An eclipse series from Fryeburg in 1932. Lewiston Evening Journal

WELD — For the Skolfield family, including 99-year-old Dorothy, the solar eclipse Monday is yet another chance to have what some call “a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”

“I can recall looking at the 1963 eclipse when I was a kid using doubled up film negatives for eye protection,” Tom Skolfield recently posted on his Facebook page. “The eclipse prior to 1963 happened in Maine in August of 1932. My Mom remembers that one as well. She was eight years old. That will be three for her in one lifetime.

Dorothy “Dot” Skolfield, who will be 100 on May 14, recently described her experience in 1932 when her mother took the family from their home in Weld to Rumford to watch the eclipse.

“Mother took us over to Mt. Zircon in Rumford and we had lunch on the lawn out front on a blanket so we could see it,” she said. “We had lunch with the Kilgores and the Conants. Mother smoked some panes of glass over a wood fire so it got black, was dark so it wouldn’t hurt our eyes.”

The glass was covered with soot, like from a fireplace, Bickford explained.

“By the time we got through, us kids were pretty black,” Dot said.


She apparently thought the glass worked so well she used it in July 1963.

“We had the kids out on the front lawn and I smoked glass again and we watched the eclipse,” she said. “I was just amazed. We all had fun, we had something to eat. It was a fun time, an experience.”

Asked how she got information about the dates and times, she said, “We read about it, we all looked forward to it. We heard about it on the radio and in the papers, the TV in 1963. We saw pictures of it afterwards in the newspaper.”

“It didn’t get completely dark,” she said.

This year Skolfield may watch from her patio door in Windham, where she lives with her daughter Sharon Bickford.

“She might be able to see it,” Bickford said. “She sees the moon at night.”


Her son also recalled watching the 1963 eclipse with the family but it wasn’t with smoked glass.

“I remember using film negatives here in Weld when the sun was eclipsing,” he said. “I don’t remember it being such a big deal. Everybody knew, people were aware. As I recall, it wasn’t the big deal it is today.”

It was the summer he turned 14 before he entered the ninth grade at Wilton Academy.

This year, he said, “I have a whole bunch of family coming up to Weld for this one.” They include a son-in-law who works at McCann Fabrication in New Gloucester and is bringing welder’s glasses.

“I will not see the next one scheduled for 2079,” Tom wrote, “unless of course I live to be 130 years old.”

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