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Poking around in the NY Times

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I was poking around in the archives of the NY Times today and came across this. It may have been posted before but I thought it was time for another look. Sure do miss Peter Warner....

World's Fair Buffs Gather in Queens

By ERIC PACE

Published: November 13, 1988

LEAD: As World's Fair buffs and memorabilia-collectors gathered yesterday in Flushing Meadow Park, a gleam came into the gray eyes of one of their leaders, Peter M. Warner, president of the World's Fair Collectors Society.

As World's Fair buffs and memorabilia-collectors gathered yesterday in Flushing Meadow Park, a gleam came into the gray eyes of one of their leaders, Peter M. Warner, president of the World's Fair Collectors Society.

Collecting ''started out as my hobby, but it's not a hobby anymore,'' he said, ''one could say it's a mission. I'm doing it for the benefit of the future,'' His own extensive collection includes everything from models of buildings to shopping bags and napkins.

The more than 500 participants in the World's Fair Reunion Day at the Queens Museum, which is in the park, included some sharp-tongued critics as well as idealists and sentimentalists who came to see films, souvenirs and relics of the 1939-40 and 1964-65 New York World's Fairs. Both were held in what is now formally known as Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Outside the museum, Carl Zimmerman, who is promoting the idea of building a new, permanent World's Fair in the park, eyed a trash receptacle from the 1964-65 fair. Vandalism Is a Problem

''There aren't too many artifacts left around this site - because of the vandalism,'' said Mr. Zimmerman, a retired advertising artist who lives in Bayside, Queens.

Among the survivors, is the 700,000-pound, 140-foot-high, stainless steel Unisphere - said to be the largest world globe in existence - which was built for the 1964-65 Fair.

Helping out inside the museum yesterday was Helen A. Harrison, an art historian and curator, who wore clothing and souvenir jewelry from both fairs.

Ms. Harrison, who is the curator of the Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton, L.I., called the collectors ''World's Fair weirdos.'' Would Have Disappeared

''They're all crazy for World's Fair material,'' she added, and she said gratefully that if it were not for them, much material from the two World's Fairs would have disappeared.

Ms. Harrison herself grew up in Richmond Hill, Queens, six miles from the museum, and so, she said, the 1939-40 fair was ''a kind of neighborhood phenomenon.''

Myron and Jeanette Blitzer, who live in the Marine Park section of Brooklyn, spoke of going to the fair on a date in 1939. ''She wanted to leave me when I took her on the parachute jump, Mr. Blitzer said.

They later revisited that fair as husband and wife, and they went to the 1964-65 fair with their daughter, Ellen, their son-in-law and their granddaughter, Carolyn. Something to Reflect On

Mr. Blitzer said his family liked the 1964-65 fair, but he spoke with special warmth of the 1939-40 fair. ''That was when New York was New York,'' he said. ''It's something to remember and reflect on.''

Another reunion-goer, Joan M. Thom, a gerontological nurse who lives in Flushing said she visited the 1964-65 fair more than 40 times.

Ms. Thom said she enjoyed the reunion, which included tours of the former fair ground, home movies of the two fairs and lectures, because she had enjoyed the 1964-65 fair and ''in times like today it's good to look back on good times.''

Ms. Thom is a member of the Queens Museum New York World's Fair Association, which was founded last December. Yesterday's reunion was one in a series of World's Fair-related events being held by the museum including an exhibition which is to feature original exhibits from the two New York fairs, as well as documents and artworks; it opens in September 1989 and is entitled ''Back to the Future: A Look at the '39 and '64 Worlds Fairs.'' Collecting Thousands of Items

Next year is the 25th anniversary of the opening of the fair in 1964 and the 50th anniversary of the fair-opening in 1939, and, as Anne Edgar, an executive of the museum, noted, ''Many people in Queens were hoping there would be a third World's Fair in 1989, but of course this is not going to be.''

The 47-year-old Mr. Warner, who lives in Rockland County and works in Manhattan as an archivist and researcher in an architectural concern said he was compiling his collection -of thousands of items related to numerous world's fairs, not just the two 20th century fairs in New York - ''for historical purposes.''

''It goes beyond collecting for the sake of collecting, if you see what I mean,'' he said, a bit shyly. ''Fairs are important benchmarks in history, places where new ideas, new inventions are presented.''

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I flew to NYC for that event - quite a wonderful weekend. It was sad, though, to read the comments from and about Peter Warner, knowing that his collection was scattered around the world after his death and much is now unavailable for any sort of research.

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Isn't that the one, in 1988, where a lot of people loaned material to the QMA to exhibit, and they never got it back- it just disappeared afterward?

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Agreed about the Peter Warner collection getting scattered to the wind, Bill. Always bothered me that a suitable museum or research institute wasn't found to permanently house the stuff, instead. <_<

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Happily the Smithsonian ended up with Larry Zim's collection when he died. Too bad the Warner collection, which I believe was much larger, didn't go there as well. I'm happy that I got some of it, but so much is in unknown locations now.

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Some of it has already changed hands more than once. Peter wrote his name on a lot of the stuff, so often you'll be able to tell that it was once in his collection.

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The question for those PTU’ers with advanced collections, do you have plans for your collections after you die?

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You know I have one or 2 really exceptional items. But I would not trust them to the Queens Museum. Has anyone ever been to the Museum of the City of New York? I wonder if they have a WF interest.

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Thank you for posting that very interesting article Curtis. Being relatively new to the world of World's Fairs (I have only been into them since about 1999), it's a very good account of some of what was happening at FMCP before I was aware of this whole phenomenon. That would have been an incredibly exciting event to have attended. I hope you do post some photos Bill, I'd love to see them and hear some personal memories. I have heard of the 1989 anniversary commemoration at the QMA, but have never actually heard many details of what went on or who was there. Looks like I have some searching to do on PTU!

Strange to think that TWENTY years have passed since this article came out. Obviously there will always be people who prefer one Fair over another, but I thought it was also interesting to see how many of the people mentioned in the article seemed to be more into 1939 rather than 1964. It makes sense when you think of the fact that twenty years ago many more people who visited in 1939 (or both) were still with us (or at least were still more active). I have an appreciation for both Fairs, but have to admit that there seems to be a LOT more interest at PTU in 1964 (and yes, I realize that the site IS named after 1964's theme). This makes total sense too. After all, so many people who are here visited 1964-65, but weren't born in 1939. Time moves on I guess, and it shows how important it is to keep ALL these memories alive before they are lost forever. The people at this site who weren't born until after the Fairs (specialbunny, worldsfairenthusiast and myself included) are lucky (in my opinion) to have managed to discover these great events and to cultivate a personal interest in them. Most people growing up today have no inkling of what a World's Fair even is. The world has changed so much over the past few decades that the whole idea of a World's Fair of the style of 1939 or 1964 must seem so quaint and outdated to many of them. All this makes the scattering of collections mentioned above all the more tragic. Sorry to go on and on, but the article really struck a nerve with me. Thanks for letting me express myself, and I hope I didn't offend anyone.

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Turns out these are still in my "To be scanned" pile, so will have to get them done when I get back from my vacation. Speaking of which, any PTU members in the Salt Lake City area?

I'm working on a plan for my own collection so it doesn't end up in a yard sale.

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A few years ago here on PTU there was mention of one of our PTUers making the rounds of Nursing homes in the area, to make presentations on the World's Fairs.

And if I recall right at the time, there was note that among the residents there was a lot of interest in the '39-40 Fair, more than the '64-65 NYWF.

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