I do what I can do to write blog entries that aspire to a particular level of class. Really I do. As an educator, I believe that I owe it to my students and their parents to shoot for these lofty heights.
With that said: look, I work in a middle school. This tends to cause me to remember, quite vividly, the way I thought when I was a middle school student. I'm afraid that even my peers found me immature, which gives you an idea of the kind of student I was.
I say all this because I vividly remember how, when I started working as a middle school librarian, there was a three-day trip to Boston and Salem. This trip is now an overnight trip, and they mostly skip the Salem part. That's a shame, because Salem, I now know, has what would be the highlight of any immature middle school student's educational experience: the statue of Roger Conant.
That's the statue above. Roger Conant, for those of you who don't know, was the first settler of Salem. I vaguely remember the guide telling us this. I also remember going to a witch museum with moldering exhibits and a dreary show about the witch trials.
We also visited The House of the Seven Gables. This was a barnburner for the middle school kids. Yeah.
Anyway. About Roger Conant. Specifically, about the statue:
No, it's not that Roger Conant has any sort of story that would have made me sit up and take notice when I was in middle school. There is nothing particularly sordid in his life, at least nothing I know about. In fact, he was apparently a fine and decent man, and he died in 1679, long before the Salem Witch Trials of 1692.
Instead, it's the statue itself, which is right in front of The Salem Witch Museum (this, by the way, is not the museum that has the really dreary presentation about the witch trials; actually, I've heard The Salem Witch Museum presentation is pretty good).
There's really no way to get to this gracefully, so the best thing is to just show you.
Okay, let's look at that Roger Conant statue again:
Pay particular attention to Roger Conant's right hand, which is holding the knobbed end of a gnarled tree stump. He looks assertive and proud, a beacon welcoming all to Salem.
Now look at that hand from the other side of the statue, when you're standing in front of the museum:
And I admit: the immature middle school student in me says "awesome."
I'm sorry. In my defense, I offer that all of my friends from The University of Massachusetts who grew up in Salem told me that this statue has legendary status among the area's young adults. So there.