Thursday, August 11, 2011

My First Television Viewing--At the 1939 World's Fair, by Aunt CB and Evelyn Taylor

August 26th, 1939 was the date we began our big trip. We drove as far as Grandma Baker’s to spend the night for we were on our way to visit the New York World’s Fair. The next day we left early to drive on through the Poconos, but not before Daddy took a picture of me with ‘my’ calf—the one I’d seen born a week or two before.

We reached East Orange, NY about 5PM. This was where our beloved ‘Aunt DeDe’ lived with her mother and sister (she was a friend of Mom’s from her teaching days and always sent us a much anticipated package for Christmas). This was to be our base for the next four days to visit the fair and nearby parks.

August 28th we were up and left early to take the train to Flushing, NY (the same train Mom used to ride to and from Scranton, PA when she taught here in East Orange and her Uncle Frank was the conductor who kept watch over her!) The first ‘building’ that greeted us was the upright triangle and ball, ‘Trylon and Perisphere’, symbol of the 1939 World’s Fair.

In through the gates were streets and buildings and food courts and pools, more than this twelve year old had ever seen. We wandered in and out of several, one of them being the Heinz Company where we each got a pin in the shape of a pickle and had many small snacks from their list of commodities. Very nice!

Somewhere in that day we went through the RCA building and I am ashamed to write that I remember very little except I have a distinct impression in my mind of the first television. It was sitting on a table, a big black box whose screen was no larger than 12 by 18 inches, I’d guess. We stood and watched a clown do a dance and some animals do the same. It was black and white and I was not at all impressed.

We just walked on to the next building (I remember being very tired of walking!). We did stay late that day to watch the fireworks which were not so bad as we could sit on the ground to watch them.

Much more to my liking was the next day’s adventure—attending the Aquacade and seeing Esther Williams dive from a tower ‘way up there’ into a tiny pool—and she made it! First time I ever saw synchronized swimming and this was much more impressive than a dimly lit picture that moved.

I have to say that when we first bought a second hand television, almost twenty years later, the screen was even smaller than that at the fair and I insisted it be set in our bedroom so that our children could not spend all of their time watching it!

And, Evelyn writes:

At the end of my Freshman year in college, a friend of mine and I decided we would like to go to NY City to the 1939 World’s Fair. There were a few reasons why this might not happen. First of all, we were both only children, and girls who had never been away from home on their own. We made all our plans for a week of sightseeing in the city and 2 days at the Fair, and presented them to our parents. What a surprise to have them say,”Yes!”

We travelled by Greyhound Bus, stayed at the YWCA, and did the touristy things: show at Radio City Music Hall, boat trip around Manhattan, trip to Statue of Liberty, tour of Chinatown and the Bowery. But the highlight was at the Fair.

Like CB, we were thrilled with all the different countries represented. I bought a silver filigree, butterfly lavaliere, which a few years later I wore at my wedding as did my daughter at hers. We were so taken by the model homes with their “picture” windows and beautiful furnishings. Another thing of the future was the model of highways which had figure eights and crossovers . Then it seemed unbelievable, but only a few years later, it was reality.

At one point we were walking along and happened to look up to see a screen showing us walking! We backed up and passed by again. We had no idea what this was!

We had no fear of anything bad happening to us. It was a safer world 72 years ago.


Pat Herdeg said...

Thanks, Mom--Terrific Story!

I can only imagine how impressive yet overwhelming all of those sights, sounds, smells, and people must have been to a small town girl at the age of twelve.


Dawn Walker said...

Thanks for sharing another great adventure, Aunt CB.Mom always said we could travel the world and go anywhere you want when you read. Again, she was 'so right.' This blog is fabulous.
Dawn Walker ( daughter of Phyllis)

Anonymous said...

CB.Your story of the 1939 World's Fair stirred my memories of my experience there. After all these years, I can still feel the thrill of it all!

Sue Kinsella said...

I remember that first television that our family bought, the one with the tiny screen. My memory of it was in the living room, so Mom and Dad must have pretty quickly gotten sick and tired of all the kids being in their room to watch the amazingly wonderful new shows that we could see with it. Shows like Howdy Doody and Captain Kangaroo and the Mickey Mouse Club and Ding Dong School. Ah, those were the days and the tiny black and white screen made no difference in how big those shows were in our imaginations.

Anonymous said...

Television, worlds fair what a great memory. But i am so GREEN with Envy that you had gotten to see Esther Williams LIVE. I have seen most if not all of her movies. Mom would wake me up in the middle of the night to watch with her. LOVE it!

Mom/CB said...

And I still have that pickle pin that we got there! [ I have ever loved a freebie!!]
That first Tv that is mentioned here was second hand and purchased because otherwise I would have never seen our kids! They spent their time at a neighbors TV!!