My Peanut Necklace from the 1939 World’s Fair
Every time I hear the resonant tones of “Finlandia”, by Sibelius, I am transported back to the 1939 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, NY. I was only 6 at the time and I don‘t remember how we got there or what we ate or even much of what we saw. But certain memories have stayed with me over the years
I recall standing in a long line in front of the Planter‘s Peanut exhibition. They were giving away necklaces with a little peanut attached (see the picture above) and I made everyone wait until I had mine. I have never seen another like it and wonder if this was the original Planter’s trademark before the little peanut guy of today with the cane and top hat.
"Progress" was the theme of the Fair which depicted futuristic techniques such as television and the interstate highway system. It introduced new materials, new ideas and a new spirit. It also displayed the crafts and products of the day. It was a “vision of tomorrow” which sadly came to an end when it was announced over the loudspeaker that we had declared war on Germany and the Fair was closed down.
The most indelible memory for me was the Pool of Industry. This was the famous musical fountains display. It contained 1,400 water nozzles, 400 gas jets with a mechanism that caused the flames to change color and fireworks that were shot from over 150 launchers. Music was played live by the fair’s band and broadcast by large speakers.
Each night, as the sun went down, the crowds would gather at the pool. This was the finale of the day. I remember being hypnotized by the haunting strains of “Finlandia” as the enormous jets of water sprayed rainbow colors higher and higher into the sky. This was all topped off by a barrage of fireworks. A night-time spectacle almost too grand for one little girl to absorb.