Kathryn Koob routinely had to tell herself, “It could be worse.” For most people, it would be hard to imagine something worse than being held hostage at the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran, for 444 days.
“My captivity, so to speak, ended up being very public, and it was political in nature,” Koob said of being one of the 52 Americans held captive in the Iranian Hostage Crisis. “But what people have to do is look at their own lives. That’s one of the survival tricks that I used.”
“For instance, when I really got to feeling sorry for myself, I thought about people that were worse off than I was,” she continued. “For example, I can’t imagine being the parent of a child with a terminal illness. That’s something you can’t change. I couldn’t change being a political prisoner and they couldn’t change their child’s illness.”
Koob said the biggest difference between her situation and the one she described with the terminally ill child was the family could depend on a “present support,” which was something she didn’t have in Iran. She said her imagination and her faith were the keys to her survival.
“In many respects, I was alone. Except, I knew that my friends and my family were praying for me and thinking about me,” she said. “I thought about the things they would be doing, their daily routine and that kind of stuff. I imagined them wondering about what I was doing and things like that.”
Koob, who taught at Newton Senior High School from 1964 to 1968, is returning to her old stomping grounds this Sunday. She will be the feature speaker at the Capitol II Theater’s free special-presentation of the Academy Award winning film “Argo,” which starts at 1 p.m.
The film is loosely based on an incident that took place during the Iranian Hostage Crisis and Koob wants to clarify fact from fiction during this presentation.
“One of the questions I’m often asked is, ‘How much of this (Argo) is real?’ Koob said. “So what I will talk about is my friends, who were depicted in the film, and their comments about what was going on. I will recommend for people who are more interested that they read Mendez’s book, and I will basically answer questions.”
The book Koob is referring to is “Argo: How the CIA and Hollywood Pulled off the Most Audacious Rescue in History,” by former CIA Agent Tony Mendez, who was depicted by Ben Affleck in the film “Argo.”
Koob said this presentation will be an open discussion versus a traditional sitting and listening type of speaking engagement.
“(This) way, I’m talking about the things that people are interested in,” Koob said. “As a former speech teacher, you can understand, I can talk about anything, anytime, anyplace. I think that after some opening comments, it’s better to let the questions direct the conversation. So maybe it should be billed as a conversation.”
Koob said she is delighted the Capitol II is holding this conversation and thinks it will help people down the line when they view other historical films.
“I think it’s important to talk about these things and what it means when it says that ‘A story is based on.’” Koob said.
Staff writer Ty Rushing may be contacted at (641) 792-3121, ext. 426, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.