TABLE OF CONTENTS FEATURES
Mr. Guzzo Goes To Cuba
When Florida Left The Union
The Battle Between Dick Greco and Nick Nuccio
Cigar Label History
Looking Back: This Month in Florida History
Look Who’s Smokin’
Café con Leche Interview
On The Town with Dave Capote
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MARCH/APRIL 2011 LISA M. FIGUEREDO PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF SUSAN CUESTA MANAGING EDITOR
EMANUEL LETO CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
PAUL GUZZO SENIOR WRITER
DAVE CAPOTE PHOTOGRAPHER
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY CONTRIBUTORS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA DIGITAL COLLECTIONS HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY THE FLORIDA STATE ARCHIVES USF DEPARTMENT OF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS TAMPA BAY HISTORY CENTER TAMPA TRIBUNE LA GACETA NEWSPAPER MANNY IRIARTE ON THE COVER PETE JOHNSON, OWNER OF TATAUJE CIGARS
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Union Pacific Railroad Label a Cigar label, "Made exclusively for the Union Pacific railroad by the Morgan Cigar Co. inc., tampa, Fla.
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FROM THE PUBLISHER LISA FIGUEREDO| PUBLISHER@CIGARCITYMAGAZINE.COM Cigar City Magazine likes to remind its readers to: Rediscover. Remember. Relive. But history is a continuous process and with the story of Tampa being written every day, we decided to try something new and different. The photograph of Pete Johnson provided by Manny Iriarte, a designer/photographer famous for his cigar labels and advertising, is a departure from the usual for us. Instead of going with a photo from the past, we opted to use a photo of someone who is making history today. It’s no secret that the history of Tampa is interwoven with that of the cigar industry and the industry has embraced Cigar City Magazine–even though, contrary to popular belief, we are a history magazine. No matter your views on the pros and cons of tobacco, many of us can identify with our grandparents, parents, or other relatives who were cigar workers and helped build the fabric of this community. In fact, many of the legendary families of the cigar industry still live and work in the bay area–Fuente, Oliva, and Newman, to name a few. Pete Johnson looked to this past when building his brand, Tatuaje, and hopes to someday join their ranks. In Pete, we saw someone who–like us–saw the value of that history. We could not tell the stories we do without the cooperation and contributions of the cigar industry pioneers and we thank them for their support. March is also election time in Tampa and to celebrate, we offer a story about one of the most legendary races in the history of the city between Nick Nuccio and a young Dick Greco. Now, both men are regarded as legends, but then, Dick Greco was a young city councilman going up against the powerful, multi-term Mayor Nuccio. Greco has now served more terms as mayor of Tampa than any other person and has the distinction of being the youngest mayor in the city’s history. His re-election would make him the city’s oldest mayor. As one of the most hotly contested races in years winds down, who will make history this time? Cigar City Magazine will be there to record the stories and tell the tales for future generations.
Lisa M. Figueredo Founder & Owner of Cigar City Magazine
IN THE MONTH OF MARCH March 3, 1845 Florida was admitted into the United States as the twenty-seventh state today. President John Tyler signed the act of admission. March 10, 1962 The Phillies baseball club left the Jack Tar Harrison Hotel due to its refusal to admit black players, and moved to Rocky Point Motel, 20 miles outside Clearwater, Florida. March 1, 1969 Jim Morrison (d.1971), lead singer for The Doors, exposed himself at Dinner Key Auditorium in Miami before 10,000 people. An arrest warrant was issued for Morrison four days after the concert. He turned himself in, was tried the next year and convicted on two charges- open profanity and indecent exposure. Governor Charlie Crist and Floridaâ€™s Board of Executive Clemency members pardoned Morrison on December 9, 2010. March 5, 1973 During spring training in Florida, Yankee pitchers Fritz Peterson and Mike Kekich announced they had swapped wives. Mike Kekich and Marilyn Peterson lasted only a couple of months, but Fritz Peterson and Susanne Kekich married after their divorces and had four children together. March 7, 1982 The Salvador Dali Museum opened in St. Petersburg today. The new Dali Museum re-opened on January 11, 2011.
IN THE MONTH OF APRIL April 2, 1513 Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed in Florida. He named it Pascua Florida, "feast of the flowers." De Leon, a Spanish explorer and governor of Puerto Rico, also discovered the Dry Tortugas, 10 small keys southwest of Key West. His discovery was made during his search for the legendary Fountain of Youth. April 18, 1818 A regiment of Indians and blacks was defeated at the Battle of Suwanna, in Florida, ending the first Seminole War. April 12, 1981 The space shuttle Columbia rose from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center a few seconds past 7:00 a.m. today. The astronauts, John Young and Bob Crippen, brought the shuttle to a safe landing at Edwards Air Force Base in California. April 22, 1998 The new Disney Animal Kingdom theme park in Orlando was opened. April 8, 1999 An explosion at Tampa Electricâ€™s Gannon Station Power Plant, killed 2 people in Tampa and injured 49. April 2, 2007 Florida won its second consecutive college basketball championship, beating Ohio State 84-75; the Gators became the first team to repeat since Duke in 1991-92.
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Can you identify this Lost Landmark?
Congratulations to Angelo Guida, owner of C & G Cigars in Tampa, who guessed last issue's Lost Landmark! The Lost Landmark in the January/February 2011 issue was Plant Field with Tampa cityscape in the background, 1923.
Simply mail the answer and your name to: Lost Landmarks C/O Cigar City Magazine P.O. Box 18613 â€˘ Tampa, Florida 33679 or email us at email@example.com by April 1, 2011. All correct entries will be entered into a drawing and one name will be selected as the winner. Your name will be featured in our next issue of Cigar City Magazine. Good luck! 12
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Look WhosSmokin ,
He wears his love of cigars on his sleeves...his tattoo sleeves. Pete Johnson became a sensation on the cigar circuit in the mid-1990s when he showed up to a cigar convention in Boston boasting a brand new tattoo on his arm–the label for the Fuente family’s then-new cigar Opus X. When he showed his ink to Carlito Fuente, he was nicknamed “Tattoo Pete,” and the moniker stuck. Today, he continues to live up to the name. His tattoo collection has grown, culminating in two full sleeves, and he has created his own popular brand of cigars–Tatuaje, which means tattoo in Spanish. “It seemed like a fitting name,” said Johnson of his decision to name his brand Tatuaje. “Everyone in the industry knew me as Tattoo Pete so it made sense just to go with it.” He was known for more than his tattoos, though. He was also known for his extensive knowledge of cigars. Johnson first burst onto the cigar scene in 1990, shortly after relocating to Los Angeles from Maine with his band. Johnson was the bassist who was notorious for smoking cigars as he performed. “The band used to think I was crazy because I also had to sing backups,” said Johnson. “But I didn’t care. I really loved cigars. I loved smoking them and I loved the art of the labels. They are just cool.” He became a regular at a number of L.A. cigar shops and began educating himself on the cigar industry by reading cigar publications, attending smokers, and asking veterans of the industry questions. His favorite establishment was Gus’ Smoke Shop in Studio City and within a few months of frequenting the business they offered him a job. He worked one day a week and stacked shelves and cleaned up, but as his knowledge about cigars increased, the managers realized they were wasting his talent. Six months after they hired him as a one-day a week employee,
he was promoted to purchaser and was working seven days a week. The shop had only 60 different labels when he began working as purchaser. A short time later he increased their labels to 200. “I knew cigars,” he said. “I was always reading up on the new labels and talking to people in the industry about what was coming up next or what they recommended.” He worked as a purchaser at a few cigar shops over the next few years and developed a reputation as a man who knew how to recommend cigars. He would ask his customers what they were looking for and always knew the best cigar for their tastes. And he could seemingly answer any questions anyone had on any cigar. He also forged strong relationships with a few cigar company owners, such as the Fuente family. Johnson said the Fuentes treated him with the utmost respect and were always dolling out advice and information to him on the cigar industry. “That’s why I got the Opus X tattoo,” said Johnson. “It was a beautiful label and I knew it was going to revolutionize the cigar industry. And it was also a way to honor the Fuentes for all they had done for me.” Perhaps giving him the nickname “Tattoo Pete” was their greatest present. An investor recognized that Johnson was gaining rock star status in the cigar world and also recognized that he knew a lot about cigars. He approached Johnson with an offer–if Johnson created his own cigar label he would fund it. Johnson’s investor’s hunch was correct. After a lot of trial and error, Johnson found the blend for which he was looking. In 2003, Tatuaje Cigars were unveiled. The cigars were rolled by Don José “Pepin” Garcia. Today, Garcia is considered one of the best cigar rollers in the industry, but Tatuaje was actually the first blend Garcia created on his own. “It took me years to finally find a blend I approve of,” said Johnson. “Pepin is brilliant. He gave me an old school blend. It was very Cuban. As soon as I tried his, I knew it was right. And Tatuaje has been getting bigger ever since.” Check out www.tatuajecigars.com
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Pete Johnsonâ€“Tatuaje Cigars MarCh/aPril 2011
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In July 2010, Paul Guzzo and his father travelled to Cuba with Raul Villamia and his family. The purpose of the trip was to document Raul's return to Cuba after more than three decades away. Guzzo is currently working with Raul Villamia on his memoirs, including his time as a member of Tampa's branch of the 26th of July Movement, Fidel Castro's revolutionary army. The trip also provided Guzzo a firsthand look at how the embargo affects Cuba and how the Cuban people view the United States. A regular contributor and our senior writer, he shared some of his experiences with Cigar City Magazine.
lone rain drop splashes onto the brick courtyard of Old Havana’s Plaza Vieja (Old Square), a section of Havana, Cuba enclosed by two-century-old mammoth buildings–beautiful, multi-colored, restored, and reminiscent of Ybor City’s historic social clubs. One drop becomes two. Two become three. And three suddenly become three million; rain like a thick fog covers the square and the neighborhoods that spread off it like a spider web. Dozens of Cuban citizens and tourists–who just moments ago basked in the warm glow of the sun over Cuba, drank beers, rum and coffee, and danced to a string quartet performing popular Latin music in the courtyard–run for cover under the overhangs shading the sidewalk cafés from the daily downpour. There are some who do not want to seek shelter from the rain, though. In a humid city with few air conditioned residences, this rain is an opportunity to enjoy a few moments of coolness. About half a dozen Cuban children, stripped down to their shorts or underwear, race from out of the alleyways jutting out of the square and dive into a fountain at the center of it. Moments later, another half dozen half-naked children appear and then another half dozen. Within minutes, up to two dozen children prance around the courtyard, letting the rain and fountain cool their hot skin. Thunder booms in the distance, but they are having too much fun to allow the far-off danger to scare them. The sound of a policeman’s whistle coming from one of the alleys does silence the children, though. On cue, the children scatter, running back into the alleyways from which they came. A minute passes and when it becomes clear that the officer is not about to abandon wherever he found refuge from the rain to enforce his whistle, the children reappear from the shadows and begin their rain games again. This is why they wait for the rain to come before they jump into the fountain; they know the police will leave them alone during the storm. One of the children sneezes and his friends jump away from him, a look of terror in their eyes. The embargo allows medical supplies to be delivered to the country, but it’s not enough. Hospitals have limited supplies and most families do not have medicine in their homes, so a simple cold can turn deadly, especially in the wake of the H5N1 (bird flu) epidemic. Parents in Cuba preach to their children that, in order to avoid getting sick, it is important to always wash their hands and to keep away from anyone they see coughing, sneezing or sniffling. Perhaps remembering this lesson, the children scatter from the sickly child, leaving him standing alone and dejected, watching the other children play, afraid that his cough could progress to more than a social taboo.
he bodies of water surrounding the island nation are so clear that when you look into the horizon it is impossible to decipher where the water ends and the sky begins. There is a lighthouse located on the banks of Havana Bay. It is part of the Morro Castle, a four-story cavernous stone military
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fortress built by the Spaniards in the 1500s. The fortress was charged with keeping invaders out of Cuba. Today, Cubans would love nothing more than to sit atop the castle and watch boats cruise toward it. Outside the lighthouse, a middle-aged white Cuban man with slumped shoulders, a thick mustache covering his top lip, and wearing a sweat-stained white guayabera and ratty jean shorts, sweeps a pile of rocks that crumbled off the castle’s aging walls. This is how he spends his days–sweeping rocks, though this is not his job. He is the lighthouse’s keeper. His job is to lead passenger ships from other countries safely to the har- 1. bor and then welcome them to Cuba by flying the respective nation’s flag. Inside the lighthouse control room, a flag from almost every nation in the world is neatly folded and stored in dusty wooden cubby holes. There are even flags from countries that no longer exist, such as Yugoslavia and other nations from the former Soviet Union. When asked how often he welcomes a passenger ship to Cuba, the lighthouse keeper shakes his head and sadly says, “I haven’t flown a flag in three years. The embargo has scared every cruise ship from every nation from coming to Cuba.” He points to one particular cubby hole. It is the one containing the United States flag. “We haven’t flown that flag in over 50 years,” he says, “And I think I will never fly another flag until that one is flown again. I pray every night that today is the day I will fly a flag. And every day I go home disappointed.” 2. If it wasn’t so sad it would be funny. He sits in a lighthouse every day, waiting for a ship that may never come in. eraldo looks more like a cartoon than an academic. At around 5’9”, his baggy shirt and shorts hang off his 140pound frame. His nose is long and thin, like Pinocchio’s, and he has graying hair buzz cut to the same length of his graying beard. He is always in a frantic mood, screaming instead of speaking, and pounding his fists into his hands. He is so animated that it is easy to picture a cartoonist using his likeness for that of a homeless Cuban character in a Sunday morning comic strip. Looks are very deceiving in Geraldo’s case. There are few individuals in Cuba who are better schooled in the country’s history than he. Geraldo, a history professor at the University of Havana, is a walking Cuban encyclopedia, full of knowledge on everything Cuba–its history, architecture, geography, politics, religion and more.
(1) & (2) cuban children playing in fountain in court yard. (3) Lighthouse. (4) Taxi. (5) Cuban police. (6) Lighthouse keepers flags.
6. MarCh/aPril 2011
(1) Tortured man (2) Battered uniforms. (3) Batistaâ€™s wrench-like object that was used to pull teeth during torture. (4) Geraldo. (5) The whips used by Batista regime for torture.
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His grand knowledge of his country has enabled him to see Cuba as it really is. When he speaks of the Cuban government, he does so at times in jest, using mock air quotes when he talks about certain Cuban policies that “work,” such as the rationing system that affords him one tube of toothpaste every two months for his family of three, and certain historic phrases such as “The Special Period,” which the Cuban government calls the economic crisis that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Geraldo knows that the Cuban government often tries to hide its pitfalls. He seems to know that the Cuban government is far from perfect, yet he also seems to love it with a passion. Just a year ago he was provided a visa to speak about Cuban politics at a university in California. While there, he was offered the opportunity to stay in the United States. He turned it down to return to Cuba, the nation he loves. “I believe in the revolution,” he says. Never is that more evident than on his recent trip to the Revolutionary Museum. On the second floor of the museum is an exhibit documenting the formation of Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement–the revolutionary group that overthrew former Cuban President Fulgencio Batista in 1959–and their failed 1953 attack on the Moncada Barracks. In the center of the exhibit are two bloodstained military uniforms worn by 26th of July revolutionaries during the attack. Geraldo points to the uniforms. A crowd of 50 museum visitors has made their way into the room, drawn in by his raucous voice that has been singing the praises of the revolution to his group of friends, me included, for the past few minutes. “There are no bullet holes in these uniforms. No stab marks,” he exclaims. “Yet they are covered in blood.” His eyes are flooded as he holds back sobs, breaking up his speech for a few moments. He tries to contain himself, but cannot, as his long nose turns beet red and tears explode from his eyes. He holds a finger up to the crowd, asking for a few more moments.
“The men who wore these uniforms,” he carries on, “were beaten to death. Beaten like animals and made to suffer. What kind of man does this? Batista!” In a glass case in the corner of the room lie some of the tools which Batista used to torture the revolutionaries–a wrench-like object that was used to pull teeth, a club and a whip used to bloody bodies, and a long knife that was used for disembowelments. He finally points to two photos in another glass case–one shows Batista’s army training in a U.S. military base in Cuba and the other shows Batista’s army holding U.S. guns. “The United States knew what kind of man Batista was,” says Geraldo, “and they continued to help him. They trained his soldiers and gave them weapons.” Batista did more than torture the Castro-led revolutionaries trying to overthrow his government. He turned Cuba into an island of ill-repute. Mafia owned casinos laced the cities and shores. Cuban women were sold as whores to the tourists. Drugs destroyed the masses. And a U.S.-backed Batista became a millionaire through kickbacks provided by the criminals bringing these sins to the island. Geraldo shakes his head, unable to understand how the United States could have backed such a leader; unable to understand why they would have been against Castro overthrowing someone so sinister. Later on that day, Geraldo sips a beer in Plaza Vieja and sums up his thoughts: “The government is not perfect. But it is our government. For the first time in our nation’s history, it is our government.” he countryside on the outskirts of Havana is breathtaking. The regular heavy rainfall has painted the island nation a color of green that can be seen in few places in this world. Words cannot describe the color–not even a photo does it justice. Even those who have lived in Cuba all their lives and have never laid eyes on a plot of land outside the island say they will never take the beauty of the island for granted. What they do take for granted, though, are classic cars, as they are seen on every corner in the city. In Cuba, classic cars are not classics. They are the norm. They are what everyone drives and, despite their age, their exteriors are all in mint condition. Most car owners in Cuba treat their car in the same manner as the most anal car owners in the United States. If a smudge of dirt is seen on the door, it is immediately washed off. The owners have to be this anal, though. Most of the cars on the road–even the classics–are cabs. There is no official look to a cab in Cuba, as in the United States. Many cab drivers use whatever kind of car is available to them. There is fierce competition for the few fares, so cab drivers try to keep their car the shiniest so it attracts the most attention. The exterior of the cars may be shiny, but under the hood and under the car is an entirely other matter. Not only do the majority of these classics not have the original car parts left in them, but most do not even have car parts. It is a requisite for all cab drivers to be equally
talented at fixing cars as they are at knowing the streets of Cuba. If a cab driver’s car breaks down, it is up to him to fix it. Until he does so, he is out of work. Engines have been rebuilt using sewing machine parts. Pieces of an iron are welded to create square exhaust pipes. Duct tape covers duct tape that is covering a hole on a piece of a garden hose being used as a radiator hose. Then there are the three-part cars. A three-part car is one car built out of three different cars. The front of a ’57 Chevy may be welded to the body of a ’54 Cadillac, which may be welded to the trunk-end of a ’55 Buick, and then all painted one color. These cars are so well put together than unless you are close, you’d think it was just one odd looking car instead of three cars in one. Usually, these cars are built from three cars that had to scrapped, but had one section that could be saved. The ingenuity of Cubans is amazing but also sad. They don’t drive classic cars for bragging rights, as rich Americans do. Nor do they rebuild engines out of scraps or build new cars out of three old ones in hope of getting a center-spread in a muscle car magazine. They do it out of necessity. These cars aren’t classics to them. They are the most modern cars they can get their hands on. They don’t work on cars as a hobby. They do it because they have to. They do it because if the embargo is never lifted, they will have to drive a ’57 Chevy in 2057 and perhaps in 2157. iguel smiles as he looks at the pearly white Varadero Beach. Children chase each other in a game of tag, their sweaty bodies glowing in the hot sun. The boy being chased sprints towards the water and dives in, as his pursuer follows. Once they are both in the water, they forget about their game and continue to bob up and down, dipping their heads in the water each time they come down. Taking a cue to “cool down,” Miguel, an Afro-Cuban tour guide with Havanatour, removes the napkin placed on top of his glass to keep the flies out, and takes a sip of his cold Tucola, Cuba’s answer to Coke. He scoots his chair away from the table at which he sits on a deck overlooking the beach. “Ahhh,” he exclaims, and smiles. Miguel always seems to be deep in thought. When he takes in his surroundings, he crosses his legs, folds his hands in his lap and looks side to side at every action going on around him. While the beaches of Varadero are among the most beautiful in the world, there is rarely a lot to see in terms of action. Most Cubans don’t have cars and have to hitchhike or take a bus to the beach. Varadero is located at the end of a long country road, so it’s too far for most Cubans to travel. The only beachgoers are a handful of tourists and those few families who live in the town. Unlike U.S. beach towns, the area is not overpopulated with businesses. The beachside restaurant Miguel is sitting in is the only eatery that connects to the sand for miles. Across the street is a batting cage where a line of teenage male Cubans vie for bragging rights as the town’s best ballplayer, while young women watch and coo. A cell phone store is a block away and a few arts and crafts stores are sprinkled on the next
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few blocks, but that is it. Two old Cuban women walk by Miguel and sit at a table on the other side of the deck. They immediately catch his attention. “They are Cuban Americans,” he says. “I can tell by their style–very Americanized.” I can’t tell what he means. To me, they are dressed in the same manner as every other woman in Cuba, but he points out that the brands they wear are American brands not sold in Cuba. He looks at the women, contemplates something for a few 1. moments, and then shares his thoughts. “I have often wondered what Cuban Americans think of Cuba when they come here,” he says, “especially those who were raised in Cuba and come back after 30 years away. I think the main thing that shocks them is the changes. I think Cubans who left Cuba to go to America in the 1960s still picture the country being the same as when they left.” He explains that when his friends and relatives in the United States come to Cuba for the first time since the Revolution, they often bring him music and they usually bring him CDs of bands that were popular in Cuba in the 1950s and 1960s. “I don’t want that music 2. anymore,” he said. “I want modern music. But Cuban Americans can’t picture that Cubans like to listen to modern American music. They think we still listen to the same bands as when they left. Because they haven’t been here in so long and because the U.S. doesn’t allow them to know what Cuba is really like today, they can only picture what it looked like when they left so that is how they treat us.” Miguel explains that Cuba has changed a lot in recent years, citing the fact that they can now practice religion openly and that the government is now experimenting with privately owned businesses. Most Americans, he explains, are unaware of these changes; they still picture Cuba as a repressed nation, not one that is giving its citizens more rights every year.
(1) Varadero beach in Cuba. (2) & (4) City of Havana. (3) & (5) Old Havana. (6) Paul & Pete Guzzo standing by the Cuban National Lottery bolita machine. The winning numbers were broadcast and also used in Tampa bolita. MarCh/aPril 2011
A very special thanks to Albert Fox Jr. who is the founder and President of The Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation. Without his help this extraordinary trip would have not been possible. For more information about this foundation, please visit: www.ResponsibleCubaPolicy.org 26
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“Slowly but surely, we are changing things for the better,” he explains.” He then looks to the serene scene behind him, where quiet neighborhoods and only a handful of small businesses are located. He rubs his ears, ringing from the silence brought on by the end of the game of tag. “I sometimes wonder if too much will change when the embargo ends,” he laments. “I sometimes look at that neighborhood and think, ‘When the U.S. comes back, McDonald’s will be in that neighborhood.’” He envisions the golden arches polluting the scenery and the smell of greasy food polluting his nose. He uncrosses his legs and leans forward, rubs his eyes and then looks back towards the pearly white sands of Varadero Beach. “I don’t think I would want to eat at a McDonalds,” he says. “I like the food we serve in Cuba now.” cool breeze blows through a quiet neighborhood in Old Havana. Those sitting on their doorsteps all jump at the noise that is followed by the breeze–the rattling of a tin can down the alley. In inner city neighborhoods in the United States, this noise may be a common occurrence, but in Cuba it is rare. Cans don’t usually litter the ground in Old Havana. In fact, litter, as well as graffiti, is almost as scarce as American flags. The people of Cuba have an undeniable respect for their country. While some areas of Cuba, such as Plaza Vieja, are adorned with beautifully restored buildings, other areas look like a scene out of a post-apocalyptic movie. Some buildings have walls wrought with holes the size of bowling balls. Other buildings are missing walls. Yet, people live in all of these buildings, placing cardboard boxes over the holes or building makeshift walls out of bed sheets. Despite these poor conditions, each resident has a regal attitude about their neighborhood. They would not dare toss trash on the ground or allow a child to scribble his or her name on a wall. It may look like they live like animals, but they don’t act like animals. As I make my way through such a tattered yet well-kept neighborhood, a gurgling sound up above catches my attention. I stop to see what it is and notice it is coming from a pipe protruding from a building. I take a step back just in time, as gallons of black sewage dumps from it and splatters onto the ground. No one else on the block even blinks at this happening. I do not know what the sewage is or why it is spilling from a pipe, but from the expressions, or lack thereof, of everyone on the block, such an occurrence is routine. It is sad. Despite their best attempts to keep their neighborhood clean, they will always be foiled. They can’t even spray the sewage away. They don’t have enough water. The pipe system in their neighborhood is beyond repair, so each week a water truck drives through the neighborhood and, using a hose, fills each home’s water tank with just enough water for the week; if they run out, too bad. They cannot waste a drop, not even to clean the foul smelling sewage from their doorsteps. A child wants to run outside and play. His mom grabs his hand and pulls him back inside. Not until after it rains, she says, when the streets are clean. The sky above is crystal blue. Rain is not expected until tomorrow. Flies land on the sewage. Maggots will soon follow.
t is July 25, one day before the Cuban national holiday celebrating the start of the Revolution. A quarter million Cubans–some so young they are in strollers and some so old they are walking with canes–fill New Havana’s Malecón, a three-mile strip of road along the Atlantic Ocean. It is Havana’s Bayshore Boulevard. Every night, tens of thousands of hot Cubans visit the road to enjoy the cool ocean breezes until late into the night. Tonight, though, they are here for a different reason–to celebrate their freedom. An amphitheater is located on the same block of the Malecón, as is the American Interest Section, i.e. the American Embassy. This wasn’t done accidentally. This amphitheater is also adorned with two dozen Cuban flags and is regularly used for celebrations–kicking sand in the face of the country that they feel oppresses them. A band on stage strikes up a Latin tune and all quarter million revelers dance; not one person in the crowd can be seen standing around. They dance a happy dance–whirly, twirly, pull your partner close, palm to palm, pull them close, then spin them away-type dancing. In between songs, they chant in unison, “todos por la revolucion” and “51 anos de revolucion.” Looking out into the city, Cuban and Revolutionary flags can be seen hung on fences and draped from windows–hundreds–no, thousands. They are not placed there by the government. The citizens do it. Nor are the flags out because of the holiday. They are there all year long. In the United States, we speak of the Cuban Revolution as though it ended on December 31, 1958 when Fidel Castro chased Fulgencio Batista from power. For many Cuban citizens, the Revolution has not ended, nor will it until the United States lifts the embargo without conditions attached. They do not want the United States’ help. They only want them to stop the oppression and allow their government to change on its own. A dancing Cuban man notices I am an American and stops dancing for a few moments to say hello. He does not hate me. He tells me that he sees me and all American citizens as hope. The Cuban people know their future is in the hands of the average American citizen because we can change our government and change our policies. He says they hope we can convince our leaders to change their policy towards Cuba. “You had a Civil War after 100 years,” he explains. “You had slavery. You only allowed blacks to vote 50 years ago. It took you over 200 years to get it right. Why do you expect us to get it right in only 51 years? And how do you expect us to get it right with no help from the rest of the world?” With that, he turns back to the stage, picks up the beat of the music and begins to dance again. In Old Havana, little children pray for rain in the morning so they can swim in the fountain in Plaza Vieja. At the lighthouse, the keeper looks out into the vast body of water before him, wondering if he’ll ever get to raise a flag again. Throughout the nation, cab drivers rummage for parts to keep their cars running. On the Malecón, 250,000 Cubans celebrate their “freedom.” And they all have one thing in common–none of them started the Revolution. None of them are politicians. None of them have ever hurt the United States. Yet, a decision made by the United States almost 50 years ago continues to hurt them every day. But, they survive.
By rodney Kite-Powell
Cigar City Magazine
anuary 10, 2011 marked the 150th anniversary of Florida’s secession from the United States. Florida followed South Carolina and Mississippi and was the third state to leave the Union. the Civil War began three months later when Southern forces fired on Union-held Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. the opening shots of the war were almost directed at Fort Pickens in Pensacola harbor, but President abraham lincoln
January 10 vote. Within the document’s pages, seven reasons are given for the decision that had just been made. Four of those reasons were tied directly to slavery. Florida was the smallest state in the new Confederacy, and the tampa Bay area was itself even smaller by comparison. the state’s two largest cities, Pensacola and Key West, each had a population of about 3,000 people. By comparison, hillsborough County, which included today’s Pinellas County plus the western half of Polk County, had roughly the same number. tampa was the second largest city in south Florida at this time with a population of 885 people, all living within the boundaries of today’s downtown. Fort Brooke, located at the southern edge of tampa, had been abandoned by the federal government in the late 1850s. Members of the local militia, led by Colonel William i. turner, took command of the fort on January 14, 1861, one day after news reached tampa that Florida was now an independent nation. news of secession and possession of the fort was openly greeted with cheers by the local townspeople. those who disagreed with the circumstances remained silent. those cheers grew more distant as the war went on. By the time the fort and city were captured in May 1864, most of tampa’s residents were war-weary and ready for the conflict to end. it
tampa was the second largest city in south Florida at this time with a population of 885 people, all living within the boundaries of today’s downtown. Fort Brooke, located at the southern edge of Tampa, had been abandoned by the federal government in the late 1850s. decided to resupply the South Carolina fort instead. Debate continues to this day regarding the causes of the Civil War. economic, political and social differences all played a role, but without slavery there likely would not have been a war. it is often, and truthfully, said that Florida’s economy was not nearly as dependent on slavery as its sisters immediately to the north. however, that statement can diminish the fact that, at the most basic level, some Floridians owned other Floridians. in 1860, the state’s total population numbered roughly 140,000 people (78,000 whites and 62,000 blacks, the vast majority of whom were enslaved). Of that number, only 5,152 were slave owners. hillsborough County, with a total population of 2,981 people, had 125 slave holders and 564 slaves. those statistics tell only part of the story. it is best, when possible, to let the people of the time explain their own motivations. We are fortunate that Florida’s state archives hold a document that does just that. the unpublished “Declaration of Causes” was written by members of Florida’s secession convention, including hillsborough County representative James gettis, following their
did–in april of the following year–but the road to recovery would be a long one. you can learn more about the Civil War and its impact on Florida and the tampa Bay area by visiting Blue & gray in tampa Bay: the Civil War on Florida’s West Coast, a temporary exhibition now on display at the tampa Bay history Center. in addition to the tampa Bay history Center’s exhibit, there is a companion exhibit from Orlando’s Orange County regional history Center titled Florida in the Civil War, which provides a broader look at the war in Florida. Both exhibits are included in the history Center’s regular admission price. the museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm seven days a week. Rodney Kite-Powell is the Saunders Foundation Curator of History at the Tampa Bay History Center. For more information about this exhibit visit www.tampabayhistorycenter.org
Cigar City Magazine
few days after Greco was elected city councilman in 1963, Nuccio visited Greco at home. He brought Greco’s children gifts and then proceeded to play with them for an hour. When Nuccio was finished entertaining the children, he put his arm around Greco and the two talked politics, Nuccio sharing his years of experience with the new city councilman. Nuccio had an affinity for the young Greco. The two men shared a lot in common. They were both sons of first generation immigrant Sicilian fathers who settled in Ybor City. And they both were outgoing, colorful individuals–the type of men who could walk into a room of strangers and walk out
1929 as the Tampa City Councilman representing Ybor City. In 1937, he was elected to the Hillsborough County Commission and served seven straight terms. He often won fewer precincts than his opponents in the elections, but his support in Ybor City spurred high voter turnout in the district, which was enough to propel him to victory each time. Then, in 1956, he successfully ran for mayor, becoming the first Latino to hold the city’s top political post. He again won fewer precincts than his opponent, J.L. Young, but received almost every vote in Ybor City, and Tampa’s other Latin community–West Tampa. It was understandable why the Latinos supported him in such a manner. Not only was he a member of their community and a fellow Latino, but he went above and beyond the call of duty to support anyone in need. For instance, when he was a county commissioner, if a constituent from a rural section of the county was ill, he was known to accompany a physician to the constituent’s home in the middle of the night to ensure the doctors could locate unmarked rural roads. As mayor of Tampa, when an Ybor City resident told Nuccio that his daughter was suffering countless asthma attacks triggered by traffic on his shell-paved road, Nuccio had the road repaved within 24 hours. Throughout his career in politics, Nuccio focused on neighborhood improvement projects in less fortunate neighborhoods– repaving streets, cleaning up parks, laying sidewalks and installing benches. He also pushed for construction of libraries, bridges, fire
$3 million on capital improvement projects that the City Council was never told about or allowed to approve. The city is supposed to work off checks and balances, but Nuccio had bypassed the process. hours later with a room full of best friends. For these reasons, Nuccio wanted to groom Greco, to help Greco understand the political process so that he could also enjoy a long career in public service. Before Nuccio left, he told Greco if he ever needed advice or a favor all he had to do was ask. Greco would have been foolish to not take Nuccio up on that offer, as Nuccio was a political icon in the city of Tampa. Born in Ybor City in 1901, Nuccio was the son of Sicilian immigrants who were among the first to populate the Latin community. He dropped out of high school to work in the shipyards during World War I to help support his family and later worked in real estate, insurance, and as a clerk in the Ybor City post office. The outgoing Nuccio never met a person to whom he couldn’t talk, and these careers provided him with countless opportunities to meet new people and make new friends, making him one of the most well known individuals in Ybor City. This popularity helped him to launch a career in politics in
and police stations, public pools and parks–and Nuccio engraved his name on every public improvement project he spearheaded. For decades, the name Nick Nuccio was visible on sidewalks, park benches, seawalls and every piece of concrete laid by his administrations so that everyone would be aware of the good he was doing for the community. By all accounts, Nuccio was a tremendous mayor, one of the greatest the city ever had, but as times changed, he did not–a fact that was hurting the city and a fact Greco learned firsthand in 1965. In early 1965, a dozen low income housing residents wearing tattered clothes over their wilting bodies visited City Councilman Greco at his family’s hardware store in Ybor City, begging Greco for help. They lived in a trailer park located on a plot of land on the Hillsborough River that the city deemed too valuable for low income residents, they explained. City leaders had big plans for that plot of land and were telling the residents to vacate within a few months so that they could begin construction of the city project. MarCh/aPril 2011
The residents had nowhere else to go, though. They were 75 years Greco realized that some Tampa politicians were focusing too old and older. They didn’t have jobs, nor did many of them have many of their resources on winning over the loyalty of their confamily to look after them. The low income trailer park was all they stituents rather than doing what was right for the city. For all the could afford. It would take them longer than a few months to find good Nuccio had done over the years, he had lost sight of what new dwellings, they explained, to pick up their homes and to start was most important. He was putting his own success above the their lives over somewhere else. With tears in their eyes, they city’s success. begged Greco for help; they begged him for more time. For instance, Greco said, under Nuccio and previous mayors, He promised to do all he could to give them more time and if a neighborhood wanted a streetlight fixed, they had to petition told them he would take their issue right to Mayor Nuccio. the mayor’s office, who would then tell Tampa Electric to fix it. Or The next morning, he visited Nuccio at his regular morning if a neighborhood had a pothole it needed fixed, the residents petispot–Cuervo’s Café in Ybor City–and told the mayor the sad story tioned the mayor’s office, who would then tell the road departhe’d heard a day earlier. But Nuccio did not provide Greco with ment to fix it. By doing so, Greco explained, every neighbor who the answer for signed the petition which he was lookfelt that the mayor ing. fixed their problem Lighting a new because he or she cigar, Nuccio personally asked chuckled quietly, the mayor to do so, leaned back in his and when the next chair, took a sip of election came, his Cuban coffee, every person who and, according to signed a petition Greco, told him in and had their proba grandfatherly lem remedied manner that he would vote for the had a lot to learn incumbent because about politics. they felt a personal Nuccio explained connection to the to Greco that no mayor. matter what the This created city does for those several problems, elderly people, they explained Greco. are going to be First, it gave the angry because they constituents a false Center: A young Dick Greco will have to move sense of the worksooner or later. He ings of government. told Greco that if the city gives them another year or so they will Streets should be repaved, streetlights fixed, and parks maintained still be living in Tampa when Greco is up for reelection. Nuccio because that was the job of local government, something they should told Greco that his opponent will surely make them an empty do without any prompting, not because someone petitioned the promise that he can prevent the city from moving them, painting mayor’s office. Secondly, some city needs were put on the backburnGreco as the bad guy for only being able to promise a delay in their er in favor of projects that garnered votes. For example, a neighbormove. So, concluded Nuccio, the right political move is to dis- hood with 30 voters that needed a pothole fixed may have taken take place these people right away and hope that the majority of them precedence over a neighborhood with 10 voters that needed a streetleave Tampa altogether so they could not vote for Greco’s oppo- light fixed to ensure the safety of its children. nent. “And think of the patronage that he acquired by doing it that way “He said never leave that many people in one spot who hate over a period of time,” said Greco. “My God, I’d go somewhere with you,” remembered Greco. “And I thought, my God, I’ve never him and somebody would say they have a mess on their street and looked at politics like that, nor would I ever. But that’s how he maybe sometime that afternoon it would be fixed. You do that for a thought, and it was disheartening. I did learn a lot from Nuccio. It number of years and think of the people who are indebted to you. No was at that point I realized that the city needed to make a change. one ever realized that it was their money; their taxes were paying for these improvements, so they were entitled to it.” We couldn’t continue to run in such an old fashioned manner.” 32
Cigar City Magazine
This type of city planning (or lack of planning) put a strain on city resources. For instance, by paving roads according to request rather than systematically by location, a street on one side of the city may have been paved one day, and the following day a street on the other side of the city may have been paved. Or, a crumbling street may have been allowed to fall into further disrepair because not enough residents signed a petition, upping the cost to fix the road when it was finally tended to. These inefficiencies wasted time and money. It would have been more cost effective to come up with a comprehensive plan and fix streets in order of their location and/or need, which would allow the city to move the equipment slowly, from one block to another, rather than wasting man hours cleaning it up so it could be moved across the city. While he was a city councilman, the more Greco dug into the manner in which the city was run, the more dismayed he became. For instance, one morning Greco read in The Tampa Tribune that the city was going to spend $3 million on capital improvement projects that the City Council was never told about or allowed to approve. The city is supposed to work off checks and balances, but Nuccio had bypassed the process. On another occasion, Greco learned that Nuccio approved $289,276.89 worth of purchases from two companies without seeking outside bidders. Greco said that Nuccio never looked for the best deal; he simply gave the money to companies that had supported his election. Greco said that he tried to tell Nuccio and the other members of the City Council that policies needed to change, but his words fell on deaf ears. Tampa was a small city on the brink of becoming a major city, but its small town thinking was preventing it from happening; major corporations would not move to a city that was run with an oldschool mentality. If major corporations would not relocate to or open offices in Tampa, it would never grow and would always be a small mom-and-pop cow town. Greco knew things would only change when new blood sat in the mayor’s office. “But it wasn’t just Nick Nuccio who did things like this. It was every mayor that had ever been there,” explained Greco. “It wasn’t that they were trying to be bad or ugly. That’s just the way it worked. That’s just the way they knew.” When the next mayoral election drew near, Nuccio announced that he would not run for reelection and that he would retire from politics following his term. Greco thought this opened the door for new blood to sit in the mayor’s office and make the changes necessary for the city to grow, but, mostly old blood candidates–men who had been part of the system for too many years to have the ability to make changes–threw their hats into the ring. Even though Nuccio would be gone, the old system would stay in place unless a young man jumped into the race. Greco decided he would run.
Top: Article from Tampa Interbay Record. Bottom: Nick Nuccio center.
“A lot of people thought I was too young when I announced,” said Greco. “But I decided I needed to do it. I could either sit back and complain or stand up and do something.” As the mayoral election drew nearer, its dynamics suddenly changed–Nick Nuccio decided he would run after all and many political pundits predicted that Nuccio would run away with the election. Greco would not bow out, though. Greco loved Nuccio, but he said he loved the city more and knew that the only way Tampa could fulfill its potential and become a major metropolis was to get new blood into City Hall. Nuccio continued to govern Tampa as though it was the 1930s, not the late 1960s. In the late 1960s, a city had to be run like a corporation, not a mom and pop store. And with the problems the city faced, it needed a leader with an abundance of energy; it needed a young man. “Everything changes in life,” explained Greco. “The old way of doing things wasn’t wrong, but things needed to evolve.” If Greco was going to become the next mayor of Tampa it wasn’t going to be easy. He had an uphill battle in front of him. His opponents were all qualified. Besides Nuccio, the election MarCh/aPril 2011
also included Rudy Rodriguez, a 13-year veteran of the County Commission; Doug West, a 15-year veteran of Tampa City Council; and Tampa businessman Jim Fair. Greco was just 33 years old (34 by the time the election was over), attempting to become the youngest mayor of any major city in the history of the United States; many voters saw his age as a deterrent and his opponents painted him as a kid, someone without the experience necessary to run a major city. Greco would not allow his age to become a negative. Instead, he made it a positive. He reminded the voters that the old school thinkers were the ones who led Tampa to that bleak point in its history and he told voters new blood was needed to lead Tampa into the future. To accentuate this point, rather than surrounding himself with political veterans to offset his lack of experience, he surrounded himself with other young men who, like Greco, were tired of the old political machine holding Tampa back and wanted to do their part to help shape the city. Seven men in particular made up his inner circle: stalwarts from his City Council
paign team held their own impromptu parties, meeting at a downtown bar near their campaign headquarters to discuss the election. They were Tampa’s political rat pack. “Bill Cox of The Tampa Tribune liked to come to the bar with us,” said Gary Smith. “He liked to be part of it and enjoyed watching us interact because while the campaign was run in a very business-like way–splitting the city up into districts and covering every foot of each district–we also had a lot of fun. And he ended up naming us the Magnificent Seven.” As the legend of the Magnificent Seven grew, so did their volunteer support. The younger generation was driving Greco’s campaign. Young men and women heard of the Greco campaign, of a group of dynamic up-and-comers who wanted to inject City Hall with a shot of youthful exuberance, who wanted to reshape the city and turn it into a thriving metropolis, who wanted to bring Tampa into the modern age, and who wanted to do it all while having fun, and they wanted to be a part of it. “We had a lot of parties, get-togethers, things that would get
The Nuccio administration still is shaped by the old ward system political philosophy in which the Mayor grew up.
Do personal favors for people from public funds, and thereby obligate them for the next election. For a new outlook at City Hall, we recommend to the voters a new Mayor–Dick Greco. election–Gary Smith, Chuck Smith, Jack Fernandez and Minister Earl Hartman–were joined by Dr. Henry Fernandez, an optometrist with an office around the corner from the Greco Hardware Store and a man with connections to numerous civic organizations; Jack Overstreet, a neighbor and member of Greco’s church; and George Levy, a longtime friend of Greco’s then-wife, Dana, and owner of a successful trophy shop. Their election plan was to demonstrate through their campaign how Greco would run the city–with excitement and efficiency. The seven men split up the city into districts–Chuck Smith and Gary Smith took the north side, Levy took the south side, and so on. Greco’s seven main men assembled and led teams in their respective districts. They made friendly wagers on who would draw the largest crowds to their campaign events, sign up the most volunteers and have the most parties held in Greco’s honor. And Greco never missed a party or event, sleeping an average of three hours a night during the campaign. “Dick was in charge,” said John Fernandez. “He made sure we had somebody covering every corner of the city. And before we knew it, we had a well-orchestrated grassroots campaign. And it just started to mushroom.” When there wasn’t a party to attend, Greco and his cam34
Cigar City Magazine
more young people involved,” said Levy. “We were building a great organization, were having a ball doing it, and many of our volunteers were successful young men and women.” “It was like the Kennedy generation,” said Fernandez. “You know, young people were looking for something to excite them.” Greco’s wife added to the Kennedy comparisons. She was by his side for all public events, her style, glowing smile, outgoing personality and grace comparable to the beloved Jackie O.’s. Greco didn’t just talk and act like a worthy candidate, he looked like a natural born leader. “Dick knew how to mix,” said Fernandez. “That’s one thing he could do. He could mix in a crowd and before he was through he would have spoken to everyone and made sure they were voting for him. And then the more people he convinced to vote for him, the more people he had helping him. We had such a large staff of volunteers it was overwhelming.” But Greco never asked his supporters for money; he refused to ask for campaign donations, believing that doing so meant he would have to promise political favors in return for support. “I never wanted to owe anyone anything,” explained Greco. “If I was going to win, it would have to be because I was the most qualified, not because I gave out empty promises.”
Not only did he not make empty promises, he made unpopular promises. He told the press that as mayor he would support new taxes if they were needed, stating that he favored additional liquor and cigarette taxes and that he also supported a franchise tax on General Telephone Company, a tax that he admitted he expected to be passed on to the customers. “I wasn’t afraid to tell the truth,” said Greco. “I told people that if I had to raise taxes I would, but I would explain why I was
their arsenal, both provided free of charge by supporters. “I remember we knew where [former Mayor of Tampa] Bill Poe’s beach house was and he was supporting Nuccio, so we flew our helicopter with our signs over that area the weekend we knew he was there,” laughed Levy. “When I saw him later that week he said, ‘Damn, I can’t seem to get away from you guys. Everywhere I look I see the name Greco.’” With so many in-kind services being donated to the cam-
raising them so that you would understand.” He even spoke openly about replacing some of the city’s top officials, declaring that he would hire a new coordinator to oversee city spending programs and would fire Tampa’s police chief. “He has attacked patronage politics in police department promotions. A result of the practice is that several high-ranking police officers are active in a political club backing Mayor Nuccio,” editorialized The Tampa Tribune on September 3, 1967. The lack of money and unpopular promises did not seem to matter. While his campaign raised just $20,000 in cash, thanks to his supporters, he had no fear of losing the propaganda war. Supporters may not have been giving money, but they were donating political paraphernalia–signs, balloons, bumper stickers and t-shirts. They even had an airplane and helicopter in
paign, Greco was able to use what money he had raised on political advertisements. He took out a four-page ad in The Tampa Tribune called “The Greco Record.” The four pages were filled with positive articles The Tampa Tribune had written about him over the years and were designed to look as though they were part of the newspaper, not a paid advertisement. He also utilized television better than his opponents, producing numerous commercials. “Most observers feel television will be Greco’s top medium in the campaign,” wrote Tampa Tribune reporter Bill Cox on August 28, 1967. “Greco, 34, is young, handsome, articulate, and projects sincerity.” Greco also used the charms of his family to his advantage. “I remember doing two distinct commercials as a little boy for the campaign,” said Greco’s son, Judge Dick Greco Jr. “In one I just MarCh/aPril 2011
Dick Greco, to the right, plays pool with a potential voter.
said, ‘Voting is a cherished right so be a good American and go to the polls.’ And then they’d flash ‘Vote Greco’ on the screen. And in another I’d say ‘I’m Dickie Greco and this is my father and he is 34 years old,’ and he’d walk out, and then my mother would walk out and I’d say, ‘This is my mother, and I’m not allowed to say how old she is.’ People thought it was hilarious.” It was all paying off. On September 3, 1967, The Tampa Tribune, which was the most important endorsement to win, officially endorsed the young candidate, echoing the speeches Greco had been giving for months: The Nuccio administration still is shaped by the old ward system political philosophy in which the Mayor grew up. Do personal favors for people from public funds, and thereby obligate them for the next election. Spend the money where the pressure is greatest or where it will make the best public show. Channel every detail–whether it’s installing a street light or hiring a garbage truck driver–through the Mayor Tampa cannot afford to continue at City Hall the piecemeal planning and personal politics that encumber its progress–that permit [an] undermanned and under-equipped police force, a rebellious fire department, potholed streets, weed-grown parkways, an obsolete traffic control system, a shortage of recreational facilities and on and on. …Tampa desperately needs new vision by its government leadership if it is to realize the potential conferred by its natural assets. For a new outlook at City Hall, we recommend to the voters a new Mayor–Dick Greco. 36
Cigar City Magazine
On Tuesday, September 12, 1967, Greco received the most mayoral votes in the general election, garnering 16,359 votes to Nuccio’s 13,581. By law in Tampa, a candidate needs 50 percent of the votes to win the election. If no candidate receives 50 percent, the two top vote-getters–Greco and Nuccio in this instance–compete against one another in a runoff election. Nuccio, fearing for his political life, came out swinging. “This campaign is now a new ball game! The voters have eliminated four of the candidates for Mayor. The issues are now quite clear. A young empty face versus an experienced head,” La Gaceta Newspaper quoted Nuccio as saying in its September 16, 1967 edition. “In truth, his plans are nothing more than the empty words of some hidden editorial writer!” This was just the first of many attacks by Nuccio. With just two weeks to go and a large margin of votes to make up, Nuccio stayed on the offensive. On September 14, 1967, the Tribune quoted Nuccio calling Greco “a young empty face, a paint salesman, a fence straddler, sticky, glib and gullible.” He questioned Greco’s qualifications, stating that he doubted Greco even ran his family’s hardware store as the Greco family contended. “He is only a salesman … a paint salesman,” Nuccio told the Tribune on September 19, 1967. “Dun and Bradstreet lists the total worth of this corporation at $1,000, yet he wants to run a $50 or $60 million corporation.” Fernandez said Nuccio labeled Greco as a “silk stocking,” a man who turned his back on Ybor City in favor of the South Tampa Anglo community.
“It is now simply a question of whether the people will continue to control city hall or permit it to fall into the hands of the ‘thoughtmakers’ who dwell in the Ivory Tower of the Tribune Company,” wrote Roland Manteiga, publisher of La Gaceta Newspaper, on September 16, 1967. Manteiga was a close friend of Nuccio’s. Greco not only started to lose the support of Ybor City, he also became the recipient of some outright hatred. “I can remember, for instance, getting a call telling me not to show up to the Italian Club with Dick,” said Gary Smith. “There was some sort of luncheon with tea and dancing afterwards and we thought it would be a good place to campaign. I was warned that if we went, Dick would suffer bodily harm. They said this is our crowd and he’s not part of us. We went and nothing happened, but we were always worried.” Greco never seemed phased by the attacks. Instead, he took the high road, refusing to counter with equally insulting accusations, telling various newspapers in September 1967: “It is important that people know that it is possible to win an election while doing everything on a high level.” “I feel sorry for him. He recognizes that he has problems and this is the only track he can take.” “I won’t turn the runoff for mayor into a dirty name-calling ‘game’ no matter what Mayor Nuccio says or does.” “It’s unfortunate that a man who’s been in public life for 40 years can’t stand on his own merits.” “He has completely lost his cool. He can rant and rave forever but I will not indulge in it.” “Mud slinging, innuendo and lies are appealing to some people. It typifies the old style of campaigning.” By taking the high road, Greco was pulling away in the polls. It was a brilliant political move. If Greco was Tampa’s Kennedy, Nuccio was its Nixon. The Tribune got into the act, lauding Greco while burying Nuccio on September 24, 1967. “It will be to the everlasting credit of the maturity and intelligence of Mr. Greco that although many men would have fallen for this old trick, he maintained his pledge to the people that the campaign for Mayor of the City of Tampa would not be turned into a ‘political circus.’” But the nail in Nuccio’s political coffin came during a televised debate on Sunday, September 17, 1967. Nuccio renewed his attacks on Greco, again claiming Greco was too young to be mayor and that running a hardware store that is the business-equivalent to a “hamburger stand” did not qualify him to be mayor. Prior to the debate, Greco’s campaign team handed him prepared comments to rebut Nuccio’s remarks. Greco never read them. He handed the notes back to his team and walked into the television studio ready to speak from the heart. When it was Greco’s turn to respond to his opponent, he smiled and looked directly into the camera, so everyone watching at home felt personally addressed. “I said, ‘I resent very deeply his attacks on my father, especially when there is such a contrast between the two men. My dad and my 38
Cigar City Magazine
mother have always worked together all their life in that ‘hamburger stand’ and they’ve made an honest living,’” remembered Greco. “And I then said, ‘My parents raised me well with the money they earned from that hamburger stand and they were able to send me to college. I realize the mayor wants to win very badly, which is why he is making such remarks, so I don’t want anybody to think unkindly of him for his remarks. I forgive him for it and I hope you do too.’ And I left it like that on TV.” On Tuesday, September 26, Dick Greco became the youngest man to ever become mayor of a major city in the United States when he defeated Nick Nuccio by just over 8,800 votes–34,011 to 25,169. He even defeated Nuccio in his own precinct by 44 votes. Nuccio felt the defeat marked the end of his legendary political career. “I have no future,” he told The Tampa Tribune on September 27, 1967. “I am satisfied I will not run for anything…It is the fate of politics…The will of the people has spoken and so far as I’m concerned it is final.” Nuccio would run for mayor again in 1971 and lose to Greco again. “Although the leaves did not come tumbling down this early autumn day, the furious Winds of Change swept out the old. And so it came to be, on that clear, warm day, Tuesday, September 26, 1967, which darkened in the afternoon because of clouds and rain, the winds of change swept young city councilman Dickie Greco into Tampa’s highest office. The people had determined a change was needed,” lamented Manteiga in La Gaceta on September 29, 1967. “We believe that one day soon Tampans will agree that Nick C. Nuccio was Tampa’s greatest mayor.” But the end of one political legend’s career meant the beginning of another. As Greco’s supporters crammed into his downtown campaign headquarters to celebrate the victory on September 26, 1967 following the election, Greco waited outside, huddled under a tiny umbrella that shielded him from a downpour. Though his supporters were chanting his name, he refused to enter until his grandfather arrived. When he did, they strolled into the campaign headquarters together, and as the crowd exploded in cheers, Greco heard his grandfather Segismundo Cotalero exclaim to another gentleman, “My grandson is mayor. I have now seen everything I could ever want to see.” “My God, I will never forget that,” said Greco. “Think about it. He came from Spain as a kid and worked like a dog and never went anywhere. There is no way you can judge what that meant to that guy.” At the beckoning of his supporters, Greco strolled to the platform with his family and gave his victory speech. “I am very happy and a very humble young man,” the September 27, 1968 edition of the Tribune quoted him as saying in his victory speech. “The credit for this victory goes to you, my friends. This is a tremendous responsibility for a 34-year-old man. I accept it with enthusiasm.” On that day, Dick Greco ceased to exist and Mayor Dick Greco was born.
the name of Jeff Borysiewicz’ chain of Orlando retail cigar stores is appropriate indeed–Corona Cigars. a “corona” is defined as one or more circles of light seen around a luminous object that often looks like a halo. When Borysiewicz named his company, he did not do so with that definition in mind–corona is also a popular cigar shape. But the name corona has become more appropriate because Borysiewicz is the closest thing the Florida cigar industry has to a guardian angel. Besides being a businessman, he is also a procigar activist and founder of Cigar rights of america, a consumer-based organization fighting the anti-tobacco lobby that is trying to force the cigar industry into bankruptcy through government regulations. Cigar City Magazine recently sat down with Mr. Borysiewicz to discuss his cigar business and his quest to save the cigar industry. CCM: How did you get started in the cigar business? JB: Well, prior to this venture, i was involved in the automotive service industry. it was a family business and i had been in it for about 15 years. i started working at a young age–12–so hard work has never been something i have been afraid of. it was a good industry, but i wanted to get into something that had potential for growth on the national level. i have always been a cigar guy. around 1995 the cigar industry really skyrocketed in terms of popularity and i wanted to be a part of it. the cigar industry is cool and exciting and friendly and i knew it had a ton of potential, so i just went for it. i got a small loan from the bank, financed the rest with credit cards, compiled a ton of debt, and began a small mail-order cigar catalogue business from a spare bedroom in my home in 1996. today, that small catalogue has grown. it is now a big catalogue. i also have an online store and i have three retail stories in Orlando. Our growth is due to two simple facts–hard work and a great staff. CCM: Did you envision the company getting this large? JB: i always thought i could grow it into what it is today. Was i positive of that? Of course not, but i dreamt that we would become a large company. i don’t think anyone who is successful thinks small. and the future only looks brighter. i’m not stopping here. CCM: Tell me about the CRA. JB: Cigar rights of america is a consumer, grassroots organization designed to protect the cigar industry. i was one of the founders. We worked on it for a long time, getting it off the ground. there was a need for it. Consumers are the ones ultimately affected by legislation. 40
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the industry had no opportunities for consumers to be involved in the politics that were affecting the industry–the anti-tobacco and anti-cigar legislation. there were organizations for retailers and farmers, but none for the consumers. We thought it was time. the voice of the consumer is strong. We wanted a way to bring them together as one voice. and the Cra has been that voice.
CCM: How has it had a positive affect? JB: We have successfully fought several government decisions. For example, in Orange County, Florida they banned the use of all tobacco products on cityowned property outdoors. Between the pressure of retailers like myself and active consumers, we had our voice heard that we should be allowed to smoke our cigars outside and not be criminalized and they overturned the decision. CCM: What is the anti-tobacco industry doing to prevent people from smoking cigars? JB: they attack the cigar industry. they try to equate us to cigarettes. they try to take away our rights to smoke a cigar and the consumer has gotten tired of it. it is our right to smoke a cigar. it is not hurting anybody. there are so many lies being told about cigars; it’s ridiculous. the press just regurgitates what the anti-tobacco lobby tells them without doing their homework to see if it is true. i am not against cigarettes. if someone wants to smoke a cigarette, they have the right to do that. But, there is a Big difference between cigarettes and cigars. Cigars are not highly addictive. People don’t have to wear patches or chew gum to quit smoking cigars. they are a hobby, not a habit. also, the health effects of cigars are not nearly as bad as cigarettes, yet the anti-tobacco people like to have us believe that they are. But there have been numerous studies done proving otherwise. tests have proven that cigars in moderation do not pose a significant health risk. What is most interesting is that these tests define moderation as up to two cigars a day. Most cigar lovers only smoke a half a cigar to whole at most a day. then there is taxation. the anti-tobacco lobby believes that the more expensive they make the product; the less people will buy it. they also keep enacting stringent smoking bans. if we are not allowed to legally use the product anywhere in public, this will cut down on sales. Finally, they restrict cigar advertising and where and how cigars can be sold. these are all the angles, but it won’t work. Prohibition showed that when you do these types of things people will fight back. it doesn’t work. all you do is take legitimate consumers and turn them into criminals. i am not a criminal. i am a man who enjoys smoking a cigar. this is not going away. the anti-tobacco industry is not going away. We need to push back.
Stuffed Artichokes Alcachofa Rellena Ingredients 4 artichokes 2 cups ground smoked ham or chopped cooked shrimp 2 cups bread crumbs 1 cup chopped parsley 16 garlic cloves, minced 2 shallots, finely chopped 1/2 cup grated Romano cheese
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1/2 teaspoon black pepper 2 tablespoons vinegar or lemon juice 2 medium potatoes, cubed 1 carrot, sliced 6 parsley sprigs
Preparation Trim tops of artichoke leaves with scissors. Slice stem evenly, making sure that the artichoke will stand erect. Trim stems with vegetable parer. In a big pot, boil 3 to 4 quarts of salt water with 2 tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice. Boil artichoke and stems for ten minutes. Remove from water and drain. When cool enough to handle, spread leaves and remove as much as possible the fuzz on the bottom of the artichoke.
Filling Combine thoroughly ham or shrimp, bread crumbs, parsley, 10 minced garlic cloves, shallots, cheese, pepper, and 1/2 cup of oil. Stuff center and leaves with filling. Place artichokes in Dutch oven in an inch of water, 1/2 cup of oil, 6 crushed garlic cloves, and 6 sprigs of parsley. Cover with tight-fitting lid and simmer over low heat. Braise cubed potatoes and carrots slices in water until tender. When artichokes are tender (after approximately 1 1/2 hours or when leaves can be pulled out easily), remove from stove. Transfer artichokes to serving platter and serve nestled in potatoes and carrots. Serves 4. Share the Columbia Seasoning secret in your own kitchen. Use on meat, poultry, seafood and vegetables. For more information or to purchase our seasoning visit us at www.ColumbiaRestaurant.com 42
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Cigar City Magazine was proud to attend the Great Smoke 2011 on February 5th at The Smoke Inn in West Palm Beach. It was a premier event for cigar aficionados featuring great food and drink, as well as access to premier cigars from the industryâ€™s finest manufacturers. The Great Smoke was a great event for a great cause as a portion of the net proceeds went to benefit The Childrenâ€™s Place at Home Safe, a non-profit who has been aiding the abused, neglected and abandoned children of Palm Beach County since 1979.
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Dear Mama, how long have you worked for Cigar City Magazine? i look to you for advice in every issue but i missed the first couple of years. -Needing Information Dear Needing Information, i don't work here. i'm a consultant and the last time i looked, my job title was not “information.” So get your big culo up off the couch and it look it up yourself. Coño! -Mama
Dear Mama, is it okay in this day and age not to wear panty hose? i hate the way they feel, but i don’t want to offend anyone by not wearing them to the office. -Hate Panty Hose Dear Hate Panty Hose, What am I? Flypaper for freaks!? I'm already visualizing the duct tape over your mouth. -Mama
Dear Mama, My parents just do not understand me. i don’t want to go to college! i have a vision–i’m an artis–and i guess that’s why they just don’t understand me. -No Time For School Dear No Time For School, the fact that no one understands you doesn't mean you're an artist, it just means you’re stupid. now do what your parents tell you and go to school. -Mama
Dear Mama, What exactly is your talent or skill other than insulting people? Don’t you think some of your advice can be destructive? -Worried Dear Worried, i have plenty of talent and skill. i just don't give a damn. it is obvious my four teeth are brighter than you. -Mama 46
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Cigar City Magazine’s launch of a new and improved website has been very successful and now we are offering banner ads on our site. Don’t miss out on reaching a growing audience in Tampa and around the country. With this new site, readers are able to visit www.CigarCityMagazine.com to read new stories uploaded every day and leave comments on the articles posted. Here is some of the feedback we’re getting from our readers: “Thank you for this thorough and well researched article. Very interesting!” “Awesome article! Such an amazing walk down memory lane. People tend to forget the nostalgia of Tampa, and I'm glad that you found the time to write about an exceptional era!” “Well researched and well written. Thank you for lifting yet another layer of the often mysterious history of the Tampa mob.” “Great post as always! Here's to trying to bring back some of the studios and feature films to our beautiful town and state!” “Great article since I have started enjoying cigars I am fascinated with the rich history of Ybor and the cigar industry.” With thousands of visitors since the launch of our new website www.CigarCityMagazine.com has already been a source for A&E, Biography Channel, The Discovery Channel, and The History Channel. We have also been featured in the St. Petersburg Times and The Tampa Tribune's Friday Extra and on sites like TBO.com, as well as many of our local TV shows like WFTS-TV’s Positively Tampa Bay with Lissette Campos and WTVT Fox 13’s Good Day Tampa Bay and News Edge with Mark Wilson. Cigar City Magazine is the only history magazine about Tampa and has fast become Tampa’s favorite local magazine! Now our site has become a source for all things related to Tampa history. Don’t miss out on your chance to reach this interested and engaged audience! For more information about rates and specs, please call 813-358-3455 or visit our website at www.CigarCityMagazine.com
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