Share in our discoveries across three projects as we work to provide the first intellectual access to our hidden treasures relating to work and labor in early 20th Century New England, the 1939-1940 New York World's Fair and its period, and Boston local TV news.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Fair License

In 1938, with construction on the fairgrounds underway, the New York World’s Fair began to edge its way into the frame of everyday life for New Yorkers throughout the state, as we see in this frame enlargement from a 1938 home movie in Northeast Historic Film’s Cyrus Pinkham Collection.

Credit: Cyrus Pinkham Collection, Northeast Historic Film

As reported in a January 17, 1938, Time Magazine article, “debonair, voluble Grover Whalen, Manhattan's perennial greeter and president of the Fair, last year sold New York's Governor Herbert H. Lehman the idea of stamping...all 1938 automobile license plates [with] the phrase NEW YORK WORLD'S FAIR 1939.” Whalen asserted that "Surely every automobile owner and driver in the State of New York should welcome the opportunity to act as an ambassador of good-will for the Empire State."

In his 2010 book, Twilight at the World of Tomorrow: Genius, Madness, Murder, and the 1939 World’s Fair on the Brink of War, James Mauro observes that not every New Yorker was happy to be part of Whalen’s promotion machine:
Most citizens took the news in stride, yet if there was any indication of New York’s flippant attitude about the Fair, it came in the grumblings of drivers who wondered why they were being forced to carry free advertising on their cars.

One particular cynic, a forty-two-year-old mechanic from White Plains named Martin McBohin, expressed his displeasure by covering up the offending ad with electrical tape and subsequently got himself arrested for defacing a license plate. Before his trial, he announced to the press, “Next thing you know, the State will compel us to advertise someone’s corn flakes.”

Credit: Cyrus Pinkham Collection, Northeast Historic Film

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Home Movie Day, The First at Queens Museum of Art

International Home Movie Day (the ninth annual) took place on Saturday, October 15.  "Moving Images 1938-1940: Amateur Filmmakers Record the New York World's Fair and Its Period" held Home Movie Day at the Queens Museum of Art, with stupendous support from the Museum, led by Curator Louise Weinberg, Prerana Reddy on PR, Danny and Arnie on the physical details, and the New York City pavilion from "our" fair as the location.  

Walter Forsberg (NYU Research Fellow), Brian Graney and Karin Carlson (Northeast Historic Film), Alice Moscoso (NYU Film Preservation Specialist), and Katie Trainor (Museum of Modern Art Department of Film), all Home Movie Day veterans, organized. Katie is a Center for Home Movies board member and co-founder; Molly Wheeler (Yale Univ. Beinicke Library) is another HMD co-founder.   

This amazing crew of students from the New York University Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program provided staff support for the entire day. Particular thanks to the film inspectors and the projectionists: Matt Barry, "The Art and Culture of Movies", and Zack Lischer-Katz, Archive Assistant at NYU's Cinema Studies Film Study Center. NYU professors Howard Besser, Dan Streible, and Mona Jimenez attended, too. Thank you, all.    

Individuals with home movies arrived before noon and kept coming. Many had heard about the event on WNYC radio as Leonard Lopate interviewed Walter Forsberg and Louise Weinberg on Oct. 14. Leonard has great listeners who can find their home movies with less than a day's notice. Listen here.   

We saw Kodachrome family fun, a 16mm 1953 wedding--a surprise to the son who brought it, both the 1939-1940 and the 1964 NY World's Fairs, Miami, Havana, teen birthday dancing (1960s), 8th grade graduation, lakes, Fire Island, and new NY highways (many people shot out their windshields). We enjoyed a special guest appearance by the film of Gus Martens, brought by his grandson, Robert Martens, who introduced. Gus Martens was an Amateur Cinema League Member. Mr. and Mrs. Martens talk to Walter Forsberg, below. 
Do you have home movies? Please consult these FILM PRESERVATION LINKS.