Home movies provide a glimpse into Brownville’s past
BROWNVILLE — If you want to get a glimpse of mid-20th century life in and around Brownville/Brownville Junction and the railroads across Maine you can now do so with footage compiled via home movies shot from 1939 into the 1950s. The scenes are on two DVDs and posted on Youtube under “Brownville Junction, Maine — Main St.” — or “Michaud family home movies” — at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGmiUCzRe2s and https://youtu.be/wYCzTEHGbOQ. The second clip features the railroad footage.
The Brownville-Brownville Junction Historical Society will screen the soundless DVDS on a large screen during its next meeting at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 30 at the Parish House Museum on Church Street.
Society President Susan Worcester said organization officials first learned about the existence of the footage two years ago when Ken Hatchette came to town for a signing with his book on the Canadian Pacific Railroad in Brownville Junction.
Worcester said the author signed on a Friday and Saturday and halfway through the second day a man named Andrew Michaud came up to Hatchette and said he was the best man at Hatchette’s parents’ wedding. She said the two former town residents quickly got talking about their memories.
“Mr. Michaud died last July,” Worcester said, mentioning his daughter traveled from Virginia to drive her father from Scarborough to Brownville to meet Hatchette. “His children were cleaning out old things and they knew he had a lot of home videos.”
The historical society president said when Andrew Michaud was 12 in 1939 his father Sam bought a movie camera for the two of them to use. The elder Michaud ran the commissary that supplied food and cooks for the Canadian Pacific Railroad track maintenance crews from the 1920s to the 1950s.
“They had a fair amount of footage on the rail line along the Canadian Pacific Railroad from Quebec through Maine to New Brunswick and also home videos of the Junction, a lot of this video was shot around town,” Worcester said with the two DVDs playing on her laptop set up at the Parish House Museum.
She said this is the first time videos have been presented to the Brownville-Brownville Junction Historical Society. “This is one of a kind stuff,” the society president said.
Worecester said the same camera was used for the next decade and a half. Andrew Michaud’s sons hoped to track down the brand and model and the Youtube clips have been updated to say their father and grandfather used a 16mm Keystone Movie Camera Model A-7. In the 1950s the home movies switched from black and white to color.
“They said they would be happy to share those with us,” Worcester said as historical society officials heard about the found footage from John and Joe Michaud who had the family movies digitized to make it easier to compile clips that may of interest to the public into approximate 17- and 7-minute videos. They live in Old Orchard Beach and Cumberland Foreside respectively.
“Most of this footage is very, very clear,” the historical society president said. “It’s like it was taken today.”
“July 30 we will have our next meeting here,” Worcester said. “I’m hoping we can get many people to come to help identify who these people are, who owns this home and where along the rail line the videos were taken.”
She said one viewer of the train line Youtube video commented on the site in great detail about two dozen locations featured including “the compass direction the camera was pointing.”
When possible, the year the footage was shot has been added into the upper left corner of the frame. Worcester said one question still to be answered pertains to 1946 video of a large celebration.
“We assume it was for the end of the war but we can’t find anything to document that,” she said, with the historical society hopeful someone’s memory will be jarred after seeing the clip.
“We are most happy to have people view it,” Worcester said. “For people who have lived here their whole lives it’s a trip down memory lane. Some of these people running around as kids probably still live here.”