Sepia Saturday 569. W is for World’s Fair 1964: I fall in love! Twenty-third of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.
A big event in my early teens was the opening of the 1964-1965 World’s Fair in New York City’s borough of Queens — with the optimistic theme “Peace Through Understanding.”
Laid out on 684 acres in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park — with 140 pavilions, 110 restaurants, a lake, fountains and amusements — the fair was an immense experience. And at 14, I got to go twice!
First visit: August 1964
Boom, my maternal grandmother, was the first to take me. We went by charter bus (from the Altamont, N.Y., area ) during my summer visit to my grandparents’ farm.
Of course I had high hopes of meeting boys – but mostly I remember being in awe of the fair’s sheer size. There were so many people – so much to do and see in just one day!
Aug. 25, 1964. Goin’ to World’s Fair tomorrow! Hope I meet some guys!
There were celebrities, too. At one point, as we walked between pavilions, my grandmother gabbed my arm. “Look, there’s Gloria Swanson!” she said — and from a distance, we watched an elegantly dressed woman debark from a limousine and enter a pavilion.
Swanson was a silent movie star from my grandmother’s era — who later played Norma Desmond in the 1950 noir classic “Sunset Boulevard” about the rise of talking pictures. What fun to see Boom as awestruck as I was over celebrity sightings!
Return to the fair: Oct. 1964
My second trip was a family affair – my dad taking me and my brothers during a three-day school holiday. (My mom stayed home with my sisters, who were too little to go.)
There was, of course, more flirting.
Oct. 21, 1964. Went to the World’s Fair on Oct. 12! Panic!!! I was flirting with this guy…He worked at the GE Pavilion! Flirted with another guy at the Chrysler Futurama!…[He was] saying to “keep moving”…When I passed him, he said, “Keep moving and keep smiling.” I looked up and he smiled and so did I!…The dear!
Focus on technology
My techno-Dad took us to different places than Boom took me — like the Chrysler Futurama with its moving panorama of an automated future and, of course, the General Electric Pavilion sponsored by the company where Dad worked. I even hooked up with a new English pen pal!
Oct. 16, 1964. Got an English pen pal out of a computer at the Parker Pen Pavilion at the World’s Fair. Her name is Sue Horton and she lives in Stafford, England. Have to write her tomorrow.
We walked all over — more walking than we ever did at home! And at one point Dad and Jeff rode an overhead ski-lift while Mark and I strolled along underneath — all of us in awe of the monumental fair.
NYC: I fall in love!
Yet the single image that stayed with me — and changed my life — was the breathtaking view of the New York City skyline at the end of my first World’s Fair visit.
The sun was setting when Boom and I boarded the charter bus. As we headed north, the view of the dazzling urban skyline — with the sun setting behind it and lights twinkling in a million windows — was truly spectacular.
Aug. 26, 1964. Went to N.Y.C.! It’s the most thrilling city! I never imagined how beautiful it was! Now that I’ve seen it, it’ll be hard to go back to little Endwell! Someday, I’m gonna go back loaded & live it up!
And that was it — I was in love! Not with my teen crushes — not with the World’s Fair guys I flirted with — not even with the pop stars I idolized. No, it was New York City that stole my heart.
Ten years later, at 24, I moved there for good. And now I live in Queens, not far from the World’s Fair grounds — where out my window I have a panoramic view of the sparkling New York City skyline that captured my heart all those years ago.
Up next, X-Bedroom: I have to move. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time! Meanwhile, please visit this week’s other Sepia Saturday bloggers.
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