Boston Post Cane
Kennebec Journal, Augusta, Maine
WINTHROPJune 13, 2011
A life full of courage, independence and often joy
Happy 100th, Antoinette Fleury
BY WENDELL SCOTT, Correspondent
WINTHROP -- Eighty-three years later, she recalls the date exactly.
It was June 21, 1928. Antoinette Larochelle and two sisters left their home in Quebec
Antoinette was only 17 and didn't speak English, but soon found a job at Carleton
"They loved me because I was quick and not lazy," she said in an interview
She graduated from blankets to woolen cloth. The pay was $13 for a 54-hour week.
Antoinette was happy to have the work.
"In Quebec, you could only be a maid or a teacher," she says.
Rent cost the sisters $5 a month, and they sent a portion of their earnings back home
At church, Antoinette met an altar boy named Robert Fleury.
"I had an eye on him," she remembers with a smile. "He was a good-looking
They married in 1932. Two children followed over the next eight years.
Before there was a word for it, Antoinette quit to become a stay-at-home mom. After the
Winthrop was a different town then, she recalls: Main Street was a busy place, with lots
"I used to love to go to movies," she says.
And there was the train station, where Antoinette and her sisters could catch the train bound
All that is gone now -- the mill, the stores, the theater, the train. And Robert Fleury
Antoinette Fleury, however, lives on.
She's somewhat frail, but in spirit she's independent and courageous -- and her mind
April 28, 1940, for example, was the date she became an American citizen.
The family acquired its first car in 1959. In 1960, the first television followed.
This past Thursday -- June 9, 2011 -- Antoinette Fleury celebrated her 100th birthday. She
"I have a good appetite," she says, "And I love dessert."
"But sometimes I have a TV dinner," she confesses.
To pass the time she watches television.
"Dancing with the Stars" is a favorite, although she finds programming in general
She especially enjoys the repeats of "The Lawrence Welk Show" that are broadcast
Antoinette offers her views on contemporary music: "They sing but they can't sing. They
Antoinette also reads the daily newspaper, and has been a subscriber "since 1932,"
When asked if she has any advice for younger folk who aspire to live long lives, Antoinette
She's grinning now.
"I don't drink," she says. "And you know what? I never smoke either. I'm a good
A few minutes later, she grows more reflective.
"I really don't know what to say about that -- the secret of it," she says.
Thursday afternoon, Winthrop Town Manager Jeff Woolston presented her with the town's Boston
Kevin Cookson, chairman of the Town Council, also attended and paid his respects.
New England's tradition of bestowing a Boston Post Cane upon the oldest town resident extends
At one point, there were more than 400 Boston Post canes. Now only 14 of the original canes
Wendell Scott is a Kennebec Journal correspondent who lives in Winthrop.