LETTERS  PCR #246     (December 6--12, 2004)

  Will Moriaty remembers Bayfront Center
  ED Tucker on Dracula's Castle
  Reader shares GhostTown website (Will responds)
  Reader reacts to Will's aviation articles (and Will's response)



Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.

WILL MORIATY ON BAYFRONT CENTER

Nolan,
I saw you're feature about the hallowed Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg which was recently demolished to make way for the expansion of the Salvador Dali Museum. (Re: "The Bayfront Center Is No More", the homepage --N)

What incredible memories I have of that place! It was St. Petersburg's answer to Tampa's Curtis Hixon Convention Center.

I first went to the complex with my mother in 1974 to see commentator Paul Harvey. Later that I year I saw crooner Tony Bennett there with her, and in 1975 I was introduced to the Bob Seger Silver Bullet Band who were the act that opened for the Kinks.

In 1976 I was introduced to this excessively noisy group called Journey (who I would actually end up liking years later) who opened for the Electric Light Orchestra. At this concert, Denis Lebrun, Greg Van Stavern and I discovered a wonderfully unique feature that was in one of the Center's halls - - a full scale model of the proposed Interstates I-175 and I-375 roadways were under glass display and took up about 100' of hall space!

What incredible pop culture history and memories were torn down with that wonderful old building!

Long live the Biff Burger and Albert Whitted Field.

-- Will


ED TUCKER ON DRACULA'S CASTLE

Nolan,
I had to take a minute to drop you a line regarding Lonnie Dohlen's letter last week and the film "Blood of Dracula's Castle" which used to play on Creature Feature all the time.

For anyone unfamiliar with the title, "Blood of Dracula's Castle" or BODC, is one of Al Adamnson's best films. It was essentially a warm up for his penultimate film, "Dracula Vs. Frankenstein" and features a B movie dream cast including John Carradine, Paula Raymond, and Alex D'Arcy. Unfortunately BODC is also one of the few Al Adamson films that his company, Independent International, no longer owns the rights to, which explains the shoddy video history of the title. Rhino's recent DVD release on volume two of their "Horrible Horrors" series is a welcome addition but still not the quality DVD release the films deserves.

"Horrible Horrors" volume two should really be called "The Best of Crown International Pictures" since all eight titles in the set (including "Nightmare in Wax" which was on the original double bill with BODC, "The Crater Lake Monster", and the Florida made killer rattlesnake movie "Stanley") are owned by them. Even though there are no extras in the set and none of the transfer are better than acceptable, it's still hard to pass up this set for the sell through price (I got mine for $8 on discount). BODC really deserves a collector's edition release with the theatrical trailers and artwork for the film plus interviews with the surviving cast and crew. When the film was originally released to television, it was retitled simply "Dracula's Castle" and for some bizarre reason, additional footage was added to make up a sub plot about one of the characters being a werewolf! The special effects in these scenes are laughable and only make the rest of the film look better by comparison but it would really be great to see this footage on special edition DVD.

- ED -


READER ON GHOST TOWN WEBSITE

Will,
(Re: La Floridana, PCR #105 "Snakes Alive! We must be in South Tampa!" --N) My [web]site is Arizona-based but I have worked the main bulk on bringing the Florida site from about 5 ghost towns to the way it is now. I was inspired by the ghost towns of South Dakota about 5 to 6 years ago and figured there must be towns in Florida. When I found Todd Underwood's site I noticed a Florida page with no information. I have been at work for the past 5 years.

I spend a lot of time sitting on front porches or looking at shotgun barrels trying to explain why I care about disappeared Florida towns and communities. Many folks are grateful since, where they grew up is gone. I cannot even find old pictures of some.

Anyway, thanks for the kind words and if you need anything let me know. The site is actually dormant now since we have gotten in too much trouble identifying ghost towns and people have gone out on the private sites with metal detectors and torn them up. Now we try to be pretty ambiguous about the actually coordinates. I am still allowed to correct or add however. Let me know if you hear of a new one.

Do you know where George End (Rattlesnake, FL) is buried?

Mike Woodfin
www.ghosttowns.com

WILLIAM MORIATY RESPONDS

Hello Mr. Woodfin:
Regretably I don't know where Mr. End was buried.

I want to take this opportunity, however, to share with our readers what an incredible body of work your Ghosttowns web site consists of. I took a good long look at it last week and was incredibly blown away with the research and work you have put in to this masterpiece.

Florida history buffs can read about a large assortment of ghost towns in this state by linking to: http://www.ghosttowns.com/

I will certainly forward any new information to you, but don't become a "ghost" yourself trying to go to some of these sites! To use an old Cracker phrase "in these parts there ain't much difference between "Hi Sir!" and "Die Sir!"

You take care and keep up the great work (when and where you can!). Thanks again for your letter, your reading of our publication, and your excellent web site!

William Moriaty


READER COMMENTS ON AVIATION ARTICLES

Hi,
I've read some of your interesting articles concerning airline service in Florida during the 1960s and 1970s.

I am an aviation enthusiast and someone who is very interested in the history of Tampa International Airport and South Florida Airports (MIA, FLL and PBI).

I was wondering if you would write about the terminal facilities of these great airports during the 1960s and 1970s. I would have loved to have visited the old TPA Terminal at West Shore and Columbus during the 1960s.

Did you ever visit the old PBI terminal? I visited the terminal when I was a kid in the late 1970s and fell in love with the place.

Juan G.

WILLIAM MORIATY RESPONDS

Hello Juan:
Thank you very much for your letter and interest in our publication.

I have very fond memories of the old Tampa international Airport terminal at Westshore and Spruce Streets.

That is the terminal that my parents used to take jaunts on National Airlines to Key west and Havana from and on Mackey Airlines out to the Bahamas in the late 40's and early 50's. I first flew into the old terminal in July 1970 on a Delta DC-8-61 flight, then flew a National DC-8-20 to Miami and back later that same week. The current-day terminal was under construction west of Runway 18L/36R at that time.

In April 1971 I was there to see the changing of the guard of the terminals. I flew in to the old terminal on Delta DC-9-30 from Detroit and flew back from the new terminal on a Delta DC-8-54 back to Wayne County Metropolitan.

I saved the Tampa Tribune article of that week that had a section about the new 83 million dollar terminal. It was unique to the world in that it was very user friendly, having a core terminal called a "Landside" and having satellite terminals called "Airsides" where arriving and departing flights were parked. The "Landside" and 'Airsides" were connected by monorails, also a sweeping new concept for airports. This concept helped eliminate walking long distances that is so common in most major airports. The airport, as a result of this innovative design, has consistently ranked as one of the finest in the world both with travelers and the airline industry. It is what I consider to be the finest public works accomplishments associated with the city of my birth.

In 1972 Hillsborough County Community College made a satellite campus out of the old terminal, and one of my fondest memories was going with my sister, a student there, into the old terminal's control tower and watching "Shock Theater" on a TV there, while watching nighttime flight operations out the tower's large windows.

Once Tampa was awarded the Tampa Bay Buccaneer NFL franchise by the mid-70's, the old terminal met with the wrecker's ball so that a portion could be used as a part of the team's training facilities, and by the early 1980's, the White double-breasted Raytheon general aviation building was erected on that same spot that the old terminal was located.

The "Landside"/"Airsides" concept at Tampa International has since been mimicked by others, most notably Orlando International Airport (formerly Mc Coy Jetport).

I have never been to the West Palm Beach International facility, but I have visited and flown into Fort Lauderdale's airport on several occasions.

I first visited FLL in 1984 when the old terminals were still there. The place reminded me of having several disconnected bus stations attached to a similar parking area, which I found bizarre for a place as wealthy and highly rated as Fort Lauderdale. I most enjoyed the western part of the field which still had the old Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station barracks and bunkers. It was of course from this field where 'Flight 19" took its voyage into oblivion into the Bermuda Triangle in December 1945. The southern party of the field had several derelict piston heavies including a Lockheed L-69 Constellation, several DC-3's, a PBY Catalina and a Lockheed L-1649 Constellation which inevitably made it to Kermit Week's "Fantasy of Flight' attraction in Polk County, not far from where I currently reside.

I would not see the FLL complex again until July 1991 when I flew a US Air 737-300 to there with my wife. The new terminal and associated roadways were incredible. I remember taxiing to the new complex and seeing several old Turks-Caicos DC-6 freighters parked at the northern freight tarmac in the nighttime darkness. Even more interesting was a DC-7B painted in American Airline colors and a PBY Catalina parked on the north side of the field near I-595. One of the Turks-Caicos DC-6's flew over my head some four years later when my wife and I visited our dear friend Susan Hughes in Fort Lauderdale. In October 1997 I would probably see for the last time a fully operational DC-6 freighter fly, as an unmarked 6 thundered westward down Runway 27, barely clearing Australian Pines about a mile west of the field due to its sluggish rate of climb and heavy load. Incredible!

Just when I thought the chapter on piston heavies was closed in South Florida, I would see the same DC-7B parked at FLL in 1991 fully operational at Opa Locka in June 2001! Rumors are that theis same aircraft now operates out of Fort Pierce along with two DC-6's today ( as recently as the fall of 2003 I saw a DC-6 or DC-7 fly high overhead when I was jogging at Al Lopez Park in Tampa - - when I was doing field work for my job outside of Brooksvile in October this year I first heard then saw a DC-3 lumbering high in the Florida sky!)

Again Juan, thanks for your letter and for reading "La Floridiana"!

William Moriaty


To send an email to Letters to the Editor write to: Crazedfanboy1@aol.com.  Any emails sent to this address will be assumed intended for publication unless you specifically instruct me not to. I can and do respond privately, if that is your preference. Frequently, it's both ways.---Nolan

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