Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor
Volume XI, Issue II
When the World Came to Flushing
In the Summer of my Thirteenth year, our family braved the perils of the New Jersey Turnpike and Megopolis traffic to visit the New York World's Fair. The fair was a breathtaking assemblage of fanciful architectural creations... IBM housed its exhibit in a Brobdingnagian egg, Travelers' Insurance had an enormous red umbrella and in a bit of unbridled kitsch, a tire manufacturer presented an enormous tire-shaped ferris wheel! The "Big Three" United States auto manufacturers all had sprawling exhibits, the most noteable being the General Motors Futurama.
Futurama was an updated version of a similar General Motors exhibit presented at the 1939 New York World's Fair which was held at the same site. In the final years of the Great Depression, Americans came to the fair and saw modern innovations such as washing machines and refrigerators. Within a few years a terrible World War would consume the energies of American resource, but at its end, the promise of innovation returned. Upon the avenues of the 1939 fair, an even more amazing and ambitious vision for the future was painted. In General Electric's pavilion, Disney robots in chorus sang of a "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow... shining at the end of every day."
Somehow technology would propel us to a new Utopia. Forgotten for the moment was the new specter of nuclear annihilation. Like the White City on the shores of Lake Michigan so long ago, the wondrous shapes promised a pattern for rebuilding the world of the Twentieth Century. The gleaming aspirations of the free world appeared to offer a clear choice over the dark and oppressive Socialist 'Utopias' and their bread lines. Africa was casting itself free of its colonial rule and beautifully garbed delegates assembled in gleaming new legislative halls to ratify Constitutions that were often based on ours. Some of those nations proudly appeared at the fair.
As a youth, I was inspired. Returning home after the fair, I proceeded to create reams of drawings of fanciful creations of my own. Indeed, this experience propelled me into the world of Architectural Art. But as the world failed to recreate itself, indeed falling into the same depravity of generations past, I wondered where the hopeful vision had disappeared to. We had not overcome human aggression, but held the worst manifestations of it at bay with a policy of mutually assured destruction. Somehow I never forgot the tense moments of the Cuban Missile Crisis, where that or our missiles in Turkey might have triggered the unthinkable.
To be sure, the fair had offered glimpses of more than technology as saviour, I remember the sublime lines of Michelangelo's Pieta, as seen in the Vatican Pavilion. This timeless and beautiful work spoke of things unseen... even to a lad of thirteen! Billy Graham, who had led a young and restless Louis Zamperini to faith in Christ, built a pavilion at the fair where he offered the same hope to all who would listen. At the time, the promise and wonder of technology seemed to drown out the "still small voice" -- [1 Kings 19:11-13] that would come to guide my later life.
The fair as seen in an aerial view of Flushing Meadow Park.
Books to Inspire Young Hearts II
Louis Zamperini tells the 'untold' part of his story.
Captured by Grace [click to view]
Louis Zamperini, an Olympic runner turned bombardier, survived a plane crash and prisoner of war camps during WWII. He returned a hero, but his greatest battle was yet to come.