"You go where the ice is," said Fred Wardwell, ice boat enthusiast and recent recipient of the Searsmont Boston Post Cane. He usually goes out on Chicawaukee, Damariscotta or Megunticook Lake; but sometimes ventures to Moosehead or Sebago Lake.

An ice boat, as he describes it, has no brakes and is like a kite with two runners in the back and one in front. The wind propels the boat by means of a sail and "you get going pretty fast."

An ice boat usually travels two to three times the wind velocity. The boat is limited to approximately 60 to 65 miles per hour, though he said he has not sailed faster than 55 mph.

"It's about the most economical hobby you can have," he said. "On a good weekend, we'd get about 40 boats at a time — 38 of those would be handmade."

Searsmont First Selectman Bruce Brierley presented the town's Boston Post Cane to 96-year-old Wardwell at the Jan. 10 meeting of the Searsmont Historical Society. According to Wardwell, he was not surprised, as his predecessor was a close friend.

According to The Boston Post Cane Information Center, the tradition of awarding the cane to a town’s oldest male citizen began in 1909. Edwin A. Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post newspaper, had gold-headed ebony canes made and sent to 700 towns in New England, with a request that they be presented to the oldest male citizen of the town, to be used by him as long as he lived, and then be passed down to the next oldest citizen.

Women were included in the tradition in 1930.

Over the years, many of those canes have been lost. Searsmont still has its original cane, which is on display in the Searsmont Historical Society. Many years ago,  Brierley and another resident, Wayne Thomas, created a replica cane to be presented to and used by the recipients.

Wardwell said he was originally from Watertown, New York, and attended Williams College in Massachusetts. "I left Williams College after my freshman year and joined the Navy flight program," he said, and he later learned how to fly double-engine planes.

In 1944, Wardwell was sent overseas and was promoted to first pilot.

"I never desired to do civilian flying because the planes didn't have enough horsepower," he said.

In 1951 a mutual friend introduced Wardwell to his future wife Ann, who is the daughter of novelist and short story writer Ben Ames Williams.

"I was in the Marines Reserve Squadron and I got recalled to go to the Korean conflict; I was stationed in Boston and Ann was working in Cambridge," Wardwell said.

He attributes his longevity to one-third genetics, one-third leading a stress-free life, and one-third to his environment.

In the 30-some years he has been attending the Searsmont town meetings, he said it has always been "reasonable with no serious problem; that is quite contrary to most towns."