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Through the eyes of a child: HemisFair ‘68 and guacamole

By Jan Edwards/ The Bulletin

My parents never had a lot of money, but they always provided my three siblings and I with new experiences. We took annual Spring trips into nature, and lots of day and weekend trips to Texas historic venues.

We’d already been to San Antonio for the obligatory Alamo and Missions trips, but in 1968, San Antonio was making history, and our family HAD to experience HemisFair.

And for me personally, experience one of life’s little lessons.

It was the official 1968 World’s Fair (or International Exposition) held in San Antonio, from April 6 through Oct. 6, 1968. The fair was held in 1968 to coincide with the 250th anniversary of the founding of San Antonio in 1718. More than 30 nations and 15 corporations hosted pavilions at the fair.

Mom and Dad owned a wood working shop and made butcher blocks, counter tops and cutting boards for restaurant supply companies, and they had a customer in San Antonio. By delivering to the restaurant enough cutting boards to fill the back of our station wagon, “Lilly belle” (all our station wagons had names), they could make the trip pay for itself.

So, one summer morning, we loaded up Lilly belle and off we went on our HemisFair adventure. No hotel reservations, no advance tickets to the fair.

First, we delivered the cutting boards to the restaurant supply company. They knew there were no available hotels without reservations. They paid our parents, but seeing us four kids, they quickly arranged for tickets to the HemisFair and pulled enough strings to get us into the Menger Hotel on the Riverwalk.

While we waited for strings to be pulled, they were kind enough to entertain us with a new-fangled thing – a microwave oven. It was the size of a small house, and they boiled water in a ceramic mug – wow – magic!

Then we had our reservations and left the restaurant supply company to go to the hotel. We unloaded our things, and we were all hungry. The concierge told us about a Mexican restaurant, Casa Rio, within walking distance from our hotel.

It had been there for many years and was very good, he said. I don’t think anyone in the family had ever eaten Mexican food before, but we decided to go and chalk it up as another experience from this trip.
Although business was brisk, they found a table for us. We sat down and began perusing the menu. Absolutely nothing looked familiar.

I saw the waitress deliver a meal to the gentleman at the table next to us. That didn’t look familiar, either.
And then it happened. The man dipped his knife into a bowl of green mushy stuff and started spreading it on a tortilla.

I grabbed my Mom’s sleeve and tugged on it until I had her attention. I loudly exclaimed (much to my mom’s consternation): “We can’t eat here Mom. Look, the butter is green.”
The restaurant erupted in laughter.

I just had one of life’s little lessons - the lesson of the guacamole.