WEST GARDINER, Maine — In 2018, Arlene Grace Brann Brown of West Gardiner received the Boston Post Cane signifying that she was the oldest citizen of her town. At the end of July in 2020, surrounded by family and friends, she celebrated her 100 birthday and close by was the Boston Post Cane.
It is a uniquely New England tradition more than a century old that many Mainers have never even heard of before: the passing of the Boston Post Canes. Towns across the state have been honoring their eldest residents with a cane courtesy of the late Boston Post newspaper since 1909. Topped with 14-carat gold handles, the ebony canes are steeped in tradition themselves.
The publisher of the once widely circulated Boston Post newspaper, Edwin Grozier, sent 700 canes to town selectmen in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, where the paper was delivered. Grozier wanted them to be presented to the oldest man of each town and used until his death. They were then to be handed to the next oldest citizen, continuing the tradition. The Boston Post folded in the 1950s but the canes live on.
Arlene still lives in the home she moved to after she married her husband 1983 at the age of 18. Someone lives with her, nowadays, to help her remember all the things she needs to do but Arlene stays active playing the piano, walking, and doing housework every day.
From all of us at 207 and at NEWS CENTER Maine, Happy Birthday Arlene!