A Day of Celebration and Tears!

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

After a long hiatus, I’m back to blogging. Life has a funny way of rolling by faster and faster as each year passes. Work, home, dogs, birds…all seem to demand their amount of time and energy. Happily, I may have figured out a way to steal some time and tell all y’all about the wonderful celebration we attended. I hope you enjoy reading about it as much as I enjoy telling the story.

3rd Annual Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue Reunion

3rd Annual Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue Reunion

July 25 was the Third Annual Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue reunion. This was a day for all the dogs who had been adopted through the rescue to come together with their owners and meet/reacquaint with others.

Some of the Reunion Attendees

Some of the Reunion Attendees

It was also time to meet some extraordinary people who are involved in saving so many German Shepherd Dogs from certain death in the overcrowded shelters in California.

Lisa & Kathy from the Miracle Network with one of the greatest contributors and two Miracle Dog owners.

Lisa & Kathy from the Miracle Network with one of the greatest contributors and two Miracle Dog owners.

This group is the Miracle GSD Network. You can find their page on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/310605105708097/

Lisa and Kathy from the Miracle Network flank Maz (one of the leading contributors)

Lisa and Kathy from the Miracle Network flank Maz (one of the leading contributors)

This group is especially dear to us, as they are the ones who saved our darling Dolly!It was our first opportunity to meet some of these dedicated women with whom we’ve become very dear Facebook friends over the past year. It was also the first opportunity for them to actually meet – face-to-face – with many of the dogs they’d worked so diligently to save. There were lots of happy tears shed over these first meetings. I’m not completely certain, but I think even the dogs realized how important and special these women were in their lives.

Dolly with Lisa (her first opportunity to meet the girl she helped to save!)

Dolly with Lisa (her first opportunity to meet the girl she helped to save!)

The group began when several of these women got together just a very few years ago to see if they could help with the dire situation in the shelters in California. The shelters were (and are) filled well past capacity and it has meant that hold times for dogs (especially large dogs like German Shepherds) have been cut to just the bare minimums required by law. Rescues were doing their best to try to save as many as possible, but sheer numbers and widely-spread locations and even crossed communications were hampering their abilities. The women from the Miracle Network have been able to help cut through these barriers. They have helped funnel dogs from the overrun shelters to reputable (strenuously checked) rescues throughout the country. They take absolutely NO funds for their work and spend hours upon hours on the computer and telephone with the yeoman’s job of coordinating getting the dogs from the shelters to the rescues which are all around the country.

One of the approved rescues is Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue. Kristin Bright has been involved from the very beginning. It is through her rescue that we adopted our adorable Dolly and our precious Cinder.

Kristin with Lynne's Kaiser

Kristin with Lynne’s Kaiser

Another great photo of Kristin with Kaiser

Another great photo of Kristin with Kaiser

A few months after Dolly came to live with us, we lost our Sydney. Not long after that, Kristin contacted us as a possible home for another senior girl who had recently been rescued from Ohio. Cinder was not part of the Miracle Network, but was an owner turn-in. You can read all about both Dolly and Cinder in previous posts, but they were alumnae at the reunion on Saturday.

Our Cinder at the SMGSR 3rd Annual Reunion

Our Cinder at the SMGSR 3rd Annual Reunion

Cinder Chilling at the Reunion

Cinder Chilling at the Reunion

All of the dogs here had amazing back stories. It’s impossible to share all the stories. Here are a few that will amaze you and which exemplify the work being done to save these fantastic dogs.

Naturally, you know I have to start with Dolly. The before and after are really something to see, and she was one of the dogs who wasn’t in very poor condition.

Our Dolly (Miracle Dog #307) - Intake Photo

Our Dolly (Miracle Dog #307) – Shelter Intake Photo

Our Dolly now!

Our Dolly now!

Dolly & Cinder Taking it Easy

Dolly & Cinder Taking it Easy

Here are photos of Kyra (Miracle Dog #38) before and after!

Kyra BEFORE the Miracle Network swooped in to save her

Kyra BEFORE the Miracle Network swooped in to save her

Kyra now! Three beautiful girls!

Kyra now! Three beautiful girls!

Kyra with her Dad

Kyra with her Dad

Kyra's a Happy Girl!

Kyra’s a Happy Girl!

Kyra Enjoys Looking at the World From Above

Kyra Enjoys Looking at the World From Above

Here is handsome Zeppelin (Zeppy) – Miracle Dog #69. It’s clear that he has gone from the depths to a wonderful, loving home.

Zeppelin (Zeppy) in the Shelter - Poor bedraggled boy!

Zeppelin (Zeppy) – Miracle Dog #69 – in the Shelter – Poor bedraggled boy!

Zeppy now! He's such a Happy, Handsome Boy

Zeppy now! He’s such a Happy, Handsome Boy. Who wouldn’t be with two lovely ladies!

Zeppy is Now a Gorgeous, Silky Boy - Miracle Dog, indeed!

Zeppy is Now a Gorgeous, Silky Boy – Miracle Dog, indeed!

This is Tequila! Of all the sad faces, she had one of the saddest. I fell in love with her when I first saw that sad face. I was so hoping the right person would come along and give her the home she so richly deserves. She sure hit the jackpot with her “mom”, Susan!

Tequila (Miracle #373). Have you ever seen SUCH a sad face?

Tequila (Miracle #373). Have you ever seen SUCH a sad face?

Tequila now! I can hardly believe it's the same dog. She is absolutely stunning!

Tequila now! I can hardly believe it’s the same dog. She is absolutely stunning!

Amazing Transformation! Just proves that, with love, anything is possible.

Amazing Transformation! Just proves that, with love, anything is possible.

The most amazing story of all (in my opinion) is that of Dulce (now named Cali). This poor dog looked so emaciated and rough. I can’t help but believe she would not have lasted more than a day or two more had the Miracle GSD Network not swooped in and saved her.

Dulce (now named Cali) in the shelter. It's hard to look at this photo. She's just skin and bone.

Dulce (now named Cali) in the shelter. It’s hard to look at this photo. She’s just skin and bone.

Dulce/Cali (Miracle Dog #383) after just a few short, loving months

Dulce/Cali (Miracle Dog #383) after just a short, loved period. Isn’t the difference amazing?

Everyone who saw her transformation (and her forever family hasn’t had her with them very long) was thrilled. I think more happy tears were cried over this pup than any other.

Sweet Cali! Safe and LOVED at last!

Sweet Cali! Safe and LOVED at last!

There are so many happy stories with the Rescue and Miracle Network. It was wonderful to get to meet other human family members who share with us the love of rescued dogs. I hope to be sharing many of these in future posts.

Another great story is that of Karu and her puppies. Karu wasn’t at the reunion, but two of her pups were. Karu was rescued and had puppies. Karu is full German Shepherd Dog, but dad was apparently a Mastiff/Boxer mix. Two of the pups – Augusta and Gunner – had not seen each other since they had been adopted. It was clear to all that they remembered each other. It was such a joy to watch them play together.

Karu's pups, Augusta and Gunner, meet again for the first time since adoption. Gunner (the brindle) looks a little tentative

Karu’s pups, Augusta and Gunner, meet again for the first time since adoption. Gunner (the brindle) looks a little tentative

I think they're starting to remember

I think they’re starting to remember

That's my BROTHER!

That’s my BROTHER!

Yep, they're brothers, all right

Yep, they’re brothers, all right

All in all, there were easily forty-plus German Shepherd Dogs all in one place. There were absolutely no instances of fights or difficulties because we all respected each other’s space. There was ample area to walk the dogs, kiddie pools to drink or cool off in, and activities to keep the dogs entertained. There were also many children around who really enjoyed being able to pet so many beautiful dogs. That was remarkable in that the dogs seemed to enjoy the kids as much (if not more).

German Shepherds everywhere

German Shepherds everywhere

The kids and dogs got along terrifically.

The kids and dogs got along terrifically.

There were contests for the dogs (like who could lie down and stay the longest) and “hot dog” eating contest. (Not really hot dogs – they were special doggie treats that floated.) I entered Dolly at the last minute.

Kiddie Pools for drinking and cooling off (for the dogs)

Kiddie Pools for drinking and cooling off (for the dogs)

She wasn’t sure at first, but got them all. Just as they were finishing the contest, Jim decided that Cinder needed a chance to beat Dolly’s time. Not only did Cinder beat Dolly’s time, she won the contest with all ten pieces snagged in 10 seconds! A new record! She won a prize bag full of fun toys and treats!

Dolly wasn't sure about this contest

Dolly wasn’t sure about this contest

There were cakes and treats for humans and canines alike. The door prizes and raffles were really top notch.

Treats for the Dogs

Treats for the Dogs

and Cake for the Humans

and Cake for the Humans

Just a few of the prizes

Just a few of the prizes

We all had a marvelous time and are very much looking forward to next year’s get together. We’re really hoping that many of those who couldn’t make it for this reunion will be able to join us next year.

I can’t say enough about all the work put in by Southwest Michigan German Shepherd Rescue. Kristin has so much on her plate running the rescue; but she did a fantastic job of pulling everything together and assuring a great time for everyone. I can’t imagine how she found enough hours in the day to do everything she did. If Wonder Woman were real, I imagine she’d look a lot like Kristin.

The amazing Kristin

The amazing Kristin

Kristin taking a short break

Kristin taking a short break

Kristin greeting one of the pups she cared for before adoption.

Kristin greeting one of the pups she cared for before adoption.

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Comments” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

April 28, 2015

colmel:

I’m Reblogging this terrific post from Old Friends. It’s time for the Kentucky Derby. Without a doubt, my favorite winner (other than Secretariat – and y’all know how I feel about him) was Silver Charm. He had the same sire as our Untarnished, and he was born and raised on the farm from whom we bought Untarnished’s mom, Permanent Cut. I got to know Bonnie’s Poker (Silver Charm’s mom) while she lived at Old Friends. I can’t wait to go and visit him – and all the other wonderful horses at Old Friends later this spring or early summer.

In the meantime, I’m trying to heal from foot surgery (in case you were wondering why I hadn’t been around for a while). I promise to start blogging again in the very near future.

Originally posted on Old Friends Blog:

Hall-of-Famers Bob Baffert and Silver Charm share a playful moment. Hall-of-Famers Silver Charm and his trainer, Bob Baffert, share a playful moment. Photo by Tim W.

…Speaking of wonderful moments shared between our residents and their connections, here’s one that happened today. I wish I could describe the reminiscing shared by 1997 Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Silver Charm and his trainer Bob Baffert when Bob, Jill and Bode Baffert took time out from their busy pre-Derby schedules to visit Old Friends.

A Silver Charm brings good racing luck, they say... Are the two veteran Derby winners exchanging perspectives on how Saturday’s race will play out? Photo by Tim W.

Or the welcome Game On Dude gave them, especially Jill–smart horses like the Dude know who loves them the very best of all.

The best of friends. Jill Baffert, Bode Baffert and Game On Dude enjoy each other's company. Photo by Tim W. The best of friends. Jill Baffert, Bode Baffert, Bob Baffert and Game On Dude enjoy each other’s company. Photo by Tim W.

I wish I could describe the memorable time they all had being together again…

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March 17, 2015 – Farewell Ogygian

colmel:

In less than 2 weeks the world has lost two of the greatest thoroughbreds of our times. I first met Ogygian when he went to stud in Kentucky at Claiborne Farm. It doesn’t seem possible that so much time has passed. He lived to be a few days shy of 32 years old. As I said in my response to Old Friends, “He was made by Damascus and embodied all the strength and beauty of the steel of the same name. Ogygian, you lived up to your name and your birthright. God graced us with your presence for 32 years. His loan was called and we must say farewell. Never good-bye.”

Originally posted on Old Friends Blog:

Ogygian. March 17, 1983 - March 14, 2015 Ogygian. March 17, 1983 – March 14, 2015

I can’t do this. Can’t capture such a great spirit in mere words. Or describe the emptiness of his empty paddock. I just want to say that in his last hours he was with people he knew and trusted, on a mild night under a starry sky. He ended his life peacefully. We caught the colic symptoms early, Dr. Waldridge got there soon with pain relief and gave heroically of his efforts and expertise. Everything that could be humanely done to try and save Ogygian was done, and Ogygian was strong and loving through it all. My gratitude to Michael is beyond bounds. He made the right decision not to opt for radical hospital treatment that had little chance of working, to let Ogygian go peacefully in the paddock that had been his kingdom for so many years. To make all the…

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March 4, 2015 – Farewell Creator!

colmel:

Creator was so amazing. Words cannot express the depth of his character. I am sharing Old Friends’ (bless you, Beth) obituary as the photos, story, and links need to be shared. I have added a few of my own photos of Creator. Run free, beautiful boy! I’m sure that Sunshine was waiting for you to show you to the evergreen pastures.

Creator in August 2013

Creator in August 2013

Creator  Summer 2013

Creator
Summer 2013

The Great Creator Old Friends - August 2013

The Great Creator
Old Friends – August 2013

Originally posted on Old Friends Blog:

For three days I’ve waited for the words for a fitting tribute to Creator. They haven’t come. No words can begin to describe him, or the loss of him.

Creator, Feb. 2010, by Laura Battles. Creator, Feb. 2010, by Laura Battles.

Few who saw Creator at Old Friends saw him race, but in the summer of 1990 he was the best horse running in Europe, a superlative athlete worthy of his great lineage: Nasrullah, Never Bend, Mill Reef. He was already a character. Later, one of his grooms in trainer André Fabre’s barn would tell Michael how they called Creator “Houdini” because no matter how meticulously they’d fasten on his blanket, the next time they checked on him they’d find the blanket on the stall floor. Creator’s easy victory over In the Wings in the Prix Ganay was especially celebrated. To this day, Creator is remembered in Great Britain. Here is his obituary in England’s Racing…

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You CAN Go Home Again – Part 3

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

It’s HOMECOMING DAY! We woke to a very pleasant day with just a bit of a chill in the air. My anticipation level was off the charts. Had it really been 40 years since my last Homecoming game at Florida State? Sometimes it feels like only yesterday; but then I look in the mirror. Time certainly has raced by.

Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium

Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium

For my school, however, the passage of time has served to improve it and make it even more beautiful. The appropriately named Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium is one such improvement, and I could hardly wait to go inside and watch the game.

At breakfast in our fantastic B&B (The McFarlin House in Quincy, Florida – lots more to come on this, the area and the restaurants we visited within the next few posts) we met some other people who had come to go to Homecoming. It was really nice as most of the people who were visiting were in our age bracket. We shared stories over breakfast. Our largest concern was where to park. Lots fill up very fast, and as we aren’t high-dollar boosters, we knew we’d have to find a parking space a ways from the stadium. Luckily, one of the other Seminoles at breakfast had a friend who was holding spaces at a service station just up West Pensacola Street from the stadium. He kindly offered one of those spaces to us. Our parking dilemma had vanished. Now it was just hard to wait for game time.

We decided to do a little more sightseeing around the campus and Tallahassee. Football Saturdays in Tallahassee make for big crowds. Homecoming? Even more so. We drove around the city and, much to my surprise, I noted that there were a number of places still in existence even so long after my days at school. A word to the wise, if you want to try to eat at a local restaurant – especially one near the university, get there early! I do mean EARLY. It seems that folks come early, start eating and drinking, and only leave when it’s time to go to the stadium. Many don’t leave at all. They stay and watch the game on televisions.

(The Late) Magnolia Hall (small concrete-block building)

(The Late) Magnolia Hall (small concrete-block building in left bottom of photo)

Sadly, my freshman dorm, Magnolia Hall, is no longer. It was far from an attractive dorm – concrete block and sparse – but it was well-built and had some interesting history. As Florida State University was an all-women’s school until the 1940s, there were no facilities for male students. After the Second World War, the GI Bill made an advanced education available to multitudes of men who, otherwise, would not have received one. Magnolia Hall was the first building used for a dorm for men on Florida State University’s campus. There were two enormous pecan trees in the courtyard between the u-shaped dormitory wings.

After riding around for a while, we headed back to Quincy to get ready for the game. We wanted to be certain to get an early start so that we could meet up with the guys at the service station and keep our parking space. What fun they were! We made certain to buy a bottle of good bourbon to share. It was the right decision.

Closer to game time, we walked down Pensacola Street to the stadium. The crowd was in a terrific mood, and we were all anticipating another FSU win. Florida State had gone undefeated in 2013-2014, and had continued that trend in the fall of 2014. There was absolutely no reason to think that Homecoming would not add another “W” to their record. Walking to the game reminded me of my days as a student when all of us walked to the “old” stadium from our dorms. Of course, my legs were much younger in those days, and the hills seemed much smaller.

Bobby Bowden Field (From Our Seats)

Bobby Bowden Field (From Our Seats)

Once inside, I was flabbergasted by the scope of Bobby Bowden Field and the “new” Doak Campbell Stadium. My dear husband, Jim, had really managed to get us some terrific seats. We were on about the 45 yard line and only 43 rows up. We were close enough to get a real feel for the game, yet far enough up to see the whole field. Whoever has those seats on a season-ticket basis has true gems.

One of Julie's FABULOUS photos (Osceola & Renegade)

One of Julie’s FABULOUS photos (Osceola & Renegade)

During the trip, I kept in touch with one of my friends from Facebook who was also going to be at the game. It’s funny how one feels as though one really “knows” Facebook friends. Over a couple of seasons, I’d become truly friendly with photographer extraordinaire and moderator of one of the best FSU pages on Facebook – FSU GO NOLES!!!! >—-;;–FEAR IT –;;–>>. It turns out, Julie is a native Michgander who has moved to Florida. I was really anxious to meet her in person. Luckily, we were able to keep in touch via instant messaging and I managed to find her and her very nice husband at the game. She’s every bit as nice in person as she is on Facebook, and I felt I found a true friend. Of course, she’s every bit as rabid a Seminole fan as I, and it was nice to meet a new friend with whom I share that interest.

Close-up of Bobby Bowden Field from Our Seats

Close-up of Bobby Bowden Field from Our Seats

I headed back to my seat which was no easy feat! The stadium is gorgeous, but the close rows make it much easier for more nimble, younger patrons. Everyone along the way was incredible about grabbing my hands and helping me through the maze of feet and knees. Nicer, more helpful people you couldn’t wish to meet.

Even Sky Turned "Garnet" Prior to Start of Homecoming Game

Even Sky Turned “Garnet” Prior to Start of Homecoming Game

Once I managed to make it back to my seat, I found that there was a really funny younger fellow sitting behind us. He was so quick-witted, intelligently sarcastic, and spontaneous. I wish I’d gotten his name. Not long thereafter, his brother – a quieter, more reserved young man – joined him. We started chatting with them. It turns out that their parents are FSU alumni, and they have been coming to the games since they were only about 8 or 9 years old. When I told them that this was my first game back since the mid-1970s, they were shocked and excited for me. They told me that it was “so cool” to be sitting with me for my true “Homecoming.” It also pleased them to know that this was Jim’s maiden visit to the stadium and his first-ever, in-person, FSU football game. They do know the owner of the seats we were in and promised to tell him how much we enjoyed those seats. All the folks around us were welcoming and truly a joy to attend the game with.

Osceola & Renegade Planting the Flaming Spear

Osceola & Renegade Planting the Flaming Spear

I’m much older and (hopefully) wiser, but I still felt that surge of Seminole pride when the game kicked off. Osceola and Renegade were not part of the games when I was attending the university, but I believe that they are the best mascots in sports – not only collegiate football. I got goosebumps and chills ran down my spine when Renegade galloped out onto the field and Osceola planted the flaming spear in the center of the field. For the entirety of the game, it was absolutely as though time had returned me to the days when Saturday night meant going to an FSU football game.

Osceola & Renegade (Revving up the Crowd in the Student Section)

Osceola & Renegade (Revving up the Crowd in the Student Section)

The game ended as it should – another FSU victory. We got to watch Heisman-trophy winner, Jameis Winston, in his final FSU Homecoming game (although we didn’t realize that at the time). We knew that Rashad Greene was a senior and this would be his last Homecoming as a player also. Nick O’Leary (golf great, Jack Nicklaus’ grandson) was also playing in his last Homecoming game. I’m so glad that we got to see those champions play.

Some Action from the Homecoming Game

Some Action from the Homecoming Game

After the game finished, we made our way uphill to our car. I still haven’t figured out how it could feel like it was uphill both directions. The crowd was in an understandably good mood. Just as it was 40 years ago, there were some kids who had over-imbibed. Some things never change. That was the rarity, though, and most everyone was courteous with each other.

We stayed and chatted with our new friends in the parking lot until the crowds and traffic thinned. It was a perfect way to “tail-gate” until it was easy to get out and back on the road to Quincy. We watched as the Virginia Cavalier (our foe for the game) buses passed by and headed out of town. That was our cue to head out. We had wonderful time. It was clear to us both that this would have to be a new, annual tradition for us. Perhaps we wouldn’t make Homecoming each year, but we WOULD try to come to at least one football game in Tallahassee each year from now on.

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Comments” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about. 

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

You CAN Go Home Again – Part 2

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

Unconquered!

Unconquered!

On day 2 of our trip to Tallahassee and my very belated true “homecoming,” we headed back to the stadium to get a better look at the marvel that now occupies the space where the structure I knew used to stand. I must say that this building is marvelous. There are wonderful statues around the exterior. I’ve already talked about the Bobby Bowden statue, but even more recognizable to the public (and deeply meaningful to those of us who went to school here) is the “Unconquered” statue of Osceola on Renegade. You’ll notice, I never fail to recognize Renegade in the same breath – he is, after all, a horse. During the day it is remarkable. At night, it’s an amazing sight to behold!

Unconquered at Night
From there we walked the entire circumference of the stadium. Immediately adjacent is the Dick Howser baseball facility. We stopped to admire the statues that are outside. One depicts a family of Native American Seminoles. It’s really beautiful. I love that my university never forgets who originally owned the land and who have graciously allowed us to use their tribal name.

Indigenous People (the Seminole)

Indigenous People (the Seminole)

Another of the wonderful statues is “Sportsmanship.” I can truly believe that Coach Bowden had some input as to that one. In his day, Coach was always sure to impress upon his team that while winning was exceedingly important, good sportsmanship was paramount.

Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship

Sportsmanship Statue - Close-up

Sportsmanship Statue – Close-up

There was a mandatory stop to photograph our Championship Wall. Wish we’d gone into the “sod cemetery,” but that will have to wait until my next homecoming trip. The photo below was taken by my friend, Julie Bauman, who I was thrilled to finally meet at the game. More on that in the next post.

Championship Wall

Championship Wall

Sod Cemetery Plaque Commemorating our 2013 Championship (Photo Credit to Julie Bauman)

Sod Cemetery Plaque Commemorating our 2013 Championship
(Photo Credit to Julie Bauman)

Our next stop was a visit to the Hall of Fame. As you walk through the doors, the first thing one sees are the three National Championship trophies – three gleaming crystal footballs. I have to say that, as a true-garnet Nole, the sight simultaneously brought tears to my eyes and a huge lump in my throat. They are a source of great pride for all alumni and fans. There are also banners showing achievements of those associated with Florida State University in all college athletic programs. Most notably there was a banner highlighting Jameis Winston’s Heisman Trophy award. (Unfortunately, the trophy, itself, was not on site.)

1993 National Championship #1

1993
National Championship #1

1999 National Championship #2

1999
National Championship #2

2013 National Championship #3

2013
National Championship #3

Jameis Winston's Heisman Trophy Win Banner

Jameis Winston’s Heisman Trophy Win Banner

As I stood in the middle of the hall, a familiar flash rushed by. My husband, Jim, saw him better than I. I only caught his flaming hair flying through the doors into one of the “off limits” areas. Red Lightning! Red is the now famous “ball boy.” Red has taken the job of ball boy to a whole new level. He is beloved by the whole team for his enthusiasm and dedication to the team. During games, you can see Red dashing up and down the sidelines. He performs his duties with such gusto and aplomb that he has become a celebrity of sorts. Red has also been known to wade into the fray to protect his players should difficulties break out. It seems that no Seminole or member of the opposition wants to tangle with our intrepid ball boy, so they back off. Seeing Red was an unexpected pleasure.

Red Lighting as He's Normally Seen

Red Lighting as He’s Normally Seen

Red with Jameis and the Heisman Trophy

Red with Jameis and the Heisman Trophy

We then walked through the athletics museum that is part of the Hall. I recognized members of the Hall of Fame. One I especially recognized was Ron Sellers (aka “Jingle Joints) who was until this year the FSU career record holder as a receiver. His accomplishments are even more spectacular considering he was limited to only 30 games due to the rules in place at the time. I had the pleasure of meeting Ron when he was a client of a firm I used to work for. What a fine gentleman.

Ron Sellers (aka Jingle Joints)

Ron Sellers
(aka Jingle Joints)

One of the displays that really meant a whole lot to me was the case that discussed the legacy of Osceola and Renegade. In the case are Renegade #1’s blanket and bridle along with Osceola’s boots. During my time at the University, that tradition had not yet started. I’m exceedingly glad that it’s part of the fabric of FSU football and life now.

Osceola and Renegade Display

Osceola and Renegade Display

The Story of Osceola & Renegade

The Story of Osceola & Renegade

As we were leaving the Hall, we were told that one of the campus buses (the Osceola bus) was free and would drive all around campus. We could get on or off at any stop and wander then jump back on. We thought that was a great idea and rode around for a while. It was so interesting to see how little the campus had changed in some ways and how beautifully it had been improved in others. I must add that every student we came upon was polite and friendly. I had to wonder if we had been that welcoming in our day. It was so nice to feel as though the students were pleased to see us “old timers” visiting. The buses stopped running in time for the Homecoming Parade to take over the streets.

Garnet & Gold Guys 2014 Version

Garnet & Gold Guys
2014 Version

While I was in school, I don’t remember attending a single Homecoming Parade. We made up for it this year. We were down by the Florida Capitol and saw that the parade was beginning on a nearby street. We walked over to that street and joined the group of local residents who were watching. What fun! We just missed Osceola and Renegade (our timing was just off and I was really disappointed), but we did get to enjoy the remainder of the parade and it was terrific being a part of the community for it. It was such fun seeing the “Garnet and Gold Guys” in person. Yes, they’re the latest iteration of the crazy guys that are always shown on television when an FSU game is broadcast.

Garnet & Gold Guys Homecoming Parade

Garnet & Gold Guys
Homecoming Parade

After an extremely full day, we headed off to dinner. I will be devoting a whole post to the restaurants and B&B at a later time.

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Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!

You CAN Go Home Again – Part 1

If you’re reading this in email or on Facebook, click on the title! It will take you directly to the blog (an easier viewing page.) If you’re already in my blog, WELCOME! (One more hint: If you click on any of the photos in the blog, they should open up in a browser window so you can get a better look!)

 

I know the old saying is, “You CAN’T go home again,” but I most adamantly disagree. I recently tested my position by returning to Florida State University (my alma mater) for the first time in – well, more years than I’m going to admit to. Actually, it’s probably more years ago than many of you have been alive. My dear husband, Jim, bought tickets to FSU’s Homecoming game as a birthday gift.

 

I haven’t been as excited to go somewhere since we returned to Waynesville, North Carolina a couple of years ago. It was extra special for us, as Jim had never seen the campus and I was anxious to share this beautiful place and seen of so many happy memories with him. Neither of us was disappointed.

Façade of One of the Buildings on FSU Campus

Façade of One of the Buildings on FSU Campus

Let me say – right here and now – that Florida State University has one of the most beautiful campuses I’ve ever seen. Sure, I will happily admit that I am very prejudiced. I will also adamantly argue that anyone who sees it must be impressed with its beauty. The administration has taken great care to maintain the charm and beauty by continuing the same style architecture and building materials throughout any and all new and re-construction. The only buildings that don’t seem to “match” (which are only a couple) are those that were already there when I was a student. I was told that members of the planning committee had actually taken trips to other universities around the country (including the University of Michigan) where the campuses have maintained their beauty even through many construction phases.

 

Once we got settled at our Bed & Breakfast (The McFarlin House in Quincy. A whole new post coming up about the B&B, restaurants, and travel), we headed for campus. I have to admit I was a little apprehensive at first. I had such sweet memories of the beautiful campus. As I said earlier, I was not at all disappointed. Our first stop was the stadium. Jim wanted to be certain that we could find it easily prior to the game.

Doak Campbell Stadium

Doak Campbell Stadium

Holy SMOKES! This was NOT the stadium I remembered. Frankly, the stadium I remembered was not much to look at. Sure, we all had a ball going to games (even though, back in those days, we mostly lost); however, the stadium was pretty old and standard. THIS stadium is amazing! It’s the stadium that Bobby Bowden built. I foresee another whole post about my awe and respect for Bobby Bowden, but I do not think I’m overstating that without him, Doak Campbell Stadium would never be as grand.

Bobby Bowden Statue at Doak Campbell Stadium

Bobby Bowden Statue at Doak Campbell Stadium

Since we were at the stadium, I wanted to find the statue of “the man” – Bobby Bowden – so I could take photos. As we drove around the stadium, I saw that there were many statues that I wanted to get a better look at, but my focus was on that one statue. We found it!

Bobby Bowden THE Coach

Bobby Bowden
THE Coach

After that, we headed to the main administration building – Westcott. No sight better exemplifies Florida State University than looking down College Avenue, through the arch, past the fountain, at the beautiful, Gothic, brick façade of Westcott. It was a beautiful, autumn day. I couldn’t stop tears from welling up in my eyes and spilling over onto my cheeks. It had been a very long time since I’d gazed on that place that had meant so much to me. What amazed me the most is that the clock could just as well have been turned back to my first year at Florida State. The kids were wearing clothing very similar to what we wore (although, trust me, we never had anyone wearing “National Champion” anything in those days).

Westcott (Florida State University)

Westcott
(Florida State University)

Another View of Westcott

Another View of Westcott

From there we walked to one place that is deeply ingrained in my memories at Florida State University. The Sweet Shop! This was – at the time – a place where kids could get burgers, fries, hot dogs, milkshakes (oh, those milkshakes) and all kinds of ice cream delights. It’s changed some. Food is now mostly coffee, floats, and desserts with some wraps available. The interior has also changed some. It used to be crammed with tables and booths. It was unceasingly noisy. Now large sofas are arranged around a more open area with fewer tables. The booths remain, but the whole feel is much more studious and quiet – even at Homecoming.

The Sweet Shop - Then

The Sweet Shop – Then

 

 

 

 

 

The Sweet Shop - Now

The Sweet Shop – Now

The Sweet Shop Menu

The Sweet Shop Menu

 

 

 

 

After several hours of deep FSU immersion, we headed back to the B&B in Quincy and made dinner plans. I am going to devote a whole post to the wonderful B&B (The McFarlin House) and to restaurants in and around the Tallahassee area.

 

Tomorrow was going to be a big day! We planned to spend the entire day walking the campus, seeing the sights, and reminiscing about my days as a student at Florida State University.

 

Remember, I really love to hear your comments. Just click on the “Comments” link and let me know what you think. Also, let me know if there’s something you’d like to hear more about.

 

Looking Forward to “Seeing” You Here Next Time on Colmel’s Blog!