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Up River Field Day

Odds and Ends From The MUSEUM!

By Trudy Wyman, Curator, Millinocket Society Museum

“The weather smiled a bright, broad smile for the Up River Field Day at Seboomook” in mid-August of 1927. When the steamer “Katahdin” left Greenville at 7:45 AM the morning of Aug. 18 it had 325 passengers to drop at Seboomook for the festivities. They joined the workmen already at Seboomook for a day of fun and games.

The museum received recently a printed program of this event sponsored for the employees of the GNP Spruce Wood Department. This is one of the actual programs passed around to participants and guests at the event. Further research led to a long description in the magazine The Northern and it includes the mention of the programs being handed out.

The greased pole event showed some “light fantastic steps and a few backward dives by entrants.” A tug-of-war was the next event and was followed by noon dinner under the big tent. The tables were “laid with nearly 500 tin covers and there were 150 who had to eat at a second table.” There was food enough with roast pork, stuffed veal and “the rest of the fixings.” A tent in the grove had watermelon and ice cream cones.

After that meal, contestants entered a wood sawing contest, three legged races, single and double canoe races and a bateau race. There were some events for ladies, including the “potato race.” The Northern article gives names of the winners of many of the events. In mid-afternoon a ball game took place between the Seboomook Red Socks and the Grant Farm Giants. After the ball game, more contests were featured including a “pipe race,” a sack rack, a boys’ potato race. A horseshoe championship was the last competition of the day.

A bean-hole bean supper was followed by all the visitors from the east side of the lake and from Rockwood boarding the Katahdin for the trip home. The Katahdin sailed away “with the band playing and its colors flying.” The Greenville band played on the boat during dinner and supper. I expect that Dr. Fred Pritham of Greenville was there that day as part of the band. He was a band member all of his Greenville life as well as traveling to many of the GNP camps and farms to treat patients.

The last paragraphs of The Northern article give thanks to all the clerks, cooks, farm hands and others who ran the events of the day. “The unanimous opinion was that this was the best field day yet held Up River.”

The museum has a large and varied collection of GNP photos and ephemera (paper items) that visitors may view such as the program for this event. Also available for purchase is a thumb drive with the entire The Northern magazine 1921-1928 on it or it can be mailed. Cost is $50.00. The magazine was the idea of Fred Gilbert, manager of the Spruce Wood Department “to bring to the people of the Spruce Wood Department more of the pleasures of life and to afford them opportunities for diversion which they could not otherwise get.”

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