Kathy Coyle, long-time Carlislean, helped hatch the Mosquito
Editor’s Note: The DVD of the following interview, produced by David Ives, will soon be available at the Gleason Library. It is part of the Carlisle Oral History Project, sponsored by the Carlisle Mosquito.
|Kathy Coyle (photo by Ellen Huber)|
When Kathy Coyle came to Carlisle in 1968 she had qualms about moving to a small town. “I had never thought about wells and septic tanks.” But even though she was working full time as a school psychologist in Newton, Lexington and then Wayland, she soon came to appreciate life in Carlisle. She loved Town Meeting. At her first, there was an hour-long discussion about whether to use sand or salt on the roads. “It was wonderful.” She joined the Garden Club, where she met Skip Anderegg. Skip and Bonnie Miskolczy established the town’s first newspaper in August of 1972 and Skip asked Kathy to help. Kathy says “In my time I have covered the ConsCom, the Planning Board and for a long time the School Committee. I only picked up the Police Log after I got back from Alaska [in the mid-80s].”
In the fall of 1972 she made a unique contribution to the paper – she named it. The first issue, published August 2, had an empty space at the top of the front page and a “Name the Paper Contest” was announced. More than 130 names were suggested. The contest closed in November, five finalists were named and the town was asked to vote. The December 6, 1972, issue stated “It is with enormous relief that we announce our new name: The Mosquito….Kathy Coyle who submitted the winning name, The Mosquito, is the winner of a $10 certificate to the Carlisle Bakery, thanks to Janet Liessner, bakery owner.” She came up with The Mosquito “because mosquitoes had the greatest circulation in Carlisle.”
Kathy says “the staff took the paper very seriously but not themselves.” This is reflected in “Notes From The Staff” in the second issue: “Who are WE??? We are a non-partisan, non-profit and relatively non-organized collection of Carlisle residents of all ages, whose common interest is to communicate.” Kathy’s name is on the staff list in this issue. Two-thirds of the 31 staff were Carlisle School students. “There was a group feeling about getting it out.” She remembers intergenerational collating of the paper in Miskolzcys’ living room . There seemed to be lots of “little boys with skinny legs and knobby knees” working at it. That fall she became a member of the paper’s first Board of Directors.
Carlisle was the first place where Kathy lived for more than two years. She was the daughter and granddaughter of Californians. Her parents graduated from San Jose High School and Stanford University. Her father went on to receive his divinity degree at Yale, came to know the socialist Norman Thomas and ran for the US Senate when Robert La Follette ran for president in 1924.
Kathy was born in Washington, DC, but immediately traveled with her mother to Cleveland where the family was then living. There was much back and forth to different cities in California between stays in Columbus, Cleveland, and Alabama with time at boarding schools in Tennessee and Kentucky.
Just before World War II she entered Goucher College in Maryland but after two years there her money ran out. After a year working at a factory job and at a department store she enlisted in the Navy WAVES. (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service).
After boot camp Kathy was sent to Maine to work as a recruiter. She traveled “…all over Aroostock County in the recruiting van – Fort Kent, Madawaska, Van Buren. I had pretty much free rein. I wrote a radio play every week advertising the WAVES. I went out and made speeches.” After the Maine office closed she was stationed at Cape May, New Jersey where she edited the base paper, The Wheelwatch, and worked in the hydrographic office maintaining secret navigational charts. “It was a good time in my life. I met different kinds of people and had lots of experiences.” She left active duty in 1946 as a Chief Petty Officer.
Kathy was accepted into the graduate program in social work at the University of Chicago but soon decided she wasn’t quite ready for it and switched to the department of human development. After graduating in 1950 she moved back to California, first working as program director at a YMCA
She then received emergency teaching credentials and taught first grade in the Sacramento Valley before moving on to Berkeley where she taught in a demonstration school of the University of California. She came to see that there were students who, because of their backgrounds and lack of skills, had needs that were not being met. She made a deal with the principal – she would take primary school kids who had problems if she could have a small class. The class met “in a small bungalow across the street from the school. I made my own rules and set my own recesses.” But she still felt the students needs were not being met. It was before Special Ed and Headstart. She hoped that further study could help her approach the issue more effectively. She came East and entered a graduate program at Harvard Graduate School of Education. After finishing her course work she decided she wanted to buy a house, one near the water. She came to Carlisle – “[What] I got was a swampful of mosquitoes.”
In her early years in Carlisle Kathy not only worked full time but also finished her dissertation, receiving her EdD in School Psychology in 1972. Then in 1978 the school where she was working in Wayland closed. She says, “I was also discouraged by the special ed law which was an unfunded mandate. I saw many kids with needs but there wasn’t money to serve them.” She was ready for a change.
The University of Alaska, Juneau, needed someone to head its Department of Counseling and Special Education. Kathy got the job. Skip (“never one to turn down an opportunity for an adventure”) joined her on the drive west – three days driving, one overnight stop, from Carlisle to Dawson Creek in a two-tank van with three dogs and two cats. They experienced “the yuckiest, gooiest, muck” on the Alcan Highway. Then from Haines to Juneau it was the Marine Highway (the state ferry) since Southeast Alaska is accessible by boat or plane only. Kathy loved the spirit there, the helpfulness of everyone and the informality. “Everyone wore their Alaska ‘tennies’ – their red rubber milkman’s boots” even in restaurants. In 1985 she headed back to Carlisle, this time with one dog and two cats. After driving for seven years in Juneau where there was one stoplight, her arrival in Seattle at morning rush hour was a shock, but she made it safely home.
For people over 60 jobs were hard to get. Kathy did several short-term jobs and then retired in 1988. She had returned to the Mosquito as soon as she got back from Alaska, however. She wrote Forum pieces and then when the Police and Fire Log reporter left town in the late ’80s Kathy took over that post.
Kathy says that the operation of the paper is more formal now but it still fulfills its original purpose – to communicate the news of the town through a non-profit publication which goes free to all residents. “I really feel connected through the paper…It’s been a defining part of living in Carlisle…It’s the Mosquito that’s dragged me into the 20th century [into the computer era]…I really feel so lucky to be a part of it at my age, to be able to participate and to get in on the excitement of things happening…Who wants to talk about your meds when there’s just been a rollover accident?” says the 87-year-old. ∆