Fairgoers at the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle celebrate A-Y-P Day on June 22, 1962.

  • By Paula Becker
  • Posted 5/19/2009
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 9032
On June 22, 1962, fairgoers celebrate Alaska-Yukon-Pacific (A-Y-P) Exposition Day at the Century 21 Exposition in Seattle. The Century 21 World's Fair was held at the site now known as the Seattle Center from April 21 to October 21, 1962. It attracted 10 million fairgoers and was held in part to commemorate Washington's first World's Fair, the 1909 A-Y-P Exposition. A-Y-P Day includes a parade of vintage automobiles, a fashion show featuring 1909's finest apparel, a concert band playing 1909 tunes, and speeches recounting the glory days of Washington's first World's Fair.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer summed up the festivities: "The band played 'Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet,' the old automobiles performed almost as if they were brand new and women who weren't even alive in 1909 modeled clothes of that era. ... It was the A-Y-P Exposition which led indirectly to Seattle having this year's fair, for the World's Fair grew out of a desire, first expressed in 1955, to pay tribute to the A-Y-P Exposition in 1959, just 50 years after it was held" (June 22, 1962, p. 7).

The Seattle Historical Society sponsored the program and helped plan the events.

A Special Day

At Century 21, as at the A-Y-P Exposition, commemorative days were set aside to honor organizations, professions, and ethnic communities, as well as visitors from various cities, counties, and states. Some of these commemorations included banquets, conferences, or other forms of special recognition given to the groups being honored, and many days had multiple honorees. 

A-Y-P Day was originally planned for June 1, 1962, the day that marked the 53rd anniversary of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition's opening day, but plans for HRH Prince Philip of Great Britain to visit to Century 21 on that day preempted the A-Y-P celebration.  June 22 was substituted.

Public Demand

A-Y-P Day at Century 21 was organized in response to a steady barrage of letters sent by citizens who remembered the 1909 fair and thought it deserved the honor of a commemorative event.  Many of those who wrote had a personal connection to the A-Y-P.  Eileen Curtis, for example, wrote on behalf of her mother Grace Gregary Ziegler, who "demonstrated music for a Clarabelle Murphy Bloomquist in what was known as 'The House Upside Down'" (Curtis letter).  The House Upside Down was a concession on the Pay Streak midway area at A-Y-P. 

R. E. Hine of Vancouver, Washington, wrote offering his services as chairman for an A-Y-P commemoration, adding charmingly that he had inadvertently appeared on a popular photo postcard taken of the crowded Pay Streak on A-Y-P's opening day: "It would appear that I had posed, but (I) did not know the picture was taken. ... I worked at Frederick and Nelson and was told that my picture was on an official post card at a certain news stand and I purchased all they had and mailed them to relatives and friends" (Hine letter).

Parade and Concert

A-Y-P Day began at 11:20 A.M., when a 1909 Ford loaned by Lawrence Arnold and driven by his chauffer Allen Gregg, and a 1909 Buick, driven by its owner Herbert Schoenfeld, met at the 2nd Avenue and Thomas Street entrance to the fairgrounds, picked up 13 models in period dress, and began their short parade to the Plaza of the States. 

A concert of what was billed as music popular in 1909 began simultaneously at the Plaza of the States.  Jackie Souders' Band played "By the Light of the Silvery Moon," "Casey Jones," "Cubanola Glide," "Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly," "Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl," "I Wonder Who's Kissing Her Now," "Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland," "My Hero," "My Pony Boy," "Put On Your Old Gray Bonnet," and "Yi-I-Addy-I-Ay!"

In retrospect it seems puzzling that Century 21 organizers did not include any of the numerous tunes composed specifically for the A-Y-P -- such as “Alaska Yukon Exposition Grand Triumphal March,” “Meet Me In Seattle, Dearie, In 1909,” “Seattle: Queen of the West,” the “A-Y-P March,” “Hip Hip Hurrah for Seattle,” “The Seattle Spirit,” and “Meet Me In Dear Old Seattle” -- or even the 1909 fair's Official March, "Gloria, Washington" -- composed by Frederick Neil Innes.


At the conclusion of the concert, Century 21 President Joseph E. Gandy (1904-1971) welcomed the crowd and introduced Alfred Rochester (1885-1989), executive director of the State World's Fair Commission and the driving force behind the inception of Century 21.  As a teenaged restaurant employee on the A-Y-P grounds, Rochester had attended the fair nearly every day during its four-and-a-half-month run, and had fallen under the exposition's spell.

Rochester noted in his remarks that A-Y-P attendance on June 22, 1909, was 10,197.  The Seattle Post-Intelligencer commented that Century 21's gate count on June 22, 1962, exceeded that amount within the first hour.

Seattle Historical Society president Victor Denny (1903-1979), a grandson of Seattle founders David Denny (1832-1903) and Louisa Boren Denny (1827-1916), chaired the A-Y-P Day program, and he next addressed the crowd.

A-Y-P Luminaries

The special guests were then introduced.  Among those in attendance was Mabel Chilberg, sister of A-Y-P Exposition President John E. Chilberg (1867-1954).  Mabel Chilberg was listed in The Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Directory, and as such was invited to most or all official functions during the A-Y-P Exposition. At the time she was a teacher in the Seattle Public Schools. Mabel Chilberg eventually donated many of her brother's A-Y-P materials to the University of Washington Libraries Special Collections, where they remain a valuable resource for A-Y-P researchers.

Other luminaries present also spanned the arc of A-Y-P to Century 21: Henry Broderick (1880-1975), who'd been the youngest trustee of A-Y-P and the oldest of Century 21; Eleanor Taft Hall, granddaughter to President William Howard Taft (1857-1930), who with his touch to a gold nugget-encrusted telegraph key had officially opened the A-Y-P; and  Frank Richardson Pierce, who as a University of Washington law student had worked as a guard on the A-Y-P grounds and guarded President Taft during his visit. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported that that gold-encrusted telegraph key Taft used in 1909 was on display in Century 21's Alaska exhibit.

Seattle Mayor Gordon Clinton (1920-2011) was among those on the platform, and he accepted from Gandy the gift of a Victor Steinbrueck (1911-1985) line sketch.  Stephen Chadwick Sr., a member of the Seattle Historical Society's board of trustees who had attended the A-Y-P, explained the story of the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition to those in the crowd who did not know the story.  Chadwick invited the audience to visit the Museum of History & Industry to see an exhibit of A-Y-P memorabilia then on display.

Latest Fashion

The crowd settled in to enjoy a 15-minute fashion vintage show featuring the styles of 1909. Mildred Haslund delivered the commentary. Picture hats trimmed with ostrich feathers, accordion-pleated petticoats, and hand-made silk Battenberg lace were the order of the day.

One ensemble was described thus:

"A two piece dress of cream colored wool voile.  The bodice is mostly of all over lace trimmed with bands of taffeta which in turn are trimmed with half ball buttons.  The ball fringe finishes the yoke which is made of Irish rose point lace, interwoven with narrow gold ribbon. The lattice work is made of the same taffeta as the bands on the bodice and skirt. The petticoat is also made of the same silk taffeta" ("Fashion Commentary").

In 1909 such fashions would have been supported by the wearer's prodigious corsetry. Archival materials relating to the fashion show make no mention of vintage undergarments, and it seems likely that the modern models were forced to rely upon their own long-line panty girdles, a common foundation garment for women in 1962.

The final dress to go down the runway was a cafe-au-lait-colored number worn by Helen Louise Meisnest Black, whose mother, Ida Mason Meisnest, had actually worn it to the A-Y-P.

The festivities ended with the Seattle World's Fair Band's rendition of "Meet Me In Seattle At The Fair," Century 21's theme song.

Pretty Babies

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a feature the day after A-Y-P Day that recounted the meeting of two exposition babies, Anna Skala Trippy and Jamie Michelle Williams. In 1909 Anna Trippy had been awarded a silver loving cup inscribed "Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition's Prettiest Three-Months-Old Baby -- Anna Theressia Skala" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 23, 1962).  Jamie Williams, not quite two months old, was the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Century 21 Baby. 

Baby Jamie and her mother entertained Trippy in their Ballard home, apparently in the company of at least one P-I reporter.  The article continued, "Jamie Michelle, who was born one second after midnight on April 21, opening day of the World's Fair, is now a plump and pleasant armful crowned with a tuft of thick, black hair. Miss Century 21's parents ... will be guests of the P-I a whole day at the World's Fair, with Jack Jarvis, Our Man At the Fair, as their escort in mid-July."

Sources: "Pretty Babies Of A-Y-P, C-21 Get Together," Seattle Post-Intelligencer, June 23, 1962, p. 1; "Memories: Fair Salutes Exposition at A-Y-P Day," Ibid., June 22, 1962, p. 7; "Weeks Events on the Fairgrounds," Ibid., Weekly Fair Guide, p. 2; The Seattle Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Directory, in Books of the Fairs [materials about world's fairs, 1834-1916, in the Smithsonian Institution Libraries; a microfilm collection drawn from the holdings of the Smithsonian Libraries], Reel 167, No. 1582  (1908 London to 1910 Berlin) (Woolbridge, California: Research Publ., 1990); Social Blue Book of Seattle (Seattle: Wood and Reber Publishing, 1961), p. 53; Stanton H. Patty,  "Century 21 Salutes A.Y.-P.," The Seattle Times, June 22, 1962, p. 4; "Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition Dy Program," June 22, 1962, Seattle World's Fair of 1962, Special Events Division, Folder Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, IX-2, Box 275, Folder 90, Washington State Archives Puget Sound Regional Branch; "Fashion Commentary," (n.d.), Ibid.; Memo from Jay Rockey to Fred Vogel, February 21, 1962, Ibid.; Mrs. Eileen Curtis letter to Century 21, March 15, 1962, Ibid.; R. E. Hine letter to Al Rochester, February 12, 1962, Ibid.; HistoryLink.Org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition (1909): Music at the Fair (by Peter Blecha) http://www.historylink.org/> (accessed May 19, 2009).

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