prospecttowndeputy@fairpoint.net

Boston Post cane

I recently had to look up a birth certificate dating back to the late 1800s. Dust blew through the air as I cracked open the record books that are carefully tucked away in the office. In that dust, I swore I could hear my parents telling me of their days of “walking to school barefoot … in the snow … uphill …  both ways.” I then imagined telling my own children of my "ancient" upbringing ­­— you know, back when cars were transitioning from 8-tracks to cassette tapes and manual windows slowly gave way to electric? Those history-rich stories are alive in every small town across America, and Prospect is no different.

After we found the birth record, we took time to discover who our next Boston Post cane recipient would be. While the actual cane is a beautiful relic mounted on the Prospect Town Office wall, the story behind it is still alive.

In 1909, the Boston Post came up with a publicity stunt after it came into possession of 700 canes. These canes were made of ebony and capped with gold. The story goes that the canes were distributed to the oldest living citizen in towns throughout New England. The Post then wrote an article on the oldest person of each town, which included each cane recipient's "secret to longevity" (be it wholesome or not). The catch was that family and friends of each recipient would buy a copy of the Boston Post to read the article and share in the accolades.

The Boston Post folded in 1956; however, many towns continue to pass the proverbial cane as a tradition. In some towns, the Boston Post cane certificate is a welcome reminder of a lovely and long life. In other towns, however, the cane is a controversial topic, as some recipients feel a looming uncertainty about their future after receiving their certificate.

What are your thoughts on the Boston Post cane? Should its honor still be celebrated, or should it become simply a symbol that hangs on the walls of town offices across New England?