Friday, January 28, 2000
Meet Carlisle Mosquito Cartoonist Tom Raftery
It's Wednesday morning at the Carlisle Mosquito, the busiest time of the week for those of us who lay out the newspaper. Pages are lined up on the layout boards; the proofers are going over articles making last minute corrections; photographs are being sized, and then someone asks, "What about Raftery's cartoon?"
"Oh, I've got to give him a call," I remember. "What are some of the hot issues this week?" I ask.
With a few ideas of my own and several suggestions from the crew in the next room, I ring up Mosquito cartoonist Tom Raftery at his home office. After discussing a number of possibilities, including some of his own, Raftery responds, "Give me an hour or so and I'll fax something over to you." A short time later, as promised, the fax machine springs to life and out comes a cartoon that fits nicely into that upper left-hand corner of page two, the space reserved for "Carlisle Capers by Tom Raftery." From members of the staff there are chuckles all around. Sometimes he gives us two or three to choose from, or even more following a night at Town Meeting. (Did you ever notice that fellow sitting in the back of the right hand section of Corey auditorium with a pad of paper in his lap and a pen in his hand?) When he's away on vacation, we go through our file of Raftery cartoons and choose one that fits the season or a specific occasion. One way or another, there's always a Raftery cartoon in the newspaper.
The road to Carlisle
Tom Raftery lives on Concord Street, abutting the Bisbee Land and across the street from Buttrick Woods. He grew up in Worcester, graduated from the University of Massachusetts in 1967, and attended Suffolk Law School nights, graduating first in his class.
In 1968 and 1969, during the Vietnam War, Raftery saw active duty (although he says he was never fired upon) on the nuclear-powered destroyer Truxtun (DLGN35) as a Naval Tactical Data Systems Officer. After discharge, he remained in the reserves for 18 years and is still a commissioned naval captain, retired.
In 1975, Raftery and his wife Jan moved to Carlisle. "We moved here for the schools, access to trains in Concord and to a new house on Curve Street with wood stoves and a generator," he told me. In 1985 he and his family moved to their present home on Concord Street.
He began his law practice at Choate, Hall and Stewart in Boston, but since 1974 he has been practicing bankruptcy law from his home office in Carlisle. Raftery goes to bankruptcy court in Worcester, Manchester, NH, and Boston. "They intersect in Carlisle, and because of the Internet and the fax machine, I'm allowed to be a country lawyer," he reports with a great deal of satisfaction.
"The Rafterys have raised three daughtersKathleen, Karen and Kristenwho all went to the Carlisle Schools and Concord-Carlisle High School. All are college graduates and two of the daughters were married in the past year.
Active on town boards
A colleague at his law firm said that if he really wanted to get involved with his town, get on a town committee, and suggested that the finance committee might be a good place to start. However, at that time the planning board needed a lawyer, so that is where Raftery landed and where he spent the next 14 years. "It was a very interesting board to be on," said Raftery. His next experience, as a selectman from 1988 to 1991, during which time Raftery took a sabbatical from cartooning, was a different matter. "I didn't enjoy being on the board of selectmen. There were three of us, and people would call you at all times. They had too high expectations of what we could do," Raftery recalled. "After 17 years, I felt I'd done my time," he added. However, Raftery has not totally dropped out of town affairs. He is a member of the Carlisle Elderly Housing Association, which oversees the Carlisle Village Court on Church Street.
While Raftery was in law school, he started doodling on the edges of notebook pages, as well as on the backs of the pads. Shortly after moving to Carlisle, Raftery was approached by Althea Kern, the editor of the Carlisle Gazette (a second Carlisle newspaper that was a spin-off from the Mosquito), to draw cartoons for the paper. When the two newspapers merged in 1983, "Carlisle Capers" became a regular feature in the Carlisle Mosquito.
Although the Mosquito likes to think of Raftery's cartoons as exclusively its own, he does submit cartoons to the Bankruptcy Newsletter. These are drawings he makes when attending continuing legal seminars "where the bench meets the bar." "I sit in back of the halls, and there's lots of dead time between substantive points, so . . .," he pointed out. Sound familiar?
When not practicing law or drawing cartoons for the Mosquito, Raftery spends time at his summer house in North Chatham, sailing in Vineyard Sound. In the winter he enjoys skiing at Vail and Aspen, or as he did this past month, in Andorra, where I'm told the skiing was great.
© 2000 The Carlisle Mosquito