Walking stick honors Schroon's oldest citizen

SCHROON LAKE The Schroon Lake Senior Citizens Club has revived a century-old tradition. The club presented its first Adirondack Walking Stick Award to Alice Hannaman Feb. 5. The award will be given to the person who has journeyed life the longest, according to Lorraine Erikson, president of the Schroon Lake Senior Citizens Club. Hannaman, who will be 100 years old Feb. 22, is the towns oldest resident. The tradition of presenting a cane to the oldest person in a community was started in 1909 by Edwin Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post. A gold-headed ebony cane was send by Grozier to each town board with the request that it be presented to the oldest male citizen of the town, to be used by him as long as he lives (or moves from the town), and at his death it be handed down to the next-oldest citizen of the town. The cane belonged to the town and not the man who received it. Nancy Belluscio, a member of the Schroon senior club, became aware of the tradition when her aunt received a cane for being the oldest resident of Reedfield, Maine. Nancy thought it was a wonderful tradition, a great way to draw attention to a deserving other citizen, Erikson said. Belluscio became the project manager under the direction of Kate Huston, the senior clubs immediate past president. Belluscio, who has researched the tradition, said only six New England towns still present the cane to their oldest citizen. The Schroon Lake Senior Citizen Club award is slightly different than the original honor. A cane will be kept on display in the Schroon town hall along with a plaque listing those who have held it. Each recipient will get their own cane, designed to reflect their personality, along with a plaque to keep. Hannaman, who is well-known for her work as a gardener, was given a cane decorated with flowers. Diane Duntley, Hannamans daughter, was amused that her mother would be honored for being Schroons oldest resident. The ironic thing is, my mother never wanted anyone to know her age, Duntley said. She had a way of always hiding her age. Hannaman was born Feb. 22, 1908, in New York City. She grew up in New Jersey and attended the Drake Business School in Newark before becoming a legal secretary for a law firm in Patterson. After retiring in 1974, she and her husband, Henry, moved to Derring, N.H., before coming to Schroon Lake in 1990. While in Schroon Lake Hannaman became active in many civic groups, including the Schroon-North Hudson Historical Society, the Schroon lake Community Church and the Essex County Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Hannaman had three daughter, Diane, Alberta and the late Judy. She also had two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. I can tell you Ive been with the town nearly 20 years and I can remember Alice all that time, Schroon Supervisor Cathy Moses said. She always enjoyed walking around town.

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