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!

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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.

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!