“When Ernie Salvatore sat at ring side on fight night. When the crowd noise could be heard all the way across the street in the parking lot of the B & B Super Market. When brightly colored spotlights chased the stars of Holiday on Ice around the rink, and the “Clown Prince” of basketball, Meadowlark Lemon, and the Harlem Globetrotters entertained children of every age. It was a place where families went ice skating, elephants occupied center ring, and the latest fashion in automobiles covered the entire floor in 1957.” Writer Clyde Beal recounted these vivid memories of Huntington’s Veterans Memorial Field House more than 50 years after the fact, testimony to the building’s impact on the River City and its residents.1 Events such as these are etched in people’s memories. Most people who grew up in Huntington or attended Marshall University (formerly Marshall College) between 1950 and 2012 have vivid recollections of the arena at the corner of 26th Street and 5th Avenue. In nearly 62 years, millions of people filed through the building’s doors. The Field House was much more than just a basketball arena or recreation center, though; it was an iconic symbol of people’s childhoods and college careers. And, for one heartbreaking but poignant night, it helped pull together a community in mourning the worst tragedy in the city’s history.
Bumgardner, Stan. The Veterans Memorial Field House in Huntington, W.Va.: A History . Huntington, WV: Marshall University Printing Services, 2012.