Victor Garske
GM Futurliner Restoration Project
National Automotive and Truck Museum of the United States

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PARADER VICTOR GARSKE
    "Parader" Victor Garske mailed to us a package of material that has allowed us to fill in a lot of blanks of GM's shows: Century of Progress, Caravan of Progress, Parade of Progress, Previews of Progress, Futurama, and Motorama. Following is a summary of that information. Also, to put all of this information on our web site, we need your help in finding the original publications that Vic sent us since they are copies that he had saved.
    We will start by quoting the letter that Vic sent to Dean Tryon, our Futurliner newsletter editor.

"Dean A. Tryon,
    The successful General Motors Caravan of Progress in the 1930s and its continuing popular post - World War II Parade of Progress in the 1950s was an educational program conceived by GM's inventive genius Charles F. (Boss) Kettering. He got the activity started by obtaining Chairman Alfred P. Sloan's support to put the General Motors Science and Technology Exhibit from the 1933-34 Chicago World's Fair (Century of Progress) on the road. The activity was designed to expose a wider audience to the imagination and initiative of scientists and engineers, as well as the industrial capabilities of the United States, particularly GM.
    The central or featured live 45-minute stage show, inspired by "Boss" Kett, in the Parade of Progress spectacular original pole-less tent was called Previews of Progress and was designed to create public interest in technology. The Science and engineering demonstrations (sequences) were selected and engineered by E. Barton Blett (who worked on the Century of Progress show of GM, Caravan, Parade, and Previews). The script for the Previews show of the Parade was written by John W. Reedy (who worked on the Caravan and was the director of GM's Previews of Progress). Buying of available scientific equipment for the Parade's stage show was coordinated and assembled by William A. Cobb and myself. Unique equipment, for demonstrating the scientific principles involved, which was not available for purchase, was fabricated by Bill and me.
    Later I built, scripted, and trained lecturers for the educational Previews of Progress science shows operated by GM subsidiaries in Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland, South Africa, Syria, Turkey, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Venezuela, El Salvador, Brazil, and Argentina.
    Vic"

    After obtaining this material I called and talked to Vic. He spent considerable time working GM's Previews of Progress traveling to 38 different countries.
    In addition to Vic's memory, Vic sent along copies of some of the pages of the "GM WORLD" publications. This was the publication of the GM Overseas Operations Division which was responsible for all of GM business outside of the US and Canada. The information that Vic sent only pertained to the above GM shows. Following are the out line of these shows and how they all fit together. Up until Vic's letter and this information I was confused about the different GM shows.

  • CENTURY of PROGRESS - This was the 1933-34 Worlds Fair held in Chicago. Industrial firms like GM showcased progress in science, industry and products in the present as well as the future.
  • CARAVAN of PROGRESS - This refers to the first Parade of Progress (1936 - 1940) in much of the literature. The people that worked this first POP were referred to as "Caravaners".
  • PARADE of PROGRESS - Wonders of science show-casing how industrial research discovers new processes that later provide products within the reach of countless people. The displays were the last word in scientific showmanship, combining the best features of the General Motors exhibits at the Chicago Century of Progress and a number of displays never shown before. There were three series of POP's, 1936-40, 1941, and 1953-56.
  • PREVIEWS of PROGRESS - This was the stage show of the Parade of Progress inside the Aero-Dome tent. It was designed to last 45 minutes with two "Paraders" making the presentation. It was also a stand-alone show taken to schools, colleges, auditoriums, as well as to foreign countries as outlined above. When this was a stand alone show it was referred to as the "little caravan" consisting of various devices for the demonstration of scientific phenomena, developed by the General Motors Research Laboratories. At one point an "Ultra-Streamlined" truck was created to transport the displays. This truck was built on a GMC chassis, with a Buick engine. The only photo of this truck that I have ever seen is on page 170 of the book "GMC - THE FIRST 100 YEARS".
  • FUTURAMA - In 1939 at the New York Worlds Fair in the General Motors Building had the largest scale model panorama ever constructed called the Futurama. Guests would view the panorama, illustrating the highway systems of 1939 and of 1960, from luxurious twin arm-chairs, fitted to a smooth-running serpentine track of escalator type, while the 20-ton "polyrhetor" (sound mechanism) provides the commentator's running description of the scene to each chair at exactly the right moment.
  • MOTORAMA - The speculator shows that GM put on introducing their new products (automobiles primarily) during the 1950s. (See the book "The GM MOTORAMA - Dream Cars of the Fifties" by author Bruce Berghoff.
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