While the notion of collecting spoons has pretty much been relegated to truck stops along the interstate, it use to be a lot more popular. Here are two silver spoons from the 1933 “A Century of Hope” World’s Fair in Chicago. The “I Will” is a motto of the city and the woman’s face was a logo for the fair. (In the bowl part of the spoon are different buildings from the fair.) The fair was so popular that it was extended through 1934 and was even paid off by the end of the exposition. Quite a feat when you think about the fact that the Great Depression was in full swing. (Check back for more from this fair and the 1892 Columbian Exposition.)
This is the program from the 1933 World’s Fair in Chicago. What strikes me as odd about this guide book (besides the fact that my family kept it) is that the font and style doesn’t match anything else I’ve seen from the fair. Other printed materials use a font that resembles the Bauhaus font and has a very stylish art deco look. This font, while still being a strong and now iconic 1930s style, is much more festive than the other official materials. I guess the corporate idea of branding hadn’t yet been fully realized. And speaking of corporations, it’s very nice to see the absence of advertising on the cover. Today we’d see some major company’s name and logo splashed across the top. How did fair goers know what to buy without advertising on everything they saw?!?
Oh how the times have changed.
This is a pin that was released for the “Polish Week of Hospitality - July 17 - 23, 1933” during the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago. The three figures on the front are heroes of the American Revolution: Washington, Kosciuszko, and Pulaski. Kosciuszko, is not as well known here in this country but is a big hero in Poland where he fought for Polish liberation after fighting as a Colonel in our revolution. The reverse of the pin is the art deco official icon of the 1933 World’s Fair.
These types of ethnic weeks seem to be a thing of the past. The only modern incarnation that I can think of is at major league baseball parks that hold a weekend game that recognize various ethnic origins. They usually have a themed giveaway at the gate, plus different representations of food from that culture. Even then, it is one game and not an entire week. Otherwise, it seems to me that this style of ethnic recognition at a large event is a thing of the past. NOTE: St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t count. While I know that there are right and true Irish celebrations on that holiday, most of the populace know nothing of them. I don’t consider wearing green and getting blistering drunk an honest salute to Irish culture. If anything you can call March 17th Amateur Night.
These tickets are from the 1939 Golden Gate International Exposition held in San Francisco on Treasure Island. Treasure Island had always piqued my interest as I passed the exit while driving on the Oakland Bay Bridge. Turns out that the island is manmade and was created specifically for this fair. After the fair the island was to become the San Francisco airport and act as the hub for the Pan American China Clipper fleet along with being able to service other flying boats. This was to happen after the fair closed in 1940. The attack on Pearl Harbor changed all those plans and the island went to the Navy instead. In the 90s the Navy left the island and now it has some businesses, film studios, and housing of various sorts.
Anyway, the fair was held as a celebration of many things including the opening of the two most recent bridges, The Bay Bridge and of course The Golden Gate. If you look on the ticket you can see a statue on the left, which was Pacifica. She was over 80’ tall and was supposed to be moved after the fair. Like the airport idea, that changed with the war and she was demolished along with the other fair buildings. (There is a group currently hoping to rebuild Pacifica on Treasure Island, and there is also an 8’ tall replica on the College of San Francisco campus.) One of the only remnants of the fair is the old terminal building, which is now apartments and a small museum dedicated to the event. (The terminal is classic art deco and was used as a German airship terminal in the 3rd Indiana Jones film.) Even though the expo was competing against the World’s Fair in NYC it was hugely successful with many special travel packages and city wide events. There was even a special train route created, the Exposition Flyer, between Chicago and Oakland. According to the California Historical Society (via the Online Archive of California – an excellent resource) an estimated 17 million attended the expo and it was a huge economic boom to the region. If interested, a color home movie of the expo can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RTSgyD-mWrM
With spring hope springs eternal. And if you’re a Cubs fan you know that a lot of springs have passed since there has been a World Series at Wrigley Field. These Cubs World Series tickets most likely belonged to my Grandpa George. He and his brother in-law, my Uncle Frank, were best pals and would attend sports events together. So it is a pretty safe assumption that this is how the tickets came into my possession. I also remember hearing about how my Great Grandparents also enjoyed baseball. This means my kid is the 5th generation of my family to catch a game at Wrigley.
Worth noting on these tickets is (as I often mention) the lack of corporate logos. Everything looks nicer when it doesn’t have some cheeseball branding campaign spewed across the front. The other item worth mentioning is the price. Now math has never been my strong suit but I think it is fair to say that the cost of a World Series ticket has pretty well outpaced the rate of inflation over the years. I suppose you can add that fact to the list of why that era is now known as baseball’s Golden Age.
While the Internet has made research an incredible amount easier, I did discover a new problem while looking up this lucky token. When I typed into Google the obvious parameters “1934,” “Union Pacific,” “lucky piece,” what I got back was page upon page of people selling one. I couldn’t find any information as to the background of these coins. So I had to rely upon that old grad school training and employ the concept of using historical context to discover the whys and hows. What I did was I changed my approach and tried to figure out “why 1934,” and it turns out the answer was right here on my own page… A Century of Progress – World’s Fair. Sure enough when I added that name to my search I found an answer; it was a giveaway at the World’s Fair in 1934 (and my guess is that it was given away at the “Travel and Transport Building,” which according to the guide book it housed an extensive train history exhibit). This also helps explain why I was running into such high numbers of these for sale across the web. I can’t even imagine how many “Lucky Pieces” the UP & ALCOA gave away.
If you really like this vintage art deco piece of railroad history, I know where you can find one cheap.
For some reason my Grandparents kept this postcard. It may have been because it shows the land that according to a family story our German ancestors built their home on. This would have been just across the bridge and on the right, which is also where Ft. Dearborn stood. Or maybe the story was that their home is where City Hall now sits; I can’t remember which is correct. My Grandma told me this tale many years ago so I should most likely research that one before it goes any further. Anyway, they most likely kept this post card because it’s pretty.
This postcard went through many printings and was apparently very popular. So popular in fact that I was able to quickly find references to it on multiple sites. From what I can gather the card is c. 1929 and was reprinted multiple times including a special edition for the 1933 World’s Fair. (There were also editions of this card that had the barges removed and others with the names of the buildings printed on the front.) The area of downtown that it shows was built up almost entirely during the boom of the 1920s. Chicago experienced an incredible wave of construction over that decade that changed both the face of the city and the entire Chicago construction industry. This is to say that after some brutal strikes early on a peace was eventually reached and labor became a well paid union gig. All of the key buildings shown and mentioned on the back still exist and none of the Art Deco grandeur of this area has diminished. As a matter of fact, over the last decade Chicago has set out to replace fixtures that were lost over the years with replicas that are more appropriate. An example is the railings going across the bridge, which were replaced just a few years ago. Like Mies van der Rohe said “God is in the details.”
Looking up information on this has become an exercise in futility. First off, I believe this was my Grandfather’s since it was with some of his belongings, but I don’t know for sure. So I tried looking up info on old steel combs. I did discover that starting with the end of the 19th century and into the 1920s and 30s there were some trends of having steel combs for both men and women. This all ended with the ease and cheapness of using plastics. As for this company, I have no idea. The closest I found was a company called 5th Avenue that made a bunch of combs, compacts, and the like which included a line called “Rex.” Other than that, the name is just too common and really, who wants to spend time researching combs.
This is a postcard of The Skyride, which was a big feature of the 1933 World’s Fair. It wasn’t a tram like you see at an amusement park but was an actual bridge that these cars traveled across (the technical name is a Transport Bridge and here is a view of the full thing). Two large towers were constructed, one located at the southeast corner of Soldier Field and the other directly east across the lagoon at the narrowest part. As a matter of fact you can partly see in this postcard the bridge that was also constructed there, and was later torn down as well. According to the Century of Progress guide at 628 feet the towers were the tallest structures in Chicago at that time. Each had an observation deck at the top that gave a panoramic view of the city. The double-decker “rocket cars” traveled the 1,850 feet on cables at 200+ feet above the ground. At night the towers were lit up and had “great searchlights that (would) sweep the sky.” There were five companies that were behind the creation of this ride including Otis Elevator and the John A. Roebling’s Sons Company, which I think it is safe to say were the designers of this bridge.
Sure wish I had a chance to see it.
Over the years I’ve overlooked these two little tickets because they looked like something you would get at a local festival. It wasn’t until very recently, while organizing all of this stuff, that I took a closer look and realized what exactly these stubs were for… The 1934 Stanley Cup Series
These tickets are a great example of the growth in popularity of hockey over the years. Back then hockey was the redheaded stepchild of the American sports world. Unlike World Series tickets from that era (see these Cubs World Series tickets) the Stanley Cup Final’s tickets were nothing special. Like their roots, this was the blue collar no thrills sport and the tickets reflected it. It was all about the game, so why bother making some fancy-pants souvenir. As a matter of fact, if my Grandfather hadn’t penciled in “1934” I would have had to guess when these were from. Also, check out that price, and remember that ticket price wasn’t for a normal season game.
That series also has some interesting history. It was the Blackhawks’ first time they brought home The Cup. In game one, which was played April 3rd (not June), Chicago beat the Red Wings 2 to 1 in double overtime. Chicago won the series 3-1, and the last game was also won in double OT with a score of 1 to nothing. The hero being their team Captain and goalie Chuck Gardiner (the only goalie Captain engraved on The Cup). Sadly, the Scottish born Gardiner didn’t get to enjoy the taste of victory for long and died of a brain hemorrhage only two months later. He was 29.
I really wish I had found these last year when the Blackhawks won The Cup. Better late than never, which could have easily happened if I hadn’t been paying attention and had tossed these into the trash. That would have been truly a loss.
This postcard from the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago depicts the “Court of Electrical Group,” which had various electrical displays from 20 different companies. According to the guide, the bas-relief sculptures are 40 feet high, and appear to be outstanding examples of Art Deco. The interior had many exhibits including a “fever machine” that had something to do with medicine that is only explained as a “gift of science.” Other displays include a mockup of a living room with various futuristic uses for electric and also a farm which had an exhibit on how electricity could be used for “bug killing.” In other words, this may very well be the introduction of the bug zapper.
One thing I hadn’t noticed until I scanned this card was the photo credit in the upper left-hand corner for Kaufmann & Fabry. This company managed to get the pretty sweet gig of being the official photographers for the Fair. This meant all postcards, posters, ads, official photo books, etc, were all shot by this one company. Looking them up on the web I found plenty of examples of their photographs ranging from photos of the 1929 Cubs to rail road images, but next to nothing about the company itself. The only reference I could find about the company is from the Encyclopedia of Chicago site. They briefly mention that Kaufmann & Fabry (1910 – 1963) were part of a new wave of photographers that focused on architecture and advertising instead of running a portrait studio. Whomever they were, they left a wealth of images of early 20th century Chicago.
The College All-Star Game was a preseason game between the NFL champions and a team made up of college All Stars including recent graduates. The game was the brain child of Arch Ward a sports editor for the Chicago Tribune. (He is also credited with getting the baseball All Star game going.) The first College All-Star match was held in 1934, so this ticket stub of my Grandpa’s was from the second hosting of the game. These games continued all the way up to 1976, which was when it was finally canceled. There were a few reasons for the game being terminated. One was that teams weren’t exactly too keen to the idea of possibly losing a new draftee to injuries suffered in a meaningless preseason game. Another reason was professional football players had become bigger over the years and were pretty much impossible for a college team to handle. For example, the Steelers played that last game in 76 and their team included the likes of Franco Harris, Bradshaw, and Mean Joe Greene. It frankly sounds like it became a bit unfair.
The Bears played in that 1935 game, which was held at Soldier Field on August 29 (and apparently cost 55 cents more than a World Series ticket and 90 cents more than a Stanley Cup game). I found a UPI story about the game from the next day and overall it sounded rather miserable. It poured rain, turned into a defensive battle, the Bears managed to lose over 112 yards in penalties, and the end score was Bears 5, All-Stars 0. One interesting note to this game was the All-Star’s center. He was the MVP from the University of Michigan and I believe this was his last time on the grid iron… Gerald Ford. Yep, President Ford played in that game, which with that rain may have reinforced his decision to not accept the offers to go pro.
This must have been my Grandfather’s which was most likely from his first professional job working with children. He spent his career working with troubled kids and many of those social service type positions were with sheriff departments. So this badge makes sense. Also the name of the Sheriff, Henry Behrendt, appears to have been elected Wayne County Sheriff (which is Detroit) in 1929. (I found this Grosse Pointe newspaper about the reelection campaign in 1933.) This of course was not only the first year of the Great Depression, but was also in the midst of Prohibition. And Detroit was by no means a dry town. As a matter of fact, I found stories related to Sheriff Behrendt complaining about murder suspects being tipped off from the inside and other issues. I would imagine that these problems stemmed from the infamous Purple Gang of Detroit. Anyway, my Grandparents didn’t move to Chicago until 1933, so the timing of this works perfectly.
This postcard of a form letter home from college gives some interesting insight into the vernacular of a long ago era, yet it also shows how some things never change. A few of the more interesting selections given are:
Under “Send Me” they list: Hair Tonic (I’m supposing like Dapper Dan), Cigarettes (which is enough today to make you a Pariah), Red Flannels (which must have been the trend), Garters (do they even still exist?), Nose-Powder (would that be for powdering one’s nose?), and Pajamas (which I can’t remember anyone of college age wearing).
Another and rather surprising answer can be found under “I spend my evenings” with the possible selection “Making Whoopee.” That just seems like a rather bold statement for the time. Then again, it may have meant something a little less than I’m thinking. Or I’m simply guilty of the common crime of cleaning up the morals of history. Along the lines of “things were simpler back then.”
While there is no date on the card I can give you a pretty good guess by one clue given. That would be the song on the radio, which gives us the lyrics “You’re driving me crazy.” This is most likely from the Guy Lombardo song of the same name which came from the 1930 musical “Smiles.” If that lyric sounds familiar I wouldn’t be surprised. It became a Jazz staple that was covered by pretty much every big name and later crooners like Frank Sinatra and Mel Tormé. Anyway, along with being from a hugely popular musical, Betty Boop did a rather racy dance to this tune in 1931 (this was released before the Hays Code). So with that in mind I think I can easily place this in the early 1930s but after 1931.