Impressions and Memories ... an essay by Gary Rose

The years of 1964 and 1965 were young, exuberant heady years for our country in spite of the suffering in Dallas the year before. For me they defined a coming-of-age experience that left an indelible impression upon me leading to over a quarter century of fond - very fond - memories. So this is a compilation of those impressions and memories which filled me with such hope and wonder in New York.

Since the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair there have been many expositions more international in scope, more grand in pavilions and layout, less commercialized. But none have ever been as much fun and wonderful! I should know, having visited four subsequent expositions. Pieces of those expositions stand out in my memory but the New York Fair, as a whole, made a lasting impression.

Each of the four trips during those two years began with a bus trip, with various family members, up the New Jersey Turnpike, crossing either a bridge or a tunnel, passing the unbelievable cemeteries of New York, and gaining my first glimpse of the wonder of the ages in the distance - the towering canopy of the GM Pavilion, the pylons of Ford, and the New York State towers. Upon parking we entered each trip into the Transportation Area - possibly the defining part of the Fair because of its glimpses into the past and the future. This was my favorite area of the Fair since it was so optimistic and full of hope, as we all were after experiencing the magic of three years of JFK, with his brother RFK still able to carry the torch.

The first major pavilion - Ford - was a Disney wonderland. I recall interminable lines (common all over the Fair), entering the Glass Rotunda under the Magic Skyway tunnels, watching the cars overhead disappear into the huge exhibition hall. What an enticement to experience the wonders of the pavilion! After viewing exquisitely delicate models of world-wide settings we went up the escalator and onto a moving walkway where we entered the Ford autos. Off we went circling way over the wonders of the Fair below and into the dark of a pre-history full of cavemen, dinosaurs, volcanoes, etc. Then we were whisked into the future circling high over an immense circular City of Tomorrow. Upon leaving I was able to pick up a plastic souvenir with my home state printed right on it - a treasured memento of a great pavilion.

Across the road was the Hall of Science which was not completed in time for the Fair. I did, however, experience Atomsville where I received an irradiated dime. Circling the Hall was the Space Park. To walk under the Saturn V rocket engines was something I'll never forget. In 1964 the moon shots were still five years away but the excitement and anticipation was mounting all through the Gemini project.

Sinclair, US Rubber

Looks like Sinclair's T-Rex is about to make a snack out of some unlucky Ferris Wheel riders!

Nearby was the Lowenbrau Beer Garden where the beer wagon made regular deliveries. This was next door to Sinclair, where a walk through pre-history among many dinosaurs culminated with the giant Brontosaurus peering down on the Grand Central Parkway. Just down the road was the marvelous Transportation & Travel Pavilion - chock full of wonders and delights for a boy of 11 and 12. Most memorable of all was the long walk up the outside ramp to enter the mysterious Moon Dome where we experienced a truly fantastic journey through the magic of Cinerama, from the farthest reaches of space to the smallest atom.


Chrysler's "Autofare" Islands and the Show-go-Round Theater

At the center of the Transportation Area was the whimsical, light-hearted, Chrysler exhibit centered on five islands in a man-made lagoon. I recall vividly the rocket, the huge car to walk under, the hundreds of chairs circling the islands, the Production Line ride on suspended cars and the Bill Baird Puppet Show.

Before proceeding further, some general impressions and memories are fresh in my mind. One of these is the abundance of World's Fair balloons, hats and mouse ears, as well as the aroma of Belgian Waffles. Another impression, especially at night, was the magical fairyland effect produced largely by those one-of-a-kind street lights of the future consisting of multi-colored prism-shaped fixtures. Other impressions are of the General Foods Communication Arches with the news of the day and the Greyhound Glide-a-Ride Trailer Trains and Escorters. A final general impression was noise, noise, and more noise and excitement and crowds, all straining to see everything they can in a limited time so they too can have impressions and memories for a lifetime.

Back in the Transportation Area the most popular pavilion at the Fair, and a jewel in the annals of World's Fair pavilions, was the General Motors Futurama. I recall the interminably long wait in "cattle stalls" in the blazing sun before being allowed to enter under the giant leaning canopy. Just the building was exciting, beautiful, something out of our world. It even seemed alive with its personality showing through the architecture. From the great Reception Hall we proceeded up escalators to the highlight of the Fair - the Futurama Ride. While Ford showcased more of the past, GM looked far ahead. The moving trains with individual headpieces glided so silently, so mysteriously, into the wonders of the new age - the next generation. I recall the tremendous Road Builder in the jungle, a moon base, an underwater hotel, a desert irrigation project and a stunning detailed look at the City of Tomorrow. Looking back over the past 25 years, my environmental awareness and concerns have increased to the point that I would be appalled now to consider some of the abuses of nature; but I experienced the Futurama in 1964 and 1965, along with millions of others, as a way to look ahead regardless of what it was, as long as it was optimistic and hopeful. I recall the stirring words spoken at the end of the ride to consider what we've seen and consider how we should seek to be a part of the future as it comes. The tremendous pavilion ended with a stroll down the scientific Avenue of Progress and the commercial Product Plazas. I recall so well one evening in 1965, as we were heading back to our bus, hearing a "barker" out front inviting all to enter (with no wait!) and to experience again the wonders of the future. He said it was a "one-of-a-kind opportunity." He was so right! Of course we traveled into the future again that evening.

All this, and we're still in the Transportation Area! With the great majority of the Fair still to come it was hard to believe it could top what we already saw. But the memories continue...

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