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Tilton officials honor town's newest Boston Post Cane holder

During a presentation of the Boston Post Cane last week, Tilton Town Clerk/Tax Collector Cindy Reinartz read a proclamation to 97-year-old Rhoda Crowell, proclaiming her as the town's oldest citizen. (Photo by Donna Rhodes) (click for larger version)
May 02, 2018
TILTON — On Thursday, April 26, officials from the Town of Tilton honored their oldest resident, Rhoda Crowell, by presenting her with the Boston Post Cane Award, a tradition in many New England towns that dates back to 1909.

Tilton's Town Clerk/Tax Collector, Cindy Reinartz, had the pleasure of handing Crowell a replica of the cane then read a special declaration from the town, congratulating her on her longevity and contributions throughout the many years she has resided in Tilton.

"My goodness. This is really something," the 97-year-old said as she looked over the cane. "I didn't realize that I'm now the oldest person in town."

The presentation was made at the Tilton Senior Center before a large crowd who applauded her on the newly bestowed honor.

"She has been totally charged up about this," said Paula Bresinger, a church friend of Rhoda's who was present at the ceremony.

Bresinger promised Rhoda she would hang the cane above the mantel for her so everyone who stops by to visit will have a chance to admire it.

Also on hand for the presentation were other church friends and neighbors, as well as Selectmen Pat Consentino, Katherine Dawson and Peter Fogg, and Officer Elizabeth Murray of the Tilton Police Department.

Consentino and Jane Alden of the Planning Board are also friends of Crowell's and were very pleased to see her honored.

"This is exciting. I've known Rhoda for more than 15 years, and she's a very interesting person," said Consentino.

Alden added that she has been a devoted citizen of the town and certainly deserved the special recognition.

"She's a great lady," said Alden.

Crowell herself was quite pleased to know she is now the oldest resident but said it was a title she wasn't sure she would ever receive.

"The last time I was at one of these confabs I was in the audience when someone else got the Boston Post Cane. I wondered if I'd ever get one myself and here it is," she said with a smile.

Rhoda will be 98 on Dec. 2, and looks forward to celebrating her special day with the cherished cane by her side at long last.

The tradition of the Boston Post Canes began as part of a campaign devised by newspaper publisher Edwin Grozier. To help advertise his paper in communities outside of Boston, his company distributed specially made mahogany and gold-topped canes to more than 400 towns throughout New England. Originally intended for the oldest male in each community, the requirements were eventually changed in 1930 to include any women, should they be older than all the men in town. The only other stipulation is that the person receiving the cane has to have resided in the community for at least 10 years prior and must relinquish the title if they move to another town. It is then passed on to the next oldest citizen.

To ensure its safekeeping, Tilton's original Boston Post Cane is held on display in a glass case at the Town Hall. Beside it are bronze plaques engraved with the names of each recipient over the years and the name Rhoda Crowell will soon be added to that list of distinguished senior citizens.

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