BROWNVILLE – The history of many small towns across northern Maine is counted by the seconds ticking off the scoreboard in their high school gyms. 46 years later, the instrument that recorded years of Brownville Junction High School wins is back to life.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s, Brownville Junction High School basketball was a way of life.
“Competition was fierce, they loved it, and so when they got a winning team, they were 100% behind them,” said Pauline Donley, wife for late BJHS boys basketball head coach Carroll Conley.
A town created because of industry packed the gym night in and night out to support the Railroaders; looking up above the time keepers table to see winning scores for many of those nights.
“The scoreboard meant a lot to all of us obviously, especially when we had more points than they did, which, most times we did…you kind of had to look up quite a lot to see it especially if you were in that corner,” said former player Larry Morrill.
That scoreboard was lost for decades after alumni and community members ransacked the building before its demolition in 1975.
It resurfaced in the basement of Berg Activewear in Corinna in 2007, then brought to the Brownville Historical Society earlier this year.
“The day that the scoreboard arrived here it truly was a wreck, and there were several of us here who thought we should just put it back on the truck and take it to the dump,” said Susan Worcester, Historical Society president.
The majority prevailed and alumni Bill Bellatty stepped in as the angel investor for the renovations.
After some TLC from the staff at Moosehead Signs in Greenville, the board that looked on at decades of Brownville Junction basketball is back home.
“It’s been so long, I’m not exactly sure I remembered what it looked like, to be honest with you. But, once I saw it, oh yeah that’s a-baby right there,” said Morrill.
Some of the Railroaders who tallied the points that lit up the board over the years filled a room at the Brownville Community Church on Thursday to remember those days.
“if I saw my picture, I was going to let everybody know that was me (laughs),” said Morrill.
They also took the time to honor the man that made the day happen, as Bellatty joined the meeting via Zoom from his home in California.
“I’m so happy that I could do what I did. Brownville Junction High School meant everything to me,” said Bellatty, when addressing the room via Zoom.
While no one can bring the school back, or reorganize the parades of cars meeting a team returning home with a gold ball, the memory of those days will shine bright above the Parish House Museum for years to come.
“It’s a wonderful thing to have this, because that was a very, very special era. That little town, that meant a lot to them,” said Conley.
The Parish House Museum in Brownville is open every Tuesday and Thursday from 10 a.m.- 2 p.m. Masks are still required for those that are not fully vaccinated.