World's Fair or Bust
by Norris Chambers
We made our way to the Chicago World's Fair in 1933 in a Model A Ford. That trip on the road would be a complete story. We journeyed from central Texas to the heart of Chicago in 3 days.
The following story is one I wrote upon returning. It was printed in the Cross Plains Review in Cross Plains, Texas. It's not an especially good story, but it is old and points to the scientific advancements of that period. You can be sure that a 15 year old farm boy was properly impressed and tried hard to tell others what he had seen.
The World's Fair at Chicago, commemorating a century of Progress is presented on the "take it or leave it" principle. The exhibits are before you - the marvels of science - and you can accept them or call your own eyes deceivers.
The principal exhibits at the fair are arranged to show the growth of industry and science and the relation between the two. Different manufacturers have real factories where the finished products turned out, wrapped and sent to the market.
Perhaps the most interesting of these exhibits is the Firestone tire factory. In this long building one sees the rubber trees tapped by the natives, the juice coagulated, mixed with sulphur and sent through the pressing machine. Strong fabric is run through a huge contraption where it is coated with elastic rubber. Finally, you can see the sheet rubber and the fabric stamped together and run through a machine where the general form of a tire is rounded out. This is placed on a moving belt that runs from one machine to another. At one it is vulcanized, at another it is treaded and finally the completed tire is wrapped and stamped with the manufacturer's name and the tire size.
Up there you have real "hootch" and you see competent men making it the factory way. You see every process from the time the bottles are machine washed until they complete a circuit on a moving conveyor where they are filled, capped, labeled and packed for shipping.
In the electrical field you see the Western Union people demonstrating their products, The RCA group making Victor phonograph records, radio vacuum tubes and other components. A well known company is turning out finished radios. It is all interesting to one who like electricity, radio and the science of electronics.
Tobacco companies are making cigars and putting them in boxes and packets. Cigarettes are being made and packaged by the thousands. You can see a compete automobile being assembled and a diesel engine operating in a see-through block. Armours processes and packages all kinds of meats. They make clothes from the spinning of the cotton thread to the competed garment.
You should see the Hall of Science. There are miles and miles of working exhibits. In this voluminous structure, all of which is utilized, there being no windows. The heat, light and ventilation is supplied by modern, scientific equipment. In this building you see every principle, phase and section of physics, geology, printing, engraving and electroplating. Astronomy, germ life and dozens of other sciences are shown accurately by actual working models and free picture shows and lectures.
In the way of amusement, don't forget to see Ripley's strange collection of oddities. Sinclair has a dinosaur exhibit where the great beasts of bygone ages stand before you, moving their 45 foot necks and roaring defiance as they crouch and prepare to spring upon their foes. At the Museum of Natural History you will find every known species of living matter. At the Planetarium the heavenly bodies are explained by lecturers and their explanations are exhibited in the artificial sky.
The Sky Ride is 600 feet high and the Havoline thermometer is 200 feet high. Ford has a museum of transportation where all means of transportation, ancient and present, are carefully displayed and explained. There are untold scores of rides and playthings on the enchanted island.
In a whole book I could not tell you all I saw in my few days there at the fair. If I have failed to mention something of importance, remember there are over 80 miles of exhibits spread before you, and it would take days to walk that far observing strange and interesting things of either side of you. But one who has spent any length of time there can rightfully and truthfully say tht the World's Fair is indeed an exhibit of a century of economic, scientific and all around progress.
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Copyright © 2007 Norris Chambers