SEDRO-WOOLLEY — In Minnesota in the 1930s, Verna McClure and her siblings used broken pieces of glass clouded with smoke from a candle to protect their eyes while viewing an eclipse.
“It was exciting,” McClure recalled. “It doesn’t happen too often.”
The hardware that McClure and about 50 other residents of Country Meadow Village in Sedro-Woolley used to watch Monday’s solar eclipse was more advanced, but the excitement remained the same.
“I wouldn’t have missed it for anything,” said Lau’Rel Perrigo, 90. “This is the first one I’ve ever seen. I’ve seen a lot of things in my lifetime.”
On the complex’s yard — with an unobstructed view of the sky — residents ate Sunchips and homemade moon pies while they waited for the event.
The last time a solar eclipse crossed the U.S. from coast to coast was 99 years ago, according to NASA.
“Now I kind of understand why people are flocking to Oregon,” said Bertha Schiefelbein, 80.
Shiefelbein remembers when the last total solar eclipse passed through the Pacific Northwest in 1979. She was working at United General Hospital in oncology, she said, and used X-ray films to look view the eclipse.
“It was just a fun thing to do,” she said.
Country Meadow Village Program Director David Bricka said he organized the viewing party for the residents so they could have fun, but also as part of the community’s ongoing “Village Concepts University.”
“It’s a way to promote lifelong learning,” Bricka said. “Anytime there is an opportunity to learn, we’re all over it.”
The residents, some sharing the eclipse-viewing glasses, watched as the moon nearly covered the sun completely.
For not being in the “path of totality” — where the moon completely blocks the sun — it was a pretty good view, Bricka said.
Perrigo said she hopes her grandchildren also got to witness the event.
“That made my day,” she said.