Picture postcards sometimes have interesting pictures. I don’t usually buy cards without a specific Arizona themed picture, but I could not pass on this one. Halley’s Comet in the post intrigued me.

The card is dated May 16, 1910. If you are an astronomy buff, you may recognize the significance of the date. I will leave that for a bit. The front of the card has a printed message simply saying waiting, but our sender, added, “She’s waiting for you to come back to dear old Globe.”

Sent to Mr. J. T. Williams, Van Anda, British Columbia, Canada.

The writer sends the card to Williams, of Van Anda, British Columbia, Canada. Van Anda is a small town, current population is under 400 situated on Texada Island in the Strait of Georgia. From Globe, Arizona, a mining town, to Van Anda, in British Columbia, connected by the sender and recipient. Both mining towns, both copper, both small.

I find these stories endlessly fascinating. I want to know these two people and the story that connects them. It’s the first time I’ve run across a post card between two such divergent places. The only commonality of mining in 1910. Globe is dry, desert, mountainous and has all the visions of the American Southwest. Cowboys, Apache Indians, mining, brothels, bars, and a fortune to be made. Texada is lush, green, fishing, farming, logging, sea and sky.

Our writer, in quill pen writes:  “If you get this OK Halley’s Comet will of done passed us. She’s getting pretty hot down this way and the worst is yet to come. The hodee(?) is still running everythg OK. Yours. CHJ (maybe?).

I’ve searched the corners of the internet and have found nothing about what or who a hodee may be. Perhaps there is a history buff, or historical mining expert who can tell me!

Halley’s Comet was a topic in the Daily Arizona Silver Belt, beginning in 1909. One quote, dated August 5, 1909;  “Father Brennan, the priest astrologer, says he thinks Halley’s lost comet has been found and taken in by Saturn…Taken in by  — but, then, Saturn may be a sort of celestial hotel keeper.” This gives me visions of a science fiction movie, with all comets stranded on Saturn in mid-century modern hotel rooms. Perhaps with aliens riding along on the comets. Perhaps there are comet and planetary cocktails to be had.

In 1910, air shows had begun. There is some commentary in newspapers of the time, talking about sights in the sky, airplanes, balloons, dirigibles, etc., but sometimes, there are bright stars, planets, other comets and speculation about what all of that was. Articles of the time talk about Halley’s Comet and whether some of the objects in the sky are related to the Air Shows, or to the comet.

Mark Twain said in 1909, “I came in with Halley’s Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it.” Twain died on April 21, 1910, one day after perihelion, when the comet emerged from the far side of the sun.

I think about that time in Arizona. Wealth beyond imagination being generated, mining, agriculture, trains, visitors from everywhere, the spectacular cactus, geology, food, the excitement. Mark Twain had written his books, people wondered, speculated, thought about this comet coming from space and watched. Numerous articles talk about families staying awake into the early hours of the night to see this comet visit Earth. In this visit, the Earth passed through the comet’s tail. What a time! Some understanding of the celestial phenomena, great change in the world and especially in the West and more especially in Arizona, a place of unlimited potential.

Close your eyes, think about how incredibly dark the night sky must have been, in the mountains of Globe, Arizona. I think of nights I’ve been in the desert – rustling sounds, a coyote howl or two or more.  Now, imagine the sight of the comet in that deep black sky, perhaps the Milky Way in the background,  a magical visitor from another time and place.

Our author found this event important enough to write about in his post to his friend in British Columbia. I wonder if both looked up in awe and thought about what else exists in that foreverness of the night sky?

Until our next postcard, in which time, place, context and the heavens come together.


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Sherry Dewane is very much an Angeleno, living in Los Angeles, but her roots are firmly planted in rural Wisconsin. Years living in Montana and travels throughout the American West shape her worldview. Sherry’s imagination, love of the outdoors, Midwest work ethic and love of reading were nurtured on an iconic lake in the woods, where she enjoyed her early childhood. She spent the first 11 years of her life on English Lake, in rural Wisconsin, exploring woods, fields and the lake, endlessly walking, swimming, ice skating, water-skiing and enjoying the seasons, reading and writing.

1 Comment

  • Joan

    Awesome thoughts Sherry! So much to be learned from just a post card❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️👍
    Love, mom


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