LETTERS  PCR #282     (August 15--21, 2005)

  • Reader remembers Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer and Sal Mineo
  • Reader tries to recall old restaurant (and Will Moriaty's response)
  • Reader recalls Miami airfields (and Will Moriaty's response)

    Letters to the EditorWe welcome your feedback.


    Just clicking my way around the Web, and I came upon your site. I live in Mission Hills, Ca., about one block from the house where Alfalfa was harvested back in l959. I say "harvested" because, at the time of his death, he was a guide for bear hunters; and that's the way, often, hunters speak of slaying animals. (I'm not a big fan of hunters...tho', in my youthful ignorance, years ago, I was one myself. Excruciating to contemplate or recall.) Living a stone's throw from that house on Columbus Ave., where Alfie breathed his last, I probably should have something edifying to say about the incident..unfortunately, there's not much to say; I was about 30 miles off, as a kid when that leaden projectile took all the rancor, and life, from ol' Alfie...as for the present time, somebody just moved into that house a few months ago, and renovated the house and grounds. Put in a new fence, with a fancy metal gate to replace that old wooden one that the angry sot, Switzer, pushed open on that evening 46 years ago; I talked to the new owner of the property recently and he affirmed to me that he knew of the house's background, regarding the slaying, before he opted to buy it. He said he changed the fence, and renovated the exterior of the house, because there were "too many lookyloos" coming around, because of that incident in '59. I felt like saying, "Dude...your address is what pulls 'em in, not the fence..." So much for human logic and reason, and so much for this letter.

    Incidentally, I've been to the site where poor Sal Mineo was murdered...it's not precisely L.A., but rather Hollywood, right adjacent to the Sunset Strip. He lived in a small apartment there, second story apt., the first story was occupied by garages, and he was stabbed to death in his garage. He had just arrived home late that night, and this louse who'd been lurking in the shadows of the dark, open garage, stepped up to Mineo and stabbed him to death as he was getting out of his car. Late that night, elsewhere in L.A., he,the louse, was watching TV with his girlfriend when the newsflash came on about the killing, and , unable to contain himself, he pulled out a large hunting knife and told his stunned girlfriend, "I'm the one that killed that dude, with this." A day or so later she, very appropriately, "ratted him out" to the police.

    Well, I'm nearly as tired of tickling these keys as you likely are of reading my gray lettering, so I'll take my leave. Interesting WebSite.

    Steve (no last name)

    Thanks, Steve, and I appreciate your insights regarding Misters Switzer and Mineo! Those were very strange deaths indeed. ---Nolan


    Hi there, Will -
    Looking for your help! I read your article on the old Tampa Bay restaurants...Classic! My husband and I were racking our brains as to the name of the diner-type restaurant that used to be located in Tampa Bay Center Mall upstairs right next to Sears (directly over McCrory's). It was the scene of my first date, age 14 with him...Can you help?

    I know it was not a Woolworth, Woolco, or McCrory's restaurant, although it was that style of place....It was a stand alone venture, i am sure. Thank y ou.

    Any help you can give'd be great!

    Stephanie Sims Baldwin

    Dear Ms.Baldwin: Thanks so much for reading our on-line publication!

    I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that question. I am forwarding this to our editor to put in the Letters column so that maybe he or one of readers might remember.

    Thanks for writing us and here's hoping someone knows the answer to that special place in your life!



    Hello Mr. Moriaty,
    I just ran across your web site about the Florida airfields and you have a nice site. I grew up in Miami and if I can, I'd like to give you some input on your airports.

    1.) Meacham Field, Key West: This field never closed that I know of. The Navy took it over well before WW2 and it was the original Key West NAS. After the war, the designation was transferred over to Boca Chica which was a NAAS to Meacham. Boca Chica had started initially to be an Army Air Field but was taken by the Navy in the Army/Navy agreement which basically divided up Florida field locations between the two. Meacham reverted back to the City of Key West and has been their International airport ever since. Although a little short on the one runway, National flew B727's in there up into the 60's.

    2.) You'll pardon me for the nitpicking, but Miami Municipal Airport was actual on the east side of LeJeune Rd. between it and the Seaboard Air Line Railroad. The field remained abandoned and intact up until the early eighties when a move to make it an aviation museum location failed. The Seaboard railroad then acquired a large part of it an built a RR Intermodal Yard there. I'm not sure when it happened; late 80's or early 90's, but the RR closed the Yard and that's when it was converted into that park. I think that happened when, now CSX RR sold all their interest in the RR's there to the State from West Palm Beach south.

    3.) Even though the Zepp, Akron and Macon all visited Opa Locka field and landed in the open area on the west side of the blimp hangar, I've been in the hangar many times and it was too small for the rigid airships. For several years in the 70's and 80's, Goodyear would work on their blimps in there. It was tight for them. The big rigid airships would have been way to long and I'm sure were too tall.

    Several of the airfields you listed were also major military installations during the war, including Miami International.

    Hope some of this is of interest to you.

    Joe Benson

    Dear Mr. Benson: Thanks so much for reading our on-line publication and taking the time to write to us.

    Any correction to my work is encouraged when the intent is to produce more factual and accurate accounting which I thank you for below.

    I stand more confused over the Key West International Airport matter after reading your note below. If it is indeed the original Meacham Field, is Kelly's restaurant on Whitehead Street correct to make a claim that their building was the birthplace of Pan American World Airways? That's quite a ways from the current day International Airport!

    When I flew Sea Coast Airlines to Key West in June 2004 a former Keys native told me that Eastern flew 727's and DC-9's into Key West, often running off of the runway after summer thunderstorms. Those most have been spectacular aircraft to watch on finals over downtown (although I'd have settled for Air Sunshine DC-3's myself)!

    When in the Miami area, perhaps we can get together and talk airport and airline history.

    Thanks again!

    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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