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World’s Fairs

Queens teachers recall a day spent with students at Fair

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Visitors mill about the "It's a Small World" attraction at the 1964 World's Fair in the Queens borough of New York. AP Photo/HO, Disney
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Walt Disney displays a model of Disney's "It's a Small World" attraction from the 1964 New York World's Fair. AP Photo/Disney
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General Motors presents its view of the future in the "Futurama 2" ride at the 1964 World's Fair. AP Photo
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A Picturephone is demonstrated at the AT&T Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair. The Picturephone itself may have never caught on, but the concept endures in technology such as Skype. AP Photo/AT&T

Edna remembers that in March 1964 she attended a dinner in Terrace on the Park in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and while looking down at the site of the World’s Fair being built saw construction cranes everywhere. The site was not finished yet one of the speakers, perhaps Robert Moses, said it would be finished in time for opening day.

When the Fair opened, Edna was teaching at PS 66 in Richmond Hill and took her class. She made dog tags for each student in the shape of a Scotty dog since it was a dog tag. In front of the Vatican Pavilion, someone stopped one of her students to admire the dog tag and the class moved on. The boy was suddenly alone and lost. He had the presence of mind to tell an official that he was lost so he was taken to the lost-and-found in the northern end of the fairgrounds, which is now College Point Boulevard. Edna then ran all the way to get him. That is her remembrance of that whole day. In those days she wore high heels.

In November 1964, after we were married we lived on the 15th floor of one of the buildings in Carlyle Towers in downtown Flushing. When we went to the Fair after that, we walked through the Botanical Gardens to get to the fairgrounds from Colden Street, where our high rise building was located.

Bob was teaching at Eli Whitney Vocational & Technical High School and remembers taking classes to the Fair. It was a great day out for everyone. Some of the buildings remembered were the General Motors Building with the 3-D models of scenes of the “World of Tomorrow,” the Vatican Building with the famous Michelangelo sculpture of the Pieta, and the enchanting “It’s A Small World” developed by Disney showing children from different countries all singing the now famous melody. There were lines for exhibits and to buy refreshments, but everybody seemed to be having fun looking at the future which we have today.

There was a booth where people could find pen pals from foreign countries. One of Edna’s friends obtained a name and wrote to her for decades. She even went to England to attend her daughter’s wedding. There was a model of the proposed World Trade Center and there were many places to buy food from countries all over the world. Of course, we have the ability to now buy ethnic foods in many places in New York City.

Flowers of all kinds were everywhere. On the last day people started taking the flowers, although officials tried to stop them.

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