As many of my blog readers know, I’m involved with several historical groups devoted to World’s Fair history. Recently I was excited to pick up a cache of items from the 1933/34 World’s Fair in Chicago. Let me qualify that. I was excited until I started looking through some of the items.
Those of you old enough to have attended the 1964/65 World’s Fair in New York no doubt remember two of the star attractions: “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” at the Illinois pavilion, and Sinclair Dinoland. In the first show, an audio-animatronic figure of President Lincoln stood up, walked and spoke. Dinoland was an outdoor collection of nine animated life-size dinosaurs. If I close my eyes, I can still see the heads of several dinosaurs peering at me over the wall as I lunched at the Lowenbrau Gardens next door with my parents.
I remember having many conversations about these attractions with friends and cousins. We thought they were simply astonishing and felt very smug to be growing up in a day and age that featured such advanced technology for our entertainment.
Now today’s kids think our childhood of living without the Internet, cell phones and HD TV was the veritable Stone Age. But hey, at least we had Mr. Lincoln and the dinosaurs to lord over the generation that came before us. Until now.
In my packet of items from the 1933/34 Chicago Fair I discovered first a newspaper handout proclaiming “Sinclair Dinosaur Exhibit Amazes World's Fair Visitors.”
The article below the headline states: “Here is the Sinclair Dinosaur Exhibit where mammoth dinosaurs such as Brontosaurus and other prehistoric beasts equally as strange have been recreated in all the glory of their brute size and ferocious appearance. The dinosaurs that feature the Sinclair exhibit have been recreated in full life size.
The largest model is that of Brontosaurus which stands guard at the entrance to the exhibit, twisting his twenty-foot neck and curling his thirty-foot tail as he heaves his paunchy sides."
Okay, so my generation wasn’t the first to see animatronic dinosaurs. We still had Mr. Lincoln. Until I found this postcard:
Not just one, but several Presidents who stand, talk and sit down.
I guess Thomas Wolfe was right, you can’t go home again. Or at least back to the World’s Fair.
Stretch says if I want to whine about something, I should whine about not keeping the cool plastic dinosaurs my father bought me at the Fair. They sell for around $20 today on e-Bay. But if it makes me feel better, I can play with his souvenirs.
(Wait a minute, where did he get those? Excuse me, I need to go check my credit card bill. . .)