March 8, 1970
United Press International
ECLIPSE (UPI) When Margaret Forrest was 15 years old in 1900 a solar eclipse occurred in Southeast Virginia, and local residents decided to name their hamlet after it.
Saturday, Eclipse, the only town in the U.S. Postal Directory with that name, again was in the path of a solar eclipse. Mrs. Forrest, the town's oldest citizen, made it plain that the event, at least in Eclipse, called for proper behavior.
"This is the Lord's work and people shouldn't be cutting up about it," she said.
She and other townspeople were relieved to see that a rumored invasion by thousands of hippies never took place. Residents had heard all week that hippies had chosen the town as a gathering spot.
The Eclipse Ruritan Club, which set up a special viewing area, went so far as to ban the sale of its tickets "to persons who are known to have advocated the overthrow of the government or who had participated in civil disorders."
The busiest man in Eclipse turned out to be George Gayle, a postal clerk who postmarked more than $50 in stamps and envelopes for people wanting an unusual momento of the historic day.
"I'm going to have a sore hand tonight," Gayle said.
Since everyone knew Saturday's eclipse was coming there was, of course, no alarm when it arrived. Mrs. Forrest recalled that it wasn't that way 70 years ago.
"I remember the 1900 eclipse better than some things that happened three weeks ago," the 85-year-old grandmother said.
"I was standing on the porch holding my daddy's hand. The chickens all went to roost. The geese all huddled up. The cows all got together. My mother came running out of the kitchen and said "Lord, have mercy!"
March 2, 1970
By Larry Bonko
THIS WAS TO BE THE WEEK when the village of Eclipse became famous and perhaps a trifle rich.
An organization known as Eclipse 70 Inc., hoped to make the village a household word. It planned to invite thousands of people to come there for Eclipse 70, a vigil for Saturday's absolute solar eclipse.
It would have been the end of 70 years of people saying, "I never heard of Eclipse, Virginia."
In addition to a visit from fame and fortune, 25,000 to 50,000 strangers were expected in Eclipse.
Nothing so important has happened in that corner of Nansemond County since 1933 when Bunkley's Grocery opened.
The folks in Eclipse considered the proposals of Eclipse 70 Inc. and said no, thank you.
They had misgivings about strangers tossing beer cans on their neat lawns or in the field in back of the C.E. and H. Community Hall. They had qualms about hipppie types frolicking on the banks of Chuckatuck Creek.
We saw how big this thing could become and we made a counter porposal," said Leonard Willis, president of the C.E. and H. Ruritans. "We are cautious and conservatiave by nature. Barry Goldwater is too liberal for us."
The Ruritans proposed a limit of 15,000 visitors for Eclipse 70. They asked the organization to post $100,000 bond.
Eclipse 70 in Eclipse, Va died on January 15. "Too bad,"said Sigler, "I felt it could have worked well. We negotiated on a high level."
Sigler is a professor of natural history at Boston University. He took sabbatical leave to plan Eclipse 70. Sigler saw Eclipse on a map while studying the projected 80-mile wide path of Saturday's phenomenon.
Raus Hansen's book, Virginia Places; Names and Derivations, notes that Eclipse was named for the total eclipse of 1900.
Saturday will be as quiet as usual unless newspaper people or television people come around to visit Eclipse.
One of Eclipse's citizens said, "We know our village will still be here on Sunday. But what if fifty thousand strangers had been visiting on Saturday?"
It could have been Woodstock south.
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