Newspaper articles from Tallahassee and all the surrounding areas were broadcasting information about the BIG EVENT. The city was abuzz and excitement filled the air as the event grew closer and closer. Everyone wondered about what they would see and who would be there.
The Grand Opening of Dale Mabry Airfield was the highlight of this small own and the even smaller areas on the outskirts of Tallahassee. Mabry Airfield caused a whole lot of excitement in this tiny area because all the locals were super excited to have an airport named after the “local hero” Dale Mabry. Born to a former Supreme Court Justice named Milton Harvey Mabry and his mother Ella Dale Barmlet. Captain Mabry and his crew were killed in an airship accident returning from Virginia on February 21, 1922, shortly after the end of World War I. Locals remembering the new papers headlines and articles still seemed a bit saddened by the memory. This new airfield was therefore, to commemorate the things he had done and to remind everyone of where this very special man was born and bred. People seemed to be everywhere you looked in their Sunday’s best as they awaited the festivities that accompanied the ribbon cutting. There was music, dancing, food, local speakers, and plenty of excitement throughout the day.
The airport ran normally and smoothly, as they usually do, for the next few years. Eight flights plans allowed various planes to travel to and from Tallahassee to various other places such as Jacksonville and Pensacola with a few stops in Mississippi and Alabama.
In 1941, the excitement began to build up again as the airport was converted to an Army base. This base trained both soldiers and officers alike for the U.S. entrance into the Second World War. It made Dale Mabry Airfield and Tallahassee essential to the war and brought both pride and fear to this little town. An abundance of soldiers began to arrive causing local businesses to thrive. The local were excited to not only meet American soldiers but also foreign cadets like the French and Chinese. This brought a variety of merging cultures to the mundane lives of the locals who had been here their entire lives.
At war’s end in 1945, due to an enormous rate of enrollment at the University of Florida the airfield was changed once again but this time to a school campus. It was then named the Tallahassee Branch of the University of Florida (TBUF). It housed over 500 veterans who had agreed to travel to this area for their education due to the over population of the main UF Campus. It was paired with the Florida State College for Women (FSCW) and the women were thrilled to be in the company of the soldiers. The FSCW wanted to provide adequate housing and space for the massive amounts of incoming students so they purchased additional space from what was now the abandoned Dale Mabry Airfield from the War Assets’ Association to extend their small campus. This area was to be called the West Campus. The old barracks were converted to student housing and the old offices were used as administrative buildings for the teaching staff. This school eventually was named Tallahassee Community College and is now the #1 ranked community college.
As I sit here writing about days gone by I see how history can come alive and wondered about the people who were present while history was taking place and never even realized. I think back on events that I have been alive for such as the 9/11 attacks and the elections of our first African-American president and I smile to myself because I am alive to witness history in the making and someday when I am asked I will remember vividly how old I was, where I was and most importantly how that event made me feel.
Comments; Good start but you'll need to do more research and construct a more specific and detailed story that has never been told before.