Art & Food at the World’s Fair

Summer 1962 and my aunt and cousin had returned to Walla Walla. The several times I had attended programs at the fairgrounds I had been developing a richer appreciation for all the things which were available at the variant booths and venues. I had been stunned by the wealth of fine art on display in the former auditorium. Not only were the local greats from the Northwest School well represented, but there were paintings and sculptures on loan from all over the world. I had not seen so many representations of the greatest artists both living and dead. I think that was a defining moment in my appreciation for fine art. I purchased the three-volume set of books dealing with the art on exhibit at the fair, and a few other mementos – the folding panoramas of the cardinal directional views from the Space Needle, which I still have, and stamped covers from Thailand, the USA and others, cancellations at both the exhibitor’s booths and at the Space Needle Post Office. As I walked along up toward the Food Circus from the International Fountain, I was constantly drawn to the “plastic” cube filled with one million silver dollars. Had I been making a little more than the $1.15 per hour which I earned at the Library, I would have purchased one of them when they went on the market at the end of the Fair.You could purchase a Belgian Waffle in several variations: the least expensive, the waffle with a dusting of powdered sugar, was $1.00. If you wanted it with whipped cream, it was $1.50; with strawberries, $1.75, and with strawberries AND whipped cream, a whopping $2.25. I did have it in the latter presentation, which cost me two hours’ pay at that time. I was developing a taste for the Mongolian grilled steak sandwich, a forerunner of then sirloin tips mixed with mild but flavorful spices and finely chopped celery, served on a sesame bun with a little shredded lettuce. It was delicious, and the family which ran the booth were delightful, and that is one memory I wish to keep forever.

I would regularly take the Monorail from downtown to the Center, and after having indulged in fun for an hour or so, would casually stroll on up the Hill to Ward Street, where we lived in the house at 359 Ward St., from 1959 to 1973. I tended to think, as I am certain other Queen Anners did, that the Fair was our property. Whenever I walked in via the Mercer Street entrance, I would go by the International Fountain and remember that it was Mercer Playfield, which was the same park I had played in often while attending Warren Avenue School. The tree at the Northwest end, which has wood supports for several of its branches, was one I climbed as a third-grader, sitting out on the bough which has the most support, as did several other of my classmates, although I can’t remember any of us doing it at the same time. That tree is now well over a century old, as has seen some marvelous happenings during its life.