Showing posts with label Boston Post Cane Award. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boston Post Cane Award. Show all posts

Friday, February 28, 2020

Raymond’s Boston Post Cane Award recipient shares memories of a life well lived

Teresa "Tess" Ingraham
By Lorraine Glowczak

In 1909, as part of a publicity act, The Boston Post newspaper presented gold-headed walking sticks, known as the Boston Post Cane, to 431 New England towns. The stipulation was that the cane be given to the oldest citizen for use as long as he or she lived. Although, The Post stopped its circulation over 60 years ago, the tradition continues in many Northeastern municipalities, including right here in Raymond.

The most recent awardee, Teresa “Tess” Ingraham was presented the Boston Cane by Town Selectman, Rolf Olson at the Raymond Town Hall on Thursday, January 30th. Tess, who will soon be celebrating her 99th birthday on May 29, shared some of her story with us.

“My children keep reminding me that I will soon be turning 100 and that I have seen a lot of changes in that time,” Tess stated, “I don’t think much about my age but it’s kind of amazing when I do think about it. Wow! I’m almost 100. And, my children are right, I have seen and experienced quite a bit in my lifetime.” in 1921 in Westbrook, Ingraham was one of seven children born to a French-Canadian mother and a Scottish father. “I am so lucky to have been a part of a family whose parents loved each other and were content. My brother and sisters – we all got along so well – we were not only family, we were like friends, too.” Tess and her only living sister, twelve years her junior who lives in Westbrook, still get together once a week for shopping, lunch and coffee.

There have been many changes she has seen throughout her lifetime and Tess recalls the milk, ice and bakery delivery men who would supply these products on a weekly basis. “We also had a rag man who would stop by our house every week to purchase rags that would be recycled to make used clothing.”

Tess also recollects the time when one had to go through an operator to make a phone call. “We would lift the receiver and the operator would come on and say, ‘Number, please.’ I still remember our phone number. It was 56J.”

While growing up, the family would spend summer months at Crescent Lake in Raymond, not far from where she currently lives. Although she has moved around the U.S. and lived in France, enjoying all the places she has resided, it is Raymond where she feels her heart is most at home. graduating high school in 1940 and with World War II in full swing, Tess worked at S.D. Warren in the main office. During that time, most of the products made at the company went toward the war effort.

“It was really a scary time and we did without a lot. Because many products went toward the war, each family was allotted a certain number of coupons because the supply was limited,” she continued. “These coupons that were distributed by the government would allow us to purchase things like sugar, shoes, clothing, etc. and if you didn’t have a coupon when you needed something – you did without.” Tess also recalled the blackout regulations imposed during WWII, requiring all windows and doors be covered at night with heavy curtains to prevent the escape of light that might aid enemy aircraft.

But the war eventually ended, and it was on the evening of VJ Day that she met her future husband, Henry “Hank” Ingraham, who was introduced to her by sister. “You know that famous photograph of the sailor and woman kissing in the street on VJ Day?” she asked. “Well, that could have been us. There was so much celebration and excitement that the war was finally over. The streets in Portland
were filled with people – the traffic was stopped completely.”

Marrying in 1946, Hank remained in the armed forces specializing in medical supplies and, as a result, the family relocated often to various U.S. cities with a three-year assignment in France. “We moved to France ten years after the war,” she said. “I could write a book just about my experience there.”

While stationed overseas in the mid-1950s, Tess and Hank were raising three of their four sons, two of which were school age. (Their fourth son was born in 1962). Except for living a few months in a French village apartment, the family moved to the military base when their “home” was ready to be occupied. “It was actually the size of a small camper,” she said. “But I loved living on the base to be closer to other military families who we could connect with.”

Connect with others, they did. Tess and Hank loved to entertain, so they hosted many gatherings in their small home and often would join other couples at the Officer’s Club on Saturday evenings. “We also helped each other out,” Tess said, giving one example of assisting one another build an additional room to their individual trailers to create a bigger living/bedroom space.
While living in France, she got to tour Germany including the city of Berlin. “It was just ten years after the war. Berlin had been completely bombed and the city was flat, and very cold and empty. It felt very scary and we couldn’t wait to get out of there.”

Other than seeing the desolation of Berlin, Tess remembers fondly the beauty of France. “Poppies in spring,” she said. “It was beautiful. Just breathtaking.”

After their time in France, Hank was assigned and stationed in Bangor, Maine in the early 1960s where their fourth son was born. In 1963, Hank retired from the armed forces and they moved to Bridgton where Hank was hired to be the Administrator of the newly built hospital there. They lived in Bridgton for twelve years, eventually relocating to Massachusetts where Hank was offered a job at another hospital. They stayed there until
his second retirement. Upon their return to Maine, they purchased a home in Raymond 36 years ago, where Tess remains.

During retirement, they travelled some and enjoyed friends and family which currently consist of not only her sons but ten grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. “In the late 1980s, we hopped on a bus and traveled the U.S., visiting all the friends we met while in the service,” she said. “We just purchased a ticket and went from city to city, ending in California where we spent some time with one of our sons who lives there with his family. The trip took us about a month, and we had the best time.”

Reading books and bird watching were some of their favorite shared activities. In fact, they were both avid readers and Tess explained that she was always known as Teresa until she married Hank. “He loved the book, ‘Tess of the Storm Country’ and when we met and married, he started calling me Tess. It caught on and the only person who calls me Teresa now is my sister-in-law.”

Tess volunteered during their retirement years, volunteering at the Raymond Village Library and at Portland’s Mercy Hospital gift shop. It wasn’t until the age of 95 that she decided to step back and retire from her volunteering efforts.

Hank passed away at the age of 84. “We were married for 60 years,” Tess said. “And, we got to have 25 years of retirement together. I feel very blessed to have been in a marriage filled with support and love.”

Besides the death of her husband, her oldest son passed away as a result of cancer at the age of 63.
As for advice, her guidance is simple. “Live one day at a time. Do what you want. Eat what you want,” she began. “I never went on a fad diet. If I wanted to lose a little weight than I simply ate a little less.” She admits that she didn’t have to worry about weight much and that she has been blessed with great genes and is a very healthy person.

Tess also advises to think positive. “Everything is going to be okay. You have to remember that and not let the negativity stop you from being happy. Just think positive.”

But her greatest words of wisdom? “Live your life and forget your age!”

Congratulations Tess Ingraham for a life well lived!

Friday, November 22, 2019

The last lesson: Daughter shares wisdom from former Raymond Boston Cane Award recipient

Betty Stetson at the age of 24 with her son in 1942
By Lorraine Glowczak

It was officially announced at last Tuesday evening’s Raymond’s Select Board meeting that Teresa M. Ingraham of Raymond was awarded the Boston Cane Award. As we and the Town of Raymond schedule to meet up with Ms. Ingraham for a future interview, staff at The Windham Eagle thought it would be good to offer an honorary farewell to the previous Raymond award recipient, Elizabeth “Betty” Stetson, who passed away last month at the age of 101.

We met up with Stetson’s daughter, Becky Almstrom, also of Raymond who shared some of her mother’s life lesson that family and friends have incorporated into their own lives. Stetson, who moved to Maine from New Hampshire, made her home with Becky and her husband, Bob for the past 18 years.

“There were many things our mother and grandmother taught us,” began Becky. “One lesson was the importance of food, family, friendship and hospitality. She always believed that there should be enough food in the house for unexpected visitors. And, she never failed to spontaneously host a wonderful spread of food if guests stopped by. As a result, she taught me well and I always have plenty of food in my pantry for any guest I may find at my doorstep.” a memory book filled with old photos and letters, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren shared the gifts that their matriarch imparted. Letters indicating a life well-lived with family and friends that included: movies to the theater in a New Hampshire town square, Easter egg hunts, snowmobiling with the family, long afternoon walks, teaching rug hooking, singing in the choir, Sunday dinners and trips to Europe that included Stetson’s home country of the Czech Republic. But the fond memories always returned to food and drink such as the memories of the ‘horrible tasting slivovitz” [Eastern Europe Brandy] and the delightfully homemade kolaky [Czech sweet rolls].

Betty Stetson at the age of 100
in 2018 posing with her
Boston Cane Award
In an interview with us last March 2018 when she was awarded received the Boston Cane Award, Stetson provided a bit of advice, which of course, included food. “For longevity - make sure you eat your greens,” she smiled. “Oh! And fruit. Fruit is good for you too.”

But if anyone had the opportunity to spend even just an hour with Stetson, one quickly realized that eating healthy was not the only thing that has contributed to her long life. Happiness and laughter fill the air in her presence.

Part of her laughter, during that interview a little over a year ago, stemmed from the fact that she loved to play jokes on her family. Her favorite holiday, it turned out, was April Fool’s Day and so for the past 18 years, Becky and Bob learned to be prepared for whatever Stetson had up her sleeve.

But the greatest lessons came to Stetson’s family in the last days of her life. Diagnosed with bladder cancer this fall and given six months to live, Stetson asked her daughter that any and all family differences come to an end and to remain a cohesive and close unit.

“After I promised her that I would do my best, it was only a day later that she had a stroke and she was taken to hospice,” explained Becky. “It was her last few days in hospice care that I believe she provided her last bits of wisdom.”
While she lay unconscious with her family by her side, she would become alert enough to say her goodbyes. “At one point, she woke up and with eyes wide open – almost with a look of happiness. She took my hand and lifted it up and pointed to the ceiling,” began Becky. “I asked, ‘Mom? What do you need?’ It was at that moment my son-in-law pointed out that she might be telling us that she ‘sees a light’.”

Becky realized her mother may have offered her last lesson. “I think she was telling us that there is always hope that there is life after death. I saw it with my own eyes and heart.”

Stetson easily and readily slipped into that very possible next life on October 3, 2019. But she left this life – sprinkling it with joy, laughter, adventure and love for family and friends. And a lesson or two. Not only for her family, but for anyone who might listen and learn from a women who lived a long and eventful life.

Friday, October 5, 2018

Hazel Gilman is presented The Boston Post Cane

By Lorraine Glowczak

In 1909, as part of a publicity act, The Boston Post newspaper presented gold-headed walking sticks, known as the Boston Post Cane, to 431 New England towns. The stipulation that the cane be given to the oldest citizen for use as long as he or she lived. Although, The Post stopped its circulation over 60 years ago, the tradition still exists in many municipalities, including right here in Windham.

Town Clerk, Linda Morrill
On Tuesday, October 2nd a replica of Windham’s original Boston Cane Post was presented to Hazel Gilman, age 100, at her home by Town Clerk Linda Morrill. The original gold-headed walking stick is in an enclosed display at Town Hall for safe-keeping.

When asked how she felt about being presented with a time-honored tradition, Gilman said with a smile, “It’s nothing I’ve done to deserve it. I just happen to be the oldest person alive in Windham.”

Born Hazel Plummer on July 20, 1918, Gilman has lived her entire life in Windham, of which 98 of her years have been spent in the home where she currently resides. “When I was two years old, my Mom and Dad moved in with my grandparents to help take care of them,” Gilman explained. “My grandfather was deaf and blind, so my mom and dad wanted to be there for them.”

Gilman graduated from Windham High School in 1935 and married Kenneth Gilman in 1941. Their favorite past time activities were weekend day trips with friends. “We loved to travel. During our week-long vacations we would rent a home on the beach or travel around the New England area,” she said.

Gilman and her husband lived a happy life together until his passing 20 years ago. Although they did not have children, Gilman is surrounded and supported by a loving and large family, that includes two younger brothers. She had a total of six siblings. been through five major wars, she has witnessed and experienced many changes in a century’s time. Gilman shared an insight she had recently. “I put laundry in the washing machine the other day and it dawned on me that I can have my clothes washed and dried in a couple of hours,” she began. “It would have taken my mom two days to do the same amount of laundry…by the time she boiled the water, soaked the clothes, etc.”

As for the current electronics, she admits frustration. “There are so many buttons. It’s all very confusing to me.” Referring to the electronics of fifty plus years ago, such as the radio and television, Gilman joked, “I liked it when there was just an on and off button.”

When asked what she thought may have contributed to her longevity, she thought for a moment and then responded, “I don’t know. It just happened.”

For those who were present at her home yesterday that included two nephews, Peter and John Forbes, and her youngest brother Rick Plummer, one could not help but notice the laughter and jesting between the family members. “They are always teasing me,” she kidded.
But then, becoming serious, Gilman said, “I am very fortunate to have such a large and loving family who looks in on me.”

She did not remain serious for long, however. As the crowd in her home was getting ready to disperse, Gilman teased Morrill, “They need to make these canes shorter for short people.” Laughter filled the room.

Gilman may not know exactly what has contributed to her long life, but it is evident that love and humor has something to do with it.

Congratulations, Hazel Gilman.