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Bradd Schiffman

The New, the Unusual, and the Just Plain Stupid

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What is the stupidest thing you saw at the Fair? For me, it had to be the street vendor who set up shop outside the restrooms INSIDE the DuPont pavilion. Here I am, 11 years old, stepping out of the stage show to go to the bathroom, and there's this guy sitting behind a card table with a bunch of little plastic airplanes balanced on little plastic pylons, and he asks if I want to buy one. I remember I thought the guy was someone famous, because he looked like an old actor named Joe E. Brown. Twenty years later I was interviewing the DuPont pavilion director for a story I was doing for Fair News, and told him about this incident. He assured me it couldn't have happened!

[This message has been edited by Bradd Schiffman (edited 04-28-2002).]

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OK, how about GM spending $100 million on their pavilion but still having huge slots where the little vehicles on the highways of tomorrow attached to their moving belts underneath. Or, worse, the huge slots in the lunar surface necessary for the lunar crawlers to move! Even at the age of 11 I felt embarrassed for them because they hadn't figured out a way around this.

[This message has been edited by Bradd Schiffman (edited 04-28-2002).]

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I felt the same way about those slots, Bradd!

I remember thinking how lame it was for EVERY darned doll in "It's a Small World" to be the same doll - a thousand dolls, all identical - just dressed differently. Re-confirmed nine years later (and since) when I first visited Disney World. To this day I don't grasp the attraction to that ride! and the song... that infernal, brain-burning song....

(I've spent 38 years feeling like I'm pretty much alone on this one!)

The amusement area stunk compared to the amusement park right here in my little home town! (Canobie Lake Park, Salem, NH) THAT was a BIG let down for a NH kid expecting the BEST at the fair.

Today... listening to K2US.... I'm amazed that the music leading up to the opening ceremonies was straight out of the 1930s!! I was shocked to hear that.

It sounded like a sound track from a Little Rascals episode.

What a contrast to the Brass Rail Bubbles, and all the other cool architecture and presentations at the fair.

I thought it was cheesey that you had to cough up a quarter to ride a Glide-a-Ride! Seemed like it ought to be a free service.

After all, the thing was going there anyway, why couldn't it haul my lazy 12-year-old a*s there, too?

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While not exactly stupid, I never much liked the Brass Rail restaurant roofs. They resembled massive fungus growths all over the fairgrounds and photos, today, confirm my thoughts--very strange architectural design.

[This message has been edited by Jim (edited 05-17-2002).]

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I have some thoughts on what I felt was cheesy at the fair besides the WI cheese. How about the small mesh screens that moved back and forth to make the lights below appear to twinkle in the City of the Future at GM. The others are,

The City of the Future at Ford

The Autoparts Harmonic Orchestra

The entire ride of the Bell System

The exhibits under the Great Hall at the Hall of Science

The Hall of Education

Oklahoma

The City of Paris

Being on the roof of Kodak without wheels

The Lake Cruise

UAR for charging 25 cents to see the mummies

The 'Land of Enchantment' at Simmons

Not bad for a fair that had thousands if not a million points-of-interest to comment about.

Everyone talks about the roof of the Brass Rail snack bars, not all of them had the ice cream scoop balloons. The snack bars can be seen in the fair from the air. Six of them are in the twenty-first picture labeled, "Industrial Area, Featuring the Pavilions of Clairol, General Electric and Tower of Light." in this picture you can see five Brass Rails with balloons and one in the lower left corner without balloons.

But does anyone remember the seating or anything else about the 25 Brass Rail snack bars?

The most spectacular part of the GM pavilion was how the ride worked. I have to thank Bill and Ray for the total surprise I got, when the layout of the ride was posted. If you haven't seen it - you haven't seen it all.

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Hoodlock wrote: "Being on the roof of Kodak without wheels"

Oh my God!!!

That roof was a disgrace - more embarassing than GM's "slot cars"!

Besides the fact that NO thinking person on earth could have believed that THAT was what the surface of the moon actually looked like, the paint job was an abomination.

I remember clearly how sloppy the white paint of the cones and humps met with the gray of the part you walked on.

In fact, that pops into my mind's eye every time I've seen the Kodak pavilion since 1964!

The BEST thing I remember about Kodak was that their open-concept ground level kept me out of a downpour one day.

(The huge color transparencies on the roof were neat, though)

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I really liked the Brass Rail balloon roofs. I don't remember what we ate there, except that it must have been dirt cheap (probably hot dogs and soda). I think I remember a little souvenir display on the cash register counter, which I vaguely remember towering over me.

How about the Tower of Light's lack of seating? (sorry Gary). I remember they announced as soon as we got into the first room of the ride that they hadn't installed any chairs, but they would soon (maybe next year?), so we were required to stand throughout the show. I don't think they ever installed them.

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How about the $1 they charged you to park? How was that supposed to help attract visitors? I can't believe they turned those revenues over to the city, or that it would have significantly helped the Fair's financial situation (could it have?).

My father parked us under the LIE on our second day and STILL boasts about beating that $1 charge.

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They did install the seats in the Tower of Light Bradd. And DougSeed they were not transparences at Kodak. They were prints. But I do agree with you on the moon roof. I never knew they charged for parking.

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I like (still) the Brass Rail bubble tops.

To me they're almost a logo of the fair in their own right. Apparently, they were an important icon of the event - enough so that they've come up in many a discussion in these pages!

When I picture the fair in my mind, I see the Brass Rail bubbles, Bell Telephone, Johnson Wax, Unisphere, NYS, Glide-a-Rides, GE Carousel and the colored cube street lights.

I remember the fair as having been acres of white fiberglass and lots of colorful flags.

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Although the companies may have been classified by name to fit the Transportation area I always thought U.S. Rubber and Avis belonged in the Amusement area. I thought Avis was pretty cheesy; as was the entire Amusement area

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One reason the fair's amusement area was on the weak side might have been due to exhibitors' reluctance to invest. At the time of the fair, the metropolitan area had four amusement parks within ten miles of the fairgrounds. To the south was Coney Island; to the west was Palisades Amusement Park. Just a few miles to the north laid Freedomland and to the east was Rockaway Playland. At that time, Time Square was also a destination for amusements with several arcades, Riply's and a Wax Museum. A further reason, the fair didn't take full use of Meadow and Willow Lakes. Every good fair took complete use of water whenever they could. The best part of the Amusement Area, besides the visuals of the Monorail, was the Log Flume. Every day that I was at the fair, I pass through the Amusement Area. Living on that side of the fair, I would walk through it on my way home. In passing, I learned a few tricks along the way. I learned how to win at certain games and would go home frequently with teddy bears and plush snakes. This annoyed the carnival people and at one point, they bared me from playing.

My other memories of the Amusement Area are,

James Bond's car

The Rocket Man

The Wild Mouse

Carnival A-Go-Go

The Loop-A-Plane

The Circus

Adding to the list of cheese is the Santa Maria. This small ship was among the early encounters I had with the fair and remember seeing it delivered the winter before the fair opened. I have a few feet of 8mm film of it sitting on a truck with snow all around.

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As a child I was raised without theology, however I did go to all the religious pavilions at the fair. I was at the Billy Graham pavilion with my cousin Paul who is very religious. The inside of the pavilion was quite ordinary; the only thing I found of interests was the headset that was used for the audio portion of the show. The headset consisted of a clear plastic box, about the size of a cigarette pack. This box was designed to fit over one ear, attached to this box was a clear plastic tube. A loud speaker was mounted under each chair and the sound would travel up through the tube and into you ear. An usher told us that it was done this way to keep people from stealing the sets. After all, they were just plastic. From the arm of your chair, you could select the audio in different languages. The lights dimmed and we watched the film, "Man in the Fifth Dimension". After the movie a host came out saying, "Anyone who would like to know more about Billy Graham and his teachings", should come up to the stage and go behind the curtain. My cousin tried to get me to go behind the curtain but I wasn't about to. So, I don't know.

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Does anyone else remember paying 10 cents to see "To The Moon And Beyond (and Beyond... Beyond...Beyond)? We were outside the T&T pavilion. My mom and sister were hungry, but me, my dad and brother weren't, so we decided to split up for half an hour. The women went inside to eat at a sit down restaurant, and we went up to the roof for the moon show. All I remember is reclining chairs and projection onto the inside of a dome, a cheesy animation about the lunar lander landing on the moon and blasting off again. My question: who got the better deal, us or the girls? (I have no idea where they could have eaten.)

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So far, we have an "I don't know" and a "probably".

Out of 148 PTU members, surely there's one that actually went behind the curtain and can unravel this mystery.

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Bradd, you got the better part of the deal. What memories do they have of what they ate? What I didn't like about the movie besides the stiff neck was the way they tried to make something flat into something spherical. There was a lot of distortion. The best films were the ones shown in 360 degrees. The one at the Port Authority was the better of the two. The other was at NYS.

Ray, what do you think was behind the curtain? And why is this important to you? If there were anything remotely interesting, somebody would have talked about it.

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Hood, I don't really know what they ate, my sister (8 at the time) had such a great time that she refused to go with us the second day(!), and to this day swears she has no memories at all of the Fair. And Ray, I am 99.999% certain that what I described was what went on behind the curtain. (Think about who the exhibitor was and what their motivation was for building a pavilion at the Fair.)

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Also, does anyone remember paying to go on IASM? I read in the guidebook that admission was charged and donated to UNICEF, but I have no memory of our family having to pay. Was it voluntary? And can someone try and list the pavilions that charged admission?

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Couldn't tell you Bradd, I had an in at Pepsi. I enter the ride through the employee's office. The guide list admission charges, as in; Hollywood Admission, Adults $1.00 Children $.50.

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It's just that I set aside a bit of time today to give thought to some of the imponderables at The Fair. That 99.999% number is likely to be on target, but the real question is, if it was such a good thing and it was free, how come nobody went there?

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I often pondered the questions about boosting The Fair's attendance. Why didn't Robert Moses himself welcome the people coming off the #7 trains with a handshake and a smile? It would have doubled the Tuesday and Thursday attendance if publicized.

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To the Moon and Beyond:

I was/am a Cinerama buff (hence my internet handle, cinerama3) so I've always been curious about this film. Even the film mavens who know all about Cinerama know little about it. Wonder if Pacific Theaters even have the elements anymore?

Man in the 5th Dimension:

(In Todd-AO 65/70mm format) If you watch To The Fair's video of this, the mystery of what goes on "behind the curtain" will be revealed to you! I found it quite touching, even though I'm not a particularly religious person, and very professional.

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