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.
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.