Just a few quick observations about the 1958 and 1963 8 day conventions: In 1958, we camped on the side of the road in our trip from Renton, Washington to N.Y. I was ten years old at the time. We traveled with a couple planning to go where the need was great in Ecuador, not as Gilead missionaries, but, on their own. We were not on friendly terms with them by the time we got to New York. On the trip across the country, I was stung by a bee that flew up my shirt sleeve.
As someone stated, the convention was held jointly at Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds. My dad told us that, should we be separated, we should wait at a designated numbered gate until discovered. When, I got lost among the throngs, I simply went to that gate and waited. My dad found me a couple hours later and seemed surprised I'd actually listened.
I remember the fake New York newspapers we bought with pages of pictures and articles about the JWs as if they actually made the front page. I still remember the headline "Witnesses Styled City's Best Guests." I also remember the attendance on the last day as 253,922. Rumors surfaced that the U.S. Army was analyzing the JW methods of serving so many during mealtime. LOL.
We went to the Polo Grounds six days and Yankee Stadium twice. On the last day Yankee Stadium officials allowed us to sit on the ball field. The sisters were instructed to remove their high heels.
Five years later, as a teenager, I went with a privately organized group that had chartered an old Tacoma city bus and a non-JW driver for the trek to Pasadena for the 1963 8 day assembly. As we neared the Rose Bowl, we encountered a massive traffic jam with the freeway a proverbial parking lot. Since we could see the stadium, but weren't moving, my friend George and I got permission to walk the rest of the way. We got seats in the upper deck of concrete bleachers and could see our old bus creeping in two hours later.
Yes, it was hot. I finally got some butcher paper from the cafeteria an sat in one of box seat areas directly on concrete with the butcher paper over my head as a sunscreen, . I remember about 8 "releases," among them the "Babylon the Great, God's Kingdom Rules!" book, "All Scripture is Inspired of God and Beneficial," the huge reference New World Translation, a brochure on the Around the World conventions, etc. My limited funds from janitorial work and painting that summer did not permit me to buy copies for the whole family, upsetting my dad on my return. I was the only family member who went.
The contracted hotel, not engaged through the Society, turned out to be a huge flop house on Figueroa Street, condemned for the still-in-the-future Los Angeles Music Center. Even though the rate was only 80 cents per night, most of the brothers and sisters refused to stay there, finding other accommodations. I was totally pleased with the patchwork quilted beds(my room had two beds) and the claw-footed old bath tub. I saw my first knife fight from my hotel window and met prostitutes in the lobby. The night desk clerk would engage us in horseplay, putting me in a sleeper hold one night after the session. Smelling salts woke me up to laughter in lobby. One late night I walked to a Chinese restaurant on Vine Street. They were closed, but thought I was homeless and let me in for all the steamed rice I could eat. When I tried to pay, they charged me ten cents. On my way back to the hotel, I ran into dangerous "worldly" guy who wanted to know what I was "up to." When I told him I was there for the convention, he laughed, telling me how "easy" the JW chicks were.
Kent-Meridian High School administrators were upset that I missed the first week of school as this final "Around the World" convention was held the first week of September. I was able to give them a great "witness." LOL