Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum
It’s basketball season! In the past, semi-pro basketball teams were popular in Maine, and Millinocket was no exception. The Emerson Pills were founded by local druggist Clarence Emerson. This team played a variety of Maine opponents from about 1938 into the 1950’s and even earned a trip to play in the National Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis. In the museum’s collection is a recently donated scorer’s book for the Pills 1940-41 season. Some research into other museum resources (scrapbooks, news articles etc.) led to the following information…
In 1938, a group of former SHS players wanted to organize a semi-pro team. For financial help, they went to local pharmacy owner Clarence Emerson. The town allowed them use of the SHS gym and home and away games were arranged for the newly named Emerson Pills. Other towns such as Bangor and Waterville had teams.
In 1940, the Boston Goodwins sought a game with the Pills (winners of the state independent basketball title). It was played at the new Brewer Auditorium as the Goodwins refused to come north to Millinocket. The Pills lost, but apparently had another chance in 1941 as the museum has a ticket for the Pills vs Goodwins on March 21, 1941 at Stearns Gymnasium. The Pills were state champions during the 1940-41 season. Players included Tedda Boynton, Chuck Bonis, George Wentworth, Bob Boynton, Chink Brewer, Charlie Civiello, Buzz Hopper, Lloyd Pound, Jack Tracy and Boom Folsom.
The Pills often played games with proceeds going to a good cause. A game early in the 1940’s was for the Millinocket Red Cross War Drive. At the Stearns gym, the game raised $161.91. The Pills disbanded during WWII, but reorganized after the war.
Team members were not always the same for games as military and college obligations made some players unavailable at times. Other players named in 1940’s games were McNamara, Casey, Higgins, Porter, Myshrall, Astle, Benjamin, Gates, Fitzpatrick, Helstrom and Burleigh.
The Pills won many games through the years as indicated in the many wins highlighted in scrapbook articles including the championship game of the Bangor Daily News Invitation Tournament in 1949. In 1950, the Pills played the Boston Celtics (in Ellsworth). Among the players for the Celtics were Bill Sharman, Ed Mcauley and Bob Cousy. In addition to scrapbooks with Pills articles and the scorer’s book mentioned, the museum also has Lloyd Pound’s uniform!
Millinocket also another semi-pro team, the Aggies. Their first game was Dec. 16, 1951 against Limestone. Team members included Simpson, Savage, Ouellette, Freeman, Higgins, McNamara, Dore, Albert, Dionne and Pratt.