Wednesday, January 7, 2009

All aboard, America.....

....Here comes that Freedom Train. #16 in an occasional series of repressed 70's memories that turn out to be true.

One of my Facebook crew recently posted pictures from her school's Freedom Train concert. And I was transported. Come with me, won't you?

It was 1975-6, and the country went Bicentennial mad. It tried to. But because it was the 70's, the red-white-and-blue made all the brown corduroy and panelling look even bleaker, and the pewter plates couldn't compete with our geometric floor lamps. Our president was Gerald Ford for heaven's sake! If this commercial doesn't make your blood run hot, well, then.. you are normal.

It became apparent that before we could get excited about our history, we were going to have to learn it. Enter... the Freedom Train. Sing along.

Inside a train, behind glass exhibits, traveled the great "artifacts" of our young nation. You entered at one end of the train and came out the other -- by way of a conveyor belt (it's the future!) to keep the crowds moving. I can not find a comprehensive list of what these artifacts were. I can remember a Moon rock, and a basketball sneaker I remembered as Wilt Chamberlain's, but research confirms it was Kareem's.

"500 precious treasures," says this website, which is more interested in the train itself than the cultural phenomenon. I should put that in quotes, but it seems mean. We were easily impressed in "them days."

We still had world's fairs.

You waited for the Freedom train to come to your town. Oh, when will it be OUR turn? You had to get tickets in advance. To add to the spar-spangled spectacle, Mamie Eisenhower welcomed you. (Mamie. That is how unbelievably OLD you are)

Go home right now and tell your teenager that your family vacation is at the Pittsburgh railyard to see a museum on wheels. You should have seen my niece's expression when we said "Colonial Williamsburg."

stuff you could buy

  • belt buckles (giant buckles is a repressed memory begging to be explored)
    souvenir program and for Kids! (is this cereal seriously called Pep?)
  • The Plate
  • The Pennant. In an era that worshipped the 1950s, they thought we might buy a pennant.
Dodie and I collected "natural souvenirs," and felt very superior about it. I think they were rocks from the rail bed. She will know. She will call me right now to set me straight. When she does, I will be able to report back:
1. what we wore
2. what/where we ate
3. 3 artifacts I have not mentioned (I may be stretching her capacity here)

She is really the brains of this outfit. She should have her own blog, but she says the computer makes her wooooozy.

1 comment:

  1. This brought back incredibly scary memories - of having to wait in line, and wait and wait and wait. I do remember a few things, but mostly remember the souvenir prgram, and the stained cover from the sweat ring of soda from the "new" fastfood restaurant, Ginos. I am sure we went to Ginos because my father was trying to make up for waiting in line - and we were too young to head to the local bar. Baroness


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