Proctor celebrates spirit of 1937 team
It was 1937, and the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl were dragging on across the country. Hitler was planning his assault on Europe. But in Proctor, the whole town was going crazy for basketball. Seven lanky boys, including center and star pla...
It was 1937, and the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl were dragging on across the country. Hitler was planning his assault on Europe.
But in Proctor, the whole town was going crazy for basketball.
Seven lanky boys, including center and star player Arthur Greene, had been tearing apart teams from larger schools all season. They seemed destined to take home at least a district title.
It was something the town could take pride in during those tough times, when many young people had to leave high school to find work and help their families survive, said Bob Silverness, a Proctor graduate and member of the School Board.
"Proctor's title-bound cage quint peppered the boards of the Two Harbors High School basketball cages here tonight and bowled over the local five by a 37-13 score," read a Jan. 8, 1937, article in the Duluth News-Tribune.
"It was a huge accomplishment at the time," Silverness said, and he didn't want people to forget that.
That's how Greene, now 88, snowy-haired and the last local member of that celebrated team, ended up receiving a standing ovation from a cheering crowd at the Proctor-Hermantown boys basketball game in Proctor on Thursday night.
Perhaps the cheers reminded Greene of those that filled the Duluth Armory on March 6, 1937, when the Proctor "Green Wave" met the Carlton "Carls" in the District 26 championship game.
Proctor had lost just once during the regular season. Hundreds of Proctor fans traveled in tricked-out rail cars to the game, believing their team to be invincible.
But it was not to be. Proctor lost 36-25 and the fans were devastated. The News- Tribune touted Greene as "the best [player] for the losers, as he rallied the forces in the third chapter for a time but could not keep up the good work."
That was the last high school basketball game Greene played. He had two years of college "before Pearl Harbor came, and bingo," Greene said, he was off to fly planes for the military. Later came work as a salesman and marriage. Greene, who now lives in Duluth, hasn't played basketball since his teen years.
But Silverness hadn't forgotten the fervor that engulfed the town, and he proposed the Art Greene honor.
People had thought Greene was the only survivor from that team, but as word trickled out, more turned up. As of Thursday, Jan. 18 will officially be "Arthur Greene, Henry Nosek, Edward Downs and Eugene Dixon Day" in Proctor.
The event is meant in part to memorialize that team and also to pay homage to the spirit of competition.
"Any basketball fan can identify with that desire, that pure competitive surge to play well," Proctor Schools Superintendent Diane Rauschenfels said.
Many students' most memorable high school moments come down to this -- "the win against so-and-so, whoever the archrival is," Rauschenfels said. "That makes it so sweet. These kids remember when they have performed that well, when a team they respected fell to them."
Greene seemed a little overwhelmed by all the hullabaloo Thursday -- the standing ovation, the proclamation and the honorary Proctor hoodie with his name on it.
But as Proctor was on its way to handing Hermantown a 70-54 defeat, Greene certainly looked as though he was enjoying the game again.