The tradition continues in Westport Island where friends and town officials presented the town’s Boston Post Cane to the town’s oldest living resident, Morton Mendes, 96, on Saturday, Sept. 24.
Morton and his wife, Patti Mendes, opened their home to town officials and friends for the occasion. Former select board member George Richardson, current town officials, and Mendes’ daughter Alana and her husband Thom Clifford, from Clearwater Fla., were in attendance for the presentation by select board members Jeff Tarbox and Donna Curry.
While presenting the cane, Tarbox recited a brief biography of Mendes’ service to the town since the couple first moved to the island in 1979. Morton Mendes was very active in preserving the town’s cultural and natural heritage. He also served the town over the years in many capacities when called upon to do so.
Mendes and his twin sister, Faye, who is also still alive, were born in Cleveland. He graduated from high school as the class valedictorian, entered the U.S. Army and was stationed in Austria.
After being discharged from the military Mendes entered the Case Western University, a private college in Cleveland, earning his Phi Beta Kappa Key which recognizes and honors exceptional academic achievement. He then attended Harvard University, in Cambridge, Mass, where he graduated with the honor of being a Baker Scholar. Students who achieve that distinction are in the top five percent of the graduating class.
During the presentation Mort and Patti reminisced of the earlier years on the island and their friendship with Adeline Tarbox, a relative of Jeff Tarbox.
The tradition of the Boston Post Cane was established in 1909 by Edwin A, Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post newspaper. Grozier distributed canes to 700 towns in New England with the stipulation the canes were to be given to the oldest male resident, to be used by that person until death or relocation out of town. In 1930 women were included to become recipients of the cane.
Tarbox pointed out the tradition of the cane has continued, but the Boston Post went out of business in 1957.
Following the presentation, the Mendeses served refreshments to their guests.