Sunday, June 22, 2008

Research Rule #1: Don't Believe Everything You Read on the Internet

I've learned to check and double-check information gleaned from the internet. If somebody forwards an email touting the cancer cure Johns Hopkins has been hiding, I'll check the content at both Johns Hopkins and Snopes before spreading the good news. If I learn something brand spanking new about a research subject, I'll make certain the source is unimpeachable, and that I can reliably validate that information.

There are some things, however, that I do not question. If I read on the Fandango website that I can catch a showing of Iron Man at the Ioka Theater at 8 p.m., I'm going to believe it. And if I read on the Rebecca Nurse Homestead website that the hours starting June 15th include Thursdays from 10
a.m. to 4:30 p.m., I'll believe that, too. Silly me.

When I arrived at the homestead to sift through the remnants of Rebecca's life, it was closed. The two cars parked outside Rebecca's door lead me to believe somebody must be there, but my repeated knocks and calls of hello-oo went unanswered. I tried phoning the office on my cell, but got little satisfaction from the tinny voice on the answering machine. I left a slightly miffed message, then began roaming the homestead, snapping pictures.

Several clapboards had been replaced and not yet painted, the untreated wood slashing the home's red facade. A kitchen garden was unfolding outside the doorstep, it's neat little rows of corn just about knee high. Except for the two cars parked in the dooryard, I suspect things looked pretty much the same through Rebecca's eyes as they did through mine.

I wandered out to the cemetery where Rebecca's monument dominates the surrounding headstones. A second largish monument sits close to Rebecca's. It lists the names of the people who stood at her trial publicly testifying to her exemplary Christian character, brave souls all.

A pile of Putnams were buried over on the far side of the cemetery, direct descendants of the Putnams who accused Rebecca of witchcraft. How could such a revolting development not leave poor Rebecca eternally rolling in her grave?

As my visit wore on, my slight miffedness melted away. I was happy for the solitude and the chance to walk in Rebecca's footsteps. So what if I didn't get to go through the house? I had the run of the rest of the homestead. And I didn't have to pay $6.50 for the privilege.

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