Beryl McLaughlin, 92, recently was honored with Greenbush’s Boston Post Cane.
The Boston Post Cane honor dates back to 1909 when the publisher of the Boston Post newspaper send canes to 700 towns in New England, to be presented to the oldest male citizen of each community, with it to be death handed down to the next oldest citizen of the town. Women were made eligible as well for the award in 1930.
According to the most recent addition of Greenbush’s town newsletter, McLaughlin was born April 24, 1925 in LaGrange, the 4th child of Charles and Frances (Hanscom) Cowing. She went to school in that town.
Early in the 1940’s the McLaughlin family moved in next door. Beryl’s younger sister, Ivis, became fast friends with Laura McLaughlin. The two young teens soon hatched a plan telling Laura’s brother, Clifford, that Beryl wanted to meet him. On Christmas Eve 1942 Clifford McLaughlin, on leave from the Army knocked on the Cowing’s door. When 16 year-old Beryl answered the door he said, “I heard that you wanted to meet me.” Despite her embarrassment from their young sisters’ prank, Beryl and Clifford struck up a friendship and began corresponding.
In January 1943 Beryl joined her older sister, Ada, in Washington, DC. She soon found a job as a statistician for the War Production Board learning the process through on-the-job training on adding machines and calculators. At first she used streetcars to and from work until she learned the bus route was quicker. Since she was often the first one at work, she was soon trusted with keys to open up the office before others arrived.
Memories of her time spent in Washington included a girls’ night out to the movies with Ada and a couple of girlfriends. After the movie they headed across the street for a bite to eat when the air raid alarm sounded. They ducked into a doorway until it was over then went home rather than the restaurant. She especially enjoyed viewing the beautiful cherry blossoms in the spring.
The McLaughlins were married May 16, 1945 in the home of a Methodist minister in Lincoln. Cliff returned to Delaware to finish his service and Beryl to D.C. After his discharge in September of 1945 they spent a short time in Medway, Massachusetts with Cliff’s sister and her husband on their dairy farm. Cliff and Beryl stayed there until their son Richard was three months old before moving back to Maine, joining Cliff’s family in Enfield. Cliff went to work in a pulp mill and became friends with co-worker, Ronald Murphy from Olamon. Knowing that Cliff was searching for a home for his family, Murphy informed him of a house in Olamon. It wasn’t long before Cliff and Beryl with their small family relocated to the section of Greenbush called Olamon.
After the move back to Maine, mcLaughlin concentrated on the job of homemaker, wife and mother. Her kids’ friends were frequent and welcome visitors. As one young boy told her, “I’m sure glad you don’t work, because you make really good homemade cookies!” She was a member of the PTA often being asked to make her lemon pies for the fund raising suppers. She assisted the school nurse when the students were given immunization shots.
McLaughlin is, and has been, a faithful member of Olamon Bible Church. In years past she assisted with Bible School helping to set out snacks. In the 1970’s she was called for Grand Jury duty being appointed secretary of the group.
Beryl and Clifford McLaughlin had six children: Richard, Linda, Robert, Betty, Reginald, and Laura. There are now 7 granddaughters and 3 grandsons; 18 great-grandsons and 4 great-granddaughters; and one great-great-grandson.
When asked her secret contributing to her longevity McLaughlin replied, “It must be genetic. Mother lived to be 103, Dad 93 and his sister 98.”
“May you enjoy many more years gracing us with your loving warmth, beautiful smile and many of your eventful and interesting life’s stories,” said town officials in the newsletter.