The Carlisle Mosquito Online

Friday, January 13, 2006


Feature Editor Marilyn Harte retires

Marilyn Harte (Photo by Maya Liteplo)
With this issue, the feature editorship passes from Marilyn Harte to Ellen Miller, ending a quarter century of stories that Marilyn wrote or edited that recorded and reflected life in our town. Marilyn has been the voice of Carlisle for a whole generation of Mosquito readers, who have read her editorials, cooked her recipes, met their neighbors and participated in school and town events through the pages of the Mosquito.

Although the torch has passed, Marilyn is not disappearing from the Mosquito. She will continue to contribute editorials in rotation with News Editor Betsy Fell and new Feature Editor Ellen Miller. She will also continue to bring the popular "Friends and Neighbors" page to readers every week.

Wisconsin to Carlisle

Marilyn grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin as an occupational therapist, a career she pursued at the Mass. Mental Health Center in Boston in the late '50s and early '60s.

Marilyn and her husband Ken brought their family to a home on Estabrook Road in 1966, at a time when Carlisle was a very small town of approximately 2,000 residents. She became involved in town organizations immediately. "At that time, most mothers stayed home," she recalls. But they weren't idle. She served as the town chairman for 4-H, a member of the League of Women voters, and, in the early '70s, the chair of the town bike/path committee. For decades, until the present, she has regularly worked at the polls at elections.

The Hartes' two sons, Will and Tim, attended the Carlisle Schools and CCHS. Will and his family live in Asmara, Eritrea, Africa where he teaches math at an international school. Tim lives with his wife outside of Philadelphia, where he is Associate Professor of Russian Language and Literature at Bryn Mawr College.

On Old Home Day in 1999 Ken and Marilyn Harte were named Carlisle's Most Honored Citizens, recognizing their many outstanding contributions to the town.

Recording life in Carlisle

In the '70s Marilyn occasionally contributed stories to the Mosquito. In 1980 she was approached by Mosquito Editor Roberta Spang to become the Feature Editor, starting a long commitment to capturing the people, places and events that shape Carlisle.

In earlier years, when the paper rarely ran longer than 12 or 16 pages, space for feature articles was limited and a large percentage of the stories were written by Marilyn. Many were interviews with town residents, especially those who worked in town government and local schools. As the paper expanded so did her staff of feature writers and the opportunity to broaden the scope of topics.

In addition to interviews, features were frequently tied to the seasons, holidays, and the school calendar. Twice a year, townspeople could update their reading lists with recommendations in the Mosquito. Books for summer reading has been a regular June feature, and suggestions for books for holiday gift giving regularly appeared in early December.

On Marilyn's watch, children growing up in Carlisle learned to read a newspaper because it had some pretty cool stuff inside. They could find photos of themselves and their friends, a quarterly sports round-up, information on fun vacation trips and activities, and stories and photos from plays and graduations.

In the past year, as before, Marilyn continued researching and writing stories herself. Recent articles include: "Christmas in Eritrea: family and birding in the Horn of Africa," (January 21, 2005), "Neil Fantasia returns from Afghanistan," (July 15, 2005), and "Learning all about the swap shed," (November 11, 2005). When asked which features receive the greatest response from her readers, she replies that it has always been those stories or editorials that she writes from her own experience.

Comraderie and deadlines

The highlight of her tenure, says Marilyn, is the comraderie that is so much a part of the process of putting out a weekly paper. Monday mornings the editorial staff discusses the stories for that week. Someone frequently brings some freshly baked goodies to share. Tuesday night, from 7:30 p.m. until 11 p.m. or later, is the time to review and select the week's photographs. The editors negotiate for premium space, write headlines, lay out the articles and fret over unfilled pages. Wednesday is press day, and the busy production crew bumps into one another as the deadline approaches. Wednesday's brown bag lunch around the long tables in the big room is a big social event.

Marilyn's Mosquito family describe her as energetic, feisty, unstoppable, and quintessentially Carlisle. No one says that they will miss her, as fortunately for the Mosquito and for Carlisle, she will still be here every week.

2006 The Carlisle Mosquito