Monday, August 17, 2015
In today's post, I was going to share a few photos of Westinghouse-related pins from the 1939 World's Fair. But then I had the bright idea to gussy it up! It was very time consuming. No more bright ideas!
I'll start with this unusual (and rare) brass and enamel pin for the "American Institute (of) Science and Engineering Clubs", with a nice little bas-relief showing the façade of the Westinghouse building. Some krelboyne was sloppy with the blue enamel, but I forgive him.
Here's a photo of the same façade from one of my older posts. That tower in the middle reminds me of the electrical gizmos that Kenneth Strickfadden created for the 1931 version of "Frankenstein" and the 1933 sequel, "The Bride of Frankenstein". Bzzzzzzt!
Perhaps the most famous feature of the Westinghouse exhibit was the seven foot-tall (or eight feet, depending on the resource), 265 pound robot called "Elektro". Little brass pins like this one are very common (I'll bet there are several on eBay right now), but that doesn't mean that they aren't awesome.
Elektro could speak (via a 78-rpm records hidden in his torso), smoke cigarettes, walk on command, detect the difference between red and green, blow up balloons, count on his fingers, and as you can see here, he could dazzle the ladies with his natural charm, grace, and movie-star good looks. He could also incinerate you with his laser eyes, but you almost never read about that.
In 1940, Elektro was given a mechanical pooch named "Sparko", who could walk, beg, bark, and wag his tail. I love this rare pinback button featuring the two pals! Elektro looks like he is whistling, and it probably sounded like a theremin.
There they are, captured in a candid moment. "Who's. A. Good. Boy. You. Are. Yes. You. Are." When you took Sparko for a walk, you only had to sweep up a small pile of nuts and bolts.
This next very nice pin (or whatever you call these things) is something of a mystery to me; I've never seen another one. When the 1939/40 World's Fair ended, Elektro and Sparko were occasionally on display elsewhere...
...including the Westinghouse exhibit at Pacific Ocean Park! The photo below shows them as they were seen there.
When P.O.P. closed in 1967, Elektro was dismantled, and his head was given to a retiring Westinghouse engineer. But the story has a happy ending! A man named Jack Weeks acquired the head of Elektro, and eventually purchased the legs and torso after a long search (it is astonishing that they still existed!).
Elektro can't perform all of the tricks he used to do, but he and Sparko were donated to the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, where they can be loved by everyone.
I hope you have enjoyed Elektro and Sparko!