More edited letters from Act 2 readers who attended the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair.
As a 23-year-old, I drove a truck for a hardware company specializing mainly in kitchen cabinet hardware. At the World's Fair in 1964, there was an exhibit called "The Kitchen of the Future." After making my delivery at the exhibit, I was going to make a call to my office to let them know I was on my way to the next stop. Seeing a row of standing phones, I approached them to make a call. There were no cellphones at the time and I was used to rotary dials being the only form of dialing a number. These phones only had buttons on the keypad. I guessed that all I had to do was punch the phone number on the buttons and my call would go through. So I deposited a dime, got a dial tone and hit the first number. When I heard the tone it produced, a smile came to my face, as I had never heard anything like this before. I pushed the rest of the numbers and my boss picked up the phone in the office and all he could hear was me laughing so hard. Tears were streaming down my face. He asked what was going on. When told of the new phone system and the music it played, he thought I was crazy because he had never heard or seen this, either. It was the beginning of a new age and a first for everyone.
Our fondest, most beautiful memory of the World's Fair 1964-1965 was that we met, fell in love and have been married for almost 45 years. It was a beautiful evening on Aug. 20, 1965 when we met. Three boys and two girls just going to the fair to have fun. We met walking over a bridge, the guys asked the girls if they would like to race go-carts. We said yes, and my future husband and I won. The rest is history.
My future husband was leaving for college the following week, so we spent as much time together as we could before he left. We talked on the phone several times, many hours a week, and when he came home for Christmas break we both knew that we were in love. I worked for the airlines and had travel benefits, so it was great to be able to visit him at college during the next four years. We both promised that when he finished college we would be married. We were married on Aug. 17, 1969, have two beautiful girls and have had a wonderful life. The World's Fair was so very special, as we both spent many days/nights visiting it and to find love during the last year made it even more spectacular.
The World's Fair was not only fun and exciting, but visiting it with my father and collecting souvenir spoons as a memory of each country became a hobby of mine. Not to mention those delicious Belgian waffles. We can still taste them.
Rose Marie and Stephen Liotta Jr., Cedarhurst
One of my favorite memories was when our church, Messiah Lutheran, was invited to host the service on one Sunday morning. Because I was an altar boy, I brought along my robes, and got to light the candles. We all thought it was a great honor to attend, plus we got a free pass that day. I am pretty sure the entire congregation went that day, and I remember it being a bright and sunny one. The cost to attend I remember was fairly high, and so I think I only went about three times during the two years.
I remember the Carousel of Progress, and made a point to ride to it again at Disney World, years later. I still can remember some of the tunes and lines from the song as we circled around each generation. I videotaped portions of the Disney World exhibit.
My favorite memory was in the second year when several of my friends from Bayside High School and I all went together, and I felt so grown up because I was going without my parents. We went down to the amusement area by the lake. I remember the marvelous Belgian waffles and the shoe-leather like Tad's steaks. The waffles were expensive, but the steak meal seemed reasonably priced for a kid living off an allowance. I guess that is why they were like shoe leather. I still stay in touch with those friends, though one has retired to Florida and the other lives out East.
I could not afford anything as fancy as the Unisphere statue. My souvenirs are from the AEC, Ford (the badge still glows after you shine a light on it), GM, and Travelers Insurance. I do have a dime that I had neutron-irradiated at the Atomic Energy Commission exhibit. I always wondered if you would get radiation, if you played with it too much.
My friend and next door neighbor, Anne, and I drove to Flushing Meadows. On the way we stopped at Jamaica Estates. Her father-in-law gave her $20 for us for dinner. I loved the fair it was a beautiful sunny day and so much to see.
We went to the Belgian Pavilion and had waffles, absolutely delicious. We also went to the Hawaiian Pavilion, I bought a pineapple salt and pepper shakers there. I just have one left. It was a mini pineapple with a yellow bottom and green top.
As we ascended the escalator for the Ford exhibit, we saw the Pieta on the right hand side. It was a fleeting glimpse. I did see it 20 years later in Rome.
It was the perfect day, wish I could recapture it again.
Eileen Scudlo, Babylon
My dad had written to the organizers of the folk jam at the New York Pavilion. They called me to come and sing. The pavilion was large and very colorful. What is there now is just a skeleton of what was. I stepped up to the mic and sang a few folk songs. The organizers asked me if I would come back for the evening show but I had a gig that night. It was fun! I am still making music.
Joan Kaback Abramowitz, Huntington
I remember my parents taking me when I was 11 and my brothers and sister to the New York World's Fair in 1964 and 1965. I have memories of going to the Vatican Pavilion and seeing the Pieta as you moved along the moving walkway. I think the best part of the fair was having those delicious Belgian waffles.
Bruce Sheridan, Speonk
I have very fond memories of the 1964 World's Fair, and remember it like it was yesterday. I was a sophomore at Dominican Commercial High School, and we were given a day off in May to go. I met my mom there, and we spent the day together. We went so many times over the two years (even the last day!), that we didn't take our map with us. We knew the layout of the entire Fair, and it was only 15 minutes from home. The entry price was $2.50, and it included everything. My favorite pavilion was General Electric where they showed how living was, starting back from the 1900s to the present at that time. I remember seeing the microwave and how they explained everyone would have one. It was awesome. The scariest moment was in the Travelers Insurance Pavillion as we had gone on a rainy day, and very few people were there. The entire second floor was black until you approached each scene, which then would light up, going back to the bubonic plague and on down through history. We hardly could see where we were going. When we approached the elevator to return downstairs, the attendant asked if we were the only ones on the tour -- he was shocked to find out we were and that we were allowed to go up alone.
Mary Pedersen, Southold
I have a few things I have saved including unused daily tickets, ads from some of the exhibits, guide books from the 1939 and 1964 Fairs. I even have 8-mm movie film taken of the whole 1964 Fair from the top of the New York State Pavilion, showing the 360-degree view!
Rick Palomo, Medford
Here is what I remember of that sunny day going to the 1964 World's Fair. My family moved to Lindenhurst from Brooklyn in 1963, it was hard for me to adjust living here with all the trees and fresh air. I was 14 and was too cool to start making forts and climbing trees. My brother Johnny was 10 and loved it all, a real nature boy. When the World's Fair came to Queens, I was 15, my boyfriend, Jeff, was 17 and we decided to take my brother Johnny, who was 11, to the World's Fair. We got on the LIRR and when the doors of the train opened up it was as if we were transported to the future. Seeing all the new and wonderful exhibits, the Belgian waffles, whipped cream, strawberries -- what's not to like? We came upon the African Pavilion. We loved animals and were fascinated with the gorillas. I was eating my Belgian waffle with my back to the elephants' cage when all of a sudden the elephant's trunk came through the bars to grab me and my waffle. I screamed and slid down on the gravel floor and the scraping bloodied my elbow. People came running over to help me and I was brought into the African Pavilion to take care of my cuts. The bars on the cage were too far apart, they said, and that's why the elephant's trunk was able to go through. As scary as it was, it did not ruin my trip to the fair. It gave me a story to tell and a everlasting fear of elephants.
Christine Doukas, Lindenhurst
Boy, do I remember the World's Fair, the 1964-1965 edition. I was only 12 and 13 those years, but I could practically walk you through most of it today verbally.
I grew up in Flushing, about 2-3 miles from the site, and myself and friends could easily take a bus or even walk to the fair for the day. We would even occasionally take in a Mets day game at Shea Stadium and then go to the fair at night.
Tickets were only $2 for adults and $1 for kids -- I still have leftover tickets!
Of course, everyone remembers the buildings that still remain -- the Unisphere, the now dilapidated New York State Pavilion (which has since been seen in many movies and TV shows, the original 1939 version of New York State Pavilion (which still houses the impressive and massive model of New York City) -- and of course, the waffles; the oddly shaped Kodak Pavilion, the long lines waiting to see Michaelangelo's famous Pieta statue in the Italian Pavilion, the famous athletes and other amusements that appeared in the Schaefer Pavilion, the aquatic shows and circus like atmosphere "on the lake," Sinclair's giant dinosaur statue, the huge tire shaped Ferris wheel, all of Disney's contributions -- the General Electric-sponsored Carousel of Progress, the Pepsi-sponsored "It's a Small World" exhibit, Illinois' exhibit with a real lifelike Abe Lincoln, the clever collection of talking birds in the Tiki Room, the monorail, and one of my all-time favorites -- GM's Futurama Pavilion, where we got see what the future would hold. As in today? What, you mean you still don't have a flying car or personal jet-pack?
Who can forget the popular tricky "MEET ME AT THE SMOKE RING" buttons that fooled patrons throughout the Fair, a clever way to draw attention to a smoking exhibit.
And I was always amused at the what I thought was the first video phones in the AT&T (Bell Telephone) building, where you could see who you were talking to -- in the next phone booth.
The future truly had arrived!
My cousin Peter, who was just a year or so older than me and I would often be dropped off at the fair by our parents for the day. (Can you imagine something like that, today?) What made it especially memorable was our great tomfoolery just outside the Ford Pavilion. At a two-sided booth near their entrance, patrons told the young women hosts where they were from and they were handed a free little plastic glow-in-the-dark pin-back button that featured a relief molded image of the Pavilion and below it the name of their particular state.
Of course, Peter and I went up to the booth and proudly said, "We're from New York!" and were handed the local edition. But once we figured out we could add to our collection by being from out of state, well, then our young brains went into action.
We went to the other side of the booth, and now we were from California. Well, there were only two sides of the booth, so another device needed to be enacted.
"OK, Pete, let's change our jackets and go up again." Our brilliant plan worked. Now we had Texas and Florida in our pockets. But what can we do now? "I know! Let's switch our caps!"
New Jersey and Connecticut were in our grasp. Now what? Off came the jackets and we went up one at a time. We then went to another pavilion, came back an hour or so later, and initiated the routine all over again.
It was fun, and it never occurred to us that the ladies in the booth likely didn't care that we kept changing our wardrobe in order to fool them. Their job was to hand out buttons.
I proudly saved those buttons for several years and displayed them prominently on the wall in my little basement bedroom until one night, my grandma came to visit, and she needed to sleep in my bedroom. I got the couch, which was OK, but the next day, grandma threw out my buttons. "Why? Grandma, Why?"
The little buttons retained their glow-in-the-dark ability and kept her up half the night like a creepy night light that couldn't be switched off.
Darn that grandma. Loved her, but couldn't she just put them in a drawer or something?
Anybody have a New York button to spare?
Andy Esposito, Greenlawn
We have many photos from both fairs with my mother and father getting married during the first one and my wife and I getting married during the second. We went to the fair five or six times and relished (almost) every minute. My wife will recount with some chagrin the tale of one of those visits. I thought it would be a great idea to spend the day at the fair, then cross the street to Shea Stadium for a night doubleheader. To this day, I am amazed we still got married. (My wife is not a baseball fan.)
Bob Nardella, Dix Hills
Upon graduation from college in May, 1964, I had the whole summer ahead of me before starting my new teaching job in September. Hearing that the World's Fair was hiring, I applied and was directed to the Pinkerton Agency, which was staffing the Fair with both men and women. The women's job was primarily to run the "lost children" shelters. I was hired, issued a navy blue uniform, with patches, and told to get sensible black shoes. There were no weapons provided as we were housewives, mothers and, in my case, a soon to be math teacher, with no former police training. The women's division totaled 24 under the direction of a retired New York City sergeant. She was tough, but fair, and knew her job.
Basically, we cared for dozens of children daily, ranging in age from toddler on up. We provided peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, milk, toys, reading material, TV, and cots for napping. Sometimes we entertained our charges from day into the evening hours. I remember one case in particular where a busload of visitors from Pennsylvania left for home with dad thinking junior was with mom and vice versa. Both were wrong because junior was with me and his absence wasn't discovered until the parents arrived at their home destination. After many frantic phone calls, it was determined that the parents would drive back to New York that night, asking us to watch over him until they arrived. I think it was close to midnight before the reunion took place, but the little darling wasn't even aware of it because he was fast asleep.
When not working the shelters, we would pair up and walk the grounds. This was our opportunity to see all the fantastic exhibits. I saw sights that I had only previously read about, (Michaelangelo's Pieta), saw other sights that nobody had ever imagined before (the underground house for one and the kitchen of the future for another), sampled many a wondrous food dish that I might never otherwise have had the opportunity to, and purchased accessories like jewelry and scarves from foreign countries that you could only get if you traveled to those countries. Remember, this was 1964; there was no Internet; amazon.com and eBay weren't even a germ of an idea yet.
Occasionally, the Pinkerton female force would be asked to accompany the wives or other women traveling with male dignitaries. I personally escorted the Shah of Iran's lovely wife to several venues, answering her questions, pointing out unusual exhibits, or just acting as a companion. We were never alone; there were dozens in the group. She was a charming person and made me feel quite comfortable to be in her presence. I thought it was a nice show of respect that our country offered to these ladies who were visiting in a foreign land.
On the 4 p.m. to midnight shifts, I would schedule my dinner break to coincide with the nightly fireworks display. It never got boring. Each night as exciting as the previous one because of the many people enjoying the display. I would stand among the throngs and listen to the variety of languages spoken as the "bombs were bursting in air" over the Unisphere. After all, oohs and aahs sound the same in all languages and I still get chills thinking about it.
Labor Day arrived and I said my goodbyes to my fellow workers who had thrown me a little farewell party with mementos and gifts, hugged my favorite sergeant, and started the long walk that stretched from the main entry gate to the IRT train station. I had taken this same walk every day for three months, but on that last day, it seemed longer and sadder. I was leaving a truly memorable experience, one I'd never forget.
Pat Sbarra Visconti, Islip Terrace
I attended both the 1939-1940 and the 1964-1965 World's Fairs in different ways.
I remember my mother telling me that she and my dad had often gone to the 1939-1940 World's Fair. They lived in Brooklyn at the time, then later Queens, and they loved the fair. My mother was pregnant with my twin sister and me in 1940. We were born one month early on Dec. 1, 1940. So my sister Jeannette and I were "present" at the 1939-1940 World's Fair, but were not born yet.
Regarding the 1964-1965 World's Fair, I was pregnant with our first child and my sister was also pregnant with her first child in 1965. We both loved the World's Fair and went quite often, especially after Jeannette and I stopped working in August 1965 due to our pregnancies. We had both worked for Chubb & Son Insurance in New York City. The last weekend of the 1964-1965 World's Fair was Oct. 15-17. My mom suggested that I not go to the fair because it would be very crowded and she didn't want me to get hurt. But I loved the fair so much that my husband, John, and I went three of the last four days or nights. The last day, Sunday, was awesome! It proved to be a lot of excitement for me because I was in the hospital the following morning on Oct. 18 at 6 a.m. Our daughter Claire was born that night -- 51/2 weeks prematurely. My sister had her daughter Karen two months later, also one month premature. We tease our daughter that she "attended" the 1964-1965 World's Fair in the same way that my sister and I had attended the 1939-1940 World's Fair.
Annette Sullivan, Elmont
The best visit to the fair was the one I did by myself. I started out early one Saturday morning and took a bus to the fairgrounds. All day, I wandered around, map in hand, and took in the sights, sounds and attractions on offer. Some I stood in line for; others I rejected as not to my interest. Because I had no one with me, I could see and do whatever I wanted without having to worry that my companion might not like my choices. Such freedom!
And it felt almost like being in a foreign country. Up and down the lanes and boulevards, I could take in the "It's a Small World" ride, venture into the more exotic of the pavilions, and even treat myself to a Belgian waffle or find a bench where I could rest my feet and write a postcard or two. By day's end, I caught the bus back home, convinced I had had one of the most enjoyable experiences ever.
It's hard to believe that wonderful fair was 50 years ago. The stamina is no longer there, but the memories of that time will stay with me forever.
Nancy Bischoff, Queens Village
I hear the happy squeals coming from the rides and recall the long lines to see the "World of Tomorrow" exhibit. "Tomorrow" has become Today and we have surpassed all that the future held for that point in time. I can only wonder what such an exhibit would predict if we held another World's Fair today!
But more important to me in my memories of the 1964-1965 World's Fair is one special person: my grandmother, Nana. Nana was a divorced woman who raised three children on her own. My mother was her daughter and we lived a few blocks from each other, enabling us to be close. Nana worked in a knitting mill and surely didn't make a lot of money, but she had a heart of gold and made happy memories for her family with whatever, and what little, she had.
I was 7 years old in 1964 when the World's Fair opened. After our initial visits to it, Nana decided that she wanted me and my sister, who was 5 years older than me, to see every last bit of it. She bought one of the guidebooks which described in detail all that the World's Fair had to offer. Each weekend she would take one of us to the Fair, marking our first name initial next to what we saw that week. By the time the fair ended, we had seen every exhibit, been inside every building and eaten enough Belgian waffles (my favorite) to have been declared Belgian citizens! We always came home with souvenirs, some of which I'm sure are still around, buried away in a closet. And yes, we wore our Heinz pickle pins, too!
In the '70s when I was attending Dominican Commercial High School in Jamaica, I was talking with some classmates and the subject of the World's Fair came up. One of my friends said she had not been to it. I was shocked! She said her family had not gone to it, her grammar school never took her class and she had no idea what we were talking about. It was then that I realized not only how lucky I was to have been there and seen it all but how fortunate I was to have a grandmother who made a mission out of us experiencing it! To think how she gave us her time and energy after working all week, spent her hard earned money on buses, admission costs, food, souvenirs of books, toys, hats and more.
Say "The World's Fair" to me and I think of Nana. There will never be another of either one.
Kathleen V. Quinn, Glendale
My husband and I took our two daughters, ages 6 and 2, to the second World's Fair in 1964. We couldn't wait to go. It was extremely crowded and we had to really hold on to our girls.
At the Ford Motor Co. exhibit you actually rode on a full-size Ford convertible. It was on tracks and took you through a panorama of the world's history, starting with the dinosaurs and right through into the future.
The one we thought was the most fun was the General Electric Theater. It was a huge round building; you went in and sat in comfortable seats. It was shaped like one quarter of a pie. There was a stage up front with a kitchen set up about 1910-1920. It had as many GE appliances as they had then. There was also a mom, dad, boy, girl and a dog. They all talked. After about five minutes the theater turned and there was a new kitchen, probably about 1930 with a new set of appliances. On the third turn it was set in about 1950. The last one was in the 1960s and beyond. It was extremely modern. The girls liked this exhibit so much that we went back later in the day.
The big world sculpture was also something exciting to see. We went back at least three more times before it closed.
In 1972, we went to the opening of Disney World in Florida and in an exhibit there we saw the GE Theater in the round again. The fair was a wonderful family adventure.
Phyllis Weiner, Centereach
It was as though we were in a magical place. We were one of the young couples pushing a baby stroller. Our daughter was too young to appreciate her surroundings. However, she was excited by the sights, sounds, colors and people of the 1964 World's Fair.
Each of the pavilions was a trip to a faraway place. Every exhibit was special. My favorite pavilion was the one by Kodak. We went to the rooftop observation deck. Being able to see the panorama of the entire fair was mind-blowing. I took out my Brownie camera and started to take pictures (from left to right). In those days no one had fancy cameras or lenses. I selected the three photos that best showed the scene. After having them enlarged, I spent hours splicing the views together. We had the panorama framed an proudly hung it in our living room. That was in 1965. Today, in 2014, it is still on the wall. And it is always a conversation piece.
Jeanne B. Brodsky, Hauppauge
As a young man of 16, the World's Fair of 1964/1965 was an important part of my life. Since I lived in Plandome, it was convenient for me to visit the World's Fair via LIRR at least 10 times. My trips were funded by being a Newsday paper carrier at the time. I also attended the fair with my class and scout trips. My first date was one of my visits to the fair. What a way to impress a girl and the price of admission was only $2!
Favorite pavilions: GM and viewing the future highways, underwater, and space was one quite impressive. The Ford Pavilion going back in time (animated dinosaurs) and riding in a Ford automobile was a thrill for a 16-year-old. The Vatican Pavilion featured the Pieta and 48 years later I had to see it again at the Vatican. Johnson Wax Pavilion (Gold Dome) had a great movie, "To Be Alive."
Walt Disney produced several other shows besides the Ford Pavilion at the World's Fair. These pavilions eventually were moved to Disney World or Disneyland:
1) It's a Small World and the Tower of the 4 Winds
2) General Electric "Carousel of Progress"
3) Lincoln at the Illinois Pavilion
I experienced my first taste of Belgian waffles.
Peter Varol, Westbury
My husband, Joe, my 4-year-old daughter, Maryann, and my 3-year-old son, Anthony, were beyond excitement as we exited the 7 train and made our way to the entrance of the 1965-1965 World's Fair.
We were expecting something grand but, nothing could have prepared us for the very nature of the word "grand."
To pick out one favorite pavilion or exhibit is almost impossible. They were all a delight, especially the Belgium Village, for which I am proud to say that my brother-in-law John Amandola was one of the construction crew. Not only was the village beautiful, but those Belgian waffles loaded with fresh strawberries and loads of cream were to die for.
The beauty of the Hawaiian Village all lit up at night took your breath away. The promenade leading up to the Unisphere was so beautiful. I do not like heights, but I went up to the observatory where you could look down at the whole fair and it was something to behold.
Our daughter and son were like two Energizer batteries and wanted to see everything, and they did. However, those batteries ran out of juice as we boarded the train on our return trip home, and they fell fast asleep.
I have great home movies of our day at the fair and I also have two puzzles that were given as souvenirs.
Many years later, my son, Anthony, held his wedding reception at "Terrace on the Park" and my husband and I traveled to Belgium on our way back from Israel. Only thing is we didn't get to have one of those delicious Belgian waffles.
My heart's desire is for the world to come together for another World's Fair so my grandchildren and great grandson can see and experience a place where countries can come together and show the best of their culture in a peaceful, friendly and enjoyable atmosphere that they will remember as we do our wonderful time at the 1064-1965 World's Fair."
Carole Sergio, Deer Park
I was 18 years old, in my senior year of high school. My older sister got a temporary job during the 1964-1065 World's Fair as a "Parker Girl" at the Parker Pen Pavilion. They acted as hostesses to the VIP visitors who could sit in a lounge and see the Unisphere and the nightly fireworks.
My sister, Linda, got me a job in 1965 working for a vendor who sold the World's Fair souvenirs. I thought it was very exciting. I would come home from school, and take the train to Flushing to the fair to work. Our booth was in a tent shared with Hertz car rental, renting out strollers for the children. The company I worked for had booths on both sides of the fair so I got to work in different locations. There was also a Belgian waffle stand where I had many a delicious waffle made with strawberries and whipped cream! We sold all kinds of pens, Unisphere's mugs, glasses and anything that had the design of the Unisphere. I got to meet many people from all over the world and all over the United States. Seeing the photo of the Unisphere reminded me that I still have mine along with some drinking glasses which I saved all these years.
A favorite place to go after work was the Rheingold beer "Little Old New York" pavilion to have something to eat, or we would go to the Bavarian Village to eat and shop for our own souvenirs from the different countries. Just being there and seeing all the exhibits and the people was a great thrill which I haven't forgotten.
Kathleen P. Taylor, Great Neck
What a wonderful experience it was for a 19-year-old young woman like me to have had the opportunity to work at the 1964-1965 New York World's Fair.
My name is Rosemarie (Aliperti) McKenzie. I was born and raised in Huntington and educated at Saint Patrick's School until the eighth grade, but Huntington High School is my alma mater. My graduation in 1962 was all I looked forward to, but following that, I worked for an attorney for Security National Bank. One day I found an ad in Newsday that Pinkerton Security was taking applications for secretaries to work in Flushing Meadows to process all the prospective employees who were coming from all over the world to work at the World's Fair.
I went for the interview and I started work about a week later. I met thousands of people while issuing them identification cards, taking their photographs. Everyone was so happy and excited to be working at the fair. I am still very close with many of the young people I met. After all the initial IDs were processed, work got a little slow in the office. Coincidentally, I had heard about an opening at the Hall of Science, so I applied and was invited for an interview and hired to work at the Atomic Energy Commission Exhibit.
While there, I even met actor Gregory Peck who had come to the Heart Exhibit to give lectures. He was very kind and sociable.
One day, my friend said there was an opening for a guide at General Electric. I went and to my surprise, they asked me to become one of their family. There was lots of studying, memorizing and hard work, but it was very interesting and fun. I was now working at General Electric's Progressland, "The Carousel of Progress." I gave speeches, worked the carousel, guided guests. I met people from everywhere. I worked there for the remainder of the year and all of 1965.
To this day, my World's Fair friends are still in my life. I am going to be 70 years old soon. If not for the World's Fair, my life would not have been so fulfilling. For quite a few years, I was a singing, acting, and dancing member of a musical community theater, and it was my work at fair that initially gave me the confidence to perform in front of large audiences!
Rosemarie McKenzie, Virginia Beach