by Stewart Corson
The Vassalboro Historical Society is currently seeking the oldest resident of Vassalboro. This resident will be presented with a certificate and a token showing that he or she is the sym-bolic owner of Vassalboro’s Boston Post cane, which is now on display at the society’s muse-um in East Vassalboro.
The tradition of the cane began in 1909, when the Boston Post newspaper distributed 431 of the canes to towns throughout New England with instructions that each should be presented to the oldest living citizen of the town.
The cane is a fine piece of work, made from Gabon ebony which was shipped from the Congo in seven-foot lengths. These were then cut into cane lengths, seasoned and dried, then hand polished with French var-nish and oil. The cane’s head is finished with 14-carat gold and is elaborately sculpted. The entire process of making each cane took about a full year.
Vassalboro’s cane is perhaps more traveled than most, having been missing in action for some time before it turned up in Monterey, California, where it was purchased by an antique dealer at a yard sale in 1988. Initially intending to melt the head down for the value of the gold, the dealer become curious after reading the inscription on the cane. He contacted the town office and offered to sell the cane back to the town for the sum of$500, the price that he had paid, even though he had gotten a valu-ation of $1,200 from an appraiser.
The offer was taken up by Betty Taylor, who purchased the cane and had it shipped back to Vassalboro. She then left it to the Historical Society as part of a bequest on her death in 2010.
Nobody seems to know how the cane got to California or who was the last Vassalboro resident to be presented with the cane. If anyone can help them find Vassalboro’s oldest resident or has any information on who was the last holder of the cane (or how it got to the west coast), please contact the Historical Society by calling 207-923-3505 or by email at VHSpresident@hotmail.com. If the oldest resident can be located, the society hopes to present the cane to him or her as part of the Vassalboro Days celebration in September. Let the search begin!
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