Archive for May, 2007

First Impressions

May 4

When you first walked through the Henley Street gates at the World’s Fair, I was always impressed that there were never really that many long lines. Now, in hindsight that might mean there just weren’t that many people interested in coming. But truly each gate had a number of turnstiles and a healthy number of ticket takers, so – no waiting!

As I mentioned in my previous post the first sense that is assaulted is your sense of smell from the Buddy’s stand. That’s true, but close on the heels of that is the sight of the Sunsphere towering over your head, directly in front. In those days the base was painted blue so it looks a bit different than today.

When you glance up at the golden sphere, you see a number of different reflections. You may see a bright flash of sunshine, a ripple of water, people moving – maybe a cloud or something that could be anything. The gold-flecked windows were mounted at such angles as to catch reflections from all around. Even today it can be a bit mesmerizing.

I went up in the Sunsphere I believe twice during the course of the Fair – once was actually a day or two previously, when they hosted a “Pre-Fair Preview” or whatever it was called. Knoxville and area residents were invited to the Fair site to walk around, get to know the layout, etc before it actually opened. Of course, to a 14-yr-old I thought they were just being nice but I’m sure it was more to help generate some opening week publicity. Imagine all those ladies coming home that evening after walking around the park and calling their sister Mabel in Vonore, “No, don’t go to Opryland this weekend – come here and see the opening of the World’s Fair! Afterwards George’ll throw on some hot dogs and the kids can run through the sprinkler…” It was a good idea.


May 4, 2007 at 10:09 am 2 comments

Fresh Fruit Works


One of my best friends was named Tim. He was a year older than me and, lucky dog, was able to get a job working at the fair and be there all the time. When you first walked in the Henley Street entrance, two smells assaulted your senses (don’t worry, they were good). The first was the Buddys Bar-b-cue kiosk, which was a new dining experience to many non-East Tennessee’ers. The other was the Fresh Fruit Works sponsored by Big Brothers Association and I believe Krogers.

Tim’s mom was divorced when he was small, so he’d had a Big Brother named Allen for many years. Through that association, Tim was able to work in the fruit stand. I recall many, many times opening my day at the fair at that stand. Nice, cold fruit – perfect for a hot summer’s day.

Just above the two stands was a giant neon mural – if anyone has a better photo I’d love to place it. You can see part of it in the photo below, along with my 14-yr-old self and my younger brother:

My brother and I outside the Kroger Fruit Stand

The little brother gets married in less than a month. Finally 🙂

May 2, 2007 at 3:57 pm 3 comments

Twenty Five Years


The best summer of my life started this day in 1982.

Thank you, everyone who participated in the 1982 World’s Fair, for a lifetime of memories.

MAY 1: I was one of the scads of high school marching band kids in the great mass band that played in front of President Reagan and all the dignitaries.  I stood fairly close to him in my formation.  All I remember specifically is being amazed that the temperature was in the 70’s!!!!   In May!!!!   Now the 80’s are not uncommon in April.   So much for energy conservation.

My parents bought us season passes and I still have mine.  In total I believe I visited about 45 times over the course of the summer of ’82, the summer between my sophomore and junior years at Central High School.   I’d wanted to find a job there, but was just barely too young.   Teri, the mom of one of my friends, worked in one of the offices and tried to find me something but 14 didn’t make the cut.

I’m sure I stayed all day that first day.  The first day of many, many to come exploring such things a 14-yr-old could only dream of.

May 1, 2007 at 11:29 am 2 comments

Remember the Date

The 25th Anniversary of the 1982 World's Fair is on May 1, 2007. Mark your calendars!

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