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Brownville Junction High School gets an important piece of basketball history restored

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 7:19 PM EDT
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BROWNVILLE, Maine (WABI) - The Scoreboard. In sports, it’s the ultimate judge, jury and executioner, with zero regard for nuance.

That team you beat doesn’t like how you play? Scoreboard. You beat a team in every statistical category? Neat. What does the scoreboard say?

You probably don’t know how much time you’ve spent looking at one and it may not mean much to you, but to the alumni of the old Brownville Junction High School- a place that doesn’t even exist anymore- it means an awful lot that they will forever get to look at theirs.

Brownville Junction High School graduated it’s last class in 1968, and soon after, the town decided they didn’t have much use for it anymore, and tore it down.

“People who lived in town were invited to go and take whatever they wanted to take,” said Susan Worcester, President of the Brownville Historical. “Society Some people took bleachers. Some people took ceiling tiles. Somebody took the scoreboard and we really weren’t sure where it was.”

Until Berton Lockhart, class of ’57, walked into Berg’s screen printing store in Corinna to pick up the t-shirts he ordered for his 50th class reunion.

“So, we got looking around, we went down in the basement, and lo and behold, the scoreboard was there,” Lockhart said. “Of course, no one knew why. So we asked him, and he said he got it from his father.”

Lockhart held on to the scoreboard for the next fourteen years, before finally bringing it to the Brownville Historical society, where they considered what to do with it.

“There were a few people here who thought we should just take it to the dump,” said Worcester. “That’s what kind of shape it was in.”

You wouldn’t know it to look at the grass lot where the old high school once stood, but Brownville Junction has a proud basketball history. The scoreboard was a big part of it. Brownville Junction alum Ronald Knowles remembers it well.

“One of the biggest victories that we ever had at Brownville Junction history that I remember was the Milo game. I’ll never forget it,” he said. “We hadn’t beat them in baseball in fourteen years, and basketball in seven years, and we beat them 33-31 that night. And that scoreboard- I can still remember looking at that scoreboard just wondering if we was going to hang on.”

Eventually it was repaired at  Moosehead Signs in Greenville, thanks to Brownville Junction alumni Bill Bellatty, who paid for the entire restoration out of pocket. A gift made even more remarkable by the fact that Bellatty may never see it in person, as he battles Leukemia from his home in California.

“To me at the time, it was just the right thing to do,” Bellatty said. “To pay back what was given to me in the time I was at that school.”

“It’s a huge project, and it’s a metal project,” added Worcester. “It’s not just painting it up and making it look better. Had it been up to us, we’d still be collecting money, because we don’t have the funds to take on a project of that size.”

Now a featured item at the historical society, the scoreboard has frozen in time the final score of Brownville Junctions State Championship win over Old Orchard in 1967, while the gold ball sits in a trophy room at the old VFW Hall.

“They had nothing here to remember it by” Worcester continued. “The building was torn down in 1975. Brownville Junction has been a dying community since the railroad has made a lot of changes and didn’t need all of the people. Businesses have of course left. Nobody came in. So it’s really been incredible for us to have this piece of Brownville’s history here,”

Scott Kirby, class of ‘68, was on the ‘67 title team, and he agrees.

“I don’t think I’d seen that scoreboard since ’68 when I graduated,” he said. “So that was fifty-three years ago. It’s hard to believe that many years have gone by, and it just brought back a lot of memories seeing it.”

“I was a basketball nut,” said Bellatty. “I don’t know how many hours I spent in that gym. And I loved it. And I remember that clock sitting up there at the top. I can see that clock going right now. And I can see it going to red, when you’ve got one minute to go. And I can still hear that horn that went off.

The historical society asked us not to show the finished restoration in full, as they’re holding an official open house to view the scoreboard later this month. But it safe to say they’re anxiously watching the clock until the day arrives when they can show it off to the community.

“I think they’re going to be amazed,” Worcester said. “Totally amazed.”

“Ohhh, it’s beautiful,” said Lockhart, with a smile. “Yup, it is. You can see the scores.”

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