Equal Partners
by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners by Roland Ezri

Equal Partners

By Roland Ezri

"Women are the backbone of all societies. They do a substantial part of the work, and play a major role in raising the future generation yet they are largely powerless. The decisions that count are made by men and foisted upon women."

Writings by Roland Ezri

The Second Exodus – Canada – CCCVIII. New York (4 of 4)

The 1964 New York World’s Fair

I visited this fair some 50 years ago; therefore, my memories of the two days spent at the fair are rather sketchy.  What will follow is a mixture of the fruits of my research, and some of my own memories.

It ran for two six months periods in 1964 and 1965.  While it advertised itself as a “universal and international” exposition, for a variety of reasons, the rest of the world did not consider it as an official fair.  As a result, most of Europe did not participate; that gap was filled with Asian, South American, and African countries; states; and, above all, major U.S. corporations.  Companies such as General Electric, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, I.B.M., U.S. Steel, Bell Telephone, Pepsi-Cola, Dupont, R.C.A., Westinghouse, and many others, freely spent on lavish pavilions filled with entertaining gadgets, movies and shows; after all, the fair offered them the opportunity to advertise on a large scale.

The fair featured 140 pavilions on 646 acres that once hosted the 1939-40 New York’s World Fair (Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the borough of Queens).  1964 was the dawn of the space age and the fair’s theme was “Man in a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe.”

More than 51 million people visited the fair, a large number but much less than the forecasted 70 million; accordingly, it run into financial troubles.  The admission for adults was $2.00 (about $15 in 2013 dollars).  A midway would have been a substantial source of income; but the organizers settled for a small-scale midway.  Lessons learned in 1964 were used in 1965; nevertheless, the red ink could not be contained.

Six Technologies made their debut in this fair:  Disney’s Audio Animatronics, Color TV, Picturephone, The Ford Mustang, A glimpse of the Space Age, and a model of the Twin Towers of The World Trade Center.  We know today how far those technologies have come; those of us who attended this fair were witnessing their birth; alas, the last one did come into being only to be annihilated.

I remember taking the subway to go to the fair; aunt Esther made sure I did not fly blind by providing me with all the information I needed to go and come back safely. And I have many other recollections.  Let me go through some of them.

I can still see the amazing structure that greeted me: The Unisphere, a 12-story high, stainless-steel model of the earth.  The Unisphere can still be found in the borough of Queens at the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park; it celebrates the beginning of the space age; it remains to the present day a powerful symbol of a dream that has been realized.

Unlike a museum – in those days – many exhibits could be touched and manipulated; though an adult, more than once, I caught myself playing like a kid!

I watched movies which were unlike anything I could see at a movie theater; they showed how far the field of optics had progressed, and were a harbinger of the amazing technologies which benefit today’s movie industry.  More important, they showed existing or future technology.  Today, documentaries on all kind of topics are common currency; but back then they filled your head with dreams, dreams of a better world.

I have had little exposure to telephones; neither in Egypt nor in Israel did we have our own phone; nevertheless, I at least knew that to dial a number you turn a wheel around a dial!  The phone I saw at the fair though was different, it had buttons, and the wheel and dial had vanished!  Was I supposed to punch these buttons if I wanted to make a call?  Apparently, yes.  And that wasn’t all; the demonstrator told me that this phone when married to a computer could greatly facilitate life.  In what way?  Well, presently, nobody had tapped its full potential, but there was no doubt that the future reserved us great surprises.  Indeed!  “Your call is important to us, please stay on the line and we will get back to you in your lifetime!”  “If you have a claim, please press 1; if you have a billing problem, please press 2; if you have … please press 8; if you forgot the whole thing, don’t panic, press 9, and start all over again!”  “If you’re a subscriber please enter your number followed by the number sign; please remember that you’re on a secure network!”

Computers in those days were big mainframes kept in a separate building to which only a few people were admitted.  The fair removed a lot of this mystery by showing us how a computer worked; terminals with a keyboard and CRT display; punched cards; telephone modems; and how magnetic tapes were stored, and how they were updated.  Of course, it would have been impossible for the visitors to the fair to visualize in 1964 a PC; the amazing storage devices we have in our offices and homes; a word processing program to write this narrative; and above all the internet.

Somebody once said that one of the most powerful forms of relaxation lies in reversion.  You go back to challenges you met and overcame.  It is restful and often amusing to, say, picture yourself when you started working for your present company; today, you are one of the top executives; surely you must go back to your beginnings when you need to relax or have fun with colleagues who also go way back.  Along the same lines, humankind can, and should, use the reversion technique to contemplate the road traveled, and where we are today.  Is there anything more relaxing and amusing than that?  The younger generations can ask their elders how it used to be, thus permitting everybody to enjoy a good laugh.

Ultimately, it was neither the beautiful setting nor the technology that made a permanent impression on me; the biggest attraction proved to be the average American.  All my life, I had visualized the U.S. citizens as being the only ones that had not been chased out of the Garden of Eden!  After the first day at the fair, I knew that they carried their own crosses like everybody else!  After observing them and listening to their conversations, I buried once and for all, the erroneous image conveyed by Hollywood!


1) New York 1964 World’s Fair

Updated November 11, 2006


2) 1964 New York World’s Fair’s_Fair

3) Six technologies that debuted at the 1964 New York World’s Fair



(In error the website refers to 7 technologies).

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