Clayton Pattee spent parts of his childhood growing up in Brooks, but for nearly 70 years now it is the only place he’s called home.

“I came back to Brooks in 1942, and I haven’t left since,” he said.

May 1, Brooks officials formally recognized Pattee as the town’s oldest citizen and presented him with the town’s Boston Post Cane and a plaque. Many of Pattee’s family members, representing four generations, were on hand for the event at the Town Office.

Pattee, who is 93, was born July 25, 1916. He said he was honored to be recognized, but said the recognition was also a bit bittersweet.

“It’s kind of sad, too, because a friend of mine [Percy Humphrey] had to die for me to get it,” he said.

Asked if the town had changed much since 1942, Pattee said, “Oh yes, it has. Some for good; some, I don’t know.”

He cited the town’s Fire Department as one area where there had been particular improvement. In the 1940’s, he said, the town had a 1937 Ford pumper truck and the vehicle didn’t even have a cab. The closest fire departments to be found at that time were in Belfast, Winterport, Newport and Fairfield, he said.

“Now, it’s just Knox and Swanville without one [a fire department] of their own,” said Pattee, showing an up-to-date knowledge of fire departments in Waldo County.

For more than 30 years, Pattee served on the Brooks Fire Department and was assistant chief for three different chiefs. He said he never took the chief’s job because he worked out of town.

His career started in the pulpwood business, where he spent about a decade working for another man. He then spent four and a half years working for International Paper — “a pretty good job,” he recalled — before taking a job at C.A. Paul’s Garage in Belfast.

Pattee began working at C.A. Paul’s in January of 1956, and stayed for more than 25 years, finishing up in November of 1981.

At the ceremony where he was presented with the cane and plaque, he credited his “wonderful wife and family, and a lot of good friends” for helping him get this far.

When Selectman Arthur Butler made the presentation, Pattee said of the cane, “I appreciate it very much, but I don’t want to take this home.” Town officials assured him it would be kept at the Town Office. Brooks Town Clerk Jane McLaughlin said there was a time previously when no one was sure exactly where the cane was, but that it will now be kept track of at the Town Office.

Selectman Darren Mehuren asked Pattee if he had ever considered serving as a selectman, and Pattee said he had turned the job down on several occasions.

“That’s why he’s made it to 93,” said McLaughlin.

“There’s always next year,” said Mehuren.

Pattee said he has hunted and fished all his life, and that his grandson still takes him out to enjoy those activities each year.

“In October I take my shotgun for a walk, and in November I take my rifle,” he said. He got his last — or rather, most recent — deer three years ago, at age 90.

Pattee and his wife, Ethel, had three daughters, two of whom are still alive. The family now includes six grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren, many of whom were in attendance — cameras of all sorts in hand — at the May 1 ceremony.

The Pattees were married Oct. 13, 1940 — their 70th anniversary awaits this fall — and the couple noted that one of their grandchildren and one of their great-grandchildren were born on their wedding anniversary.

“So 13 hasn’t really been unlucky for us at all,” said Clayton Pattee.

Background on the Boston Post Cane

According to the Web site at, Edwin A. Grozier, the publisher of the Boston Post newspaper, wrote to selectmen in about 700 towns in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island in August 1909.

Grozier sent each town a gold-headed ebony cane, along with the request that it be presented with the compliments of the Boston Post to the oldest male citizen of the town, to be used by him as long as he lived, and that at his death the cane be handed down to the next-oldest man in the town. The canes were given to the towns, rather than to any individuals.

“In 1930, after considerable controversy, eligibility for the cane was opened to women as well,” the Web site said.

The canes were all made by J.F. Fradley and Co., a New York manufacturer, from ebony shipped in 7-foot lengths from the Congo. They were cut to cane lengths, seasoned for six months, turned on lathes to the right thickness, coated and polished. Each cane had a 14-carat gold head 2 inches long, decorated by hand, and a ferruled tip.

Each board of selectmen were to be the trustees of the cane and keep it always in the hands of the oldest citizen.