Cigar City Magazine/Jul-Aug 2010

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For more information about the September events at Gaspar’s Grotto, please visit their website at










Cigar City, Inc. | P.O. Box 18613 | Tampa, Florida 33679 Tel 813-373-9988 | Fax 1-866-869-0617 E-mail: Š2010, Cigar City, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use without written permission of the publisher, of editorial, pictorial, or design content, in any manner is prohibited. The opinions of writers commissioned for articles are not necessarily those of the publisher. All advertising is subject to approval before acceptance. Publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertisement for any reason whatsoever. Publisher assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. All letters, emails and their contents sent to Cigar City, Inc. become the sole property of the publisher and may be used and published in any manner whatsoever without limit and without obligation or liability to the author there of.





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Florida Features Tales From The Vice Squad Blood is Thicker: A new graphic novel about Ybor City Extra! Extra!


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Cigar Label History Looking Back: This Month in Florida History Lost Landmarks Look Who’s Smokin’ Café con Leche Interview: Joe Lala On The Town with Dave Capote The Kitchen Mama Did You Know?

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this label is marked “Louis C. Wagner, ny� but Wagner was known for sending much of his work to german lithographers. this label pictures george Washington, abraham Lincoln, and Ulysses S. grant. it was once believed that this brand was owned and distributed by grommes & Ullrich (as marked on the label). new evidence suggests this brand was originally owned by V.M. ybor's 8th avenue factory in ybor City (tampa).


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Today in Florida History is provided by the Tampa Bay History Center 12

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Ybor Art Association Headquaters • 1521 1/2 E. 7th Avenue • Tampa FL 33605 YAA Contact: Walter Romeo • 813.495.4649 •

Can you identify this Lost Landmark? Last month's Lost Landmark was on the Northwest corner of Albany and Cherry Street. Originally the Sevilla Hotel- rooms for the cigar makers with a good restaurant. It was across the street from the beautiful Pendas & Alvarez Cigar Factory with its clock tower- called by the West Tampans "El Reloj de West Tampa". It later became the Hillsboro Box Company and the Sevilla Hotel became a macaroneria where Fraterrigo and Gullo made macaroni and other pastas. - Submitted by E. J. Salcines

Congratulations to E. J. Salcines of Tampa, Florida, who guessed last issue's Lost Landmark! Simply mail the answer and your contact information to:

Lost Landmarks C/O Cigar City Magazine P.O. Box 18613 • Tampa, Florida 33679 or email us at by August 1, 2010. All correct entries will be entered into a drawing and one name will be selected as the winner. Good luck! 14

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Look WhosSmokin

He is just 31 years old but has already forged a strong legacy in the Tampa Bay community. Francis Vayalumkal is the youngest president in the history of the Indo-U.S. Chamber of Commerce of Tampa, the local chamber for the Indian community. Despite being just 28 years old when he was elected president, he Francis Vayakumal has always been a mature leader, making the types of decisions that even the eldest members of the Indian community could support, yet he has also brought a youthful energy to the chamber, helping to bring numerous other young men and women into the fold. “When the older generation is handling most of the things, there is the perception that ‘it is for my dad’ so young people stay away. The past several years, more young people have joined the chamber and it has been the younger generation coming up to lead and having a mix of young and old surely has helped us grow,” said Vayalumkal, who is a principal with the IT firm of Candor Resources, LLC. “But I didn’t want to bring in a completely young group of people and take things in that direction. I wanted to find a balance between the young and older generation on the executive committee. Bringing that balance together helped us do things in the best way possible. The young members have come up with great ideas and the older members helped us to learn how to make our ideas a reality. ” During his term as president, the chamber’s membership has increased, the audience at its monthly meetings has grown, and the networking opportunities have improved.


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by Paul Guzzo

Vayalumkal said that at a recent chamber meeting a member told the audience that he recently procured a $500,000 investment from someone he met at a past chamber event. “I don’t think something that large had ever happened before. We were proud to hear that news,” he said, always using the word “we” rather than “I” when discussing the chamber’s success under his leadership. He has also brought new and exciting events to the chamber, most famously the India International Film Festival, which held its inaugural event this past January at Channelside Cinemas. Over the course of three days, the festival showcased 20 of India’s top non-Bollywood films to thousands of moviegoers, both Indian and non-Indian. “We wanted to bring a piece of India to our Indian residents in Tampa- to bring a piece of their culture to them. But, we also wanted to show the non-Indian residents of Tampa Bay that Indian films are more than Bollywood, just like American films are more than Hollywood,” said Vayalumkal. “If someone from another country only watches Hollywood films, they won’t get a true sense of what American culture is like. But they can get a sense through American independent films. It is the same with India. Bollywood films are great, but they don’t give a viewer a true sense of what our culture is like. So we brought films that do. We hope the film festival becomes a staple of Tampa Bay and continues for decades to come.” Vayalumkal’s civic work in the Indian community extends outside the Indo-U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Two years ago, he founded Vallamkali, a dragon boat race for the Indian community in Tampa Bay. The name vallamkali comes from a South Indian word meaning boat race; this past year almost 1,000 spectators watched 10 teams participate. “Where I grew up in India [the Indian state of Kerala], we had something called a Snake Boat Race. Those boats sit up to 120 people,” he explained. “I wanted to bring a piece of my culture to Tampa. Dragon Boats are the closest thing we have here to the Snake Boats, so we went with them.” The event’s goal is to promote unity and cultural interaction within the Indian community by having teams from different Indian communities come together to both compete and work side-by-side. “Like the film festival,” said Vayalumkal “I hope the races become a regular event and continue forever.”


Emanuel Leto

What do Teddy Roosevelt and Steve Gutenberg have in common? They were both caught on film in Florida.


ollywood East

Before California became the center of the american film industry, film studios were based primarily in new york and Chicago. Looking for a suitable winter climate, film studios in the northeast headed south, landing in Florida in the first decade of the 20th century. in 1908, new york City-based Kalem Studios produced A Florida Feud, the first feature film shot in the state. By 1910, about a dozen studios operated in the Jacksonville area and studios sent crews to shoot scenes and feature length films at locations throughout the state, from St. augustine to Palm Beach. the proliferation of studios in Jacksonville would soon earn the town the title "Hollywood east". Florida hosted a who’s who of silent and early cinema. D.W. griffith directed several films in the state including The White Rose (1923). in response to griffith’s technically groundbreaking yet stunningly racist Birth of a Nation (1915), african american filmmaker John noble produced the now-forgotten Birth of a Race,


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which was largely shot in tampa and released in 1918. Vaudeville performer W.C. Fields found himself in Florida for the 1926 film It’s the Old Army Game, the final sequence of which was filmed in Palm Beach. Oliver Hardy of Laurel and Hardy fame got his start in Florida. Beginning with Outwitting Dad in 1914, Hardy made 65 one-reel silent films in Jacksonville before relocating to California in 1916. also in 1916, Florida native richard norman founded norman Film Manufacturing Studios, on the site of the former eagle Studios in Jacksonville. norman produced “race films”, films featuring african americans in leading roles for african american audiences. in stark contrast to negative stereotypes perpetuated by large studios, norman cast african americans as pilots, cowboys and in other “leading man” roles. Between 1920 and 1928 norman Studios produced six feature-length films in Jacksonville, including The Flying Ace (1926), about a WWi fighter pilot and Black Gold (1927), a western set in Oklahoma. Florida’s first brush with stardom came to a close in the late 1920s. the collapse of the Florida land boom at the close of the decade coupled with the devastating 1926 hurricane ended Jacksonville’s chances to compete with incentives being offered by Hollywood film moguls in an effort to lure production companies to the West Coast. Hollywood’s “golden era” of the 1930s and 1940s also saw the rise of the “studio system” in which a handful on Hollywood soundstages located on studio backlots.

. "Billy" Blitzer, . Griffith (1910s). G.W with director Billy Blitzer and D.W ists art era first and greatest cam acclaimed among the h. ffit D.W. Gri

Newt Perry, Johnny Sheffield and Johnny Weissmuller during filming of Tarzan Finds a Son! (1938). Newt Perry (on the left) was a popular swimmer who was instrumental in the production of several movies in Florida. A friend of Weismuller, Perry was at the time manager of Silver Springs and convinced MGM to film their newest Tarzan flick there.

scene Filming of Airport ‘77 underwater (1976). This ‘77 was filmed at Wakulla Springs, Florida.

from Airport

io, filmwith Kalem Stud (and Starting in 1908 le . 2) vil 91 on (1 ks t Jac se in re Motion pictu oducing in films pr e, the n tim ga r be ve ty O Ci d. roun w York makers from Ne the state) in order to film year- e it remains today. in wher later elsewhere t to California, m the East Coas focus switched fro

Ann Blyth being carried to underwater set during filming (1948). Ed and Whitey McMahan carry actress Ann Blyth to the underwater set during filming of Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid at Weeki Wachee Spring. Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid was directed by Irving Pichel and starred William Powell as Mr. Peabody and Ann Blyth as the Mermaid.

Filming of Jaws 2 (1977). The first sequel to the hit 1975 Steven Spielberg film, Jaws, about yet another killer shark that terrorized Martha's Vineyard. Directed by Jeannot Szwarc and starring Roy Scheider Lorraine Gary, much of Jaws 2 was filmed in Navarre Beach and Okaloosa Island. It was released by Universal Studios. Navarre Beach, Florida. JULy/aUgUSt 2010


Despite the industry’s West Coast exodus, Florida continued to shine on the silver screen and, even when made elsewhere, Florida still figured prominently into the plot lines of Hollywood films. Beginning most notably with the Marx Brothers’ The Cocoanuts in 1929, Florida and its promise of cheap land and sunshine

became a frequent Hollywood punch line. in The Cocoanuts, groucho Marx plays the hotel manager of Hotel de Cocoanut, a swindler who moonlights selling plots of land in “Cocoanut Manor”, which is little more than a swamp. groucho’s fast-talking character shills his dubious development to unsuspecting investors, telling them, tongue-in-cheek, “it’s the most exclusive neighborhood in Florida- nobody lives there.” Hilarity ensues. Florida continued to be lambasted as an undeveloped backwater rife with shady characters in films like The New Klondike (1926). as the studio system began to loosen its grip on Hollywood in the late 1940s and 1950s, location shooting became more prevalent and Florida once again served as a backdrop for major motion pictures. the state’s diverse geography lured directors looking for everything from southern plantations to throbbing nightclubs to sunny beaches. in 1952, none other than Cecile B. DeMille headed to Florida to shoot The Greatest Show on Earth. Sarasota- John ringling’s 20

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winter headquarters for ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus- was a perfect setting for the story of a hustling circus promoter played by Charlton Heston. an earlier DeMille effort, Reap the Wild Wind (1948) was also shot in Florida, this time in Key West, featuring the Duke himself, John Wayne. also set in the Florida Keys was Key Largo (1948) featuring Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and a particularly nasty edward g. robinson as "Johnny rocco." Drama unfolds as rocco’s crew of mobsters hold the staff and guests prisoner in a rundown hotel as a hurricane descends. the film was shot mostly on a soundstage in Hollywood, but the opening sequence was shot on location in Key Largo and the Overseas Highway. Other films of the era took advantage of Florida’s exotic, often quirky locales like Beneath the 12-Mile Reef (1953), which captured the world of tarpon Springs’ sponge divers in a story of starcrossed lovers from dueling sponge-harvesting families; Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948) was shot at Weeki Wachee, while Easy to Love (1953) showcased Cypress gardens. During WWii, film crews descended on Drew Field highlighting tampa’s role in the war effort. three films, A Guy Named Joe (1943), Air Force (1943) and Sunday Dinner For A Soldier (1944) were set at Drew Field, which eventually became tampa international airport. Air Force, about the crew of a B-17 “Flying Fortress” named the Mary Ann, was filmed entirely in tampa. Danger in Paradise Florida’s ample natural environment can be both celebrated and deplored, depending on the film, as noted in the book Sunshine in the Dark: Florida in the Movies by authors Susan Fernandez and robert ingalls, Florida can be a tropical paradise full of promise, a foreboding swamp, Wild Things (1998), a bland suburban wasteland, Bully (2000), a tranquil respite for retirees, Cocoon (1985) or an ocean of blood and carnage, Jaws 3-D (1983). in 1951, gary Cooper and Mari aldon battled the swamps of the everglades in Distant Drums, the story of the Second Seminole War in which U.S. soldiers forcibly removed Florida’s Seminoles in the 1830s. More recently, everglades national Park figures prominently in Adaptation (2002), featuring Chris Cooper and Meryl Streep, their lives intertwining as Cooper writes a screenplay based on Streep's book on hunting for the elusive white orchid, which grows in the swampy South Florida wetlands. and, birthed from the swamps of Florida, who could forget the B-movie classic The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) which was filmed in Silver Springs? On the sunny side of Florida, the state was an obvious choice for a new genre of film that emerged in the 1960s- the beach movie. Where the Boys Are (1960) and the elvis Presley film vehicle Clambake (1967), both showcase Florida as a white-sand paradise and a destination for youngsters looking for a good time. Where the Boys Are, the story of four coeds- actresses yvette Mimeux, Connie Francis, Paula Prentiss and Dolores Hart- who

Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) JULy/aUgUSt 2010


Johnny Depp posing with just the scissorhands from the 1990 film, Edward Scissorhands. 22

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travel to Ft. Lauderdale for sun, fun and boys, is the prototypical beach movie. Filmed on location, the film set the stage for others in the same genre. in the 1980s, beach movies experienced a short and much raunchier- revival with films like Where the Boys Are ’84 (1984) and Revenge of the Nerds II: Nerds in Paradise (1987). Clambake was, like many an elvis movie of the 1950s and 1960s, a thinly veiled gimmick to sell more elvis records. elvis made about three dozen films, including features, beginning with King Creole in 1960. in addition to Clambake, he made Follow That Dream (1962) and Girl Happy (1965), all of which were at least partly filmed on location in Florida. Besides depicting Florida’s sunny beaches as a playground for teenagers, these films cemented the image of Florida as the spring break destination for college students everywhere, a legacy that continues today. Gangsters in Paradise tampa has brief cameos in gangster flicks Goodfellas (1990) and Donnie Brasco (1997), though for all the organized crime activity that transpired in tampa, you could argue the city gets short changed when compared to Miami. in Goodfellas, main characters Henry Hill (ray Liotta) and tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci) travel to tampa’s Lowry Park zoo to throw an informant in a lion’s den, an incident that allegedly happened in real life. in Donnie Brasco, al Pacino meets briefly with tampa’s notorious kingpin Santo trafficante although, when Johnny Depp and crew open the Kings Court Lounge, in the film it's located in Miami, while in real life it was located in Lakeland, just outside of tampa. as far as crime and gangster films go, however, South Florida- Miami in particular- is the venue of choice. Whether it’s the 1983 remake of Scarface starring a young al Pacino or even the Bogart classic Key Largo, Florida is no stranger to the gangster flick. a large portion of The Godfather: Part II (1974) is set in Miami as well as Havana, as the two are often linked both historically and in the minds of film audiences. But even before that, films like Tony Rome (1967) starring Frank Sinatra introduced america to the seedy side of Miami. Despite the genre or setting, Florida is in many ways a screen upon which the hopes, fears and dreams of the film-going public are projected. in the 1920s Florida was in the midst of a real-life land boom and the films that came out of this era often lampooned the state as an exclusive playground for the wealthy (A Florida Enchantment, 1914; The Cocoanuts, 1929). in real life, just as it is on film, Florida is a sought-after paradise and its tropical setting was and is perfect for films about sex-crazed teenagers (Where the Boys Are), seafaring smugglers (Reap the Wild Wind), or wistful retirees (Cocoon, The Crew) Florida’s tropical wiles, though, are double-edged and are just as often depicted as dangerous and untamed (Wild Things, Palmetto, Adaptation). More recently a number of films have been shot throughout

Florida though, unlike many of the films mentioned above, the state and its environment are not critical to the plot. in 1990, Edward Scissorhands, the first pairing of Johnny Depp and director tim Burton, was shot in Lutz and Land O' Lakes, just north of tampa. Portions of My Girl (1991), starring a then-adorable Macaulay Culkin, were shot in Bartow, Cop and a Half (1993), starring Florida’s own Burt reynolds, was shot in tampa and almost 50 years after Cecil B. DeMille’s The Greatest Show on Earth, Great Expectations (1996) returned to Sarasota and the estate of John ringling, shooting scenes in a dilapidated Cà d’zan, ringling’s 1925 estate. in 2001 george Clooney and crew shot a few scenes for Ocean's Eleven at Derby Lane, while John travolta and thomas Jane battled in the streets of tampa during the filming of The Punisher (2003). Florida and its swamps, cities, suburbs, and beaches are often characters in the films in which they appear. Like actors, Florida’s heat and hurricanes, swamps and historic towns set the mood and propel the plot to its climax. after more than 100 years on celluloid, Florida and its unique settings will continue their starring roles on the silver screen.

Al Pacino as Michael Corleone in the The Godfather: Part II (1974) JULy/aUgUSt 2010


March 22, 1958 The sound of urine pinging into a tin bucket echoed throughout the decrepit Ybor City warehouse filled with crates of food destined for Tampa-based restaurants. A few drops splashed from the bucket and, when mixed with the layers of dirt and dust, caked to the floor like an au naturel carpet, beaded into tiny muddy clumps. Buddy Meisch, a young hard-nosed ex-Tampa cop turned deputy who had been with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Vice Squad for a little over one year, finished his manly duty, zipped up and walked back to the “comfortable chair” he had been lounging on for over 10 hours- a splintered crate of canned beans. He grabbed his binoculars and stared at his target located 100 yards away; it was the Ybor City home of one of Tampa’s most notorious gangsters, Frank Diecidue, the underboss of the Santo Trafficante-led crime ring that controlled the city’s underworld. Meisch’s radio squawked, “Homerun.” That was the signal 26

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for which he had been waiting. He looked back to the target home. Numerous law enforcement officers, guns at the ready, began to creep towards the house, some to the back door, some to the front, others surrounding it. The head of the raid stood before the front door and casually knocked. History was about to be made. The evidence was inside that home: thousands of bolita tickets collected throughout multiple counties- enough to deliver a crippling financial blow to the Trafficante empire and, perhaps, finally a change that could stick to Santo Trafficante and put him in jail for a long time. The months-long investigation was about to come to fruition. As if on cue, a rat scurried across the floor of the warehouse. Ironic, thought Meisch; this entire raid was due to rats in the mafia, and the Vice Squad had to plan the raid knowing that rats in the Sheriff’s Office could have compromised it at any moment.

We went to the store and we went up to the front door and an old man was coming out and when he saw us he hollered, “Tres conejos.” Early 1950s Captain ellis Clifton didn’t know the definition of fear. Perhaps because it often seemed he had an angel on his shoulder as, no matter how dangerous his job became, he never suffered any consequences. He had been head of the Vice Squad- the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office’s department charged with bringing down the tampa mafia- since 1953 and had survived his fair share of threats. thousands of dollars in bounties had been put on his head, yet no one dared to collect. He had been followed by gangsters as though they were the police and he was the criminal, yet nothing ever came of the pursuits. and he had raided dozens of bolita parlors and walked away from each unscathed; not a scratch. yet, in the early 1950s, when he sat in his car parked on a desolate road in the middle of tampa’s boondocks, a known Sicilian felon seated next to him, he was shaking. the shakes were not from fear, though, but from excitement. Just a few days earlier, Clifton busted the Sicilian committing a crime. But, rather than arresting him, he made a deal. if the Sicilian would meet him on a desolate road at a specific time in a few days time and tell him everything he knew about tampa’s underworld, he would let him go. the known felon agreed. He provided Clifton with a “family tree,” a who’s who in the tampa underworld, as well as an understanding of how the gambling operations were run. “i finally got a guy who was a Sicilian and i told him i would lay off him if he would talk to me for six months,” explained Clifton. “So i got me a legal pad and got him in the car with me and we talked for five hours.” Clifton would never reveal the source, though. not even over 50 years later when he knew he would soon succumb to cancer. as the Sicilian felon bared his soul, Clifton understood why it had been so difficult to make any major headway in the Sheriff’s Office’s war on bolita, an illegal lottery that flourished in tampa and earned the mafia millions of dollars a year. Sure they had made dozens of small bolita busts, but nothing earth shattering. they were never able to find where a major haul of bolita tickets or money was counted. the reason: the Sicilians knew what they were doing. the tickets and money for major bolita rings were each separately run through a maze of bureaucracy and multiple handoffs until they reached their final destinations, making them hard to follow unless law enforcement had insider information. according to Clifton’s new Sicilian source, the maze started with the street peddlers, who were also called “writers.” Some of the street peddlers literally sold numbers on the street corners, while others may have sold numbers from an establishment they owned- restaurant, café, bar, hardware store, etc. Once the player

made his bet, the peddler gave the player a ticket with the number he played printed on it. the peddler then called a “Call-in House” and read the “Call-in guy” the numbers he sold and to whom and the Call-in guy would write up tickets for each sale for his records. the peddler rarely knew who the Call-in guy was; he simply knew what phone number to call. the winning bolita numbers were that week’s winning Cuban lottery numbers, which were drawn in Cuba at 1 p.m. on Saturday. everyone involved in bolita in tampa- from the players on up- listened to a Cuban radio station at 1 p.m. for the winning numbers. at 1:01 p.m., the Call-in guy would gather all his bolita tickets, place them in an envelope, and walk to a specific street and look for a specific car. When the car slowly drove by, the Call-in guy nonchalantly handed the driver (D1) his envelope. the Call-in guy’s job was done for the day and he had no idea where the driver was going. D1 collected from all the Call-in guys in a specific territory. Once he had collected from all his Call-in guys, he then drove down a specific street and looked for a specific car. When the two cars cruised by one another, D1 handed his envelopes to the other driver (D2). D1’s job was done for the day and he had no idea where D2 was going. the process repeated itself another five to eight times in each territory, each driver handing his envelope to another driver, never knowing where the new driver was going. the only driver who knew the final destination of the envelope was the last driver, who then took the envelope to the “Drop House,” where bolita tickets from numerous Call-in Houses and up to dozens of peddlers were delivered and calculated. the money went through the exact process, but was taken to another house. the tickets and money were always kept separate, so that if one was busted the other was safe. Clifton’s Sicilian source helped him to begin to crack the mazes and also provided him with names and addresses of numerous bolita dealers. Meanwhile, the family tree helped Clifton identify the major players in town. JULy/aUgUSt 2010


Left to right: Frank Diecidue. Center: Hillsborough County Vice-Squad Chief Ellis Clifton (left) and Polk County Deputy Jim Bowen take inventory of thousands of bolita tickets and two adding machines found at the home of Frank Diecidue on 10th Avenue. Right: Frank Ippolito (left) and Biaggio Savrino (right) are lead by Ellis Clifton (center) from what was described as “one of the biggest bolita banks on Florida’s West Coast.” Clifton said between $15,000 and $25,000 in bolita tickets were found in the house.

“ellis was everywhere,” said Meisch. “[the bolita dealers] called him the rabbit because he was always popping up all over town.” “One Saturday, Charlie Whitt [a third partner] and i and ellis went to a local grocery store in ybor City- i can’t remember which one- because we knew they were selling bolita [and knew it was also a Call-in House]. the numbers were called in at 1 p.m., so we’d wait until 1:01 p.m. to make a bust because we knew the bolita tickets would be scattered on a table so the numbers could be tallied. We went to the store and we went up to the front door and an old man was coming out and when he saw us he hollered, “Tres conejos.” We went in and the old man who owned that grocery story was scrambling to get rid of his bolita tickets. Well, we came to realize that tres is three and conejo is rabbit. So the old man yelled “the three rabbits”, tipping them off that we were coming in. So, i guess after a while we were referred to as the three rabbits.” the Vice Squad often cut deals with those they arrested for information in exchange for less jail time or none at all. if the prospect of jail time didn’t scare them, the Vice Squad would bribe the answers out of them. the Sheriff’s Office had a fund they called “the emergency Fund” that was earmarked for such bribery. if the peddler or driver gave them information that led to a small bolita raid, they were paid a few dollars. But, if it turned into a major raid, they’d be paid $200- a lot of money for a nickel and dime bolita peddler or driver to earn in the 1950s. the more information they received, the more frequent the busts became. “it seemed like we were busting somebody on gambling charges every Saturday,” said Whitt. and with each bolita bust, the Vice Squad gathered more information that led to more and larger busts. Usually, a peddler would provide Clifton with the Call-in House number. Clifton and his men would track down the owner of the phone number and stake out the establishment. When the Callin guy would leave to deliver his tickets to a driver, Clifton and his 28

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crew would follow him and begin tracking the maze of exchanges. Once the maze was documented, they’d return the following week to arrest everyone who was part of it. the arrests had to be quick and well planned, though. “the bolita numbers were often printed on cigarette paper,” explained Whitt. “that paper was easily flammable and would burn quickly if the cops walked in.” Despite all this activity, after months of arrests, a $200 reward for a huge bust had yet to be paid. Some of the bolita busts were substantial, but none were major. then, in early 1958, Clifton found himself yet another informant looking to earn a few dollars, and the new informant provided him with information that while worth $200, was in fact priceless. the informant told Clifton specifics about a maze of bolita tickets that began in St. Petersburg every Saturday and included bolita tickets for Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee and Polk counties. this was the biggest bolita maze Clifton had been tipped off on. the next Saturday, Clifton got to work. Following an entire bolita maze was tough; a typical bolita maze wound through tampa for miles. to follow the drivers and not be seen was no easy task. When following at a distance, it was easy to lose the drivers. to compound matters, this particular bolita maze began in St. Petersburg. So it took a few weeks for Clifton to follow the entire route. if he lost a driver one week, he would remember the last spot he saw that particular driver, park nearby the following week and begin his pursuit from there. He did that until he was able to document every exchange- eight in all. When the final driver delivered the envelope to the Drop House, Clifton covered his face (he was a known man to the all the criminals after all) and slowly cruised by the Drop House. Once a safe distance away, Clifton sped back home to contemplate what he just learned. the Drop House he found was the residence of Frank Diecidue, who, according to Clifton’s original informant, was tHe underboss of the trafficante crime family- Santo’s number one bolita man in tampa.

Despite the huge discovery, Clifton kept the news to himself for a few weeks. He was always careful with his information. rats were everywhere. “you couldn’t park a car in ybor City without somebody being alert,” said Clifton. “We always had to watch our backs and go home at night and make sure we had plenty of ammunition, if you understand what i am saying,” said Whitt. “i remember when i first went to work for the Vice Squad, they told me that morning that by the evening time the bolita people would know who i was, my car, my tag number, where i lived and my phone number,” said Meisch. “i got home that evening around 9:30 p.m., the phone rang, and when i answered it they hung up. it was them. For sure, they knew right away.” Mob informants were also located within the Sheriff’s Office. the late- roland Manteiga, former publisher of La Gaceta newspaper who had his own inside sources at the Sheriff’s Office, wrote in March 1958 that Clifton and the Vice Squad spoke via radio on private radio waves rather than over the designated Sheriff’s Office radio waves because they didn’t know who they could trust within their own ranks. Clifton trusted his two Vice Squad partners, though- Meisch and Whitt- but, before he told them, he tailed the maze of exchanges for a few more weeks, just to be certain that Diecidue’s home wasn’t a onetime Drop House; he didn’t want to get their hopes up until he was sure it was the regular Drop House. Once he was sure, he told his partners and they began to plan their raid. the first thing they needed was a detailed map of the routeevery twist, every turn along the way and the exact corner or block the exchanges were made. to do so while tailing in a car proved difficult, as they would always have to stay a safe distance away so not to be discovered. How could they map the exchange route then? Clifton had heard that another Sheriff’s Office in the State of Florida had recently used an airplane for surveillance and decided to mimic their tactic. the next time the exchanges were made, Clifton hovered a few hundred feet above the route in a tiny airplane. Because this was only the second time in the history of the state that an airplane had tailed criminals, Clifton had nothing to worry about. the drivers and peddlers had no reason to believe that an airplane was following them. Once the route was detailed, Clifton had all the evidence he needed to get a court order to raid Diecidue’s home. But, he couldn’t plan the raid from tampa. the streets had too many eyes and ears.

Checking Evidence: Deputy Sheriffs Charlie Whitt, left, and Ellis Clifton, head of the county vice squad, are shown examining batches of bolita tickets found during a raid on a house in Gary that was allegedly a four-county lottery headquarters.

if anyone connected to the tampa underworld saw an army of Hillsborough Sheriff’s officers gathering on a Friday night, they would know something big was being planned. Manteiga wrote in La Gaceta that, outside of the Vice Squad and top local officers, Clifton primarily used state law enforcement officers rather than officers with the Hillsborough Sheriff’s Office because he was unsure who he could trust locally outside of his own Vice Squad. everyone involved in the raid was told to drive to St. Petersburg at various times, so as not to draw any suspicion. they then all met in a hotel, went over the plans, and returned to tampa, again at various times. Meisch was one of the first to return to tampa. He and another officer were charged with surveillance from a warehouse 100 yards away from Diecidue’s home. they were given coffee, some snacks and a bucket to use as a toilet; they had no reason to leave that warehouse. they were to have a pair of eyes on that home from 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning until the raid began in the late afternoon. if anything out of the ordinary took place, they were ordered to inform Clifton. Clifton then set up men at every exchange point along the route. When each exchange was made, the particular officer radioed in the news via code words. the chosen code was baseball. When the first exchange was made, an officer radioed in, “the ball game has started.” When the second was made, an officer radioed in, “the batter is coming up,” the third officer said, “He is on first base,” and so on. eight exchanges had eight different baseball phrases, with the final delivery to Diecidue’s being, “Homerun.” JULy/aUgUSt 2010


Clifton, a former newspaper reporter, knew this raid was going to be huge, so that morning he called a friend who worked with a local television station and tipped him off, offering to bring a camera crew with him when they broke down the door. around 3:50 p.m., the raid began. Clifton went to the front door with the camera crew and some backup officers. Whitt and some additional officers went to the back door to make sure no one could escape and more backup officers surrounded the house. When Clifton knocked, Diecidue’s wife, rose, looked outside, saw the small army of law enforcement officers on her lawn, and asked what they wanted, to which Clifton replied that if she didn’t open the door they would force it open. She refused to open it, so Clifton ordered Whitt and his officers to force open the back door using a fire axe. Once inside, Clifton and his crew arrested six people- Biaggio Savrino, Frank ippolito, rose Diecidue, alice Lazzara and Primo Lazzara. Upon searching the home, all the law enforcement agents were blown away by what they found. they knew this raid would be big, but not this big. they found thousands of bolita tickets hidden throughout the house- the most Clifton had ever seen in one place- adding up to tens of thousands of dollars. More importantly, they found the names of 50 - 100 individuals involved in that particular bolita ring- a ring that was estimated to earn millions of dollars a year. this was one of the largest bolita raids ever on the west coast of Florida. the only thing missing from the house was the key man; Frank Diecidue was nowhere to be found. But, this was his home. Clifton knew he had him so he waited. Following the raid, the television crew’s footage was broadcast on the evening news, so Diecidue must have known about it. He didn’t run, though. instead, he returned to his home and was peacefully arrested. Diecidue was convicted of running an illegal lottery, but the other six defendants were freed after mistrials. no evidence was uncovered that could bring charges against Santo trafficante. Despite convicting only one individual, this raid was considered a resounding success, as the list of individuals involved in bolita led to numerous raids throughout the tampa Bay area in the ensuing weeks. Soon after the raids, the tampa underworld began wondering who the informants were and who they could trust. and, with bolita profits taking a hit because of the numerous raids, factions began jockeying for control of their competitors’ games. in the months ahead, these two issues would turn tampa into a mafia warzone, as hits were ordered on potential stool pigeons and competitors. But that is a Vice Squad tale for another time.


The Bolita Wives Forget everything you tHinK you know about tampa pulled over and asked if they were going to the swimming mafia wives and girlfriends in the 1950s. Unlike how mafia pool and they told me they were going to Cuscaden Park in girlfriends and wives are usually depicted in movies, in ybor City to swim. So i offered them a ride and when i drove tampa these women were not stay-at-home housewives or back over the bridge i looked like a mom who drove to trophy girlfriends. they were as important to the bolita rings Palmetto Beach to pick up her son and friends to take them that flourished in tampa as the male mafia members were. to the pool, so [Clifton] had no reason to suspect me of any“a lot of women would sell numbers or would collect thing.” numbers. We could hide from the police a little easier than Jitterbug said she then dropped the kids off at the pool men could,” explained a woman who would only call herself and delivered the numbers. and, she said even if police did “Jitterbug.” Jitterbug was a girltail her, when she entered the friend of one of the tampa Bay Drop House they would have no area’s most prominent gangsters reason to believe she was making and she was trusted to not only sell the final delivery. numbers, but to run a “Pick Up “i didn’t have anything in my House” out of a grocery store in hands,” she laughed. “the numtampa and, on occasion, to be the bers were hidden under my skirt.” final driver in her territory’s bolita Other women had even better maze, bringing all the numbers to ways to hide the numbers. the “Drop House.” “i remember a black lady in St. She remembered one specific Petersburg used to bring bolita occasion in which all the numbers numbers to tampa in a big Dodge for Palmetto Beach had been coland always brought a bunch of kids lected, but ellis Clifton, head of with her,” said Jitterbug. “in fact, the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s she is the one who gave me the Office’s Vice Squad, was tipped off idea to pick up those kids that day and looking for the final driver to because she always had kids with pick up the numbers and bring her to throw off the police. Two women (Alice Lazzara & Mrs. Frank Diecidue) were them to the Drop House. anyway, the police were on to her among six persons arrested by sheriff’s deputies and state “if police were tipped off and men here in a raid on what was described by officers as one that day. She was speeding so they looking for a big delivery, i would of the West Coast’s biggest bolita banks. The woman in this used that as an excuse to pull her photo is Alice Lazzara. often get the call to make the big over. the bolita banker bailed her pickup and drop it off because i could be trusted,” said out of jail and i figured she would be too scared to go see the Jitterbug. “So i was called to make the Palmetto Beach pick- banker and apologize for speeding and losing all the bolita up and i was told to be careful because ellis Clifton was numbers because if she got rid of the numbers before she under a bridge on the route and was looking for the car mak- was pulled over or the police took them it would be a major ing the pickup. He had a green station wagon back then- it hassle. Well, she showed up to the Drop House to see the was important to always remember what the police drove- banker after she was bailed out and wasn’t scared at all. She and when i crossed that bridge i saw that green station said she had all the numbers on her. She then opened up her wagon sitting under it. So i made the pickup, but was wor- shirt, took out one of her breasts and lifted it up. She had ried that if he saw my car cross that bridge twice in a short big breasts. i mean big, big, big breasts. and, underneath her period of time he would stop me to check on me. So when i breasts she had every bolita number. the police didn’t search got close to the bridge i saw three or four kids walking down her too thoroughly. i guess because they were too much of a the road. they were wearing bathing suits and had towels. i gentleman and didn’t want to offend a lady.” JULy/aUgUSt 2010



Cigar City Magazine

Cigar City Magazine is excited to announce a new regular feature in our publication–Blood Is Thicker, by writer Paul Guzzo and illustrator Jon Fisher. The fictional story of Blood Is Thicker will bring the real 1940s Ybor City to life as a graphic novel, a narrative work in which the story is conveyed to the reader using a traditional comic book format. Readers will learn every aspect of 1940s Ybor City–bolita, the history of Ybor’s most famous buildings, the rise and fall of the cigar industry, the social clubs, the music, the food, the customs, culture and more. Blood Is Thicker will revolve around a love triangle between an Italian gangster trying to overthrow bolita-kingpin Charlie Wall, a Cuban violinist who believes he will never fulfill his potential as a musician, and a Spanish opera starlet performing at a zarzuela show at the Centro Asturiano. This is the first and only graphic novel that revolves around this famous period in Ybor City’s history. Cigar City Magazine is proud to bring it to our readers and is looking forward to the story unfolding in the months ahead.

JULy/aUgUSt 2010


There are 10,000 children living on the streets of New York....The newsboys constitute an important division of this army of homeless children. You see them everywhere...They rend the air and deafen you with their shrill cries. They surround you on the sidewalk and almost force you to buy their papers. They are ragged and dirty. Some have no coats, no shoes and no hat. -1872, James B. McCabe, Jr.

newsies was the name applied to young newsboys beginning around the 1850s, long before home-delivery of newspapers was instituted. the majority of these young children were poor and sold papers to make money to survive. it was a difficult job trying to get passers-by to purchase a paper. they competed against one another for the meager amount of money they could make, standing on the corners day and night yelling, “extra! extra! read all about it!” Some did attend school and then sold papers later in the day, but a large number never received any type of education. But newsies were not limited to boys, by the late 1890s, more and more girls and young women joined the ranks of newspaper sellers. By 1900, approximately 1 in 20 newsies on street corners were female. During this period of time many immigrants were arriving in america and needed employment. Some became sick and died during their travel to america and their children became orphans. Poverty in our country was high and money was scarce so adults and children were competing with one another for jobs and places to live. at the same time the newspaper industry began to grow and workers were needed to distribute daily newspapers. The New York Sun was one of the first newspapers to hire young boys to sell their papers on the streets of the busy city. Before long, other newspapers around the country followed the same practice. no matter the weather or time of day, you could always find newsies hawking their papers. While some did have families and 36

Cigar City Magazine

homes and worked to bring in extra money, many newsies were orphans or homeless. Some newsies were runaways that left home because of abuse or poor conditions. they refused to return to their family, making the other newsies their new family. they became independent and accustomed to being outside with friends on busy streets and making money. they talked rough, some smoked, but they looked out for one another. then at night, they would huddle together to stay warm and sleep wherever they could find protection from the weather. they were given nicknames by their fellow newsies such as: Skinny, Slobbery Jack, Snoddy, the Snitcher, King of Crapshooters, King of Bums, Snipe, Shooter, Bag of Bones, Smoke Pie-eater, Chew tobacco Mike, Jake the Oyster. Sadly many were named for their physical affliction like One Lung Pete. in 1866, a reformer named Charles Loring Brace described the condition of homeless newsies in new york City, “i remember one cold night seeing some 10 or a dozen of the little homeless creatures piled together to keep each other warm beneath the stairway of The (New York) Sun office. there used to be a mass of them also at The Atlas office, sleeping in the lobbies, until the printers drove them away by pouring water on them. One winter, an old burnt-out safe lay all the season in Wall Street, which was used as a bedroom by two boys who managed to crawl into the hole that had been burned.”

a typical day in the life of a newsie required getting up early, usually before sunrise, then heading over to pickup newspapers to sell that day. they had to pay for their newspapers out of their pocket so if they did not sell all their papers that day, they lost money. this is why selecting busy intersections with lots of foot traffic was important. the best corners were held by the toughest guys- they had to be able to fight any other newsie that might want their turf. Selling their paper meant survival so they were very aggressive. you could not walk past one without the newspaper being forced in your face as the newsie shouted the days top stories for all to hear. no matter the weather- hot, cold, rain, snow- the newsie would always be out on the street. Many times they earned just enough money to pay for a meager bit of food. if for any reason the newsie became ill, he probably did not have the money to go see a doctor. even though tampa was not considered a major metropolitan city at that time like new york or Chicago, we did have our own local newsies. Many were children of the immigrants that arrived in tampa

when the cigar industry began. they would begin selling papers as early as 6 o’clock in the morning and work until late in the evening. the older children who were more skilled at selling would make about 50 cents a day and younger ones made about 25 cents. Most did not know english and were illiterate. as the industrial revolution progressed, many factors, including the newsboys Strike of 1899, the rise of unions and a number of other reform movements, ended the era of the newsies. eventually the United States government passed laws to protect child workers and standards were set for the treatment of the country’s children. While the reality of life as a newsie was not easy, the newsies have continued to be in the public consciousness thanks to tV, film and literature- most famously (or infamously, according to film critics) in 1992 when the Disney musical film newsies was released, based on the newsboys Strike of 1899. and while the darker parts of that era have faded into history and many newspapers teeter on the brink of extermination, the familiar cry of the newsies lives on: “extra! extra!”

Bellenti Family: Joe 9, Sam 7 and Tony 4. They lived on Garcia Avenue. All commence selling at 6am and sell until late at night. Oldest makes 50 cents and two youngest make 25 cents each day. Sam has been selling for two years. They know little English and are Illiterate. They do not go to school.

Barefoot newsie, 1913.

Newsies Boy and Girl, 1910.

JULy/aUgUSt 2010


He is the definition of a big fish in the small pond we call tampa. Joe Lala, an ybor City and Jefferson High School class of 1965 product, has toured the world as a percussionist and vocalist for some of the music industry’s hottest acts and has acted alongside numerous legendary thespians. His first major band, Blues image, was founded right here in tampa and reached the top of the charts in 1970 with their hit “ride Captain ride.” Lala later went on to perform with such bands as Stephen Stills’ Manassas, the eagles, the Bee gees, Diana ross and more. He accumulated 32 gold records and 28 platinum during his music career and played on the movie soundtracks of Saturday Night Fever, Staying Alive, D.C. Cab, Streets of Fire, All The Right Moves, Breathless, Defiance, The Lonely Guy, and Airplane. after conquering the music industry, he set his sights on Hollywood. His films include Sugar Hill, Havana and Born in East L.A. and his television appearances include Miami Vice, General Hospital, Melrose Place, and Seinfeld. now back in tampa fulltime, Joe Lala continues to perform musically and lends his voice to local television and film productions. He was the narrator in the documentary on ybor City gangster Charlie Wall and is the “voice of ybor City” in a commercial promoting ybor City by the ybor City Development Corporation (yCDC). recently, Joe Lala sat down with Cigar City Magazine to reminisce a bit about his long and fascinating career.

cigarette machine of the club. it turned out that he attended Plant High in tampa and we started to talk for a bit. a little after we met, i hooked up with another band, Pacific gas & electric [Pg&e). they had a hit called “are you ready.” So one day i’m at my home recovering from a gig with them and my phone rings. the voice on the phone says, “Hey Joe. it’s Stephen.” to which i reply, “Stephen who?” When he told me Stephen Stills i said, “yeah right.” But it was. He told me he was on the tail end of a tour and wanted me to join him for the last five gigs. He said there was a ticket waiting for me at the airport and he wanted me to get on a plane in the morning. Of course i said yes. and, yeah, it was pretty nice. [Laughs] CCM: How does it make you feel when you hear that your music is now considered Classic Rock? JL: Classic rock. Please, i hear my music at the grocery store now and that gives me the biggest laugh. i was shopping the other day and i heard some Firefall stuff. you know, they did that song “you are the Woman that i’ve always Dreamed Of.” i hear that, looked to the person next to me and said, “that’s me!” and they looked at me like i was crazy. and two weeks ago i heard something off a Stills young album in a grocery store. i never thought when we recorded that stuff that it would one day be played in a Sweetbay! But it makes me feel good to know that i was part of something that is still played in so many different places. i know it sounds arrogant, but sometimes i like to google myself to remind myself of some of the things i did in my career and say to myself, “Wow, i used to be somebody big.” [Laughs]

CCM: What was your reaction the first time you heard one of your songs on the radio? JL: Boy, i’m famous now! now i’ll meet some women! the first time i heard a song of mine on the radio was in Miami. i did a song called “Can’t you Believe in Forever” with one of the incarnations of Blue’s image. rick Shaw, who was a major DJ at the time, introduced it and had us over to the station, but i still hadn’t heard it. as we were on our way home it came on, and it was like “Wow!” it was a bit of a rush. no, it was a big freaking rush.

CCM: What do you enjoy more, acting or music? JH: the music comes naturally. i don’t have to work at it. it’s my gift. it just comes. the acting i have to do my homework. i have to continually work at it to get better. With music, it’s god-given and just something that i can step away from for years and come back and perform again like i never took a day off.

CCM: How about your reaction when a legend like Stephen Stills asked you to perform with him? JL: Well, first off, i didn’t believe it was Stephen Stills on the other end of the phone. about nine months before i got the call, i was playing a gig with Blues image when i met Stephen Stills at the

CCM: You have worked with countless talented individuals over the yearsin music, television and film. Care to name drop? JH: Well, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, graham nash and neil young obviously. then there is andy garcia, robert redford, Jerry Seinfeld, Barbara Streisand, John Mellencamp, Diana ross, eric Clapton, Dionne Warwick, the Bee gees and more. it’s crazy when i think about it; how many talented people i have been lucky enough to work with.


Cigar City Magazine

Cigar City Magazine attended CafĂŠ Con Leche, The Black and White Ball, hosted by the Rotary Club of Ybor City. The event attracted both members and non-members to the rejuvenated Ritz Ybor to celebrate Ybor history with traditional music and photos of Ybor in its heyday. Cigar City Magazine was honored to have been able sponsor this spectacular event! For more information about the Rotary Club of Ybor City, visit For more information about The Ritz Ybor, visit


Cigar City Magazine

To see more pictures of our events, visit and click on our Facebook page!

May/JUne 2010


Ybor City Deviled Crab (Croquetas de Jaiba de Ybor City)

Croquette Dough 3 loaves stale American Bread, sliced 1 loaf stale Cuban bread 1 level tablespoon paprika 1 teaspoon salt


Remove crust from American bread and discard. Soak remainder of bread in water for 15 minutes; drain and squeeze until almost dry. Grind Cuban bread very fine and sift. Add sifted Cuban bread to American bread gradually, mixing until dough is formed. Add paprika and salt. Mix thoroughly. Wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Crabmeat Filling 5 tablespoons olive oil 3 onions, finely chopped 1/2 red or green bell pepper, finely chopped 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped 1 level teaspoon crushed red hot pepper (Italian style) 2 bay leaves 1/2 teaspoon sugar 1 level teaspoon salt 1 6-oz. can tomato paste 1 lb. fresh crabmeat (cartilage removed), shredded (claw meat is good for croquettes)


SautĂŠ onions, bell pepper, garlic, and crushed pepper for 15 minutes over low heat. Add rest of ingredients and cook for 10 minutes covered. Remove bay leaves. Uncover and refrigerate.

Assembling Croquettes 2 eggs, well beaten 1/2 cup milk Dash salt Dash pepper 1/2 cup flour 1 cup dry bread crumbs Vegetable or peanut oil for frying


Cigar City Magazine


Mix eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. Mix in bread crumbs and flour. take about 3 tablespoons of croquette dough and press flat in your hand. Put in a tablespoon of crabmeat filling, fold over, and seal. Roll each croquette first in the bread crumb mixture, then in the egg mixture, and again in the bread crumb mixture. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Deep-fry in oil until light brown.

(For more information, email:


Dear Mama, i’ve been hearing rumors that our government is trying to ban cigar smoking. is this true and how can that be when we live in the Cigar City? -Cigar Smoker Dear Cigar Smoker, all i can say about that is they must be the arithmetic government: you add trouble, subtract pleasure, divide attention, and multiply ignorance. Let them just try to pull the cigar from my two good teeth! -Mama

Dear Mama, My kids are driving me crazy! i’ve been trying “time out” and sending them to their room to reflect on their bad choices but it’s just not working. i don’t remember us being this bad. What i am i doing wrong? -Unruly Kids Dear Unruly Kids, ¡Lo que! What is that, “time out?” Niña are you a complete culo tonto? How many times did you get the chancleta either upside your head or across your culo when you were bad? This is why you listened to your parents. A couple of flying chancleta’s at those brats heads and it should clear up the problem rápido! Next time you should learn from your mistakes– try using some birth control. -Mama

Dear Mama, i was born under the sign of Scorpio, which is the sign for passion and love, but my partner is a different sign and is not as passionate. How do i get him to change? -Fruustrated Dear Frustarated, i have no clue as to what the hell you just asked me but it sounds to me like the sign you were born under was the...reD LigHt DiStriCt. -Mama


Did you know? by Dan Perez

The name “Tampa” comes from the Calusa Indians who lived in West Central Florida between 1500 and into the 1800s. The Calusa (or Caloosa) called this place “Tanpa,” with an “N”, which translates to “sticks of fire.” Some have said that this refers to the abundance of kindling and driftwood along the Hillsborough River (sticks to make fire), but the more plausible reference is to the frequent, intense lightning storms in the area. The name "Tanpa" first appears in the memoir of Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda. Fontaneda was a Spanish shipwreck survivor who lived among the Native Americans of Florida for 17 years as a Calusa captive before his rescue. He calls it "Tanpa" and describes it as an important Calusa town. While "Tanpa" is the apparent basis for the modern name "Tampa", archaeologist Jerald Milanich places the Calusa village of Tanpa at the mouth of Charlotte Harbor, the original "Bay of Tanpa". A later Spanish expedition failed to notice Charlotte Harbor while sailing north along the west coast of Florida and assumed that today's Tampa Bay was the bay that they had sought. Thus, the name was accidentally transferred north. In 1521 Juan Ponce de Leon was the first European to discover present day Tampa Bay. De Leon was allegedly slain in this area by the Calusa Indians “as a response to information they received of Spanish mistreatment of Indians (Calusa and Carib) in Cuba”. De Leon’s body was first taken to Europe and now resides in the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Panfilo de Narvaez landed in Tampa Bay on Good Friday, April 1528, with the intention of starting a colony. He declared it “the best port in the world.” After being told by the natives of better riches to the north, Narvaez immediately got into an argument with a local Indian chief who in turn sliced off Narvaez’s nose and chased him out of the area. They abandoned their camp after only a week. A dozen years later, a surviving member of the expedition named Juan Ortiz was rescued by Hernando de Soto's expedition. Hernando de Soto arrived in the area on May 25, 1539, calling Tampa Bay “La Bahia del Espiritu Santo” (the Bay of the Holy Spirit) and met with native Indians under the Charter Oak (or De Soto Oak) near present day Plant Park at the University of Tampa. A peace treaty was reached with the local Tocobaga Indians, and a short-lived Spanish outpost was established. However, this was abandoned when it became clear that there was no gold in the area, that the local Indians were not interested in converting to Catholicism, and that they were too skilled as warriors to easily conquer. The Tampa area would be effectively ignored by its colonial owners for the next 200+ years.

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