Hudson’s Boston Cane Recipient Still Stays Busy at 100

‘Keep moving because the body was not meant to sit and do nothing.’

November 18, 2016


by Len Lathrop

While the Armistice was being signed on Nov. 11, 1918, ending World War I, Clara Charest was celebrating her second birthday.

In 2016, she was celebrating her 100th birthday and being honored as Hudsons oldest citizen.  Her family and friends had organized a party at White Birch Catering for her.

The sixth of eight children to Ovid and Eva Bouley, Clara was born on Nov. 11, 1916, in her parents’ home in Nashua.  When she was 5 months old, the family moved to Hudson where she has lived ever since.  There, she attended the Presentation of Mary Academy and Webster School and worked at the Jackson Mills and Sprague Electric.

In 1936, she married Alfonse Charest and in 1948, they built their Hudson home.  They raised two daughters, Pauline Gordon of Manchester and Diane Braga of Ellington, Conn.

In her retirement years, she joined the Hudson Seniors where she has many friends.  She also volunteered at the Meals on Wheels program for 15 years as a kitchen helper and server.  Clara was a good friend who unselfishly gave of her time to help others in need.  Transportation issues stopped her volunteer efforts with the Hudson Seniors.  She misses her senior friends, her countless Bingo games and their times together.

She keeps busy maintaining her home and yard.  Her favorite activities include reading mystery novels, playing cards, namely, solitaire and gin rummy, with her four grandchildren and five great-grandchildren as well as spending time with her family.

She believes that one “needs to keep moving because the body was not meant to sit and do nothing.”

At the gathering of about 100 people, the stories of Clara were abundant, including her never having driven a car– she walked everywhere.  Lucille Boucher spoke about her walking to the Senior Center when it was on Lions Avenue and helping with the meal preparation.  Gary Dearborn, a cousin, relayed that, even at 100, Clara puts her neighbors to shame by raking her own leaves and mowing the grass.

The Hudson Historical Society was on hand to present Clara with the honor of being recognized as the oldest resident of Hudson.  The Boston Cane tradition began on Aug. 2, 1909, when Edwin A. Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post newspaper, forwarded to the boards of selectmen in 700 New England towns (no cities included) a gold-headed ebony cane with the request that it be presented with the compliments of the Boston Post to the oldest male citizen of the town. The can was to be used by him as long as he lived (or moved from the town), and at his death handed down to the next oldest citizen of the town.  The cane would belong to the town and not the man who received it.  In 1930, after considerable controversy, eligibility for the cane was opened to women as well.

While the cane is on permanent display at the Hills House, the oldest citizen gets a pin with that recognition.  The cane can be seen in the picture of Clara.

Happy birthday to this amazing Hudson resident.