News about Boston Post Canes for towns in Massachusetts (MA)
Myrtle Driscoll, 102, is the current holder of the cane (Apr 2005) Previous holders were Dorothy Barrett (104 in March of 2004) and Esther Morrison (March 2002). No information as to the status of the original cane.
Acton appears to restarted the tradition after a long hiatus. On August 10, 2008 Acton’s Boston Post Cane was awarded to Gladys Linnard on her 100th birthday. The cane was presented by Lauren Rosenswieg, chairwoman of the Acton Board of Selectmen. Born in Maywood, Illinois and educated as a school teacher she met her husband, Irvin Linnard, on a trip to Boston. They settled in New Jersey, raised a family, and moved to Acton in 1991. A devoted gardener, she still tends to her plants. (via email from Pat Herdeg, April 2009) (source: article)
Amesbury continues the tradition.
September 2010: Florence Ruth (Purcell) Wilson, daughter of the late Henry L. Purcell and Florence (Nowell) Purcell and widow of the late Hon. Robert Gardiner Wilson, Jr., passed away peacefully at home in Amesbury on Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2010 at the age of 106. Florence had received Amesbury’s cane in 2008. (Newburyport Daily News via email from Stephen Hoffman)
Amherst continues the tradition. The town has set the following criteria for receiving the cane: 1) Must have lived in Amherst at least ten years. 2) Must be listed on the street list. 3) Must be the oldest eligible person
As of January 2010 the current holder of Amherst’s cane is Loretta Cavanaugh. Loretta was awarded the cane on April 19, 2009 at the age of 101 (born August 7, 1908)
Prior recipients of the Amherst Boston Post Cane include:
- Gertrude Abrams was awarded the cane on August 25, 2008. She was born on July 26, 1907 and passed away on October 4, 2008
- Lucy Norkin received the cane in 2007 and passed away in July 2008. She did want anyone to know she was the recipient.
- Ken Padelford received the cane in 2002. Birthday is 12/18/1902 and he died February 26, 2007.
- Gilbert Roberts received cane and the Hampshire County chair at age 105 He died in 2002 at age 106.
- Marjorie MacLeod received cane Dec. 1994 and died in 2000 at age 106
- Margo Rand received cane June 30, 1994 and died that year at age 104
- Ruben Pomeroy received cane June 1977 at age 94 (the cane had been offered to two older women residents who turned it down)
(via email from Nancy Hirsh Pagano, Director, Amherst Senior Center – Feb 2010)
Andover had retired their cane to the town’s vault. In February 2010 a case was made for the cane and it is now on display in the Andover Town Hall. As of 2015 the tradition continues, with the cane returning to the town after the ceremony and the recipient is given a certificate.
A summary of the history of Andover’s cane is cataloged here, courtesy of Tony Sofia: [Andover-MA-Boston-Post-Cane (pdf)]
Oct 2015: Amelia D. Misenti, 104, has received Andover’s Boston Post Cane. Born June 21, 1911, Misenti grew up in Lawrence and graduated from Lawrence High School in 1929, where she took business courses. Unable to find work in her field because of the Great Depression, Misenti worked as a bookkeeper until she retired to Andover at the age of 70. Misenti was recognized as the oldest Andover resident during the Andover Senior Community FRIENDS’ Gala Dinner Dance at the Andover Country Club. Following a tradition only two years her senior, the town presented Misenti with its Boston Post cane. “I love Andover,” Misenti said about living in the town for more than 40 years. “I love living in Andover Commons, I’ve been there since I was 70!” In 1909, 700 towns in New England were each given an ebony cane, outfitted with an engraved golden knob. The cane belonged to the town, but the tradition allowed the oldest resident to posses the cane until the next year, when it was passed on to the next oldest resident. When asked what her secret to living such a long life was, Misenti responded honestly, confidently and with a big smile. “People keep asking me that,” she said. “I just do as I please. I hear only what I want to hear,” she added with a wink. (excerpted from article by Gabriella Cruz, photo by Tim Jean, Andover Townsman, via Stephen Hoffman)
Ashburnham presents the cane to the recipient then returns it to the Town Hall for safekeeping. A plaque is presented for the honor of receiving the cane. On February 2, 2005 the town presented the cane to Alyce J. Prentice, 98. Ashburnham’s previous holder of the cane, Frances Gardiner, who was born in 1906, died on Dec. 4, 2004. Ashburnham’s cane disappeared for a period of approximately three years about 15 years ago, until a selectman tracked it down. Since then, the cane has remained at Town Hall, emerging from the vault only for ceremonies, and the selectmen have given plaques in its place. (via email from David Colbert, The Gardner News, Feb 2005)
Mrs. Lina Pernaa celebrated her 99th birthday in January 2006. Lina received the Ashby, MA cane at a ceremony at the town offices on October 23, 2003 at the age of 97. The previous holder, a Mrs. Forss, passed away in September at the age of 99. Mrs. Addie Mutch and a Dr. Gibbon preceded her as the cane’s stewards.(via email from Janet Pernaa Coulombe, October 2003)
Ashfield continues the tradition.
December 2014: Mary Leue, a resident with lifelong connections to Ashfield, received the cane at her 95th birthday party last weekend.
Previously the cane has been held by Ruth Craft, Claire Pless, and Walt Whitney. (via email from Mark Leue, Mary’s son).
December 2013: Claire Pless, born in 1914 is the latest recipient of the Ashfield’s Boston Post cane, which is bestowed to the town’s oldest resident. She received the cane from Selectboard member Ron Coler at the end of last year. Although Pless moved from Philadelphia to Ashfield, to live with her son Philip in 2011, she is no stranger to the area. Phil Pless has lived in Ashfield for 35 years, and Mrs. Pless’s other son, Richard, lives in Shelburne Falls. “She used to come up here every year for a week or two,” said Phil Pless. “She would walk her grandkids to Sanderson Academy or to Chapel Falls.” (article in The Recorder, via Stephen Hoffman)
Athol continues the tradition. Their original cane is kept at the Athol Historical Society. A replica cane is presented to the awardee.
Mar 2016: Athol has awarded their cane to Tom Gilgut, age 104. Mr. Gilgut was born Jan. 1, 1912. (via email from Heather Brissette)
Auurn continues the tradition. Auburn has its original cane, stored in the town vault for safe keeping.
September 2014: Town Clerk Ellen C. Gaboury announced that Clifford A. Granger, 99, received the town’s Boston Post Cane from the Auburn Historical Society during a ceremony on Sept. 16 at the Lorraine Gleick Nordgren Senior Center. (Telegram article via Stephen Hoffman)
The last local cane holder, Lilllian M. Smolsky, who lived at the Life Care Center of Auburn, died at the age of 100 in June, just one month after receiving the cane.
Mar 2012: Auburn resident Alexander Pisinski, 99, was presented the Boston Cane Award and named the oldest resident in Auburn by Town Officials. The ceremony was held at Life Care Center in Auburn and Pisinski was given a certificate and duplicate of the original Boston Post Cane. (article via Steve Hoffman)
2006: In August 2006 they were seeking a new receipient for the cane (the holder receives a replica). (via email from Eric Tsetsi, The Auburn News)
Ayer has their original cane in safe storage. The tradition continues in Ayer using a replica. Surrounded by her family and friends, 97 year old Lillian P. Messer received the town’s Boston Post Cane, honoring her as Ayer’s eldest resident in October 2004.However, in checking on who the cane should be presented to next, the name of Annie L. Thompson, born on June 27, 1906, was found. Having lived in Ayer for 71 years, Thompson was almost a year older than Messer but she could not be located. Later they determined she was at a nursing home in Westford.Months after presenting the cane to Messer, town officials learned Thompson had returned to Ayer and was now a resident at Apple Valley Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Ayer.Rejoicing in the discovery of yet another oldest living inhabitant, this person approaching the age of 98, selectmen held a golden cane ceremony at Apple Valley on Feb. 2, 2005.(source: The Public Spirit, Feb 2005)
Barre continues the tradition.
Oct 2015: The Town of Barre will be presenting Boston Post canes to Bess E. Difley and Warner F. “Bill” Smith on Tuesday, November 24 at noon at the Barre Senior Center. Mrs. Difley and Mr. Smith were born on the very same day — July 29. 1914. To their knowledge, this is the first time the canes have been presented to two people of the same age born on the same day. Mr. Smith’s father and grandfather were also recipients of the cane. (via email from Lester Paquin)
Barnstable continues the tradition.
August 2009: Barnstable’s Boston Post Cane was awarded to Signy Moen from West Barnstable. She is now 104 years old. Tears came to my eyes as I watched with amazement as this woman walked into the Senior Center with her family around her.
She is quite healthy, takes no medication, and has a good sense of humor. She originally came from Norway. [picture] (via email from Linda E. Hutchenrider, Town Clerk)
Evelyn Coleman, 103 held Barnstable’s cane in 2005. Evelyn passed away in March 2009 at the age of 107. She was the second oldest holder of the cane in her town (another woman reached the age of 110). Mrs. Coleman grew up on a farm in Nova Scotia. She met her husband on Cape Cod and together they ran a small grocery store in Park Square. She had 4 children and many grand- and great-grandchildren.
Becket appears to continue the tradition.
Jan 2015: As part of the 250th anniversary of the town’s founding it was reported that Becket’s cane was presented to Margaret “Peg” Lynch. A pioneer in television situational comedy, Peg Lynch created, wrote and starred in the radio and television husband and wife sitcom Ethel and Albert. She moved to Becket in 1970. She is featured in the book along with other notable people, events and businesses in Becket. The town presented the 98-year-old Lynch with the Boston Post cane to honor her as its oldest resident. “I haven’t done a darn thing the last few years, but now I want to make them an older couple and do a show on them,” Lynch said. “I can’t think of anything funny about being old. Then I got to thinking about winning and getting this gold-topped cane. I got mad about that. Well, that’s just dumb. Women want to go younger, they don’t want to go older.” Peg’s full biography is here. (story from WAMC via Stephen Hoffman)
Bedford’s cane is on display at their Council of Aging. (via website comment from Alissa Anderson, Feb 2014)
Belchertown continues the tradition. Their original cane is on display at Lawrence Memorial Hall.
July 2013: Town officials have begun a search for the town’s oldest citizen after the passing of Anna Socha, who died June 16 at age 104. (article in Daily Hampshire Gazette via Stephen Hoffman)
Lost for 30 years. Found in Mendon in 1975 and returned to Bellingham. In 1976 the Selectmen voted to retire the cane and remanded it to the Historical Commission. A replica is presented to the oldest resident — recently to Mary (“Mae”) Vater.(source)Another source states that Bellingham’s cane was lost for over 40 years, but was relocated in 1988 and is now in the safekeeping of the Bellingham Historical Commission. The real cane is symbolically presented to each recipient, then returned, and the recipient is given a replica to keep.Current recipient is Mabel Massart, 98 years of age. Ernie Taft, Chairman of the Historical Commission, brought the cane to Massart as her family was celebrating her 98th birthday.(source)
Berlin appears to continue to tradition. Berlin’s cane is kept for safekeeping in the town offices and the selectmen give the recipient a certificate of recognition.
Apr 2012: Eleanor Bosselman, holder of Berlin’s cane, has passed away at the age of 96. (obituary in Worcester Telegram, via email from Peter Durant)
Mar 2008: Selectmen have given the town’s Boston Post Cane to Eleanor Bosselman, 93, honoring her as its oldest resident with certificate of recognition. Eleanor was born in Berlin and has lived there all her life, attended Berlin schools and graduated from Hudson High School. She was employed for many years at the Colonial Press Books, until it’s closing, then worked at the Clinton District Court until retirement. In 1948 she and her husband John built a home in West Berlin, where they raised their family. Mrs. Bosselman was a founder of St. Joseph the Good Provider Church in Berlin, an organizing member of the St. Joseph’s Women’s Club and a long-time member of the Evening Guild of the First Parish Church of Berlin and several other organizations. She was very active in the civic and social life of her community and was a dedicated volunteer for numerous events. She enjoyed growing flowers and vegetables, maintaining gardens late in her life. She loved nature and had a life-long interest in nurturing birds, especially bluebirds. In recent years she has enjoyed taking art classes. (article by John Dyer, personal history is excerpted from a 2012 Worcester Telegram obituary, via email from Peter Durant)
1995: Charlie Thurber was once Berlin’s oldest resident, and he held the Boston Post Cane from 1995 to 1996.(source: Boston Globe, 12-Dec-2004)
Blackstone continues the tradition. Town takes a picture of the resident with the cane then takes it back and gives the person a plaque.
Mar 2014: Eleanor Kowalczyk turned 100 years old on Feb. 18 and received Blackstone’s cane (via email from Sandy Seoane)
Bourne appears to be continuing the tradition. (Apr 2005)
Boxford continues the tradition using their original cane.
Apr 2012: Frances Phillips, age 100, a Boxford resident for the past 74 years, was awarded the official gold-topped ebony Boston Post Cane, which is traditionally given to the oldest resident in town. The last recipient of the cane was Sally Sprague who received the cane in 2002 when she was 97 years old. Sprague moved out of town and had to return the cane. (Wicked Local article via Stephen Hoffman and Judi Stickney)
The Bridgewater Cane in located in our senior center in Bridgewater in a glass case (Peter Murray, Mar 2008)
The Town of Buckland, Massachusetts still presents the cane to the oldest citizen. The whereabouts of the original cane is unknown. The Town replaced the cane and it is presented to the oldest citizen.
The holder of the cane for the Town of Buckland is Sylvia Wheeler, born July 20, 1913. (via email from Janice Purington, Town Clerk, August 2009).
July 2008: Thelma Rowland-Shaw (98) received the cane on July 31, 2008. She will be 99 on Nov 14. (via Linda Rowland)
Burlington continues the tradition. In 2015, Burlington’s cane was “rediscovered” after being hidden away for many years. To avoid the cane going missing again, a replica is now awarded to new recipients. Burlington’s original cane is now on display at their Town Hall.
Mar 2015: Regina Short (age 101) was presented Burlington’s cane at the March 23 meeting of the Board of Selectmen. Regina is a former town employee, having worked as an assistant to the Board of Registrars from 1966 to 1968 before moving to the Town Clerk’s office and eventually being promoted to assistant town clerk before retiring in 1984. (from Wicked Local article by Andrew Cardinale, photo by Andrew Cardinale via Stephen Hoffman)
Mar 2015: A new recipient for Burlington’s newly discovered cane has been identified. They are arranging a ceremony for the presentation. (Daily Times article by Mark Biagiotti, via email from Stephen Hoffman)
Carlisle continues the tradition and has their original cane.
The following brief account was compiled in 2013 through the efforts of the Carlisle Historical Society and the Carlisle Council on Aging. (via Philip Drew)
Like officials in other towns, the Carlisle Selectmen duly received a Boston Post cane in 1909. It was promptly awarded to George Warren Wilkins, then the oldest citizen in Carlisle. At that point the record stops, and no further references to the Cane were found until those pertaining to an award of the Cane in 1959, when it was awarded to George West. Since then, the Cane has been awarded to at least eight more recipients, for whom records exist.
Carlisle’s Cane is still extant and currently resides in the office of the Council on Aging (COA) in the Town Hall. Until recently, it was held by Edwin Sadler, who reached the age of 105 and died in January 2013. With Mr. Sadler’s passing, a new plan was adopted: the original cane, after some refurbishment, will reside permanently with the COA, and a replica cane, purchased with funds donated to the Friends of the Council on Aging in Edwin Sadler’s memory, will be passed from hand to hand in the manner of the original Cane. These funds also purchased a plaque, on which will be listed the names of recipients of the Cane beginning with Mr. Sadler.
On April 9, 2013, Ms. Clara DiNicola, now 96, received the replica cane. The award, made by Peter Scavongelli, Chairman of Carlisle’s Selectmen, was presented in both English and Italian (Ms DiNicola’s native language). She responded, “Thank you very much. Arrivederci!”
Looking back, much of the history of prior recipients of the Cane has been lost, but a partial list has been compiled:
- George Warren Wilkins: received it in 1909 and passed on Jan 22, 1911
- George West: received it in 1959 and passed June 29, 1965
- James Patch received it in 1965 and passed August 23, 1972
- Edmund Lewis French received it on July 11, 1973, and passed on May 1982
- Sarah Isabelle Spence received in 1982, but passed on July 6, 1982
- Phyllis Towle received it on March 30, 1983, but her date of passing is uncertain (1998?)
- Anna Johnson received it on June 14, 2002, and passed on June 28, 2005
- Ruth Waywell received it in 2005 and passed on December 26, 2008
- Edwin M. Sadler received it on March 24, 2009, and passed on January 27, 2013
- Clara DiNicola, age 96, received it on April 9, 2013
Charlton continues the tradition, but the original cane went missing in 1984. A substitute cane was donated and in Feb 2008 that “replica” cane was stolen. A plaque recognizing the holder as the oldest citizen in Charlton is on display in the town hall.
June 2013: Lillian Schwenke, age 98, was named Charlton’s eldest citizen, and in keeping with a tradition that began six years before her birth, she now holds a replica Boston Post Cane. Selectmen Brent W. Sellew and David M. Singer joined Police Chief James A. Pervier and Council on Aging Director Elaine Materas at Ms. Schwenke’s Charlton home on June 27. A surprised Ms. Schwenke welcomed the officials with grace and levity. “Look at all the men I have in my house – wholly mackerel!” she said. The selectmen presented a plaque bearing a photograph of Ms. Schwenke that will be prominently displayed at town hall next to a glass cabinet that holds a replica of the town’s original Boston Post Cane. (article in Worcester Telegram via Stephen Hoffman)
Feb 2008: Charlton’s current holder, Annie M. Kingston, 103, lived on Hammond Hill Road most of her life and now resides at the Masonic Home. She was awarded the cane a few days after her 100th birthday in May 2005.
Chatham has its original cane, currently stored in the Town Clerk’s vault. Chatham had not maintained the tradition for many years, but in 2012 it was revived as part of the town’s 300th anniversary. Chatham’s recipients receive a framed certificate and a pin.
Feb 2016: Chatham has presented their cane to Juliet Bernstein, age 102. Bernstein is a well-known activist. According to the Washington Nuclear Museum and Educational Center she was born on July 2, 1913 in Ferndale, N.Y. She created a nuclear free zone for town of Chatham in 1984, led a campaign against land mines, was a NAACP “Unsung Hero” for racial equality and opposed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (from Wicked Local Orleans article, via email from Stephen Hoffman)
2015: Leola Litchfield, holder of Chatham’s cane has passed away at the age of 106.
June 2012: Chatham awarded its cane to Leola Litchfield, age 103. (Wicked Local article via Stephen Hoffman)
Chelmsford’s has their original cane, which has an interesting history.
In February 1995 the cane was awarded to Elizabeth Lees Craig, age 106. Prior to that the cane had been missing for 33 years, until found in the Clough family.
Chester’s original cane is missing. In 1986, one of the selectmen purchased a duplicate of the original cane and the Historical Commission presents this cane to the holder. In 1909, William Stevens, 93, was the oldest man in town and may have been the first recipient of the cane.The current holder is Peg Salvani, who was 100 years old on September 13, 2002.(source)
Concord still awards the cane, but does not continue the tradition. They now award a substitute cane each year to “honored citizens”.
Mar 2012: Ruth and Hugh Lauer received the cane as being designated as honored citizens in 2012.
Mar 2011: Concord appears to be breaking with tradition by bestowing the cane on Steve and Joan Verrill as “Honored Citizens for 2011”. Steve and Joan are not the oldest citizens in Concord. (Concord Journal article via Stephen Hoffman).
2006: The 2006 receipient of the cane was Fritz Kussin.
Deerfield keeps the tradition alive by presenting the cane to the oldest resident on their birthday each year. The recipient in Deerfield receives a lapel pin, and after the ceremony the cane is returned for safekeeping in Town Hall.
Feb 2009: The current holder of the Deerfield cane is Blanche Hukowicz of South Deerfield, who was 101 in 2008. We believe she first received the cane in 2005.
On August 24, 2003, Helena Marchefka, 99, was presented the cane by the Selectmen at a gathering of her family and friends.(via the Daily Hampshire Gazette, August 26, 2003)
The Dennis Boston Post Cane is on display in the Town Clerk’s office. The tradition appears to have started in 1909, but there are no other records until 2000. Awardees now receive a Boston Post Cane pin.
Jan 2016: The Dennis cane was awarded to Maria Demetras, age 101. The 101-year-old is ambivalent about this particular distinction. Asked if she was excited, she gave a lackluster “maybe” for an answer. Her son Jim, who lives with her, said his mother has not commented much on the coming presentation. “She’s not thrilled about getting old,” he said. Demetras was born on the island of Lesbos, but came to the United States with her family when she was 13. Initially she lived in a tenement in South Boston, but she moved to the Cape after she and Ross Demetras were married in 1947. The couple, who had two sons along the way, purchased a cottage and diner in Orleans and eventually demolished it and built the Orleans Holiday Motel. Maria headed the motel operation while Ross managed the couple’s pancake restaurant next door. In 1970 the pair built the house where Maria continues to live. Ross died in 1985. Demetras has always been fully of energy, gardening well into her 80s and bowling into her 90s. She frequently traveled, returning to Greece and visiting Portugal, England, France and the Caribbean. These days, Demetras’ trips are far shorter. One of her favorite destinations is the local Ocean State Job Lot store, her son said. Although she occasionally goes out for dinner, Jim generally cooks for them. “She always eats healthy foods and fresh vegetables,” he said. Demetras also loves to read, in both Greek and English, particularly when the subject involves history. And she’s an avid watcher of world news. (excerpted from article by Christine Legere, photo by Merrily Cassidy, Cape Cod Times via Stephen Hoffman)
July 2011: The Dennis cane was awarded to Florence Russ, born June 27, 1908 with a replica pin, adding her name to a plaque and a presentation by the Town Clerk, Board of Selectman and the State Representative. (via email from Theresa T. Bunce, Dennis Town Clerk)
2004: The Dennis cane was awarded to Margaret Barker, age 100.
2002: The Dennis cane was awarded to Julia Doherty, age 109.
2000: The Dennis cane was awarded to Elizabeth “Betty” Smith, age 107.
1909: The first holder of the Dennis cane was David Chase, age 92.
Dighton continues the tradition of the cane. They believe they have the original cane (the engraving is somewhat worn, but still visible). From newspaper accounts it appears that a substitute cane is used for ceremonies.
Mar 2016: The 20th recipient of Dighton’s cane is Sister Marie Therese Ernou, age 100. Sister Marie was born during World War I in France. After graduating from high school in 1931, she became a member of the Congregation of the Dominican Sisters of Charity of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in 1936.
Ernou has walked in the sacred and secular worlds. In 1937, she began work as an operating room supervisor. As a young postulant, or candidate for admission into a religious order, World War II broke out.
“She shared in that test of Liberty having to evacuate the House of Formation as Tours faced siege by the Nazis.” Menges read aloud during Wednesday night’s ceremony at the Dighton religious home. “When the tide of war had receded she became a Registered Nurse, graduating in 1946 from the School of Nursing in Creteil, France, she served as an instructor in 1955 -1956 in the Ecole Catholique de Cadres, and thereafter became a Registered Nurse in the United States, working at St. Anne’s Hospital while learning English and studying for her R.N.” Ernou continued to learn while working at the Fall River hospital. From 1966 to 1972, she served as administrator of Madonna Manor in North Attleboro. From 1972 to 1988, Ernou served in Taunton, as the administrator of Marian Manor. From 1988 until her retirement in 2001, she performed administrative duties.
Two of her former colleagues from Marian Manor, Deidre Fountain and Marybeth Mazzoleni, were on hand to celebrate with Ernou. (excerpted from Taunton Daily Gazette article by Lisa Connell, photo by Lisa Connell, via Stephen Hoffman)
Jan 2013: Dighton’s can was presented to Mrs. Eleanor Cummings, age 98 by the Historical Commission. The ceremony was held at the Dighton Historical Society. There were about 25 friends and family of Mrs. Cummings in attendance. Elaine Varley, the curator of the society gave a talk on the history of the cane in Dighton. Collette McKeon read the history of the cane to the guests, and presented Mrs. Cummings with a plaque commemorationg the event. (via Chris Pacheco, Dighton Historical Society)
May 2010: Mr. Leo J. Deslauriers was honored with the Boston Post Cane for being the oldest resident in the Town of Dighton, MA on May 15, 2010. Mr. Deslauriers is 98 years old, he will be celebrating his 99th birthday on December 27, 2010.
The Boston Post Cane was previously held by Lena M. Bleau who passed away recently at the age of 105. (via emails from Anabela Powell and Colette McKeon)
Douglas continues the tradition. Like many towns, the Douglas cane was eventually lost along with several replicas. The Douglas Board of Selectmen now presents a yearly “Boston Post Cane” certificate to the resident holding the position of eldest citizen in Douglas. In 2004 an initiative was started to keep the time honored tradition alive. A display case was designed by Administrative Assistant Suzanne Kane as a way to house a replica of the cane and display recipients. The case was built by Sean Crawford (Blackstone), Vin Hashey (Uxbridge), and David Slavin (Milford); students from the Blackstone Valley Regional Vocational Technical High School in 2006.
Known Douglas cane recipients:
- Carrie Francis Carpenter, 105, 1887 – 7-Oct-1992
- 1992: John Manyak, 103, 1891 – 14-May-1994
- 1994: Susan Nedoroscik, 107, 1985 – 18-Oct-2002
- 2003: Harriet Dexter, 98, 1905 – 5-Jul-2003
- 2003: Ardis H. (Shippee) Parker, 100, 1905 – 6-Jun-2004
- 2004: Philomene “Fannie” M. Yacino, 98, 15-May-1907 – 30-Apr-2005
- 2005: Anna R. Janeczek, 96, 8-Mar-1909 – 27-Nov-2005
- 2005: Theresa P. Fougere, 97, 11-Nov-1909 – 11-Feb-2006
- 2006: Maud F. Ballou, 97, 7-Dec-1910 – 3-Dec-2008
- 2008: Bernard N. Swenson, 97, 19-Sep-1911 – 24-Jan-2009
- 2009: Mary Wallace, 17-Oct-1911
If we have the story correct, Dover’s cane went missing shortly after it was given to the original recipient (Asa Talbot). 100 years later the cane surfaced in an antique shop and was recovered by members of the Dover Historical Society. We look forward to hearing more about this long-lost cane. (via email from Elisha Lee, Sep 2010)
For many years the status of Dracut’s cane was unknown. In the Spring of 2016 the town located its lost cane (in was in the possession of someone who obtained it from a past recipient). Dracut is currently deciding how to continue the tradition in their town and how their original cane will be stored.
Mar 2016: Dracut’s cane went missing probably in the 1940s (Ingram B. Bennett who was 92 in 1940 was the last known recipient). After Bennett, the cane’s path remains a mystery until it turned up in the hands of young Russell Taylor some 15 years later. Taylor cannot remember the name of his aunt’s friend or her father. Taylor came forward with the cane when the Selectmen began inquiries as to the status of the cane. (sourced from Lowell Sun article by Todd Feathers).
Eileen Loucraft was kind enough to provide this article on the first person to be awarded the cane in Dracut: Peter Cavanaugh. [article]
Dunstable appears to be continuing the tradition.
May 2014: Ruth Tully, director of Dunstable’s Council on Aging, recently presented the Boston Post Cane, honoring the oldest resident of Dunstable, to her father-in-law, George Tully, 95. at the 40th anniversary of the Dunstable Rural Land Trust annual meeting with 86 members, friends and family present. George Tully, a lifelong resident of Dunstable and dairy farmer, raised seven children with his wife, June, and served Dunstable as selectman, town moderator, fence viewer, pound keeper and surveyor of lumber, as well as serving on the Special Building committee for the Swallow Union School. He was an organizer of the Dunstable Civic Associates, who formed what is known today as the Dunstable Rural Land Trust. Tully was active in agricultural affairs, serving in many capacities with the Grange, the Middlesex County Farm Bureau and the United Co-operative Farmers. With his son Charlie and grandson Charlie Jr., he continues to own and operate Tully Farms Inc. He has seven children, 22 grandchildren, 40 great-grandchildren, two great-great-grandchildren and many extended family members.
Read more: http://www.lowellsun.com/mysun/ci_25704986/dunstables-george-tully-honored-oldest-resident#ixzz3N78XkTVU
April 2014: Dunstable’s cane will be presented to George Tully, Sr. at the Dunstable Rural Land Trust dinner. He is 95 years old. (via website from Tim Chase, George’s grandson)
Duxbury’s cane is presently held in the Town Clerk’s office. As of June 2014 they don’t appear to continue the tradition. (They also have a similar cane presented by Dr. Rueben Peterson to the oldest female citizen of Duxbury in 1939 – this is also a transferrable cane which is currently held in the Town Clerk’s office.) (via email from Susan Kelley)
Eastham continues the tradition. Eastham’s original cane is on display at the Senior Center.
May 2010: Eastham’s cane was awarded to Rita Sullivan, age 103. Rita is a 63-year resident of Eastham and has always enjoyed the fresh salt air and beaches of Cape Cod (although she doesn’t get to the beaches as often as she used to). The prior recipient of the cane was Evelyn Johnson who passed away in March 2010 at the age of 106. (via email from Dana Granville, Rita’s nephew).
Easthampton has their original cane on display at the Council of Aging and appears to be in excellent condition. A plaque under the case where the cane is stored lists the name and year of each recipient. The town temporarily stopped the tradition of awarding their cane in 2002 but are seeking to reinstate the ceremony in 2011.
The town gives the recipient a pin that is a replica of the cane and a certificate from the Mayor. The City Clerk selects the oldest listed resident from her residency data base. There is no length of residency required. The person could be living in town for a month or for their entire life. In fact, if the person is listed in the data base but in a nursing facility out of town they would still qualify. (via email from Tom Brown)
The Easton Historical Society continues the tradition.
Jan 2012: Gladys Gay, 102, will receive the Boston Post Cane award during the Easton historical commission’s annual preservation awards ceremony at the Unity Church. Gay was born Gladys Smith on Dec. 10, 1909 in Hantsport, Nova Scotia, according to her son, Stephen Gay. Gladys Gay of Easton escaped the Halifax explosion in Nova Scotia in 1917 and lived through two world wars.
As on December 2006 Easton’s cane is held by Francis Kramer, age 100 or 101. Mr. Kramer was first awarded the cane in 2005.Easton cane was previously presented to Anne Tyler, 102, in September 2004. Laura Delia Victoria (Smith) Holmberg was presented the Easton’s cane in December of 2002. Laura passed away in January 2003 at age 104
Essex continues the tradition. They appear to have their original cane (in late 2015 the Essex cane is being held by the Essex Historical Society for safekeeping until Town Hall renovations are complete).
Oct 2015: In a truly heartwarming, sometimes comedic, ceremony, Essex selectmen bestowed the historic Boston Post Cane upon Patricia Lyons for being the town’s oldest resident. Spunky and “with all her marbles,” is how her nephew George Lyons, with whom she lives, described the 102-year-old to the crowd of 18 squeezed into the town library Monday night for the ceremony. Patricia Lyons was overwhelmed by the honor but reveled in a ready audience. “I can’t believe that it’s me, I can’t believe how much time has flown by,” she said. “Where did it go to?” She said she loves Essex and that people have been warm and welcoming since her move to town 27 years ago. For 44 years, Lyons taught music in the Boston schools and was a supervisor for the district’s music department for an additional 11 years. She did not marry until she was 67. “In my spare time, I can use it as a baton for music,” she quipped, after the selectmen gave her the cane, a bouquet and a citation commemorating the event. Patricia Lyons was still driving a five-speed at 95 when her eyesight deteriorated, and gave tours of Boston Symphony Hall until she was 85, said her nephew. State Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr attended to present her with citations from Gov. Charlie Baker and from the Senate. (article and photograph by Dimitra Lavrakas, Gloucester Times via Stephen Hoffman)
Sep 2015: The Essex Board of selectmen will presented the Essex cane to Patricia Lyons, 102, in the town library. Patricia was born on Sep 25, 1913. (via email from Dawn Addison Burnham)
May 2012: Erving may be reviving the tradition. (via Jacquelyn Boyden)
Falmouth continues the tradition. Falmouth’s cane was lost for nearly 20 years when a recipient of it stored it in an attic. A replica cane is currently given to the new awardees.
October 14, 2010: Falmouth’s cane was awarded to Maude Thomas, age 108. Maude emigrated from England at age 9, worked as an office manager at an architectural firm in Boston into her 80’s, enrolled in Harvard University and received her degree at age 75. (via email from Patrick McGrath and article from Cape Cod Online)
Florida has no record of ever receiving a Boston Post Cane. Nevertheless, they like the tradition so much that they started one using their own cane. (Note: Since we cannot really know if this is a real continuing tradition in the town, it will not be counted in our statistics, but we’ll record any news here).
December 2014: Agnes Rivers, born on Jan. 1, 1915, was presented with the town’s first Boston Post Cane during a Florida Council on Aging holiday luncheon and celebration on Friday, in recognition of her upcoming 100th birthday, which makes her the oldest resident of Florida. Florida has never presented a cane to any resident, said Fran Bedini, chairwoman of the Florida Council on Aging. The idea arose in group’s November meeting as something special to do to honor Rivers. On Friday, the cane that was presented to Rivers was not an original Boston Post Cane; it was actually handcrafted by Florida resident Stanley Brown in one weekend after he was asked to create one. A sturdy wooden cane, it looks like it could be especially handy for a 99-year-old woman who tries to walk outside her home for 10 minutes every day. Except this 99-year-old woman doesn’t need it at all. “I’m not handicapped in any way,” Rivers said after she was surprised with the award at the luncheon. “It will be a nice souvenir from the town of Florida.” Sitting next to her husband of 76 years, Rivers said she didn’t feel like she was about to turn 100. “I feel really good for my age,” she said. “I’m very grateful.” (article By Rebecca Dravis, iBerkshires Staff via Stephen Hoffman)
Foxborough, MA still actively presents its Post Cane to the town’s oldest citizen. For security reasons the presentation is symbolic and the cane is returned to a safe place after the ceremony. The cane is kept locked in a display cabinet in the Town Hall while the recipient is given a plaque. (via email from Dick Leggee, Foxborough Historical Commission, June 2003)
April 16, 2009: Foxborough passed its cane to Harry Cederlund, age 100. Harry was born in Lynn on Sept 9, 1908, grew up in Mansfield, and has lived in Foxborough since 1932. His wife of 75 years, Mabel Astrid Hansen, passed away in 2008 at the age of 98. Harry attributes his long life to eating well, not smoking or drinking, and leaving the window open at night to let in fresh air. [article] [article]
Franklin has resumed its awarding of the cane (it was retired in our 1980’s survey) and they have their original cane. The tradition of presenting the award goes back many years. It has been given to as many males as females in Franklin. Hemmingsen is Franklin’s 29th (known) holder of the cane. The cane stays in Town Hall, but the recipient’s name is added to a plaque that is kept in the Town Hall museum.
October 2013: Saville Bennett, age 103, was presented with Franklin’s cane on October 8, 2013 (reported in the Millford Daily News via Stephen Hoffman)
June 2012: Franklin’s oldest resident Helen Carberry, 103, was presented with the Boston Post Cane, flowers and a proclamation at the Franklin Senior Center on Friday. (wicked local article via Stephen Hoffman)
2012: An obituary in funeral.com indicates that Helen Baghdjian Boghosian, 108, who died on January 29, 2012, was the holder of Franklin, MA’s, Boston Post cane (email from Steve Hoffman)
2003: On November 6, 2003, Franklin Town Clerk Deborah Pellegri presented the Boston Post Cane award to Clara Hemminsen, 104.(via the Milford Daily News, November 7, 2003)
Freetown appears to continue the tradition.
The Feb 22, 2010 minutes of Freetown’s Board of Selectmen state: Isabel Andrade celebrated her 100th birthday at a large party where the Selectmen were privileged to present her with the Boston Post Cane and a certificate. Selectman Ashley gave a brief history of the cane and what it represented. (via email from Mike)
Georgetown had its original cane locked in a vault, but in December 2015 it had a custom display case (with two separate keyed locks) commissioned to store and display it on the second floor of their Town Hall.
The original cane will remain on permanent display while a replica will be presented to the recipient to hold during their term.
Dec 2015: There’s no official word yet on who the oldest resident in town is today. (article in Georgetown Wicked Local by Bryan McGonigle notes the lack of a holder and documents the new display case.)
Feb 2012: Jim Boynton (born in 1911) of Georgetown, Massachusetts received the local cane this past year. (via website submission from Laurence E. Thompson)
2006: On November 18, 2006 Georgetown’s cane was presented to Blanche Cahill (age 101). Upon receiving the cane Blanche said “I’ve never had a use for a cane, but I’ll find a use for this one.” (via the Georgetown Record)
Granby continues the tradition and the Historical Society there is attempting to put together a complete list of Boston Post Cane recipients for the town.
March 2010: The most recent holder of Granby’s cane was Mary Frances (Buckhout) McVay, who passed away on January 30, 2010 – just a couple of months shy of her 100th birthday -March 1, 1910. (via email from Cindy Watson)
The Greenfield Boston Post Cane was missing for a number of years before being found in the DPW vault. Around 2012 the cane was stolen from a glass case in the town hall. The cane staff was left behind and the gold head was taken. Months later the head reappeared at a local auction house and was thus returned to the town The head has been restored and plans are being made to present it to the oldest citizen The oldest citizen will receive a gold cane pin for a keepsake. (via email from Peter Miller, March 2014)
Jun 2015: Anna “Ann” Dedinas, age 104, is the most recent recipient of Greenfield’s Boston Post Cane. She received the honor on June 16, when Mayor William Martin and local historian Lindley Wilson visited her daughter’s home, where Dedinas has been staying, and presented her with the cane. “She held it for a few minutes and then had to give it back, but she’s got an award and a pin that are hers to keep,” said Theresa Leete, her youngest daughter. Leete said her mother lived in the home where she and her husband raised their three children — Leete, Richard P. Dedinas and Margaret A. Stevens — until she was 97. Born in Worcester, Dedinas was raised in Amherst. She married her husband Michael J. Dedinas, who was born in Lithuania, on May 30, 1932. He died in 1961. Leete said her mother worked in a hat factory in North Amherst when she was young. “She made it through the sixth grade and then went out to work,” said Leete. “Later, she got a job at Deerfield Academy, where she worked for 25 years.” Leete said her mother, who is grandmother to eight, great-grandmother to 14 and great-great-grandmother to six, is a wonderful mother who is and always has been very easy-going. “Mother loves flowers,” she said. “She was always in her garden. She’d get up early every morning to work in her garden.” Leete said her mother also loved baking and canning. She said until several years ago, she would go out with friends for supper, then play cards and then play Bingo. She has been a member of Holy Trinity Church for more than 83 years. (excerpted from The Recorder article by Anita Fritz, via Stephen Hoffman)
Jun 2014: Mayor Wm. Martin and Lindley Wilson (President, Greenfield Historical Society) awarded Greenfield’s cane to Lillian G. Hosford of Greenfield Mass, age 99. (via Lindley Wilson)
Groton appears to continue the tradition.
Jan 2008: Upon the death Mrs. Vena Durham-Henrickson at the age of 104, the Groton Boston Post cane has been returned to the Town of Groton (via the Town Clerk’s office). Mrs Henrickson held the cane for 4 years.
Jul 3004: Vena Durham Henrickson received the cane celebrating her 100th birthday on June 23, 2003.(via article in the Townsend Times, July 4, 2003)
The town of Groveland still possesses their Boston Post Cane. It has always been given to the oldest ‚Äúmale‚Äù resident of town. It’s currently in the Groveland COA’s office. The town is in the process of having a display case made for our original cane. Groveland purchased a replica from the town of Peterborough NH for presentation at Older Americans’ Day on May. Up until this year, they had given the original cane to the recipients, but have chosen to award a replica out of fear that their original will be lost like many other towns.(via email from Lynne Stanton, Groveland COA, April 2007)
Hamilton continues the tradition.
March 2013: The oldest woman in Hamilton was awarded the Boston Post Cane in an event at the Hamilton Council on Aging (Old Library/Meetinghouse) on Monday. Edna Barney received the Boston Post Cane in a noontime event. Born in 1917, Barney was the librarian at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School, retiring in 1982 and was later recognized as an “unsung hero” by the state Commission on the Status of Women in 2008. (article in Hamilton-Wenham Patch via Stephen Hoffman)
August 2012: Hamilton awarded their cane to Albert. D. Coonrod, born on July 27, 1916, recently celebrated his 95th birthday, and Helen M. Goggin, born on July 24, 1912, her 99th. (Hamilton-Wenham Chronicle article via Susan Schultz) [article]
2007: In May 2007 Hamilton awarded its cane to Llewellyn “Tom” Thomas, age 92. Hamilton’s Boston Post cane was lost sometime in the 1950s. In 2002 the Hamilton Historical Society purchased two replicas, one each for the eldest male and female in the town. Katherine Murphy is the current female holder of the cane. The prior male holder was John Endicott Lawrence, 96, and the previous female cane holder was Elise Bilodeau who passed away in November 2005 at the age of 105.
Hanover had misplaced its cane for a number of years when it was discovered in the basement of Town Hall. It is currently on display in the Hanover Town Hall lobby.(via email from Tyler Cavanagh, April 2007)
The Hardwick, MA Boston Post Cane has been returned to the town in very good condition. The last person to hold the cane was Rayomond O. Damon – DOB 1893, DOD 1997. The cane is now encased in a handsome wooden case with a glass front and displayed in the main foyer of our Municipal Building for all to look at. (via email from Paula Roberts, Town Clerk, August 2009)
Harvard continues the tradition.
2010: Harvard’s cane was awarded to Elizabeth May, age 103, at the Annual Town Meeting. (via Judy Warner, Harvard Historical Society)
2003: Noted the passing of cane holder Mildred Allen, who had died on June 27, 2003 at the age of 101 (via article on harvardhillside.com, July 11, 2003)
Hatfield continues the tradition. The recipient receives a certificate.
Dec 2015: Marjorie S. Kawalski, the oldest resident living in Hatfield at age 97, was presented with Hatfield’s Boston Post Cane Award at a televised Selectmens’ Meeting with family in attendance (via email from Lydia Szych, Hatfield Town Clerk).
Haverhill continues the tradition.
April 2014: The Town of Haverhill Boston Cane was presented to Jeanette Wolff on Monday, April 7, 2014, she is 103! (via website comment by Jo Lacaillade)
As of October 2006 Hingham’s cane was held by Anna Savage (age 102) and she had no plans to part with it anytime soon.(via The Patriot Ledger)
Hinsdale continues the tradition. Hinsdale’s original cane resides in the Historical Room at the Town Hall. When a presentation is made the Select Boards issue a certificate of recognition, which is framed and presented to the recipient along with a picture of the presentation of the cane.
Mar 2015, The Hinsdale Select Board and Hinsdale Council on Aging awarded Ralph Bell, Sr. of 399 Middlefield Road the Boston Post Golden Cane as the oldest living registered resident of Hinsdale. The award was presented to Mr. Bell on March 3rd by Select Board Chair, Bonnie Conner and James D. Manning, Acting Chair Hinsdale Council of Aging (COA). (via email from James Manning).
Hinsdale cane recipients prior to 2015 (including recipients birth/death dates) courtesy of James Manning:
- Rev. James C. Seargraves, 1821-1913
- James Hosmer, 1833-1917
- Edmond M. Spring, 1835-1927
- David Barry, 1836-1929
- John Forward, 1839-1931
- James Hickey, 1842-1932
- Michael Conley, 1844-1936
- Henry D. Smith, 1847-1944
- Henry P. Brown, 1857-1950
- Gumner Geer, 1869-1967
- Edward Klein, 1883-1972
- Monroe F. Watkins, 1885-1982
- Edna J. Parker, 1888-1984
- Louis Randall, 1889-1989
- Robert Coughlin, 1896-1992
- James M. Poulin,1897-1993
- Jane Bayette, 1898-1997
- Agnes C. Naughton, 1899-2002
- Margurite Curtin, 1903-2004
- Helen M. Bean, 1905-2013
- Irma M. Munch, 1914-2014
- Ralph Bell, Sr. 1915-
Holden continues the tradition. Holden’s cane sits in the Holden Senior Center, and the town ensures to recognize the eldest town citizen with its presentation as often as possible. The town presents a miniature version of the cane as well as a certificate of recognition from the Board of Selectmen.
October 2013: Walter Perry, a lifelong Holden resident, received the Boston Post cane from town officials just days after turning 100 years old on Oct. 18. Perry was given the cane and a citation commemorating the occasion by selectman Kenneth Lipka, town manager Jacquelyn Kelly and town clerk Cheryl Jenkins. Perry was also presented with a small replica of the cane, that is kept on display in a case at the senior center. Also attending the celebration were Perry’s three sons, six grandchildren and 14 great-grandchildren. Perry was married for 65 years to the late Janet (Powers) Perry and lived for many years on Raymond Street. He was a furniture salesman for Northridge Furniture in Worcester. (Sentinel article via Stephen Hoffman)
April 2012: At 105 years old, Holden resident Harriet Flury is officially the town’s oldest resident, and on Thursday four generations of her family members along with friends and local officials came together at Holden Rehab and Nursing Center to see Flury be honored with the Boston Post Cane. [Article]
Alice Brown (age 97) received Holliston’s cane on September 14, 2006. Alice grew up in Mansfield and was a nurse for 40 years. (via Holliston TAB)
For some time Hopedale’s cane was gathering dust, but they have revived the tradition. They do not have their cane, so recipients receive a decorative pin.
November 2012: Alice Dalton, age 103, who’s “Irish all the way,” was born in Leicester and grew up in Worcester. She moved to Milford after marrying her husband, William, in 1935, and worked at the Milford Gas Co. After raising three children, the Daltons moved to West Yarmouth to retire. After her husband died, Dalton moved back to Hopedale at age 89 to be near her daughter, Carol Tomaso, of Milford. Dalton has three children, also has seven grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren, many of who live nearby. Dalton is very independent, and she drove up until age 98 – but she’s modest about her longevity. “It’s in the genes. It’s none of my credit,” said Dalton, adding that her mother and sister both lived to age 98. Dalton’s other sister, who lives in Florida, is 108 years old. Dalton enjoys reading the Milford Daily News every morning, and she’s a die-hard Red Sox and Patriots fan. (Milford Daily News article via Stephen Hoffman)
Thought to be lost or misplaced. However as of November 2004 we have reports that the tradition was going as of 2001. (source: Milford Daily News) A photo in Feb 2012 shows a substitute cane being used. Apparently Hopkinton’s cane was lost, but turned up in a resident’s closet. The original cane from 1919 is now on display in the senior center lobby while a duplicate cane is presented to the awardee.
Feb 2012: Sterling Hager, born Dec 21, 1911 Hager, a life-long Massachusetts resident, was born in Boxborough and spent his youth in Somerville and Arlington. He can remember his parents driving a car they ordered from a Sears catalog. Hager married in 1935 and took a job working for General Electric in Ashland. Because his job was considered essential for the war effort, he spent World War II at home with his wife and two young children. Their family eventually grew to five children who now live in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and South Carolina. He is now a grandfather and great-grandfather. The family lived in Hopkinton from 1940 to 1965 then moved to Holliston where they remained until 2002. Then Hager returned to Hopkinton, a town, he said, that grew considerably from the days where everyone knew everyone else in town. (Hopkinton Crier article via Steve Hoffman – snapshot)
A woman aged 92 declined. Says other women in town are older.
Retired by Selectmen to custody of Hudson Library. Some years back two persons, born the same year claimed seniority. Selectmen wrote to the Boston Post for advice; but were told to do what they wanted to about the presentation. That ended the tradition. It was settled by retiring the cane.In December 2004 the Hudson Sun noted that Colonel Adelbert M. Mossman, 96, was the holder of the Boston Post cane as Hudson’s oldest resident, so the tradition appears to have be reinstated.
As of September 2003, Kingston’s original Boston Post Cane is encased and on display in their new Town House along with a plaque containing the names of past and the present recipients. Presentation of the cane has been an ongoing tradition in the community. However, in 2000, replicas of the cane began to be presented to insure the safety of the original.(via email from Mary Lou Murzyn, Town Clerk, Kingston, MA)
Jun 2015: Town Clerk Paul Gallagher and Town Administrator Robert Fennessey presented Kingston’s Boston Post Cane to Julia Giovannini, age 103. (from an otherwise wildly inaccurate article in the Wicked Local paper, via Stephen Hoffman)
Feb 20, 2009: The Boston Post Cane in the town of Kingston will change hands during a 2 p.m. presentation ceremony at Wingate at Silver Lake. The cane will be bestowed upon the town’s oldest resident, Rosemary Wood, who will be greeted by Kingston Town Clerk Mary Lou Merzyn, Board of Selectmen Chairman Paul Gallagher and her family and friends. (via Enterprise news)
The Town of Lakeville has their cane but it is (mostly) retired.
The story goes that when it was to be presented to the next oldest citizen, that person was quite upset over the whole idea (apparently at being singled out as the oldest) and apparently it happened a second time so the cane was kept at the Lakeville Town Offices for several years.
When the displays at Lakeville Historical Society Museum were being organized the Board of Selectmen voted on December 11, 1972 that The Boston Post Cane should be given to the Museum to keep on display. It is currently on display in the Museum in a glass case. The last regular recipient of the cane was Isabel Willis, who passed away in 1956.
During the town’s 150th anniversary the selectmen presented their Boston Post Cane to Amelia England on June 9, 2003. She was 103 then and is still alive. She did not keep it and it was given back to the Lakeville Historical Society shortly after the ceremony.
(above via email from Susan Chadwick, Curator, Lakeville Historical Society, August 2010).
Seth Gross (via email) found a reference that Martin King Staples received the cane on March 20, 1948. [View via Google Books]
Lancaster continues the tradition and still has their original cane, however Town officials agreed to keep the cane as a historical artifact and to award a certificate and lapel pin. Lancaster’s cane was given to 15 residents until 1972, when it was retired. The ceremony was started up again in 1999.
May 2015: Kathryn Eusey, age 99, became the 20th recipient of Lancaster’s Boston Post Cane. Kathryn originally moved to Lancaster in the 1940s as the only child of Joseph and Elsie Osterblom of New York. She has two children, Charles and Elizabeth, who both live in Lancaster. She moved back to Lancaster from Sterling with her husband, Otho, in 1954. Her son, Charles, who accompanied her to the ceremony, said his mother loves her garden, and is a good cook with a Pennsylvania Dutch and Swedish heritage. “She loves to read the old hymns from the 1800s and early 1900s that I type up for her, these have a message. Her garden is full of perennials, flowers, peonies, lilacs, roses. We go for a walk every day up the hill behind the house. There’s a bench at the top where we sit, we can see Town Hall in the distance on a nice day,” Charles said.
Her best meals are New England baked beans, succotash and then, Kathryn chimed in, “lemon meringue pie, everyone loves pie.” (adapted from article by Lynne Klaft, Worcester Telegram, photo by Lynne Kraft,
via Stephen Hoffman)
1999-2015: Lancaster’s cane recipients were Mary Levigne, age 107; Mildred Lewis, age 105; Breta Frank, age 103; and Catherine Falvey, age 102.
1999: Lancaster’s first female recipient, Breta Frank, 103, received the honor.
A man removing rubbish in Charlton Mass., found a cane in the rubbish that belonged to the town of Lee, Mass. Its whereabouts had been a mystery for half a century. The last man to receive the cane moved to the Masonic home in Charlton in 1931, taking the cane. The finder had read an article in a magazine about a Dorcester woman, Ms. Eleanor Burns, who made a hobby of locating the current holders of the Boston Post Cane. He wrote to her and she notified the Town of Lee, and they now have the cane.On November 18, 2002, Mary Giarolo was presented the Boston Post Cane at a luncheon at the Senior Center. After the presentation, Mary’s name was added to a plaque. The plaque and the Boston Post Cane are on display at the Lee Town Hall.
Lenox continues the tradition.
July 2014: Bill Holmes received a cane on his 102nd birthday, but it was no ordinary one. Holmes, a resident of Kimball Farms in Lenox, was recently awarded the Boston Post Cane, which goes to the oldest living person in a given New England town. According to his family, Bill Holmes was born in Armagh, Northern Ireland on July 21, 1912, three months after the sinking of the Titanic. He grew up in Chicopee, where his father worked at the Spalding sports equipment factory while his mother raised him and his two sisters. Upon graduating high school, he went to work for Strathmore Paper Co. and attended Northwestern University’s Springfield branch, now Western New England University, during the evening. He served with the U.S. Navy during World War II, and upon his return, married Allie Coleman Davis on June 21, 1945. They raised five children in West Springfield, and later in Riverside, Conn. He retired from Strathmore after more than 50 years of employment while also serving 20 years in the Navy Reserve. Bill and Allie Holmes moved in 1990 to Kimball Farms, where they quickly became involved in the community. Volunteering at Tanglewood, serving as members of the First Congregational Church in Stockbridge, and golfing at Cranwell became part of their routine. Bill was one of the original presidents of the Kimball Farms Residents Association and organizer of golf events, while Allie led choral groups and handbell choirs. Allie passed away on Jan. 31, 2013, and is terribly missed by her beloved husband. On Monday, July 21, Bill celebrated his life and legacy with friends and family at Kimball Farms, and received the Boston Post Cane from Lenox Town Manager Chris Ketchen. (article in the Berkshire Eagle, via Stephen Hoffman)
Leominster, now a city, continues the tradition with a replica cane.
After Leominster officials honor the new recipient of the cane, the cane itself is returned to City Hall where it is held under lock and key for safe keeping. Leominster’s cane had been missing for decades, only to be discovered in Maine in 2000. The cane was found when it was put up for sale on eBay. City officials contacted the person selling the cane and re-acquired it. In 2009 this original cane was stolen from City Hall during a renovation project. Funds were raised to craft a replica replacement cane.
Sep 2013: Leominster awarded its cane to Louis Charpentier, age 102. The longtime Leominster icon was recognized as the oldest resident of the city, as he was presented with a Boston Post Cane pin by Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella after a service at St. Cecilia Church. For Charpentier — who turns 103 on Dec. 10 — having a gathering of his family was just as wonderful as being presented with the honor. “This is just beautiful,” Charpentier said. “It’s always nice to get together with so many people who love you. Charpentier is renowned for his carving skills. On display at the church is the parish’s crucifix, which he handmade. He also has a wildly popular display of Styrofoam Christmas carvings that adorn his Merriam Avenue lawn every winter. “That crucifix and my work will be here long after I’m gone,” Charpentier noted. “What an honor that is.” (article in the Sentinel & Enterprise via Stephen Hoffman)
June 2013: The holder of Leominster’s cane, Hilja Leppala, has passed away.
Jan 2012: Victoria Girouard held the cane from January 2006 until her death at age 104 in July 2010. She was succeeded by Lucia Ross until her death in October 2010, when she was 105. (Sentinel & Enterprise article via Steve Hoffman, article has details on the theft of the cane)
As of March 2006 the town is seeking a new receipient after the passing of Florence Berube at age 102.Ma
Mar 2012: Leominster Mayor Dean Mazzarella attended a birthday celebration last week for Ms. Corrine Shephard, who turned 105, making her the official eldest resident in Leominster. [Article]
Leverett continues the tradition. At one point they used a ceremonial cane and pin but now appear to present a certificate.
Mar 2014: Leverett’s oldest citizen – Ida Chaffee – said it was the achievement of a long held dream when she received the Gold Cane Award
this month for becoming Leverett’s oldest citizen. (article in Montague Reporter via email from Mike Jackson)
Oct 2009: Selectboard member Peter d’Errico jointly honored Ernst von Glasersfeld, 92, with a ceremonial gold cane at a senior center luncheon
honoring Leverett’s oldest residents. Also honored was Elaine Barker, 96. Ernst, born in 1917, said “This is a total surprise. And I can honestly say, I did not make any effort for it.” (via email from Mike Jackson, Montague Reporter)
For many years it was lost and a substitute was used. On August 2008 it was thought that the cane was found in the Historical Society’s storage vault – but they are now trying to verify what is what. (Read Wicked Local story on Lexington’s cane)
Lincoln appears to be continuing the tradition. It awarded the cane to Florence Hollingsworth (age 96) in 2003. Florence was born on August 28, 1906 and passed away in September 2006 at age 100.(via Lincoln Journal)The Lincoln Historical Society may have the cane, but the head appears to have been replaced. They are currently searching for additional records to confirm that Lincoln received a Boston Post Cane and what happened to it. If you have information on Lincoln’s cane, please contact the Historical Society.(via email from Jeanette King, LHS, October 2003)
January 2014: George Drake, 99, was awarded Lincoln’s cane in 2013. (via email from Virginia Rundell)
In June 2011 the Town of Littleton revived the tradition of awarding the Boston Post Cane when it was presented to longtime resident Hazel Plummer, age 103, by Town Administrator Keith Bergman. So far Littleton’s original cane remains missing. They have purchased two replica canes, one of which is held by the current recipient. (via Littleton Independent news article by Nathan Lamb)
We’ve learned that Longmeadow continues the tradition.
2003: Longmeadow’s cane was last presented on January 23, 2003 to Vivian Henschke. Vivian was born in 1902. (via email from the Longmeadow Historical Society, May 2009). On March 23, 2011 Vivian P. Henschke celebrated her 109th birthday with her son, Robert, her daughter and son-in-law, Karen & Russell Preston, and a number of grandchildren, great grandchildren & friends. (via email)
Lunenburg continues the tradition. While they have their original cane, the awardee receives a pin and certificate.
Oct 2015: Sarah Powell, age 101, is Lunenburg’s Boston Post Cane honoree. Born in Newfoundland in 1914, she arrived in the United States at 14, when her parents sent her to live with relatives. She lived in Chelsea and stayed there until seven years ago, when she came to Lunenburg to live with her daughter, Louise Hudson. Board of Selectmen Chairman Jamie Toale told the audience she’s a loyal “General Hospital” viewer, that she loves to read and she can recite the alphabet — backward. Powell, who said she never thought she’d make it to 101 and thanked Lunenburg for a “very nice” ceremony, told the Sentinel & Enterprise her home in Newfoundland had no running water. So coming to the United States was a big change, she said. When she came over here, she educated herself and worked for such companies as Polaroid and Everlastic, a manufacturer of parachutes and airplane belts. Two of her daughters described how their mother hasn’t let up after all these years. “She’s good. She’s got it up here,” Carol Powell said, pointing to her noggin. (excerpted from Sentinel & Enterprise news article by Jon Bishop, photo by Rebecca Leonard, via Stephen Hoffman).
Sept 2012: After the passing of Ruth Green over the summer, Thelma R. Katkin will become the new holder of the Boston Post Cane. Thelma will be 100 years old on November 20th and we will be having “Presentation Ceremony” at the Eagle House Senior Center in Lunenburg on November 20, 2012. (via Sue Doherty, Lunenburg Council on Aging)
May 2011: Lunenburg’s Boston Post Cane holder Ruth Green: she had the honor of throwing out the 1st pitch at the May 5, 2011 Boston Red Sox game at Fenway Park. Ruth has been alive for six of the seven Red Sox titles! Ruth will be 101 in June 2011..she is older then Fenway Park!
March 2011: Lunenburg awarded their cane to Ruth Green, born in June 1910, on March 7, 2011. The ceremony was held at the Eagle House Senior Center in Lunenburg. Cake and ice cream was served.
December 2004: the Lunenburg Selectmen awarded 99-year-old Lucia M. Ross the Boston Post Cane for being the oldest Lunenburg resident.(source: Fitchburg Sentinel)
Mansfield has reinstituted the tradition of the cane in November 2004.(source: Mansfield Daily News, Nov 26, 2004)Mansfield apparently lost its cane in the early 1950’s.We know that Mansfield practiced the tradition in the past. Daniel Leonard was a known receipient of the cane. A resident of Mansfield for 72 years he died on March 11, 1921.(via email from Diane D’Amico, October 2003)
Marblehead continues the tradition. While the cane is used in the ceremony, the awardee receives a plaque. The cane itself will be on display in Abbot Hall with a list of recipients. Marblehead’s cane has had some gaps in its presentation history including a long stretch of 21 years in the 1920s. There were also smaller gaps in the 1960s and ’90s when the cane was not presented to anyone.
Dec 2015: Alice Tompkins, age 105, is the 23rd recipient of Marblehead’s Boston Post Cane. Proud to be a Shipyarder, she has lived nearly all her life in Marblehead. “As a girl I swam in the harbor,” she said. “My grandfather worked on Abbot Hall tower.” In 1938, after she was married and her family moved ever so briefly to Gloucester then back again, Tompkins said they settled into a house on West Shore Drive. At the time it was the only house on West Shore Drive between Jersey and Village streets, she said. “And there were no side streets,” added Jan Rand, Tompkins daughter. “We had a big pond in the backyard and two dairy farms across the street. I grew up in the country.” Tompkins said it wasn’t until after World War II that young families began to settle in the area. She raised two children, Rand and a son, Stephen, who both still live in town. “We rode horseback and skied, swam a lot” she said. “We skied in Switzerland and traveled to Ireland and Scotland. Rand said her mother was always energetic. And on some levels she still is. Along with two children, Tompkins also has seven grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren, several of whom were on hand to help her celebrate. Karen Caulfield said she is amazed that her grandmother can keep track of not just her grandchildren but her great-grandchildren as well. Caulfield said Tompkins always asks for updates on the kids and knows who is in what grade, applying to which school and playing which sport. Rand joked that her own recall was not as good. “I’ve had a good life and good family,” Alice Tompkins said. “And I think that leads to a long life.” (Excerpted from Wicked Local Marblehead article by Chris Stevens. Photo David Sokol. Via Stephen Hoffman)
Marion still follows the Cane tradition with the Selectmen awarding the cane to recipients then returning the cane to the custody of the Town Clerk. The Town Clerk’s office has the honor of caring for the cane and determining who it should be awarded to. Apparently the cane had been lost for a time, but was recovered.
Dec 2015: Virginia Hathaway, age 98, has been awarded Marion’s Boston Post Cane. Hathaway was born in Hartford, Connecticut. She and her brother Edward lost their mother when she was 7 years old. After her mother’s death, her father, Albert Humphrey, moved the family back to Rochester where he was from. Her husband Alonzo Hathaway owned the Marion General Store, and when he passed away, Hathaway sold it to Jack Cheney. Her hobbies include tole painting, reading, making pickles and decorating. She graduated from the Swain School of Design and taught art at Friends’ Academy. “She always had an artistic bent,” said her daughter Ann, with whom she lives. She lost her brother, Edward, when he was in his 30s. He was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army when he jumped from a plane and his parachute failed to open. (article in Sippican Week, photo by Joan Hartnett-Barry, via Steve Hoffman)
July 2014: Margaret Nye celebrated her 98th birthday on March 1, but she became part of a tradition that began eight years before she was born. Nye was presented with the Boston Post Cane, given to a town’s oldest resident, by Selectman Jody Dickerson. Friends and family, including a couple of great grandchildren, gathered in Nye’s Converse Road for the brief ceremony. “It is an honor and a privilege to present this cane to Marion’s most seasoned resident,” Dickerson said. A Marion native, Dickerson said this wasn’t the first time he’s been by the house. “As a boy I used to deliver groceries from the Marion General Store to Mrs. Nye and her husband,” he said. On hand for the honor were Nye’s children, Diane Kelly and Donald Nye, as well as her two grandchildren and three of four great grandchildren.
Born in Newport, R.I., Nye settled in Marion around 1950 and moved into the Converse Road home in the mid-1950s. Her daughter lives close by. Kelly said longevity runs in the family as Nye’s mother lived to be 101 years old. Kelly said her mother is likely to reach that milestone, too. “I think she’ll make it,” Kelly said. “She’s pretty healthy.” Nye’s initials will be carved onto the gold plating. While the town officially owns the cane, Nye can hold onto to it for a little while so her friends and family can take a look at it. After that, it will be displayed in the Town House. “We’ll enjoy it temporarily,” Kelly said. (article in Sippican Week, via Stephen Hoffman)
August 2009: The current holder of Marion’s cane is Iva Griffith (born May 26, 1909). (via email from Michele Bissonnette, Assistant Town Clerk)
The previous recipient was Mildred Pickles who was awarded Marion’s cane at the age of 100 in March 2006.
Maynard continues the tradition. Maynard’s cane went tissing from 1928 to 1981 (read our story). Selectmen retired it and remanded it to the Maynard Historical Society. It is on display in the Maynard Town Hall. The Maynard Historical Society awards certificate to oldest resident.
March 2014: Mildred F. Duggan was awarded Maynard’s cane on March 4, 2014 by a proclamation of the Board of Selectmen. Mildred was born on September 1, 1912 at home in the old school house on the corner of Sudbury St .and Great Road. The daughter of Timothy M. Duggan and Ellen Brothers Duggan, she is the sister of the late J.Edmund Duggan and Margaret Duggan. Her parents and grandparents all immigrated to Maynard from Admiral’s Cove, Fermeuse, Newfoundland in the late 1890’s to work in the Mill. Her father Tim and his brother Owen Duggan owned and operated the Smoke Shop in what is now the Masonic Building and her uncle was also a Maynard police officer. Mildred attended Maynard schools and graduated from Maynard high school in 1938. She went to work on 9/5/1930 for New England Telephone where she worked for forty years. She is a proud member of the Telephone’s Pioneer Club. Upon her retirement from the phone company Mildred worked for several years at Digital Equipment Company. Mildred has been a parishioner of St. Bridget’s church for over 101 years. She has vivid memories of a wonderful youth, walking to Lake Boon,picnicking at Puffer’s Pond and traveling to Europe and around the U.S. She lives independently in the same home she has enjoyed for 96 years. Mildred is aunt to Owen and Paul, Ellen and Neil Duggan and many great nephews and nieces, all of whom love her dearly and whom she loves dearly as well. Mildred is a proud resident of Maynard who has lived a long wonderful life in the “shadow of the clock”. (via Ellen Duggan)
April 28, 2010: Arlene Cook, 98, was awarded Maynard’s Boston Post Cane on April 28th, acknowledging her as Maynard’s oldest resident. Arlene was honored by the Board of Selectmen and received her certificate of recognition from BoS Chair David Gavin.
April 9, 2008: after a proclamation by the Board of Selectmen, the cane was symbolically presented to Dorothy Barlow, 100, who received a certificate.
September 2008: Elizabeth “Bella” Dodd, holder of Maynard’s cane since 2004 passed away at the age of 103.
Retired to the Historical Society.
Mendon continues the tradition.
Feb 2016: Mendon has awarded its cane to Charles Salvia, age 98 (turns 99 in April). Salvia has had youthful looks and tendencies his whole life and said he surprises employees in his dentist office with his full set of real teeth and when he recently went to renew his license, Registry of Motor Vehicle workers were shocked at his age. Salvia met the woman who became his wife while working at Draper Mill in Hopedale and the two have been married for 63 years. Salvia also worked for General Motors and did some construction.
Salvia and his wife built their home in Mendon in 1959 and still live there. In his time in Mendon, Salvia said he saw the town transform from a rural farm community to a community that is much more developed. “It ain’t like it used to be,” he said. Over the years, Salvia and his wife watched their family expand several generations. The two have one daughter, one granddaughter, a great granddaughter and great grandson.
“I think that’s what’s keeping us going,” Helen Salvia said. Salvia has always done his own yard work up until last year when his granddaughter arranged for a landscaper to take over the tasks as a gift. “He was furious!” said Helen Salvia. But the two still do things they enjoy together, such as eating at JP’s in Westborough every other week, which is where Salvia said there will be a big party for him on his birthday. (excerpted from Milford Daily News article by Corin Cook, photo by John Thornton, via email from Stephen Hoffman)
Merrimac appears to continue the tradition. In November 2006 Minerva “Moonie” Buzzell was presented the town’s cane on her 100th birthday.(via The Eagle-Tribune)
Millbury’s original cane has been missing since around the year 2000 when they had suspended the tradition – a replica of the cane is in their town hall. As of September 2009 they were considering restarting the tradition.
May 2016: The holder of Millbury’s cane, Florence James, will celebrate her 104th birthday on June 2nd. (excerpt from article by Judy O’Connor, The Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, via Stephen Hoffman)
September 17, 2009: Millbury handed out our version of the Boston Post Cane via plaque to Helen Collette, born March 31, 1906. Ms. Collette is still living on her own at 103. (via email from Tish Hayes)
Montague has their cane and, in 2014, was looking to restart the tradition.
July 2014: Resident John Reynolds has raised the issue occasionally for some time, and recently the Board of Selectmen voted to allow him to go forward with the selection. “The town has one of those canes in its possession and it has been sitting on its shelf for awhile and we want to revive it,” Reynolds said. He had asked the board to decide whether to attach an expanded residency requirement to the award. Rather than the oldest known resident, the cane will be awarded to the oldest known resident who has lived in town for a decade or more. Selectmen unanimously authorized Reynolds to go to the town clerk to find the oldest resident who has lived in town for 10 years, and let selectmen know so they can award the cane. (article in The Recorder via Stephen Hoffman)
Nahant continues the tradition. The Nahant cane is under the care of the Nahant Historical Society.
May 2009: Fortunately Nahant’s Boston Post cane is one that has survived and is still being awarded to our town’s oldest citizen. The first recipient in 1909 was Franklin Johnson, a descendent of one of the earliest families on Nahant; the holder in 1953 was the former firefighter Lyman W. Waitt. Oliver C. Phillips took the cane with him when he moved to Maine in 1960. His family returned it to Nahant in the 1970s. The cane was then put into the care of the Nahant Historical Society by the town’s selectmen. Since then it has been awarded to Ann Tierney at 101 years in 1978; to Katherine A. Kelley at 98 years in 1979; to Hugo von Rehberg at 96 years in 1984; to his wife, Genia von Rehberg at 99 years in 1987; to Marguerite Hollingsworth at 99 years in 1995;to Edith Mahoney at 96 years in 1999;to Joseph P. Lermond at 97 years in 2004; to Judge Edward J. Murphy at 99 years in 2007. And just recently to Lucy H. Doane on her 100th birthday December 22, 2008. Most recently, the cane is presented and then kept at the Historical Society while a framed scroll is presented to the recipient as a permanent keepsake with the community’s congratulations and best wishes! (via email from Bonnie Ayers D’Orlando, Assistant Curator, Nahant Historical Society)
Nantucket has retired the tradition and their Boston Post Cane stays locked in a vault – available for viewing only upon direct request. The island put a stop to the tradition around 1998, when it became apparent that the cane was not a good omen for its residents, according to Town and County Clerk Catherine Flanagan Stover. (Taunton Gazette article via Steve Hoffman)
Needham’s cane is no longer given out, but is on display in the Selectmen’s Meeting Room in Needham’s Town Hall. (via Gloria Polizzotti Greis, Needham Historical Society).
The Town of Newbury, MA holds an original Boston Post Cane. In keeping with tradition, a replica is passed on to the oldest member of the town. The original cane is stored in the town’s vault.
2014: Newbury’s cane holder, Raymond S. Poor, of Newbury past away June 6th 2014 at the age of 107. (via email from Rick Sunman)
2009: According to the Newburyport Daily News Raymond Poor received the cane on February 26, 2007, the day after his 100th birthday. (via email from Leslie Haley, Asst. Clerk, August 2009).
Northborough’s original cane is kept at Town Hall for safe keeping. Their cane has not been presented since (about) 1995.
Mar 2015: There is movement to begin honoring recipients again soon. (via email from Robert Marchetta)
Northfield appears to be continuing the tradition.
Jan 2015: Northfield presented its cane to Robert Brassor, age 99. Born and raised in Northfield, Robert worked as a carpenter at the Northfield Mount Hermon School for more than 30 years. His friends and family gathered in his Winchester Road home, where the cane was presented to him by Selectboard Chairman John “Jack” Spanbauer. (article by David Rainville in The Recorder, via Stephen Hoffman)
Norwood continues the tradition.
Apr 2015: Norwood’s cane was awarded to John Howard, on the occasion of his 100th birthday. The town came out in full force to honor Howard, the former deputy chief of the Norwood Fire Department. Howard, who attends the Norwood Senior Center on a near-daily basis, knew a party was planned, but wasn’t expecting such a large crowd. Howard, who turned 100 on April 20, was honored by his family, friends, town officials, Norwood seniors and the Norwood Fire Department at the Norwood Senior Center on April 14. “It was wonderful. I’ve had parties before, but this is bigger, with more people than I thought there would be,” Howard said. (article from Brad Cole, photo by Brett Crawford, Norwood Transcript and Bulletin, via email from Stephen Hoffman)
Orange continues the tradition with a replica cane, the original cane was misplaced by a previous recipient’s family. The replica is held on display in the Town Hall with a plaque naming the town’s oldest resident.
Jan 2014: L. Doris Olson, 98, has received Orange’s Boston Post Cane. (via email from Stephen Hoffman)
Aug 2009: Mildred Bianchi, 97 (born Nov 13, 1911), was presented with the Boston Post Cane on July 18, 2009. Bianchi was also awarded a pin that she can wear in recognition of her achievement. She was also awarded citations from the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives, as well as the town of Orange. Bianchi informed those present that she plans to live to 103, matching that of her oldest relative’s record. (via email from Gary Bianchi, Mildred’s son)
Orleans still has their original cane (kept safely in a vault) and it is symbolically awarded to their oldest citizen. The recipient receives a certificate.
Jan 2016: Orleans awarded their cane to Mary Portnoy, age 102 (she’ll be 103 in February). Selectmen Jon Fuller and Alan McClennen met Mary at her home along with her daughter and Donna Faivre with the Council on Aging. Portnoy, who retired to the Cape 35 years ago with her husband, was born in New Bedford as one of six children. She is the last of her siblings, said McClennen, who all have lived into their 90’s. Her son is John Portnoy, who recently retired from Cape Cod National Seashore. (adapted from Wicked Local article, via email from Stephen Hoffman)
Orleans Town Clerk office has kindly provided their record of Orleans’ cane recipients:
Captain Nehemiah Smith Harding, 1909
Captain Edward E. Doane, 1919
Edward B. Crosby, 1936
Arthur Taylor Parker, 1945
Mary Seville Percival, 1947
Anna Victoria Ritz, 1989
Helen Van Dyke, 1991
Llewellyn Smythe Owen, Jr., 1992
Ann M. Smith, 1995
Jesse Laurence Moffitt, 2003
Anna H. Johnson, 2004
Dorothy Howerton, 2009
(via email from Cynthia May, Town Clerk, August 2009)
Woman aged 96 was to receive the cane, but it was sent out for repair and became lost.
Palmer has continued the tradition using a replica cane since the 1990s. They also have had a tradition of losing it for long stretches of time. The original cane was lost in the 1950’s but was recovered in November 2010. Stephen Nowak, Palmer Historical Commission, said the last person to receive the original cane was Daniel H. Splaine in 1952. Before that, he said the cane was missing for 50 years, after having been presented to Nelson Fisher in 1909. He said newspaper clippings indicate the cane was returned to the town offices by a woman in 1952 who left before anyone could question her.
November 2010: Palmer has found its cane after a 50 year absence. (via email from John Sasur and Sarah Longden (discoverer of the cane). Read the Mass Live Article (pdf) on the discovery.)
Paxton continues the tradition. After years of nonobservance, the Paxton Historical Commission resurrected this program as part of Paxton’s 250th celebration in 2015. A facsimile of the cane has been purchased. After the cane has been presented to the selected citizen of Paxton it will be maintained in the Paxton Historical Commission Office. The Boston Post Cane recipient will receive a certificate and a miniature Boston Post Cane lapel pin supplied by the Paxton 250th Anniversary Committee in commemoration of this award.
Jul 2015: Paxton has awarded its cane to Virginia Kimball, age 97. Kimball was born in 1918 in Rutland, a town where she spent the first 30 years of her life, and where her grandfather was an original member of the Rutland Fire Brigade. It was here she attended and graduated Rutland High School in 1936 as the salutatorian. She was a six-year first string player on the school’s basketball team and served as captain when the Rutland High School girls’ squad won their only state championship. She was a junior lifeguard, when as an eighth grader, helped rescue a peer from drowning. She had earned a full scholarship to well-regarded Portia Law School, but refused and opted for Northeastern Law in Worcester to stay close, so she could take care of multiple family members at the time. While in Rutland, Kimball also served as a World War II plane watcher. Kimball was very involved with the First Congregational Church, serving on every committee that formed over the years and was a fixture at the church suppers every Saturday. She married Ray Kimball in 1940, a romance that traces its roots to her third grade class. According to family members, the story goes: her future husband told her at the young age that he was smitten with her at first sight. Ray and Ginny welcomed three children into the world: Ray Jr., Rosemary and Miles. She describes her family as “happy-go-lucky” with each person bringing something different to the table. The Kimballs moved to Paxton in 1949 to the Luke Stratton house, which is the town’s third oldest home, after Ginny lived above Nellies’ in Rutland for a brief time. Virginia also served on the Paxton School Advisory Committee, Paxton Cemetery Committee, Paxton Planning Committee, was vice-chair of the Paxton Republican Committee and served with the Paxton Council on Aging and Housing Committee until the age of 90. One can find her today besting most challengers in a game of bridge and is an active Bingo aficionado. In 1997, Kimball won the title as best bridge player in the state of Massachusetts. Her husband won national recognition himself with bridge. Kimball is an avid reader who has always enjoyed dancing, knitting, sewing, skiing and swimming. While she never drank and never smoked during her lifetime, her tip to others is to “just grow old” to be in a position to get the Boston Post Road Cane. (original notice via email from Anita Fenton, excerpted article by Josh Farnsworth, The Landmark, photo by Jerry Ryan)
Jul 2009: John C. Hyland of Paxton, age 102, was presented the cane in August 2007. Mr. Hyland passed away in July 2009 at the age of 104.
Pembroke continues the tradition. Pembroke’s cane is kept on display in the Pembroke Center Library.
Jan 2016: Charles Marsh, age 100, has been recognized as Pembroke’s oldest resident and awarded the town’s Boston Post Cane. Several family members were present along with Congressman Bill Keating, Representative Josh Cutler, Veteran’s Agent David McPhillips, Selectman Lewis Stone, COA staff and other interested members of the community. (from Wicked Local Pembroke article and photograph, via Stephen Hoffman)
Aug 2011: The Boston Post Cane was presented to Joseph Lanzillotta on Thursday, August 25, 2011 at the Pembroke Council on Aging building. Mr. Lanzillotta is 102 years young. Many guests and family from all over the United States attended the presentation. The Friends of the COA planned the presentation with our Selectman, Lewis Stone, presenting the cane. (via email from the Pembroke Council on Aging)
Plympton continues the tradition. Their original remains in the hands of the Historical Society and is on display there. The town had a pair of replicas made, one for presentation and one as a spare.
Apr 2015: On April 6th the Plympton Selectmen presented their town’s cane to Doris Silva, age 97. Per the town’s process, Doris was presented with a replica of the cane.
Apr 2008: A tradition, which started as a publicity stunt for a long-forgotten newspaper, but became a loved, and often lost, part of small-town life in Massachusetts, was revisited Monday night at the Plympton Town House.
Surrounded by four generations of family, Eleanor Bowes, 95, was presented with the Boston Post Cane by selectmen. Bowes was born in Canton, the fifth of seven children. Her husband John, worked for the railroad and the lived in a variety of locales, including upstate New York, Rutland and Cape Cod. The two had three sons and 2 daughters and Bowes is now blessed with five grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. (Wicked Local News via scfowler77)
Princeton, MA continues the tradition – when the oldest citizen agrees.
On May 24, 2009, during the Town of Princeton’s Memorial Day observances, the chairman of the board of selectmen, Raymond Dennehy III, presented the Town’s Boston Post Cane to Marjorie P. Ollila. She was born in 1913. Prior to her receiving the cane it had been held by Wilmont Flanders, who died May 1 at the age of 99. During the presentation, Ollila remarked that the only problem with getting the cane is “now everyone knows how old I am.” (via email from Phyllis Booth, May 2009)
On August 29, 2003 Wilmont Flanders, 93, was awarded the cane. The cane was in the town vault for a year and a half after Stanley Porter died at the age of 99 because the next oldest person didn’t accept the cane.(via article in the Princeton Times, September 2, 2003)
Provincetown continues the tradition. The town has their original cane, which is brought to the award ceremony, but then returned to a safe storage location.
Jun 2016: Blanche Winter, age 99, is has been awarded Provincetown’s Boston Post Cane. Winter is a lifelong educator, dedicated peace activist and supporter of social justice causes who visited Provincetown seasonally for decades. She became a year-round resident in 2009, when she moved in with her daughter Jane Winter and daughter-in-law Susan Wheelan. Jane says that her mom and her dad, the late Sidney Winter, were close friends with artists Mischa and Helen Richter in Stamford, Conn. and New York City. The enduring relationship was the catalyst for what Jane calls “many subsequent visits to the Cape and Provincetown over the years.”
A recent visit to the Winter home off Aunt Sukey’s Way found a vibrant but modest Blanche a bit nonplussed by all the hoopla surrounding her pending honor. She spoke with pleasure about the “strong genes” she and her two sisters possess. (From her late 80s until she turned 90, Blanche was the main caregiver and home health organizer for her siblings Rose and Bess, who themselves lived to 95 and 98 years old, respectively.)
The self-described “baby of the family,” Blanche was born on May 30, 1917 in Bridgeport, Conn. Her parents moved to the Bronx soon thereafter. She attended New York City public schools through high school and then enrolled in a Franklin D. Roosevelt-era fashion design program created for students who couldn’t afford college. In 1942 she married her artist husband, settled in Stamford, and helped him run their graphic design business for the next 30 years. Daughter Jane reports that during this time her mom was a member of the Committee for a SANE Nuclear Policy (now known as Peace Action) and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. She also joined the Women’s Strike for Peace and worked to end the Vietnam War.
After her husband died, Winter became a literacy volunteer, teaching adults to read through a Stamford Public Library program. She says she worked with a mix of recent immigrants and adult American citizens who had never learned to read. She met the challenge of “teaching her students with dignity” head on. Of all her notable accomplishments, she is most proud of the decade of service she devoted to this challenging work. Joy radiates from her as she mentions receiving a commemorative pin honoring her efforts.
An avid traveler, Blanche joined one of the first groups of U.S. tourists to venture to the People’s Republic of China in the 1970s. She has also visited England, France, Italy, the former Yugoslavia, St. Petersburg and the Caribbean. In addition, she has traveled with Elder Hostel Tours throughout the United States. Although her mobility is challenged these days and she uses a walker to get around, Winter savors past jaunts to Herring Cove Beach and hopes for some degree of accessibility there this summer. She might even try to catch a few outdoor concerts at Far Land at the Beach. (article and photography by Deborah Minsky, Provincetown Banner, via Stephen Hoffman).
Jan 2016: Provincetown has awarded their cane to Lina Berry, 99, in the East End home that she has owned for 70 years. Lina (Fleisher) Berry was born, an only child, on Nov. 8, 1916 on the kitchen table of her home in Providence, R.I. During her childhood, she embraced various creative studies and, at the tender age of 10, enrolled in art classes at the Rhode Island School of Design. She learned how to play the cello and taught art classes at Girl Scout camps. Berry’s talents even landed her a special invitation to paint on Saturdays with professional artists at the private Quinsnicket Art Club. It was also at age 10 that Berry got her first dose of the Cape Cod life style. She journeyed here on a rumble seat — an uncovered folding seat in the rear of an automobile — trekking across the marshes and wooden bridges that made passage to the Cape possible before the canal was built. To earn money during high school, Berry had a job managing lab testing and certifying cotton goods for the cotton broker Jones, Gardner and Beal. Berry attended Classical High School in Providence and graduated from RISD with a degree in textile design. Later in life, Lina married Ken Berry, a textile engineer and chemist from Brown University and RISD. The couple moved to Walpole, where they both began working on government projects, she as a lab technician and he as a scientist during WWII on the Manhattan Project, headed by Vannevar Bush of the U.S. Office of Scientific Research and Development.
The couple had two children, a boy named Dana and girl named Deborah. In 1946, after a few years of renting, Berry decided to buy a 1908 Sears kit cottage in the East End to vacation with her family. The cottage, a Simplex Goldenrod model, had three rooms and no bathroom. She eventually remodeled and winterized it.
At age 40, Lina shifted gears and moved to Keene, N.H. where she attended Keene State College, earning her master’s degree. She continued to live in New Hampshire, teaching art classes at Keene Junior High for 20 years. In 1979, Lina retired and moved to Provincetown full-time. She was active in the community, serving on the board of assessors for nine years and taking on the role of president of both the Nautilus Club and the local chapter of the International Women’s Club. Escaping the harsh Cape Cod winters, Berry and her husband would spend time in places such as San Miguel D’Allende, Mexico, and Fairhope, Ala., until Ken died in 1995. Throughout her life, Berry never stopped using her artistic talents. She sketched, painted and designed jewelry and textiles, putting her individual stamp on various weaving, rug-hooking, sewing, embroidery and other art projects. She also enjoyed cooking and gardening, traveled abroad with college groups and didn’t think twice about driving from coast to coast with her children on vacations. (excerpted from a Wicked Local article by Katy Ward, photo by Vincent Guadazno, via Stephen Hoffman)
Jul 2012: Mary Louise “Mel” Kirchoff, age 100, was awarded Provincetown’s cane at a ceremony at the Council on Aging. She is the mother of local resident Carol MacDonald and her brother, Charles Kirchoff, who came up from South Carolina with his family for the event. Kirchoff was born in New York City in 1912 and moved to Provincetown in 1980, and is still living on her own. The highlight of her week is the COA’s strength training class on Wednesdays, and the COA lunch that follows. She loves bird watching from her deck, in Beech Forest and along the shore, and has four foster cats. (Wicked Local Provincetown article via Stephen Hoffman)
Raynham continues the tradition. Their original cane is currently sealed in a glass display case at the senior center. Recipients receive a plaque.
February 2013: Lois Reed, age 100, will receive the cane on Feb 28th. According to Council on Aging director Liz Moura, Reed is an active participant at the local senior center. She bakes tasty treats for the weekly bingo crowd and is one of the reigning champions at “Jeopardy.” (Boston Globe article via Stephen Hoffman)
June 2002: Anna M. Phillips held the title as the oldest citizen in the town of Raynham, Bristol County, MA until her death in 1995 at the age of 104 years. It is believed that Raynham still has the cane and they are still passing on the tradition of the cane by allowing the oldest person to possess it. (via e-mail from Brenda M. Levaseur Susol)
Rehoboth’s Boston Post Cane was regularly presented until 2001. The last recipient passed away in 2005. The cane went missing. It appeared again in 2015 in storage at the Senior Center. It is now in the possession of the Town Clerk and in their vault. They hope to one day revive the tradition, but keep the cane in secure display. (via email from E.Otis Dyer, Jr.)
Rochester not only continues the tradition, it is one of only a handful of towns across New England that allow the oldest resident to keep the cane until they pass away, which was the original tradition.
Aug 2015: Surrounded by family, Marion Thomas, age 98, was honored with the Boston Post Cane by Town Clerk Naida Parker. “Oh, it’s beautiful,” Thomas said upon receiving the gold-headed, ebony cane. Thomas was born on Dec. 21, 1916 in Provincetown to Portuguese immigrants. She spent most of her life there, before moving to Rochester 10 years ago to be near family. Her son Tom Thomas, his wife Darlene, and their daughter Jodi, along with her niece and two great-nieces, were among those in attendance at the ceremony held in the Senior Center. As part of an extended family of fishermen, Tom said his mother focused on raising children and running the household while her husband was on the water. “She was a fisherman’s wife…She also spent a lot of time chasing after me,” Tom joked. Kathy Rubbico said her great-aunt always has time for family. “She takes care of everybody,” Rubbico said. “She’s so genuine and has a big heart.” In her 50s, Marion started working for the Provincetown Chamber of Commerce. She spent 27 years there before retiring at the age of 85. When asked about the key to his mother’s longevity, Tom said it’s no secret. “It’s just good living, really. She always took care of herself, never smoked, never drank,” he said. “She had one cup of coffee a day, that I know of.” Though, excellent genetics are also on her side. One of Marion’s brothers lived to be 101, and another passed away at the age of 99. Two other siblings lived to their 80s. In addition to family, her other interest is gardening. At her old home in Provincetown, she tended hydrangeas, roses and many other plants for 70 years. “She was definitely a gardener,” said Laurie O’Neil, Marion’s great-niece. “Her roses still run the length of the house.” For Marion, having so many family members at the ceremony was a pleasant surprise. “She had no idea the rest of the family was coming. She’s a very humble lady so this is above and beyond,” said Tom. The family, which boasts five generations, is about to get bigger. Marion has three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild and a second great-great-grandchild is one the way. Regarding her status as the town’s oldest resident, Marion said it is an honor. “I think it’s wonderful. Today has been very nice,” she said. Parker said Marion will hold onto the cane for safe keeping. (article and photograph by Matthew Bernat, Sippican Week via Stephen Hoffman)
Feb 2015: Rochester awarded its cane to Armand Cournoyer on the occasion of his 100th birthday, Feb 3rd, surrounded by children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. Born in New Bedford, Cournoyer lived most of his life in Acushnet with his wife of 53 years, Blanche, who passed away in 1995. He worked for the Acushnet Process Company for 37 years and retired at the age of 62. Now known as the Acushnet Company, the business produced rubber products and golf balls. Cournoyer came to Rochester from Acushnet four months ago to live with family. Recently, he’s been in the Sippican Healthcare Center due to health problems. An avid fan of tennis, Cournoyer played until the age of 93. His love of the outdoors included traveling: visiting Europe, the Caribbean, Alaska and other locales through the years. (excerpted from article in the Sippican Week, by Matthew Bernat – via email from Stephen Hoffman; photo by Matthew Bernat).
Dec 2014: Town Clerk Naida Parker said the cane’s previous recipient, Ralph Walker, recently died at the age of 100. The search for the next recipient has begun.
Jul 2009: We note the passing of Chester E. Rollins, 99. Chester was born in Milton and lived in Rochester since 1924. He was the oldest resident of Rochester and received the Boston Post Cane in October of last year. Mr. Rollins worked as a foreman for Edward Bartholomeu Cranberry Company in Rochester for many years before retiring. (via email from Richard Griffiths, August 2009)
Jul 2008: Arthur Lionberger, holder of the cane, passed away at age 105. He received the cane when he was 99 (2002). (via Veronica Lafreniere – article: Lionberger)
Rockland apparently continues the tradition, but it isn’t clear if the original cane is in their possession. The most recent recipient was Maggie MacDonald.In February 2003, the Town of Rockland offered a reward of $250 for information leading to the recovery of the cane.
Rockport continues the tradition after a hiatus of many years.
May 2013: Margaret Fears was awarded Rockport’s cane. Margaret (or ‘Nan’ as we call her) turned 100 years old on February
17, 2013. Nan has lived every day of her 100 years in Rockport being born in Pigeon Cove, the northern section of Rockport. (via Craig Fitzgerald, grandson of Margaret)
Rowe continues the tradition.
Feb 2014: Florence M. Bjork, 97, was given the town’s “Most-Senior Citizen” Cane Award this month, presented to her on behalf of the Board of Selectmen. For many years Florence played a prominent role in the life of this town — as its postmaster, town treasurer, auditor and as keeper of The Village Store. Bjork has been a Rowe resident for 68 years and still lives in the same house in which she and her late husband, Wendell, set up and ran The Village Store from 1955 to 1983. Now, the closest stores for residents living here are in Charlemont. The Bjorks moved to Rowe in 1945, and Mr. Bjork served as the town’s postmaster starting in 1946. When he retired in 1973, his wife took over as postmaster, until 1980. The Bjorks established the town’s small post office in their store, until that office was moved to the Town Hall. The couple have two sons, Alan and Timothy Bjork, also of Rowe. According to Alan Bjork, his mother was elected town treasurer in 1956, 1959 and in 1960. In addition, she has also served as town auditor and as selectmen’s clerk. (article in The Recorder, via Stephen Hoffman)
Rutland has tried to continue the tradition. During the 1980’s the Rutland Lion’s Club had a replica made of the cane. This is the cane that the Town of Rutland issues to the oldest living resident. The original cane is in the possession of the Town Clerk. (via email from Sally Hayden, August 2009)
2015: Reports that the Rutland Historical Society is attempting to revive the tradition. (article in Landmark via Stephen Hoffman)
Sandwich continues the tradition. They have lost their original cane (the exact circumstances are unknown). A replica was made in 2013 with the help of W. Daniel Nullity, Jr., a gunsmith. The replica is brought to the presentation but then returned to the Town hall. The recipient receives a pin and other gifts.
Feb 2016: Sandwich has awarded its cane to Elinor Rose Creagh, age 100. Elinor is the matriarch to four children, 10 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren, many of whom showed up for a luncheon Wednesday, February 17, honoring Ms. Creagh—Sandwich’s oldest resident. To surprise her, Ms. Creagh’s family members squeezed into a room behind the council on aging’s dining area, ready to emerge with a big cake, smiles and flowers. Inside the dining room, about 50 guests—including town officials, friends, neighbors and family—gathered at long tables to honor Ms. Creagh. Family members joined the honoree as she was ushered up to a staging area where town clerk Taylor D. White read a proclamation. “…whereas she has traveled the world extensively in her many years; and whereas she is an active member of the community… we wish her the happiest of birthdays.” Mr. White said. In his hand was a brass-tipped walking stick, otherwise known as the Boston Post Cane, which is awarded to the town’s oldest resident. Mr. White gave the cane and proclamation to Ms. Creagh, who smiled and thanked him. While Ms. Creagh could not take the cane home, she did receive a keepsake pin depicting the cane, a pink corsage, lots of praise, and a lunch of shepherd’s pie and birthday cake. Born in Brockton, Ms. Creagh worked at an ice cream parlor when the Bourne Bridge opened and later as a secretary for the Brockton school system, volunteered at the Wing School in Sandwich, and at Corpus Christi Church, traveled extensively and was, and is, fiercely independent, her daughter Carolyn O’Leary said. Ms. Creagh still lives in her own apartment and drove her car everywhere before surrendering her license last year, Ms. O’Leary said. (excerpted from a Sandwich Enterprise article by Tao Woolfe, photo by Tao Woolfe, via email from Stephen Hoffman)
Shelburne continues the tradition.
July 31, 2008: The town of Shelburne presented the cane to Thelma Shaw. A resident of Anchorage Nursing Home. (via Linda Bird)
Sherborn continues the tradition and their original cane now resides in Town Hall in the custody of the Town Clerk, and each honored elder is given a miniature replica of the cane, which can be worn as a pin and need not be returned. In 2013 the Sherborn Historical Society created an exhibit featuring the Boston Post Cane and its 21 recipients at Sherborn Town Hall. George Clark (1814-1913) was the first cane recipient. The award was made in 1909 when Clark was 95 and he held it for three years to age 98.
Nov 2013: The most recent recipient was Mary McCarthy, who received the cane in 2009 at age 100 and relinquished it in 2013 at age 104. (in a Wicked Local article via Stephen Hoffman)
Shrewsbury’s cane is located in a glass case on the second floor of the Shrewsbury Historical Society.(via email from Tom Rooney, Feb 2007)
Shutesbury’s cane remains missing (and they would welcome its return no questions asked). They csrry on the tradition currently with presentation of a lapel pin and a certificate. In the recent past they have used miniature replicas of a gold cane. We keep a plaque of the recipients on display in our town hall.
Prior to the replicas, they used a cane hand-crafted from oak cut on town property symbolizing the importance of forest products to the Town of Sutesbury and all of New England. Oak was chosen because of its strength and longevity. The handle of the cane is a decorative knob from an old pair of hames from a draft harness in recognition of the town’s creation as a result of an early transportation project. The knob on the end of the cane represents the celestial sphere which contains all things including those who have gone on ahead of us. Inside the knob is a list of all those to whom the cane has been
presented. Connecting the list with the outside is a cord representing the memories that connect us with those who have gone ahead. The tassel on the end of the cord represents the flower of life. It is connected to the cord of memory with a strong anchor bend representing faith. The base socket for standing the cane, also made from Shutesbury oak has a tiny five pointed American star in its exact center. For obvious reasons, they treasure this cane and no longer send it out of town hall. (via email from Leslie Bracebridge, Shutesbury Town Clerk)
July 2011: The current holder of Shutesbury’s tradition is Emil Dihlmann. His presentation was especially meaningful as he was also born in their community in 1916.
Somerset recently found their original cane amongst a number of other canes they had in their collection. They had assumed the original cane had been lost. They are considering reviving the tradition.
Retired to the Town Clerk.
Southbridge continues the tradition.
September 2013: Florence Yates, age 105, was awarded Southbridge’s cane. Sen. Richard T. Moore, D-Uxbridge, joined Southbridge officials at a birthday celebration for Florence Yates. Flanked by members of her family, the senator presented Mrs. Yates with a citation from the Massachusetts Senate.
The status of their original cane is unknown (thought to have disappeared), but the town appears to continue the tradition.
July 2014: Mary E. Madden is the oldest resident in Spencer and while she holds the Boston Post Cane in her 99-year-old hands because of her age, she holds much more in her memory and in her heart. A longtime teacher, and at one time an avid quilter, rug hooker and needlepoint stitcher, she still lives in the home her father bought in 1912 — two years before she was born there. Earlier this month she counted down from a stage at the Spencer Fairgrounds to start the town’s annual fireworks display. She taught three generations in the schools of Spencer and volunteered there for 26 years after she retired. She never drank liquor or smoked cigarettes and friends say she has a positive attitude, facing every new challenge with hope for a good outcome. Though she never married, she has close family in her nieces and nephews and their children. She is the last of her parents’ five children and she hopes to stay in her home and among her friends in Spencer for a long time to come. (article by Kim Ring TELEGRAM & GAZETTE, via Stephen Hoffman)
Stockbridge has it’s Boston Post Cane (it is kept at the Town Hall). It is not known if they continue the tradition. (cane status via email from Stephen Fradley)
Disappeared from 1951 to 1971. They appear to continue the tradition.
March 2014: It’s with great sadness that we relay the news of the passing of Dr. Donald Brown, at 105 years. As Stow’s oldest resident and Boston Post Cane holder, Dr. Brown has been an active part of the Stow community for many, many years. (article in Stow Independent, via email from Stephen Hoffman)
For many years we believed the Sturbridge cane was gathering dust, but we learned in 2015 that (at least) as of 2014 the tradition is alive in Sturbridge. Their original cane is safely stored in a glass case at their town hall and recipients of the cane receive a replica pin.
Jun 2014: Sturbridge’s cane was awarded to Leona Berry, age 101. Leona was born in Southbridge on Nov 21, 1912. She moved to Sturbridge in 1935 when she got married and has lived in the same house (without central heating) until 2013. She raised five children and worked at Hyland Orchards. (via email from Doris Sosik, Leona’s daughter).
Our neighbors in Sudbury continue the tradition (or have revived it).
October 2010: Sudbury’s Boston Post cane was presented to Berthe Lessard on 6 October, 2010. Ms. Lessard was 100 at the time. (Sudbury Patch via email from Stephen Hoffman).
Sutton appears to continue the tradition.
Jan 2012: Ruth (Shaw) Putnam passed away on Dec 13, 2011 at the age of 98. She was the holder of the Sutton cane. (Telegram & Gazette Obit via email from Steve Hoffman)
Swansea continues the tradition. Swansea has their original cane and had presented the cane to the town’s oldest resident for decades, but have decided to keep it at the Town Hall and give out pins that are replicas of it so that it can be preserved.
July 2013: Ruth Doodson, age 100, was awarded the Town’s cane by Selectman Kenneth Furtado who presented Ms. Doodson with a citation from the town and a pin that is a replica of the Boston Post cane. She spent much of her life doing things around her hometown of Swansea, including being the town’s first recreation director, a job she did for eight years. “She ran the town, basically, for awhile,” Elaine Applegate, Ms. Doodson’s daughter, said. “All the children knew her because she was the recreation director. Wherever she went, they knew her.” During World War II, Ms. Doodson helped to transport people to hospitals. She was extremely involved in the South Swansea Union Church, that is now named the Baptist Church. She was the choir director there. Ms. Doodson was one of the members of the first graduating class of Joseph Case High School in 1930. She was the class treasurer for the Class of 1930 and wrote jokes to put in the yearbook. She organized a reunion for students who went to Case during the first 50 years of the school’s existence. Ms. Doodson, who taught English in the Swansea Public Schools, was president of the Swansea Historical Society for two years and regent of the Daughters of the American Revolution which manages the Martin House. The selectmen appointed Ms. Doodson to be a Swansea land trustee and she was also a member of the Swansea Board of Library Trustees. Ms. Doodson was the president of the Coles River Club. (article in The Spectator via Stephen Hoffman)
Templeton resumed the tradition of awarding the cane to their oldest resident in 2009
Mar 2015: Representatives of the Narragansett Historical Society and the Templeton Board of Selectmen awarded the Templeton cane to Josephine Ruckey on March 27th, the same day she celebrates her 100th birthday. Mrs. Ruckey, a native of New Jersey, came to Dudley Road, Templeton, in the early 1960s after living in Gardner, according to her son, William Ruckey of Templeton. She worked as an upholsterer for five or six furniture companies in Gardner, including S. Bent, Rousseau Brothers and Thayer, before her retirement. A born leader, she was a hard-working single mom, who raised three grateful sons. She was active at St. Joseph’s Church, Gardner, before joining Holy Cross Church, East Templeton. She also is a member of the Polish-American Social League and the Templeton Women’s Club, among other groups. She enjoys crafts and loves bingo. She moved from Dudley Road to the Baldwinville Nursing Home early in 2015. (update and photo via email from Brian Tanguay)
May 26, 2009 the cane was presented to Grace Cadran. Grace will turn 101 on July 7th. The cane was presented by Beth Arsenault, Templeton Historical Society, and Gerald Skelton, Templeton Board of Selectmen. (via email from Beth Arsenault, May 2009).
The cane had disappeared but reappeared and is now in the custody of the Templeton Historical Society. The tradition of awarding the cane is under review. (via e-mail from Beth A. Arsenault, May 2002)
Hetty V. Sherman who held the cane in Templeton Mass, passed away on Nov. 25, 2003 at 104 years old. The Narragansett Historical Society along with the town Selectmen, recently awarded the cane to Kathleen Harding, age 99, living on South Road in Templeton. A miniature hand made cane is given to the recipient after the presentation of the original. After the ceremony, the original is returned to the Narragansett Historical Society Building where it is displayed. (via email from Brian P. Tanguay, Trustee, July 2004)
Tewksbury continues the tradition. They town has their original cane which is on display in the Historical Society room at the Public Library. A replica cane is given to the recipient which they keep until their passing. (This replica went unused for 20+ years during a lull of awarding the cane. The tradition was revived in 2013).
Dec 2014: On Dec.10, the Tewksbury Historical Society handed the town’s cane to Mr. Solomon Eskin, age 102 (October). He is a decorated WW2 paratrooper, having seen action in the Philippines. He is very upbeat and gets around with very little assistance. They suspect he may hold this cane for a very long time. (via email from Ken Mouser)
June 2014: Tewksbury presented their Boston Post Cane to Martha “Mattia” Durso, 100 years young, born in Nov. 1913. Martha will be the first recipient of the cane mounted in its’ new display case, which is mounted in the history room of the Tewksbury Library. (via Ken Mouser – Tewksbury Historical Society)
Sep 2013: The Tewksbury Historical Society presented their actual Boston Post Cane to Anna Ippolitto at the Tewksbury Library. This will be a ceremonial presentation of the actual cane so that Anna can hold the real cane and see her name plate mounted on the plaque, where she will be part of our history forever. (via Ken Mouser, Tewksbury Historical Society)
Feb 2013: Anna Ippolito, age 101, was awarded Tewksbury’s cane. For Ippolito, a great-great-grandmother to eight, it was an unexpected honor and a chance to celebrate with her relatives, whose love and kindness she credits as the source of her longevity. (Lowell Sun article via Stephen Hoffman)
In 2015 we received a report that Topsfield appears to be continuing the tradition. (mentioned in an article about the Georgetown cane by Bryan McGonigle, Wicked Local Georgetown).
Townsend has maintained the tradition for a number of years. The original cane is presented to the oldest citizen during a ceremony and then is returned to the town hall for safe-keeping. A gold pin is given to the recipient in its place.
July 2012: Thelma (Wright) Gionet, 98, will be given the cane by town officials in a ceremony in the near future. The previous holder was her husband Bill, who passed away on June 8. They were married 70 years. This could be the first time the Townsend cane has gone from one spouse to another. Both Susan Funaiole, the town clerk, and Chris Clish, the director of the Council on Aging, said they could not recall it happening before. The cane has been held by members of the same family before. Lori Stevens, who lived to be 102, was the second in her family to receive the cane. Her mother, Nellie Ballou, who lived to be 105, held it before her. Of course, there was another holder in between, Clish said. Ballou was the first person to receive the cane after Clish started work at the council in the early 1980s. Gionet was born in Townsend and taught Grade 4 at the Spaulding School. She and Bill, a young man from Shirley, married before World War II. The couple went out for seven years before they married and he moved to Townsend. A professional carpenter, he built their home right next to the school where she taught generations of children. “It was a beautiful home he made me,” she said at the ceremony when he received the cane in 2011. The couple had one child, their son Kenneth. (Read more: Nashoba Publishing Article via Stephen Hoffman)
Feb 2009: Townsend’s cane is currently held by Pearl Russell, who will be 99 on Feb 20, 2009. (via Jane Jackson)
October 2003: Christina Trombly, 99, was awarded the cane. Previous recepients of the cane included Nellie Ballou and Lulu Stevens – Nellie’s daughter.(via the Townsend Times, October 19, 2003)
Retired to a safe place.
Wales’ Boston Post Cane is in the care of the Town Clerk. The Town of Wales Council on Aging is looking into having a lapel pin made that could be given to the oldest citizen, for them to wear and keep. (via Leis Phinney, Town Clerk)
Walpole’s cane is on display in their Town Hall next to the Town Clerk’s office. (via email from John Anderson, Walpole Historical Society, May 2009).
Wareham continues the tradition and keeps its cane safe and sound in the Wareham Free Library.
Feb 2013: Wareham’s cane has been awarded to Charlie Wilson, age 103. The youngest of seven children, Charlie enjoyed boxing and left school when he was 16 to join the army. He later fought with the navy in World War II. Wilson then worked as a handyman and was married for 60 years before his wife passed away. (Wicked Local article via Stephen Hoffman)
July 22, 2009: Wareham’s Boston Post Cane was awarded to Ida Monteiro on her 99th birthday in the presence of several generations of her family. Ida lived for a long time on Onset Avenue and then she moved to Camp Street, her home welcomed many for dinner and coffee. In WW2 Ida worked as a welder in the Quincy shipyards. (via email from Richard Griffith)
Ina (Kumpunen) Johnson appears to be the most recent holder. She died in Dec. 2008.
Barlena (Govoni) Hagen received the cane in May 2004 (source) Mrs. Hagen passed away in March 2006.
Previously, the cane was held by Mary (Olivieria) Roderiques, who received it in October 1999 (source). Mary passed away in Aug. 2003.
Martelle (Giles) Murphy held Wareham’s Cane from 1989 until her death in June 1998. (source)
(above updates are courtesy of Richard Griffith)
Warwick continues the tradition. Customarily the cane is only kept by the recipient for a few days or weeks and then it is returned to the town’s safe.
Mar 2015: Warwick’s cane was presented to Ralph Hills, age 93. Ralph grew up in York, Pa., and lived all over the East Coast, putting down roots on Long Island, N.Y., and later in the Washington, D.C., area. He and his wife moved to Warwick in 1992. Hills said he has two things to thank for his longevity. “I made it this far on good genes and the good, loving care of my wife”. He met his wife, Helen Hills, while they lived in D.C. Soon after they married, they headed for the hills of New England, and wound up in Warwick. Hills spent his career as a music teacher on Long Island, and can play “just about any instrument,” according to his wife. His favorites, though, were the clarinet and piano, and he still likes to tickle the ivories when he’s moved to music. For 17 years, he was the music minister of the Trinitarian Congregational Church of Warwick, playing the piano at Sunday services. Hills has shared his love of music with the church and the greater community. Hills became a vegetarian 10 years ago, and has been a supporter of animal rights longer than that. He’s also a supporter of human rights. “As a young naval officer, he encountered discrimination in the South for the first time when he went into a restaurant with some fellow naval personnel who were refused service because they were black, he has been an advocate for equal rights ever since.” Hills joined the Navy during World War II, and was stationed in Okinawa, Japan, working with the military government. (excerpted from article by David Rainville, The Recorder. Photo by David Rainville.)
October 3, 2007: the cane was presented at a meeting of the Warwick Women’s Guild to Katherine (Kolka) Magi, who will be 90 on October 27, 2007. (Patricia Lemon, Selectman)
October 2007: The cane was most recently given to a Mr. Kootz, a centenarian who returned it to the Town before moving with his son to Maine. (Patricia Lemon, Selectman)
September 22, 2004: presented to Flora Witherell as the oldest resident. Flora is 95 years young. (via from her son-in-law)
Watertown has its original cane. It had two replica canes made, one for the oldest man and one for the oldest woman, and have presented them from time to time.
April 2009: Watertown’s cane is on display at the Edmund Fowle House museum. The town is considering restarting the tradition of awarding the cane to their oldest citizen(s). [article]
Feb 2009: Through the efforts of a number of private citizen’s Watertown’s cane is about to be returned.
July 2008: Watertown’s cane was recently found and was being returned to the Watertown Historical Society. It’s a bit banged up, but hopefully can be restored. (via Joseph Piane) [photo]
Webster does not have their cane. A replica pin is presented instead.
December 14, 2008, the cane was presented to Florence Dusty, 102 years old, by her grandson Daniel Murray.
Wellesley continues the tradition. Their cane is stored in the Wellesley Historical Society’s vault for safe keeping, and is only taken out for display or award ceremonies. The recipients receive a commemorative pin and a certificate (the cane is returned to the safe).
Apr 2016: Wellesley has awarded their cane to Herlda Senhouse, age 105. Herlda joked that her lack of children led to a more stress-free – and longer – life. Senhouse has lived in Wellesley for 37 years. She said receiving the cane spurred some introspective reflection. “It’s been a long journey and it’s hard, but you forget,” Senhouse said, referring to occasional bad times. While she was married to her husband, William H. Senhouse, for 62 years, they never had any children. “That’s why they tell me I live to 105,” Senhouse joked, “I don’t have anything to stress me out.” The key, in her view, is relationships. “I pick up young people as I go along and they keep me going.” (article and photograph by Beth Treffeisen, New Boston Post, via email from Stephen Hoffman)
Wendell continues the tradition awarding a replica cane to their oldest citizen.
Dec 2014: Wendell awarded its cane to Adam Drozdowski, and gave him a pin that is a replica of the Boston Post golden cane. Adam is living independently with his wife Lillian, who would be next in line for the cane. Adam will turn 100 years old in March, and grew up in the same neighborhood where he lives now. He told board members stories form his youth, about cutting ice chunks from Ruggles pond and bringing horse drawn sled loads to a warehouse in Millers Falls where it was held until ice men sold the blocks to residents for their ice boxes. (article in the Montague Reporter via email from Mike Jackson).
The West Boylston Boston Post Cane is alive and well and proudly displayed in their Municipal Building. The replica must be returned upon his/her passing. The recipient also receives a certificate.
June 27, 2007 a replica was presented to the latest recipient this evening at a Selectmen’s meeting (via Neil Norum, West Boylston Historical Commission)
In July 2010 West Bridgewater located their cane in a Town Hall closet after it had gone missing for over 25 years! The cane was unknowingly stowed away in a hall that was undergoing renovations. They restarted the tradition after finding their cane, but a replica cane is used for the ceremony – the original cane remains on display at Town Hall.
August 2014: Forrest Barber, 99 was honored with West Bridgewater’s cane. Barber, a resident of the town since 1985, was presented the cane and a commendation from the Board of Selectmen during a special ceremony held as part of the board’s meeting. “One of the highlights for me during the year is when the Board of Selectmen award the Boston Post Cane to the oldest resident in town,” said Town Administrator David Gagne. “To see the excitement and enthusiasm from Mr. Barber and his family is a truly rewarding experience.” Barber was moved by the ceremony, and his family was surprised by the tradition. “I was very touched by the outpouring of goodwill from the town and my friends and family,” said Barber, who was born and raised in Taunton. “He had tears in his eyes,” said Roxann Madonna, one of Barber’s three daughters who resides in Tyngsboro. “We were very surprised because we had never heard of this tradition,” said Madonna. “I’d like to express my thanks to the people who made this possible – the Board of Selectmen of West Bridgewater and the Historical Commission.” Barber, who made his living as an auto mechanic, was married for 58 years before his wife’s death nine years ago. Barber was presented with a specially designed replica cane, while the original remains displayed at Town Hall to prevent future loss of the century-old antique. (article and photograph by Sandra Churchill, via Stephen Hoffman)
February 2014: Yesterday I was notified that my father, Forrest E. Barber, of West Bridgewater, MA, will soon receive the Boston Post Cane for currently being West Bridgewater’s oldest citizen. His date of birth is January 28, 1916. He recently turned 98 years old. (via email from Catherine Barber)
September 2011: The Enterprise newsletter reports that Elizabeth Lewis, 100, received the West Bridgewater, MA, Boston Post cane at a meeting of the selectmen on August 2, 2011. (via email from Steve Hoffman)
Reinstated the tradition of honoring the oldest citizen in 1999.The cane was awarded to Stella Paquette, age 97, in March 2007. The former president of the West Brookfield Senior Citizens Club has two sons and a daughter, 10 grandchildren, 22 great-grandchildren and two great-great-grandchildren.(Lost the cane at one point. Unsure if the original cane was found.)
May 2013: West Newbury’s Boston Post Cane was given to Barbara L. Gove. Barbara will be 95 on June 8th. She is a long standing
active member of the West Newbury Congregational Church. (via West Newbury Congregational Church)
July 2008: We have recently located our Boston Post Cane and will be starting the tradition again this fall. Our original cane will go on display in town hall, and a replica will be given out. (via Theresa Poore, director of the West Newbury Senior Center)
Westborough has the cane and continues the tradition by presenting the receipient with a pin replica and a certificate. The cane itself hangs on the wall in the Board of Selectmen’s office. In June 2003, the Selectmen awarded the cane to Frederick Temple on the eve of his 104th birthday. According to the report, the cane was recently just handed down from family to family.(via article in the MetroWest Daily News, June 27, 2003)
Westford continues the tradition.
Jun 2015: Lifelong Westford resident Thyra Ricciardi, better known as T, was born Feb. 27, 1916, making her 99 years old and the most senior citizen of Westford. Ricciardi was recently honored in her home with the Boston Post Cane, a replica pin, state certificates and flowers. Ricciardi was born on Lowell Road, the child of immigrants from Sweden. Her uncle, Axel Lundberg, came here alone at the age of 16 to purchase stone from Fletcher Quarry and started his own stone cutting business. Ricciardi’s parents, the Nelsons, then followed him and raised Ricciardi and her three siblings. Schooling through eighth grade began at the small school in Nabnasset on the corner of Plain road and Oak Hill. She then went to the current Roudenbush Community Center, which was the high school for three years, and then left to go to a swimming school in New York. She trained with Olympic potentials. After a short period, she returned to Westford. Ricciardi spent many years swimming, dancing at the Commodore Ballroom in Lowell, cooking and entertaining. She married Karl Ricciardi the year before World War II began and then five years later had her daughter Terri.
Ricciardi now spends her time resting, reminiscing and looking forward to her weekend visits with her grandson Paul and occasional dining out. (Westford Eagle article and photograph by Annette Cerullo, via Lenny Palmer)
Apr 2012: On the morning of April 4, all Bertha Healy wanted was a cup of coffee. But she got a little more than she bargained for. Healy, who turned 102 in October, was honored as Westford’s oldest resident, receiving the Boston Post Cane in a celebration at the Westford House Genesis Health nursing care facility, where she currently resides. (Wicked Local article via Stephen Hoffman)
May 2007: Westford awarded their cane to Mary Tilton, age 98. Tilton, who will be 99 in October, grew up on a farm in Ashby, Mass. Her friends agree it was the hard work she did during the years of her life that helped her live so long. Tilton moved to Westford in 1977 and loved the people in the town.In Feb, 2005 the cane was presented to Evelyn Bellemore, 104 by State Rep. Geoff Hall. Evelyn was born Evelyn Labbe on Feb. 7, 1901 in Bedford, Mass. She moved to Westford with her family as a child and began working in the Abbot Worsted Mill in Forge Village at the age of 12.(source: Westford Eagle, Feb 2005)The previous holder in Westford was Beatrice Constantineau, 104, of Westford, MA on March 27, 2005 at the Franco American club in Forge Village. Mrs Constantineau passed away in November 2004.(via email from Dick Desrochers, Westford Eagle 2-Dec-2004)
Westminster’s cane was awarded to Porter W. Dawley, 99, on January 26, 2007. A life-long resident of Westminster, he is the first person to receive the honor in over 50 years.In 2003 we heard that Westminster had lost their cane and was seeking to acquire a replica.(via email from Betty Kazan, October 2003)In October 2006 the news came that the cane, missing for over 50 years, had been found. Historical Society Curator Betsy Hannula returned the cane to selectmen after being contacted by an anonymous person who had found the cane and wanted to return it to its rightful owners. The mystery of where it’s been all of these years may never be known. Selectmen plan to display the cane in the new Town Hall building when it’s completed and will make a presentation to the town’s oldest resident. But they will present him or her with a plaque or mini replica of the cane, instead of the real thing.(via Worcester Telegram, and David Colbert)
The tradition continues on Westport. In November 2002, the Westport cane was awarded to Mabel King, 100. Mrs. King, who was born July 22, 1902, succeeds Eva M. Heyworth, the past recipient of the cane, who recently died at the age of 101. Mrs. King, is a native of Fall River who also lived in New Bedford before making Westport her home in 1919.According to Westport Selectmen Stewart Kirkaldy the grandson of cane manufacturer (J.F. Fradley), Peter Fradley, lives in Westport.No one is quite sure when the cane was first presented in Westport, but the town has maintained records of presentations dating back to 1945.
Westwood continues the tradition and the Westwood Historical Society appears to have their original cane after a short disappearance in the 1990’s. The awardee gets to hold the cane for the ceremony but is given a pin.
February 2014: Leona Landon, 102, was awarded Westwood’s cane along with a proclamation from the Statehouse. “I have a trusty cane of my own,” Landon said after finding out she wouldn’t be taking the historic one back to the house she’s lived in since before World War II, “so I guess I can return it.” Save for a short stint in Washington at the beginning of the war, which Landon said was to keep tabs on her late husband Horace around “all those blondes,” Westwood has been her only home since they began renting the house over seven decades ago. Landon said she graduated from Lasell College in Newton in the 1940’s, as she recalled, and was one of the oldest in her class. “I was already engaged to be married,” she said, “and I knew I wasn’t going to pursue a business career.” Instead Landon focused on a more classical education—studying topics like world languages. She may or may not have been the oldest member of the class of ’40-something, but on Tuesday her receipt of the Boston Post Cane confirmed that she’s definitely the oldest person in Westwood. “It means a lot that she’s come full circle in the town of Westwood,” said her eldest son Horace Landon, Jr., the middle child of three that Leona and Horace, Sr. had together. She has grandchildren and great-grandchildren spread out across the country, according to family members who were in town last week. They live in places like Georgia, Minnesota, Virginia and Vermont. (article in Wicked Local, via Stephen Hoffman)
January 2012: Westwood’s cane was presented to Kathryn Hildreth, age 102, on January 31, 2012. Kathryn is a 1931 graduate of Wellesley College. (Westwood Patch article via Stephen Hoffman)
November 2009: Lottie Stern received Westwood’s cane, reviving the tradition in Westwood for the centennial birthday of the cane. Lottie was 108 years old at the time.
Whately presents the cane to the oldest resident of town during a ceremony commemorating the occasion. The resident is also presented a commendation along with flowers. Whately is working on obtaining lapel pins for the holder of the cane. The cane itself is kept safe within the Whately Historical Society archives. It is the town’s intent to put the cane on display along with a plaque showing all the recipients over the years. (via email from Lynn Sibley, Town Administrator, August 2009).
The Town of Williamsburg presents the Boston Post cane to the oldest citizen (after the presentation, the cane then goes back to the Historical Society), with a replica for the person to keep. The current recipient is Ernest Beliveau, age 96 (born October 1913). (via Eleanor Warnock, October 2009).
Williamstown Massachusetts also possesses an original Boston Post Cane and upholds the tradition of presenting it to the oldest town resident. The cane itself is utilized ceremonially, recipients don’t get to keep it, but they receive a certificate signed by the CoA board chair and the Select board chair and memorialize them on a plaque kept at the senior center. The cane itself is on display at the senior center.
Dec 2009: The Williamstown Boston Post Cane was awarded to Hazel Burdick, age 101.
Feb 4, 2009: Williamstown’s cane was presented to Sophie Prejsnar, 105.
Feb 2009: Williamstown’s cane was missing for about 20 years, vanished sometime in the 1980’s and was forgotten until the fall of 2000. I was cleaning a closet among which was a collection of common canes. One of our seniors asked me what had become of “the gold cane we used to give to the oldest resident” and thus the search began. I did a little research and wrote a couple newsletters on the subject. Numerous citizens identified former cane holders and we tracked every lead to a cold end. We almost concluded that it was gone until someone gave us a newspaper story about yet another recipient whom we had been unaware of. I contacted a family member who confirmed that it had been in the family but was lost, the recipient had given it to neighborhood children to play with and they hadn’t seen it in years. Another newsletter was picked up by the local media, more leads around the same elder cane holder identified an individual whose children were know to have possessed the cane. I called the woman who remembered it but hadn’t seen it, she agreed to look. That was a Friday afternoon. The following Sunday, Easter Sunday 2001, she called me at home to tell me that she had found the cane in her attic. We have presented it seven times since it was relocated, most recently honoring Sophie Prejsnar, our eldest at 105, on February 4th, 2009. (via Brian O’Grady, Williamstown Council on Aging).
Wilmington, MA participated in this tradition and, similarly, no one can remember to whom the last cane was awarded or what happened to it. Wilmington is approaching its 275th anniversary and they will try to have the tradition revived, perhaps in the form of a plaque.(via email from Kathleen Black Reynolds, Curator, Col. Joshua Harnden Tavern, c.1770, Wilmington Town Museum)
Winchendon continues the tradition.
June 2012: On June 4th, 2012 Chairman Bob O’Keefe of the Board of Selectman, along fellow board members Guy Corbosiero and Beth Hunt, presented the Boston Post Cane to Lucille May. Lucille celebrated her 100th birthday earlier this year. The presentation occurred at the Winchendon Town Hall and accompanying Mrs May were her children, grand children and great grand children. (via Bob O’Keefe)
Near as we can tell, Winchester’s cane is missing. (April 2006)