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Berlin honors oldest resident



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Four generations of celebrate with Mrs. Langlois. From left, Christy Langlois, Lucien Langlois, Alma Langlois, Aspen Langlois and Helen Langlois. (Photo by Erik Eisele) (click for larger version)
February 10, 2010
BERLIN — It took her 103 years to prepare, but no one can say she didn't earn it.

Mayor Paul Grenier presented Alma Langlois the Cane of Wisdom on Wednesday, which honors the oldest resident of Berlin. She accepted the cane in her home—the same home she has lived in for more than sixty years.

Mrs. Langlois is 103 years old. Her memory stretches back to before the first World War, when Berlin didn't have running water, electricity or cars.

"I remember the firemen with the horses and the fire wagons," she said. She remembers the first telephone, the first electric light bulb, and the way the city looked in its heyday.

"Berlin was lively until 1945 or 1950," she said. "There was something going on all the time."

There were parades and theaters, she said, and streetcars that connected the downtown with Gorham.

It didn't snow more in those days, she said, but they didn't clear the streets before there were cars. She said she remembered walking to school with snow up to her knees.

Mrs. Langlois was born on High Street, in her home at the time.

"In those days there was no hospital," she said.

She graduated high school in 1923 from Saint Regis Academy, and she married in 1943.

At her home were four generations of her family as Mayor Grenier presented her with the cane.

Longevity runs in the family, her son Lucien said: she had sister who reached 101 and three uncles who made 99 or older.

Even into her eighties and nineties Mrs. Langlois brought her passion for music to the local nursing homes, entertaining people who were often her peers or younger.

She has watched the changes in Berlin over the years, she said, with a passion for politics and the day's news.

Berlin is on its way back up, she said. "It's going to be slow, but it's coming."

The Cane of Wisdom was created in 2000, when it was first given to Rose Bugeau. Mrs. Langlois is the fourth person to receive it, after Mrs. Bugeau, Noella Connolly (2002), and Hilda Lacroix (2003).

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