May 30, 1965: A downtown afternoon that suddenly went dark


(Barry Baumstein)

Published: Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 25, 2013 at 2:14 p.m.

Gainesville Remembered is a new feature of Gainesville Magazine, recounting historical moments through the voices of Gainesvillians. Have a memory to share? E-mail Alicia Antone, executive director of the Matheson Museum, at executivedirector@mathesonmuseum.org.

It was May 30, 1965, the day Gainesville went dark.

Like most afternoons, teenager Barry Baumstein headed downtown to work at his father's business, Mr. Mitchelle's Shoes, then located at 1127 West University Avenue, after classes let out at P.K. Yonge School. He vividly remembers the downtown area going completely dark.

It was a total eclipse of the sun — no ordinary event, since partial eclipses are more common.

“There wasn't much traffic on the streets during the eclipse. Most people were out standing on the sidewalk watching the sky get darker and darker,” remembers Baumstein, now a Realtor and property manager.

“At the height of the eclipse, the streetlights came on and all the stores were lit — just like it was nighttime. I recall the darkness lasting only 5 to 10 minutes, although the eclipse was probably an hour long from full sunlight to full sunlight.”

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