Friday, August 2, 2002

Features

Remembering the early days

"Everyone pitched in. We didn't have sharply defined designated positions," says Mosquito co-founder Bonnie Miskolczy. "Everyone did everything. The volunteer atmosphere was important." Miskolczy says that when no one else was available to cover something, she and Skip Anderegg, the paper's co-founder, would fill the gap. From its founding in August 1972, the names of all who worked on an issue would be listed with no job designation. (Kathy Coyle's name appeared in the September 1, 1972 issue as it does in this week's.) The first time that a list of reportorial assignments was given was in October 1974, and the title of editor wasn't used until May 4, 1976, when Miskolczy and Ginny Johnson filled the post.

Credits were used in a way that, retrospectively, looks random. Miskolczy says, "Everything was evolving." If people had been disturbed about any coverage, it would have been difficult to make their complaints personal. Photo credits were not consistently given until after the merger of the Mosquito and the Carlisle Gazette in 1983.

 
Kids were a critical part of the paper in the old days. Their percentage on the staff list was significant. They wrote fiction, features and poetry, covered events and meetings, and enlivened the paper with their drawings. Some of the drawings are still in the Mosquito files and are still used. Paul Lamoreaux, David Eresian, Annie Huber, Heather Behn and Sarah Hatch were among the more prolific. During the first year, five or six kids would meet before each issue with Carole Presberg, to do the drawings. Beginning the following year they met with me. Some drawings were made for specific news stories (police blotter drawings were especially colorful), some were to advertise an upcoming event and some were purely fanciful. Today's back page and "Diverse Diversions" seem staid by comparison to the old "Community Bulletin Board."

Lucinda Turley was a regular fiction writer. In the second issue she began a 12-part story titled "Margaret" that ended in March 1973. Stuart Johnstone was published in the Mosquito many years before his popular trail bike guides came out. Nancy Shohet sees her debut in the paper as the start of her writing career (see Shohet-West's article on page 7.)

Kids were also critical to the collating of each issue, from 1972 until the 1983 merger, when the paper's format was changed to its present form. The paper was initially collated in the Miskolczys' living room. Bonnie says that for years she would find staples in their rug. By that fall the process was moved to Union Hall, where collating parties were held on Tuesday afternoons before the Wednesday deliveries. It took several hours to complete the job and there were always refreshments when the work was finished.

The first photos, which were of Patriots Day, appeared in the paper in April 1973, sponsored by the Carlisle Minutemen. The quality of the printing was terrible. Photos were then used sparingly until 1975. Once photos were more frequently used and the printing quality improved, the reliance on drawings gradually lessened.

Covering committee meetings in the early days could be a more informal undertaking than now. The recreation commission meetings under Mary Diment's chairmanship were a pleasure to attend. They were held at her home, there were always refreshments and I — not in my role as a reporter — was welcome to add my two cents worth. Then, as now, the paper has always considered itself, as Miskolczy says, "the paper of record."

Because we were a small town, people were encouraged to follow their own interests and ideas in submitting articles to the paper. The old Mosquito's motto was "All the news to print, we fit." This atmosphere promoted a sense of community in the town and within the paper's staff. Working in the office was always an idea free-for-all. That's one thing that hasn't changed.


2002 The Carlisle Mosquito