Friday, April 24, 2015

Weiwei on Alcatraz

Alcatraz is part of the mystique of San Francisco. Tourists from around the world can see it from Fisherman’s Wharf. It looms out there in the Bay. The island isn’t that far away. Locals rarely make it out there. It’s one of those, “Yeah, I really should go there someday,” kind of things. The last time I went out to Alcatraz was twenty five years ago. 
Maybe it’s too “touristy,” but going out to Alcatraz is an experience San Franciscans should experience, and the views are unique. There’s an added attraction to a tour of Alcatraz this spring. The Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei has chosen Alcatraz as a very appropriate place to show his art installation. 
It was another perfect weather day in San Francisco. Sunny and very clear.  A great day to be out on the Bay. It’s California irony. We’re in the worst drought in five hundred years. Everyone wants it to rain, but we keep getting perfect weather days. There wasn’t much rain during the winter.  
The ferry to the island leaves from Pier 33, not far from the Ferry building. We lined up for a short wait for the ferry. The people in line were buzzing and excited.  
We’re fascinated with crime and criminals. People cheered the exploits of John Dillinger and Bonnie and Clyde during the Depression. Even the most vicious of the gangs had a bit of a Robin Hood mystique going for them. The reality could be much different, but Americans loved to follow the exploits of those who dared to live outside the law. People today may be more drawn to tales of crime than ever. 
If the gangsters were caught that fascination didn’t die. There was more capital punishment back then, but most convicted career criminals faced long prison sentences. People still wanted to know what happened to the criminals who had been caught and convicted. After being so reckless and free, how would they deal with being locked up for years?   
Alcatraz held the worst of the worst. Most of the inmates on The Rock had caused problems at other prisons and were sent to Alcatraz as a last resort. Inmates were not supposed to talk to each other. It was close to solitary confinement. Added to the burdens of penitentiary life was the proximity of San Francisco. 
Sound travels on the Bay. You can hear the sounds of The City at night. I’ve camped on Angel Island which is farther from The City than Alcatraz. It’s a bit eerie how much you can hear from San Francisco. It was so close the convicts could hear the clang of the cable car bells. They knew people were going out and having a good time. They could hear them while they were stuck on The Rock.  
Many of the criminals on The Rock had some success before getting caught.  It wasn’t that long ago that they would have hit a big city with plenty of money to spend. They could hear the nightlife traffic sounds of San Francisco, but now they were stuck in a cell.
It always surprised me that former inmates returned to Alcatraz. I thought it would be the last place they would want to see again. Former guards and even inmates help keep the history alive. There are former convicts who have helped with tours on The Rock. They talk about life on the island. 
Seeing the island and prison again was great, but this visit was timely. Alcatraz was hosting an art installation by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Weiwei is an internationally acclaimed and award winning artist and architect. He was consulted for the “Bird’s Nest” stadium that was used at the Beijing Olympics. Weiwei later spoke out against the Olympics and the political repression in China. 
After the Sichuan earthquake, Weiwei had dared to say what many in China were thinking. Many students had died in schools that had been poorly built. Weiwei accused corrupt officials with profiting from lax construction standards that caused many deaths. 
Some thought that Weiwei’s high profile as a famous artist would save him from prosecution. It may have made him the target of harassment. The Chinese government was enraged when he spoke out. He was arrested for “economic crimes” and charged with tax evasion. He was kept very isolated. Eventually he was convicted of tax evasion and fined heavily. An Internet campaign helped him pay the fine. His passport was confiscated and he can’t leave China.    

We arrive and it takes a while to unload the passengers. Then we get a short talk from a ranger. There will be guided tours, but we decide to climb up the hill at our own pace. We’re warned to keep out of restricted areas. Some of the areas are closed because they are deteriorating and dangerous. Part of the island is closed to visitors to protect the nesting grounds of Brandt’s Cormorants.   
A trip to Alcatraz can be physically demanding. We’re told the hike to the top is the equivalent of walking up thirteen stories. You don’t notice the physical exertion because the views are so great, and there are many diversions on the way up. It’s not like walking up a stairwell. Golf carts are available for those who need them, but few used them. There are a few crumbling buildings on the walk up. Some renovation has been done, but it’s getting harder to preserve the historic buildings.
There are so many levels of history here. Near the top of the walkway is a water tower that still has graffiti from the Indian occupation that started in 1969. It was a desperate attempt to call attention to the plight of the American Indians. They used some of the buildings for protection from the wind and fog, but the buildings had deteriorated badly. It could not have been fun camping out in the middle of the Bay. Was it their last chance to get their message across? The occupation went on for a couple of years.
After the occupation there was more interest in using Alcatraz. There was a plan for a casino that never seemed likely or practical. Eventually it became a part of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. It’s managed by the same park rangers that we see in Yosemite and other natural wonderlands. 
Twenty five years ago I heard a ranger start the tour by telling us how bummed out he was when he learned he was assigned to Alcatraz. Rangers train at forestry school, and they were looking forward to working and living in the great outdoors. They weren’t happy to be sent to The Rock in the middle of a big city, but the ranger said that the place grows on you. He learned to appreciate the unique ecology of the island and the surrounding Bay.  
We reached the top of the island and the first station of the installation, “With Wind.” We enter the New Industries Building. Inmates worked here making clothes, shoes and other items. Working was a privilege on Alcatraz. It helped alleviate the boredom. There are colorful silk dragons displayed inside. The art is quite a contrast to the shattered windows and rusting pipes. Nothing says history like crumbling infrastructure.
Weiwei’s father was the poet Ai Qing. He was branded a counterrevolutionary,  and he and his family were banished to the Gobi desert during the People’s Revolution. Flying kites was one of the few pleasant childhood memories of Weiwei. Flight means freedom. Freedom is a dream on Alcatraz. 
Going farther into the building is a larger room. The floor is covered with portraits of political prisoners from around the world. From a distance they look like pixilated photos, but a closer look reveals that they are Legos! You have to take a close look. The portraits are done so well, it’s hard to believe they’re Legos. A docent explained that Wei Wei drew up the designs from pixilated photos. Unable to leave China and under house arrest, he sent blueprints to volunteers in San Francisco. They must have had a huge Lego party! 
We went up a stairwell that took us to the next stop: “Refraction.” There was a long walkway that looked down into a large room that was similar in shape to the New Industries Building. The walkway was a “gun gallery.” Armed guards went up and down the walkway to watch the inmates. Most of the windows are broken. Jagged glass and rusty iron bars are behind a plastic screen that keeps us from being jabbed. 
It was a little hard to see, but there below us was a large sculpture. It looked like a giant insect with what looked like wings. On the wings were kitchen pots and pans, which made the sculpture look like an oven.  
A young female docent told us that building the sculpture had been a challenge. We’re very close to the nesting site of the Brandt’s Cormorants. The birds could not be disturbed so the sculpture had to be assembled quietly. They weren’t allowed to use power drills! 
The handout program says that the sculpture “is based on observation of birds’ wings... The feathers are reflective panels used on solar cookers in Tibet.” The creature is cramped and trapped in the crumbling walls of the old prison. 
At the end of the walkway we came to an area that was closed. This was near the nesting site for the Brandt’s Cormorants. The ranger had told us that this was the only nesting site in a five hundred mile radius. The birds are very skittish, and if they are disturbed they may abandon their nests.

We made out way up to “A Block.” It’s one of the older buildings on the island. “Stay Tuned” is a sound installation. Cells have sound pumped into them. There is a stool in the middle of each cell. You can hear the sound on the outside of the cell, but it’s more powerful to hear it from the inside of the cell. The cells are small. It’s hard to imagine that small cell being your whole world.
At the first cell we hear poetry in a Middle Eastern language. I went to Weiwei’s web site to capture the details of each station in the installation. The language was Iranian. Ahmad Shamlu was a poet and journalist who must have crossed the Shah. He was jailed in 1954 for fourteen months. The poem is “In This Dead End Street.” It’s a mournful start to the installation. 
Signs explained the art and biography of each prisoner. Lolo is a Tibetan singer who called for Tibet’s freedom from China. He was accused of “splittism.” He was sentenced to six years. We hear “Raise the Tibetan Flag, Children of the Snowland.” 
Next is a poet from the Sudan, Mahjoub Sharif. We hear “A Homesick Sparrow,” which he wrote in prison. He was called the “poet of the people.” 
“Manifesto” is a poem by Victor Jara. After the Chilean military coup, “Jara was arrested, tortured and killed.” 
The next cell features a song by a group I’ve heard about. The Plastic People of the Universe was a Rock band founded in Czechoslovakia in 1968. They were inspired by the works of Frank Zappa. In 1976 they were imprisoned after performing at an “unauthorized music festival.” They were leaders in the fight for Czech freedom. We hear “Toxika.” 
The Nazi outrages of the last century were the ultimate in political and cultural repression. Pavel Haas wrote “Study for String Orchestra” while he was in a concentration camp during World War II. His compositions were performed by inmates of the Nazi death camps. He died at Auschwitz. 
Martin Luther King was jailed at least thirty times. We hear some of his speech, “A Time to Break Silence.” It was a bold statement against the Vietnam War.
During the 2009 presidential election in Iran Arya Aramnejad was tortured and imprisoned for a year. We hear his poem, “Ali Barkhiz.” 
Liao Yiwu wrote “Massacre” about the revolt in Tiananmen Square. He was arrested in 1990 and served a four year sentence. He now lives in Germany.  
“What a System (What a Crime)” is a song by The Robben Island Singers. They were activists imprisoned in apartheid South Africa. The song protests the exploitation of black workers in African gold mines. The Weiwei site says, “Singing is a contrast to the isolation and enforced silence of imprisonment.” It’s a stark reminder of where we are. The prisoners on Alcatraz were strongly discouraged from talking to each other.  Fela Kuti was a Nigerian singer who was imprisoned twenty years for “currency smuggling.” We hear “Sorrow, Tears and Blood,” a song about the Soweto Uprising of 1976. 
Pussy Riot made international news. The punk band was arrested after demonstrating inside a cathedral in Moscow. They were charged with “Hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” Most of the band was jailed for two years. We hear “Virgin Mary, Put Putin Away. (Punk Prayer)” 
It’s a short walk to the “Psychiatric Observation Rooms.” This part of the installation is “Illumination” and “Blossom.” In Illumination we stand in small rooms used to evaluate convict’s mental issues. The rooms seem a bit ominous even before we hear what their use was. Each room has chanting piped in. One is American Indian. The other is Tibetan. From the handout: “Drawing parallels between two groups that have been subject to cultural and political repression, the artwork makes pointed connections between China and the United States.” 
They must have got a lot of business in the Psychiatric Observation Rooms. Alcatraz was mentally challenging. A docent tells us that out of control inmates were sometimes kept in cages. Even with the sun streaming in from the glorious day on the Bay this area is eerie and unsettling.
In other rooms there are bathtubs and toilets filled with flowers. This is the next installation: “Blossom.” It’s odd to see so many flowers in this grim place. A sign calls them “porcelain bouquets.”  
The Dining Hall is always one of the more dramatic parts of the regular Alcatraz prison tour. Maybe it’s because of all the dramatic scenes we’ve seen in movies. The inmates on Alcatraz were well fed. The authorities learned that it was easier just to make sure the inmates had good food. The Dining Hall was one of the few chances at any social interaction among the inmates. It’s still a grim look at everyday life on The Rock. 
The art installation ends in the next room. Postcards are available to send to political prisoners from around the world. It’s hoped that they’ll be encouraged when they get a reminder that they’re not totally forgotten. 
Weiwei’s art is a powerful statement on the nature of political repression. Seeing it inside the historic prison was an amazing experience. Special thanks to John Webster, Stefan and Nancy Dasho who made it a unique and interesting day on The Rock! 


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Panama Pacific International Exposition Centennial Celebration

This had to be the biggest day for the San Francisco Historical Society since the centennial of the Fire and Earthquake of 1906. It was one hundred years to the day that the Panama-Pacific Exposition opened. February 20th. The celebration would be held at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco’s Marina district. It is the only building from the fairgrounds left standing in its original spot. 
A colorful crowd was gathering under the pink rotunda. Most of them looked like locals out for a day in the glorious weather. People dressed in period costume stood out. There were derby hats and some women sported large hats with feathers sticking out. The clothes looked authentic. There were people standing near a small stage waiting to perform. One group wore the clothes of the Ohlone, the tribe that had lived here for centuries. Members of the Nemenzo Polynesian Dance Company waited to go onstage. The women wore grass skirts. A group of Taiko drummers in robes got ready to perform.  
Once I got under the rotunda I realized there were more people here than I thought. Most of them were waiting in line to be among the first to see the exhibit that would open today in the Palace of Fine Arts building. The line snaked around the back of the rotunda. 
The members of Emeryville Taiko got the day off to a bone rattling start. There’s always an adrenaline rush when a Taiko group starts playing. The sound of the drums was echoing off the rotunda. It was loud! The members of the Taiko looked like they enjoyed starting the day’s festivities. We’re going to party like it’s 1915! 
Cheryl Jennings was our MC. She’s a reporter for ABC. She was vivacious and charming and did a great job getting things started. She looks like a veteran of these civic and social events. She gave a little introduction. The Panama Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) was “the birth of innovation.” We were standing on the site of a very exciting event a hundred years ago.  
I’m not sure, but I think something was invented before 1915. Other speakers touched on the innovation theme, and the idea was that the Bay Area is still a center of innovation because of nearby silicon valley. It was a bit patronizing, but the Bay Area can lay claim to being a center of innovation now.
Cheryl was looking for her speakers. They were inside getting a VIP tour of the exhibit. There was a slight delay and then they came out and joined the festivities. 
Anthea Hartig is the executive director of the San Francisco Historical Society. She told us to close our eyes and imagine thousands of people on this very spot. They’re thrilled to be walking through the fair. It had taken years of planning, and the opening was a huge event in the City that drew 250,000 people.   
Back in the present, there would be a long list of people to thank, but Hartig wants to start with Phoebe Apperson Hearst. She led the original campaign to save the Palace of Fine Arts. 
Other speakers had their turn at the mike. Philip Ginsburg, the General Manager of the San Francisco Department of Parks and Recreation encouraged us to enjoy the parks. The parks are treasured by the people of San Francisco because most of San Francisco is “dense.” The parks offer relief from a crowded city.  
One of the guests is Henry Ford III. He told how his great grandfather had a working assembly line at the fair. It turned out eighteen Model Ts a day! We will see some of them in the exhibit. Henry Ford took Thomas Edison for a ride in a new Model T at the PPIE. His great grandson wondered what the two titans of the day talked about while riding through the fair. He talked about visiting a Ford research facility in Palo Alto. He assured us the Ford Motor Company was continuing its tradition of innovation.  
Supervisor Mark Farrell is young and collegiate looking. He grew up a block away from the Palace and he talks about growing up with The Palace being his backyard. 
The speechifying went on and I wandered out of the rotunda to take a look at the birds. Night Herons roost in the trees at the end of the lagoon. Stately Great Blue Herons and Egrets stood in the sun. They didn’t seem very impressed by the festivities.  
Mayor Ed Lee came to the microphone and assured us he would keep his comments short because, “I am.” Our mayor is short. He told us that the Palace was a romantic spot. It had been lit up last night as it had been illuminated for the fair. Mayor Lee had his wedding pictures taken there thirty years ago. 
The Palace is a part of many San Franciscan’s lives. My daughter had quickly named the Palace, The Duck Castle. We buried family pets there. It just seemed to be an appropriate spot.  
Some of the big, corporate sponsors are thanked: AT&T, Wells Fargo, the Hearst Corporation and the Ford Motor Company.  
Members of the Ohlone tribe led the waiting crowd into the exhibit. They were the “original caretakers” of the area. Even with their feathered headdresses on I lost them in the crowd in front of the large entrance doors.
People crowded to be among the first to enter the exhibit. The crowd was large, but not as overwhelming as the crowds at some of these events can be. It was never really uncomfortable. I took a break and went to take a look at the Bay.  
When I got back the afternoon Bay breeze had started up. The Marina can be windy in the afternoon. The PA played Frank Sinatra singing “Summer Breeze.” It was a perfect time for this song.    
A very serious Buffalo Bill Cody wandered the crowd. He seemed to be perturbed about something. 
There’s always the fantasy of going back in time, but one thing I’m glad we don’t have to deal with now is Victorian clothes. The buttons alone would have drove me crazy. It looked restrictive and a bit uncomfortable to me, but it looked like re-creators were enjoying being walking history.  
A woman in an authentic looking dress was explaining her hobby to several curious bystanders. She looked like she had just stepped out of a vintage photograph. She wore a large hat with feathers and there were many buttons on her dress. She’d been collecting antique clothes for thirty years. It had been very inexpensive at first, but it was getting harder to find real vintage clothes. “I don’t get to wear them that often.” 
Next up onstage was the San Francisco Opera Fellows. Some opera would fit.  At one time the Marina neighborhood had been largely Italian.  
After finishing one song, the sound on the piano goes out. “One of the singers asked, “Does anyone know a good joke?”  A woman with gray hair near us jumps at the opportunity. She yells, “Yes! What’s the difference between the Hindenberg and Rush Limbaugh?” One is a Nazi windbag...” The piano regained its sound and drowned out the punch line, but I think we can figure that one out.  
The young singers finished with “San Francisco (Open  Your Golden Gates)” the song Jeannette McDonald sang in the movie. It’s a corny, but stirring moment. “Corny is real,” someone had told me earlier that week. The song is sung at many San Francisco events. The crowd clapped along. They weren’t as enthusiastic as a Castro movie audience, but it was a spirited rendition. There’s still some magic moments in San Francisco. For those that are left. 
It had been a while since the doors to the exhibit had opened and the line wasn’t that long. The exhibit will be open for a year, but people had patiently waited to be among the first to get in. To the left was the tribute to the fair. White columns separated the exhibits. There was a large map of the fair grounds. There were very large photos of the fair, including one of the Tower of Jewels. The size of the people passing the buildings gave an idea of the size and scope of the fair. 
There was a five minute film. We’re shown the bare hills of San Francisco before the Gold Rush. As settlers moved in buildings pop up on the screen. They appear slowly and then there’s a spurt of growth. The destruction of the quake and fire is shown. The City began to rebuild and buildings popped up again, taller than before. The Phoenix rises from the ashes. The buildings of the fair go up quickly and then disappear. The bridges are built. The short film ends with the question: What will the future of San Francisco look like?  
The exhibit area is large. This was once the Exploratorium, a revolutionary museum for kids. The Exploratorium has reopened in a new facility on the Bay. It was a bit of a nostalgic trip. The last time I was in here I was with my daughter when she was in grammar school. There were interactive exhibits explaining science. This was a relatively new idea at the time. It wasn’t a dry old museum. Kids and chaperones loved it.
A stern, imposing woman in black Victorian dress sits in one of the model T cars that were manufactured at the fair. She looks a bit  autocratic. It must be Phoebe Apperson Hearst. She led the campaign to save the Palace of Fine Arts. 
The reopening of the Palace of Fine Arts is being presented by a company called Innovation Hangar. It’s “a unique social innovation space that facilitates connections, ideas and investments.” Innovation Hangar is trying to create a space where people can meet in the real world, off line. It was a touch of the old Exploratorium. 
This was Community Day at the Palace of Fine Arts. There were more than thirty groups with tables or booths. Many local museums are represented including the California Historical Society, the Museum of San Ramon Valley, the Saratoga History Museum, the Society of California Pioneers, the California State Capitol Museum and the Wells Fargo History Museum. So many museums, so little time. 
Signs at a table explained It looked interesting. You pick a location on a map and historic pictures pop up.  
There are four fire engines from the fair known to still exist. Three of them are in the building today. Fire was still a threat to the San Francisco of a hundred years ago, and fire fighters were a big presence at PPIE. They were the “The Guardians of the City.”
I had bad timing and missed the Uke-A-Thon while I was inside the Palace at the exhibit. A thousand ukulele players were expected to play together under the dome of the Palace. It would have been another bizarre music event to add to my collection.  
Laura Ackley is signing copies of “San Francisco’s Jewel City.” She’s in full Victorian dress with a plumed hat. Her book, “San Francisco’s Jewel City” is full of stories, photos and ephemera from PPIE. It may be the best way to imagine being at the fair.  
A table for “The Friends of the Exposition Organ” caught my eye. After the fair, the organ had found a home at the Exposition Auditorium. (Now the Bill Graham Memorial Auditorium.) It was kept in storage for years. A film explains that it was badly damaged in the quake of ’89. The entire huge instrument was shipped back east for repairs. The city government got cold feet and stopped the renovation. People who knew the value of the organ intervened and it was repaired and shipped back, but it’s still in storage. The “Friends” are working to have it reinstalled somewhere.
There were some cases filled with PPIE souvenirs: buttons, programs and even some Novagems. There were books about the fair and other artifacts, including a copy of “The Boy Scouts At the Fair.” 
“The world gathered,” at the Expo. Among celebrities attending were Theodore Roosevelt, Helen Keller and Buffalo Bill Cody. Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were there. Fatty Arbuckle, a huge star at the time, filmed a short with the Fair as a backdrop. Luther Burbank came over from Santa Rosa. Others at the Fair included: Charlie Chaplin, Maria Montessori and William Jennings Bryant. Among the music titans were John Philip Sousa and Camile Saint-Saens. Saens introduced William Randolph Hearst to Auguste Rodin. Aviators and race car drivers were the Rock star heroes of their day. Lincoln Beachey and Art Smith flew over the fair. Eddie Rickenbacker drove race cars on the track near Crissy Field. Houdini performed! 
A half hour film was shown in the lobby of the Palace’s theater. Most people sat on the carpeting to watch. The film was “The Palace After Dark.” It was a great look at the fair and a relaxing way to end the day.
The Palace of Fine Arts’ rotunda had been relit in 1999, but tonight it would be lit like it had been at the fair.  Searchlights swept across the Palace’s rotunda, dome and other buildings. They crossed the water and reflected on the residential buildings across the street. The searchlights shone in the same pattern that the ceiling of the rotunda has.  
The light shows were a big part of the entertainment of the fair. Fifty years later people would enjoy light shows again in the Rock halls of the Sixties. People from these different eras shared something in common. They enjoyed a good light show. 
It’s impossible to recreate the excitement and spirit of the 1915 San Francisco World’s Fair, but this had been a charming local event. It was great to see this part of San Francisco’s history brought to life. San Francisco has seen big change in the past, but it may be facing more change than it’s ever seen. The big crowd showed that many people still care about the history of San Francisco. 

The California Historical Society (CHS) has an exhibit honoring PPIE. “The City Rising. San Francisco and the 1915 World’s Fair” runs until December 6, 2015. CHS is located in an original storefront style building at 678 Mission Street. It’s not far from the Moscone Convention Center and Yerba Buena Gardens. It has an interior fitting for a historical society. Woodwork and vintage paintings line the walls upstairs.  
The exhibit starts with a large diorama of the Fair. It really shows the size and grandeur of the temporary city. It’s accurate down to little dots of people wandering the fairgrounds. 
The diorama used to be in the Military Museum which had been in the Presidio. The Military Museum was a fantastic little history museum that I had stumbled on years ago.  After the base changed hands it was closed. It had been a great place to see relics of San Francisco history. The diorama was stored in City Hall and abandoned for years. It was carefully cleaned up and moved here for another moment in the sun during the PPIE centennial.   
The exhibit has many photos, pictures and ephemera of the PPIE. I’d seen most of them before in Laura Ackley’s book: San Francisco’s Jewel City. There are many souvenirs from the fair, including Novagems, and ads from the newspapers of 1915.  Four short films showed on video monitors throughout the exhibit. 
I was looking at some ephemera from the Fair when two women walked into the room. One was commenting on how “Grandfather” had commented that the interior of the fair’s buildings were as exciting as their grand exteriors. 
In the main hall there was a shaky white rattan couch and chairs. There were some interesting looking books about the fair on a table. A longer film on the PPIE was playing. One of the women from the other room walked up. She was tall. “My grandfather was in charge of lighting for the fair,” she told me. 
“D’Arcy Ryan?” I asked. she wasn’t very impressed that I knew his name. Ryan’s granddaughter certainly wasn’t shy. She told the story that I had read in Ackley’s book. Ryan had approached Willis Polk and offered to manage the lighting for the fair. Polk agreed that Ryan would get a half hour to explain his plan to a meeting of the fair’s architects. Polk figured the architects would tear Ryan’s ambitious plan apart.  At the meeting Ryan spoke for four and a half hours, and he was chosen to be in charge of lighting. The granddaughter also mentioned that there was an alternative plan in case “things didn’t work out.”  
We watched the film. The granddaughter told the stories about each building’s lighting as they came onscreen. “These pictures are clearer than any I’ve seen,” she said. I should have at least gotten her first name. “What’s your interest?” she asked me. She was trying to figure out what had brought me to the exhibit.  
They had brought in “some things” about the fair that she knew the historical society would be interested in. After the film she wandered the exhibit and I could hear her tell stories of her grandfather and the Fair. D’Arcy Ryan was a real showman and entrepreneur. His granddaughter sure seemed to have inherited it. 
There will be more events over the centennial year. More information can be found on the web site: