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Published:April 23rd, 2014 12:55 EST
NBC Journalist Edwin Newman`s Documentary 'A World`s Fair Diary' Stirs Up a Few Memories!

NBC Journalist Edwin Newman`s Documentary 'A World`s Fair Diary' Stirs Up a Few Memories!

By John G. Kays

I waxed nostalgic yesterday evening as I watched an NBC News story, marking the 50th Anniversary for the grand opening of the 1964 World`s Fair; my Aunt Martha lived in New York at that time, was rolling in dough, and so she took our family to Queens in early August (don`t still have my ticket stub), naturally, on the house, for a full day of fun (and learning) at the World`s Fair! 

That was a long time ago, and I`ve done a lot of BAD things to my brain over the past 50 years, which for some reason (duh), has deleted (or perhaps the`re only buried) so many pristine files from my weathered cerebral cavity. Well, what I`m trying to tell you (sluggishly), is my memories only come in darts and dashes now; I`m reliant on the precious archives of the giant news networks, who dominated the airwaves in the 1960s (NBC, CBS, and ABC), as medicine for recall. 

A few of these darts and dashes are refreshed by ample photographs and film footage, I`ve found this morning, when I do an adequate Google search for 1964 World`s Fair. I still remember the Unisphere (Peace Through Understanding), the Swiss sky cars, the Ford Pavilion, a few flashes of the Futurama II, and I even remember people walking around eating Belgian Waffles.

I don`t really recall seeing the New York State Pavilion, which was named a National Treasure yesterday, although I probably did check it out (today I seem to be confusing it with the Pantheon Dome in Rome, but that doesn`t make it such a bad case of memory distortion). But thank God for NBC`s documentary!

I was glad to see NBC reporter Edwin Newman (1919-2010) again this morning; in the 1960s some of these television journalist celebrities were like gods to us Baby Boomers. This documentary (A World`s Fair Diary) is 60 minutes long (and in Living Color), and has Edwin Newman jocundly making the rounds of the WF.

 I believe you ought to give it a gander, then you`ll learn some valuable history, which we might give a title: American Popular Culture. Fifty-One million Americans passed through the turnstile of the fair grounds in Queens New York, over a period of 18 months (April 1964-October 1965).

Newman mentions a figure of 185,000 visitors per day, which was considered short of management estimates. Admission prices were two dollars for adults, one dollar for children. Edwin also gives the prices for some of the pavilions, rides, and many of the plentiful food offerings, and also comments on how high these prices were. 

This lets us know that the value of a dollar has skyrocketed (I mean deflated) exponentially in a half century! We`re reminded also, this was the raging, crazy days of the Cold War; the Soviet Union wasn`t featured in the multitude of exhibits.

Well, I`d say, the most prevalent theme of the WF (that`s not Whole Foods), was what will the world be like in the future? We were just barely emerging out of JFK`s New Frontier period, and space travel or a goal to land on the moon, seems to be a strong influence on a lot of the exhibits, or on the architectural design of various pavilions, which were very futuristic (The Hanna Barbara cartoon The Jetsons is mostly what comes to mind). General Motors` Futurama II exhibit is probably the best example of this Spacey, Futuristic theme, I mentioned a few sentences ago.

I have zero recall of visiting this Disney designed marvel; however, I found another miracle of archive preservation on the internet, by way of a PC Magazine piece, which includes a short film on Futurama II (it`s under the photograph slideshow)

This is a must view for those of us who`ve short circuited our long term memories (a long time ago)! I`m in orbit, but these films remain as a frozen memories (of the 1964 World Fair) for the new generation of Americans who must carry the torch forward to who knows where???...