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Ossipee honors oldest resident with Boston Post Cane

OSSIPEE BOARD OF SELECTMEN CHAIR Rick Morgan presents 106-year-old Leda Eldridge Knapp with the Boston Post Cane Proclamation during a celebration held at Mountain View Community nursing home on Monday, Aug. 4. (Larissa Mulkern photo) (click for larger version)
August 07, 2014
OSSIPEE — Monday was a banner day for Leda Eldridge Knapp. Surrounded by friends, family and town officials, Mrs. Knapp celebrated her 106th birthday at a party held at the Mountain View Community where the Board of Selectman bestowed her with the town's Boston Post Cane.

According to a tradition launched by Edwin Grozier in 1909, a Boston Post Cane is given to the oldest citizen in New Hampshire's largest towns. Mrs. Knapp, a retired schoolteacher, received a replica of the original Boston Post Cane given to the Town of Ossipee the original is being preserved at the Ossipee Historical Society.

Board of Selectmen Chair Richard Morgan, Selectmen Frank Riley and Bob Freeman, Ossipee Town Administrator Ellen White, former Selectman Harry Merrow, Mountain View Community residents and staff, as well as county officials were on hand to celebrate the occasion. Morgan presented Mrs. Knapp with a framed proclamation as she smiled quietly from her wheelchair in the Mountain View great room, surrounded by picture takers and well-wishers.

"Now, therefore, be it known by all persons present, that the Board of Selectman and the Town of Ossipee is pleased to present Leda Eldridge Knapp with the Boston Post Cane in recognition of her elite senior citizen status, given this 4th day of August, 2014, on her 106th birthday," Morgan said, reading the proclamation aloud.

"Happy birthday," he said.

"Thank you," said Mrs. Knapp, after Selectman Freeman handed her the cane. Soon after, great-granddaughter Amanda Keyes presented a birthday cake to Mrs. Knapp and everyone sang "Happy Birthday to you."

Some of her former students were in the audience. Former Selectman and current State Rep. Harry Merrow had her as a teacher.

"She was a very good teacher," he said.

Mrs. Knapp attended grammar school at Moultonville School, attended one year at Brewster Academy and graduated from Madison Secondary School. She received her teaching degree from Plymouth Normal School. She and her husband George "Bob" Knapp lived in Ossipee then in Wakefield before settling back to Ossipee. Mrs. Knapp began her teaching career in a one-room schoolhouse in Sanbornville and after taught at the Cotton Mountain School, Granite School and Ossipee Central School. Following retirement, Mrs. Knapp worked at the Post Office at Ossipee Corner. Her hobbies, according to the bio included in the proclamation, are baking, knitting and crocheting.

"I have no secrets," she replied when asked about the key to her longevity on her 106th birthday.

Her granddaughter, Becky Knapp Keyes of Tuftonboro, attributes her grandmother's staying power with "clean living."

"She never drank or smoked or anything like that," she said. Four generations of family members gathered for the event. In all, Mrs. Knapp has five grandchildren, 10 great-grandchildren, and eight great-great-grandchildren.

Mrs. Knapp was born in 1909, the year that the Boston Post Cane tradition was launched. As for the timing of the Boston Post Cane presentation, Morgan said it was a coincidence that the date chosen turned out to be Mrs. Knapp's birthday.

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