Written by Fred Patten, and published on the LASFS Rex Rotary, Oct. 7, 1965. Intended for Apa L, 51st Distribution, LASFS meeting #1469, Oct. 7, 1965. Address: 1825 Greenfield Ave., Los Angeles, Calif., 90025. Phone: GR 36321.
There they were -- the John Birch Society and the Socialist Labor Party, back to back!
However, for all the notice they were getting, they might as well have been the Cucamonga PTA and a neighborhood bowling club. This was at the Los Angeles County Fair, in the Commercial Building, I believe it was, and the booths were so arranged that the JBS booth and the SLP booth were right behind each other. What either of the two had to do with commercialism, anyhow, I dunno, but I suppose the Fair Commission couldn't figure out anyplace else they'd fit better. (The WCTU had a booth to themselves, outside.)
The County Fair, out in Pomona, has been going on for umpty years now, and it's one of those things I kept promising myself, "Next year I go to see it!" Well, this year I had a spark in the round form of Len Bailes, who'd never been to see it either; so when I asked him last Thursday if he'd like to see it, and he said, "Sure!", I said to myself, "Okay, it's this year definitely." Len came by Saturday evening to start publishing his great new genzine and stayed the night, so early in the next morning, the last day of the Fair, we headed south for Pomona.
We got there ate 9:00 a.m., just as the grounds wee opening. However, none of the rides and practically none of the exhibits opened for another hour, so we spent the first part of the day wandering around the grounds, getting the layout of the place down for reference, and munching on snow cones. The atmosphere of the Fair was mostly carnival, with the exhibits about ¼ carnival and ¾ agricultural-industrial show. There was a Fun Zone, consisting of merry-go-round, roller coaster, pitch-penny booths, and the like; we toured that before it opened and never bothered returning. The Automotive and Industrial Equipment area was interesting if you like shopping for large objects and sporting goods: automotive material (mostly camping trailers and agricultural vehicles), motor boats, a model home, and stuff for the gun, archery, & fishing enthusiasts. The Photography and Fine Arts building was half photography -- a pot-pourri of prize-winning photos which were pretty but confusing all massed together -- and half Mexican objets d'art, including pottery, wicker work, masks, a sheet metal worker, weavers (with a sign, "Please do not disturb our weavers! They are shy and very nervous. They speak only [some obscure Mexican Indian language] and were brought here to demonstrate their skills especially for your benefit", etc.), and a cage of toucans. The toucans were the most colorful and most interesting of the lot.
Outside, several troops of Boy Scouts were setting up their tents and working on various exhibits of their own, including, naturally, the Genuine Indian Rain Dance, without no Scouting Jamboree would be complete. I later noticed one of the Scouts had set himself up as an exhibit and was charging money to give out with his bird calls. People were paying, too. Well, if people will pay you money to trill a scale, Why Not, I say? By this time, though, most of the Exhibition Buildings had opened, so Len and I entered to see what was inside, and to begin gathering large stacks of inclusions which you'll be seeing in Apa L over the next few months.
Most of the Fair booths were in sponsorship of something or other, of course. In the Agricultural, Natural Resources and Feature Exhibits building, one of the better at the whole Fair, the exhibits were basically those of agricultural displays from the Southern half of the state, and camping/tourist displays from the Northern half. The different booths were maintained by County, and as California has 50-odd counties, there was a lot of colorful competition. The Home Show building was mostly devoted to displays of household goods of the sort you see advertised on television -- washing machines, dishwashers, roofing repairs, and the like -- and was the least interesting, as far as we were concerned. The building with the Poultry, Rabbits, etc., was like a pet shop to the nth degree, especially regarding odor -- even the cattle barn and the horse stalls weren't as pungent. While I like bunnies and fowl individually, ranks upon ranks of cages of rabbits and chickens begin to pall after the first five feet, and with the geese and the roosters trying to outshout each other and generally making conversation impossible, we soon left. "Science U.S.A." consisted of exhibits from either the various branches of the military, complete with recruitment booths, or from assorted local high school classes, looking like most high school science projects generally do. We were so disappointed we even forgot to come back for the Army's laser demonstration they were giving later that day. The Hobbies building was better, especially for Len, who found an exhibit of model trains through t he ages -- about 1915 to the present. The Commercial building was very interesting, having a hodgepodge of booths from industry & commerce (Bell Telephone, various banks, insurance companies, etc., labor (AFL-CIO), politics (the Birchers and the SLP), religion (a Bible group and the Christian Science Monitor people), and several public service organizations such as a Highway Dep't's Safe Driving booth. We spent most of our time in that building and in the International Exhibits building, which was half tourist office displays of the different countries and half "international shops" where you could buy native handicrafts at standard outrageous tourist prices, eat in foreign restaurants, etc. I considered it noteworthy that while most of the booths in this latter building were either advertising the tourist attractions of their respective nations, or selling their nations' tourist/export jewelry, the Japanese booth concentrated almost exclusively no displaying Japanese major consumer items, such as automobiles, pianos, office equipment, and so on.
Somewhere in here, Len and I went back and got on a couple of the rides. The first was a $3.00 helicopter ride around several adjacent miles of countryside, lasting about five minutes. This was the first time I'd ever been up in a 'copter, and I found it to be an enjoyable experience. Unlike an airplane, the 'copter doesn't have to stay so far above the ground that you can't see anything in any detail, or go so fast that everything's a blur. While $3.00 a ride is a bit much for something you'd like to keep coming back to (like the Submarines at Disneyland, say), I don't consider it money wasted. The second ride was on the monorail, which I considered a vast improvement over Disneyland's. It rode under, rather than on top of, the rail, and consisted of one subway-type car, rather than Disney's small private-compartment streamlined-train cars. The monorail pretty well covered the Fair grounds, and went slowly -- about 10 mph. -- so that we had a chance to see everything. I have always been annoyed by the speed of the Disneyland monorail, which seems to be operated so as to demonstrate the monorail's potentiality as a rapid-transit vehicle rather than to provide a pleasant ride; I was very happy with the Fair's leisurely, underhung machine. This ride was only 50¢, and I considered it the best buy at the Fair.
This took us through until about 3:30 in the afternoon, when we started to get tired. We strolled in and out of the Mexican Village (Olvera Street here in town is better), the Storybook Farm (the usual sheep in a pen labeled "Mary's Lamb", etc.), the horse and cattle barns, and so on, then decided we weren't getting enough out of the remainder of the Fair to justify getting hotter and tireder, so we came home. For some reason, neither of us cared to see any of the special reviews or performances; we never got around to the circus, we walked out on a clown in the Mexican Village, we avoided the bands, we got to the milking exhibit just as it was ending, and we forgot about everything else. It wasn't that we didn't have a good time at the Fair --