On January 6, 1979, Eloise Jordan’s New Year’s column in the Lewiston Evening Journal’s Magazine was what I like to call “weather and seasons.” Looking out over the year ahead she wrote:
“We know the January blizzard that flares over the shoulder of the north, shaken with cold and the high arctic winds. Equally well are we aware of the lure of spring, first a promise, then a retreat, at last fulfillment of bluebirds and daffodils.”
Her column continued through the calendar and then launched into a sweet sermonette about making the best of each day, regardless of the weather.
This past weekend’s frigid temperatures being a “retreat” from March’s earlier “promise,” I cozied into Sunday afternoon with a long-simmering beef stew and some daffodils from the local grocery store. I pulled out some seed catalogs and sketched out my list. Cold though it was, by 4:00 p.m. I was ready for some fresh air and took a walk around town. I sallied past the usual places, like the cemetery on High Street and the old high school on Campus Avenue. Or more accurately, the Lisbon Falls High School. Since 1953, students have attended a unified “Lisbon” High School; prior to that time there were two high schools. Students in the village of Lisbon Falls attended the Campus Avenue high school and students in the villages of Lisbon Center and Lisbon attended the yellow Lisbon High School.*
Eloise Jordan, who grew up in Lisbon (a little less than two miles from the Lewiston city limits) attended Lisbon High School.
The building looks a little weary today, but in Eloise Jordan’s day, it must have been quite a place. It’s where she first began “writing stories by the peck” and learned to write poetry.
The 1924 Lisbonian, the first yearbook of its kind to be published, featured two works by Eloise; a poem called “Spring So Beloved” and a fictional story about a Russian violinist.
Here’s Jordan’s poem, from the 1924 Lisbonian, courtesy of the Lisbon Historical Society:
Spring So Beloved
Ah! Spring so beloved
When fair winds doth play,
And sunshine comes fleeting through leaves at noon-day
And then my beloved,
When twilight draws nigh,
I sit by my window
As day passes by.
Ah! fair are the petals
Of rosebud and flower,
When rain drops come patting
Behind the gray tower.
Ah! Spring so beloved
When morning dawns fair,
The blue birds are winging,
And fleeing all care.
Following high school graduation in June, 1924, Jordan waited four years before going to college. The archives I’ve studied to date don’t record her life during those years; that’s the stuff I’ll leave for the fiction writers.
There will be more of Eloise Jordan the poet when we meet up with her at Simmons College. Until then, keep your shovels handy because it looks like it will be “Snow So Beloved” just once more this week.
*A member of the Lisbon Historical Society provided some more accurate information regarding the two high schools in the Lisbon Villages. Merton Ricker says “the LHS you pictured…was repurposed as a grade school in 1944 and the two high schools were combined under the Lisbon High School banner…at the former Lisbon Falls High School.” The current high school “started out as just a gym built in 1951 in an empty field what was a former brick yard. The following year, a high school building was added to this gym and in 1953, first classes attended this new facility.”