Written by Alan Earls
It's a New England tradition, dating back to 1909, begun as an expensive publicity stunt by the publisher of The Boston Post Newspaper. The paper awarded gold-headed canes to each municipality in the region, with instructions to award it to their eldest resident.
With occasional hiccups, Franklin has maintained the tradition, as have many other New England towns.
Thursday afternoon, it was the turn of Lorraine (Nasuti) Spencer, in a ceremony conducted at the Lydia Taft House, a rehabilitation and nursing center, located in Uxbridge, where she resides temporarily. The reception brought out about 20 family members and was presided over by Franklin Town Clerk Nancy Danello.
Danello, reading from a prepared statement, noted that Mrs. Spencer is Franklin's oldest resident, born May 11 1921.
"She'll be 102 in May. Mrs. Spencer was born here in Franklin on her family homestead on North Park Street, the youngest of 10 children. She has many fond memories of growing up here in Franklin during the Depression, including time spent at her family store, attending Franklin public schools and the many activities throughout the town that she was involved in. Mrs. Spencer graduated from Franklin High School in 1939. After graduating she worked for many years in Walpole and aided in the war effort by making airplane parts."In 1954, Lorraine married Matthew Spencer, and together they raised seven children most still residing in Franklin. Sadly, Matthew passed away in 1972. Lorraine then began working at Dean Junior College, retiring in 1986. Mrs. Spencer has 16 grandchildren an seven great grandchildren who continue to share her love of cooking and follow her delicious Italian recipes, though never making it quite as good as she did."
Mrs. Spencer held the cane proudly and relinquished after photos were taken, for safekeeping by the town.
State Rep. Jeff Roy also greeted Mrs. Spencer and offered souvenir greetings from the State House and his best wishes for her upcoming 102nd birthday, a remark that drew a look of incredulity from Mrs. Spencer.
Mrs. Spencer was attentive throughout the event but seemed a bit overwhelmed by all the attention and glad to settle in with family when the formalities were past.
Representative Roy told her he expected to be there for her 105th birthday. "A hundred and five," she exclaimed?