Bertha Gray, 98, is awarded Boston Post Cane

 Copied from Forecaster:

Chebeague resident is first recipient in years

CUMBERLAND - Bertha Gray, a resident of Chebeague Island who will turn 99 in December, was awarded Cumberland's Boston Post Cane Monday night as three generations of family members looked on.

Councilor Donna Damon, who has known Gray for many years, said Gray "doesn't like anyone to make a fuss over her," and added that she is "gracious, dear and caring."

Cumberland's Boston Post Cane had been missing for several years and was believed to have been misplaced when the town opened its new Town Hall.

When the cane was found earlier this year, Councilor Harland Storey suggested that the tradition be resurrected and the Cumberland Historical Society started searching for the town's oldest resident.

The historical society has no clear indication about when the cane was last awarded, but believes that it has been several years.

Gray was born in rural central Pennsylvania on December 9, 1905. She first came to Chebeague island with her husband in the 1950s as a guest of Kitty and Rosy Mayer. Gray and her husband purchased a house on Chebeague in 1957, spending summers there until 1983, when her husband died. At that point, gray began living on Chebeague full-time and she continues to live in the house today.

According to a biography provided to the council, Gray still offers to help carry bags on and off the ferry and is know for her "full cookie tin, good well water and her leaf raking."

Damon said that she is inspiration to everyone on Chebeague.

The tradition of awarding the Boston Post cane to a town's oldest resident dates back to 1909, when Edwin Grozier, then publisher of the Boston Post newspaper, gave gold-tipped canes to 431 New England towns as part of an effort to increase circulation.

The canes were to be awarded to the town's oldest male resident and held until death, when the cane would be handed down to the next oldest resident.

The tradition was opened to women in 1930 and in the last year has once again become fashionable in several local towns. Cape Elizabeth and Scarborough both recently presented canes for the first time in several years.

Scarborough's cane holder, Blanche Cook, is a 102 year old Red Sox fan who said she recalled the 1918 World Series. Cooke also said Johnny Damon is her favorite player.