March 14th, 2011

Gil Marsh cover

Expo 67, or how I scored two ice cream cones in one morning

Expo 67

I was little kid, the summer of 1967, all of five years old. I also happened to be one of those kids who routinely got lost in department stores, grocery stores, anywhere where there might be something to distract me.

Expo 67 was the biggest world exposition of the 20th century. Some 50 million people visited the fair over the course of six months. There were innovations and excitement—a monorail, a geodesic dome, a spanking new amusement park called La Ronde. And I was going to see them all with my siblings and cousins!

I visited exactly one pavilion.

There were these Japanese dolls, and I really wanted to see them again. I think I said, “I’ll be right back.” I didn’t check to see if anyone heard. When I returned to the pavilion entrance, my family was gone.

Hundreds of people milled about. I went searching for the next pavilion my family had planned to visit. When I couldn’t find it, I tried to return to the first pavilion. But then I couldn’t find that either. I ran back and forth. Fighting to hold back tears, I stood dead in my tracks. I looked every which way and only saw more and more people I did not know.

A gentleman sat on a bench nearby. “Are you lost?”

“I can’t find my family,” I said.

What happened next is a blur. I mostly remember driving in a little white golf cart under the monorail, behind pavilions and concession buildings, to another building, entirely nondescript (the lost and found, it turned out). At this point the enormity of the situation had sunk in. I was truly lost, in the care of strangers, and had no idea how I’d be reunited with my family. I was in so much trouble!

Now I wasn’t a kid who hid her emotions. I began to sob. Dramatically, I’m sure.

Someone asked me, “Would you like some ice cream?”

I am certain this was a ploy to shut me up. But even at the tender age of five, ice cream cured everything. They handed me a large vanilla cone.

Did I mention that I was an ungrateful child?

I burst into fresh tears. “But I want chocolate!”

When my parents arrived, probably some five minutes later, I was sitting on a table with an ice cream cone in each hand. One vanilla. The other chocolate.