The following article was written by · State Trooper John Chester in the Maine. State Police’s publication, “The Right Guide.” The entire issue was dedicated to Trooper Francis “Bull Powers ·on the eve of Bull’s retirement from the state police after 24 years of outstanding service to both his organization and to the citizens of Maine and its visitors.
Trooper Francis “Bull” Powers was born in Wesley, Mass., and at first lived in an orphanage and was later taken in and raised by a Boston police officer. Growing up on the city streets of Boston a youth had to use his fists or else he would fall prey to the tough gangs that roamed the city on the south side. In 1941 he joined the army and served in the infantry. Upon leaving the infantry he became a foot patrolman for the city of Bath and soon gained a reputation as a good man to quiet a fight. Frank joined the Maine State Police m 1943 and was given a motorcycle, which he learned to drive in a ball field in Bath. His first patrol was Bath to Freeport, Bath to Boothbay Harbor and back to Gardiner.
“The Bull” was very rugged weighing in at 240 pounds and standing 6 feet tall. While in the Bath area he became well-known and respected, never too busy to help a youth or family in trouble. He also soon gained his reputation as a firm, fair enforcer of the law. With a laugh and a twinkle in his eye, today he can recall many of the serious yet humorous events encountered by himself over the past twenty-three years’ service. Looking back over the years, he recalls breaking a leg on three separate occasions on the motorcycle. One time he broke his leg in Wiscasset and move to the Bath hospital with his leg up on the handlebars. Another time he was chasing a speeder on the motorcycle on Route No. 1 when the violator slammed on the brakes, sending ‘The Bull” over the handlebars of his motorcycle and over a fifty foot steep banking.
Dance halls were prevalent and on any Saturday night an officer could get a good work out. At Boothbay he was once called to quell a fight at a dance hall involving fifteen or twenty drunk persons, and after laying low a few of the patrons with his night stick, he was struck in the face with a thrown brick which nearly cost him the sight of one eye. .
Many times he would stop a drunk driver while riding his motorcycle and either tie the drunk to the back of his motorcycle or park his bike and take the violator and his car along to the police station. · – .
State Troopers in those days had little supervision due to the lack of personnel and the large patrol areas involved, an officer would have to stand on his own decision be it right or wrong and be willing to back them up with force if necessary. Many of our officers in those days were the Captains of their own ship when they walked into a dance hall where several hundred people had gathered and be able to maintain some form of law and order.
Once after stopping a sailor for drunken driving and he refused to open the door of his car the violator found himself evicted from the’ vehicle out through the window and into the “pokey” before he could blink an eye. The sailor, after being convicted, complained to Colonel Francis McCaibe of his rough treatment “The Bull” was called in by the Colonel who stated to him : “I hear Powers blew his fuse the other night-better cut down the power Frank. For punishment he was told not to arrest anyone for one month.
Frank could always be counted on to lead the annual parade in Bath and from past pictures of such events he was certainly a neat appearing officer, always keeping himself and his equipment in tip-top shape.
Many evenings after a long ‘hot day on patrol, he would spend countless hours speaking before service organizations on traffic safety and working with civic groups.
Many a poor boy or girl has received his first new set of clothes from Frank who had the appearance of a lion but a heart of a lamb. In all of his years association with our organization no one can ever remember ”The Bull’ having a harsh word to say about or against anyone.
It is only natural that during an officer’s career he be sued at least once by an irate citizen. A number of times people have tried to sue Frank but to date he hasn’t lost a cent. Whenever he got wind that someone was about to bring a suit against him, he would withdraw his money from the Bath Savings Bank and hide it under the Bath bridge until the case had been disposed of.
For many years he carried a large sum of money in a cigar box under the front seat of his cruiser. Many times he has been known to arrest someone then end up paying the fine himself for the person. One time when Captain Edward Marks was Commander of Troop “D” a person escaped from the prison farm and for the next few hours he tried to locate Trooper Powers and his sidekick Trooper Ray Foley. After much searching, both officers were found enjoying a baked bean dinner on the island of Westport. It seems they had stopped at a house to inquire if the escaped prisoners had been seen in the area and ended up by being invited for dinner. They reasoned that being an island with only one road on and off they could watch the road from the kitchen and still enjoy the baked beans. A man had to have a sense of’ humor for the physical pace of the long patrol days would soon wear them out.
Another time, two criminals removed a large metal safe and placed it in their pickup· truck in the early morning hours, taking it to an isolated area and tried to beat it open. After unsuccessful attempts to break the safe they called the Thomaston Barracks and asked for “‘The Bun.” He advised them that if they were unable to open the safe, they better make tracks for the State Police Barracks, advising them to bring the safe with them the same way they stole it on the pickup truck. Within a short while, both men showed up and wheeled the safe into the Barracks. Frank gave them a fatherly lecture and advised them to be in court the following day. Needless to say, both men were sentenced to Thomaston.
“‘The Bull” was often a familiar sight zipping along on his motorcycle and sometimes with an eighty-year-old fat woman on the back of the bike. It seemed the lady liked Frank and liked the bike and “The Bull was never too busy to give her a ride to Bath to do her shopping.”
‘The Bull” left the Bath area much to the sorrow of the citizens, as he was now assigned to drive the car for Governor Paine. His popularity could be attested to by the numerous letters sent to Headquarters by the citizens of Bath requesting he return to his former patrol. Once while driving Governor Paine, a truck driver almost ran into the Governor’s car. Frank hopped out, made the arrest, put the Governor in the front seat, the violator in the back seat, and off to the station house he drove.
After driving the Governor for one year, he was assigned to the Calais area, taking in all of Washington County. Overnight he became a very popular officer, not only for his strict enforcement but for his humorous personality. He truly was a man of iron and steadfast determination and his legend grew rapidly with the many fine cases he was able to solve and stolen property he recovered which over the years ran into many thousands of dollars.
Once while he was holding a road check alone at night in Eastport, a car pulled up and stopped, the window was suddenly rolled down and Frank was face to face with a German burp machine gun. Without thinking, he lunged for the gun and was able to grab the barrel and twist it away from the man holding it in the back seat. This quick action probably saved his life for the man behind the trigger had full intention of shooting Frank and came within inches of success. The criminal received a State Prison sentence for his felonious action.
Frank stayed on in Calais until 1964 when he returned to Augusta and was assigned to the Beano inspection which required him to travel from one end of the state to the other. His next assignment was with the Traffic Division-as safety officer in the Washington County area.
As a man in his late years he can still hold his own with anyone, which was recently proven in Calais while on a day off. He was driving his own private car and gave chase to a speeder through the main streets of Calais with speeds up to one hundred miles per hour and was able to make a successful apprehension and successful conviction.