For local business people and government officials, Expo ’74 was more than just the activities taking place at the fairgrounds in the city center.
“There were lots of black-tie parties,” recalled Norma Lindsay, wife of Expo ’74 Chairman Roderick Lindsay. “The dinners and all those things were fabulous.”
The various international delegations would host dinner parties and Expo officials would entertain visiting dignitaries and politicians, she said.
“Other people in town had parties too,” said Lindsay, now 85. “There was something going on all the time.”
As a result, she added, “You had to have a big wardrobe.”
She has kept some of the long dresses she wore during the fair, many of which were chosen for her by Betty Bone, who operated a high-end boutique in the Davenport Hotel for many years.
Lindsay also has programs, invitations, ticket stubs and items emblazoned with the distinctive Expo ’74 Mobius.
Her husband, who died in 1991, was tapped for the chairmanship after a long history of civic engagement, she said. His family founded Lincoln First Savings & Loan Association, and Roderick Lindsay stepped down from running the bank in 1969 to “embark on a career in civic enterprise,” The Spokesman-Review reported at the time.
A Democrat who served in the Washington Legislature for 14 years, Lindsay is often credited with bringing the necessary political connections to the effort to assemble a World’s Fair in Spokane.
Among the perks of being an Expo official was dining in the private Expo ’74 Club on the World’s Fair site, Norma Lindsay said.
She and her husband were also given use of a chauffered Mercedes sedan for the six-month run of the fair. As fun as that was, she said, “Charles (the chauffer) was not much of a driver.”
The highlight for her was opening day on May 4, 1974. She lunched with President Richard Nixon and first lady Patricia Nixon and found him “vacant” and her “very warm,” Lindsay said. Nixon would resign that August from the fallout of the Watergate scandal. The weather was perfect and the day’s many events went off without a hitch. “It was a very emotional day,” she said.
After all the concerts and parties, the official and unofficial gatherings, Expo came to a close in November. There was one last cocktail party, then the Lindsays decamped for an extended stay in Hawaii where they had a vacation home.
“When it was all over, Roderick was happy to retire,” said his wife. “That was his last civic duty.”