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News Feature

Deer Isle
Originally published in Island Ad-Vantages, September 27, 2012
Mary Cousins celebrates 104th birthday
Receives Boston Post Cane

Mary Cousins, 104

Mary Cousins, 104, receives the Boston Post cane on Thursday, September 20, at the Island Nursing Home.

Photo courtesy of Kathleen Billings-Pezaris

by Jessica Brophy

“Do you suppose I’m old enough?” said Mary Cousins in a recent phone interview when asked how she felt about being awarded the Boston Post Cane as Stonington’s oldest resident.

Cousins said receiving the cane was “a big surprise.” Cousins received the cane at a party celebrating her 104th birthday at the Island Nursing Home on Thursday, September 20. The Boston Post cane is traditionally awarded by the selectmen of many New England towns to the oldest citizen. The canes were originally sent out by the Boston Post in 1909 as a publicity stunt.

Cousins was born on the Island in 1908, and lived here all her life except for a few years around the end of the World War I. The oldest of three girls, she grew up in a home on West Main Street, and lived with her husband in the house next to the former Stonington Elementary School, according to a piece about Cousins in Island Heritage.

Over the years, Cousins worked as a bus driver, a telephone operator and librarian in Stonington. She has seen a lot of change in her time, especially changes brought by the building of the bridge.

“It made a difference when the whole island was alone by ourselves,” she said. “You didn’t have to be careful of strangers, everybody was our aunt and uncles.”

Today, everyone drives everywhere, but during Cousins’ youth, there were only three or four cars in Stonington.

“Things were very different,” said Cousins of the time when she was a child. “It didn’t’ cost much to live. Of course, maybe my parents would have said different.”