Helen Eells: The Zone

Helen’s Oral History
Chapter 8
The Zone

Published February, 2011

“Well, having such very thrifty and stingy relatives, we spent most of our time in the Food Products Building. And that was fine with us. Because Harriet and I loved to get all these dear, little samples that we played grocery store with when we got home. And many of them had good things to eat inside. And that’s the reason my family spent their time there; they didn’t have to buy any lunch. The one thing that my great aunt did buy (and she let us each have one, too) was what she called “scahns”, and they really were scones. But she, you see, came from a Scottish family in Bermuda. And she said these were the only ones that tasted anything like the ones that her mother’s servants made, when she was a little girl. Well, they were delicious, and I think it was a Scottish family who were making them. Well, so that was how we got our luncheon.“And then we walked and walked and walked. My family were the greatest people for museums, and looking at all the lovely things. And I must say that these were the days of handicrafts, you know. So that everything looked at was beautiful. They came from every country, and they all had their little places or little stores, or else a whole building. And when it was a whole building, they’d call it the French Building. Well anyway, there we would walk, walk, walk. And of course, every other little child would be taken to what was called The Zone, which was like the Boardwalk in Santa Cruz, with all those mad, insane, crazy things showing, that my family thought were absolutely beyond the pale, and they wouldn’t have anything to do with.“But to their great sorrow, there were two things of value and education in The Zone. And especially the one that was called The Dayton Flood, because it was Dayton, Ohio, that my father was born. So my mother insisted that we go to see that. But you see, what they felt was, ‘The IDEA of the people who ran that exposition, not to put those two educational things right on the outside of The Zone, so you didn’t have to take your children through, seeing Stella (who was a kind of half-naked lady), and all those grotesque people (the fat lady, the thin man) standing out in front, trying to get you lured into those DREADFUL, HATEFUL, TERRIBLE, misleading things for children!’

“They almost blinded us. If they could have, they would have put the horses’ blinders on us, to go through, to get to The Dayton Flood. Then they bought the tickets. And we were trying to see out the sides of our eyes, and try to pretend that we weren’t looking, because they made us promise not to.”

If you have comments or questions about this article or other topics
pertaining to the history of Homestead Valley,
please feel free to e-mail Chuck Oldenburg.