Summer Sports on View
Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!
By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Historical Society Museum
Warmer weather is here and it’s time to get outdoors and take part in one of the many sports activities available! In the 120+ years of the town’s history, Millinocketites have done just that. They have participated in baseball at many levels, played golf and established a golf course. They played bocce ball in the streets of Little Italy. Young and old rode their bicycles all over town. There were Soap Box Derby competitions. Track and field events were held with high school students from area schools participating. Swimmers enjoyed a spot in the Pines and later at the first pool behind the Junior High and now at the newer pool on the SHS campus.
A new exhibit at the museum highlights and remembers in photos and memorabilia some of those activities. A wooden box of well-used bocce balls from a member of the DiNardo family will bring back memories. Two c1930’s golf clubs, one belonged to Roydon Pratt a founder of the Hillcrest Golf Club. The golf course began with just six holes and was located in the area of town known as Skunk Hollow.
An early “swimming hole” in the Pines area of town drew swimmers in the early days. An early photo on display shows young and older swimmers in c1920’s swim suits enjoying a day with friends. Two small wooden buildings are shown…changing rooms perhaps. Some remember a small pool in the park…not officially designated for a dip, but often on hot days was a cooling off spot for some!
Millinocket’s own George Murray competed in wheelchair races. A photo of him crossing the finish line at the Boston Marathon is displayed. Murray also was a featured athlete on a Wheaties box. For several years, boys from Millinocket entered Soap Box Derby races and some succeeded and went on to vie in national events.
Baseball was a major sporting activity in the early days and competition was fierce. Millinocket HS (1902-1923) and Stearns HS teams(1924-present) competed against area high schools and prep schools (Ricker & Higgins Classical Institute). GNP recruited skilled out-of-towners to come to Millinocket to play for the company team and were temporarily put on the GNP payroll. The Millinocket Pills, semi-pro team, was well-known. Millinocket’s Company I of the Maine National Guard also had a baseball team.
The new display at the museum has shirts from each of these five baseball teams on display along with a photo of one of the teams (Millinocket HS, Stearns HS, Company I, GNP, Pills) There’s a golf bag and clubs on loan from local golfer, Mary Ouellette. SHS cross-country medals, a pair of 1950’s roller skates and a pair of roller skates from the lates 1800’s made mostly of wood can be viewed. There is an old pair of baseball shin guards and a more recent bowling trophy.
Stop in for a visit and check it all out! Donations accepted of sports items (all seasons) for future exhibits.