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Goffstown seeks oldest citizen for Post cane

The town of Goffstown is on the lookout for the next recipient of its Boston Post cane.

The cane, awarded to the town’s oldest citizen, was held most recently by May Sidore Gruber, who passed away in March, just two days shy of her 101st birthday.

“We’ll probably keep (the search) open for about a month, then the oldest person who wants to receive it will get it,” said Goffstown Town Administrator Sue Desruisseaux.

According to information compiled by the town, the concept of the Boston Post cane dates back to 1909, when then-editor of the Boston Post, Edwin Grozier, wanted to boost readership.

The gold-tipped ebony canes were distributed to the oldest male citizens in hundreds of towns throughout Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.

Women were not initially eligible to receive the cane, but that changed in 1930 as the women’s movement gained momentum, and the eligibility requirements were modified to include women.

The town has tracked the recipients of the cane since 1971, and all of them have been women.

Though the newspaper folded in 1957, the New England tradition has continued, though not all towns still have the original canes.

According to a 1983 survey, six towns lost their canes to fires, and officials in 27 towns have reported that their canes were lost.

Desruisseaux said the town has its original Boston Post Cane on display at the town offices, which was returned by the family of Colombe Ouellette, who held the cane from 1995 to 2007.

Ouellette was admitted to a nursing home, and her family was afraid it would be lost.

The town of Peterborough had several replicas of their cane made, and Desruisseaux said one was purchased to use in Goffstown to present to recipients.

Given the historical significance of the cane, Desruisseaux said, “it would be more appropriate to circulate the replica.”

To be eligible to receive the cane, one must be the oldest resident in Goffstown at the time of the presentation of the cane, and if in a nursing home, must have been a resident of Goffstown prior to entering.

For more information or to submit a name for consideration, contact the town offices at 497-8990.


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