Since it’s my birthday and my whole family is spread out all over the country on different trips, I am waxing nostalgic today. The last song I listed was a terrible memory – this song was a good one. When I was 10 years old, the World’s Fair came to New Orleans. It was 1984 and the whole region was excited about it. Sometime that summer, my family went down to New Orleans for the day (we lived about 45 miles away at the time). This was a really big deal because my family hardly ever went anywhere. My father was disabled and had been since I was 8 years old. He had a really bad back, had several surgeries, and was in constant pain. So, the fact that he was taking us down there was a real sacrifice for him, but I must say, a real joy for me. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. I was the kid who had a map of Disney World up on my wall and I used to stare at it for long periods of time imagining myself riding Dumbo or going through “It’s a Small World.” Pitiful, I know, but I used to sit and dream about going places – anyplace – and this was a little trip that would only stoke those desires.
So, we got to the World’s Fair and I was blown away by the different exhibits. Every country you could imagine had an exhibit. China was probably my favorite. I remember eating Chinese food and it being pretty good although my Dad was quick to tell us that it wasn’t as good as The House of Lee that he used to eat at when he was a kid. People were there from all over the world (the World’s Fair was a pretty big deal back then – 25 years ago) and the international flavor was amazing to me. We rode some rides and that was fun, but my favorite part was the exhibit halls. Since I never really went anywhere, the idea of foreign countries, travel, and experiencing different cultures captured my imagination.
At the end of the evening of what turned out to be an absolutely awesome day, I could see that my Dad was in a lot of pain. He had pushed himself all day and at this point, he was sweating, with dark circles under his eyes. Every step that he took caused him to grimace and it was clear that it was time to go home. I felt really bad for him, but I was also so thankful for the sacrifice that he made to take us. I knew that he would be in bed for several days, but it meant the world to me that he would put himself through that for us. As we were leaving, the Lionel Richie song, “All Night Long” started playing over the loudspeakers. It had an international feel to it and it made me think of travel to far away lands where people danced through the night. From that day on, whenever I hear that song, I think about a magical day when a 10 year old got to see the world. I also think about my father who loved us enough to sacrifice himself for us. For a kid who rarely got to go anywhere, the song sounded like freedom and it was something that I desperately wanted. “One day,” I thought, “I’m going to go to all of these places.”
Anyway, here’s the song. This is the version from the 1984 Summer Olympics closing ceremonies in Los Angeles about a month after we went to the World’s Fair.