Solar eclipse is a highlight for daily visit of neighborhood buddies

Jeff Wiley (left) and John Maus spend time together while waiting for the partial solar eclipse outside John's apartment on Oct. 23, 2014.

Jeff Wiley (left) and John Maus spend time together while waiting for the partial solar eclipse outside John’s apartment on Oct. 23, 2014.

Story and photo by Morgan Spiehs, NewsNetNebraska

Dale puts his fist to his eye with a small opening to see.

“I can kinda see it,” he says.

Jeff does the same.

“I can’t see it, my eyes are too good,” he jokes.

John, Dale and Jeff meet daily around four in the afternoon outside the LaBelle, John’s apartment on South 11th and G streets. But there’s a special occasion today other than to drink a few beers and visit: A partial solar eclipse is viewable for only a few hours on this late October night.

Dale and John both pull a Redd’s ale from a six-pack newly purchased, still in a plastic sack. “You can’t watch the solar eclipse sober,” Dale says with a smile.

Dale Gatson says he’s seen the Everett neighborhood change in the 10 years he’s been
here.

“This is a real neighborhood,” he says. “There’s been a lot of diversity here.”

About every other person that walks by, the three men know. The scene is reminiscent of a small town, not a neighborhood in a city of more than 250,000.

“Some people think we’re panhandlers out here,” Jeff Wiley says. People just don’t sit outside and visit anymore, he said, and he attributes it to people taking privacy too seriously now.

A young girl about six years old yells out, “Hi, John!” and he emphatically waves back as she walks in to Pam’s Day Care next door.

The men notice that Jeff disappeared and chalk it up to him being his “rambunctious self.” He soon comes back with corn slathered in sour cream and Parmesan cheese from the ice cream store on the corner.

Cultiva, the coffee shop across the street, is playing epic orchestrated music that sounds like something from a space travel film. The music seems fitting while the men search the sky high and low for the crescent shaped moon.

There’s no sign of the solar eclipse, and the men slowly give up, realizing they can’t look directly at the sun without a filter of some sort. Jeff starts reciting lines from Shakespeare’s Macbeth.

A woman walks past a sign adorning “Local Heroes” in front of the LaBelle, the name of a past design business.

“Which one of you is the hero?” she asks.

“I am!” Jeff responds quickly.

The men still can’t see the moon crossing in front of the sun. They reminisce about solar events past and joke that one of these days the earth might collide with the sun.

“Well,” Jeff says, “I’ll be sitting right here if it does.”

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