All Aboard: Your Adventure Awaits {Part Two}

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The date is April 27th, 1964.  You are standing among the crowd in front of the Unisphere, the largest globe ever built by man. It contains 470 tons of stainless steel and is considered “one of the most outstanding achievements in structural sculpture in the past decade.”  The New York World’s Fair has you dizzy with excitement!

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It is Day 5 of your travel adventure and you marvel at just about everything you set your eyes on.  There is an edge and an urgency to see, taste, hear and explore all the situations around you. You are bouncing from exhibit to exhibit on a natural high, guided by curiosity and surprise. Part New York frenetic energy and part endorphin rush you are bombarded in the best possible way with ideas that are new and thrilling and coming at you from all directions.

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If you wanted to see all 150 pavilions and attractions at the Fair it would take 30 full days of sightseeing. But you only have a week so you have to make a list. With your trusty 300 page fair guide…

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purchased for $1.00 at the concession stand you highlight the specific places and pavilions you want to see first.

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Among your not-to-miss moments are the: House of Good Taste, the Rheingold, Walter’s International Wax Museum, the Clariol Hair Color Exhibit, the Avis Antique Card Ride, the Transportation and Travel Hall, France, Switzerland, Indonesia, Africa, the Space Park, the Garden of Meditation and the Pool of Industry plus 27 others. It’s an ambitious schedule but you are determined to make the most of it.

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While so many exhibits are enormous, some in particular really catch you off-guard by their sheer size like Sinclair’s Dinoland where nine life-size replicas of dinosaurs stand hovering over the fair-goers.

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It is one of the most popular spots for photographs so you have to squeeze in quickly to get a few snaps. The dinosaurs were made by artists in upstate New York and were in fact so big they couldn’t be transported by truck or trailer, so they had to be floated down the Hudson River via barge. In the anticipation leading up to your trip, your friend Gene took a photo of the big guys heading down river and sent it off to you in the mail…

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Other incredible sightings so far have included the steel and plastic Liberty Tree with leaves made of historic documents in the New England pavilion…

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…and the scale model of New York City, which measures in total 180′ feet  x 100′ feet. Each building is scaled at 1 inch to 100 feet which means that the Empire State building is 15″ inches tall. Amazingly,  this model includes every building in Manhattan.

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You soak up all the sun and and all the fun at the very first live Porpoise show courtesy of the Florida State Exhibit…

before heading over to the Hollywood Pavilion where you soak up celebrity and have your autograph book signed by Joan Crawford and Kirk Douglas.

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With heart pounding you fly like a bird through the air courtesy of the Monorail, the Observation Towers, the Brass Rail Snack Bar, the giant Royal Tire ride and the Parachute Jump…

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Part of the reason why you are feeling so giddy and alive is because there is so much positivity and potential floating around. Words and wonders like Carousel of Progress, Futurama and Tomorrowland greet you both in person and in print at every turn…

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and you can’t help but feel a sense of overwhelming optimism for the progress that is sure to come in the next 5, 10, 15 and 20 years.

You have been at the fair for five days. You have traveled 1000 miles from New Orleans to New York City to get here. But in reality you have gone much further. You have circumnavigated the globe. You have seen zebras in Africa, enjoyed coffee in Lebanon and arranged flowers in Japan.  You have explored planets in outer space and dived deep into the inky depths of the sea. You feel like a true globetrotter, a jet-setter and a time traveler all wrapped into one. You are crossing continents and centuries in the blink of an eye. This is by far one of the most exciting vacations of your life. You don’t want to leave but you also can’t wait to share your trip with all your friends back home. You mail off a litany of postcards every day… your words running off the cards because there is just so much to say.

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You look for a souvenir that can encapsulate this experience of a lifetime in one item. You search through many stands and stalls before it hits you…

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You find a book that symbolizes all the magic of the moment that is the World’s Fair. You purchase a souvenir copy of the story of Michelangelo’s Pieta, which is on display in the Italian pavilion. The 15th century sculpture stands 6′ feet tall by 5.5′ feet long and contains three different elevated viewing platforms. You walk onto each one to gather a sense of the sculpture’s size and scope.

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The sculpture fills you with emotion. It is a combination of history, stone and craftsmanship.  It contains story, self-expressionism and symbolism. It conveys love and tenderness, majesty and gift-giving. It is passion magnified in a portrait of faith and future.  It represents past accomplishment and future hope. It is the New York World’s Fair personified. This art, this souvenir book, this incredible Fair represents a moment in time, in life, in history destined not to be forgotten.

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All Aboard: Your Adventure Awaits {Part One}

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The year is 1964. The day is April 22. Your alarm clock goes off…

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It’s 6:10am and you jump out of bed with excitement. Today you are going on a trip! You have less than an hour to get ready, so you hurry because you cannot (CANNOT!) be late.

Makeup, dress, hat

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Shave, suit, scent…

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Your bags have been packed for days but you make one final check to make sure you’ve got everything…

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It’s all there! A perfect assembly of his and her items all packed with care. It contains her beaded cashmere sweater for those chilly Spring nights, his fedora hat, the Brownie Hawkeye, two dozens rolls of film, her favorite lace slip, his go-with-anything bow-tie, her sunglasses, his pullover, her special occasion pearls, the leather travel clock he’s carried for the past twenty years, the bestselling book that everyone’s been talking about, the shoes, the sundries, the little incidentals…all set!

You head to the kitchen and drink a glass of Ovaltine. You are too excited to even consider eating a full breakfast.

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Just before you leave you make the final check… walletpurse keys…

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You head out the door but then turn right back around. You left the tickets with yesterday’s mail on the coffee table. Phew! Good thing you remembered before you headed downtown.

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You pull into the New Orleans train depot with 15 minutes to spare. You’ve booked your rail travel with Southern Railway which has been running passengers all over the East Coast for 70 years.  Today, you are headed northeast to the small mountain town of Johnson City, Tennessee. From there you’ll connect with Southern Railway’s luxury pullman train, named the “Pelican” and chug further north to your final destination.

Once settled into your seat, you show the conductor your ticket for stamping…

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It’s a three and a half hour trip to Johnson City most of which you spend lost in literature. The book you are reading, The Burnt Ones by Patrick White is a series of short stories about

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people burnt by society, via various avenues like love, neurosis, natural elements, independence etc.. The poetic and passionate writing makes you understand why the New York Times just recently referred to White’s writing as spell binding and radiant. By the time you pull into Johnson City just before noon, you are half-way through the 308 page book.

Before getting off the train in Tennessee to stretch your legs, the conductor comes by asking for your reservation documentation on the Pelican. You hand him your identification check…

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and he, in return hands you the dinner menu for that night’s journey…

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It has been a long time since you’ve eaten beef steak but the Ovaltine has long worn off and a big dinner sounds perfect. You spend the afternoon hours walking around Johnson City’s historic downtown taking photos and people watching.

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Back at the depot at 5:40pm the Pelican is just pulling in to the station…

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and you board for the second leg of your journey. There are 24 hours left to go. By this time tomorrow night you’ll be in the most exciting city in the world, attending one of the most talked about events of the year.

As a Southerner you are pretty lucky to be going at all. Most people attending this event live within a 60 mile radius and indeed you are the only ones among your friend set that are making the journey. When you read some pre-press months ago, it described the whole spectacle as “a circus, a classroom, a voyage, a time capsule and a futuristic peepshow all wrapped up in one.” That’s when you knew you had to go see it all for yourself.

You pass the time as paitiently as possible on a speeding train. The dinner hour comes and goes, you eat your chopped beef steak and your two vegetables (peas and carrots), your bread with butter and your apple pie. You watch each town pass by until the sun sets and darkness fills your window. Even though you had coffee after dinner, you feel sleepy. You close your eyes and dream about city lights.

The next morning, you wake to coffee and a breakfast tray of fruit and toast. The hours pass quickly. You daydream, you play cards, you read, you watch town after town after town roll by.

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Lunch comes and goes, afternoon tea comes and goes, an evening glass of wine amplifies your giddiness as the hand on your watch finally marks the the last hour. You are so close! You begin preparing for your arrival. You pick up and pack up and then finally…

…after a 36 hour journey from New Orleans to New York, the Pelican pulls into Penn Station passing dozens of trains coming and going in the process…

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You step out into the hustle and bustle of commuter territory. You breathe in the electric air. Everything feels fast around you.. the walking, the talking. The atmosphere is lively, festive, fun. You are swept up in the sea of  passengers disembarking. You hurry along with them, suitcases in hand. As you climb the stairs from the tracks to the terminal, your eyes catch on a poster pasted to a metal beam. It says…

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…and you smile from cheek to cheek. You have traveled from the Big Easy to the Big Apple to experience a big event. It is the start of the New York World’s Fair and you are on your way there!

Stay tuned for sensational sights and scenes from the Fair in Part Two, coming soon!  In the meantime, peruse the lovely vintage items in this post by clicking on the highlighted links.