BOW — Continuing a New England tradition that spans more than 110 years, the town of Bow this week presented 97-year-old Mary “May” Allquist with the Boston Post Cane, a title bestowed on the town’s oldest resident.
Although she’s been a resident of Bow for the last 72 years, Allquist is a Scottish native who was born in the district of Halfway in the city of Glasgow.
At the age of 18, while World War II was well into its second year, she was called up by the British government and given the option to join the service or go to work in the factories to support the war effort. Allquist chose the latter and spent the remainder of the war helping to manufacture parts for guns and airplanes.
Shortly after the war, she met Arthur Allquist of Bow, who was stationed at Glasgow’s Prestwick Airforce base with the U.S. Army Air Corps. In 1947, the couple married and settled down in Bow.
Allquist spent most of her life as a stay-at-home mother to the couple’s four children, but went to work in the snack bar of a department store in Concord and as a cook at several local nursing homes.
Lyn Spain, one of Allquist’s daughters, says her mother is a master bridge player who enjoys the beach, cooking and crocheting blankets for members of the family, which now includes nine grandchildren and multiple great-grandchildren.
“Everybody gets a blanket,” said Spain. “I can remember my first apartment with my husband in 1984, I had this ugly couch and I asked her to crochet a blanket for it. I still have the blanket. I don’t have the couch.”
The ceremony took place Tuesday morning at White Rock Senior Living Community in Bow.
Spain says she only told her mother about the award the day before the ceremony because of how excited she feared she would get.
“When the Town Manager’s office contacted me to tell me they had chosen my mother, I said to myself ‘I am not telling her — she will not sleep forever’,” said Spain.
“I told her the night before it was awarded and my sister went down that day and helped her pick out her clothes. She was very pleased.”
The Boston Post Cane award is a tradition observed by more than 700 New England towns, and has its roots in a marketing ploy staged by the now-defunct Boston Post newspaper in 1909.