Wish You Were Here! Postcards from the Golden Gate International Exposition
is presented by the Treasure Island Museum.
Believe It or Not
of a Nation
Wish You Were Here
AMERICA! CAVALCADE OF A NATION
A young Bay Area radio announcer by the name of Art Linkletter wrote a pageant entitled Cavalcade of the Golden West, which was the hit of the 1939 Fair. By 1940, American patriotism was at its height as tales of wartime atrocities in other countries dominated the news. Linkletter expanded his pageant into America! Cavalcade of a Nation for the second year of the Fair's run. The play featured 300 actors in 2000 roles, performing on an enormous outdoor stage with elaborate, moving sets.
The stage, which measured 400 feet wide by 200 feet deep, was large enough to accommodate an actual 19th-century locomotive to re-enact the completion of the first cross-country rail line in 1869. Yet the enormity of the production presented some challenges in sound transmission.
From the program:
"In a sound room, high above the audience, a versatile group of actors speak before a series of microphones. Their voices, recorded music and sound effects, are 'mixed' in a control room, and channeled to a corresponding series of 17 loudspeakers, concealed on the giant stage, where the pantomime cast simultaneously carries the action. The result is a weird realism that creates a definite illusion for audiences ... This mysterious system of sound is termed 'third-dimensional sound.' "
All postcards: publisher unknown
The Birth of a New World ... October 12, 1492
"On a tiny island in the West Indies, the natives see the first white-winged ships of the Men of Destiny - as Christopher Columbus begins a new chapter in the history of civilization. ... The vastness of undiscovered earth ... the beginnings of conquest and struggle ... the birth of a new star in the west which was to lead millions over stormy seas and into endless forests in search of liberty!"
The Puritans and Religious Intolerance
"Seeking refuge in the New World from religious persecution, the Puritans themselves became intolerant, narrow and tyrannical. Whippings, brandings, mutilations, and the stocks were the edifying chastisements for minor offenses. Death and banishment from the colony were reserved for those who insisted on freedom of worship and speech."
The Louisiana Purchase ... 1803
"The French hold the key to the Mississippi Valley & and three thousand miles away in France, Napoleon Bonaparte makes known his decision to sell Louisiana to the Americans - while taking a hot bath! War with England is imminent - can he defend this vast territory? The Little Corporal decides to turn an uncertain liability into cash and the United States adds a million square miles to its domain at a cost of three cents an acre!"
The Gettysburg Address ... November 19, 1863
"As North and South are torn asunder in the War Between the States, Abraham Lincoln, backwoodsman and country boy, makes his voice heard above the bloody din as he talks to his people at Gettysburg ... a speech never to be forgotten as long as the American public shall endure!"
The Meeting of the Rails ... 1869
"The Union Pacific and the Central Pacific meet at Promontory in Utah, May 10, 1869, as the nation stops to watch. Leland Stanford drives the golden spike completing the Pacific Railway ... binding the nation with rails of steel ... and bridging the gap between the romantic era of the covered wagon and our modern industrial age."
- Excerpts from the program for America! Cavalcade of a Nation.