Vicarious vacations 06: Expo ’74, Spokane, 1974

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THEN: Riding the Expo ’74 Sky Ride (aka Sly Float) with his father Bob MacDougall, camera-happy Gavin MacDougall, 9, snaps a photo of his mother while his mother snaps a southwest-facing photo of him. (Barbara Zerbach)
NOW: A wider view from the same vantage, taken from today’s Riverfront Park, lacks the Expo ’74 Sky Ride, but other downtown Spokane landmarks remain, including the Parkade building at center. Out of frame is the newer Numerica SkyRide over Spokane Falls. (Dale Soden)
Expo ’74, Spokane, 1974
‘This must have been like what Century 21 was like’
Gavin MacDougall
By Clay Eals

The 9-year-old Queen Anne boy was jazzed. Gavin and his parents, Bob MacDougall and Barbara Zerbach, once again were headed cross-state to his mom’s hometown, Spokane.

But this time it was to see a world’s fair, and he could record it all on his grandmother’s primitive Instamatic X-15.

“I was excited I was going to have a camera,” Gavin says. “It was a big deal. When I look back on these pictures, I can see the germ of my eye developing, how I consciously composed things a little off-center. It was natural, trial and error.”

His photographic enjoyment was so intense, he was even “taking pictures of pictures being taken.”

Gavin’s mom taking a photo of Gavin taking a photo of her taking a photo of Gavin taking …and so on.  (Gavin MacDougall)

The image of Gavin aiming his lens while on the Sky Ride (aka Sky Float) with his dad was taken by his grounded mom. It’s easy to imagine the smile on Gavin’s face.

His overall joy derived from the “sensory overload” of the spectacle. “I had a clue because I knew where the Seattle Center came from,” he says. “I looked at it as, ‘This must have been like what Century 21 was like.’ It was not that old, but it predated me.”

On the Sky Ride, he even passed two clowns. “They were off-duty,” he says, “but as soon as they realized my camera was aimed at them, they clicked back into character.”

Gavin has worked as an office manager and bookkeeper, but his heart lies in archival work. He keenly senses its value. “After a while,” he says, “your memories are the pictures, and everything else fades.”

WEB EXTRAS

No video interview of Gavin MacDougall, but we have 45 extra photos from his 1974 trip to Expo ’74! Also, click here for a HistoryLink backgrounder on Spokane’s world’s fair.

Three-photo Expo ’74 composite panorama showing Gavin MacDougall and father Bob MacDougall on the Sky Ride. (Barbara Zerbach)
White Eagle-brand Expo ’74 map.
Gavin captures two clowns on the Sky Ride. (Gavin MacDougall)
Photographer Gavin captures another Sky Ride scene. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. This one is of his parents, Barbara Zerbach and Bob MacDougall. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)
Gavin’s budding compositional skills emerge in his now-evocative photos of Expo ’74. (Gavin MacDougall)

 

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