Suzanne Paull Carter (1921-2016) 


Suzanne Paull Carter (1921- 2016) 

A “Martha Stewart” of her day 

2043 Main Road, Westport Point 


A memory by Susanne Carter Peck 

My mother spent almost every summer of her life in Westport from a very young age. My father’s military commitments kept her from returning to stay for some years, but as soon as he was established in civilian life, she would leave him each summer and take my brothers and me to Westport. When my parents retired, they lived permanently in Westport at 2043 Main Road until their deaths almost 30 years later.  

My mother was a housewife, but that title doesn’t begin to do her justice. I think you would call her a “Martha Stewart” of her day and age. She was an excellent cook and, as mentioned in her obituary, she published a cookbook of her recipes with our help. She loved to entertain and the clambakes that she and my father put on for guests upwards of 75 were legend. I still remember her quahoging on the mud flats when she was in her 70s and making the most delicious quahog chowders or stuffies with her catch. She always was eager to cook the tautogs (blackfish) we caught or mussels that we gathered.  

As a small aside – I remember my mother saying that she cooked or baked food for the soldiers stationed at Gooseberry Neck during WWII. Mrs. LeValley (a woman of interest in her own right) had organized the effort among women on the Point. (My mother had returned to Westport to live while my father was overseas.) 

My mother was an excellent gardener and each season her gardens at 2043 and 2041 Main Road were beautiful. I remember helping her as a youngster to bring vase after vase of flowers into the Westport Point School when the Westport Art Group had their annual art shows there. She was always in charge of arranging the flowers in each room for the duration of the art shows.   

My mother also was extremely talented in creating home decorations. This of course was before the age of ordering decorations from Amazon or purchasing at the Dollar Store! Homemade Thanksgiving table centerpieces, seashell wreaths, starfish Christmas ornaments or Easter egg trees were works of art. She cleverly and routinely combined seashells, driftwood and flowers to decorate the house. She also designed and made aluminum alloy serving trays that were engraved with starfish and seahorses.  

One other aside – when my mother was a young woman, she and my grandmother were part of a group that were considering what the Paquachuck Inn should be named. My mother suggested the name “Paquachuck” and it stuck. I wish I remembered more about the story, but it’s a story that was confirmed by several people. 

In summary my mother loved Westport and was a vibrant member of the community.  

Recollections From Her Youth in Westport – written by Suzanne Paull Carter many years ago 

 I remember when the house (at 2043 Main Road) was being built in Westport Point. The lot was covered with grape vines. An outhouse was built on the “rock” at the end of the yard where the whale oil barrels must have been loaded on dories to go to the whaling ships anchored in the river. There was a pear tree and white fence between us and Frank Brown’s house to the south.   

Though this house was built for an “escape” from constant doctoring for my Dad, he spent relatively little time enjoying it. My Mother felt guilty leaving him alone in Barre, MA – so she left me with brother Dick  (attorney Richard Paull, who drafted the Westport Historic District legislation.)  He was given $10 to feed us for the week. But Dick went fishing, sold some to Mrs. Lees and pocketed the ten dollars. Dick bought tapioca and milk with the money he made at Lees and I had to make tapioca pudding and fry the fish for dinner. I was not very happy with this arrangement!   

In the evenings my older three brothers went off to the Liars CLub (located near where Leach & Son Marina now stands on the docks) and expected me to stay home alone with an old Colliers magazine. My playmates were all safely tucked away at home, so from sheer boredom and loneliness I crept down to the Liars Club and hid under the window in the tall weeds. The stories I heard from Captains Ely, Bill Head and a number of others were hair raising. Sometimes I’d be found and hurried home – what an experience.  

Our fascinating “old salt”, John Kenny, was an interesting neighbor too. One day he came over and said, “Susie, would you go up to Johnny Fishes store and buy me something different for a cereal. I can’t read the names and I’m tired of eating shredded wheat month after month. John had run away to sea at 12 and had had no schooling! John had lost several toes – frost bitten on fishing trips – but he would loop his nets around his remaining toes with his feet in the front window and work tying knots to repair his nets. (John Kenny lived in the home at 2044 Main Road. After John, Bill White – also a fisherman – lived there and local kids would help themselves to his bait barrels for their own fishing trips.)  

Suddenly it was time to teach me the finer points of sailing. So Dick and I sailed off in our boat – the Dhow – out to the Spindle. I was enjoying the fine day and the sailing, when Dick jumped overboard and yelled, “Luff up into the wind!” Good grief – I didn’t know what he meant and in taking over the tiller I whizzed by him briskly. Then came about and whizzed by him a second time. Water is awfully cold out there and I knew I had to pick Dick up soon. Fortunately I had the sense to sail into the wind and let the sail spill the wind! Lucky for Dick I came up to him and he grabbed the boat at the tiller where he could get a foothold and climb aboard.  

My three brothers felt they were responsible for my training – so naturally Westport opened “doors” of chances to teach me. Early in one summer at the Point I was invited to go on a rowboat expedition. So I happily joined Dick. We went off the dock and out in the fast river channel. There all of a sudden Dick dropped the oars and said, “Okay, Susie, it’s up to you to row us away from the bridge or we will crash up against it with the tide coming in!” Overwhelmed I clumsily grabbed the oars and stepped over to sit correctly to row and struggled with the oars. I did have the ability to steer us through and under the bridge. But later I learned very few could row against that tide. (This was the old wooden bridge at the end of Main Road that spanned the narrow channel.) 

Another memorable experience happened one evening when my brothers Pete, Tom and Dick decided to go eeling. I teased to go along, promising to row quietly while they flashed the lights to spear the eels. When they would spear the eel, they’d knock it off into the bottom of the boat where it slithered on the bottom of the boat close to my feet! Once they felt they had caught enough they had me row to our dock. But when I tried to get out, I was told I couldn’t until I’d picked up all the eels and put them in the pails. Oh, how awful it was as I’d grab one and it would slither out of my grasp leaving my fingers all slimy! But I was forced to repeat this awful process until all the eels were in the pails. Then I climbed on the dock, rushed up to my parents who by then were snug in bed, and said, “I had to get them by their guts or Dick would not let me out of the boat!” 

Our neighbors to the north were wonderful – Lydia Angel and Rebecca Howland baked delicious cookies and shared them with us. They were seamstresses and there are quilts we still have left by them from the scraps of material left after the dresses were made. One early memory is hearing these ladies call across our lawn to Lydia Brown Brownell, our neighbor to the south, “Have you seen the “Boys”? They should be back from fishing by now.” The “Boys” were their brothers, who were 80 and 85. (The Howlands were neighbors to the north at 2041 Main Road.)  

Lydia Brown Brownell’s brother was Frank Brown and when Lydia’s husband died she moved back to live with Frank. Frank had a fine well in which he kept a live trout to eat the bugs. Since open-hearted Frank allowed all visiting boaters or fishermen to use this well, many times the trout was brought up and carried to a boat in a pail of water. But the people, thankful for fresh water, always returned the trout.