Bob Bestler

‘Eclipse of the Century’ to provide memories – and an unforgettably brilliant mess

I barely remember it, but the last total eclipse to pass through Myrtle Beach and McClellanville was in 1970, an event that moved through Central America and across Florida before turning north and skirting the entire East Coast.

It was called “the Eclipse of the Century’” and I was living in Charlotte at the time, where there was only a partial eclipse – hardly worth remembering, right?

On the day of that eclipse three Charleston County surveyors were plotting a little town called McClellanville, placing symbols for the creek, the roads, the power lines and anything else worth recording.

After they found themselves in complete darkness, about 1:30 in the afternoon, one of the surveyors drew a sun on the map, then put a dark circle inside it, leaving only the barest glow on the outside. Alongside it he wrote:

“Total Solar Eclipse: March 7, 1970.” He added the names of the three surveyors.

The artistic rendering almost didn’t survive because extraneous symbols violated Planning Board rules, but eventually it was entered into the record and still remains on the McClellanville land map to this day.

This little story of the 1970 eclipse was related by a reporter for the Charleston Post & Courier.

One can only wonder at the stories that will be told after our own “Eclipse of the Century,” which will be seen by millions of Americans on Monday as it courses across the entirety of the United States.

Already there are mountains of stories about eclipse T-shirts and other souvenirs, eclipse parties, eclipse viewing areas, eclipse sunglasses, eclipse rip-offs and eclipse home rentals.

Regarding that last: A lot of homeowners in the viewing area have rented out their homes for hundreds of dollars to eclipse enthusiasts.

One Columbia homeowner has advertised his home on Craig’s List for $10,000 a night. He said he’s hoping that some too-rich celebrity will emerge from his cave, realize a total eclipse is imminent and check Craig’s List for his $10,000 home. A LeBron James, maybe, or a Leonardo Di Caprio. Yes, maybe it could happen. You think?

My favorite pre-eclipse story so far, though, was the “Total Solar Eclipse Playlist,” headed, of course, by Pink Floyd’s “Eclipse.”

A few others on the list: “Bad Moon Rising,” “Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Here Comes the Sun,” “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” “Blue Moon” and, of course, “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me,” by Elton John.

And for a snack, how about a Moon Pie and maybe a Milky Way. Just sayin’.

I notice signs placed along South Carolina’s roadways that note the Aug. 21 eclipse and warn drivers to “Plan Ahead.”

Really? How do you plan for a million or more people heading into a narrow swath of South Carolina for a couple of hours – or a couple of minutes for some – before turning around and heading home?

No, I have a feeling that no matter how much we plan, Monday will be a mess – an unforgettably brilliant mess. Just don’t forget to bring a Moon Pie.

Contact Bob Bestler at bestler6@tds.net.

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