A disappointing eclipse

We wuz robbed!” Or, as my English teacher at Immaculate Conception School, Sister Mas Grammatica, would have said, back in the ‘50s, “We were robbed!”

And if my sixth-grade homeroom teacher were still around, how would she react to this question, relevant this month? The question is: “What does a London barber do? Answer: Eclipse

On the robbery matter, I believe many of us missed a chance to view the much-touted eclipse, which apparently came by around noon last Monday. The biggest to-do about eclipses in general came when I worked for a large newspaper in Aurora, Ill., in the early ‘60s.

The entire staff, of about 50, gathered on an elevated lawn, at the Aurora Beacon-News. Some spent more than an hour viewing the once-in-a-sometime phenom.

I recall that most of the newspaper crowd stood facing the eclipse but used a newspaper, a baseball cap, or their hand to shield their eyes. I never learned whether any of the newspaper staff suffered ill effects from their Trump-style imitations (remember, the presidency gives The Donald amazing powers, including immunity from eye damage from staring at an eclipse).

As one of the newspaper’s reporters and photographers, I’d heard about the danger of looking with unaided eyes, so I watched the action through my camera. I think that helped.

That week, in the “Peanuts” comic strip, Charlie Brown and his friends were discussing the eclipse, one of them saying (no doubt correctly) that viewing that eclipse directly may cause blindness, or at least impairment. The comic strip showed one child complaining that the eclipse planners ought to have hired a production manager. He concluded with, “Why do they even have an eclipse when they tell us we shouldn’t watch it?”

This year’s eclipse day found us on the way to Albuquerque. We saw groups of people standing on the shoulders of I-25, using various devices to view the phenomenon. Most had their backs to the eclipse and allowed the light to go through a tiny hole in a paper plate, or some more sophisticated contraption, like a cereal box that let them see the configuration of the eclipse.

We Trujillos: Well, we missed the whole thing. The drive between Las Vegas and Albuquerque was hazy, no darker than any other overcast day. No matter how hard we tried, we saw nothing ecliptical. And as we drove, we expected to see a tiny smidgen of dark. There was none. About the only things we saw clearly were hordes of lookie-loos elbowing one another to get a better vantage point for something they couldn’t see either.

Why then did the Internet show countless photos of a real eclipse that should have cast us into darkness?

And we wondered, “Is this some kind of Republican Presidential hoax? A joke? A way of brainwashing the public? Would be we reading headlines proclaiming that, “This solar eclipse has been brought to you by the wonderful folks in Washington”?

Like the kids in the comic strip, I’m sure many people wonder why people schedule a total eclipse but discourage us from viewing it.

• • •

President Trump and long-time Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio accidently bumped into each other in a crowded building. Arpaio: “Oops! Pardon me.”

Trump: “I already did.”

• • •

I hope I’m not one of those who blame race, ethnicity or pigment on things I fail to achieve. But there was one experience I can think of in which I felt that I’d been pulled over on Arizona’s I-40, for the offence of DWH: Driving While Hispanic.

I’d traveled for 10 summers along that path, on my way to co-direct a two-week workshop for aspiring high school journalists. I’d never had a bit of trouble on my jaunt to Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.

Except the last time.

I still insist there wasn’t any cause for my being pulled over by a state patrolman who told me I’d run over a yellow line as I passed another driver.

Uh-oh! This calls for a big-time search. Sorry, officer, but all I have are clothes for two weeks. Still not convinced, the officer looked under the hood, peeked into the trunk, opened and then slammed all four doors and even ran a magnet-like contraption over the floor mats. I don’t know why he massaged my car’s mats.

He sent me on my way, sans any kind of ticket, but he did say, “I’m sorry for the stop, Seenyore Trujello, but we can’t be too careful because a lot of illegals drive these roads.”

That comment wasn’t destined to make me feel warm and runny inside. It looked like DWH.

In Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s days, he and his department had their own way of arresting all us mean Latino hombres.

It’s a matter of public record that Arpaio targeted Hispanics, referred to the lock-up facility as a concentration camp, had most of the inmates sleep outdoors, where temperatures even at midnight approached 100; he ordered the prisoners to wear pink underwear and to eat baloney sandwiches that were past their prime and turning a bit green.

Readers are doubtless aware that President Trump just days ago pardoned Arpaio, the president’s long-time supporter, for a contempt-of-court charge that was filed long before the sheriff lost his bid for re-election.

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