Louis G. Pol – The Traveling Dean

I began this blog in March 2013 because I wanted to document some observations about my travel experiences in India. As I reflect back on other travel taken prior to March 2013, I wish I had begun posting about my adventures in 2003 as I made my way to St. Petersburg, Russia, or 1992 during a trip to France and Italy, or in 1991 while travelling in Romania and Moldova. Oh, well…

I am the dean of the College of Business Administration at the University of Nebraska at Omaha (formerly Omaha University). I became the dean in August 2003, which means that at this point in time, March 2017, I have been the dean for nearly 14 years, a very long time in one place for a business school dean. The average stay for a business school dean is about 4.5 years. Prior to being named dean, I was a faculty member here, at Rollins College, and at Memphis State University, but not all at the same time. If you want to learn more about me, I am providing a link to my website http://cba.unomaha.edu/lpol. Also, you may wonder what I look like, so here is a picture.

dean-pol-full

As you can see, I am in my official dean uniform. The sculpture in the background is one created by Jun Kaneko. You should look him up.

My goal in regard to this blog is simple. I want to share my experiences with anyone who wishes to know more about the places I have visited. At the same time, if you continue to read, you will gain some insight into my opinions about the places I visit and the people I meet. From time-to-time, you will learn more as I offer comparisons of places, including those experienced before I began this blog. I will try to remain apolitical as I write about what I see, but I will fail at times. Keep in mind that it is March 2017, and remaining apolitical is most difficult.

Finally, I enjoy receiving your comments and corrections.

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San Cipriano Picentino–The Ardovinos

As noted in the first of this series of posts, the major goal of this trip was to visit my great-grandparents’ hometown, San Cipriano Picentino, or SCP as my cousin Vinnie refers to it. SCP is a beautiful small town that is a short distance from Salerno, and about 67 kilometers (40 miles) from Naples—about an hour’s drive. The roads around SCP wind up, down, and around a very hilly countryside. The history of SCP has been traced back to 88 A.D., and over time the area has been influenced by the Romans, the Normans, and the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. Also, SCP is only 40 kilometers (24 miles) from Vesuvius. I wonder if people first came to SCP to get out of the way of the 79 A.D. eruption that buried Pompeii and Herculaneum.

san-cipriano-picentino-italy-Hillside

We did not stay in SCP for a long time, just a few hours. We spent some minutes with the mayor’s assistant, the mayor (a very short visit), our genealogist consultant who gave us new information about several family members, cousins who we met at a church known as the Parrocchiale (our great grandmother’s church), and other cousins that we met along via Ardovino, our street. The church is more than 1,000 years old and has frescas that are being restored (some goofy people painted and plastered them over) as well as a few glass plates in the floor, making it possible to view a few church artifacts.

I grew up believing that the name Ardovino translated to English as “hot wine”. Ardo means burns, blaze, be on fire, combust, or filled with strong emotion (no shortage of this last one in our family). Vino means, well, vino. However, I have learned that there is a second definition of Ardovino, brave friend. Cousins, please weigh in on this.

Outside Church

The vegetation around SCP is made up of fruit trees, hazelnut and chestnut trees, and the usual collection of olive trees and vineyards (so, is there a place in Italy where there are no vineyards or olive trees?). The wine in and around SCP is first-rate. They’ve had a long time to get good at making wine and on equal timeframe for drinking it. Italians like to celebrate (who doesn’t), so a number of festivals are held throughout the year. September 16th is the day of the protector, and there is a major festival on that day. Throughout September, there are a series of wine and olive oil festivals. On the last Sunday in October there is a chestnut festival, complete with a big parade and donkey races. I’ve never seen a donkey race, but I understand that the races are very competitive. On December 8th, The Immacolata (immaculate) is celebrated, followed by all of the celebrations connect to the Christmas season. In sum, there’s always a party to be found in SCP. We didn’t find one, because we weren’t there long enough.

Italy Vineyard Generic

On our way out of town (this is where we split up and five of us drove to Salerno and the Amalfi coast, while the others went back to Rome), we stopped to eat at the Villa Rizzo Resort and Spa. Rizzo was my great grandmother’s maiden name. The Villa Rizzo is a spectacular place, one where we plan to stay during our next visit. Of course, we speculated about the name Rizzo and did it mean that we are somehow connected to the spa and resort. Perhaps we can get an answer to this question during our next visit.

Villa R Resort

jacuzzi Villa Rizzo Resort

Villa R Dining

The pictures below were taken in SCP. You can see the hilly countryside and rural nature, yet much of the housing is more modern. I have also added a picture of my cousins Danny, Antonio, and George, left to right. Our cousin Antonio lives in SCP. Danny as the son of George, who is the son of my mother’s older brother. Got that? George and I are first cousins. A conversation about second cousins, cousins removed, and the other distinctions that none of us understand will have to wait for another day. Let’s get back to the sea.

SCP Old Church

 

Pink House SCP

Cousins SCP

Roma—The Pope Had Some New Neighbors

I traveled to Rome for the first time in 1992, and I have not been back since 1997. On previous visits, I spent time at the University of Rome with a group of demographers. I made two presentations regarding my work in business demography, and commiserated with several people about some joint work as well. I also met for the first time my cousin Addie Ciampa. Addie was born in the U.S., but now lives in Rome. She gave me a tour of the city on the back of her motor scooter. It was great fun, and exhilarating, especially when a four lane road turned into ten lanes of cars, motorcycles, buses, and motorbikes all trying to see who could get away the fastest from a stoplight. And, five of those lanes of mayhem were coming in our direction. It was like a quarter mile drag race, except that no one drove in one straight line. We moved quickly darting in and out of traffic, slipping off to narrow streets filled with shops, restaurants, and people, everywhere. I saw places that are not on the publicized top ten, twenty, or fifty “things to see” lists, the best way to view a place when you know so little about it. Thank you Addie.

the forum

But, as noted in a previous post, this trip was different. I really enjoyed traveling with my cousins, even when we were worn out at the end of the day and a bit cranky. Meeting up with our two Rome cousins and their families was the bomb. We ended up eating (that’s what Italians do) at one of my cousin’s neighborhood restaurant haunts. There we were, over 20 of us sitting at a long rectangular table hearing family stories about the past and present and eating great food. Our lives have gone in many different directions, and I hoped that the night would not end—we had so much to talk about. It was a Ardovino (our common family home) infestation.

Rome pic 2

Rome pic

Our first Air B and B arrangements in Rome blew up, and we were left scrambling to find another place to stay. So, Janet stayed calm and just made things happen, as she often does. She found another B and B, this time in Via Stazione Vatican. Yes, we were the Pope’s new neighbors, just across the street from St. Peters. Below is the first Vatican City picture I took from the window of our family room. The across the street entry way to the Vatican was very busy most of the days with a steady line of cars and foot traffic. As might be expected, the odd tourists, usually in groups of two, or three would walk up to the guard house, probably asking if they could come in and stroll about. They were turned away gently, but firmly. The night picture of our view was taken by my cousin George. Keep in mind what you have read about Pope Francis and his living preferences. He has deemed the usual Pope digs as too fancy for his tastes, and bunks in another part of the Vatican. I suspect that his bedroom was no more than 200 yards or so from our Air B and B.

St. Peters

st-peters-night-time.jpg

On Wednesday’s, the Pope holds court at the Piazza San Pietro. During our visit, the crowd began to gather up quite early, in part because Pope Francis gets the show going before the scheduled 10 AM start time. You can see the gathering of the crowd below, as well as a picture of a member of his Swiss Guard. About 9:40 AM, the Popemobile began to make its way along the pathways/aisles leading up to the stage. At various points along the way the Popemobile stopped, and Pope Francis got out to shake some hands, to bless the sinners, and to kiss a few babies. There was a sense of excitement and awe as he made his way through the audience. If you go to Rome, I suggest going. Even for the less religious, the event is spectacular.

Pope Parade

Red White Outfits

Dressed Up People

(Newlyweds)

Pope Parade Man

 

On the Wednesday we were there, and perhaps on other Wednesday’s, Pope Francis gathered up newlywed couples and had them seated next to the stage where he was positioned. Couples who participate sign up well in advance. These couples had great side-row seating for all of the prayers, proclamations, songs, and guest entertainment for the day. For example, that day they watched up close a Korean Taekwondo group give a snappy performance to the song, Ave Maria (two versions)—a bit odd, but when in Rome… My cousin Jared and his wife Jackie are kind of newly married, and signed up early so they were near the stage. Jared was able to take some great pictures of Pope Francis as he shook hands and had brief exchanges with members of the newlywed group. I am including several of his pictures for you to see.

pope 1

pope 2

 

No trip to Rome (well, at least the first trip) is complete without seeing the usual sights, the Coliseum, the Forum, Circus Maximus, and the Vatican. Yes, I had seen those places before, but I had not been in St. Peter’s Basilica or the Sistine Chapel. The combination of art and architecture in each location is magnificent. While I will pick a different time of year to visit Rome the next time I go (too many tourists in late May/early June), the crowds did not lessen the beauty of what we saw.

 

White Curved Ceillng

Gorgeous Ceilig that looks like half tunnel

Jesus Red Robe

Cloud Painting

Basilica 1

basilica 2

basilica 3

basilica 4

One more observation. As many of you know, for much of recorded history humans have relocated or re-purposed art and building materials and some of the best examples can be found in Italy. Got a coliseum that has seen better days and is not used so much anymore? No problem, we can take that marble and other stone off your hands to build a church or a house. Got some art from Constantinople or Egypt that looks like it might want to live elsewhere? No worries, we’ve got the museum, church, or private collection for you.

Venice (Venezia)–Batman with No Pants

Most of you know at least a bit about Venice. You have seen the pictures, given some thought about living on canals and not streets, and perhaps have imagined what it must have been like when the ships of the last millennium were loaded with goods, and headed out for the cities along the Mediterranean Sea, India, and China. In addition, you have read about Marco Polo. His book. The Travels of Marco Polo, describes the wonders of Mongolia, Burma, Persia, China, Kublai Khan, the Silk Road, and other places and persons of the 14th century. Marco Polo’s birthplace and home was Venice.

Venice in the 21st century is still fascinating, but it is no longer the mercantile center it once was. It is now the City of Venice and the capital of the Veneto Region, not the independent Republic of Venice it was before it became part of the Kingdom of Italy in 1866 and the Italian Republic in 1946. The city is also known by names that still fit. It is still the “Queen of the Adriatic”, “City of Water”, “City of Masks”, “City of Bridges” and the “City of Canals”, although I want to add one more, “City of Glass”.

canal pick 2

The decline of Venice actually began centuries ago. You have probably already read about rising waters that threaten the city several times per year, and in the long term could lead to the abandonment of all structures when surging seas overcome coastal cities throughout the world. Perhaps you have heard/read the missives about how large cruise ships disgorge their many thousands of passengers each day, overwhelming the islands and its canals. However, long ago political turmoil and health apocalypses initiated the decline. The failure to hold Thessalonica against the Ottemans and the Fall of Constantinople, both in the 15th century, were significant in the downward path. The Black Plague was responsible for the 50,000 deaths between 1575 and 1578, and the Italian Plague killed one-third of Venice’s 150,00 people between 1629 and 1631. Keep in mind that today’s city population is just above 50,000, down from an estimated 200,000 early in the 14th century.

Canal pic

dock at airport

Arrival at Marco Polo Airport is a most interesting one, starting with the last few miles of aircraft decent when it’s possible to observe the canals and some of the 188 islands from the air. Normally, upon deplaning we find ourselves moving to a parking garage, to a shuttle that takes us to a rental car, to a cab stand, or to a curb side location to catch up with an Uber driver. At Marco Polo airport, you walk down a long corridor to a dock where you catch a boat ride either to another dock or directly to your hotel. The boats move fast in the more open water, but as the water craft get closer to city traffic, movement slows and a lot. Traffic jams ensue, with a combination of boats and gondolas jockeying for position. There are a few hand signals here and there, but for the most part tempers are under control. I saw few signs of road rage (canal rage), no fisticuffs, no one attacking a gondola with an oar or tire iron, and no one was shot, stabbed or maced. Below is a picture of the Hotel Bonvecchiati, the place where we stayed. Yes, our boat took us right up to the guest entry of the hotel.

 Hotel B

Venice boat gondola

You may be wondering, what does this fool mean by “Batman with no Pants?” Well, Venice is also known for its art, art museums and palaces where even more art, largely paintings and sculptures, are exhibited. Major works by Bellini, Carpaccio, Veronese, Giorgione, Titan, Tintoretto, and Botticelli tease our minds and bring us back to the question, “How did they do that?” A short time after entering the Piazza San Marco (and the basilica and museums), I fell in love with Venetian art, again. Now, for Batman. We all see something different when we look at paintings. We might be fascinated by the facial expressions of the subjects being painted, enthralled by the vividness of colors or uniqueness of brush strokes, and/or just focus on the historical significance of a work. For me, it’s all of the above, and more. But, every now and then I see something that for me is different. Also, I have a tendency to name things, even if to others I might seem silly. So, look at the picture below, and at the canvas in the center. It’s beautiful. The subjects jump off the canvas, in this case down at you (it’s on the ceiling). The colors and facial expressions are those we will carry with us for a long time. But look again. There’s a guy suspended, nearly naked, except for a black mask and a red cape. Thus, we have Batman with no pants, or in Italian, Batman niente pantaloni or Batman senza pantaloni.

batman with no pants

Anyone who visits Venice will be advised by someone else who has been there before to stop at Murano and Burano. The advisors are correct, go to those places. Murano is known for glass sculptures and Burano is famous for brightly painted buildings. The glass work at Murano is amazing. Every kind of work from the most traditional to freaky contemporary can be found, and purchased (yes, I bought something and I’ll post a picture next month after it arrives). The artists are amazingly creative. I could have spent days there, looking at various pieces, talking to artists and thinking “How did they do that?”

Murano Face

(Murano Art)

Murano Light

(Murano Art)

Burano Buildings

(Burano Buildings)

Leonardo De Vinci Airport and the Smoke Box

I missed one more observation regarding the Leonardo De Vinci Airport. In many previous posts, I have noted unusual aspects of different airports such as the glass enclosed display of things you should not carry on to a flight (Bejing), a life sized replica of a red fire hydrant decked out with turf so that travelling dogs can “hike a leg” (Charlotte), and the mammoth size statue of John Wayne (Orange County). Well, in Rome, among all of those shops and gates is the Smoke Box, a small rectangular shape cubicle with a roof designed for smokers. You can see my photo below (second photo, first one is in the terminal). Its capacity is 8 people, but I think that the maximum is closer to 12 if everyone stands real close to each other. The just a bit of haze inside made the inhabitants appear surreal, like something from a Stephen King short story or novel. In addition, no cigarette, no problem, just walk in and breath deep. The second hand smoke will do the trick.

Leonardo De Vinci Airport

Smoke Box

San Cipriano Picentino (SCP)–The Anticipation

I traveled to SCP in late May /early June with Janet and a number of my cousins on a quest. Of course, we would see many of the usual sights in Venice, Florence and Rome, but underlying the joint travel was a return to our roots. SCP was the home of my great grandmother and great grandfather, Teresa and Vincenzo Ardovino. They made their way to New York early in the 20th century, arriving November 2, 1902. Moveover, I lived with Teresa, or Nunny as she was known, in her last years of life—the early years of my life.

SCP

We knew a lot about Nunny, Vincenzo, their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren before we left the U.S., but there were questions whose answers we hoped (and still hope) to find. Vincenzo and Teresa left SCP for no clear reason, except for a rumored falling out Vincenzo had over furniture (Vincenzo was a furniture maker and carpenter) built for the daughter of SCP’s mayor. Or, was it something else? SCP may be small, but it’s very nice—the view of the Bay of Naples is not too bad either. We also knew that their oldest son, Americo, did not travel with them in 1902, arriving in the U.S. several years later. Americo was the child of Teresa’s first marriage. Her husband died, leaving her a young widow. She met and married Vincenzo, and started a life that eventually spanned two continents.

But, there was much more. As noted above, they arrived November 2, 1902 in New York. For the next 40 years, until February 26, 1942, they were unregistered aliens (planet unknown). Yes, my grandmother, Nunny, was an illegal alien in the U.S. for 40 years. I do not think she was a threat to national security over those years. And, there were untold thousands like her. She and her family lived, worked, payed taxes, and otherwise contributed to the strong fabric of our nation. Then, 11 years after she registered, Nunny decided to become a U.S. Citizen. On May 18, 1953, at age 79, she filed for naturalization, and on June 22, 1953 she became a U.S. citizen. Why she chose citizenship so late in life is a question that we are unlikely to be able to answer. There are no family stories to provide any insight. As noted above, I lived with Nunny and my grandparents, and I do not recall any conversation regarding the why. However, I was four years old, making me hardly the dude who might remember anything at all. Perhaps my mother and cousins can speculate. Vincenzo, on the other hand, died an Italian citizen.

Over the next several posts, I will tell you more about our travels. However, just a few more facts before I close. The first legs of our (Janet and Lou) trip involved Omaha (Eppley) to Chicago (O’Hare), Chicago to Rome (Leonardo De Vinci), and Rome to Venice (Marco Polo). The flight time from Chicago to Rome was just at nine hours (4, 817 miles). The ride was a B787, a very comfortable and well-outfitted plane. Much to my disappointment, there were no ‘unusual’ people to observe, except for the guy across the aisle one row up that had a snack for every moment of the flight when he wasn’t sleeping (the Twizzlers looked good), and managed to get crackers, chips, and crumbs all over the plane. It was a nasty mess.

SCP 2

A side story here. I had not been at Leonardo De Vinci Airport in more than 20 years. Its remodel and expansion is terrific, although the desire to drive all foot traffic by and through the many shops that line the walkthroughs between terminals is a bit annoying. Their airport has a special place in my mind. In 1992, I was in Leonardo De Vinci after having been in Northern Ireland and Romania (multiple times) in 1991 and 1992. While this was before the creation of ‘no fly’ lists, the security staff in Rome was busy looking out for passenger safety and weird folks like me. I clearly remember being escorted from the Alitalia check in line, back to an office for interrogation purposes. I discovered the reason later, and it was a good one given the times.

I learned that when the Soviet Union disintegrated and the countries of Eastern Europe became independent, new ‘partnerships’ emerged. The story, unconfirmed by me (so if you have a better one let me know) is that arms began to pass between Romania and the IRA. Thus, a younger guy (yes, it was that long ago) who was traveling alone and had spent a fair amount of time in Romania and Northern Ireland would be due some extra attention. And, I got it. We reviewed my travel itinerary, discussed the reasons for my travel, and after about ten minutes they let me go. Fascinating, as Spock might have said.

Sanger Texas in Early May

I was back in north Texas in the second week of May visiting my dad and sisters. I stayed with my sister in North Dallas, whose home is less than a 60-minute ride to Sanger. For the first time in a decade, I was able to get on 635 west (LBJ Expressway), connect to 35E north and get almost to Denton without road construction! And, the traffic was manageable. I saw only one car that had caught on fire (a nasty mess that brought out two firetrucks and all kinds of other emergency vehicles), the usual number of “let’s drive 85 plus” crazies that manage to avoid crashing, well most of the time, into cars in front of or beside them, and the “I can’t stay in my lane” truck drivers who scare the ___ out of everyone, including the 85 plus crowd.

North Texas is really nice in early May. The wildflowers are out, with bright blue, yellow and white colors covering roadway mediums and the side hills that grow up from the concrete and blacktop slabs that carry traffic between and among cities, towns, farms—the great expanse called Texas. The temperatures are moderate and cool at night, although that searing heat, the kind of heat that makes you start to sweat before you even leave your house, is just around the corner. Crops are off to a good start, but the plantings are still young which means that you can still see the black clay soil from which the beans and such grow out of.

Wildflowers

The stories of the day in the May 13 edition of the Dallas Morning News were much like those found on-line, on the air, and in magazines and newspapers throughout the country. Yes, there were shootings, stabbings and other kinds of mayhem from the night before. There was also the coverage of the possible meeting between Kim Jong Un and President Trump that may be delayed or not happen at all. The lead story in the news was about NAFTA. Many Texans are worried about changes in the trade agreement that could affect the flow of goods between Mexico and Texas, especially in south Texas cities such as Brownsville, Laredo, and Harlingen. Then there was a follow-up on the Ellen’s (restaurant) and NRA flap. Ellen’s is the west end Dallas restaurant that offered to donate a portion of its proceeds to support “reasonable and effective gun regulations”. NRA members objected to this effort. After a spirited competition on Yelp to dis or praise Ellen’s food and service, and telephone threats to shoot up the place, life is calming down and business at the diner is booming. I suspect that we have not seen the last of this one.

Ellens

As I was boarding my flight from Omaha to Dallas, some interesting thoughts went through my mind and I wondered if others were thinking the same way. I began to think about the Southwest flight that had engine failure and an explosion that threw shrapnel that knocked out a window, nearly resulting in a passenger being sucked out of the aircraft. And, that passenger died. So, as I walked back from the entrance and considered which seat to choose, I thought about the scenario “if it happens again” where would be the best place to be seated (probably toward the back of the plane, aisle seat)? Then I sat down in my preferred location, window seat, not far from an engine. Oh well, I must not have been worried that much.

One more thing. I continue to be amazed at the life, near-death, and re-emergence of Dallas Love Field. As noted in previous posts, for me it has three significant advantages. First, it’s Southwest Airlines, my preferred mode of flight. Second, Love Field is only a 15-minute drive to my sister’s home near the intersection of Marsh Lane and LBJ freeway. Third, there is the statue of the other “Big Tex”, the Texas Ranger who has been looking over us for more than 60 years.

Tex

 

Woops, one more, one more thing. To no one’s surprise I did stop at Whataburger during my visit. That is not news. I did see a woman in a car in the parking lot of that Whataburger get of the trunk of a car and head toward the entrance of the restaurant. The trunk wasn’t that large and she seemed to unfold herself to get out. If she had not been smiling and carrying on with the other passengers in the car after she emerged from her ride with the spare tire, I would have been concerned. Also, this is Texas. One must expect the unusual.

 

The Panhandle – Florida

We flew to Tallahassee Friday the 13th of April for a bit of everything: FSU baseball and the football spring game, seafood at Mad Anthony’s in Panacea along the coast, a drive to Alligator Point, and a return to some old digs from my days there as a student.

There are several stories connected to why Friday the 13th is a date/day to be feared. One is biblical. Jesus was crucified on a Friday and there were 13 guests at the last supper. So, why is it called Good Friday? Anyway, there is little written of this day/date until the late 19th century. Facts about the 13th include:

  • All years have at least one Friday the 13th, but no more than three.
  • Fear of Friday the 13th is labeled friggastriskaidekaphobia (holy moly, try to pronounce that).
  • The longest time between one Friday the 13th and the next is 14 months.
  • A month must begin on a Sunday to have a Friday the 13th.
  • Janet and I were married March 13, 1987.
  • Alfred Hitchcock was born August 13, 1899.

Enough, are you scared?

Hitchcock

While I was not asleep at wheels up (we left at 7:30 am), it was not long before I was in the snooze zone. The ride was relatively quiet. We traveled on a B717-200, and I don’t remember ever being on one of these before—nice ride. I did notice before boarding that several groups of people, no one in their jammies, seemed to be giddy because they were leaving Omaha just in advance of a forecasted spring blizzard. The group behind us on the flight was on their way to Haiti as part of eye clinic work, much like Janet’s involvement in the Dominican Republic. After a brief time in the Atlanta airport, and a nice walk between Terminal C and Terminal B (yes, you can walk), we boarded our 39-minute flight to Tallahassee.

Tallahassee airport

The Tallahassee airport is convenient, but small. It has 12 labeled gates, although only ten appear to be functioning. The rental car pick-up and drop-off is adjacent to baggage claim, but has no cover. So if it’s hot (it wasn’t) and/or it’s raining (it wasn’t), the walk between baggage claim and the rental car parking lot is not fun. The rental car staff seemed overwhelmed by the crush of people picking up cars. Announced attendance for the spring game was 53,974, far surpassing the previous all-time high. So we waited more than 30 minutes to snag our car.

Tallahassee has a complicated history. It lies in an area that was historically dominated by agriculture, thus there were many slaves there prior to the Civil War. The railroad lines from Tallahassee to St. Marks and Carrabelle were built to transport cotton, tobacco and other crops to ships on the Gulf of Mexico. Prior to statehood, the two largest cities in Florida were Pensacola and Jacksonville. A location was needed for the state capital. Tallahassee is almost equidistant between Jacksonville and Pensacola, thus a very small town at the time became the state capital. By the way, there was a movement in the 1990s to relocate the capital to Orlando. It failed.

Capitol

Our time at the spring game was great fun. Our friend Andrew gave a tour of the stadium (Doak Campbell), including the locker room and offices, plus the runway that players take to the field.

campbell-stadium-e1524577071561.jpg

Locker room

Doak Campbell Stadium was a lot smaller when I was a student at FSU, 1974-1978. Capacity for a football game in 1978 was 47,413, compared to today’s 79,560. Moreover, in the 1970s, it looked like one of those erector set projects that some ten year old threw up and was very proud of. Today, both end zones have been filled in, and a brick cover hides the old steel structure that still exists. The grounds around the stadium are much improved, with the addition of statues and pre-game party areas (a lot of tailgate space too) drawing thousands of fans hours before any game gets started.

1978 stadium

Current stadium

Statue

Just a few additional observations about the game. It was the inaugural spring game for our new coach, Willie Taggart. His arrival has brought a burst of energy to the program, including a rise in interest from former players. At the spring game, there were 300 former players and as many of the names were announced it was clear that a large number of current (e.g., Jameis Winston, Telvin Smith, and Jalen Ramsey) and former (Deion Sanders, Charlie Ward, and Derrick Brooks) FSU and NFL greats were on hand.