Milk is oldest Cape Elizabeth citizen's secret weapon

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CAPE ELIZABETH — The town recognized its oldest citizen Monday when it awarded George W. Baker, 101, with the Boston Post Cane.

In a clever bit of marketing, the Boston Post newspaper in 1909 created 600 canes and distributed them to towns across New England. The idea was for each community to distribute the Boston Post Cane to its oldest male citizen; when they died, it was redistributed. In 1930, women became eligible to receive the cane.

The Boston Post folded in 1956, but the tradition lives on.

Baker, the 21st recipient of Cape Elizabeth’s cane, was born Dec. 26, 1912. His father, Charles, served in the Spanish-American War. Baker played football and ran track at South Portland High School and graduated around 1930. He owned a Harley-Davidson motorcycle and loved to race, according to a biography written by his son, George Baker Jr.

During World War II, Baker worked as a welder for the New England Ship Building Corp. in South Portland. At the shipyard, he met Alberta O’Connor. They married in 1944 and will have been married 70 years next month. Baker later worked for Portland Copper & Tank Works, and Bancroft-Martin.

In the 1950s, the Bakers moved to Cape Elizabeth, where they raised a daughter, Judy Baker Merrill, now of Murfreesboro, Tenn., and a son, George, now of Burke, Va. They have five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

On Monday, Town Council Chairwoman Jessica Sullivan presented Baker with the Boston Post Cane at Town Hall in front his wife and son, neighbors and friends.

To honor the occasion, state Rep. Kim Monaghan-Derrig, D-Cape Elizabeth, and state Sen. Rebecca Millett, D-Cape Elizabeth, sent Baker a signed congratulatory letter that said receipt of the cane “is a tradition characteristic of New England and I’m sure you are proud to be a part of its history.”

The last recipient of Cape Elizabeth’s Boston Post Cane was Leola Elspie Jordan, who died in 2006 at the age of 103.

Asked about the key to his longevity, Baker said, “Drinking milk. No coffee.”

Brendan Twist can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or Follow him on Twitter: @brendantwist.

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George W. Baker, 101, of Cape Elizabeth, received the Boston Post Cane on March 24 as the town’s oldest citizen.