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Old Geezer

Memories of my visit to the World's Fair in Osaka

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I was in the Navy from 1966 – 1970. The ship I was on, the U.S.S. Repose (a hospital ship) was on its way to the U.S after several years in Viet Nam. Since we were on the way home and the Captain was going to retire at the end of the voyage, we made the Grand Tour of the Pacific. We went from Viet Nam to Subic Bay, Philippines and from there to Hong Kong and to Japan. The ship tied up in Kobe for a three or four days stay, and any of the crew who didn’t have to work that day – and wanted to go – was put on a bus and taken to the World’s Fair site.

Once there, we were turned loose and told to be back at the bus at a certain time for the trip back to the ship. So a few friend and myself set out. We found the Pavilion of the USSR and found out that there was a wait of a few hours to get in. We couldn’t wait that long, so we went around to the back of the building and found some Russian who understood just enough English to know what we wanted. He took us in through the back door, behind all the exhibits, and led us to the beginning. About all that I remember of this place is that there were too many pictures of Lenin and a lot of cheesy plastic models of their various Sputnik satellites.

So much for that place. We then found the American Pavilion and tried to get in through the back door there, too, because of the long lines. They had a sample of the Moon rocks there that would have been interesting to see. We couldn’t get in, however. We then wandered around a bit, and went through the Pavilion of Saudi Arabia, which was all open and deserted – no line at all.

Then we found Heaven! The City of Munich, Bavaria, had a beer garden set up there. That’s where we spent the rest of our time at the 1970 World’s Fair in Osaka. I don’t remember if it was German beer, or Asahi beer they had, though. It tasted great, though.

Those reading this should keep in mind that when you’re in your early twenties, in the Navy, and going back to the ‘Real World’ after spending some time on a hospital ship in a war zone, your idea of ‘Culture’ is a lot different from what a regular tourist’s may be.

I’m afraid that’s all that I can recall of that trip.

From Kobe, the ship sailed to Pearl Harbor and then to Alameda, CA and eventually to Long Beach CA. In August, I got out and went back home.

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Paul, I had similar experiences with the USSR and US Pavilions at Expo 70. I was successful at getting in the "back doors" of both exhibits. At the USSR, there was a VIP entry door to the left of the pavilion's main entrance staffed with a couple guards. I approached and asked if I could go through that door. Neither guard spoke English and were mumbling back and forth to each other when a woman who turned out to be the wife of an Israeli diplomat showed up with a VIP pass. She told the guards I was with her and I walked right in.

I had heard Canadian citizens were being admitted to the VIP entrance of the Canada Pavilion simply by showing a Canadian passport. I thought that might be the case at the US Pavilion. As I approached the employee/VIP entrance for the US Pavilion, a gruff looking older woman sent me away saying it would be impossible to admit every person who showed a US passport. As I was leaving, a young woman who was a clerical employee of the pavilion returning from lunch grabbed my arm and said "come with me." She took me through some hallways, told me to go through a door and voila... I was at the entry point to the pavilion.

I think it was pretty crappy that they would not let you and your buddies who were serving in the military enter through the VIP door.

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