On Monday, August 21, 2017, Mark traveled to Carbondale, IL from Lake Geneva, WI to
take part in the festivities surrounding the full solar eclipse in this southern Illinois city.
Carbondale is a city of 25,000 people and home of the University of Southern Illinois
Salukis. On this day, over 90,000 visitors converged on Carbondale to witness a-once- in-
As Mark got closer to Carbondale, traffic on Interstate 57 was starting to build, so he got
off the expressway and began to meander through the small towns of Southern Illinois to
get to his destination: Carbondale.
Not having secured the proper sunglasses to safely view the eclipse, Mark stopped at a
few stores and gas stations to see if there were any available. No luck. He continued on
his drive and came across the small town of Zeigler, IL – population 1,750 residents.
Rather than just driving through, he decided to get a closer look into the town. What he
discovered was a quaint downtown square – and a library! Mark remembered that
libraries were providing NASA approved sunglasses and decided to stop in to see if this
was the case in Zeigler. The lady inside directed me to some people who were setting up
for the eclipse in the parking lot where other towns people were assembling. To my
surprise, the people in the van were from the Adler Planetarium in Chicago! They were
setting up to view the eclipse on the library’s front lawn. They gave me a pair of
sunglasses – free!
Mark decided to return the hospitality. He asked if the librarian was present so that he
could present a copy of his book, “1917-2017: One Hundred Years of White Sox
Baseball” to the library. She was!
Although the focus of the day was the solar eclipse, Mark and Peggy had a nice chat and
he discovered that Peggy has been the librarian for the Zeigler Library for 41 years! What
dedication – and you can see Peggy has greatly loved and enjoyed her service to the
community. In return, you could see they love her, too!
The drive to Carbondale to witness the solar eclipse was a fantastic experience for Mark,
but equally so was his visit to this beautiful, small downstate Illinois town where
hospitality abounds! Thanks, Peggy Carpenter! Thank you, Town of Zeigler!
(By the way, baseball fans may want to learn more about two major leaguers who hailed
from Zeigler: Babe Martin, outfielder and catcher for the St. Louis Browns and Boston
Red Sox, grew up in Zeigler AND Mike Milosevich, shortstop for the New York
Yankees, was born in Zeigler.)
Dr. Mark Pienkos was born in Chicago. His parents were Stella and Edward who worked in factories to support their family of three boys. Mark’s mother only attended school through the 8th grade, while his father went to one year of high school. Mark’s oldest brother, Don, is professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in Political Science and his other brother, Edward, is a surgeon specializing in urology.