WINTER HARBOR — About 30 people gathered at the Winter Harbor town office Nov. 25 to celebrate a milestone.
Longtime Winter Harbor resident Weltha Torrey Sargent, 90, was presented with the Boston Post cane, awarded to the oldest living resident in the town.
State Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) made the official presentation.
“I hope Weltha keeps it for a very long time,” said Faulkingham, who is also a former Winter Harbor selectman.
Sargent, who was born July 15, 1929, grew up in Winter Harbor. After she married her husband, Maurice, they moved to Connecticut where he worked for the company Pitney Bowes for 24 years. Then they returned to Maine.
“Just as soon as we could we came home,” she said.
The Boston Post cane tradition was started in 1909 by the Boston Post newspaper, said Town Manager Cathy Carruthers. The paper distributed canes to 700 towns in New England, where they were to be given to the oldest male resident.
“In 1930, after considerable controversy, eligibility for the cane was opened to women as well,” Carruthers said.
The canes were made from wood shipped from the Congo that was seasoned for six months and then lathed and polished. The head of each cane is adorned with a 14-karat-gold top decorated by hand with the town’s name and other lettering.
“A lot of towns have lost theirs along the way. We’re very fortunate because we still have our original cane,” Carruthers said.
In Winter Harbor, the actual cane remains on display at the town office. But recipients don’t go home empty-handed. They are given a plaque that includes a photo of the cane top.
Selectman Kit Rivers presented the plaque to Sargent.
“She’s been around my whole life,” he said, adding he is friends with many of her grandchildren.
The previous cane recipient, Alfreda Mae Sargent Bacon, was Weltha’s sister-in-law. Alfreda was the fourth member of her family to have held the cane.