ORRINGTON, Maine — Just nine years before lifelong resident Carolyn Delle Quimby Howard was born in 1918, Boston Post newspaper publisher Edwin A. Grozier gave away gold-headed ebony canes to 700 towns in New England to be presented to their oldest male residents.
The Boston Post Canes were “to be used by him as long as he lives (or moves from the town), and at his death handed down to the next oldest citizen of the town,” according to the Maynard (Mass.) Historical Society, which maintains information on the remaining 380 or so Boston Post Canes still in existence.
The original cane received by Orrington nearly 103 years ago hangs in the town hall and copies were made years ago by Owen Gray & Son in Brewer, some by Stephen Quimby, who is Carolyn Howard’s nephew.
The nonagenarian was presented with an engraved replica cane on Monday during the town’s annual town meeting, with about 20 family members in attendance.
“Mother says, ‘I’m not sure I’m the oldest one in town — I’m not that old,’” James “Jimmie” Howard Jr. said Wednesday, while taking a break at the family’s farm, Tween-Hills Farm on Center Drive, which he runs with his brother, Alan.
His mom is 93 and will be 94 in July. Carolyn Howard’s mother, Mable Quimby, lived to be 101 but missed out on getting the cane because another woman in town, Fiona Thornton, was two years older.
“She lived to be 106,” Jimmie Howard said of Thornton.
Howard has lived within a half mile of the family farm her entire life and continues to help out by feeding her pet rooster and ducks, said her son, who is in his 70s.
“I’ve lived here my whole life. My mother has lived here her whole life and her father [Sherman Quimby] lived here his whole life,” Jimmie Howard said.
“The family roots in that town run deep,” said David Howard, a grandson who drove up from Boston to attend the ceremony.
The 75 or so residents at the annual town meeting quickly passed the $9.28 million budget for fiscal year 2012-13, which is an increase of about $30,000 or 0.55 percent, Town Manager Paul White said Tuesday.
The combined budget includes a municipal budget of $2,595,672, an increase of $20,633; $395,068 for Penobscot County taxes, a $2,634 increase; and $6,292,518 for the school budget, an increase of $27,262.
One man who said the town should not pay for the cost of school choice — mostly for sending students to John Bapst Memorial High School in Bangor — requested that the school budget be reduced by $100,000, but “the gentleman’s modification of the warrant was not supported,” the town manager said.
Besides that one budget reduction request, all other warrant items passed easily, White said.
“What we expect is to see a flat mill rate, no increase,” he said.
The current property tax rate is $13.45 per $1,000 in property value.