From Bob Minor:
The July 1963 Total Solar Eclipse was also my first eclipse. I was 16, about to be a senior in High School. When plans for a friend and me to drive from California to Alaska or Canada fell through, my parents agreed to loan me the family station wagon and drive across country to Maine for the eclipse.
My father borrowed a Questar from an acquaintance and built a transistorized power supply to operate the Questar's ac motor drive. I put together a small refractor from parts from Edmund Scientific. My recollection is that the objective cost $2.98. I took black and white images with both. A family friend helped me experiment with a pyrocatechol developer for panatomic X to help get maximum dynamic range from the film.
I found a few students from UC Berkeley to share driving and expenses, and arranged to stay with family friends in NYC for a few days after the eclipse. My mother made me strap a 5 gallon gas can to the tailgate just in case we ran out of gas in the Nevada desert.
I signed up for access to Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park and with some cash and a Shell credit card borrowed from my Aunt for emergencies I was off.
The trip included:
- A blown universal joint in Colorado on the way east, with the second u-joint failing in Nevada on the way back – repaired by me in the bay of an old gas station using loaned tools and more enthusiasm than skill.
- A burned valve in Maine – repaired by a very nice man at a local gas station who only repaired the one valve to save me money and he did accept my Aunt’s credit card in payment.
- After the eclipse, the car was broken into on the streets of NYC but neither the Questar nor my film was taken, only my father’s Exacta camera.
- I lost my wallet just before returning to California and had only a replacement AAA card for id on the trip home. The day of the eclipse had mixed weather, but the clouds cooperated thru third contact allowing the photography to succeed and providing a truly wonderful view.
Seems just like yesterday.
Looking forward to 2017 (three Saros cycles or one Exeligmos since 1963) when I hope to share that eclipse with many friends and family.