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Amazing Anna! Anna Ela turns 100!

by Suzy Lucine

On March 14, 140 of Anna Ela’s family and friends gathered in the church hall of the First Parish of Bolton in Bolton, MA, to celebrate her 100th birthday. The church hall was a living tribute to this amazing woman, with photos and various riding outfits and other memorabilia from her life decorating and warming the party, as well as the words of love and respect from well-wishers across the country.

Janey Lucine and Mark Caisse with Anna Ela on her 100th birthday.

Hors d’oeuvres were served as guests arrived, and visited with Anna. A delicious, catered luncheon was served, followed by a loving tribute of photos depicting Anna’s full and exciting life. This included photos of her at the wheel of her father’s boat in Pleasant Bay at the age of 9, to many of her sporting ventures, and Anna as one of Boston’s most popular debutantes in 1927-1928. Then she shocked all when she married a Dartmouth man, so there were many photos of Anna and Roger Ela.

Of course, many of the photos in this presentation included Anna’s first Morgan horse, Gladwin, who was given to her by a neighbor when she was 11. The photos then depicted Anna’s love for her Townshend Morgan horses with such greats as Sealect, Sadwin and Townshend Vigilass, to name a few. There were many photos of the Elas’ daughter, Nancy Caisse; and then more when Nancy’s son, Mark, was born. Of course, there were photos of the famous Ela/Caisse family class entries at the New England Morgan Horse Show.

After the photo tribute, several family members got up to roast the incredible matriarch in their lives. This was followed by a 1937 silent movie production (converted to DVD) that was produced by Anna’s brothers and their cousins. This was a humorous thriller called "Why Oysters Perspire," and involved a jewelry heist, and a great cops and robbers chase on land, sea and air. Everyone in the church hall was rolling with laughter, and a few older family members just shook their heads in remembrance. Throughout this silent movie, there were subtitles to help viewers keep up with the plot of this production, as well as some remarks and sounds from the audience.

Anna Ela with her special cake, a replica of the barn at Townshend Farm.

Following the movie, Mark Caisse and Tom Maker carried in a huge birthday cake. The cake was an amazing and delicious replica of the barn at Townshend Farm. Nearby friends, the Malcom Lilly family, who has six daughters, made this cake to scale, not missing any details, and included Anna’s favorite white van in the parking area. Many little ones, from the third and fourth generations of the family, helped Anna blow out all the candles.

Guests left this event filled with great memories of a remarkable woman’s life, present day experiences of Anna’s wit and humor, as well as a baseball cap signifying this historic day. There was also a large time line hand out of the things Anna Ela has seen in her first 100 years. There were photographs and dates of important events in the equine world which happened during the time Anna has been on this earth.

There were also copies of an extra edition of The Boston Globe, printed on Wednesday, March 14, 1979, for all to take home and enjoy. The headlines of this extra edition read "Anna Ela, horse matron, nabbed for disturbing the peace". The four-page paper featured short stories and photographs of her arrest, as well as excerpts of her life, including her social involvements, and her equine interests.

All in all, it was a great way to celebrate the 100th birthday of a great lady, Anna Ela.

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