Light Bulb Memories

Gail Kerr’s column in yesterday’s Tennessean inspired today’s post. Kerr was basically writing about how a city has to meet the needs of its sports teams and used light bulbs as a symbol. I’m not going to use any symbolism here, just telling what I think is a good story.

I grew up in east Tennessee, not too far from Knoxville. Back in 1982 Knoxville hosted a World’s Fair. This sort of thing doesn’t happen very often in Knoxville, so of course our family had to go (it was also a good time to celebrate my brother’s fifth birthday). At the time I was a precocious eight years old, and my brother was just turning five. My sister was still many years in the future.

I don’t have many clear memories of our trip to the fair, just vague impressions of walking, a lot of people, some funny looking buildings, and (of course) the Sunsphere. I also vaguely remember the huge ferris wheel they had, which at the time was claimed to be the world’s largest. Oh, and I’m pretty sure I could still sing the jingle from the television promos. (The first picture on an episode of The Simpsons when Bart found an old travel brochure and thought the fair was still going on. On The Simpsons, it was a wig storage warehouse and ended up falling onto Bart’s car.

If you are interested, here is an archive of a travel piece from the New York Times written on the fair in 1981 a year before it opened. You can also go here for a piece on the 20th anniversary of the fair.


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