100-year-old visits students on 100th day of school

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LEWISTON — The students at Geiger Elementary School received a visit from 100-year-old Elise Paradis on their 100th day of school.

Paradis, a resident of Montello Heights Retirement/Assisted Living Facility, described to the children her life as a young girl. She walked a mile to Jackson School, a one-room school house on Main Street in Lewiston. The janitor would arrive early and start the wood stove, so that when the 23 or so first- through eighth-grade students arrived, the room was warm.

The older boys were responsible for keeping the stove going, she said, while the girls kept the room clean. The teacher would call up the students to give them their school work assignments, which would be completed during the day.

Paradis recalled her penmanship teacher, who the students called “round-round,” because she would make them write the letters around and around.

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She described her life at home. She was one of 13 children on a farm of cows, horses and other animals. She talked about drinking milk straight from the cow and having chores inside and out of the house, cleaning, cooking, sewing on a pedal machine and pressing clothes with irons heated on the stove.

Her home was heated by wood and lit with oil lamps. For entertainment, the family had a crank phonograph and played ball and pitch horseshoes outside. Movies were too expensive, she said. The family didn’t have a car until her older brother was 20 and she reminisced about a trip to Canada in a car with a rumble seat. When they returned, there was a stowaway in the back compartment.

She told the students about all the inventions she has witnessed in her lifetime. For example, in her early married years, she had no telephone, then was on a four-party line and now marvels at cell phones.

She has traveled all around the country, visiting 48 states. Staff at Geiger Elementary School described her as spry, healthy and beautiful. One of the students asked her how it felt to be 100 years old, and she said, “I don’t feel any older than 85.”

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