GREENVILLE— The Boston Post Cane was recently presented to the oldest resident of Greenville, Sarah Dean Fahey at a delightful gathering at the C.A. Dean Nursing Home, where Sarah Fahey resides. Many members of family and relatives applauded as Candy Russell, Executive Director of the Moosehead Historical Society and Museum presented the cane to Greenville’s 103-year old resident. This cane, with its ebony shaft and 24-karet gold head was original – dented a bit during its 105-year history – but elegantly engraved and still bright.
Sarah was two years old when the idea of presenting the cane to 700 of the oldest residents of various towns scattered about New England came to Edwin A. Grozier, the current owner of the paper, which was first published in 1831. Greenville was one of those fortunate towns. Since the name of the Boston Post was prominently engraved on the top, Grozier thought it an excellent advertising tool as well as a nice way to honor towns’ eldest citizens. Remarkably the tradition continues, although the Boston Post has not been in existence since 1957. It reached its peak in the 1930s, with a circulation of more than a million readers. For its time, it was one of the largest papers in the country, and certainly the most popular daily in New England.
One of the more dramatic articles published was in 1921 when it exposed Charles Ponzi, notorious for his financial fraud schemes. The paper and its longtime city Editor, Edward Dunn were responsible for this investigative work, which led to a Pulitzer Prize that year. Bostonians had complained that returns from Mr. Ponzi’s schemes were just “too good to be true”. Thanks to the Post, “Ponzi Scheme” is a phrase for that kind of financial pie-in the-sky promise that still, unfortunately, happens today.
Originally the canes were presented only to the oldest male in town, but women became eligible in 1930. The Board of Selectmen of the various towns became trustees of the cane as they were kept in the hands of the oldest citizen. Apparently, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Maine towns were the primary recipients. For some reason, no Connecticut towns were included and only two towns in Vermont were known to have these remarkable canes.
Sarah Dean Fahey is indeed a worthy recipient, especially with a long family history so closely woven with the growth of Greenville itself. The cane is on display at the Shaw Public Library in Greenville, resting in a special glass case. Sarah was delighted with the festivities. “I am very proud,” she said. “Thank you so much for this honor.”