The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, June 6, 2003


Who says nothing ever happens here?

Watching Law and Order, one gets the impression that life for a policeman in New York is one unpleasant encounter after another, invariably surly, uniformly cynical, often dangerous, and frequently not prosecutable because of some absurd quirk in the law. What would Law and Order be like if it were based in Carlisle?

Last week's Mosquito reveals that, among other things, the police advised the dog officer about a barking dog, attended to a report about a "possibly sick fox," determined that a tree company was spraying trees and removing orange ribbons that marked the trees to be sprayed, established that a reported "strong odor" arose from cornfield fertilizer, found a Korean/English dictionary, sought a loose horse that returned home on its own, was unable to find a reported "trail of gasoline," and attended to a complaint about a dog that ran into the road. As Mark Green observed in a recent Forum essay, Mosquito police logster Kathy Coyle only reports the facts · not the stories behind them.

The show opens in the bustling Carlisle Police Headquarters with the sergeant talking wearily on the phone, advising the dog officer about a barking dog. The DO gives him a hard time, suggesting that it probably isn't a dog at all but a sick fox that the sergeant is too dumb to recognize. Protesting that he is just doing his job, the sergeant has just put down the phone when a policewoman flies by saying, "Get your coat! Someone's pulling down orange ribbons on Heald Road!" We all know what that means.

The police car careens up to the scene and the officers slam the spray operators up against their truck and demand to know what they're doing. Orange ribbons litter the roadside. Ever surly, the operators won't talk until their company lawyer is summoned. When he arrives, he comes up with a cock-and-bull story about the ribbons being used to mark the trees to be sprayed. Up against this high-powered corporate legal talent, the police have to back down. At least for now.

No sooner have they left this scene than a call comes in on the cruiser radio · a strong odor reported on the north side of town. Making a few cracks about a big stink down at Town Hall, the officers quickly trace the problem to fertilizer, inspiring some more badinage about the folks hereabouts being full of what makes the grass grow green. Back at headquarters, someone brings in a Korean/English dictionary he allegedly found. This looks serious · after all, the North Koreans have recently admitted that they have nuclear weapons · but nothing comes of it. Probably quashed by the State Department.

Returning from a search for a loose horse · fruitless because the horse came home by itself · the officers get a call about a "trail of gasoline." This is more like it. Detectives are trained to follow trails, noting tiny clues like faint footprints, bent twigs, dropped cigarette butts. When they get there, the forensic boys have already arrived and are dusting everything in sight for fingerprints. But the heart of the matter, the trail of gasoline, seems to have evaporated. Frustrated at being unable to prosecute for lack of evidence, they return to headquarters and begin culling the computer records for someone whose MO includes gasoline. They're just onto something when another call comes in · a dog in the road. They know that nothing will come of this one · these dogs are professionals; they'll be on the other side and into the woods long before the cops ever get there. Dramatically, the last scene fades without the viewers knowing whether the dog was caught or not. They'll have to tune in again next week.

In praise of teachers

As the end of the school year approaches, it's a good time to reflect on the role of teachers in our children's lives. We want teachers to keep our children safe, to reinforce good behavior, to help give kids the skills, knowledge and wisdom they need to succeed in life. We want them to do this day in and out, with good humor, while keeping a roomful of energetic kids on task. We don't ask for much.

Teachers can make a lifelong impression on their students. Everyone's journey through the school system includes encounters with both good and bad teachers. The worst teachers I had were just putting in time to collect a paycheck, and the hands of the clock moved very slowly in those classes. However, I also had a lot of great teachers. These women and men were full of energy, cared about the subjects they taught, and cared about the kids in their class. They made learning fun. All parents hope their children will meet with teachers who nurture and inspire them, and Carlisle is fortunate to have many such teachers.

Before the year is over and everyone scatters for different summer activities, I'd like to thank all the teachers who help our children at the Carlisle Public School.


2003 The Carlisle Mosquito