The Fair on Treasure Island

My dad was eleven years old when the Golden Gate International Exposition opened on Treasure Island in February, 1939. Admission to the fair was 25 cents for kids his age and a bargain at the price, considering the entertainment value packed into that fantasyland of idealized Pacific Basin architecture and monumental plaster statuary.

A train and two ferry rides away from his home in Ross, my dad spent many Saturdays investigating the wonders of the fair. He recalls most vividly the attractions of The Gayway, that stretch of carnival rides and side-show oddities present at every county, state, and world’s fair. The dare-devil antics of a motorcyclist circling the Globe-A-Drome and the awesome novelty of a ski jumper sailing through the air made a lasting impression on him. No less astonishing a sight, and surely off-limits to an eleven-year-old boy, were the young (female) buckaroos of Sally Rand’s Nude Ranch.

Sally Rand wasn’t the only bit of eye candy at the fair, as evidenced by these photos of Afton Bernard, identified simply as an “Exposition Girl.” Here Ms. Bernard drinks a toast to National Milk Week, appropriately dressed for Treasure Island as a pirate.

Golden Gate International Exposition promotional photo, 1937. No photographer attributed.

BANC PIC 2006.029–PIC, Carton: P47, Folder: Bernard, Afton

Another photo features Ms. Bernard posing prettily amidst coils of steel cable, apparently promoting the accomplishments of the steel industry. Both the Golden Gate and Bay bridges had been recently completed by 1937, and the fair on Treasure Island was in large part a celebration of those engineering marvels of the day.

Golden Gate International Exposition promotional photo, 1937. No photographer attributed.

BANC PIC 2006.029–PIC, Carton: P47, Folder: Bernard, Afton

We’ve nearly finished processing the files of “B” names, but I suspect the Golden Gate International Exposition will resurface many times throughout this project. I can’t wait to get to the “R”s!

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Staff Picks and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s