A Sketch of the Jorey Sisters on Bliss Road
by Betty Howland and Edward Ten Broeck (1983)

Could you identify the Longmeadow home, perhaps 200 yards from one of the town's busiest intersections, where the present occupants were born 81 and 79 years ago; where the home in which they still reside was the center of a busy 3 5 acre homestead raising cows, ducks, geese, peaches, pears?

A hint: until only a few years ago, the two longtime residents displayed their gardening skill by growing, at peak production, 5000 gladioli.

This rich lore of Longmeadow history is contained in the home and life of Alma and Anna Jorey of 253 Bliss Road. You can identify the location by the well and pump site in the side yard, one of three wells which were needed for the busy, thriving homestead. One, unused, is located still in the brick floor cellar of the Jorey home.

A nostalgic look at a photograph of the Jorey yard where a hammock was slung between two trees brought this recollection to Alma:

"As a girl, I could lie in that hammock, and, if I were very quiet, a doe and two fawns would come into the yard close by to nibble grass."

Alma and Anna Jorey and two brothers, Caro, now residing with the sisters, and Robert of East Longmeadow, were the children of James and Hannah Melissa Jorey who were married in 1897. The first house on the Bliss Road property, according to the Jorey sisters' account, was destroyed by fire in 1747. In 1859 the present house was constructed by a builder, uncle of Mrs. Jessie Goodman of Longmeadow St., and it has been the Jorey family home since 1883. Besides the 35 acres at Bliss and Laurel Streets, the Jorey family owned 15 acres in the vicinity of the former Turnverein site, now Longmeadow park land on Williams St.

James Jorey, father of the Jorey sisters, ran a grain store in Springfield, but his daughters emphasized that his major interest was music. As a youth he attended a singing school which the Joreys recall was across from their Bliss Rd. home. Later he played both the piano and organ and for many years was organist at the Longmeadow church. This led to another reminiscence of Alma:

It was a Sunday of special importance because a soloist from Springfield (a Mr. Kempton) was making a guest appearance in Longmeadow for the Sunday service. In the midst of the rendition the organ flatted until, Alma remembers, her father grasped an umbrella and jabbed at the rear of the instrument. The interruption was brief, but disturbed the visiting soloist so much that he declined to continue. The debacle was blamed on the youthful organ pumper who had fallen asleep on the job.

While the miscreant, a David Allen, understandably was reviled by Alma's father, Alma said all was forgiven years later when Allen appeared at the Jorey home, while her father was in his last year, and spent an hour recalling their happier times together as organist and pumper.

Longmeadow highlights particularly vivid in the Jorey sisters' recollections are the town meetings which, as the sisters described them, often approached a public brawl.

They participated only as tense spectators in Center School gallery watching scenes below of uncontrolled shouting, little attention to pleas for order from the moderator, and sometimes free-for-all fist fights on the meeting floor.

School day memories of the Jorey sisters are those of a four room building on the site of the present Center School, with a ballroom on the upper floor. Their remembrances arc fond ones of Fannie Maud Pease as teacher and Lucinda Bradford Carver as principal. The Jorey sisters both chose Technical High School in Springfield to attend after completing the elementary grades in Longmeadow, and Alma continued her education at Mount Holyoke College; Anna remained at home.

One of the most exciting moments in her life, recounted by Alma, occurred as she was interviewed for employment by Bertrand J. Perry, well known as a silver haired, distinguished looking president of the Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co. Alma remem¬bers that, in her eagerness for employment, she told Mr. Perry she was ready to start work that afternoon, if desired. Mr. Perry assured her that a start on the following Monday would be satisfactory and her employment at the insurance company continued, after college, for many years.

A more modern note on the changing times in Longmeadow and the life of the Jorey sisters: the 1950s brought agitation for a Longmeadow High school, and for Alma Jorey it was an unhappy time.
"They wanted to buy our land for the high school," she said, "but we didn't want to move." The crisis was relieved, as Alma recalls it, when Mr. Arenius agreed to sell a tract of land "further out" on Bliss Rd. Now the Jorey home, shown in their treasured collection of family photographs as bordering a rutted, dirt road, is passed by pupils walking to Williams Middle School and Longmeadow High School students, driving "further out" by auto to Grassy Gutter Rd.

Should you happen to have been a patron of the annual fair of the Benevolent Society of First Church in Longmeadow in recent years, a display of old Longmeadow, from the choice possessions of the Jorey sisters, may well have attracted your attention.

Check back to the Town Crier Archive often to read new articles as they are posted.

Longmeadow Historical Society

697 Longmeadow Street
Longmeadow, MA 01106
(413) 567-3600
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