Monday’s total eclipse of the sun brought a lot more light onto one mystery I’ve wondered about for more than a decade: Who are these Boone County Journal guys in Belvedere, Illinois?

Bruce Wallace

That’s right. The weekly newspaper in Belvedere, Illinois – population 25,000 – is known as the Boone County Journal. We get each other’s email at least a few times per year and once in a funny while, we get each other’s phone calls.

For example:

Me: “Boone County Journal, this is Bruce….

Caller: “I just want to know if you would come down to the (garbled) and take a photo of my grandpa this Friday – he’s turning 100-years old and we’re having a party for him.”

Me: “I would be happy to do that – where is this? What time is the party?

Caller: “Well, grandpa gets up from his nap at about four o’clock, in time to go to dinner, you know. Sometimes he sleeps in when it’s fish night, but he pretty much likes everything else.”

Me: “I understand. Is your grandfather at the Villa or at Ashland Healthcare?

Caller: It’s at the (garbled) Manor. You know – down there off Highway 214.

Me: “Ma’am, I’m afraid you might have the wrong Boone County Journal….”

Caller: (Sounding indignant) I know who I called – I got your number off your website!”

Me: “Ma’am, does your father live in Illinois?”

Caller: (Sounding suspicious) Welllllll, yes. Yes, he does.”

Me: “Ma’am, I live in Missouri. I’m sure your grandpa is a delightful man and please wish him my best on his birthday. Let me get you the phone number of the Boone County Journal in Illinois.”

Happens at least twice a year.

Last week, I got a phone call from a man wanting to know if I was the Boone County Journal in Missouri.

“Sure am,” I said, not wanting another one of “those” conversations.

“Well, I’m the Boone County Journal in Illinois. We get email for you all the time.”

It was David Larsson, owner and publisher of the Illinois Journal.

After a lengthy conversation and a few laughs, Larsson told me the purpose of his call.

“I have a reporter who wants to be a part of the coverage of the solar eclipse, and we decided if he was going to be in the “totality area,” he might as well come see you.”

So it was that reporter Charles Herbst dropped by the office on Monday and tagged along with me as we went to the Southern Boone Library and Ashland City Park. Frankly, Herbst was more in his element as an out-of-towner than I was – it was difficult to find anyone from Southern Boone County at City Park watching the eclipse.

As it turns out, the two Journals don’t have a lot in common – theirs is a free weekly paper distributed from various pick-up points, ours is a paid circulation weekly. Herbst doesn’t care much for sports, I like to watch kids sweat and have been known to get run over at a football game on the sidelines and whacked by an errant Skyler Beeson pass at a basketball practice.

But we do have one enormous similarity – Journal’s like to keep their communities informed and provide a place for writers and photographers to display their talents.

There was some sort of deep meaning, I suppose, in Mr. Herbst visiting on solar eclipse day – but I’m not sure I thought enough about what that might be. Suffice to say, I just enjoyed going out to the park – it was a great day for kicking around in the grass – and just looking up. I talked to maybe 50 people and nobody mentioned politics, the economy or other strife. I did talk to a couple of very nice Texas Rangers fans so there was some baseball talk, but it was an afternoon that was all about one big sun. And a much smaller moon.

Did you notice how the moon – at four hundred times smaller than the sun – was capable of eclipsing the sun, if only for a few minutes. There is some meaning to that as well….but sometimes I don’t want to think about the details – and just enjoy the moment.

The Missouri Boone County Journal’s phone number is 573-657-2334.