A Brief Resume of the Hill-Top

Article from the July 17th 1926 Weekly Hill-Top Magazine printed for Poland Spring Hotels

The History of the Hill-Top magazine is to a great extent a chronicle of Poland Spring and the history and customs of the times. The Hill-Top is 32 years old this year. The first issue appeared on Sunday July 8, 1894 with Mr. H.T. Jordan and Mr. W.D. Freeman in the editors chair. This number contained a list of the stage schedules from Poland Spring to Boston, Portland and Lewiston. There were pictures of lawn parties with women in high-necked long-skirted and generously flounced dresses. There was a record of a baseball game between Poland Spring and New Auburn. There were advertisements of buggies, high blooded horses, and bustles. It was a faithful mirror of the times, undistorted by the knowledge that its picture was being taken.

This infant magazine at the age of three years passed into the hands of Mr. Frank Carlos Griffith and Miss Nettie Ricker who ran the publication for ten or twelve years. During the regime of these new editors the Hill-Top became something more than a resort publication of the stereotyped order. It acquired a personality and a character, and as it matured it became an ambitious publication ranging over a multitude of subjects. There was an art department, a literary department, and a children’s department. The Hill-Top of this era seemed to have time and space for sentiment, perhaps sentiment was no then maudlin.

In 1897 the stage schedules disappeared, taking with them some of the romance and charm of the whole magazine. During that year when America was at war with Spain, the Hill-Top did not change the “even tenor of its ways.” The editors continued to bring the offerings to the shrine of pastoral quiet and loveliness. The long, tranquil bridle paths, the drowsy countryside on a summer afternoon, heavy with the slowly uncoiling perfumes of the wile rose and the rode-side phlox, was the world that was mirrored in the Hill-Top; the war was outside the gates.

In the 1900 volume there was an account of a hay-rack ride. It records that the party took the Sabbathday Lake drive and stopped at the head of the lake for lunch. Every one made merry with songs, so the account goes. Imagine, a crisp star-filled night, a rustic caravan moving slowly up the hill to stop at the Mansion House, the warm flood of the hospitable light that came pouring forth as the doors of the House opened, the courtly attention of the men as they helped the ladies to alight, and finally imagine the doors to have been closed and the darkness to have enveloped the scene; then listen, can you hear the faint, diminishing echoes of “Sweet Adaline” along the distant countryside?

In 1903 the material era sounded its cymbal in the Hill-Top. In an editorial in the July 19th issues Mr. Griffith mentions for the first time the automobiles, and in the same year the magazine displayed an advertisement for hair culture. And in 1905 appeared an automobiling department.

1905 was the last year of Mr. Griffith’s and Miss Ricker’s editorship. In stepping from the “editor’s uneasy chair” Miss Ricker and Mr. Griffith did not sever their relationship with the magazine. They have always cooperated with every editor who has followed and helped them with contributions and advice.

There was a period of three years in which no issue of the Hill-Top appeared. In 1909 the magazine was revived under the editorship of Mr. W.B. Patterson, who edited the Hill-Top for two years. In his first volume a new figure appeared in the evolutionary pageant we have roughly traced. This figure was the “Ra-ra college boy” who is with us yet.

In 1911 the magazine was taken over by Walter J. Graham a graduate of Bates College. Mr. Graham who was editor for ten years, became a well-known figure at Poland Spring. Mr. Graham possessed a facility in writing, a charm and maturity in style with distinguished him and placed him above the ordinary as a writer. Mr. Graham is now a professor at some college in the east.

After Mr. Graham came Oscar Shepherd who was sent to Poland Spring by the Lewiston Journal. Mr. Shepherd was society editor on the Journal for quite a few years. Mr. Shepherd was at this time very much interested in the Maine publicity drive that was just getting under way, and many comprehensive articles on this subject appeared in the Hill-Top. After Mr. Shepherd the Hill-Top fell into the hands of college boys, all from Bates College. Mr. Canham editor in 1924, is now on the Christian Science Monitor and will soon be at Oxford in England. Mr. Conner, who came next has received a theatrical appointment in New York.

In the last decade the Hill-Top has become more and more a true news publication. The leading article is always the chief event which has occurred during the week and the five W’s of the newspaper profession are faithfully followed. Fine writing (if the editor were capable of it) must stand aside until all that has happened has been recorded. This is as it should be of course, but the Hill-Top always seeks to have some material of literary value and interest in order that the magazine may remain a real, honest to goodness publication and not a mere news bulletin.