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DIRIGO STORIES: 'Oldest citizen' tradition continues in more than 200 Maine towns

Esther Kilgore Mitchell, 96, is the recipient of North Yarmouth's "Boston Post Cane." The cane is awarded to the town's oldest citizen (WGME).

NORTH YARMOUTH (WGME) – A tradition more than 100 years old quietly continues in more than 200 Maine towns.

The “Boston Post Cane” was once again awarded to the oldest citizen in North Yarmouth this week. The tradition started in 1909 when the owner of the Boston Post distributed 700 gold-headed canes to towns in New England. They were instructed to award the cane to each town’s oldest citizen.

Tuesday, North Yarmouth town leaders presented their cane to 96-year-old Esther Kilgore Mitchell. She’s lived in North Yarmouth since 1958 and is now the 36th recipient of the town’s Boston Post Cane.

Mitchell joked when asked what she thought about being the oldest person in town.

“It's OK. I don’t mind it,” she said.

"It's better than the alternative!" said Mitchell's brother and caretaker, Gordon Kilgore.

Kilgore says part of his sister’s secret to a long, happy life includes a thimble of scotch and soda every afternoon.

“And Maine beans every Saturday night. Come hell or high water,” Kilgore said.

“She probably has the kindest heart and soul you’ll ever find,” said Mitchell’s neighbor, Sandi Boynton. “She never complains.”

Because the Boston Post Cane is now 108 years old, it’s kept at North Yarmouth Town Hall so it's not lost.

According to the Boston Post Cane Information Center, more than 500 towns in New England are continuing the tradition, including 211 towns in Maine.

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