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This cane isn't candy, but it is sweet

For Radford Tanzer, M.D., holding Hanover's Boston Post Cane "feels pretty good," according to the 97-year-old professor emeritus of plastic surgery.

Radford Tanzer, an internationally known plastic surgeon and longtime member of the DMS faculty, holds Hanover's Boston Post cane.
Photo by Jon Gilbert Fox

Tanzer, as the oldest citizen of Hanover, is the bearer of the town's historic Boston Post cane—one of 700 original canes that date back to 1909. Made of Gaboon ebony from Africa, the elegant walking stick has 14-carat gold sheeting wrapped around its top and is inscribed: "Presented by the Boston Post to the oldest citizen of Hanover." Tanzer has his own theory about a few small dents in the cane's top. "It has been used for cracking nuts," he surmises.

Edwin Grozier, publisher of the Boston Post newspaper, started the tradition in 1909 when he had the canes manufactured and distributed to 700 towns in New England, requesting that they be presented to the town's oldest male citizen. When that individual died, the cane was to be passed on to the next oldest male in town. It was not until 1930, after considerable pressure, that women were officially eligible for the honor.

The cane was presented to Tanzer by Brian Walsh, head of the town's Selectboard, to a standing ovation last spring. The ceremony took place at a special service at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, where Tanzer has been a member since 1921, when he was a freshman at Dartmouth College.

After joining the DMS faculty in 1939, Tanzer achieved international renown as the "Father of Ear Surgery," for his development of the standard technique for total ear reconstruction. He retired in 1970, and in 1991 the plastic surgery suite at DHMC was named in his honor. M.C.W.

Sadly, Rad Tanzer died on June 12, after a brief illness, just as this issue of the magazine was about to go to press.

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