Boston Post Cane passes to Paul Marte
On December 6, the New Shoreham Town Council announced Paul Marte, 94, of West Beach Road as the recipient of the Boston Post Cane. The Boston Post Cane is awarded to the oldest resident of Block Island, and has been an island tradition since 1909, outliving its namesake by over sixty years.
In 1909, The Boston Post came up with the publicity strategy of distributing a cane to every town in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine, and two towns in Vermont. The idea was that each town would award the cane to the oldest resident, and send in a brief biography and
picture of the recipient for the newspaper to publish.
The Boston Post folded up its last newspaper years ago, but the tradition of the cane lives on. The cane is made of ebony imported from the Congo, with a gold head decorated by hand. The original gold ferruled tip is missing from the bottom of the cane, but generally speaking it is in good shape and makes a handsome accessory for each of the distinguished Block Islanders who have wielded it.
The newest recipient is Mr. Paul Marte, who sat down with The Block Island Times to talk about what he described as a “wonderful tribute.” Mr. Marte has lived on the island for 20 years, having retired here after a successful career as a lawyer in Connecticut. After serving in the Navy during World War II, Marte attended Boston University, completing law school in 1954 and passing the bar exam on his first attempt.
After graduation, some good friends told him he would never have more time than he had at that moment, having finished school but not yet started work, so he took a trip to Europe that summer after graduation. Hopping aboard the Queen Mary with three buddies, Marte made a grand tour of Europe during peacetime, hitting France, England, and Scandinavia. He stayed in Europe, hitchhiking around, until he was “museum-ed to death,” and had a great time.
Returning home to Connecticut in December, he opened a little law practice in January of 1955. He was quickly joined by one of his neighbors, Jack Shea, who partnered with him in the law firm. They eventually added more partners and built a very successful law firm on Main Street, in Manchester, Conn., the Marte, Shea, and Keith Law Offices. His wife Sally worked as a church administrator, and Marte described their mainland life as: “She was churching while I was lawyering.” The Martes raised three children, Paul, Peter, and Susan, and were very active in the community, with Paul senior serving as President of the Rotary Club in Manchester.
Upon retirement, the Martes moved to Block Island, first living in a house on Corn Neck Road before relocating to the house on West Beach Road. Marte has been active in the community here, serving for many years on the Library Board of Trustees, and working with the blood drive efforts on the island. He says no one could keep up with Peter Greenman when it came to the blood drive, though.
Having thoroughly enjoyed his life on the mainland, Marte still said he was happy to be “anchored on Block Island. It’s the nicest thing that could have happened. I feel so honored that the good Lord put me on this little planet.”
Block Island is honored that Mr. Marte and his family have chosen to spend some time out here with us, carrying on the tradition of the Boston Post Cane.