Eclipse brings back memories - or not

Eclipse brings back memories – or not

With Misty Fritz

The Write Team

CARLINVILLE (Aug. 24, 2017) – The last time this area saw a significant solar eclipse, back on May 10, 1994, I was a third-grader in Mrs. Deanna Girardi’s class at Benld Elementary School. It seemed fitting to me, then, that I watched this year’s eclipse roll in at Ben-Gil Elementary School, surrounded by kids in awe of what was happening in the sky, even though it didn’t get completely dark.

The 1994 eclipse was an annular eclipse, which leaves a ring of the sun around the moon instead of just the corona as happens with a total eclipse, though I don’t recall if I knew that term at the time. I just remember thinking it was really cool.

I also distinctly remember going outside with my class to watch the eclipse. Or, at least, I thought I did. Now, some friends have me doubting my memories.

This self-doubt all started because I couldn’t remember if my class used eclipse glasses or pinhole viewers when we watched the eclipse. I pulled out my third-grade yearbook Monday night, hoping there would be some pictures from the day of the eclipse among the collages at the end to give me an answer, but no such luck. I asked about it on Facebook, hoping to make use of the collective memory of others from my graduating class, only to have a couple friends (who were in different classes at the same school) say they weren’t allowed to go outside during the eclipse. That gave me pause. Did I actually watch the eclipse with my class, or am I conflating the eclipse with some other memory from that year?

There’s only one other explanation I can think of. Back then, Benld Elementary School was made up of three buildings. Mrs. Girardi’s classroom was in what was once the Benld Township High School, while the cafeteria was in the center building. If I remember correctly (and as I’m sure you can understand, I’m doubting myself a lot right now), we sometimes (often? always?) went outside to get to the cafeteria. Maybe what I’m remembering from the day of the eclipse is us going outside on our way to lunch and having to avoid looking at the sun. That would explain why I can’t remember whether we used eclipse glasses or pinhole viewers, if we didn’t use either one, and it would explain why there are seemingly no pictures from what would surely have been a yearbook-worthy event.

I tagged others who were in Mrs. Girardi’s class with me on the post, trying to see if there’s a consensus, but so far, I haven’t managed to get a definitive answer. Eventually, I thought to check to see if Mrs. Girardi has a Facebook account, and she does, so I made the post public and tagged her in it. Hopefully she can tell us one way or another. I just know I never expected to doubt my own memory so much at only 32 years old. I don’t think I can blame that on the eclipse, either.