Boston Post Cane Awarded to Auburn’s Eldest Resident

by | May 5, 2014

Lillian Smolsky flanked by dignitaries.

Lillian Smolsky flanked by dignitaries.

Lillian Smolsky is Auburn’s newest recipient of Auburn’s Boston Post Cane.  Smolsky, 99, a resident of the Life Care Center of Auburn, received the recognition Sunday at a well-attended ceremony at the Life Care Center.

The Boston Post Cane tradition dates back to 1909 with Edwin Glozier, publisher of the Boston Post.  Glozier commissioned J.F. Fradley and Co. to craft 700 ebony canes with gold heads.  The 14K gold head was engraved with the inscription “Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest citizen of Auburn…” (or other town).  The canes were distributed to the boards of selectmen in 700 New England Towns.  

The oldest citizen would keep possession of the cane until his death.  Yes, “his” death.  The canes were originally presented to the oldest man in a town.  According to Town Historian Ken Ethier, by 1930, towns had given way to women’s equality and had begun awarding the cane to the oldest citizen – male or female. 

Upon the Boston Post Cane holder’s death, the cane was to be returned to the town, which technically owned the cane.  Well, this did not always happen.  Over time, some families did not realize the significance of the canes and kept or discarded the canes.  Many towns did not continue the Boston Post Cane tradition, and some towns modified the tradition.  Auburn is one of the few towns that both possesses its original cane and continues the tradition of awarding the cane to its oldest resident.

To be completely accurate, the original Auburn Boston Post Cane is kept by the Auburn Historical Society, and a replica is awarded to the oldest citizen.

The previous Cane holder was Lincoln Walcott, who passed away on February 16 of this year.

Ms Smolsky lived for many years in Worcester, and worked for much of her life as a well-regarded seamstress.  She moved to Auburn several years ago, and resides at the

Life Care Center of Auburn.

The actual presentation was conducted by Ethier, who opened with a brief history of the Boston Post Cane, and Auburn’s cane specifically.  Smolsky also received a certification from Assistant Town Clerk Deb Gremo.  Commendations were presented by Bob Grossman on behalf of the Town of Auburn; Sen. Michael Moore on behalf of the Massachusetts Senate; and Paul Frost on behalf of the Massachusetts House.

For her part, Smolsky certainly seemed humbled but excited by all the fuss.  She smiled and joked with the guests all the while.

“I was innocently coming down here for a party!” exclaimed Smolsky.  “I am so surprised to see all of the for me.”

It is all for you, Lillian. Congratulations, and we hope you hold the cane for a good, long time.