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?


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.


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.


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


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.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s