In the first issue of the Halley’s Comet Watch Newsletter, we published a call to individuals who were in their late seventies, eighties or nineties who may have seen Halley’s Comet during its 1910 visit seventy-five years earlier.  The announcement read: “If you were old enough in 1910 to have seen the comet (and remember the event), write and tell us about it.  Or, if you know of anyone who has a recollection of the 1910 visit, send their name to us.  We will publish descriptions and anecdotes in future newsletters.


            We received literally hundreds of letters from individuals who shared their recollection of the 1910 visit of the comet.  A total of 33 letters appeared in 8 different issues of the Newsletter.  We have decided to put all 33 of them together in a single section, so readers can scroll down and read all of the letters we published during the five years of publication. 


            As a result of the great response (the “call” was published in newspapers and magazines, in addition to our own newsletter), we created a Halley Two-timer T-shirt and sent “club members” a Halley Two-timer button. 


            Here then, in the order in which they were published, are the 33 "Two-timers" letters. 


VOLUME 1, Number 2 – October-November, 1982


Minnie Blythe of Gracs, Idaho wrote an article entitled “I Saw Halley’s Comet,” which appeared in the April, 1982 edition of Good Old Days Magazine.  Minnie was 13 at the time and remembers it “as though it were yesterday.”  (That makes Minnie 86 at this writing!).  She remembers discussing the comet in school.  She states: “I don’t remember being afraid, but I was very anxious to see the comet.”  Not being an early riser, she remembers being one of the few children in her class to be interested enough to set her alarm to get up early to see it.  In reality, however, she saw it one evening at twilight.  She recalls that it was Spring and that the “tail was thousands of miles long; truly an awesome sight.”  An interesting revelation of Minnie’s was that she and those who viewed the comet with her did not know that it returned every seventy-five years.  So far as they knew, this was the first time it had ever come.  She report that she saw it only once.  Minnie hopes to see it again in 1985-86.  Although she’ll be 90 years old, she had an older sister who lived that long, so there’s a good chance that she’ll be a bona fide Halley’s two-timer!



VOLUME 2, Number 3 – October, 1983


Dear Sir:

            I read your article of Halley’s Comet.  I thought I’d write you that when I was 13 years old (am now 86) my uncle Warren Jolley, told us he would wake us up at 3 in the morning to see the Halley’s Comet.  As probably none of us would be alive to see the next one.  We lived between Willow Lake and Bryant So. Dak.  It was a sight to see.  My sister and brother cannot remember it, as they are younger than I.  Just wonder how many do remember it.  Also, wonder what time could be seen.  I really plan on seeing it even though I am 86 years old now.  

Ethel Jolley Storeb, Arbyle, N.Y.



Joe Laufer:

            After reading of your interest in the return of Halley’s Comet I hope you will see it as good as it was in 1910.  A large white ball and trailing after it with a space was a large number of rocks of different size trailing over a large area; then came the large dust cloud with a space between it and the rocks.  This was in Sunbury, Pa. On a clear summer night.

            This was in the evening and still light enough to have taken pictures if we could have had a camera.  We were wondering if we would be killed if it hit the earth.  Not only kids, but many older people.

            Hoping you can get a sight like we had without the fear that we had about being killed. 

Gurney H. Moyer, Jonestown, PA.



Halley’s Comet Watch:

            ….  I’ve always been interested in the “comet”.  I was born Mar. 6th, 1910 at the height of its passing.  I would like, God willing, to see it in 1986, before I leave this planet.  I remember hearing about it for the next 10 years, how they sold “Comet Pills” for when the earth passed through the comet’s tail and “Comet Insurance”, also, men of the cloth, telling their congregation to bring all their money and valuables and storing them in the church!!  Then taking all and leaving town; and the suicides.  After 10 years you never heard any more!!  I’ve talked to people that were born in 1900 and some born before and they are all “hazy”.  Lately, that’s all I’ve been thinking of, another of my “pets” were the passing of the passenger pigeons.  It was part of our studies in school.  I’m something of a “camera nut” and have over 1,500 slides I have taken.  Eclipses, Grand Canyon, Meteor Crater, etc.  Sure would like some of the comet BEFORE I leave.  Thank you.

 Joe Martin, Columbiana, Ohio.



Mr. Laufer:

            I am 88 years old and I saw Halley’s Comet in 1910.  I lived with my parents in Holyoke, Mass. We had only the Evening Newspaper to learn of the coming of Halley’s Comet and for two weeks, we and a lot of neighbors would gather, up the street to an apartment building 5 stories to a flat roof and watch for many hours.  Finally our wish came true. 

            We really saw Halley’s Comet with our own naked eyes.  I called it a peacock with a long beautiful tail.  And we kids were scared, because it was rumored that if the tail touched the earth, it was the end of the world.  I live in New York state.  I’ll never see Halley’s Comet again, but I pray you will.  Good luck and God bless. 

Mrs. Earl Rahn, Whitesboro, NY



Dear Sir:

            On reading the newspaper I ran onto this article of yours regarding Halley’s Comet.  I was 9 years old and someone had given me a small pair of binoculars.  I was hooked.

How well I remember the comet.  It came in the northwest.  At that time I was living in the country, New York State, Dewey Co. and the view was impressive: bright and brilliant.

I am now 82 years of age, not in too good health, but hope I am around to view it again.  I have a pair of 30 x 70 binoculars and a 4 inch refractor telescope….  Sincerely, Oren A. Fellows, Canaslota, NY.



Dear Sir:

            As a ten year old boy I watched Halley’s Comet cross the sky.  I do not remember the date, but the weather was cold.  The comet came out of the south west and set in the northeast.  It was very bright and the tail stretched half way across the sky. 

            I was born on March 4, 1901 in St. Johnsburg, Vermont, where I was living when the comet was seen in 1911.  I expect to see the comet when it returns, the Lord willing.  May I become a member of your Halley’s Comet Watch organization?  Yours truly, Philip M. Beck, Beaver Falls, Penna.



Dear Mr. Laufer:

            I know you will be surprised to hear from me, but I am so interested in Halley’s Comet.  When I was 8 years of age I woke one nite to see the entire eastern sky lighted up.  I went and awoke my mother.  We walked out to the end of the porch and watched it go across the sky.  I’ve not ever seen such a beautiful display of nature.  My mother told me what it was and she said I would probably live to see it again.  I hope I can if my mind stays clear.  The next morning I was telling about it at the breakfast table.  My two brothers 10 and 12 said, “Why didn’t you waken us.  We had been reading about it in the daily paper.”  Mother told them it would come every nite for 6 or 8 weeks.  The next nite she set the alarm and got us all up.

            I’m very disappointed that it will not be so grand this time.  When I read of Christ’s birth in the Bible and the great star that guided the shepherds, I think of Halley’s Comet.  I can’t even remember the time of year but it was not cold (not in Oklahoma).  We went out barefooted.  Sincerely,

 Zoe Cooper, Cordell, Okla.



Dear Mr. Laufer:

            Thank you for printing the date schedule for Halley’s orbit on the membership card.  My particular interest is not for astronomical reasons but because there are many well known and “accepted” predictions or prophecies concerning a comet which is given as encircling the earth for 4 days and causing horrendous damage and loss of life, with which you may be acquainted.  By putting together individually given details from different sources a fairly good picture of the whole results.  No source gives any year (other than the last half of the 20th century) but the one does list this as occurring in late March and early April.  So I found it interesting that that is within the time frame of Halley. 

            Of additional interest is that the unnamed comet is given as arriving during a 4-year period of global anarchy, insurrection and war starting in Germany, Italy and France.  So if the unnamed comet were Halley, the 4 year period would start somewhere between 1982 and 1986, but seemingly closer to 1982.

            I realize that most people consider such sources on a par with fairy tales.  But I mention in briefest outline the possible significance only in case you might not be aware of it.  I might add that with a (1930) degree in physics and math., I am not trying to propound fairy tales.  Sincerely,

R.P.K., Bridgeton, Maine.



Dear Sir:

            I read your article on “Halley’s Comet” with much interest.  I saw it when I was six years old.  My parents lived in Central Western Indiana (White County) at the time.  My mother’s relatives lived in Juniatia County, Pa., fairly mountainous.  They said it seemed close to earth.  Was large.  Many people thought the world was going to end.  Some were so scared they committed suicide.  I’ve always been intrigued by it.  I was nearly 6 at the time, and maybe I’ll make it till it comes again.  Sincerely,

Mrs. M. Barron, Adrian, Mi.




            I was eight years old in 1910 and I remember vividly the evening my father awoke us and held me up to the window to see Halley’s Comet flashing in the sky with its brilliant long tail.  This was in Baltimore.

            Perhaps I shall be fortunate enough to get another glimpse of it.  In any case I feel certain that my grandson will see to it that his daughter (now two years old) will be so privileged.  And so it goes.  Most Sincerely,

Juliet B. Offutt, Crownsville, Maryland.



VOLUME 3, Number 1 – February, 1984


Dear Joe:

            I’ve been extremely interested in Halley’s Comet for many years but until now… I haven’t known of anyone else who was interested.  I remember what Mark Twain wrote: “Two freaks came into the world together and will go out together”  He died in 1910 as he predicted he would.

            I was born in 1910 when Halley’s Comet was at its brilliance.  My mother and dad often talked of that night when they walked to a high point in B.G. Ky., and stood there and watched the awesome sight, and later that very night I was born.

            I’ve always believed when the Comet returns that it will take me back into space with it.  Maybe you think I’m being silly but I am looking forward to the comet’s return so much I can hardly wait.

            I don’t know what it costs to join your “Halley’s Comet Watch” organization, but I really want to become a member….  Very Sincerely yours,

Mildred Coalter, Austin, Texas.


Dear Comet Watch:

            Recently I was advised by an acquaintance of my daughter that since I’d seen Halley’s Comet in 1910 I should get in touch with you.  So I am….   On May 20, 1910, Halley’s Comet came its nearest to the Earth – only 14,000,000 miles away.  I got this fact from the Cleveland Public Library.

            My mother was a very “hep” person.  She wrote names on the backs of pictures for future identification.  She emphasized the importance of seeing Halley’s Comet when it appeared.  I’m certain she felt some of us would be around to see it again when it returned.

            I am almost positive we viewed the comet on May 20, 1910 as mom would choose the time it was closest to the earth.  I was eleven at the time.  My oldest brother and I were permitted to stay up until it was really dark and the comet would produce its rich radiance.  I’m positive of this as we were in our daytime clothes; my other siblings were not.

            I can still envision the magnificent spectacle, an arched brilliance that extended all the way across the sky as far as I could see. I can recall how it looked today as well as I could the day after I saw it.

            God willing, I hope to view it when it returns in 1986, although I’ll be 87 years old then.  I know my mother roused my younger siblings and had them look at this wonderful sight.  She exclaimed with my one-year old brother, Bill, in her arms, “He can always say he saw it.”  Sincerely,

Helen Hartup, Westlake, Ohio.



Dear Sir:

            Was very interested in your article on Halley’s Comet…. Noting you have already contacted 500 people on this great phenomenon, I am writing you, as I am one of the viewers who saw its marvelous brilliance in 1910.

            I was born and raised in Millette, S.D. (near Aberdeen) 3/9/97, so I was 13 years old at the time.  Our part of S.D. is very level so our view was spectacular.

            I am sorry it will not be as brilliant in 1985.  Besides that, my eyes are weaker, but if I am still here I will try and view it with binoculars.

            I lived in S.D. all my life till 1977 when I came here to live with a daughter after the death of my husband.  The view from here may not be as easily seen, due to tall trees and city lights.

            Hopefully, I will see it again, if at all possible.  Its nice to dream.  Just wanted you to know I can remember it well in 1910.  Our view was the greatest in S.D.  Thanks for the article; was very interesting.  Sincerely,

Mrs. Gladys Haven, Springfield, VA.



Dear Comet Watch:

            I would very much like to be included in your mailing list about Halley’s Comet….  Many years ago, my father and I had a long discussion about the comet – he had seen it when he was a boy.  I promised him at the time, that even though he would not be here to see it, I would say “hello” for him, when it returned.  Through you I can be up to the minute on information about that return!  Sincerely,

Lili M. Zeigler, Factoryville, PA




            My grandfather was born in 1835.  He was 50+ when my father was born, the youngest of seven children.  Mark Twain had some acid comment about Halley’s Comet.  He nearly predicted his own death in 1910 when Halley’s Comet returned.  My father said that Halley’s Comet, in 1910, was a spectacular sight.  Many people predicted the end of the world.  If it is high in the night sky, it will be spectacular again.

Harry B. Harris, Pensacola, Fla.



Dear Mr. Laufer:

            I know you are a busy man and probably will not have time to reply to a letter from an “old lady”, but I was very interested in the article about… Halley’s Comet.

            I, like your father, was born when Halley’s Comet was at the height of its brilliance – at least in Jackson, Michigan.  My birth date was May 7, 1910 at 7:00 a.m. and it was quite a joke in the family that my Dad was more exited and interested in going downtown with the crowd that gathered where the comet could be best seen that morning than he was in staying home to pace the floor while the mid-wife was with my Mother.

            When I was young, I was always told that Halley’s Comet would again be visible when I was 75 years old, and at that time it seemed eons away.; yet now!

            I would be interested to know your father’s birth date and whether in your research, the comet is at its height of brilliance at different dates depending on where in the United States one lives; also, how does one go about joining the Halley’s Comet Watch organization?   Sincerely,

Winifred Streeter, Spring Arbor, Mi.



VOLUME 3, Number 3 – September, 1984


Dear Mr. Laufer,

            Having been born on April 11, 1908, I may be one of the youngest twice-viewers of Halley’s Comet (if, God willing, I live until 1985-86!).  Two of my most happy childhood memories occurred during the one year period in which my family lived in Santa Barbara, California.  May I share with you, those two indelibilized memories:

            Number One was the sense of love, security and peace which I felt as I sat, upon occasion, between my father and mother (with my two teen-age brothers nearby) in the little Episcopal Church in Santa Barbara.

            And the Second, was the night when I was awakened by my parents, who then wrapped me in a blanket which seemed to extend so very far, terra firma-ward, as my father, a physician, held me in his arms (my mother and brothers standing beside us) just outside the front door of our newly built hilltop two-story home in Santa Barbara FOR THE AWESOME AND EXCITING EXPERIENCE OF VIEWING HALLEY’S COMET!

            As young as I was, I realized the importance of the event…. and the love which my family had for me, by awakening me to share with them, this WONDROUS SIGHT!

I have always been grateful to my parents and family for so many loving acts of kindness… but most especially for those two memories which they bestowed upon me: The First: which has helped to strengthen my daily footsteps as I walk down Life’s Pathway…  The Second: which gave me a life-time goal… hoping to again view that wondrous sight: HALLEY’S COMET!

Dr. Alice C. Kinninger, Chula Vista, CA 92011

Editor's Note: Dr. Kinninger submitted two poems to HCW Newsletter that were published in other sections:

A Halley's Comet Poem

A Tribute to the Editor



VOLUME 4, Number 1 – February, 1985


Dear Sir:

            In a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal I saw an article about Halley’s Comet.  In it I read that you and another man were gathering information and otherwise promoting interest in the approaching appearance of the Comet in the years 1985 and 1986.

            I believe it went on to say that you were getting out a newsletter carrying letters or names of people still living, who saw it in 1910.  I am sure you have received many such as I know there are lots of people old enough to have viewed it back the, but though maybe most of your letters came from around your section of the country, so I thought I’d write from my home “way down south”, Alabama.

            Yes, I saw Halley’s Comet in 1910 and from a rather strange location.  My father, Mr. J.E. Coker, was very much interested in seeing the Comet and wanted me to see it, so several times we got up in the late, or early, hours it was supposed to be visible in our section of the country, dressed and went hunting a place of unobstructed view.

            On several of these occasions we failed to see the Comet for one reason or another, until one night my father thought of our Cemetery, which was located on a large, high hill on the outskirts of our town, Rome, Georgia.

            We rose, dressed and in the dark of night went to and climbed to the very top of this cemetery and stood beside the monuments to our Confederate soldiers, and standing amid the tombstones we were able to see the heavens unobstructed and we saw the tiny light which was Halley’s Comet.

            We were satisfied and happy and returned to our home and to bed.  I hope I have not bored you with my letter, but if so, please excuse an old woman born December 3rd, 1897.

Harriette Coker Armstrong, Tuscaloosa, Alabama.



Dear Mr. Laufer:

            If you’re keeping any statistics on the present living watchers of 1910, I just wanted you to know that I, at age 6, saw Halley’s Comet in Verona, New York.  My wife, Doris Fellows Case, at age 7, also saw it in California. 

            My father got me out of bed to see it because he hoped I could live to see the comet again at its next appearance.  We’ll be glad to hear any news about the anticipation of its next visit in our skies.

Mr. Lynn M. Case, Havertown, PA.



VOLUME 4, Number 2 – April, 1985


Dear Mr. Laufer:

            I read your article in the Sunday Courier Post in regard to Halley’s Comet, which I sure enjoyed.  This article brought memories for me.  I am eighty-three years old, and I saw the comet in 1910.  I was eight years old and my brother, seven, when my Dad took us down to the Bay Front to watch it.

            A little information on this.  I was born in Ashland, Wisconsin, and lived there at that time.  Ashland is situated on Chequamegon Bay off Lake Superior.  I remember so well standing on the bank, and, scared to death as everyone wondered if anything would happen.  My brother and I held onto my Dad’s hand, wanting to go home to my Mother.  … I would like to be one of the Halley Two-timers.  Have to learn to say Halley’s Comet instead of Hailley’s Comet!

Ruth Kinkel, Marlton, New Jersey.



Dear Joe Laufer:

            Going through some old copies of GRIT, I ran across the article about you and your interest in Halley’s Comet. I re-read it.  I am interested in seeing it for the second time and have been hoping I’d still be around.  I was eight when it appeared and my mother, father and sister were clustered at the foot of the stairs looking out the window there.

            Perhaps I remember it as being smaller or larger or brighter, but I do remember it as one of the greatest things I’d ever seen.  I’ll be eighty-three when it comes around again and I’m hoping and praying I’ll be privileged to see it again.  With best wishes,

Sincerely, Harold Deans, DeFuniak Springs, Florida.



VOLUME 4, Number 3 – June, 1985





Dear Sir:

I am 85 years old and was living in San Jose, Calif. In 1910 and saw Haley’s or Halley’s Comet in the Western sky during the early evening.

We were told that the tail of the comet consisted of poison gas and that it was possible that life on earth would be wiped out if we passed through the tail of the Comet.

We are still here!

Oliver Johnston, Sacramento, CA.



Halley’s Comet people;

When I was five years old, I watched Halley’s Comet with my family. We lived on a farm near Axtell, Missouri. For some reason we walked down and sat around our pond to watch. Later I fell in that pond, so I remember it quite well.

Mary V. King, Prairie City, IL


Dear Mr. Laufer:

In the spring of 1910, and in the summer months, I was on a pasture-hill with my grandmother, watching Halley’s Comet slowly appear on the Northeastern horizon, like a great ball of fire with a long streaming kit-tail behind it! Much larger than a harvest moon and I was sure it was going to land squarely on our little Episcopal church, and our new high school just catty-corner from St. Alban’s.

My grandmother assured me this wouldn’t happen, because everything in the sky had its own orbit, or path of travel. And Halley’s Comet was no different. It had its path, and its path would not bring this great comet into collision with the earth. I was sure my grandmother knew more than did a large group of farmers who were camped on the same hill waiting for the end of the world, but who, nevertheless, had all their farms up for sale at a good price!

We also had five saloons in our small railroad town of McCook, Nebraska, and railroaders get around, and they hear talk, and there was a revivalist meeting in progress on the Division-point at Hastings, and the revivalist spoke at great lengths on hell-fire and damnation, as well as Sodom and Gomorrah being destroyed – well, here we go again!! And these yarns and preachments they brought back to McCook, and passed them around…. My cousin Art, a Seventh Day Adventist, on his way home from work as a brakeman, used to report to my mother that he could smell brimstone as he walked by each of the saloons…. My grandmother agreed that, of course, the end of the world was a possibility, but Halley’s Comet would not be the agent of this destruction.

Her name was Cassie, -- my discerning grandmother. And every evening she brought me up on the hill, because she wanted to burn on my mind this most wonderful and beautiful sight. And she said, Clyde, you might not live long enough to see it again. GRANNY, I’VE MADE IT! AT LEAST TO 1985!


Cassie never told me, either, that it was not a ball of fire with a fiery tail. When you are eight, going on nine, you can get confused. And I suppose that “burning in, on my mind” plus the assurances of Hell fire and Sodom and Gomorrah from outside sources, fixed this idea…. So I’ve only recently been disillusioned. And that by a TIME Magazine article, which says the Comet was not fire, but ice and dirt! Grandma may or may not have known this. O well! But her I am at 83, going on 84 and getting all excited again, and seeing Halley’s Comet once more. It’s a wonderful world!

Sincerely, (Rev.) Clyde E. Whitney, Scottsbluff, NE




In Riverhead, Long Island, NY, I was 7 years old when I observed Halley’s Comet. It reminded me of a falling star that left a long tail of light. It seems to me that it was seen more than one evening. My recollection was that it happened in the warm time of the year in the early evening.

My family considered it an omen of war. There was war in Mexico and there was fear we might become involved. My father’s Dad had fought in the Civil War so my Dad feared he might have to go to war and this caused us some anxiety.

Sincerely yours, Edith L. Bunke, Riverhead, NY


VOLUME 4, Number 4, August, 1985



By Margaret Batterham Waters, Maryville, Tennessee


We waited for the glow of the sun to fade away over Mount Pisgah and the Rat, for dusk to overlay us and there it was, hanging low in the western sky. At another time, we had searched out a comet with its short, curving tail and small head. When we held a hand up and peered between extended forefinger and thumb, we could measure an inch that it encompassed in space. No prolonged hunting was necessary to find Halley’s Comet. The bright head was almost as big as a tennis ball and its tail swept away for at least three inches.


I was thirteen years old and we lived in our two-story frame house on Church Street, Asheville, North Carolina, next door to the Trinity Episcopal rectory. Though only a few blocks from Pack Square, the center of town, a vacant, grassy field of several acres, owned by the church diocese, lay across the street from us. Here my three younger sisters, our older brother and I ran and played. Now each clear night after supper, it became a ritual to walk the familiar daytime paths up to the sandy road on the brow of the slope that led to the bishop’s residence.


Sometimes mother came with us but always father was our companion. While the cool breeze rustled across our faces and we started at this interloper to our skies, his strong voice drifted across the darkness telling us of the recurrence of this phenomenon and we thought ourselves fortunate to welcome what others had beheld through the millenniums. Our two sisters at college, people all over the world were sharing the sight of this magnificent Halley’s Comet.


In our simple lives, it was a well-noted distraction. The first automobiles laboring over our cobbled streets were a rarity; experimental flight in airplanes a subject for poets; radio an unbelievable fantasy and only fiction could conceive of pictures sent out over the air waves to be received at one’s hearthside. In the immense scheme of the universe, that heavenly body we gazed upon seemed to intensify the miracle of our own being. Just how had we risen from primitive man who must have marveled upon and probably feared the great spectacular comet? And what were we going to make of this world of ours with human curiosity unceasingly probing at its mysteries?


These thoughtful evening treks were brought to an end as our soaring guest dropped from view below the western horizon. Then many nights later, we older ones were aroused in early black predawn by father clad only in his nightshirt. Unaccustomed to such an abrupt awakening, sleepy-eyed we followed him to the north side, upstairs windows. There in the high dome was our returning visitor seeming much brighter aloft among the constellations.


“I got you up because I want you to well remember it,” father said. “For you may be here when it comes again.” His words fell away to a murmur” “In seventy-six years it will see a very different world. And I shall not be here.”






By Ella Phillips Mallory


Such a vivid memory of Halley’s Comet still remains that when I read of its return I had only to close my eyes and see it as I saw it in 1910.


Father was home for the weekend. He was a paint contractor and decorator of buildings both inside and out. At that time he had a crew of sixteen men painting the Hebror Sanatorium. Most weekends he and some of the men came home.


Sunday, just before or just after dinner I recall, Father called me and asked if I thought I could find Stevens Drug Store. I said, “of course I can.” He gave me money for the paper and a quarter for a pound of saltwater taffy to share with all when I came back. We were living on Ocean Ave., in the Woodfords section of Portland, Maine. Ocean Ave., merging into Forest Avenue joins Woodfords Street. Steven’s Drug stood facing on Forest Avenue with its back to the Ocean Ave. side. On a slight rise of land were the railroad tracks of Forest Avenue.


Here on Ocean Avenue I stood all alone – not a soul in sight that May day. I would have my 12th birthday July 7, 1910. This July 7, 1985 I will be 87 years old. Hearing a loud swishing sound I looked up to see what made it. I saw Halley’s Comet flash past – a great silver star and a wide ray of light’ neither red, nor orange, and not like a candle glow. It was more like a bright flame of burning wood. I remember saying to myself: “Why that was a falling star.” I had seen falling stars at night but never in daylight. Still, it was so near and low, seeming to be only a few feet above the tracks. The ray seemed lower than the bushes on the other side and appeared to be probably three feet wide and 100 feet long.


I continued on to the Drug Store, picked up the paper, bought the saltwater taffy and returned home. Father asked, “Did you see anyone you know or anything interesting?” I told about the falling star. Then Father said to Mother, “Ella saw Halley’s Comet”. They seemed pleased and excited. Then he said, “I doubt she will see its return.”


Praise God… here I am in my eighty-seventh year of good health hoping to witness the return of Halley’s Comet.






By Tony Mathisen (as seen in St. Paul, Minnesota)


I was 8 years old when I saw Halley’s Comet. It was an experience I’ll never forget!


I saw it from our farmhouse, which was located 12 miles east of St. Paul, Minnesota, and 2 miles east of the little town of St. Paul Park. The farmhouse sat on top of a ridge facing southwest. It had a fantastic view of the southwest.


It was late summer or early fall – probably September – when I saw it. It was a clear night – not a cloud in the sky. It was around 9 p.m. I had just come out of the house to go upstairs to bed. The stairs to the bedrooms were located outside the house on the southwest end. As I stopped at the top of the stairs on the veranda – THERE IT WAS! It went clear across the sky. The BIG STAR was high to the southwest and the TAIL covered everything I could see to the northwest corner. It covered the whole countryside and everything I could see from southwest to northwest.


I stood and looked and looked – scared to death. I didn’t know what to do – hide under the bed or what. I stood and looked as long as I dared – maybe half an hour. I thought maybe the world was coming to the end. IT WAS SO MASSIVE AND SO GRAND YOU COULDN’T BELIEVE IT.


It came and went all in that one night. I never saw it before or after. I never talked to anyone who saw it that night or in that way. It’s hard to say why no one else in the family saw it. Likely my folks missed it by staying inside talking. My two younger sisters and younger brother already were in bed and my two older brothers stayed downstairs later than I did. My two oldest sisters were living in St. Paul at the time. No one ever mentioned it to me at that time.


It was so different in those days. When you were 8 years old you didn’t talk much to the older folks and you didn’t get to listen to their conversations. We didn’t have a radio. The only newspaper that my Dad received was in Norwegian. Nothing was said at school. You didn’t hear about what was going on for a long time. It wasn’t like now when news gets out immediately. All we did was work the farm, and after supper we all would sit down in the living room until our bedtime. Sometimes we played the phonograph when Dad wasn’t listening. We each had our own bed times, according to age.


Not until years later did I become aware that it was Halley’s Comet that I had seen that night. (It used to be pronounced Haley’s).


One thing is for certain. I’m planning on seeing it again! I’ll drive, take a plane or a train, and do almost anything to get another glimpse of that FANTASTIC HALLEY’S COMET!

VOLUME 5, Number 1, January, 1986


Dear Mr. Laufer


We saw an A.P. article in our local paper recently stating that you were interested in compiling stories from people who remembered seeing Halley’s Comet during its last appearance.


My Mother, Cornelia Miller Spence remembers it well. She was a girl of 14 or 15 years old. There was much talk of it at the dinner table and she remembers being told to mark it well for most people never saw it, and she would never see it again. Naturally, since anyone under 18 is immortal, she did remember it well as she thought that an exceedingly strange remark! She will be 90 years old on December 16th.


She lived at the time in a suburb of St. Louis, Webster Groves, MO. She remembers it as coming in the late summer, but as she says, “St. Louis summers being what they are, it might have been earlier in the summer than I thought.” She remembers it as being clearly visible day and night. The head of it pointed East and the tail, which arched slightly, was slanted a bit toward the southwest. She thinks it was relatively low in the horizon as she didn’t have to raise her head too much to look at it. The other day while we were going shopping we saw three jet trails. She told me that the jet trail which appeared to be the widest and the most old as it was being dispersed, is what she remembered the tail of it to look like. She isn’t one of the ones quoted in your article to call it terribly spectacular. She was fascinated and thrilled with it but it was a more modest sight than some of the “sightings” of people who were much younger than she was.


She has been interested in it for years and has hoped to see it for the second time. We hope, God willing, to go back to the exact same spot – the house where she was born – in the summer of 1986 and see if it is in the same area and is as she remembers it.


P.S. She remembers it as “hanging around” the better part of one summer.


Hildreth H. Spencer

Adrian, Michigan




Dear Mr. Laufer:


I guess I am one of the few who saw and remember seeing the Comet in 1910. I was 6 years old, but it surely made a deep impression on me for I never forgot seeing it. Also it sparked my interest in the wonders of the sky, the effects of the moon on our earth, and in the arrival #2 of the comet.


When we moved from Pittsburgh, PA, where I was born, to Ardmore, PA – then acquired a seashore home in Avalon, NJ – I became fascinated in the mysteries of all the hidden treasures to be found and explored on the beach – the tides controlled by the moon – shells that open one way on the Atlantic side, and opposite on Gulf of Mexico beaches.


We as a family all saw the first satellite “Echo” orbiting the earth – what a thrill – beach of Avalon again. Now they are commonplace – but I know my sons remember that, too.


I fully expect to see Halley’s Comet this time around (we always knew it as Haley’s Comet) and will love being able to do so.


Lillian M. Fagan

Norristown, PA






This is in reply to a short news item in one of the papers relating to Halley’s Comet. Yes, I remember very well the awesome sight of the comet in 1910. I was six years old at the time. There was a lot of talk about the comet amongst the people of our small town.


I can clearly remember the comet as it soared overhead, when my Mother took us children to visit neighbors several blocks away from our own house. I can’t recall that as children we were frightened but it was a strong presence. It was quite clearly seen in the skies. As children we heard our parents talk about what would happen if it hit the earth. We understood it would destroy the earth completely.


I also remember my Mother talking to her sister about the woman in the neighborhood who regretted buying a roomful of new furniture because the world was coming to an end and it was just a big waste of money. Even us kids saw the humor of it. And my Mother remarking one night just as well buy a houseful of merchandise and enjoy it.


It was interesting indeed to see this news clip on Halley’s Comet. Since I’ve recalled its appearance a number of times in my 81 years. I hope this information will be of some interest to you in your gathering material for a book on the subject. Incidentally, the comet appeared to us in the small town of Two Rivers, Wisconsin, right off Lake Michigan, about 300 miles north of Chicago.


I hope to be around for the next run of Halley’s Comet. In 1910 the next appearance seemed too far away to think about it.


Austin Buege




Joe Laufer








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