Friday, April 6, 2007
Long-time Mosquito photographer heads north
For the past 30 years, the Carlisle Mosquito has been more than fortunate to have on its staff the talented photographer, Midge Eliassen. Over the years, she could be seen around town taking photographs on assignment for the newspaper, as well as taking other photos which she knew would be of interest to people living in this community. Town Meeting, of course, was another venue where we could count on Midge. From the aisles of Corey Auditorium, she would be snapping shots of town officials on the stage and citizens speaking from the floor.
Last spring Midge and her husband Tim sold their home on Virginia Farme, which they had owned for over 30 years, and in the fall moved to Malcolm Meadows on Stearns Street. The Eliassens have owned a summer home on Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire since 1961, across the lake from her extended family's summer home where Midge has spent every summer of her entire life. Midge and Tim are now in the midst of renovating their former rental property nearby, which has become their primary home in that area since the fall. "We are living in both communities — Malcolm Meadows and Sunapee," said Midge, "while we are transitioning to New Hampshire over the next few years."
Although Midge now spends most of her time in Sunapee, she will continue working part-time for her husband's company, TriPyramid Structures in Westford, marketing and setting up exhibits for the annual architects convention. In New Hampshire, Midge will continue her almost weekly involvement with the Lake Sunapee Protective Association. This is the oldest environmental organization in the state, established in 1899, and Midge has been involved with it since the early '90s. Not far away, in the Hanover area, are her mother and daughter, Scottie, whom she will get to see more often.
Carlisle, the perfect community for us
The Eliassens moved to Carlisle in 1973 just before their oldest daughter, Scottie, was to start kindergarten. "We moved to Carlisle because of the schools and the open space," said Midge. The Eliassens have two younger daughters as well, Megan and Heather, close in age to their sister Scottie. As Midge explained it, "Carlisle was the perfect community for us. The size of the town, the way it worked and the people involved in the community made it easy for us to become engaged in it. I was a young mother, with a professional background and a prior career, who had made the decision to be at home with my children. I was fortunate to be able to make that decision from a financial standpoint.
"Though my focus was family," she continued, "I needed to be involved in more — more outside the home, more intellectual stimulation of a different kind than the challenges of parenting. The way the Carlisle community worked gave me what I needed, with the opportunities to be involved in the Mosquito and in town government."
Yes, Midge certainly did get involved. She started out as a reporter for the Mosquito covering the Planning Board and, with help from her daughters, collating the mimeographed sheets that made up the pages of the newspaper at that time. Later she covered the School Committee and the Board of Appeals, and for several years was chairman of Carlisle Communications, Inc., the non-profit organization that publishes the Mosquito.
Her other town activities in those early days included running Carlisle's Wednesday Food Co-op, serving as president of the Red Balloon Nursery School when her daughter Heather was attending, and taking part in Carlisle School Association activities. Also important to both Eliassens, for a decade starting in the mid-'70s, was their involvement in the Bill Koch League cross-country ski program. Those were the years when there was snow on the ground during winter months, which many of us with children in Carlisle well remember. On Saturday mornings at Towle Field, Tim and Midge ran ski races for more than 100 children, ages seven through 13.
Serving on town boards
In 1978 Midge ran for the School Committee and served for six years, including three years as its chairman. Looking back on this period, Midge feels one of her biggest contributions to the town was bringing Superintendent/Principal Matt King to head the Carlisle Schools. (Dr. King went on to be Superintendent of the Wellesley School System, and this June is retiring). Following her tenure on the School Committee, in the mid-'80s, Midge took part in the Master Plan Committee, along with Kay Kulmala, Vivian Chaput and others, doing a major survey of the town to help determine its future course.
From 1985 until 2003, Midge served on the Zoning Board of Appeals. Recalling some of the "hot issues" of those 18 years, Midge mentioned settling the location of the police station, addressing Carlisle Animal Hospital's difficulties with its neighbor Deborah Hinchliffe, ruling on issues of enlarging homes on non-conforming lots and dealing with cell tower proposals.
In 1986, Midge started working for Tim Morse of Morse Photography on Rutland Street. "Photography had been a real interest of mine since high school, and working with Tim I had access to a darkroom," she said. "Tim was a great teacher and very generous," she added. Morse, who was taking photographs for the Carlisle Gazette (the other town newspaper, from 1975 until 1983), submitted several of Midge's photos to the Gazette. Once the newspapers merged in 1983, Midge started contributing on a regular basis to the Carlisle Mosquito.
"I loved doing photography for the Mosquito," recalls Midge. "It was an opportunity to reflect back to the community, to its residents, all aspects of the town, from the tiniest details of nature, to an event someone might have missed. I got the most pleasure from photographing details of nature and catching the spontaneous interactions between individuals in town," she added.
As for the newspaper, Midge had this to say: "The Mosquito is absolutely remarkable for its connection to the community. Its depth of knowledge that supports every article is remarkable. The town, with its diversity of residents, would not be so cohesive without the Mosquito."
Midge is no longer on the weekly list of Mosquito photographers assigned to cover events in town. However, when she is in Carlisle; we should not be surprised to find her taking photos of what she thinks makes this town special and then sending them on to us. We at the Mosquito will miss you, Midge, and so will all of us in Carlisle.
© 2007 The Carlisle Mosquito