The day the Beatles visited Gallows Hill

In the late 70’s, long-term resident John Brophy of Proctor Street, former commander in the Salem Fire Dept and raconteur of all things Salem, was raking leaves in his front yard next to what has since become the Proctor’s Ledge Witchcraft Trials Memorial, when up Proctor St comes a black limousine. Pulling to a stop in front of him, the driver’s side window scoots down, and the decked out chauffeur asks John if he can point them to the place where the “witches” were hung in 1692. John, knowing full well even back then that his house was actually built on the witchcraft trials hanging site but not wanting strangers traipsing through his back yard (as happens today after publicizing of the site), pointed the chauffeur up the street to the water tower at back of Gallows Hill Park. A thank you comes from a man on the passenger side of the front seat, and John bends over to peer inside to see John Lennon incongruously sitting in the front seat besides the chauffeur, not in the rear where limo passengers normally would ride. Doubting that it is indeed Lennon John steps away, but as the limo rolls away the rear window rolls down and Yoko Ono waves thanks, confirming the initial identification.

Rushing into his house John tells wife and kids that he just spotted John and Yoko, but of course they rightfully disbelieve him. But a later sighting of the pair at the Charter St Burying Ground confirms that John Brophy did indeed meet the Beatles legend. A tale that has been retold and embellished around the Brophy dinner table countless times in the 40 years since.

Salem Fire from Gallows Hill

The Brophy House at #25 Proctor is where John Lennon and Yoko Ono stopped to ask for directions. A historic site – the origin of the Great Salem Fire behind it and the Proctor’s Ledge Memorial besides it