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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.
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.
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.
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!
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).
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.
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.