Cigar City Magazine/Winter 2014

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WINTER 2014 18 14 28



Mark A Panuthos











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1970 West Tampa All-Stars Passing the Legacy

Apollo 11: First Men on the Moon

A Scar is Born: Lucky Luciano

Mystery Beneath The Martì-Colon Cemetery


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Cigar Review

El Chupacabra

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1970 West Tampa All-Stars Enshrined in the Al Lopez Baseball Museum

By Mark A Panuthos

1970 West Tampa All Stars

Forty-three years ago, John Cuesta accomplished a first in the storied history of Tampa Bay baseball. He and his West Tampa All Stars won the Senior Little League World Series, defeating Throgs Neck, a team from the Bronx, New York, in two straight games. Since then, only five teams from Florida would win a Senior Little League World Series championship and it would take another 24 years before the championship trophy would come back to Tampa Bay (Brandon won it in 1994, followed by Dunedin in 1995). Prior to 1970, teams from West Tampa had gotten close. In 1968, they made the championship game, but lost and finished second and then in 1969, they finished third. Forty-three years later, at the Del Rio Restaurant in West Tampa, Coach Cuesta and most of the members of his 1970 championship team gathered to share in a traditional (not to mention delicious!) Spanish meal provided by the proprietor, Jorge Tamargo and his wife Cynthia, to reminisce and to donate artifacts from West Tampa Little League players to the soon-to-be-opened Al Lopez Baseball Museum. On May 16th of 2013, the childhood home of Al Lopez, Tampa Bay’s first Baseball Hall of Fame inductee, was moved from 12th Avenue to 19th Street in Ybor City, where it will be part of the Ybor State Museum housed within the Ferlita Bakery. Elizabeth McCoy, curator at the museum attended the event and amongst other things, accepted the original home 14


plate from Eckert Field in Gary Indiana, yanked from the field after the championship game and signed by all the members of the 1970 West Tampa All Stars. “That was one of the big three items that came out of the meeting” she said. Indeed, it is an important and significant artifact–the 1970 West Tampa All Stars stepped on it 29 times in four games in the Little League World Series. In addition to the Eckert Field home plate, McCoy accepted over 60 artifacts from former West Tampa Little League players, many of which will be displayed in the Al Lopez Museum which is set to open in early 2014. McCoy noted that the creation of West Tampa Little League was truly a “grass roots effort”, and indeed, the same can be stated about baseball’s past in Tampa Bay. While the Tampa Bay area has arguably produced more major league baseball players than any other region in the country, the region to date has only two native-born Hall of Famers (Al Lopez and recently Tony La Russa–Wade Boggs, inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005 was born in Omaha, Nebraska), and has one of the youngest major league franchises in baseball (1998). But baseball’s roots in the region are at least 126 years old, and indeed, baseball in Tampa Bay owes credit for its origins, and for its perseverance, to small communities like West Tampa. West Tampa Little League was founded in the late 1950s by

some local families in order to provide their boys with an opportunity to play Little League baseball. There were already leagues in Tampa and Ybor City, but none in West Tampa at the time. Since Little League participation was restricted by district, West Tampa residents found themselves shut out of Little League play until a couple of community families literally began clearing a field after they got

Painesville in the previous game but West Tampa had won 6 of its previous 7 games through district and regional play. West Tampa clobbered Throgs Neck 11-4, scoring all of their runs in the sixth inning after trailing by four runs, and all on bunt-squeeze plays with the bases loaded, sending Throgs Neck to the losers bracket, where they defeated Santa Ana to earn a berth in the Championship game. In the champi-

Left to Right: Some of the 1970 West Tampa All Stars, Joey Garcia, Mike Ciccarello, Coach John Cuesta, Jaime Rodriguez, Carlos Garcia, Tony Ciccarello, Joe Perez and Larry Rodriguez.

home from work. Within a decade, West Tampa had made the Little League World Series twice and the Senior Little League World Series once in 1968. By 1970, West Tampa Little League consisted of four teams. John Cuesta coached Manuel Castro Painters and won the first half of the season. Modelo Coffee won the second half, and in the ensuing playoff, John Cuesta’s team won the league pennant. “In those days, the winning manager was chosen to coach the All Star team. Because we won the first half, and then we beat Modelo Coffee in the championship game, I got to be the coach.” John Cuesta explained. “We then got together, all the managers, and decided who should be on the roster. I had four guys that played with me, but first I started with picking the catcher, Daniel Bazarte. I had to have him. The other managers wanted their sons to play, we stayed up until 1:30am talking about who should play, but I won out.” The West Tampa All Stars then proceeded to win the district championship which was played in Tampa, and then won the regional championship in Asheville, North Carolina. From there, it was on to Gary, Indiana where the West Tampa All Stars went undefeated, beating Painesville, Ohio 15-0, followed by a 3-1 victory over Santa Ana, California–a team most observers felt was the best team in the tournament. The third game of the series matched two undefeated teams. Throgs Neck-Bronx, NY had ousted

onship game, John Tagliarino pitched a four-hitter and struck out twelve en route to a 2-1 victory. Coach Cuesta recalled that in both of the blow-out games, he stuck with his starters and refused to make substitutions. “I came here to win, not to make substitutions.” In fact, he played only his nine starters throughout the World Series, and stuck with only two pitchers who alternated starts (and pitched complete games). One of the West Tampa outfielders, Joe Perez, noted that both pitchers, Joey Garcia and John Tagliarino, pitched great games and kept scoring to a minimum. John Tagliarino in particular pitched under a lot of pressure especially in the final game. “For some reason, we didn’t give him a lot of run support,” said Perez, who went on to win state championships as both a player and a coach at Tampa Catholic High School. “That last game was tight.” Cuesta coached for another year after the championship season in West Tampa Little League, moving on afterwards to help his cousin, Emeterio “Pop” Cuesta at Jefferson High School for three years. Most of his players went on to play in area high schools, some made it to college. Most have remained local, and they all continue to stay in touch.





Cigar Review and Rating

by Joe Baker

The appearance of the 84 is flawless. Slight veining shows with an almost seamless wrapper. The classy looking cigar band features white and green backgrounds, with gold lettering.

Our pre-light inspection finds sweet aromas of grass and cedar. With CCM’s curiosity peaked, we began toasting the foot. Delectable aromas start culminating. A few puffs in, the flavors start to pop out. Right off the bat, light tones of earth and cinnamon are present. A bit of pepper is left on the tongue at the end of the first dozen draws. A few minutes into the smoke, the cedar was noted on the pre-light starts to show in the profile. It's drawing flawlessly, creating an enjoyable start. At the end of the first third, it has remained consistent with the flavors noted. A baking spice aftertaste is left on the palette. It's superb and has just a touch of kick to it, indicating some peppery notes. CCM begun smoking into the second third now, and the cigar remains solid with a white ash on the foot. The burn is spot on, and the draw remains consistent with a nice airy pull.

The final third of the smoke, the flavors intensify a bit. Nothing overpowering, but a solid medium bodied flavor. Notes of cedar begin moving towards the front with baking spices, pine nuts, and hints of black pepper as the core flavor profile. An underlining smooth creaminess is found throughout. With ease, the cigar releases vast amounts of aromatic smoke filling the Cigar City smoking room with delectable tones of cedar and cinnamon laden notes.

The finish is smooth and loaded with flavor. Earthy tobacco tones enter, along with spices. The cedar and pines nuts continue on.

Cigar City’s Final Thoughts: This is a superb smoke that is mediumbodied and full-flavored. The draw and burn is spot on. There are notes ranging from baking spices, cedar, and pine nuts. It is mildly complex, and solidly constructed. This smoke is a must try cigar.

For more information about the Cigar City Smoking Room, contact us at or 813.358.3455 16


If you have had the pleasure of traveling to The Florida Keys, you know just how special it is. Sun, sand, and beautiful weather surrounded by tropical breezes and fantastic people are just some of the allure. If you have traveled to The Keys and didn't visit Rodriguez Cigars, then you have not had the complete experience. Nestled away in Key West at 113 Fitzpatrick St., Rodriguez Cigars has become a stalwart, an icon for all travelers of The Keys. Since 1984, they have been manufacturing and selling cigars to islanders and everyone else throughout the United States. To the casual observer on the outside, it may appear to be your typical cigar factor. But, if you look inside the walls, peer into the faces of those who work there, and take the time to shake hands with the owners, you will find a much different story. Rodriguez Cigars may now be an icon in the Keys, but it was not always the case. In fact, to appreciate all that Rodriguez Cigars has become you will have to go back with me in the vault of history. 18


La Finca de Carmencita in 1955.




The year was 1947 and in a small town called Siguaney, Cuba you find a man named Angel Rodriguez starting his dream. It's here that Angel was preparing his fields for his first tobacco crops, building tobacco barns, and working late hours to build his dream. He named his plantation: “ La Finca de Carmencita”, which means: “building from the ground up.” He specialized in growing, aging, and curing tobacco for some of the largest cigar companies in Cuba. Within five years, what started as a humble plantation grew to producing over 120,000 pounds of tobacco a year and employing 20 full time workers. Angel's dream had become a reality and he was enjoying the fruits of his labor. Although, all of it was to be short lived. Eight years later, he saw all of his hard work destroyed when the brutal dictator, Fidel Castro overthrew the Cuban government. His plantation became nationalized and property of the state. Angel became an enemy of the new Cuban government and was forced into political prison. Going years without seeing his family, Angel eventually won his freedom after he completed several years of forced labor. With his freedom back, he and his family packed their precious few belongings and fled to the U.S and settled in Key West, Florida. It's here that a new chapter and legacy of Rodriguez Cigars begins. Founded in 1984, the new Rodriguez Cigars began manufacturing cigars rather than focusing on growing and curing tobacco. With Angel's background and understanding the entire process of what's needed to produce an ultra premium cigar, this gave him a special distinction that so many other companies did not have. Today, they hold the oldest license for manufacturing in the Keys. They buy tobacco from some of the finest tobacco producers, and skillfully handcraft premium cigars that only 65 plus years of experience can bring. In the spring of 2013, The Rodriguez family would suffer another tragedy as the passing of Angel Rodriguez, the family patriarch was announced. It's here that out of sorrow and mourning, a passing of The Rodriguez baton has taken place. Danny Difabio, Angel's grandson, along with his mother and grandmother took over the operations of the business. I was fortunate enough to catch up with Danny and sit down with him to talk about the past, present, and future of Rodriguez Cigars. 20





CCM: What's new today with Rodriguez Cigars? D.D: We have the Series 1984. I spent several years blending this cigar. It's meant to commemorate what my grandfather started here in Key West. It's a medium-bodied cigar that uses premium fillers that have been aged two years, which make it a smooth flavorful smoke. It has a complex core of leather and sweet cedar, and gives off a long and full finish. We have used an Ecuadorian Habano wrapper and the fillers and binder are from Nicaragua.

Danny Difabio takes over his grandparents cigar company.

The Interview

CCM: Danny, can you tell us more about the founding of the factory and how you got started in the family business? D.D: I remember as a kid watching my grandfather roll cigars for hours in the factory. We got tourist's from all over the states, as well as out of the country, coming into the factory to buy cigars. My grandfather treated everyone like family. People would come in to buy cigars, but my grandfather would say, “come in the back and I'll show you how to roll�. He did this for everyone who wanted to learn the process and well, we began getting people who would come back year after year just to buy cigars and see my grandfather. Pretty soon, people began bringing their family’s in and we literally have watched generations of people that we have come to love, grow up before us, and now their kids, and their kids come back here every year. It's amazing to see what my grandfather started and what it has now become, because of him. Angel Rodriguez I began to roll at a young age and tried to soak up as much of his knowledge as I could. My grandfather was a great man and I feel blessed to follow in his footsteps. 22


CCM: As the owner now of Rodriguez Cigars, what do you see for the future of the company? D.D.: The future is very bright for us. The factory is doing very well and we, of course, have the retail end of things here. Being the oldest licensed cigar factory in the Keys, we not only have become a tourist destination, but the cigars we are producing have been getting rave responses, and I credit my grandfather for that. We also are blessed to have some of the finest and most experienced cigar rollers that work for us. Many are family and all of the rollers have a minimum of ten years experience. All of our rollers are assigned to make a specific cigar size. This allows us to produce not only excellent cigars, but cigars that burn and draw perfectly each and every time. CCM: Do you have any plans on releasing other lines in the near future?

D.D: We always are working on new blends. At this time, all I can say is stay tuned! I have some exciting things planned and I'm thrilled to share my passion for cigars with everyone. My grandfather has left me a legacy that I am truly proud of and I plan on sharing what I learned from him in the years to come. With that, a historic cigar legacy has now been passed onto another generation in the Rodriguez family. Like so many tobacco families who had to flee their beloved country of Cuba, Danny's passion for cigars breeds a new generation of cigar manufacturers. One that's faithful to its deep roots in the industry and is committed to producing cigars for today's cigar connoisseurs.

Daniela Rodriguez

Danny Difabio with his grandparents Daniela and Angel Rodriguez




The Apollo 11 mission launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida on July 16, 1969, bearing the first humans to walk on the moon. 24


The historic launch of the Apollo 11 mission carried three astronauts toward the moon. Two of them would set foot on the lunar surface for the first time in human histoas ry millions of people around the world followed their steps on television.

of the ship, and a third transmission as they drew closer to the moon, revealing the lunar surface and the intended approach path. On July 20, Armstrong and Aldrin entered the lunar module, nicknamed the "Eagle" and separated from the Command Service Module–the "Columbia"–headed toward the lunar surface. The lunar module touched down on the moon's Sea of The Astronauts Tranquility, a large basaltic region, at 4:17 p.m. EDT. The crew of Apollo 11 were all experienced astronauts. Armstrong notified Houston with the historic words, All three had flown missions into space before. "Houston, this is Tranquility Base. The Eagle has landed." Cmdr. Neil Armstrong, 38, had previously piloted For the first two hours, Armstrong and Aldrin checked all Gemini 8, the first time two vehicles docked in space. of the systems, configured the lunar module for the stay Born Aug. 5, 1930, in on the moon, and ate. Ohio, Armstrong was They decided to skip 38 when he became the the scheduled fourfirst civilian to comhour rest to explore the mand two American surface. space missions. A camera in the Col. Edwin Eugene Eagle provided live "Buzz" Aldrin, 39, was coverage as Armstrong the first astronaut with descended down a lada doctorate to fly in der at 11:56 p.m. on space. Born Jan. 20, July 20, 1969, and 1930, in New Jersey, uttered the words, Aldrin piloted Gemini "That's one small step 12, taking a two-hour, for man, one giant leap twenty-minute walk in for mankind." Aldrin space to demonstrate followed twenty minThe Apollo 11 crew, from left: Commander Neil A. Armstrong, Command Module Pilot that an astronaut could Michael Collins, and Lunar Module Pilot Edwin E. "Buzz" Aldrin Jr. On July 20th 1969 at 4:18 utes later, with work efficiently outside PM, EDT the Lunar Module "Eagle" landed in a region of the moon called the Mare Armstrong recording Tranquillitatis, also known as the Sea of Tranquility. of the vehicle. For his descent. Armstrong Apollo 11, he served as the lunar module pilot. had the responsibility to document the landing, so most of The command module pilot, Lt. Col. Michael Collins, 38, the images taken from the Apollo 11 mission were of was born in Italy on Oct. 31, 1930. The pilot of Gemini 10, Aldrin. Collins spent almost an hour and a half outside of the While on the surface, the astronauts set up several expericraft on a space-walk and became the first person to meet ments, collected samples of lunar soil and rock to bring another spacecraft in orbit. home, erected a United States flag, and took core samples from the crust. They spoke with U.S. President Richard From Earth to the Moon Nixon, whose voice was transmitted from the White House, Mission planners at NASA studied the lunar surface for and placed a plaque that stated: two years, searching for the best place to make the historic landing. Using high-resolution photographs taken by the HERE MEN FROM THE PLANET EARTH Lunar Orbiter satellite and close-up photographs taken by FIRST SET FOOT UPON THE MOON the Surveyor spacecraft, they narrowed the initial thirty JULY 1969, A.D. sites down to three. Influencing factors included the WE CAME IN PEACE FOR ALL MANKIND number of craters and boulders, few high cliffs or hills, and a relatively flat surface. The amount of sunlight was Memorial medallions with the names of the three astronauts also a factor in determining the best time to land on the who perished in the Apollo 1 fire and two cosmonauts who lunar surface. were also deceased, including the first man in space, Yuri Apollo 11 launched from Kennedy Space Center in Gagarin, remained after the astronauts left, as did a one-and-aFlorida at 9:32 a.m. EDT on July 16, 1969. While in flight, half-inch silicon disk with goodwill messages from 73 counthe crew made two televised broadcasts from the interior tries, and as the names of congressional and NASA leaders. WINTER ISSUE



Armstrong spent a little over two and a half hours outside of the Eagle. The astronauts traveled a total distance of about 3,300 feet (1 kilometer) as they walked around, traveling as far as 200 feet (60 meters) from the module to visit a large crater. They collected 47.51 pounds (21.55 kilograms) of samples from the moon, and reported that mobility on the moon was easier than anticipated. At 1:54 p.m. EDT, having spent a total of 21 and a half hours on the moon, the lunar module blasted back to where Collins sat in the Columbia. The two vehicles docked, and the crew and samples transferred to the Command Service Module before the Eagle was jettisoned into space. The astronauts headed back home. The team splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at 12:50 p.m. EDT on July 24, only a few miles from the recovery ship, the U.S.S. Hornet. After donning biological isolation garments, the crew left the Columbia and climbed into a rubber boat, where they were rubbed down with iodine in an effort to stem potential contamination. They traveled by helicopter to a Mobile Quarantine Facility aboard the ship before being taken to Houston. They remained quarantine until Aug. 10, having completed the national goal set by President John F. Kennedy in 1961, to perform a crewed lunar landing and return to Earth.








* This chapter addresses the numerous myths and folklore tales that circulated after Luciano was found in a bloody state in 1929. From the scars to the nickname to the possible culprits in the attack–all are discussed, but the following section truly adds yet another convoluted piece to the puzzle.

Lucky’s version of events on the night of October 16th 1929 that police roughed him up. Yet, there is another angle; an varied over the years, depending on with whom he spoke to. obscurity from 1962 that adds more fascinating and dynamic He told the original investigators that he had no idea who twists to the story, combining elements almost all of the abducted and beat him, but it was three men. Sometimes he previous legends into one peculiar interpretation. told the story as though two or four men manhandled him. But first–there’s the nickname. Until quite recently, the story of He told others that it was cops behind it, seeking information Luciano’s “Lucky” moniker has also widely been, and very on his criminal cohort Jack “Legs” Diamond (this is the mistakenly, attributed to his ‘survival’ on that fateful October version he remained most consistent in telling). He even night. Let’s put one of these mysteries to rest right now–Salvatore went so far in detail, once, describing how he planned to get Lucania was already known, by gangsters and cops alike, as retribution on the police, but they paid him another surprise Charlie “Lucky” before he was ‘taken for a ride.’ Not “Lucky” visit (claiming he narrowly escaped), forcing him to simply Charlie either. The name was always Charlie “Lucky.” just renege the vengeance talk. By the time the story of his beating was reported (only one The media, and even to two days after the many respected incident in most researchers, took a papers), he was being slew of inconsistencies referred to as though and improbabilities for Lucky was the name by fact throughout the which everyone would years as well. For quite have recognized him. It some time the evildoisn’t difficult to underers were considered to stand how the name be fellow gangsters, could be considered in sent on the order of relation to a survival Salvatore Maranzano. tale. In fact, it’s not at That particular tale is all hard to believe a filled with horrific story like that, especialtorture–Lucky strung ly when tied directly to Lucky after beating, Sketch by Natasha Cipollini up by his thumbs, the “gangland beating” beaten and having his version and being throat slashed while dangling. Another version, arguably the “taken for a ride.” Still, if one mystery among the many most pejorative of them all, mentioned in the book The that revolve around Charles “Lucky” Luciano can be Luciano Story by Sid Feder and Joachim Joesten (and on the solved–this is probably the one. Prior to the 1929 near back of press circulated mug shot found in the author’s death experience, he was known around town as Charlie collection), reported his trademark scars and droopy eye “Lucky” Lucania. As for the nickname’s backstory, well, were a result of an angry father, or the more subversive some tales refer to Lucania’s foray into crime, one that was –“beating by the father of the girl he tried to rape.” This based on early success (or luck) at illicit gambling. particular theory took on a life of its own, ranging from a Another theory, which is even more probable, basically simple date with the wrong girl to rape to pregnancy. suggesting the various ethnic groups and subsequent Which version is true? Only Lucky knew the answer in language barriers in New York, of which Lucania was total certainty, but he left the world with much suspense and surrounded by and mingled among, may have had no clear-cut facts. However, more and more researchers and difficulty pronouncing his last name (loo-kah-nee-ah), and historians have come to consider the ‘police brutality’ theory eventually a shorter, easier variation evolved. Some as very plausible. Perhaps Lucky wasn’t stabbed or slashed accounts, as told by his pal Frank Costello, even contradict at all, and as Luciano himself suggested during one of his themselves. Costello once said Lucky hated the name and interviews. Lucky’s injuries, he admitted, could have come nobody called it to him directly. Yet, another moment in from rings upon the fingers of those repeatedly beating on time, Costello explained that Lucky created the name himhim. As he aged, Lucky never wavered much from the story self because people gravitate to the lucky ones. WINTER ISSUE



In the 1950s, when the exiled to Italy, Luciano began grant- found Lucky. There, he told the reporter, clues were found: ing numerous interviews to reporters visiting him. His cotton wad (presumably used in Luciano’s mouth), adhesive response to columnist Leonard Lyon’s very direct question, tape, and the wire, he suspected, that had been used to bind “Do you have any regrets?” further adds credence to Lucky Lucky’s wrists and ankles. These however were not the most being in existence well before the gangster ever took a ride. bizarre traces of evidence. Blanke said he noticed several sets Luciano told Lyons, “Just one thing. These tattoos.” Luciano of footprints in the sand–“Including the pointed toe and was referring to a pair of tattoos he had acquired at age sharp heel made by a woman’s shoes.” seventeen (he was thirty-two years old when the kidnapping His further recollection included suspicions of a “Dark and beating took place). Each forearm was inked; one was a haired beauty” that investigators believed Lucky was actually nude woman, the other–the word “Lucky.” waiting for in Manhattan before he was abducted. The And the droopy eye? This is yet another noteworthy aspect unidentified woman, Blanke told the reporter, was the to address of Lucky’s ordeal in daughter of a New York detec1929. To examine early tive. This account of the night photographs of Luciano, comgoes hand in hand with, or could pared to post-ride photographs, conceivably be the forbearer to the reveals an obvious physical trait: mysterious, “angry father,” Luciano had a slight ‘sag’ to his “rape” and “pregnancy” theories right eye before he was taken for that apparently circulated at a ride. The disfiguring after some point after the incident. effect of assault most certainly Still, the remaining features of added to the droop, but again, Blanke’s version take an opposhe already had a slightly sinister ing turn to the ‘woman’ theory, look long before the image was further making this entire legend food for a frenzied media more perplexing. The retired machine. detective said within the weeks Now, back to the “ride” itself following Lucky’s recovery–more and the wildly ranging than a few ‘suspects’ turned up theories behind his assailants dead. Cortes wrote of Blanke’s and their motives. Although recollection, “One was found in a Luciano often told interviewers river, encased in cement; another similar versions of the same was found on a lonely road, his tale–cops did it because they body riddled with bullets.” wanted information on Legs Blanke evidently told her every Lucky Luciano’s 1936 conviction photo. Diamond–perhaps the least disindividual on their list of possible cussed, needle in a haystack alternative came from the very perpetrators wound up dead. Those recollections are more in patrolman who rescued him. line with the now largely unaccepted story of fellow mobJust weeks following Luciano’s death in 1962, a reporter sters as the guilty parties. from the Sarasota Herald-Tribune paid a visit to the Who were these suspects? Did Lucky Luciano have a slew Englewood Florida home of Henry A. Blanke for an inter- of hits put out on enemies after the horrific beating he took? view that turned out to be quite revealing. In the years A woman’s shoe prints in the sand? More twists and turns following his fateful encounter with a bloodied Lucky make this the most debated and diverse mysteries of Luciano, Blanke was promoted to detective and eventually Luciano’s entire life. Luciano’s survival and scars, regardless retired from the force in 1955. He moved to Florida and of how these were achieved, gave an immeasurable boost to raised a family only year thereafter. In all the decades that the gangster’s street credibility. By the time the incident had had passed–he never forgot how much of an impression on faded from the news, both his enemies and law enforcement history that night in 1929 had made. In telling reporter viewed Lucky Luciano as someone who now walked with an Josephine Cortes the events of that night, many details air of invincibility. Lucky was preparing to exercise this remained consistent with most of all the other accounts–up newfound reverence by enlisting a virtual army of multiuntil the part when Luciano goes to the hospital. The tale cultural mobsters to shatter everything that was considered takes on an entirely different angle when Blanke recalled old school Mafioso. going back to the spot on Huguenot Beach a day after he



Marti-Colon Mystery Beneath The




By Justin M. White

1935 photograph of the cemetery.

Tampa Tribune Article, 1959

The Marti-Colon cemetery, originally purchased by the city in 1896 as a final resting place for the residents of West Tampa, has repeatedly failed its charge of “perpetual care” over its extensive existence. Backed by a collection of resources compiled by Henry Echezabal in his search to find missing graves of Centro Asturiano members, the accounts of mismanagement, failure of government oversight, buryovers, and general neglect create a story that spans over 100 years and still affects West Tampa families. In 1903, J. L. Reed Sr. purchased the land that would encompass the Marti-Colon Cemetery. In the 1930s, when the cemetery was sold to the city so that Columbus Drive could be built, which would cut through the population centers of West Tampa, Tampa, and Ybor, the cemetery was bisected, leaving the northern side separate from the southern. The construction of Columbus required the removal of bodies from the road's path, but records indicate that not all the bodies were removed, or perhaps only their headstones were moved. In 1939, the city leased the remaining cemetery land to A. P. Boza. Under Boza, the lease agreement’s stipulations were blatantly disregarded for decades, only being brought to public attention during various scandals, such as the abandonment of the northern section after white West Tampa citizens complained about black burials taking place,

or a city work crew dumping raw sewage onto the overgrown abandoned section in 1959. In that same year, Boza and Reed Jr. both confirmed to the Tampa Tribune that potentially “hundreds” of people were buried in the northern section, with Boza claiming the majority of the graves were part of a segregated section for blacks, while Reed Jr. maintained the section was not “by any means” exclusively segregated. Only six graves were moved before the city declared the northern section “clear,” and rezoned the land for commercial use. The northern section, after being separated by Columbus, fell into disrepair again and again, beginning almost immediately after the construction of Columbus. Eventually the cemetery was sold into private hands, and the northern section re-zoned for commercial uses, despite the fact that it seems hundreds of graves remained underneath. Today, the older northern section of the cemetery is topped by a strip mall, and many of the graves that are supposed to be in the remaining southern section are lost or mislabeled, particularly the early burials of African Americans, all of which seem to have been lost or never accounted for if moved. Unfortunately, this is a story that is not unfamiliar with Florida graveyards, particularly those that have served African-American communities. WINTER ISSUE



El Chupacabra By Mark Moran & Mark Sceurman

This bizarre creature is an import to Florida in the past decade. The chupacabra actually made its debut on the world’s weird list in 1975 after a series of farm animal killings in Puerto Rica. Rural villagers came forth with claims that an unidentified creature was killing their animals in the early morning hours by biting their necks. Whatever it was left strange puncture-like wounds on its victims that were inconsistent with any known species. Witnesses reported hearing screeching noises and flapping sounds like made by the wings of a large bird. Eye-witnesses who claimed they had actually



seen the creature, generally described it as an unknown animal about three or four feet tall, gray in color, oversized head with big oval eyes and a mouth full of teeth. Another characteristic common in chupacabra report is the “sulfuric smell” emitted by the creature. Some descriptions offered by witnesses seemed to imply the beast was a gargoyle-like being or a Tasmanian devil with webbed-wings. The rash of unexplained killings was first centered around Orocovis in the mountainous interior of Puerto Rica where the mutilated remains of sheep, cows, goats, dogs, chickens, and other animals were being found almost daily over a period of two months. One account has two-hundred cows being killed by the mysterious entity. In a high number of allegations involving mutilated goats, people claimed the creature had literally “sucked the insides out of its victims through the eye-sockets” leaving only carcasses of skin and bones. Since the bizarre beast was lacking a name, locals dubbed it “the goat sucker,” or as translated in Spanish, “el chupacabra.” Several prominent and credible citizens of Canovanas came forward with sightings of an entity that “stood five feet high, with powerful hind legs like a kangaroo, big slanted eyes, and a ridge of fins or spines running down its back.” One man claimed to have chased the thing, briefly catching it long enough to look in its mouth and see long fangs before it broke free and disappeared down a street. Chupacabra reports became so frequent that authorities could no longer ignore them. Police led search parties looking for whatever was killing so many animals. Canovanas’ mayor, Jose Soto, a

former police investigator, even launched his own unsuccessful quest to try and capture a chupacabra. The authorities, for the lack of any other explanation, blamed the animal deaths on feral dogs while rumors began circulating that chupacabras were some kind of mutation resulting from a secret government experiment, or even more bizarre, something with an extraterrestrial connection. By 1996, chupacabras had gained international attention in the press and were spreading like new found folklore throughout Latin America, including among Florida’s large Hispanic population. The first suggested chupacabra report I could find in Florida appeared in a March 1996 newspaper concerning sightings in Sweetwater. Since there are four “Sweetwaters” in the state, I should explain that the subject one is a community of mostly Hispanics located on Route 41 west of downtown Miami. The first report was made on March 10th, when a woman said that an “inhuman thing” had crossed her property. This was followed by two more reports about a strange animal killing two goats and twenty-seven chickens. That was enough to start the ball rolling toward chupacabra hysteria. On July 23, 1996, the evening news on most Florida television stations carried a story about a strange beast killing people’s pets in South Florida that left behind a “sulfuric smell.” Although, The “C-word” was never mentioned, rumors began circulating through the Hispanic neighborhoods that this was the work of a chupacabra. One man said “It’s the same thing we called the goat sucker in Puerto Rico.” In one incident the devilish beast was blamed for tearing its claws into a luxury car, leaving deep scratches in the paint job. Dade County law enforcement agents set out traps in hopes of snaring the creature but since there are no follow-up reports we are left to wonder if they ever captured one. In Tampa, two men reported that a chupacabra had killed some chickens and claimed to have seen the creature on two different nights. There is a definite cultural connection to chupacabra incidents in Florida since all have allegedly occurred in predominantly Hispanic areas. I think we are left with three explanations for chupacabras in Florida; the first is that they were imported from the Caribbean, perhaps on a cargo ship, or secondly, it is mere folklore, or thirdly, the infamous “Jersey Devil” has retired to South Florida. But before making any judgments, read what others have said about Florida’s chupacabra.

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These remains were removed from a barn located in a small village in Chiapas, Mexico. They were discovered in an old abandoned barn that was being demolished. Test conducted on tissue, fur and DNA samples from the remains were inconclusive. The test results did not match those of any known specie, living or extinct. We have been unable to identify the remains to date. At this time we believe them to be the juvenile remains of a species most commonly refereed to as a Chupacabra. Species Unknown Location Chiapas, Mexico July 12, 2007 by Dr Zeehc H. Ted.




circa 1964