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The Jeske/Gonyo Collection - HemisFair (1968)

Randal Jeske

Silent | 1968

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  •  Cable car ride over the fairgrounds 
  •  Tower of the Americas 
  •  Daredevil Henri LaMothe dives 40 feet into 17 inches of water. LaMothe first performed the stunt in 1954, when he jumped from New York City’s Flatiron Building into a collapsable pool with only four feet of water. Touring across the country until his death in 1987, he completed the jump more than 2,000 times.  
  •  Los Voladores de Papantla Flying Indians Spectacular 
  •  View of San Antonio from the Tower of the Americas 
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This 1968 home movie captures the Jeske family at home in Needville and on a visit to San Antonio. At home, the family prepares fish and frogs for a backyard feast. In San Antonio, the Jeskes explore HemisFair ’68. After a cable car ride over the fairgrounds, they take in several attractions, including a diving stunt by Henri LaMothe and La Danza de Los Voladores. The family concludes their visit with a visit to the top of the Tower of the Americas.
The 1968 HemisFair was a World’s Fair held in San Antonio to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the city’s founding. It was the first World’s Fair to be held in the southwest, and its theme was “Confluence of Civilizations in the Americas.” From April 6 to October 6, 1968, the HemisFair welcomed over 6 million visitors. Famous attendees included Bob Hope, Louis Armstrong, Princess Grace of Monaco, President Lyndon B. Johnson and his family, and Texas Governor John Connally. There were many attractions, including exhibits, a monorail, a lagoon, and a variety of performances. Perhaps the most controversial was a show called the “Flying Indians of Papantla,” during which four men tied to ropes revolved down a 114-foot pole. The complaints stemmed from a mock sacrifice at the beginning of the show, which involved a chicken and a topless woman. This was swiftly edited out of the show. 
The popular River Walk was extended in order to meet the site of the fair, and many new buildings were constructed in the downtown area to accommodate exhibitions from over thirty countries and fifteen organizations. Some of these buildings remain, most notably the Tower of the Americas, which was the main symbol of the fair. The area is now known as HemisFair Park.