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 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!