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Queens Chronicle

Readers tell us their memories of the World's Fair

1964-65 event left a lasting impression on all who attended

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Posted: Thursday, June 19, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:06 am, Thu Jun 26, 2014.

This is the last in a series of 10 stories commemorating the 1964-65 World’s Fair at Flushing Meadows. This time we let our readers tell their remembrances.

“I must have gone every week. We lived so close. My favorite was and still is ‘It’s a Small World.’ I used to sing the song all the time to tease my niece and nephew because I can’t carry a tune.” — Jeanette Foletar, Middle Village.

“I remember a hot sunny day (I was 8 years old). We glimpsed all the spectacular attractions and many pavilions, the various sculptures displayed that we wanted to touch, the sound of people having fun, the music and the smell of food. We did not want to leave because we felt that no place could ever be as wonderful as the World’s Fair.” — Mamie Wong, Whitestone.

“The Florida Pavilion had a porpoise show and the porpoise would hit plastic oranges out into the audience. I caught an orange and won a stuffed porpoise. After the Florida Pavilion we would ride the monorail and the log flume.”— Diane Ruppel, Woodside.

“I was 10 years old and blown away by the fair. We had just emigrated from Israel. It was a real eye-opener, a marvel, and I remember the Belgian waffles.”— Jerry Karlik, formerly of Flushing, now Roslyn, LI.

“We would take our three children almost every week to the fair and have dinner at a different country’s pavilion. It was such a wonderful time to share with children. The Pieta stood out for me, so historic and holy.” — Claire Shulman, the former borough president, Whitestone.

“The fair was awe-inspiring. I loved the IBM egg. I was 15 and my uncle got me a summer job working as a busboy at the British Lion Pub there in 1964. A year later, my group, The Staffmen, played at the New Jersey Pavilion.” — John Piro, an organizer of the Pavilion Paint Project, formerly from Astoria, now Westbury, LI.

“My friends and family visited the World’s Fair every weekend; we did not want to miss anything. On the last day of the fair the Turkish Pavilion was selling off some jewelry and I purchased a lovely Turkish necklace which I still have.” — Ann Mancaruso, Richmond Hill.

“While there were some interesting exhibits in the 1964 fair, the Unisphere and several others, on balance it could not be judged spectacular. It was a financial disaster as was the 1939 fair.”— Ben Haber, Flushing.

“During the World’s Fair I was a teacher of a third grade class in Brooklyn. We took the train and the 40 children saw the various countries’ pavilions, which was very exciting for them. It was truly the best part that the fair could be enjoyed by all ages and regardless of what one had to spend.” — Barbara Glassman, Sunnyside.

“Going to the fair was one of the first dates I had with my future wife, Karen. The fair was wonderful and we enjoyed the German beer garden. It was the last time I dated anyone else.” — Jim Van Westering, Forest Hills.

“My family attended the Worlds Fair in 1965. I was 11 years old. “My parents, brothers, sister, as well as my aunt and cousins from Springfield, Mo. visited the fair with us. We had VIP badges. There were so many exhibits to see.”—Alice Sachs Grgas, Bayside.

“I believe the majestic nature and world theme of the fair impacted my life and subsequent career. You never know what memories in childhood bear fruit later in life. The memories of the World’s Fair let me, a 5 year old, know that there was magic and, I could have some of it. Living in Hoboken, NJ, attending the fair was my first visit to Queens. Subsequently in life I would reside and make a living in the same borough.”— Nick Master, South Ozone Park.

“What stands out in my mind is the song, ‘It’s a Small World After All’ at the end of the Disney [Pepsi] pavilion. We were on a boat that took us all over the world and the last place had puppets singing “It’s A Small World After All” dressed in the clothing of different countries. It was magical!” — Rachel Epstein, Rego Park.

“I was 11, living with my family in Staten Island. I had done my homework and knew every pavilion, where they were located and what I wanted to see. My parents did not stand a chance. Pepsi had “It’s a Small World,” Sinclair had the green dinosaur, GM had Future World, GE the future and Ford, the Mustang. There were those flying saucers at the New York State Pavilion, you just had to go to the top!”— Louis Vastola, Howard Beach.

“My father was contracted to provide store fixtures in the Pepsi Pavilion and I was given private rides on the “It’s A Small World” boat ride after the fair closed for the day. Other fond memories: calling from the family telephone booths located throughout the fair where all of us were in an enclosed room and we were able to call our family in Ohio and all of us talk together, like a conference call. I remember everyone was so amazed that we could do that.” — Phil Konigsberg, Bay Terrace.

“My greatest memories were from playing with my garage band, ‘The Parisians’ at several of the pavilions. I wrote to the fair corporation and got several invitations to play. We were four teenage boys from Corona just itching to play and the fair afforded us a great opportunity. We played at the NY State Pavilion twice, the Tiparillo band shell, the Port Authority band shell and the New Jersey State Pavilion.” — Rich Lando, Bethpage, LI.

“I remember bringing my children to the World’s Fair and the most visited exhibit then, the Panorama in the New York City Pavilion. The Panorama still stands as one of the most unique exhibitions in all the Big Apple at Flushing Meadows.” — Carl Zimmerman, Oakland Gardens.

“My family was heading home to Liberty, NY from visiting relatives on Long Island on a Sunday evening. Suddenly we were in a sea of cars, all moving at a snail’s pace. By the time my father realized that we were in the lane for the World’s Fair, it was too late. So we arrived and stayed for a few hours. It was the best unplanned adventure I’d ever had. And the very first sensation as I walked in was the smell of something fresh-baked, unfamiliar, delicious … Belgian waffles!” — Michelle Rapkin, Ocean Grove, NJ.

“When I was a senior in college, Ford called me as I was editor of the Michigan State News to say I was one of 44 college editors selected to drive a brand-new red Mustang. I had the car until I graduated. Then I asked Ford for a job at the World’s Fair. I worked in their public relations office and remember the fair as a very happy place, especially the Bavarian Beer Garden. The next summer, after I joined the Army, I was picked to be the information officer at the U.S. Army Exhibit and worked there for six months until the fair closed.” — Bruce Fabricant, Somers, NY.

“It was a magical time back then, and a seemingly magical place. My cousin and I took pictures of each other “holding up” the Unisphere.” — Leslie Harrison, Rego Park.

“Brass Rail had concession stands throughout the fair, the roof of which looked like big white bubbles. They offered mostly just hamburgers and hot dogs. I remember that a hamburger was 50 cents, which was considered expensive at the time. Also throughout the fair were machines that looked like scales. They were machines that would rejuvenate your tired feet! You could get around the fair by tractor trains, called Glide-a-Ride. These were operated by Greyhound and cost 25 cents. There were also four-passenger Escorters. You could engage the driver to take you wherever you wanted on the fairgrounds, or help you plan tours for $9 an hour. We all fell in love with the fair.” — Larry Miller, Middle Village.

“It was an exciting place to go. I remember taking our daughters, 4 and 2, in strollers, At the time we lived in Elmhurst. They are nice memories, especially the Pieta at the Vatican Pavilion.” — Rita Ruggiero, Bayside.

“I was 8 years old in 1964 and only have two memories of the fair: watching the opening night special and seeing views of the NY State Pavilion’s observation towers. Living in Wisconsin, I never got to the fair. I still find it fascinating. I must, considering the sheer volume of information that I’ve put together for nywf64.com and cowriting three books about the fair, having never attended it. The fair embodied the hopes and dreams of that time. There will never be a fair like it again. I do believe that the Baby Boomers who attended as children are beginning to realize what an amazing event it was and how lucky they were to have attended it.” — Bill Young, Sheboygan, Wis.

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