Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
Millinocket, 100 years ago January, 1924! The twenty-first annual concert and ball at the Opera House was described in the newspaper as a “brilliant gathering.” Sponsored by the International Brotherhood of Papermakers, the event was “standing room only.” The “grand march, more elaborate than usual had one hundred couples.” In addition to the 100 couples on the dance floor, the gallery was packed to capacity with standing room only. In the basement, the Women’s Auxiliary of the American Legion put on a full-course chicken dinner.
After the Christmas holidays, many local college students returned to schools all over New England to resume their studies. There were meetings of many organizations, church groups and visits to friends, relatives and neighbors (in town and out of town). Mr. Hull, the town librarian presented a “lantern-slide” talk on The Appreciation of Art at a meeting of the Parent-Teachers Association. Rehearsals were happening for the upcoming musical comedy Bimbo. There are many references to this production in the January news articles. Pupils’ handiwork from the domestic science class was on exhibit at the Kimball Trading Company. The Philharmonic Club sponsored a Chapman Concert. Parents of prospective Boy Scouts were invited to meet at the library. Other groups had meetings, food sales, or other events during that month.
The worst event 100 years ago this month was the fire at the Baptist Church on Jan. 27. Discovered by a man who saw smoke as he was going home from work in the mill at 12:20 AM, the alarm went out and the fire department responded. There had been no service the night before (Sunday) due to the low temperatures, minus 20 degrees. Although the MFD prevented the fire from spreading to other buildings, the church was destroyed. The loss was estimated at $20,000 and partly covered by insurance. The cause was unknown. A news paragraph states, “A few minutes after the alarm was rung, a large crew of men were at work at different points of vantage. The interior of the church, finished in varnished wood, made ready food for the flames and though five lines of hose poured 5000 gallons of water a minute, the flames continued to spread until the whole structure was involved. Drenched with icy spray from the hose streams, the firemen tackled their task with indomitable will, but were out-fought by the start the fire had got.” The parsonage survived. The current church was constructed on the same site.
Among news items in old newspapers are mentions of illnesses and accidents and names are always present. Some examples (without names): man at “home with lumbago,” preacher “quite ill with an attack of grip” can preach on Sunday, and a young woman “passed through her operation for throat troubles.”
The name of the newspaper source for this article and several previous ones in this column is unknown. I believe it was a Bangor paper and Millinocket librarian Carl Hull compiled three scrapbooks of Millinocket articles during his tenure. The scrapbooks are at the museum. All articles use very small print and the news stories blend from one to another with no breaks. You might be reading an obituary and the next paragraph may be telling of a birthday party, an organization’s next meeting date or a bake sale. The church fire did rate a small “headline” in slightly larger print.