Mal Hallett, impresario of a popular local band, would open a hot dog stand in front of the casino/Charleshurst building after he gave up touring. Two other popular performers during the Charleshurst days would also become part of the tightly knit Willows business community. Dan Sweeney took over the Salem Willows Boat Livery in 1943 (Who doesn’t remember the orange rowboats?), while crooner Ted Cole built the miniature train, the roller coaster and other, sadly no-longer-extant rides.
For many, a trip to the Willows is about Hobbs popcorn and chop suey sandwiches. The former has been a fixture on the line since the 1880s, when Everett Hobbs and William Eaton rented space in the former pavilion building. The Salem Willows chop suey sandwich is probably not a Salem “invention.” Back in the early 1990s, a Brown University researcher, Imogene Lim, traced the origins of the popular sandwich to Fall River.
Salem historian Jim McAllister writes a regular column for The Salem News.