BUCKFIELD — Ted Perry never thought he’d live to see 95, let alone become the oldest resident of Buckfield.
That honor was bestowed upon him on Monday, Oct. 2, at his Bryant Road home by the Board of Selectmen and Town Clerk Cindy Dunn. They presented Perry Buckfield’s Boston Post Cane, signifying he is the town’s elder.
“I’m proud of that at 95 years old,” Perry said as Selectboard Chair Maida DeMers-Dobson gave him the gold-tipped and ebony-shafted cane and a certificate.
“As you should be,” Dunn replied. “We’re proud to have you as part of our town, that’s for sure.”
At 95 years old, Perry still lives alone, but his two daughters, Nancy Bennett and Carol Johnson, both live close by and help him out a lot.
When asked if he ever thought he’d be the oldest resident in town, Perry said, “No. I never dreamed of it. I never dreamed of a gold-headed cane either.”
He said he does not have any secret to long life.
“I have no idea how it happened. … I didn’t realize it was happening. All of sudden I was there,” Perry said, laughing.
He examined the cane, which is one of 700 that were distributed to New England towns in 1909 by Boston Post publisher Edwin A. Grozier to honor the town’s oldest male resident.
The tip of the cane reads, “Presented by The Boston Post to the Oldest Citizen of Buckfield,” along with the date of 1909 and the inscription, “To be transmitted”.
“That is my gold-headed cane, isn’t that nice?” Perry said as he admired the cane.
While the canes were originally intended for the town’s oldest male citizens, that honor was opened up to women in 1930, according to The Boston Post Cane Information Center.
Similarly, times have changes since Perry was born in 1922. He recalled his early days in Maine.
“Back when I was growing up down in Hebron, we had an old dirt road. Every time somebody went by, it just had to be somebody in a horse and wagon,” he said. “The mail used to come in a horse and wagon … and sleigh in the winter time. It was a different time back then.”
Perry served in the Navy during World War II and in the corner of his living room, he has a table dedicated to his service displaying memorabilia, including his Honor Flight Maine T-shirt he received after he was flown to Washington, D.C., to explore various war monuments.
After the war, Perry moved to California where he lived for 45 years. He worked as a heavy machine operator, mostly running a bulldozer. He then grew tired of California and noted his daughter, Nancy, was back in Maine and he thought she would be able to help him out.
“I wanted to be near her. That was the main reason. She’s been awful good to me,” he said.
“I sold my house in California and built this one,” Perry continued, which was in 2002 and the new house sports a spectacular view of the mountains. “We didn’t realize it though until we cleared the area though. It was all covered in rocks and trees. … After they got it all cleared, I said, ‘My lord. Look at there. What a nice view.’”
While he didn’t have a favorite technological advancement, he thought most the changes he’s seen over his 95 years have benefited everyone.
“The changes have been good for me, good for everybody,” Perry said. “It’s called progress.”