SKOWHEGAN — The regular Tuesday luncheon of the retired ladies’ group Recycled Teenagers was capped off Tuesday with a surprise at Whit’s End Grill and Bar on Madison Avenue.

With water glasses still clinking and silverware still rattling on finished plates of food, two dozen members of Irene Dumont’s family filed in with flowers, hugs and best wishes.

They were followed by the Skowhegan town manager, the chairman of the Board of Selectmen and members of the town’s Heritage Council, all there to present Dumont with the gold-topped Boston Post Cane, celebrating her status as the town’s oldest living resident.

Dumont, with five children, 20-plus grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, is 101 years old and still very active.

“It’s just wonderful — about time,” Dumont quipped with a glint in her eyes. “I thought I’d have to live another year to get it.”

The town of Skowhegan in January brought back the practice of awarding the Boston Post Cane to the town’s oldest living resident.

The award, with deep roots in New England history, had been suspended in Skowhegan around 2004, when Patricia Dickey was town manager. Heritage Council member Rob Washburn decided to bring it back as a positive way to honor Skowhegan’s oldest resident.

On Tuesday, Town Manager Christine Almand, select board Chairman Paul York, Heritage Council members, former Selectwoman Evalyn Bowman, Chairwoman Shirley Whittemore and Cynthia Kirk, administrative assistant for planning, code enforcement and solid waste management and recording secretary for the Heritage Council, were on hand for the presentation of the cane.

Almand presented Irene Marie Gallant Dumont with a plaque and the original 1909 gold-topped cane, which is to be returned for safe keeping on display at the Town Office, along with a replica cane that Dumont took home with her.

“You look better than I do,” York joked as he read from the plaque, noting that she was born Aug. 23, 1917.

“She’s 101 — plus, plus, now,” said her oldest daughter Pat Bolduc, 77, of Embden. “She still plays bingo every Sunday. She plays 12 cards.”

Bolduc said her mother and father worked in the para mutual offices of the harness racing circuit in Maine for many years, while Irene worked in as a waitress in various Skowhegan restaurants, including Skowhegan House, the Three Gs and at the spinning mill in Skowhegan.

“I still live alone — that’s the good part,” Dumont said, noting that regular exercise, good food and wonderful children have contributed to her longevity.

“I broke my hip five years ago and while I was in the nursing home for a month I had exercises to do twice a day, and do you know that was five years ago and I still do them. There’s no way I could do what I do now without those exercises everyday. I’m very, very blessed. I’m blessed.”

On Aug. 2, 1909, Edwin A. Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post newspaper forwarded to the Board of Selectmen in 700 towns in New England — no cities were included — a gold-headed ebony cane with the request that it be presented with the compliments of the Boston Post to the oldest male citizen of the town, 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. The cane would belong to the town and not to the man who received it, according to the Boston Post Cane Information Center website.

In 1930, after considerable controversy, eligibility for the cane was opened to women as well.

Doug Harlow — 612-2367

[email protected]

Twitter:@Doug_Harlow

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