Cigar City Magazine/Summer 2014

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The sunny upper-side of Tampa belies a sometimes seedy history that has often gone unreported, with trickles and traces emanating from the shadows. The stories of gangsters and murderers, drug dealers, and intelligence operatives have been batted around here and there over the years, but until now many of these stories had only received superficial coverage at best. The Dark Side of Sunshine is the first book from Cigar City Magazine writer and local filmmaker Paul Guzzo. The book is a compendium of stories that Paul has written over the years for both this magazine and La Gaceta covering everything from the gruesome legacy of Victor Licata to the early years of Tampa’s strip clubs. The stories dig deep into Tampa’s sordid history The book is set up chronologically, starting with the early history of Tampa and into one of the nations’ first serial killers, who operated right here in Tampa. Guzzo goes into the infamous Victor Licata and his 1933 crimes that shocked the City, and the Dean of the Underworld, Charlie Wall. Paul Guzzo is the authority on Charlie Wall. Along with his brother, he wrote and produced the award-winning Charlie Wall: The Documentary. Coupled with the story here, “The Devil Looks After His Own”, Guzzo has fleshed out the most complete picture of the first gangland boss of Florida. My personal favorite story is “Tampa’s Man in Black” an indepth interview with the late Bobby Rodriguez, proprietor of the Tanga Lounge, the unseen architect (along with Joe Redner) of Tampa’s strip club industry and one-time employee of infamous mob loan-shark Jimmy Donofrio. Guzzo gets Rodriguez to open up and dispel some of the myths surrounding the adult entertainment business and his relationship with Donofrio. Not all of Guzzo’s stories are about gangsters. He writes about the flamboyant and larger-than-life Gene Holloway; White Chocolate, the self-described pimp that set off a showdown with local officials over public access television; and the controversial Al Fox, whose position on opening doors to Cuba has earned him the scorn of many in Tampa. Guzzo has a clear voice that you can pick up throughout these stories. There’s a depth beyond the dates and details that give a fully-rounded picture and feeling for the stories. This is not a simple recitation of history but a strong narrative that propels the stories off the page. Complete with a foreword by Tampa’s favorite son, Ferdie Pacheco, The Dark Side of Sunshine is a must-have for every Tampa native who wants to learn more about the past heard only in whispers and for very transplant and newcomers who doesn’t know about the rich and complex history that shaped their adopted home.



editor-n-Chief & founder

SUSAN CUESTA Copy editor



Contributing Writer

Senior Writer


uSf department of SpeCial ColleCtionS uf department of SpeCial ColleCtionS TAMPA BAY TIMES & THE TAMPA TRIBUNE ON THE COVER

Jeff borysiewicz, founder & owner of Corona Cigar Company

Cigar City Magazine | P.O. Box 18613 Tampa, Florida 33679 | Tel 813-373-9988 e-mail:


Š2013, Cigar City Magazine. all rights reserved. reproduction or use without written permission from Cigar City Magazine, of editorial, pictorial, or design content, in any manner is prohibited. the opinions of writers commissioned for articles are not necessarily those of the agency. all advertising is subject to approval before acceptance. Cigar City Magazinee reserves the right to refuse any advertisement for any reason whatsoever. Cigar City Magazine assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. all letters, emails and their contents sent to Cigar City Magazine become the sole property of the magazine and may be used and published in any manner whatsoever without limit and without obligation or liability to the author there of. Cigar City is a trademarked name and logo, any reproduction or use without written permission will fall under the trademark infringement laws and will be executed under the fullest extent of the law. Cigar City Magazine only, holds the rights to use the name and trademark under the rules and regulations of the owner of the Cigar City.


table of ContentS Story idea?| info@CigarCitymagazine.Com

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18 24 30 32



tampa mafia: takeover of the ‘burg’ Corona Cigar Company tampa rockets

the Cigar machinist


10 12 14 16 38

the libation lounge pour discissions

the Cigar label art

Cigar City playground

Visit our website at SUMMER ISSUE




The Libation Lounge

by Scott M. Deitche

Summer is here and what better way to honor the long, humid days waiting for the afternoon storm and sea breeze, than hoisting a cold, refreshing drink housed in an idol head, with rum, juice, rum, more rum, and a little paper umbrella. It’s, of course, that tiki time of the year. Tiki drinks are as visual as they are tasty. The concoctions are often multi-layered with a complex set of tastes, each enhancing the others.

While rum is often the signature ingredient; spirits from bourbon to gin to vodka are sprinkled throughout the tiki realm. Moreso than any other genre of cocktails, recipes for tiki drinks can vary wildly. Below are some tried and tested recipes for iconic Polynesian-themed libations, but they can be varied to fit particular tastes. So turn on the hi-fi, blast some Les Baxter and Martin Denny, get out your swizzle sticks, and start mixing.

Mai Tai The grand dame of tiki drinks, the Mai Tai, when made right, can be a revelation of fresh flavors. When made with a pre-made mix, it’s a sugary mess. Mix wisely and don’t cheap out on the rum!

Zombie This classic, and potent, cocktail is a signature tiki drink. And there are as many variations on the Zombie as there are restaurants that serve them. But this is the original 1934 recipe that was found by tiki historian Jeff Berry (

1 oz dark rum 1 oz light rum 3/4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice 1/2 oz almond flavored syrup (orgeat syrup) 1/2 oz orange curacao 1/4 oz simple syrup Maraschino cherry

Shake first six ingredients with plenty of crushed ice. Pour, don’t strain, into glass. Add cheery and spent lime shell for garnish.

Blue Hawaiian This stunningly blue drink was created at the Hawaiian Hilton Village in 1957. The original version had rum, vodka, and sweet and sour mix. Most versions today have a mix of rum and cream of coconut. But they all contain blue curacao.

3/4 oz rum 3/4 oz blue curacao 3/4 oz crème do coconut 2 oz pineapple juice Maraschino cherry and pineapple wedge (garnish)

Pour all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, stir for 30 seconds. Strain into another glass with ice. Garnish with cherry and pineapple wedge. Alternately you can add the first four ingredients and some crushed ice to a blender for a frozen Blue Hawaiian.



3/4 cup crushed ice 1 1/2 ounces aged Jamaican rum, such as Appleton Estate V/X or Extra 1 1/2 ounces gold Puerto Rican rum 1 ounce 151-proof Lemon Hart Demerara rum 3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice 2 teaspoons white grapefruit juice 1 teaspoon Cinnamon Syrup 1 teaspoon Grenadine 1/2 ounce falernum (A lime and clove-infused syrup) 1/8 teaspoon Pernod 1 dash aromatic bitters, such as angostura Ice cubes 1 mint sprig, for garnish

Add all the ingredients except the ice cubes and mint, in a blender. Blend on high for 5 seconds. Pour into a tall glass and add ice to fill. Garnish with the mint.

Navy Grog This is the original Don the Beachcomber restaurant Navy Grog recipe from the early 1940s.

1 oz white rum 1 oz demerara rum 1 oz dark rum 3/4 oz fresh squeezed lime juice 3/4 oz grapefruit juice 1 oz honey syrup (I’ve used simple syrup and it works as well) Club soda Orange slice and cherry (garnish)

Shake all ingredients (except for club soda and garnishes) with lots of ice. Strain into a glass with ice. Top with club soda and add the garnishes.


Pour Decisions

Kick Summer in the Can

by Mark DeNote

for a long time canned beer has suffered from a bad reputation that seems to stem more from the product inside than from the can itself. the beer history books say that canned beer originated in 1934 near richmond, Virginia. the Krueger brewery decided to can beer for the first time in history to get a verdict on the effectiveness of the plastic liners within the cans. no one wanted the metal cans to touch precious beer, so a liner was developed to prevent the two substances from meeting. after months of research, January 1935 witnessed the first canned beer sold. Consumer responses to cans proved staggering if for no other reason than cans were less expensive than their bottled bigger brothers (they proved to be so because no bottle deposit was required). the Krueger canning experiment was such a resounding success that cans became a mainstay of the brewing industry, their use has soared ever since the late 1930s, and now craft brewers have welcomed their use for beers best consumed fresh. Cans have proven to be the natural homes for the freshest beer. Cans strike a special note in florida, allowing more portability for pilsners and more motility for malt beverages. Canned beer can walk right past outdoor restrictions that limit glass for fear of litter. Cans will recycle more easily–no more trips to the recycling center, as most cans are acceptable in curbside recycling programs. Cans also get cold faster and fit nicely into coolers. Some cooler companies now make special low-profile can coolers to assist in the cool-down process. the last best reason to can is freshness dating. almost all cans on the market have a “best by” or “canned on” date. these freshness stamps can prove the difference between drinking an india pale ale (ipa) that is in prime condition or on the way out. many hoppy beers begin to lose some hop character if they sit too long on the shelf, even in a can. for beer under 9% alcohol, beers that are meant to be consumed fresh and not aged, the benefits of canning versus bottling are significant. beers that contain more than that 9% alcohol will generally benefit from aging and degrade that liner that separate beer and can, so those liquids are best housed in a glass bottle. bright beers like ipas, wheat beers, and lagers are like revenge–they are dishes best served fresh and cold.

here are a few special summer beers to watch for in cansall of these beers seal in as much flavor as possible before shipping out in search of thirsty folks: Avery Brewing Joe’s Premium American Pilsner

this is a beer that changes minds about pilsners. avery’s version of a pilsner packs some light citrus and mild hoppy character into a light pilsner. this beer goes great with florida sunrises or a mild and creamy havarti Cheese.

Oskar Blues Brewing Dale’s Pale Ale

oskar blues was the first american craft breweries to can their beer in 2002. they maintain their trailblazer status with dale’s pale ale, hoppy pale ale that finishes at 6.5% alcohol. this ale is so hoppy it could be considered an ipa, but relaxes with a light body and easy-drinking nature to make it pale ale. dale’s now comes in a dry-hopped version called “deviant dale’s,” as well as regular 12-oz cans and new 19.2 extra-tallboy cans.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company Old Elephant Foot IPA

this pachyderm of an ipa clocks in at 6.8% alcohol, has a light body, and possesses an assertive hop character akin to its namesake character. tbbC’s flagship beer comes in nice 16-oz tallboy can and can be bought right from the brewery or fresh from any outlet in tampa, pinellas, or parts of Sarasota.

Mark is a craft beer enthusiast and traveler who enjoys sojourning at local pubs and haunts of brew culture. He lives with his family in Hernando County, Florida and frequents the Great City of Tampa and beyond in search of craft beer, beer enthusiasts, and the next pint. Questions for Mark? Email him at 12



Cigar Labels From the book Patriotic Cigar-Label Art by Major Siles Bass & Edwin D. Barnes

The Independente cigar label of the Morgan Cigar Company, 1905.

Mount Vernon: This is a fairly accurate painting of Martha Washington.

El Liberal: Yes, Thomas Jefferson was known as a liberal.

Grand Session: Thomas Jefferson reading the Declaration of Independence in committee.

John Adams: Second President of the United States, 1735-1826.

American Salute: A proof label of Abraham Lincoln. Notice shot lines for the outside box label.

Franklin D. Roosevelt: Thirty-second President of the United States and first President to be reelected for a third term.



Ben Franklin: An example of Guenther and Muller, lithographers who were in business from 1898 to 1902.

American Poet: Joseph Rodman Drake, died in 1820 at age of 25, an American Poet, having written the famed poem, “The American Flag.�

The Independente cigar label courtesy of the USF Special Library Collection



this new version of “tampa toWn” was completed for the 2013 Cuban Sandwich Show (July 8-august 8) and will be on public exhibition for several months at the King Corona Cigar Cafe, visible from the street at 1523 e. Seventh avenue, ybor City. members of the artists and Writers group created a version of this diorama for the 2012 Cuban Sandwich Show, an annual month-long series of art events whose subject is tampa and its neighborhoods. the painting references the graphic style of new york City artist red grooms and tampa’s dr. ferdie pacheco in this diorama depicting an imaginary ybor City as it grows up inside the tiny town of tampa. the work was conceived and created by david audet and Joe howden, with important contributions from Joanna Karpay, frances brown and Judith Villavianis. 16


an homage to red grooms and ferdie pacheco

many of the characters depicted are modeled on tampa citizens, past and present; some are taken whole-cloth from paintings of the artists we are emulating. and many are straight from the imaginations of the makers of this work. Sincere thanks to our major sponsor, the ybor City development Corporation, for supporting the Cuban Sandwich Show. our gratitude extends to the other sponsors of the numerous organizations/events occurring during the 2013 Cuban Sandwich Show. a final note: King Corona has kindly agreed to exhibit a new, yet-to-be- created diorama by the group, tentatively titled, “moon over ybor”, sometime later this year.

Check out

tampa mafia

takeover of the ‘burg’

henry trafficante

When bolita kingpin Charlie Williams was killed in ybor City in february of 1953, it was the end of a local control of the bolita rackets in the ‘burg. While Williams was able to grow his business with little influence from tampa at first, he started working more and more with wiseguys from across the bay. former St. petersburg police Chief e. Wilson purdy concurred, “Bolita was big business in St. pete, but it was controlled out of tampa.” and though it was not known exactly why the order to take out Williams was given, it became clear that the main beneficiary of the demise of the bolita man was Santo trafficante Jr. With only a couple years under his belt as a mafia boss, trafficante Jr was solidifying his hold over the tampa rackets and finishing an intra-crime family war with remnants of the italiano-lumia faction. it was a prime 18


By Scott M. Deitche and Mike Ward

opportunity to make a move into St. petersburg to expand operations and profits. as was the custom in tampa, Santo Jr knew that he needed to not only pick up with Williams’ old police contacts, but work towards bringing in some higher-up sin the police department to act as protectors and inside sources on law enforcement activities as his bolita expansion began. harry dietrich was a well-respected detective in St. petersburg. an avid fisherman, dietrich was also dedicated to his job in law enforcement. his area of expertise was bolita. following the killing of Charlie Williams, the St. petersburg police had an inclination that the tampa mafia would make a larger move into pinellas. dietrich was in a perfect position to infiltrate the new kingpins before they had a chance to get settled. With the word out that dietrich was open to working with the new kingpins in town, he received a call from tampa on January 1, 1954. the call came from henry trafficante. he was driving down to St. pete and wanted to meet with the detective. the game was on. Scrambling to set the operation in motion, dietrich agreed and went to work. he was wired with a primitive recording device for his face-to-face meeting with henry trafficante. dietrich later recounted that the recorder was “inside my coat and a wire ran from the recorder down my sleeve to the mike.” at that first meeting, after some initial niceties, during which henry noted that dietrich didn’t look tough enough, henry told the detective that he only had 10 bolita writers in St. pete but that with police help, “i can build up my force some more.” dietrich jumped in with both feet, telling henry that he was on board and would work to protect their interests and keep them informed of any investigations. the following week, dietrich took a call at his house from a mr. brown, who he recognized as henry trafficante. henry asked dietrich to come over to tampa for a meeting. ralph mills, the director of the hillsborough County Crime Commission, was assisting dietrich with his investigation. mills drove over to tampa to stake out the meeting location, the lamas Club on the corner of gandy blvd and dale mabry. mills set up a camera and had his wife along for an addition set of eyes for surveillance of the meeting. dietrich bought a bus ticket and rode over to tampa. henry greeted dietrich in the lamas Club parking lot and led the detective to a waiting car. dietrich got in the passenger side. Sitting behind him was Santo trafficante Jr. Santo started by assuring dietrich that the police could still make bolita busts in St. pete, but that they needed to concentrate those

on potential competitors to the trafficante operation. at that time, there were six other tampa bolita bankers operating in pinellas County: tony martinez, nick Sagonias, Virgilio fabian, doc matthews, Jerry lopez, and rolando rodriguez. only Sagonias and martinez were connected to the trafficantes. Santo told dietrich, “We have a good reputation in pinellas and all over the state and we want it to stay that way. We know that if you don’t pay off, you don’t stay in business.” Santo parted ways with the observation, “we are supposed to be racketeers and gangsters, but we’re not as bad as they say.” When dietrich got out of the car, henry let him in on a secret. the yellow 1954 mercury Sun Valley that henry drove to the lamas Club now belonged to dietrich. and that was far from the only compensation the mob was willing to give dietrich. from between January 5 and may 15, 1954, dietrich received $1,275.00 in cash, a new suit, and two cases of whiskey. the meetings between trafficante and dietrich continued. the next time the two men met was at Wolfie’s restaurant on Central avenue in St. petersburg. henry handed dietrich a list of ‘burg bolita sellers that were part of his operation and needed protection from raids. on one occasion, henry trafficante came to dietrich’s home. dietrich’s daughter Janice, who was 12 at the time, recalled her and her mother hiding in a closet while her father and henry spoke in the garage. according to Janice, there was a wire attached to a recorder from the closet to a microphone in the garage, which was covered by an oil rag. at one point in the conversation henry picked up the rag and unknowingly uncovered the mike. but, according to dietrich’s daughter, there was so much junk in the garage that henry didn’t realize what he was looking at. the undercover operation was that close to being blown. after recording 30 conversations, dietrich went to his superiors and the State attorney’s office to request arrest warrants. So, with warrants in hand, dietrich pulled out of his undercover role. in the pre-dawn hours of may 15, 1954, dietrich, along with the hillsborough Sheriff’s department, assembled a hand-picked team of handpicked police officers, and met in a boy Scout meeting hall at the fifth avenue baptist Church in St. petersburg. dietrich told the officers going into the suspects’ homes to rip out active phone lines in case they tried to warn others about the impending arrests. over the next few hours they arrested 43 individuals on gambling charges in both hillsborough and pinellas counties. henry trafficante was arrested at the nebraska bar and grill. another trafficante associate, Joe perrone, was arrested while he was walking down a street in ybor City. the bolita peddlers in St. petersburg were rounded up by the late morning as well. henry trafficante sneered at looming photographers, but did not look particularly concerned.

St. petersburg detective harry dietrich

at the steps of the courthouse in tampa, Crime Commission director ralph mills bellowed a lengthy speech to reporters and curious onlookers. he claimed a sweeping victory against the mob: “arrests this morning in St. petersburg and tampa write another chapter, perhaps a closing one, on the widespread bolita lottery operations of the tampa trafficante mob headed by Santo trafficante, Jr.” rather than face a public arrest, Santo drove up from miami to surrender to the tampa police. bail was initially set at $65,000, but then lowered it to $12,500. trafficante easily posted bail and was out on the street within a few hours to join his brother henry, who had been released the day before. over the next few months there were a series of pre-trail hearings. the hillsborough County solicitor subpoenaed one of Santo trafficante, Jr’s men, Salvatore lorenzo, who sat stone-faced in front of an interrogator who hammered him about his relationship to the trafficante bolita organization. frustrated, the prosecutor in the trafficante case brought lorenzo into court and swore him in, hoping that would make him loosen his lips. but lorenzo declined to answer most of the questions. his refusal also earned him the nickname “Silent Sam.” the first trial of Santo and henry started in the fall of 1954. during that first trial, dietrich’s family went into hiding until things cooled down. dietrich’s work was vindicated when Santo and henry were convicted of bribery. When the brothers returned for their sentencing SUMMER ISSUE



16 nday, may rg Times, Su St. Petersbu

, 1954

massive heart attack right in the four days after their conviction, they stood court room. silently in front of the Judge Victor o. though Santo trafficante Jr. Wehle while he called them “rats who crept evaded prison, the crime family’s out of the sewer to try and contaminate our operations in St. petersburg country.” both were handed a five-year suffered a major setback due to the sentence. dietrich operation and the ensuing their lawyers vowed to appeal and in fallout. With what remained of the interim, while the defense was their pinellas operations under preparing their appeal, Santo and henry heavy scrutiny the ‘burg was no trafficante were put on trial for a second longer seen as a cash cow for bolita. time for violation of lottery rules in many in local law enforcement put pinellas County. this short trial wrapped full credit on the undercover work of up within a week; henry was again dietrich. e. Wilson purdy summed it found guilty, but the jury acquitted up. “harry did a good job with that. trafficante because he was never actuhe nailed them.” ally in pinellas County during detective dietrich left the police dietrich’s investigation. and on department in 1964, after 22 years on appeal of the first trial, Santo’s convicthe force. from there he joined the tion was overturned. Sarasota Jour nal, friday, Se ptember 24, pinellas public defender’s office a year after the initial raids, the 1954 where he worked for another 21 years, u.S. attorney general indicted Santo and henry, as well as Joe perrone, charging them with evading gambling taxes retiring as their head investigator. he helped form the St. and gambling tax stamp violations. this was the third trial petersburg retired police officers association and served resulting from the dietrich investigation. that trial ended as president of the local fraternal order of police chapter. in Jacksonville on december 12, 1959 with a conviction for detective dietrich died on november 1, 1998 and is buried henry but an acquittal for Santo and Joe perrone. the in Serenity gardens in largo. celebration was short-lived for Joe perrone. upon hearing of his release, he went into convulsions and died of a Mike Ward is an officer with the St. Pete Police Department. 22







if god was a cigar aficionado, the garden of eden would have looked a lot like Corona Cigar Company in downtown orlando. it’s retail space looks more like a cigar warehouse than store, with aisle after of shelves filled thousands of different cigars, from popular mainstays to the “it” cigar of the moment to those with an underground following. if a cigar blend has been rolled, chances are Corona carries it. What truly makes Corona a cigar lover’s paradise, however, is its bar space. designed so that patrons feel as though they are lounging in the dominican or nicaragua, its alcohol menu resembles an unabridged encyclopedia in its size. Corona specializes in brown spirits–whiskey, scotch, bourbon, rum and cognac–and, like its cigar selection, there is little Corona does not offer, including some of the rarest spirits in the world. it has rums dating back to preCuban embargo days and whiskey that was distilled during prohibition; some of it was illegally transported to the

lounges in america.” Corona has one location in lake mary–1130 townpark avenue–and two in orlando–7792 W. Sand lake road and 127 South orange avenue, right in the heart of downtown. “it’s always an honor to be so appreciated,” said Jeff borysiewicz, founder and owner of Corona Cigar Company. “the success is driven by inventory–both in terms of tobacco and liquor. We want to carry as much as we can and sell it all at an affordable price. if you combine that with a good location and staff and a relaxing feel, of course people want to go there. to operate a successful [cigar lounge], you can’t just be a businessman. you have to be a true cigar enthusiast as well.” unlike other celebrity names in the tobacco industry, borysiewicz was not born into the cigar industry, nor did he get into it at a young age. rather than tobacco coursing through his veins, he was born with motor oil and gasoline. his father owned and operated an automotive repair shop and gas station in orlando.

u.S. through Canada by notorious gangsters like al Capone and some was considered “medicinal,” prescribed by doctors to patients who needed whiskey to cure their ails in those days when boozing was illegal. and finally are Corona’s renowned handcrafted cocktails. While some bars order pre-mixed cocktails or use syrups, everything served at Corona is made fresh. for instance, when a patron orders a mojito, the lime juice is squeezed and mint leaves and sugar cubes are added to the dark rum. it takes a little longer than a pre-made drink, but as the old saying goes, “good things come to those who wait.” or in this instance, perhaps the word “good” should be replaced with the phrase “amazingly delicious.” all of these factors plus a staff that is educated on everything a patron needs to know about tobacco and liquor is why Cigar City magazine has named Corona Cigar Company’s three cigar retail shops and lounges, all of which mimic the downtown one, as “the best Cigar

always a hard worker, borysiewicz entered the workforce at the age of 10 by mowing lawns. by age 12 he was picking oranges and at 15 his dad put him to work in the family business. he started out pumping gas and within a few years his strong work ethic and a mind for business that he was seemingly born with thrust him into a management role. Wanting to pay back his father’s trust, borysiewicz used his wages to put himself through the university of Central florida. “plus if i was paying i didn’t have to show my father my grades,” he laughed. it was while in college, at around the age of 20, that he smoked his first cigar–a Swisher Sweet at his sister’s wedding. though it was nothing more than a cheap stogie, the lengthy enjoyment a cigar offers plus the camaraderie that is forged when smoking with others hooked him. from that point on, he sought better and better cigars, tried as many as he could and learned from anyone willing to educate him on the different blends.






in 1996, two years after college graduation, borysiewicz’ knowledge and passion for cigars grew to the point that he believed he could make a living in the industry. Corona Cigar Company was originally a mail order catalogue. he converted two extra bedrooms in his home into humidors and handed out catalogues of his inventory wherever cigar smokers could be found–such as bars, restaurants and liquor stores. in 1997 he added a website. orders were streaming in. by day he continued to run his family’s automotive shop. then from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. he would sit at his computer and respond to orders. he was surviving off just a few hours of sleep a night, but was fine with the lifestyle. “i have never been afraid of hard work,” he said. “i knew it was leading somewhere. did i know it would become this big? i believed it would but was never positive. but i knew the only way it could lead to bigger things was if i was willing to make it happen.” in 1998, he opened his first retail shop in ocoee, florida and success continued to roll in. “the secret is not much of a secret,” he said. “hard work and willing to reinvest your own money back into the company. that is what i did. the most important thing to remember when opening a business is that you won’t get an hour sleep or a dime to spend for the first 28


few years. if you understand that and offer a great product, things can work out.” borysiewicz is not done reinvesting into his company. he volunteers countless hours of his time as chairman of the Cigar rights of america, a non-profit advocacy organization that fights for the rights of the cigar industry in the same way the nra does. and he recently purchased 20 acres of land in Clermont, where he is growing tobacco that he hopes will be ready in a year or two that will be used for a new blend of Corona Cigar Company cigars. “We’re going to be the only cigar shop in the country as far as i know that uses tobacco that we grow,” said borysiewicz. Corona Cigar Company already offers the best cigar lounges in the country. Soon, it will be the most unique. Visit this amazing cigar lounge/store at: CORONA CIGAR COMPANY & DIAMOND CROWN LOUNGE 127 South orange avenue orlando, fl 32801 phone: (407) 404-5344

tampa rockets and the

florida State negro leagues

the tampa bay rays opened their 2008 run to the american league pennant by selecting Walter lee “dirk” gibbons with their first pick in the draft. even for an organization with a reputation for smart draft picks, this one proved exceptional, if somewhat belated. “dirk” gibbons, after all, had long since seen his fastball velocity decline, and the break in his curve ball dwindle. then 79, his playing days were long past. he and his tampa rockets’ teammates were pioneers however and the rays, by selecting him first in the negro leagues draft, honored the legacy of the florida State negro leagues in tampa bay’s baseball history.

with a local, african-american focus. andrews Sr. resurrected his father’s newspaper, originally founded in Jacksonville in 1919 after it had declined as a result of the great depression and reopened the Sentinel on tampa’s Central ave in 1945. the founder of the lily White pallbearer’s lodge in tampa, andrews Sr was well connected within florida’s black businessman’s community and probably influenced whatever league rules, transportation, and revenue sharing existed between teams in the florida State negro league. by 1953, the league foundered as more african-americans found their way into the majors and onto minor league affiliates.

pepsi Cola giants, circa 1950

Whereas much has been written about the disproportionate number of baseball players grown in the tampa bay area, little is known about the negro leagues here (or anywhere else for that matter). generally, even at the highest levels, few statistical records were kept and often seasons simply fizzled out rather than culminating in a championship. the florida State negro league consisted of about six different teams between 1947 and 1953. they played a circuit, which included teams from St petersburg (the pelicans), bradenton (the 9 devils), daytona beach (black Cats), lakeland (all Stars) and West palm beach (yankees). each year, the participating cities might change–tampa itself fielded about six different teams over this time period–and there is no record of league championships. the tampa rockets, though, consistently impressed. in 1948, C. blythe andrews Sr bought the pepsi Cola nine, a florida State negro league team, and renamed them “the rockets.” andrews Sr. was the proprietor and publisher of the Florida Sentinel, a bi-weekly newspaper 30


by mark a. panuthos

even within their short lifespan, the rockets gained quite a reputation. Jackie robinson had broken the color barrier in major league baseball one year prior and brought his Jackie robinson all Stars to tampa on an exhibition circuit in 1950. he finished his third season in the majors having batted .342 and having won the national league most Valuable player for the brooklyn dodgers. they played the rockets at plant field, but against pitcher “dirk” gibson, he went 0 for 1. having just surrendered a homerun to larry doby, the 21 year old ybor City native collected himself, and induced robinson to ground out. So impressed was the nl mVp, that he extended an invitation to gibbons to join the Jackie robinson all Stars for their last game in puerto rico. “Jackie said meet us in puerto rico, that’ll be our last stop.” gibson recalled. “that would give the major leagues a chance to see me, but when i received that ticket, uncle Sam sent me his ticket, it said ‘meet me in Jacksonville’, and i spent three years in the (Korean) War.”

gibbons is one of only a handful of people in history who can claim to have pitched to the first two african-american players to play in the majors, and probably the only one still living who pitched to them both in a single afternoon. Whereas robinson broke the color barrier in the major leagues in 1947, doby was the first african-american to hit a homerun in a World Series game and the first, along with teammate Satchel paige, to win a World Series championship with bill Veeck’s Cleveland indians in 1948. like gibbons, billy reed played for the tampa rockets, but his career took a different path. a shortstop, he started his semi-pro career playing for the bradenton 9 devils, and later the pepsi Cola giants before they were bought by andrews Sr. reed was drafted for service in the Korean, but never saw combat. instead, he played armyball for the ft. eustis Wheels, where he played teams from other military bases and with multiple professional and semiprofessional players. in fact, Willie mays, arguably the greatest centerfielder ever to play the game, left ft eustis one month before gibbons arrived. after getting discharged, reed attended florida a&m university in tallahassee, where he stood out as a football and baseball star. his decision to choose baseball instead of football had everything to do with events of the recent past. “if it hadn’t been for Jackie robinson, i never would have had a shot as a professional baseball player. i probably would have stayed in football,” reed said. after playing semi-professional ball following his graduation, reed accepted the head coaching position for the varsity baseball team at hillsborough high School in 1973. under Coach reed, the “terriers” have made won multiple district championship and regional championships, and made it to the state championship game. more impressive, though, Coach reed has stewarded multiple players into major league baseball. the list includes dwight gooden (mets and yankees), gary Sheffield (marlins, yankees, rays), Vance lovelace (angels), Jason romano (rangers and dodgers), floyd youmans (expos, phillies), george Crum (rangers), and Kiki Jones (dodgers). his players owe him, Walter gibbons, and all of the negro league players quite a debt. What benefits currently accrue to them in terms of money and prestige were wholly absent in the 1950s. estimates vary, but rockets players might earn a few hundred dollars a month, during the season. teams would split gate receipts with 60% going to the winner and 40% going to the loser after the owners took their cuts. often times, players would go into the stands and collect money from the fans. roy Campanella has famously stated that without Jackie robinson, there would be no brown v board (the decision which ended segregation). even so, that decision would be rendered in 1954 and it would take another 15 or so years for the decision to take hold in the states of the former Confederacy. for black baseball players in the tampa bay area, that meant enduring some humiliating, and sometimes downright dangerous situations. “dirk” gibbons recalls that after their game in 1950, Jackie robinson had asked him about the minarets that dot

the current day campus of the university of tampa. When gibbons had attempted to walk robinson over to a particular minaret, they were stopped by tampa police. “boy, where you goin’”, a police officer asked gibbons. When he attempted to explain, the officer replied “you know you’re not allowed in here.” one time, according to Coach reed, when a tampa all Star team was travelling to South Carolina, their bus stopped for gas. as they were filling up, a couple of players had to use the restroom, but where barred access because of their race. When the driver replied that if they weren’t allowed to use the restroom, they’d stop filling up their tank to which the proprietor of the gas station retorted by pulling out a gun and ordering him to finish his fill up and then pay for the gas. there were other instances both potentially violent and humiliating. “dirk” gibbons recalls a game called “shadowball” in which black ballplayers would partake, especially if it was raining, simply to entertain White audiences. “ain’t no ball in sight,” he explained, “you throw just like you’re pitching, you swing, then someone fielded it, and threw you out at first base.” depending on the venue, once the performance was finished, the black players would be ushered off the field. “didn’t matter if it was raining and if we was dirty, we’d have to get on the bus and get out of town,” gibbons remembered. there were contradictions and customs which made little sense outside the segregated South. black players were barred from playing with White teams, but White players could play in the negro leagues. Within the florida State negro leagues, most games in tampa bay were played at the 22nd Street field, later called the “Cyrus greene” park, and now the current home of the belmont heights little league fields. occasionally, the rockets, or another negro league team would play at plant field, but the grandstand would be segregated into White and black sections. their games, and fans, were largely banned at Cuscaden and macfarlane parks. perhaps most distressing, was an incident which happened fairly recently. “dirk” gibbons had inscribed a notation on the cement pillars that held up the grandstand at plant field. he wrote “pitched here in 1950 against Jackie robinson all Stars.” on the day they tore the grandstand down, gibbons asked one of the foremen if they would spare the inscribed plank. “i asked the guy if there was any way he could save that part. they guy wasn’t too polite about it and he told me ‘no’.” gibbons said. “i was going to save that part, because i knew it would be history one day.” Currently, a plaque on one of the buildings that borders what is today pepin-rood field on the university of tampa campus, commemorates stock car drivers who competed in the area. another plaque acknowledges Jackie robinson’s visit to the stadium back in 1950. the original inscription is lost forever as are most of the players of the florida State negro league. but like Jackie robinson, their legacy lives on. SUMMER ISSUE



The Cigar Machinist! the armando garcia Story for over half of his six decades in the cigar business, armando garcia’s innate expertise in fixing machines made him the most sought after machinist in the industry. looking back after his passing in 2012, at age 86, you can see his family’s story and travels mirror the growth of the industry in West tampa through the 20th and into the 21st century. his father, antonio, emigrated from Spain to tampa in 1898, at age four. Sofia, his mother, was born in Key West and worked as a ‘buckeye’ in 1905, as a part of 60 women who stripped wrappers by hand. beginning as a roller, antonio was an astute tobacconist, who worked his way up becoming assistant supervisor for 2,000 rollers. born dec. 20, 1925, armando garcia was the recipient of a couple of life-changing breaks, but his unyielding will and ingratiating demeanor endeared him to those in the cigar world throughout Central america and in tampa, leaving a reputation that was beyond reproach. entering the world at 8.5 pounds, his weight dropped to three pounds six months later. the local doctor told his mother there was nothing he could do. giving her a powder, he advised she put him her son to sleep, permanently. Someone in the neighborhood suggested taking him to



By Seth Schwartz

dr. oppenheimer. “he told my mom, ‘there’s nothing wrong with this baby, he’s just lazy. you can give him orange juice and tomato juice through an eye dropper and small pieces of food.’ dora did this for a year and a half and garcia began to grow. three years later, she took him to see the first doctor and asked, ‘do you know who this is? no,” he said. this is the baby for whom you gave the powder to put to sleep!’ “i am Catholic…i believe god let me live,” said garcia. their residence on beach St. in West tampa included a half acre parcel of land, where they raised chickens, tended cows and grew vegetables. With a barter system in place, garcia would sell the extra produce doorto-door. “it was Spanish, italian, Cuban, german and american,” he said. “everyone got along. people were always

willing to help each other out.” at the beginning of the depression [1930], everyone was evicted and their furniture was out on the street. fortunately, garcia and his three brothers and one sister were taken in by a man who owned a nursery on the edge of West tampa where they lived for five years. in 1938 they moved to green St. where they rented a house.

before finishing high school, garcia heard the patriotic call and enlisted in the united States army in 1942. fighting for gen. george patton in germany, garcia saw his share of combat for which he was awarded a purple heart. in stories told to his sons, bruce and roy, his bar [browning automatic rifle] saved him on several occasions. during the battle of the bulge, garcia was severely injured when a tree fell on his back and his feet were frozen into the ground. fellow soldiers found him conscious, pulled him out and brought him back to base. recuperating at a hospital in france, doctors monitored him for three months to see when he would regain feeling in his feet and if amputation was necessary. taking a ship back to Jacksonville, he spent another month. upon his return to West tampa, garcia married his high school sweetheart, lydia, april 28th, 1945, whom he dated for three years before joining the service. putting the gi bill to use, he took night classes at rooster tech learning the machinist trade. during the day, he took an entry position as a scrap-boy working for Carl Cuesta, at the Cuesta rey factory [in West tampa] with 500 employees. While regaining mobility in his feet, he had to wear slippers for a year. before regaining full range of motion, it was several years. “the experience of the depression and WWii molded him,” said bruce. “dad thought he could conquer anything. he didn’t want his family to struggle. he was the kind of guy that always saw an opportunity in each situation. if anyone said you can’t, he’d come back and show you he could. “dad always had a great will; he envisioned himself walking,” said his son, bruce garcia. “he was very determined and didn’t let obstacles get in the way. “When he was 53 i had just started working at hav-atampa. he had started jogging at about the same time and i remember him running 10 miles before he left for work at 6:00 a.m.” a passion for machinery, relentless work ethic and easy demeanor were part of garcia’s makeup and the person to contact when they encountered a problem. “dad had an incredible love for machines,” said bruce. “he read everything he could and had an innate understanding of how all the parts worked together. a lot of what he learned was self taught. he knew how to convert the machine. “he watched them run for hours, envisioning ways to convert them to make different shapes and sizes.” in 1962, he got a call on a Sunday morning from busch gardens with an emergency request. his wife admonished, ‘it’s Sunday!’ garcia worked on the injection mold machine that made wax souvenirs for busch gardens and got everything running. tampa was the cigar capital of the world in the late 1940s through ’60 with an endless flow of tobacco coming in from

armando with his sister rose in 1930

Cuba. With over 150 factories there was always a demand for experienced mechanics. frequently, garcia would add in a few night shifts for a competing company and then put in his hours at Cuesta rey [where he was employed until they closed in 1959]. “dad was always able to envision how to improve the machine,” said bruce. “how it could go faster and be more efficient.” in 1951, garcia was featured in Ball and Roller Bearing Magazine as a chief mechanic with his father in-law, who was the superintendent of Cuesta-rey cigar factory. it was there that he became a ‘master mechanic,’ learning how to work on every machine in every department of the factory. “dad could visualize what a machine could do. Seeing what needed to be improved, he’d redesign it. he was one of a few guys who could make the necessary modifications.” aside from his moonlighting in tampa, garcia traveled frequently to Cuba [from 1952-57] setting up machines for a variety of companies. tales of garcia’s exploits remain legendary. SUMMER ISSUE



armando and roy re-engineering a Cigar machine at a&l machine

“in 1963, there was an arenco bunching machine made in holland that was designed to make a 5-3/4” bunch,” said bruce. “dad redesigned the machine to make a 7-1/4” bunch. Sometimes he only had hand tools to work with.” the same year, amf made garcia an offer he couldn’t refuse–district manager in San Juan. “they were giving 20-year tax breaks to anyone opening a business,” said bruce. “dad turned down a job in Venezuela, but the offer in puerto rico was too good. he’d work there for two weeks and then he’d usually travel the other two weeks to honduras, nicaragua and parts of puerto rico. “When he was district manager for amf in puerto rico [1963-70] dad went to work in a suit and tie,” said bruce. “if there was something wrong, he’d take off his coat and tie, fix the problem, come back wash his hands and put his coat and tie on without getting any grease on the rest of his clothes. the people just looked at him and couldn’t believe it.” during the winter, the late Stanford newman and his wife elaine would come down for a week and spend time going out to dinner and conversing about the business late into the evening. garcia estimated he traveled 100,000 miles annually in the 1960s trouble-shooting a myriad of machine problems in nicaragua and honduras. occasionally, garcia’s excur34


sions led him to areas considerably off the beaten track. in nicaragua he rode a mule for two hours through the mountains before arriving to the area of repair.” in 1975, garcia was summoned to hav-a-tampa where he helped save the company by converting all the modern machines. after six months as a consultant, he was made a partner in the company. “many machines needed to be converted to a homogenized wrapper in order to be competitive in the industry during that time [500],” said bruce, who assisted his father. “instead of one woman operating a rolling machine they ended up with one woman operating four and sometimes eight machines.” “We were the first ones to market for the automated wrapper.” they were producing 2.5 million Jewel cigars a week with a 42 ring gage. “if they needed to widen the bunching machine, he could do it by hand. if they needed to make the mold bigger, he could make the chrome plated rings. basically, whatever the customer wanted, he’d picture it and then put it together. With garcia’s design, hav-a-tampa was one of the first to automate their machine in house. by the mid 1980s, with the aid of a marketing and sales team, they became second in sales in the industry. garcia became plant engineer and

one of the vice presidents before he retired in 1993. it’s estimated he worked for over 35 factories. opening a&l machine inc. in 1985, the mail order business making machine parts for companies has remained profitable and is now run by his sons, bruce and roy. before they were teenagers, they were learning the nuances of the business by watching their dad and experimenting on projects at home. “When i was nine, dad saw i was operating one of his machines at home,” said bruce. “he found a used South bend lathe. he said this is for you, please don’t fool around with my set ups. this is your machine to make anything you want. “during the 1960s and 70s, roy and i followed our passion in music. he played the guitar and i was on the hammond organ. We started with garage bands then backed up famous stars [Who??] and then night clubs. dad was a little disappointed, but he always supported us. i remember dad would go with roy to the night club because he was a minor. he would sit and drink coke until it was 2 a.m. he’d go home, sleep until 5 a.m. and then leave for work at 6. “i played until 1980 when i went to work as a machinist for hav-a-tampa Cigar; roy stayed with the music. “We speeded up the machines,” said bruce. “i joined him in 1980. dad had 25 people under him. We got it down to 150-200 machines and were able to keep the company in business.” in 1985, they started a family business, a&l machine inc. lydia garcia was the president and roy and armando garcia taking orders from customers that needed cigar machine parts. in 2009, hav-a-tampa closed its doors. “i took a year off when dad asked me if i was ever going to work again,” said bruce. “i said i hadn’t planned on it. “he said you have to work, so i joined the family business.” in 2011, after lydia garcia passed away, bruce garcia took over as president of a&l machine. “america is still the greatest country,” said bruce. “Where else can you lose your job and become the president of your own company in two years. “We know what part the machines use and how they need to be made. What we produce is often better than the originals. We don’t run a typical shop, our specialty is for the cigar industry. With some other factories and here at newman’s, we have enough to keep us busy. We do cigar machine packaging, stripping machines, any machine part that has to do with cigar manufacturing and parts that are very hard to find. “Sometimes they’ll give us a sketch or a worn out part of what they need and we’ll make it for them. “We have a long family history with newman and it’s

nice to keep it going. they’re the last standing factory [in tampa] and we want to keep it going. So many others have gone off-shore. “Working with their mechanics makes it easier to know what they need. you need to know what makes the machines tick and how the parts fit together. What the tolerances are; some within thousandth of an inch. it’s a group effort with newman and their staff.” Since the late 1950s, garcia had come in periodically to assist Stanford newman with any problems that came up. in 2003, newman requested garcia’s help on a more frequent basis. Working as a consultant, he modified machines and trained mechanics until he passed away. in that time, he designed a machine that produced a cigar that is a 7 5/16th long, 53 ring gauge. the two veterans enjoyed a deep friendship for over 50 years. “Stanford was one of the most wonderful people i’ve ever encountered,” said garcia, before he passed away. “We’d go out for dinner and just talk about the cigar business. he was very down to earth. “When i came back to newman, we’d sit in his office and chat for hours about the business, history and politics.”

from left to right: mitch mcConnell senator from Kentucky, eric newman owner of J.C. newman Cigar Company and armando garcia SUMMER ISSUE



“i lost everything according to in the Sandinista newman, eric he said. War,” who took over as “When i first president in 1986, installed machines he converted 100 [in the dominican machines to add early 80s], i ran over efficiency. to his place and said, “We have 11,000 ‘how do you fix moving parts in this? there were a these machines,” lot of times he’d said newman, straighten things whose brother out; then he worked bobby is executive for us permanently. vice president. “he remodeled a “one day we were machine by himself. moving the “one time in machines with puerto rico [1967] some young guys we had to move and they gave up. eight machines. i “it’s impossicalled him up, he ble!” they insisted. said, ‘don’t worry, “armando told i’ll call oscar.’ them to buy some “he got a crew of grapefruits. he six people and two cut the grapetrucks. We moved fruits, put them eight machines on under the legs of friday, worked the machines and around the clock moved it without and had everything a problem. working monday “the guys sat morning. there with their Carlos fuente Sr and armando garcia fuente Sr. underjaws wide open. “We made 11 million cigars this year, that’s a tribute to stood garcia was irreplaceable. “there were a lot of things armando taught me about armando,” said newman. “he was from the greatest generation, he was awarded the purple heart and was a man making cigars,” he said. “everything i know about machines comes from him. there really was nobody like of his word; his integrity was impeccable.” armando: an honorable man, great friend, husband and leaving a legacy, garcia’s name resonates with many. “armando is a legend in the cigar world,” said newman. father. there will never be another like him.” “he forgot more than others will ever know. he was a classy guy. if it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be making cigars today.” in 1950, garcia forged a close friendship with the Check out the Cigar pioneers at fuente’s going to arturo’s house where they rolled cigars and assisted in whatever needed fixing. “i remember my dad would bring me along when he the Cigar pioneers went to their house and then when they had a small factoin the 1800s and 1900s, millions of immigrants came ry [on 17th Street],” said bruce. “there was no day-care to this country hoping to escape religious and social back then. i would play with Carlos Jr. discrimination, political unrest and financial struggles. “he worked at their place behind the newman’s on 22nd the individual achievements of three of these Street [in the late 1950s]. dad got together all the time with immigrants, arturo fuente, angel oliva, and Carlos Sr. [socially]. a couple weeks before he passed he J.C. newman, would ultimately impact the drove over to their house to visit.” cigar industry in tampa and in the world. garcia worked full time for the fuentes from 1970-75 and solved a myriad of problems for them over the years.




Cigar City Playground Cigars & Stars benefitting the West Tampa Little League

Photo’s by Edward’s Havana Night’s Cigar Lounge. Check out and click on our Facebook page for more photo’s. 38


circa 1964

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