Homestead Air Force Base Library (1962-1963)–Aching for Photos

If you have photographs of the old library at Homestead Air Force Base before it was destroyed by Hurricane Andrew, please send them to me ( jameswallaceharris symbol outlook point com ).

My friend Linda and I had breakfast last Monday and somehow we got on the topic of the first books we remembered.  We were both born in 1951, but she grew up in Memphis, and I grew up in Miami.  Neither one of us could remember the first actual book we owned, but Linda remembered discovering libraries in the third grade, and I remember finding them in the fourth. 

We both figured we had children’s books when we were little, but we can’t remember them, but it was discovering libraries that turned us into bookworms.

I have vague memories of school libraries before discovering the Homestead AFB Library in 1962, when I was ten.  And I have fleeting memories of one other base library, but I can’t remember where it was.  Maybe New Jersey.  My father was stationed at Homestead Air Force Base in 1962 and 1963, and then after he retired, we returned to live near Homestead, so I got to use the base library again, while in the  8th grade. 

I still remember so many books I found at the Homestead AFB library.  I have many memories roving up and down the bookshelves, but what I would really love is photographs from inside and outside of that library.  My mind aches for some kind of validation to those memories.  I have no idea what the outside of the building looked like, and I’m guessing it was pretty small.  The check-out desk was in the middle of the building, just as you came in the door.  Going right led to a small wing holding the kids and young adult books.  Going left held the adult books and a small nonfiction section.  If memory serves, going left from the entrance, and then turning right just as you went into the room, was the science fiction section, which I didn’t know about in elementary school, but was a major discovery in junior high!

Straining my brain I’d guess that the science fiction section might have had no more than 6-8 shelves of books.  It wasn’t huge, but it was gigantic to my impressionable mind.  Going left, rather than right led to several sections of metal shelves in the middle of the room that held the nonfiction books.  I loved looking for books about space travel, fighter jets, astronomy, oceanography, maps, etc.  I loved this library.  It depresses me to think all of this was destroyed by a hurricane.

For a long time now I’ve had this fantasy that someone would create a database of all the photographs in the world so people could share them.  I envision going to the site and putting in a location and date, and seeing all the pictures taken that was closest to that date and location.

Did anyone ever take pictures of the library at Homestead Air Force Base?  They could be lying around in drawers, totally neglected, or even been thrown away, now decomposing in a dump.  How many photos were ever taken at the base in 1962 or 1963?  And how many people like me wish they could see them now?  Am I the only one?

Google and Bing found me a few photographs, but I’ve got to say their search capabilities stink to high heaven.  No matter how I phrased the search I’d always get photographs from other air bases, or even totally unrelated images.  But I was able to dredge up a few photos that validate some of my wispy memories.


Homestead Air Force Base was a rather compact site.  The flight line was is the major feature of the bottom right quadrant.  My father worked on the eastern end.  I remember hearing there were twelve B-52s stationed at the base at the time, with almost a hundred fighter planes.  At the far eastern end of the flight line they had a couple each of F-102s, F-104s, and F-106s.  Most of the planes were F-100s.  I remember seeing one F-51 on the field, and heard Airmen saying it belong to a doctor.

I believe the library and the base theater were on a road that paralleled the flight line.  For all I know, I was riding my bike somewhere in that photo.  I road my bike all over the base during those years, going to the library, theater, base exchange, or along the road near the flight line.  Hearing the B-52s rev up to fly was powerful.


Our base house on Maine Avenue didn’t look as fancy as this one, but it was the same design.  A duplex with a doubled shared carport in the middle.  Housing on the base was by rank, and my father was a NCO.  Kids of officers lived in nicer houses closer to the center of the base.  But I loved our house, and have many fond memories living there.



In October of 1962, President Kennedy came to visit the base, just after the Cuban missile crisis.  If my memory serves me, the Homestead Air Base Elementary let us kids off the the afternoon to go see the President, but me and my friends skipped JFK and went fishing at the rock pit, which I believe is the dark rectangle at the upper right quadrant of the aerial view above.  I’ve always regretted that I didn’t go see the President, but hell, I was ten, and waiting for some old guy to drive by in a big car didn’t sound like fun.  Going fish did.  I’m sure many of my classmates are in the photo above.

These four photos are a pretty skimpy haul for trying to recreate the past.  For all I know, the library might be in one of the two pictures of JFK, but the only landmark I really remember is the red and white checkered water tower.  How many people in these two photographs were holding cameras that day and snapping pictures?  How many people took family pictures in their base homes?  How many people took pictures at work with their friends?

Nowadays reality is so well recorded because everyone carries a camera built in their cell phones, but back in 1962 people only took photos on special occasions.  My family had a camera, but we could take a year or two to use up a 12 picture role of film.

If by chance, you’re an old Air Force brat and have some photos of Homestead AFB, please contact me at ( jameswallaceharris symbol outlook point com ).

JWH – 9/19/13  

21 thoughts on “Homestead Air Force Base Library (1962-1963)–Aching for Photos”

  1. So digital will rule the world….. but when you walk into a cozy library there is a great feeling that goes with it. Sometimes temple sometimes noisy and too busy, but to stand there and look down the rows of books it bring pause to my crazy life…. and hope for the future and sometimes a calm island to just read and dream.

  2. I lived at Homestead AFB back in 1972. Our house was of the shared carport variety, too… but I think it was actually brand new. We were the first to live in it…so they must have still been building new homes at that time.
    There were many mango trees in our back yard. I was in the 2nd grade so my memories are somewhat fuzzy. We took more photos than the average family, but I’ll have to look and see if we have any outdoor shots from that time.

    1. I lived at Homestead AFB from 1981 to 1991 – the homes were still of the’carport variety’ LOL The base expanded quite a bit and they added in “Phoenix Housing” just west of main base housing. The Air Base Elementary school is still there…all of the housing is gone…a shame 😦 I do remember the base library. It used to have stone chess boards in the middle of the library. I spent days in the back reading military reference manuals. It was pretty cool, it was past the bowling alley…not far away from the DYA and the BX. I remember it like the back of my hand really. My dad worked in CRS/WCS on the F4 radar guidance systems….my favorite was going to the Leisure Store…it was WAY south from base housing….near the southwest side of the flight line….fun times fun times…I have pictures from then…but none of the library.

  3. Do you have a photo of Larry Noble Sizemore.from Oxford nc.he served at homestead air force base during 1961 & 1963.he was there during the cuban crisis.thanks larry jr

  4. If any photo’s of Larry N Sizemore at homestead air force base during 1962 please email me.thanks.

  5. My dad was assigned to Homestead AFB from around 1957-61 and was a Navigator/Bombardier on the B-47. I was only 2 when we got there, but can remember a few things later in our stay there. Yes, the duplex with the double carport. One of my new tie shoes, which had disappeared (I wanted penny loafers) fell off the carport one day. Mom took me back to the BX to get penny loafers then. I remember Hurricane Donna in 1960, which was about 3 months after my sister was born. Dad taped the windows to prevent shattering. The wildest thing was the crabs covering the screen on the screened-in porch! And Dad took me outside when we were in the eye of the hurricane. Good memories. Some I don’t remember like how I scared my mom when I disappeared and was found by the MP’s on one of the main roads on my tricycle because I wanted to go to where Dad worked. Thank you, Mr. Harris for the pics and memories you sparked! Dad passed away last year. He retired from the USAF in 1980 as a Colonel. I was very proud of him.

    1. Thanks, William for writing. As you can see, not many people have responded. Some, like me, are aching to see photographs.

      I remember the crabs invading the landscape. Zillions of them.

  6. Hi James,
    Sadly the many pictures my family had of living on Homestead Airforce Base (in the carport connected housing) were lost in a house fire shortly after my Dad retired. I’m sure we attended the same school at the same time. I was in first grade when we got out to see President Kennedy. My Dad was on a B-52 squad, I can remember climbing the sled ladder to see the flag raise and hearing revelry in the mornings , of course we heard taps in the evenings and what we called the soupy soupy soupy come and get your beans song at noon. BTW I was always afraid of you “big” kids on bikes when I walked to school! It was terrifying to me as a little girl to have a gang of boys come at you on all side going to and from school. 😄 I also remember very well the family day on the base when everyone got to go inside the planes and we all ate in the mess hall. I believe my Dad retired in 64 we were there for his last three years. Wish I had pictures too.

    1. I didn’t ride my bike to school then. I remember walking to Airbase Elementary and we had to cut through yards between houses, so biking wasn’t practical. I remember how the kids would converge as we all neared the school, so who knows, maybe I saw you sometimes.

      I remember being in the first grade walking to Flagami Elementary. Back then 1st graders did walk to school on their own.

      Thanks for posting. It’s nice to remember those days.

    2. I have a few photos you might be interested in from Homestead, but I got them online and you may already have seen them. Two pics of Kennedy’s visit in his car. One of Kennedy meeting a B-52 crew, but now sure it is from Homestead. Also a poster of the different levels of DefCon with picture of Kennedy on it – this was due to the Cuban Missile Crisis where I think we went to DefCon 2. Also a pic of the Homestead AFB hospital where my little sister was born. We were there from about 1956-60 and my dad was radar Navigator/Bombadier in B-47’s at that time. I don’t know how to send them here, but my email is if you’d like me to send them.

  7. I saw the news coverage of the 30th anniversary of Hurricane Andrew yesterday and searched for pictures of the base before Andrew. Your blog entry/pictures about HAFB was very helpful, as I was only ten when we moved away from there. We lived there from ’61-’66.

    Do you know of a map of the residential streets from that time?
    You mention that you lived on Maine – we lived on S Carolina.
    Is the elementary school still there? I biked to school every day from 1st -4th grade.

    Thank you for posting the pictures and would love to see more!

    1. That’s all I could find at the time. I’ll do another search and upload them to the same page if I find any.

      You are younger than I am but maybe I saw you on the playground. Airbase Elementary was still there a few years ago but I don’t remember if it kept that name. It had a website.

      Do you have any photos from that time?

  8. We lived at 3317A Oregon Avenue Homestead Air Force Base. My dad retired February 28 1963. We moved in back to Roxboro, North Carolina. I still live here in Roxboro with my family. I live on my family farm, with my wife , son and wife and two grandchildren. I would love to visit Homestead again one of these days. Tommy

    1. I went back to see Homestead AFB after Hurricane Andrew. Everything was gone. I was at the gate, which I think was at the north, nearest to my old home on Maine Avenue. As far as I could see was grass and roads. It looked like a computer circuit board and was perfectly flat. We moved away in October/November 1963.

      How old were you? Did you go to Air Base Elementary? I went there in the 5th and 6th grades, but in the Fall of 1963, I started Redlands Junior High. I was 10 and 11 when I lived there.

  9. James I run across an item on the internet back 2016, about your writing on The old library on HAFB. The visit of JfK during the Cuban crisis. Loved to talk to you sometime.

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