Of all the annual picnics celebrated on the Fourth of July by Ruby Berkley Goodwin’s family and kin in DuQuoin, Illinois, the one in 1910 seemed the most memorable to her. Ample food—fried chicken, barbecued ribs, sweet corn and tomatoes, potato salad, cakes and pies—lively conversation, and a sing-along generally marked the yearly summer festival. But 1910, when Halley’s Comet streaked across the sky, turned out to be a year like no other for blacks in DuQuoin and across the nation. In body the relatives gathered for their traditional rite of summer; in spirit, however, they dwelled two time zones away in Reno, Nevada. “Today … the grownups all seemed preoccupied,” Goodwin recalled. “If a question was asked, it had to be repeated two or three times.” One question, however, always received “a quick reply”—the adults knew what time it was out West. Usually good for three or four drumsticks, two slices of lemon pie, and a bad case of indigestion, Uncle Charlie could not eat. The tension that sapped his appetite even “made itself felt among the children.”