All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Must Be Something in the Water

Canes have been awarded to the oldest residents of three Maine towns in recent weeks: Raymond, Scarborough, and now Litchfield. Germaine M. Fortier of Litchfield, 97, was not awarded the town's original Boston Post Cane last Thursday, but a replica purchased at auction.

Boston Post Canes were given to 431 New England towns in 1909 by Edwin A. Grozier, publisher of the now-defunct Boston Post. The 14-carat gold head of each was engraved with the words "Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest citizen of (name of town) — "To Be Transmitted." Dozens of Maine towns continue to transmit the canes, though many have elected to instead award a certificate or substitute cane, keeping the original locked away in a secure location.

The website of the Maynard, Massachusetts, Historical Society has an excellent history of the Boston Post Canes, and a fairly complete list of canes known still to exist. (Missing from the list is my hometown of Greenwood, whose most recent cane recipient is Helen Chase, who turned 93 on Sunday.)
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