sound) and she would disappear. Sometimes things would appear, like a car or a clean house. This would be a special talent and very useful today when I need to clean my house.

Unfortunately, my best friend and I never learned how to do Sam’s kind of magic. She also had a daughter named Tabitha who inherited her special talent. I’d dream of becoming like Tabitha and wanted to do my homework with magic!

There were eight season of Bewitched on the television from 1963-1972, a total of 254 episodes. Eventually the show was in color but by then I was on to other interests like gymnastics and bowling. (Not at the same time)

Did you know that Springfield, in the early colonial days, had witches? Did you know that there were male witches? Salem, MA is always the first place people think of because of the wide spread hysteria.

Springfield had some witches about fifty years before the Salem trials of 1692. His wife accused Hugh Parsons of witchcraft.

After two of their babies died, Mary Bliss Parsons went mad. Both Hugh and Mary went to trial in Boston. Hugh was acquitted and never came back to Springfield. Mary was acquitted of witchcraft but was found guilty of murder of her child. She was sentenced to hang but died in prison, ill and insane. Hugh went to Watertown and remarried.

Poor Mary was probably a victim of postpartum depression, long before the medical profession understood this kind of condition. Such a sad story about mental illness and prejudice in the old days.

Important news:

On another topic – Remember to attend the Fall Town Meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 7 p.m. in the High School gym. It is very important that you attend, especially if you are ecologically conscious.

The by-law that will ban single use plastic bags that are not biodegradable needs your vote. We voted at the May meeting to ban plastic bags, but this will make it official and binding with a 2/3 majority vote needed to pass this by-law. It an important step and the right direction and more than 80 other communities in Massachusetts already have banned this type of bag.

Please see the town website for the full text and the exact wording. Do you part for the planet!

– By Betsy Huber Port