A tribute to Mrs. Shorey

By Mike Corrigan

Special to The News

It was a little bit like working for one of Heaven’s more able but headstrong Angels. If you didn’t have a mission, you’d better find one, and you always had to watch out for that Flaming Sword.

In the time I knew her, Eula Shorey was a classic country editor — heck, even after she stopped being the editor, she was a classic country editor. She wanted what was best for her town. In fact, she wanted what she thought was best for her town, even if a lot of people in said town didn’t agree with her. But, if she didn’t like your ideas about the budget, or zoning, or just reality in general, she’d tell you. Candor is a really good quality in anyone, of course. And she surely wasn’t one to flinch. She could fume, too. A good fumer, who could laugh if she lost. Eventually.

She was passionate and principled. She believed that history could form a backdrop for every story. She believed that we as a town and a region and a state and a nation could still make history, too. She believed it was the editor’s job to inspire her staff to record that history as it happened. That’s what we did, that was her message, and there was that Flaming Sword, so every week a paper would come out, often falling just short of perfection, but the staff would be exhorted to have another go the next Thursday, and guess who would dive in with more energy than reporters and staffers a third her age? Eula Shorey led by example, always. She wanted all of us to do our best. She was one of the first members of the Maine Press Association’s Hall of Fame. She earned the honor.

Get this; 80 years into the mission of The Bridgton News, and Eula M. Shorey was just the fourth editor of the paper. At 120 years in, and she was still only the fourth. Eula married quality, of course, but Henry A. Shorey III didn’t really cotton to his job as editor, which he regarded a bit sidewise to his truest self, and thanks to his wife, who had been educated at Depauw and trained in various publishing houses in the big city, he finally did move his talents for management and leading a staff over to the town’s postmastership position. Henry still wrote most editorials through the Sixties, but Eula put out the paper, more or less single-handedly, and ran a flower shop, and planned the town’s Bicentennial, and worked on the town’s award-winning history, and sent the kids off to school, and baked, and went to meetings and supervised the making up of the pages, and sometimes delivered the finished product, too. One assumes her days, and years, were full. Oh, there was Alice Whitney to keep the office running, and faithful correspondents, and George Lord (still immortal around here, when the clocks change), along with a few others — but until Betsy Moriarty came aboard as the Seventies came in, the paper was mostly Eula’s. Even after the staff grew in the Seventies and Eighties, no one cared more about the paper or what happened in town than Eula.

A couple weeks ago, my friend and longtime co-worker (and sixth editor) Wayne Rivet and I paid a visit to North High Street. We had been told, of course, that Eula had been failing, but except for the fact that she didn’t hop up to greet us, it was hard to tell. Half-covered in a quilt, she sat up straight in her chair. She decided she didn’t need the oxygen tubes and looked relieved to set them aside. Eula was sharp and asked probing questions. She wanted to know how we were doing, and of course, we wanted to know how she was, but the mortal small talk lasted only a couple of minutes before Eula was off on her favorite subject: the newspaper. What did we think we had to do better? (I haven’t been on-staff for 16 months, but she still wondered what I thought, long-distance, “we” should do.) She had her opinion for improvements; she was delighted that The News had won more than its share of awards at this year’s MPA convention. She had a couple of ideas for stories for Wayne, and she even, if I remember things right, offered a source to call. She was for many of her 90-plus years a wife, a mother, a leader of causes, a church leader, a staunch Republican and a founder and motive force for the Bridgton Historical Society, among other passions and commitments. But the newspaper was her life; it defined her and she defined The Bridgton News.

The striking thing about Eula was always that vitality, that eager interest in things, that urge to move forward, to act, to plan and think and inspire. She was simply a force of nature. Eula Shorey provided half this town’s energy. If the lights look a little dimmer to you tonight, well, we lost the power supply. If you think Central Maine Power could maybe use a prompt on the proper delivery of electricity, Eula Shorey is no longer around to make the call for you. It’s up to you now, Bridgton. Do your best.

For three decades, Mike Corrigan was a reporter for The Bridgton News. Now living in Lewiston, he was the paper's fifth editor.

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