A Total Eclipse in the Heartland, About 150 Years Apart

I often remark that I live in the exact center of nowhere. Apparently, I am in error. Carbondale, Illinois, is finally on the map and the hubbub of the upcoming total solar eclipse is at a crescendo. Carbondale is the spot of the longest duration of the eclipse. To be honest, it’s a few miles down the road in the small little town of Makanda, home of the smiley bow-tied water tower, an homage to the politican Paul Simon, and Giant City State Park, a local treasure.

Southern Illinois University Carbondale postponed opening day. The Saluki Stadium seats might well be all sold for a show by NASA and prime eclipse viewing (last I checked they were almost all sold). A towering residence hall, soon to be demolished, is fully rented to eclipse viewers. Carbondale has been gearing up for this event for almost two years. I am writing this post in haste as I need to get to the grocery store after nearly two weeks being other places (nothing too much fun, sad to say).

My Pi Phi and P.E.O. double sister Elizabeth Davenport Garrels wrote an article in the lastest P.E.O. Record about the eclipse that took place on August 7, 1869, mere months after P.E.O. was founded. I suspect that the founders of P.E.O., Pi Beta Phi, Kappa Kappa Gamma, and Kappa Alpha Theta were caught up in eclipse mania. Although Kappa and Theta were founded in 1870, the women who founded the organizations resided in Illinois and Indiana and would have had very good viewing spots for the event. Did any of them keep diaries? Do we have stories of the eclipse, I wonder.

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