Welcome to the 1964 World’s Fair!

It really IS a great, big, beautiful tomorrow… and it’s all laid out for us right here at the 1964 New York World’s Fair! I’ve never felt so happy like I do today, and all because we got a look at the future! Come with us as Grandma tours some of our favorite pavilions… right after we have lunch at the Brass Rail Restaurant!   P.S. We had a guidebook but Grandma accidentally dropped it into the fountain under the Unisphere after we kids argued who gets to look at it first.

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I love the Brass Rail. It’s fun sitting at a round counter with your feet resting on a shiny… brass rail!  If you’re a sneaky kid like I am, you can manage to look up people’s clothes by looking down at the shiny brass rail from a certain angle. But you have to ask yourself: do you really want to see your grandma’s foundation garments from below? I didn’t think so.


We always make sure to stop in and pay a visit to the Mormon Pavilion. They show you a cool film, and there’s a neat statue of Jesus standing there welcoming you… so lifelike! Grandma loves it because she can sit and relax. “The Trinity is composed of THREE separate flesh and blood people,” a nice man tells us. “That’s right… three separate beings!”  We children are confused– they didn’t tell us this in Catechism class!   “Mister, mister, do they all go to the movies at the same time? And do they all sleep in the same bed? We don’t understand!!”  “Well, never mind,” Grandma tells us as she gives the nice man a dirty look. “Let’s go buy Italian ices and then see the Pieta at the Vatican Pavilion, okay?”

Another fun exhibit is the Wonderful World of Chemistry at the Du Pont pavilion. Dancers do the Twist with giant fake chemicals and show you how much better our lives will be when we eat more of them; someday we’ll even be wearing them! Then you get to touch and smell and taste different products made with these wondrous new compounds. Parents especially love this part, because the kids fall asleep and don’t wake up until hours later!

Here’s the West Virginia pavilion, where you can watch some guy blowing glass and then take a walk through a fake coal mine. We don’t have glass blowers in Brooklyn; the only glass we see is in the refrigerator, or in the street stuck under the tires on Dad’s car. We met a lady guide who told us SHE was from West Virginia. I never knew anyone from West Virginia!  “I’m surprised she has all her teeth,” Grandma said after the lady chased us out of the fake coal mine for making too much noise.

“Let’s go in and see the future!” we jump up and down and scream when we reach the Futurama pavilion. “I’ll tell ya the future,” Grandma says. “In about five minutes I’m gonna smack you kids if you don’t stop yelling!”  Inside it’s cool and dark and you can see a lot of other grandmas settling into the seats for a snooze. They drive you through a miniature city which I decided I was going to build with Lego when I got back home. Did you know that in the year 1980 we’re going to have flying cars? And that we’ll be living underwater? “The next time the basement floods at home, you can practice,” Grandma says.  And there’s even a part where they show how Americans are going to colonize the frozen wastelands of the North Pole!  “I gotta defrost the Frigidaire when we get back,” Grandma said when she opened her eyes back up.


Here at the Schaefer Center, Grandma wants to sit down and have a beer. She says kids aren’t allowed in so we have to wait outside and not move an inch or she’ll lose us on the subway on purpose, so help her God. Then we find out later that we WERE allowed in, because we could see a lot of other kids having fun while we were standing in the hot sun and not moving an inch. Grandma promised she would say the Rosary for us because of our sacrifice.

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At the Sweden pavilion we saw a lot of ashtrays on display. Well, at least we thought they were. Grandma says you can never tell with foreign things. Even though she’s from Italy, she knows a lot about the world. “Don’t you feel like you’ve walked around the whole world after seeing all these pavilions?” I ask her.  “I feel like something’s been around the whole world, and it isn’t my feet,” she says. “Let’s find someplace and sit.” We do a lot of sitting. Then Grandma gets to talking to another old lady who says that the Simmons pavilion lets you take half-hour naps on beds for fifty cents! Grandma practically drags us there, and we have to wait outside while she takes a rest on account of her leg problems.

Soon we’re on our way home again, and the train is filled with kids and grandmas, and tourists who are lost and starting to get upset because they’ve heard about our crime and garbage strikes and pollution. Some of them ask Grandma for directions, but she says she can’t speak English very well and then pretends to go to sleep. When we’re walking up the block back to our house, I say “isn’t it nice that there’s a World’s Fair with no wars and everybody gets along and doesn’t kill each other?” And Grandma smiles at me and goes through her pocketbook and then gives me a key chain with a tiny Pieta hanging from it. “I think I forgot to pay for this,” she says. “Say a Rosary for me.”


11 responses

  1. Ah Jim, You never really grew up and left the 60’s did you. Maybe you are really Peter Pan?

    Three flesh and blood people? Really? I wonder how that works. (you can email me the info.)

    Grandma’s foundation garments indeed! LOL!

    I have a very vague recollection of going to the 64 World’s Fair. I remember my mother bought us fudge. We loved it.

  2. Jimmy,

    I love it. I’m a big fan of the 64/65 World’s Fair. I just purchased an original(!) World’s Fair poster. I also have a DVD about the Fair. Wanna see it?


  3. I remember this fair! We were living in New Orleans, and my parents flew (a huge deal in 1964!) to NY to go see the fair. I had no idea what it was; I just knew that they had gone somewhere for a few days.

    Thanks for the walk down memory lane,

  4. I love this! I’ve always been fascinated by the ’64 World’s Fair and I’m so thankful you took me on our own personal tour. Laughed out loud about your grandma leaving you outside to have a beer. SO been there but it was my dad :D, good times!

  5. One of my visits to the fair was a school trip. I’m talking strict Catholic girl’s High School circa 1965. The nuns explained it was an educationl trip only. In other words..no fun! We were to only visit educational pavillions and not anything entertaining and to gather info for a possible report or quiz later on. So after we ditchted the nuns we proceeded to go on all the rides and fun things. We spent the last hour racing around the fairgrounds running in the front door of the educational pavillions, grabbing any folders, brochures,etc. we could find, and running out the back doors on to the next stop.
    We had to drag this huge sack of stuff back on the bus with us. I don’t think the nuns were fooled for a minute.

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  7. Went to World’s Fair in 65 I think. My dady worked as a glass blower from West Virginia, Pilgrim Glass. We had just moved here from Venice Itlay. I barely remember it. I was only 7yrs. Reading about all of it brings back no memories. I enjoy it just the same.

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