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Town Rallies Behind Septuplets

November 20, 1997

CARLISLE, Iowa (AP) _ There were no whooping celebrations here at the news that Bobbi McCaughey gave birth to seven babies. The family wanted no flowers or gifts.

The only outward indication of joy from this tiny bedroom community which managed to keep the family’s secret for weeks was a sign outside the car dealership where dad Kenny McCaughey works as a billing clerk.

It read simply: ``Best Wishes Kenny and Bobbi.″

``Everybody basically has not been saying anything until the outcome,″ said Neil Ruddy, city administrator in the community 10 miles outside of Des Moines. ``It’s such an unusual event, everyone was concerned that there wouldn’t be any complications.″

The town was quiet in a hold-your-breath way. Though two months premature and in serious condition, the four boys and three girls could survive, medical experts said.

If they do, it would be the first time septuplets have lived.

A television was set up in City Hall so workers and passersby could keep track of developments Wednesday. Vee Woods, 79, came to pay a bill but stopped to watch.

Another set at Carlisle School drew half a dozen students _ to watch the news.

``They’re in serious condition,″ said a concerned Tom Hickle, 13. His grandmother, Kay Thompson, lives next door to the McCaugheys.

``As soon as we know the babies are safe, we’re going shopping (for a gift),″ said Thompson, 60. She and daughter Cindy Zimmerline, 37, spent the day watching the TV.

Donations were coming in from Iowa and around the country, said David Wright, owner of the dealership where McCaughey works. Procter & Gamble Co. donated diapers. Wright said there’s a good possibility he’ll donate a vehicle.

``They’re going to need a lot of help,″ Wright said. ``Not just the first year, but many years down the road.″

The McCaugheys, who also have a little girl not quite 2, will get a new house, courtesy of several Iowa businesses, Gov. Terry Branstad said.

``Eight kids and mom and dad; it’s got to be a pretty big house,″ said Branstad spokesman Eric Woolson.

And waiting on McCaughey’s desk at the dealership was a book: ``Babysitter’s Guide.″

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