Q & A with Kit Foster: February 11, 2016

Q.

Jim Sikora of Western Springs, Ill., asked about the “GM Powerama 1955” (Oct. 29). I was a production coordinator between the H.B. Stubbs Co. of Warren, Mich., the builders of the  Powerama, and GM Styling’s Product and Exhibit Design Group, the designers of that extravaganza of General Motors non-automotive division’s products in 1955.

Powerama was staged in Soldier Field’s 23-acre parking lot on the near south side of Chicago and on an additional 15 acres of  showground on the Lake Michigan side of Lake Shore Drive. Opening Aug. 31, 1955, this “World’s Fair of Power” showcased diesel power in its many commercial, agricultural, industrial, transportation and military applications. Located only 300 yards from Meigs Field airport on Chicago’s lakefront, the Powerama theme center building became a temporary landmark.

Detroit Diesel, the best-recognized by a broad segment of the audience, was everywhere, starting with agricultural and consumer applications for which they were well known, to saw mills, road building and shrimp boat demonstrations, which weren’t so well known. Other GM divisions like Fabricast, Euclid and Electro-motive were more like strangers to much of the consumer audience, and GM’s designers went to great lengths to personalize the introduction of these groups.

A perfect example of this was how they introduced Euclid Division’s 50-ton 20×30-ft. off-road mining truck. Rather than just park a huge truck in a field somewhere, the designers conceived an elevated platform for the audience to climb up and observe several bathing beauties splashing in a swimming pool created in the back of the immense truck while a clown performed dives off a tower mounted on top of the cab.

But the real crowd-pleaser was the spectacular outdoor stage show produced by Edith and Dick Barstow of Barnum & Bailey Circus fame. They combined their circus background with their previous Motorama stage experiences to produce what was hailed as “The World’s First Technological Circus.” To the sounds of square dancers, they pitted two Euclid Dozers against a troupe of five dancing elephants. Unfortunately, most of the audience was plugging for the elephants, and when the diesels won, the crowd moaned.

When the Powerama closed at the end of September 1955, it had drawn an audience numbering in the millions, however it was never repeated in Chicago….or anywhere else! (You can read more about Powerama in “The GM Motorama – Dream Cars of the Fifties” by Bruce Berghoff, now out of print, but usually available on Amazon.) 
         — Bruce Berghoff, Arcadia, Mich.

A.

Thanks. I’ve enjoyed these first-hand accounts of this largely forgotten event, and I’m sure our readers have, too.

Q.

I have this 10-lb. square public service 64-95 counter. It is 8-1/2 in. high by 5-1/2 in. wide by 7 in. deep. It has four mounting holes on the back and a pull-lever on the left side with three adjustment holes, which rings a bell inside when pulled down to advance the counter. It also has a knob on the left side that you pull out and turn to indicate in or out of service. There is an odometer on the very bottom also. I’m told it might be from a public service bus or trolley car prior to 1940. Any help identifying it is greatly appreciated.
   — Dave Krawiecz, Saddle Brook, N.J.

A.

That would be my guess, too, but readers may be able to tell us more.

Q.

I own a 1977 Cadillac Sedan deVille. It is in excellent shape, is all original and our family has owned her since new. Can someone help me find a pair of garnish moldings for the front doors? I cannot believe that with all the ’77s that were produced someone hasn’t grabbed a bunch and restored them for re-sale for cars like mine. I know that there are kits for the job; what is the story with that? Is it difficult?
            — John Quattrocchi, Clark, N.J. 

A.

I’ll have to defer to experts on this one. Readers, who knows?

To submit questions to this column: E-mail [email protected] or mail to: Q&A, Firsatsaatleri,
700 E. State St., Iola, WI 54990-0001


 

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