Tampa - AT&T and The University of Tampa unveiled the cover of the new Tampa Bay area AT&T Real Yellow Pages today, which features a photo of UT's historic campus building Plant Hall, which was formerly the Tampa Bay Hotel. The landmark building was built in 1891 and today houses University of Tampa classrooms, faculty and administrative offices, meeting rooms and the H.B. Plant Museum. Dan Gura, vice president of development and university relations, said UT is pleased to have Plant Hall featured on the cover of the AT&T Real Yellow Pages.
UT’s Plant Hall featured on the cover of AT&T Yellow Pages “Largely because of Plant Hall, UT is one of the most memorable and picturesque campuses in the United States. And Plant Hall is not just a relic. It plays an important role in educating students,” Gura said. Ben Prescott, area marketing manager - AT&T Advertising Solutions, said this year AT&T wanted the directory to reflect community pride in the University where everyone could see it - right on the front cover. "We've enjoyed an excellent working relationship with UT for nearly three years. We've worked together to provide valuable information inside our directories, and now we're excited about the opportunity to showcase this historic building on the cover for everyone to enjoy throughout the year,” Prescott said. “We're big Spartan fans and glad to enhance what we feel is a tremendous relationship.” The cover was unveiled today on the verandah at Plant Hall. Larry Marfise, UT director of athletics, and various UT students and student-athletes, were also on hand for the event. Additionally, Kevin Lange, general manager - AT&T Advertising Solutions, was in attendance. More than 1.5 million copies of the new book are currently being distributed to residences and businesses in Hillsborough County. The book includes yellow pages featuring area businesses, business white pages and community information pages. It also includes a two-page profile of The University of Tampa - including information about UT academics, athletics and campus life. AT&T Real Yellow Pages directories are recyclable, and the paper used to print the directories contains 40 percent recycled materials. Outdated directories can be recycled in curbside recycling or at a local recycling center. The University of Tampa is a private, residential university
located on approximately 100 acres on the riverfront in downtown Tampa. Known for academic excellence, personal attention and real world experience in its undergraduate and graduate programs, the University boasts 5,800 students from 50 states and approximately 100 countries. Approximately 70 percent of full-time students live on campus. More than half of UT students are from Florida. AT&T Advertising & Publishing is the largest directory company in the world in terms of revenue, and it publishes more than 1,250 directories in 22 states. YELLOWPAGES.COM offers consumers access to local business information, the latest business listings, city guides, maps and driving directions. Combined, these print and online products receive more than 5 billion consumer searches a year for local business information and provide more than 1 million advertisers with valuable sales leads to help their businesses grow. -UT-
MAY/JUNE 2009 LISA M. FIGUEREDO PRESIDENT & PUBLISHER
| SUSAN CUESTA
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY CONTRIBUTORS HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY PUBLIC LIBRARY | THE FLORIDA STATE ARCHIVES | UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF SPECIAL COLLECTIONS CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE’S EVENT PHOTOGRAPHER, DAVID CAPOTE ON THE COVER 1950’S ROLLER DERBY WOMAN
CHECK OUT CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE ONLINE AT THE FOLLOWING SITES
THIS ISSUES CONTRIBUTORS Lara Diamond
Lara is the pen name of a Tampa-based editor and journalist who has been writing about Florida's facinating and eccentric history for more than 20 years. She became intrigued with Ybor City and the notorious characters of Land Boom Florida while researching a public television documentary that won an Emmy and awards from the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Education Association. She has been digging up odd bits of the area's past and present ever since. A former editor of The Weekly Planet newspaper, she won awards from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Florida Press Club for her articles about Cuba after the fall of the Soviet Union. Paul Guzzo
Paul has been a journalist in Tampa for the past 10 years. He has also written and produced a number of awardwinning independent films, including Charlie Wall The Documentary.
Andy is a librarian and historian with interest in oral history, social history, the state of Florida, and culinary history. He has written numerous articles in magazines and academic journals, and has recently completed a centennial history of the Columbia Spanish Restaurant (University Press of Florida, 2009). Huse speaks on a variety of topics and has taught a graduate course on Florida food culture at the University of South Florida’s St. Petersburg’s Florida Studies Program. He works at the USF Tampa Library’s Special Collections department as a librarian and oral historian. Printed in the U.S.A Cigar City Magazine, Inc. • P.O. Box 18613 • Tampa, Florida 33679 • Phone (813) 878-6800 e-mail: email@example.com • www.CigarCityMagazine.com ©2009, Cigar City Magazine, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction or use without written permission of the publisher, of editorial, pictorial, or design content, in any manner is prohibited. The opinions of writers commissioned for articles are not necessarily those of the publisher. All advertising is subject to approval before acceptance. Publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertisement for any reason whatsoever. Publisher assumes no responsibility for claims made by advertisers. A self-addressed, postage paid envelope for return must accompany manuscripts, photographs, and other materials submitted. Cigar City Magazine is not responsible for loss, damage, or any other injury to unsolicited originals unless specifically requested to do so by Cigar City Magazine in writing. You can write to us at Cigar City Magazine, P.O. Box 18613, Tampa, Florida 33679 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All letters, emails and their contents sent to Cigar City Magazine become the sole property of the publisher and may be used and published in any manner whatsoever without limit and without obligation or liability to the author thereof. Cigar City ™ is a trademark and the the sole property of Lisa M. Figueredo
FROM THE PUBLISHER LISA FIGUEREDO| PUBLISHER@CIGARCITYMAGAZINE.COM We are pleased to announce that we have recently re-located our offices to historic West Tampa. The decision has special meaning for me. Like many of you, I have very fond memories of growing up in West Tampa, which, in the wake of Ybor City's urban decline, became Tampa's one true Latin neighborhood. I am especially excited to move into the old Santaella factory, owned by my good friend, Mr. Bubba Ellis. The Ellis family is at the forefront of West Tampa's rebirth. Over the last 10 years, they have transformed the factory formerly known for Optimo Cigars into the West Tampa Center for the Arts, under the direction of local artist, Maida Milan. We are happy to join this thriving enclave of artists and small businesses. If you would like to drop by for a visit, our new address is 1906 North Armenia Avenue (3rd floor). Finally, I want to take this opportunity to remind our loyal readers how grateful we are for your continued support. We have seen a jump is sales lately, both at the newsstand and with subscriptions. Our increase in new subscribers tells us that Cigar City Magazine continues to be an important resource for Tampanians from all walks of life. For almost five years now, we have focused exclusively on our city's unique and colorful history. We've covered it all, from Tampa's historic neighborhoods such as Tampa Heights, Port Tampa, and Sulphur Springs, to the cuisine and culture of this diverse town we call home. With every issue we uncover the stories behind historic landmarks like the Floridan Hotel and Tampa Armature Works in Downtown Tampa. We also highlight people and events that have defined the Cigar City, from baseball to boxing, from cigars to cafĂŠ con leche. We work hard to deliver a quality publication that is both accurate and entertaining and, we are humbled by your letters and comments. As long as you continue to care about our shared legacy as Cigar City, there will continue to be a Cigar City Magazine.
Lisa M. Figueredo Publisher and Founder of Cigar City Magazine
FROM THE EDITOR EMANUEL LETO| EDITOR@CIGARCITYMAGAZINE.COM
Women’s Roller Derby
I like reading studies that purport to tell us something about our city, trying to reconcile those findings with what I feel to be true based on my own experiences here in Tampa Town. There was the 2006 study crowning Tampa one of the “least pedestrian friendly” cities in America, which, if you've ever tried to cross Fowler Avenue on foot, you would know to be true. Or the one, also presumably true, that pronounced Tampa “The Most Caffeinated City in America.” I don't know how one quantifies caffeine consumption. However, if I extrapolate based on how much espresso it takes for me to remain lucid, well, let's just say Tampa is one jittery, wide-eyed town. U.S.F. historian Andy Huse brings us face to face with our addiction in Tampa Roast: The Story of Naviera, The Oldest Coffee Mill in America's Most Caffeinated City. With Man Overboard, Laura Diamond- pen name of local writer and former Creative Loafing editor, Susan Edwards - introduces us to private eye Billy Corazon as he investigates the mysterious disappearance of prominent developer E. Q. Edmunds. Tampa natives will recognize in Diamond's fictional tale the real-life story of D. P. Davis, creator of Davis Island, and his still- unsolved disappearance aboard a Trans-Atlantic voyage in 1926. Diamond recreates the sights and culture of 1920s Tampa in a way that rings true despite the passage of time. Before 1967, Tampans watched America's national turmoil-urban riots, anti-war protests- from the safety of their living rooms, broadcast in black and white, brought to
them by Camel Cigarettes and Chevrolet. But on the night of June 11, that turmoil hit home on Central Avenue. Tampans who had ignored years of urban disinvestment and crumbling infrastructure reacted with confusion. Three days of looting, violence and arson left the city stunned. “Not here, not in Tampa,” people wondered aloud. Paul Guzzo revisits this difficult chapter of Tampa's past. Finally, yours truly recounts the harrowing tale of my face-to-face sit down with Tampa's Cigar City Mafia. All names have been changed to protect the innocent-and the guilty.
See You Around the City!
Emanuel Leto Editor
TABLE OF CONTENTS FEATURES
The Central Avenue Riots
Tears and Red High Heels
Cigar City Darlins
Tampa Roast: The Story of Naviera Coffee
10 12 14 15 42 44 46 50 54
Letter From Our Readers
Cigar Label History
Looking Back: This Month in Florida History
CafĂŠ con Leche
Cigar City Events On The Town with Capote
Visit our web site at www.CigarCityMagazine.com
LETTERS FROM OUR READERS SEND YOUR LETTERS TO CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE AT P.O. BOX 18613 | TAMPA, FLORIDA 33679 OR EMAIL US AT INFO@CIGARCITYMAGAZINE.COM Dear CCM, I was surprised and elated to see the article about the Floridan Hotel by Paul Guzzo. I started working as a elevator operator and bell hop when I graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1948. I worked there until I was drafted into the army in 1951. After my tour of duty I returned to the hotel for a few months. I know Gus Arencibia very well and I am very pleased that he is still alive and still has his sense of humor. The article brought back many pleasant memories. - Charles Carreno Tampa Dear CCM, Well done Paul Guzzo on the Floridan Hotel story! Not only did your story give me some insight as to what is going on with that great old building but the personal story on the manager’s daughter was intriguing. It made me want to read more. I’m just so happy to see that the Floridan Hotel is here to stay!! - Jackie Perez Lutz Dear CCM, When I opened my mail box to see the old Aryes Diner on the cover of Cigar City Magazine I can’t describe the flood of memories that came upon me. I remember as a child going every Saturday to eat breakfast with my parents and as an adult having quite a few lunches there during the week. It made me even more elated when I saw the story on the vintage signs in Tampa. I remember shopping at all those places with my family. Thank you Cigar City for once again reminding me of those great memories. - J. R. Rivero Ft. Myers Dear CCM, Bravo!!...Cigar City Magazine, the March/April issue is one of your best so far. It’s nice to see a publication that educates and reminds us all how lucky we are to live in Tampa. This is the best magazine EVER! - Nike Guerrido Tampa 10
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Tampa Life The Preston Cigar Company of Tampa produced the Tampa Life brand. American Lithographic Co., of New York printed the label. The label features the iconic Tampa Bay Hotel, depicting the lesuire and recreation for which Tampa was known in the 1920s. Note the phrase, â€œCity of Factoriesâ€? just below the image, a reference to Tampa's booming cigar industry.
Label and text provided Vintage Labels & Collectibles. This rare original cigar box label is available for purchase through Vintage Labels & Collectibles at (813) 220-1474.
CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE
R E D I S C OV E R This Month in Florida History
May 15, 1947 Florida State College for Women, which held its first classes in 1857, was reorganized and renamed Florida State University. It also became a co-educational institution.
June 14, 1826 Captain Joseph Fry, called the “Cuban Martyr,” was born in Tampa. Fry was executed in 1873 by Spanish authorities for carrying Cuban rebels aboard his ship
June 1, 1937 Aviatrix Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan left Miami International Airport today as they continued their “round-theworld” flight. The flight would end a few weeks later with the disappearance of the plane and its occupants. The “Amelia Earhart Mystery” is still unsolved.
June 11, 1967 Violence erupts on Tampa’s Central Avenue. 14
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R E M E M B E R
LOST LANDMARK Can you identify this Lost Landmark?
Can you identify the buildings in this well-known downtown block? Previous Lost Landmark: Downtown Tampa: Corner of Franklin & Twiggs Sts. This area is referred to as "The Jackson Block" as the Jackson family built the building which houses Mangles and Duval Jewelry. The Maas brothers building is to the right. Citrus Exchange building is visible in background next to Twomey's. Congratulations to Sig Johnson of Tampa, who guessed last issues Lost Landmark
You can win a Cigar City Magazine t-shirt by correctly identifying this landmark. Simply mail the answer and your contact information to Cigar City Magazine at P.O. Box 18613, Tampa, Florida 33679 or email us at email@example.com by June1, 2009. All correct entries will be entered into a drawing and one name will be selected as the winner. Good luck!
By Paul Guzzo 16
CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE
Get rid of Central Avenue? The one time Harlem of the South? Tampa's hub of African American life? The avenue that was once home to over 100 small businesses and a flood of patrons who by day salivated for the cuisine sizzling in the many restaurants and by night eagerly rushed to one of the numerous night clubs featuring live jazz and blues? The community that invented “The Twist”, was home to Ray Charles when he wrote his early hits, and regularly hosted such musical legends as James Brown and Duke Ellington? The community built by Tampa's blue and white collar African Americans? Get rid of Central Avenue? “It's becoming a cesspool,” continued White, a long-
time Central Avenue business owner and leader in the African American community. Motioning to a group of young men on the corner, he continued, “They're selling dope. I can't stand to watch what's going on here anymore.” Greco realized he was not seeing the real Central Avenue. Instead, he saw Central Avenue as it was in its heyday. When he looked upon Central Avenue as it really was at that moment, he understood what White was talking about. The delicious smells and the toe tapping tunes had long since faded. All that was left were a few stragglers and a handful of struggling businesses surrounded by empty storefronts. Many weren't even fully erect buildings, but were instead hollow shells, casualties of arson from riots in 1967. “It used to be such a beautiful place,” explains Greco today, “but it had evolved into something terrible. It became a place where people from the projects went to get drunk. People were openly selling drugs on the corner, screwing up kids, stuff like that.” In the months that followed their meeting, Greco worked
closely with Alton White, Moses White's son and member of Greco's administration, to secure the federal grants needed to buy out property owners along Central Avenue and demolish the one time epicenter of Tampa's African American community. In 1974, bulldozers steamrolled through plots of land located on the outskirts of downtown Tampa between Kay and Cass streets, leveling everything in their path. Not one brick of Central Avenue was saved. Today, a stone marker in Perry Harvey Park is all that remains. According to the documentary Central Avenue Remembered, the area of Tampa that would one day become Central Avenue was first settled in 1865 by a group of newly-freed slaves and was referred to as “The Scrub”. Jim Crow laws and segregation had not yet gained a strangle hold on the South and blacks were allowed to live, shop, dine and drink together with whites and Latinos throughout Tampa. Only the poorest of African Americans lived in The Scrub, which lacked running water and had rickety outhouses lining the dirt streets. As Jim Crow laws and segregation became the norm, and African Americans were no longer allowed to live alongside whites, they congregated to The Scrub. Now, however, it wasn't just the poor, but affluent African Americans as well - attorneys, doctors, professors, engineers and businessmen. Together, just as the Latinos did with Ybor City, they built The Scrub into the thriving community known as Central Avenue. “Central Avenue was the place to be,” said Fred Hearns, author, historian and founder of Tampa Bay History Tours, who also frequented Central Avenue in the early 1960s. “It had a shopping mall, a movie theatre, a library and more. At night I would stand in the street and listen to the music coming from the bars. Everyone wanted to come to Central Avenue, and I don't mean everyone from Tampa, but people from all over the world. Buses would bring the servicemen from MacDill [Air Force Base] to Central Avenue on a Friday and they would spend the entire weekend there. People would dress in their finest Alton White in the 1970s clothes on weekend nights. Central Avenue was home to both Tampa's black elite as well as the everyday working people. It was amazing.” “It was the black Seventh Avenue,” explained Greco. A list of entertainers who frequented Central Avenue's most famous Cotton Club includes James Brown, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Count Basie. Hank Ballard (co-creator of “The Twist”), Butterfly McQueen and Ray Charles all briefly lived on Central Avenue- even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited. MAY/JUNE 2009
Ironically, while Central Avenue was born of segregation, its slow demise began in part due to desegregation. As the City of Tampa became more and more integrated, African Americans were no longer confined to Central Avenue. After a lifetime of being told that they could not enter white establishments, African Americans excitedly flocked to them, exercising their newfound freedom. Central Avenue was left behind. “They lost all their clientele,” said Hearns. “I was part of that group. We were so excited to be allowed to dine at restaurants on Dale Mabry that we abandoned the black businesses. Some of them moved - Moses White and Cozy Corner moved over to Main Street [in West Tampa] - but most closed and never reopened.” “Opening up doors does change things,” said Cheryl Rodriguez, an associate professor in USF's African Studies program and director of its Institute on Black Life. “Integration and laws that disallow discrimination have certainly made life different for African Americans in this city and in the United States. During those times black people were allowed to gradually - it didn't happen overnight - utilize other businesses and go to other restaurants and that sort of thing, but I don't think everything can be attributed to integration. When the black-owned businesses began to struggle and Central Avenue began to decline economically, where was the city to offer support?” Rodriguez questions why Central Avenue's business owners weren't offered the same types of loans that were available in white communities? And why was Central Avenue limited to black-only businesses? Why didn't the city try to help recruit white-owned businesses to Central Avenue? “Nothing was done to help,” said Rodriguez, and the hustle and bustle of Central Avenue was replaced by silence. The glitz and glamour replaced by gloom. Poverty crept into the community.
From top: Aerial view of Central Avenue; wood-frame houses in the “Scrub”; Central Theater. 18
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n June 11, 1967 Martin Chambers, a lanky 19-year-old, was racing through Central Avenue, trying to escape police who suspected him of stealing more than $100 worth of Polaroid camera equipment from Tampa Photo Supply Warehouse on Ella Mae Street. As Chambers scaled a fence, Patrolman James Calvert fired his gun. Calvert later told investigators that he was aiming for Chambers' shoulder, but he hit the teenager in the back. Chambers died later that day. Following an investigation by the State Attorney's Office, Calvert was cleared of any wrong doing. The shooting, and the decision by the State Attorney's Office, touched off three days of rioting. By the time the riots were calmed, 500 National Guardsman, 235 Florida Highway Patrol troopers and 250 local law enforcement officers had been called to duty, and seven buildings that housed dozens of businesses were completely destroyed by fire. Those that remained fled Central Avenue soon after, scared away by the community's bleak future.
African American leaders tried their best to bring about positive changes after the riots. A Central Avenue doctor and former member of the Coast Guard, J.O. Brookins, formed the White Hats, a group of African American residents who patrolled the streets to prevent future civil disturbances. The group's leaders were paid $1.59 an hour by the city for their work, and in turn they trained over 200 young African American men. Other Central Avenue residents went door-todoor, asking the neighbors what they felt the city needed to do to support positive changes in their community. The list included recreation facilities, jobs and quality housing. The list was delivered to Mayor Greco and he promised to do what he could to make the requests a reality. Under Greco's leadership in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the City of Tampa began offering African American citizens top jobs within the administration. Greco hired the first African American firefighters, starting an on-the-job training program so they could earn money while still in fire school. His administration also hired the first African American assistant city attorney, Warren Dawson; the first African American secretary in the mayor's office, Evelyn Wilson; and the first African American head of the Housing Authority, Howard Harris. But while African Americans were making strides in terms of jobs, Central Avenue continued to falter. In 1967, the City of Tampa was chosen to participate in the Model Cities Program, which was described by President Lyndon Johnson as “a total attack” on a city's problems, both physical and social, by using federal grants to clean up neighborhoods, build new and better infrastructure, and create social programs to help lift residents out of poverty. The project area had to be limited to onetenth of the city's population and the grants were designed to assist residential areas. However, because Central Avenue was considered a commercial area, it was cut from the project. In April 1969, the federal government provided Tampa with a $1.9 million grant to clean up and repair riot challenged areas, but the money was only allowed to be used for parks and public works, not to restore the burned out buildings along Central Avenue. “It's the people who caused the rioting, not the bad streets,” quibbled Sam Agee, Renewal Assistance Administration Area Coordinator for the U.S. Housing and Urban Development's Atlantic regional office, in 1969. In May 1969, Central Avenue was omitted from a $750,000 public improvement project funded partially by the federal government because it wasn't included in Tampa's Neighborhood Development Program boundaries, again because it was a commercial rather than residential district. And in October 1972, it was left out of a $3.5 million project for the same reason. MAY/JUNE 2009
By this time, the dilapidated buildings on Central Avenue were becoming a problem for the entire City of Tampa. Tampa was growing into a major city, recruiting large corporations to relocate to the area. But one of the first images of the city from I-75 North was Central Avenue, which was not a great selling point for the city. While federal grants were hard to come by, grant money to demolish blighted areas and turn them into parks was readily available. The decision was made. At the same time money was being sought to demolish Central Avenue, money was also being sought to save Ybor City. Ybor City went through a similar period of stagnation. Like Central Avenue's residents, Ybor City's residents abandoned the Latin neighborhood, seeking a middle class suburban lifestyle. Like Central Avenue, Ybor City's thriving Seventh Avenue turned into a ghost town. However, despite its commercial focus, Seventh Avenue was included within the Model Cities boundaries while Central Avenue was cut out. The Model Cities money was later used to build the Ybor City campus of Hillsborough Community College and to restore some of Ybor City's crumbling historic buildings. Why was Central Avenue destroyed while Ybor City was saved? “The African American community simply suffered from a lack of social capital,” explained Rodriguez. Mayor Greco's parents grew up working in his parents' Ybor City hardware store. Two of his top aides in the Model City Program - Gary Smith and John Fernandez - were raised in Ybor City. And prominent owner of Ybor City's Columbia Restaurant, Cesar Gonzmart, was widely respected within Tampa's power structure and refused to let Ybor City die. He often met with Mayor Greco to hash out ideas to save the Latin district. “If the black leaders had stood up and said to Dick [Greco] and any other public official, 'We want Central Avenue to live,' things might have turned out differently,” lamented Hearns. “That didn't happen. And maybe they felt like they didn't have a choice and maybe, in reality, they didn't have a choice. Because like I said, they started losing their customer base. So you lose 50 percent or more of your customers, you probably would have sold too if an offer came along. It's a business decision.” “I don't remember an outcry from the African American community, at that time,” said Ron Rotella, a member of the Greco administration. Most people that sold their businesses got compensated well. But, you know, as I look back on it, it was a piece of Tampa's culture that's gone forever.” 20
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An excerpt from the novel Man Overboard 22
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There is something lonely about a city after a parade. The After the queen's float, came the mounted Rough Riders, people are gone, but their smell, the echoes of their laughter prancing in their dress blues. Some of them had actually fought remain, blowing around the empty streets along with torn paper alongside Teddy Roosevelt in the Spanish-American War. The streamers, a child's straw hat and discarded bits of lunch. rest just like to dress up and play soldier on this one day of the The Gasparilla Parade began as usual this year when Tampa's year. I watched them lead their horses through military drills. It most influential men, dressed as pirates and already high on would all be over soon. Then I could write up my report and be Voodoo Brew, stormed City Hall. As usual, the mayor gave up the done with Gasparilla for another year. I didn't know then that my keys to the city without a fight to this year's pirate king who led troubles with pirates were just beginning. his bawdy mates down the main street of town shooting pistols The evening was turning cool as I walked the nine blocks to and tossing candy, cheap beads and fake coins to the cheering my office. I passed the monstrous Tampa Bay Hotel with its silcrowd. ver minarets. Negro men drew rickshaws beaing white hotel My father always hated Gasparilla Day. He took us to the guests on a sunset tour of the grounds. I drew up my collar parade every year for a civics lesson. To him, Tampa's city fathers against the wind coming off the Hillsborough River as I crossed didn't have to dress up as pirates to pillage this town. He believed the bridge into downtown. It was dark by the time I rounded the these bankers, lawyers and corner onto Zack factory owners did their Street. The light in plundering every day of my office window told out of the real estate market the year in board meetings me I had a visitor. It washere, and backroom deals. To n't a good sign. Decent my father, the charade to a men were already home real estate syndicate called was when they wore douhugging porcelain pots ble-breasted business and renewing their pledges to A tiny fraction of its value. He he ld th e co nt ra ct suits and sipped brandy obey Prohibition laws. and title, and they made mo nthly payments to him. from snifters behind I took the back stairs closed doors. He never in the dark and slipped up doubted that they were to the open door of my dangerous men. Ten years ago, office. What I saw made he found out how dangerous. me want to sneak back down Dad devoted his short life to workers' rights. Words were his the stairs and out into the night. But whatever else am, I'm no stock in trade. He used them the way a pirate uses a sword, with coward. I stiffened my spine and went in. fury and swashbuckling confidence. He never let me catch the She had made herself at home in my chair with her feet up booty that the pirates tossed from their floats. No son of Ramon on my desk. She was smoking one of my handmade Cuban Corazon would scramble in the streets for cheap baubles, he said. Belvedere cigars and had even poured herself two fingers of the In those days I couldn't wait to grow up and go to the parade rum I keep in a drawer for medicinal purposes. She didn't introwithout him. Now it only makes me miss him more. duce herself-she didn't have to. Everyone knew Nesta Edmunds Uniformed cops keep the peace on the parade route, break- was the daughter of one of the most prominent Tampa families, ing up fights and dragging kids and drunks out from under the that she had been the Gasparilla Pirate Queen four years ago in horses' hooves. Plainclothes detectives and private dicks like me 1924 and later that year she had married the infamous E.Q. work the backs of the crowds, watching mostly for pickpockets Edmunds. and bootleg liquor. People seem to get drunker now than they The happy couple had divorced and remarried, and generalever did before Prohibition. Especially on Gasparilla Day when all ly kept society matrons fueled with enough gossip to drive their of Tampa toasts the merry pirate Jose Gaspar, sacker of towns and luncheons until about a year ago. That's when Edmunds disapravager of captive women. peared from an ocean liner bound for England. The official story This year's Gasparilla had an Egyptian motif, so King was accidental death. The insurance company had made a great Quattlebaum brought in camels to draw the queen's float. He dis- show of promptly paying off the million-dollar policy on his life. covered too late that camels are foul-tempered beasts, and unlike “Drink?” asked Nesta Edmunds, like she owned the place. horses, will not work in teams. They bit and spat and squealed I never agreed with my father's politics, but I did inherit his like angry demons. The queen plastered a smile over gritted teeth mistrust of a whole class of people. This dame was definitely one as the camels pulled in all directions and nearly tore the float of them. apart. By the end of the parade, her Cleopatra wig was lopsided, “Parade's over, lady. Your float left without you.” and the tears had turned the kohl around her eyes to mud. “You always treat your clients so politely?”
When the bottom started fall ing
Edward sold Edmunds Island for one mill ion dollars
Liberty took out a one-millio n-dollar insurance policy on his life.
I pointed to the chair on the other side of the desk. “My clients usually sit there.” She took her time, but she moved. I settled in behind my desk and surveyed the drawers to see what else she might have filched. Everything was there, but the mess told me she had gone through it without the slightest finesse. “Now, am I to understand you're looking for a private investigator?” “Yes.” She crossed her legs and took out a compact. She inspected her face in the mirror and started to powder her nose. She wasn't what you'd call a doll. Her unpainted features were large and horsey, but she was handsome and well-groomed in an unadorned navy blue tailored suit and hair pulled back into a neat bun at the nape of her neck. Her buffed, unpolished fingernails had never touched dishwater. Her one vanity was a pair of red high heels. “I want you to find my husband,” she said.
to bite. I waited, stone-faced, for her to go on. “It was a neat little sting, actually. Edward so loved the art of the sting.” “That's what land speculation is all about, isn't it?” I ignored the look she shot me, cold and sharp as a shark's tooth. “Please continue,” I said. “When the bottom started falling out of the real estate market here, Edward sold Edmunds Island for one million dollars to a real estate syndicate called Liberty Limited. A tiny fraction of its value. He held the contract and title, and they made monthly payments to him. Liberty took out a one-million-dollar insurance policy on his life. The deal was if Edward died, I would inherit the contract and title. Liberty Limited would sign the insurance check over to me in exchange for the papers. They'd own Edmunds Island, and I'd be a rich widow.”
“Your husband was traveling with other people, was he not?” “Yes. His lawyer, Dominic Boudreaux, and Dom's wife, Hedda.”
“And what do they have to say about the disappearance?”
“They seem to believe he fell.” “You're remarried?” She stopped powdering and shot me a look that could have withered a water oak. “No. I want you to find Mr. Edmunds.” I wondered why she would want to bring him back from the dead. By all accounts he had been a hard-drinking, womanizing little braggart and bully. “What makes you think he's alive?” Her mouth tightened and drew into a hard, straight line. “My husband is a con and a liar, Mr. Heart. This wouldn't be the first time he tried to trick me.” “Leaving you with a million dollars in life insurance money hardly seems like a dirty trick.” The line of her mouth curled into a bitter smile. “Everyone assumes I was the beneficiary of that policy, but the truth is, I didn't get a dime.” “Who did?” “My husband.” “Kinda tough for a corpse to spend a million bucks.” “Oh, he spent it long before he disappeared.” She dangled it out there like bait on a hook. I wasn't about 24
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I took my time digesting that. I had to hand it to the Anglos. They knew how to work a buck. One thing I didn't understand though. “So how did your husband end up with the money?” “You can use a life insurance policy as collateral for bank loans up to the limit of the benefit. After Edward disappeared, we discovered that he had borrowed a million dollars against the policy. The benefit paid off his loan.” “I'm not sure I follow.” “The bank placed a lien on the policy. They had to be paid before anyone else.” “So Edmunds got his million, the bank got its million and you and Liberty were left out in the cold.” “Mostly me. It turned out Edward had also run up over five million dollars in debt claims against Edmunds Island. The property can't be sold until the debtors are paid. When Liberty Limited found that out, they pointed to some fine print in their contract and bailed out of the purchase. I now own a development that's over five million dollars in debt. I'm broke, Mr. Heart. Worse than broke. I'm personally liable for all those debts.”
I poured myself a stiff dose of island tonic and downed it. I didn't have to ask who owned stock in Liberty Limited. The same handful of men owned everything in this town. This case would have me nosing around some pretty powerful closets, and I didn't like the smell of it. “Why don't you talk to Meade and Barkin up on Franklin Street? This is more up their alley than mine.” “I can't. They won't-” She stopped, and the look on her face told me I hadn't been her first choice. Probably not her third or fourth either. It made sense that the uptown dicks would sit this one out. They wouldn't want to uncover the dirty laundry of their best customers. “I have no one else to turn to, Mr. Heart.” Something about a woman's tears brings out the Corazon in me. No Corazon man could stand by while a woman cried. My father couldn't, and neither could his. It's one of the reasons women love us. Even though I didn't much like her, Nesta Edmunds' tears worked on me. “Why don't you tell me what you think happened to your husband?” “I was in London at the time.” She dabbed at her nose with a monogrammed hankie. “Edward was supposed to meet me there, and we were going to go on to Italy. He wanted to look into doing some developments on the Riviera.” “What was the date of Mr. Edmunds' disappearance?” “September 27, 1927. It was my twenty-seventh birthday. I think he picked that day on purpose.” That made her six months younger than me. She looked older than twenty-eight. Bitterness will do that to a person. “How did you hear of his disappearance?” “I got a wire from Saul Stone the next morning. It said that Edward had fallen overboard and that the ship had circled for five hours before giving up the search.” “Saul Stone?” “Saul was the business manager for Edmunds Enterprises. He was Edward's right hand.” “Was Stone on the ship with Edmunds?” “No. The steamship company notified him at the Edmunds Island office.” “I seem to remember reading that there was a witness who said he fell out a porthole.” Dark petals of crimson bloomed on her face, and her mouth drew into a hard line. “Lola Flores.” “And you don't believe her?” One side of Mrs. Edmunds' mouth rose in a smirk. “Lola Flores is a prostitute, Mr. Heart. She could easily have been bribed to say what she did.” “Your husband was traveling with other people, was he not?” “Yes. His lawyer, Dominic Boudreaux, and Dom's wife, Hedda.” “And what do they have to say about the disappearance?” “They seem to believe he fell.” 26
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“Why don't you think he fell, Mrs. Edmunds?” “My husband was broke, Mr. Heart, and deeply in debt. He was being investigated by the Internal Revenue Service for tax evasion.” “Maybe he committed suicide.” “That's not his style. This is just the kind of stunt Edward would pull to get out of a spot like that. The only one who saw him go overboard was a gold-digging harlot. And I happen to know he had at least fifty thousand dollars in cash on his person when he disappeared.” “Where was the ship when he disappeared?” “Just about midway between the States and Europe.” “How does someone disappear off a ship in the middle of the Atlantic ocean?” “That's what I want you to find out.” This case was about as inviting as a pond full of alligators. But I, like everyone else in this town, was curious about what really happened to E.Q. Edmunds. The papers and radio stations had been full of contradictory stories at first. Then the official report from the insurance investigator and steamship line had come out in the Tampa Chronicle, the favorite paper of Anglo Tampa. Edmunds had accidentally fallen from a porthole and been lost at sea. Case closed. The only problem was that the porthole was four feet off the floor and only three and a half feet in diameter. At just over five feet tall, Edmunds would have been hard pressed to simply fall out of it. The Chronicle article had suggested that Edmunds had been showing off when the incident occurred. Coverage had stopped abruptly after that although people continued to gossip for some time, especially about the mysterious female witness. Some had suggested a hoax or publicity stunt at the time to boost sagging sales. Edmunds had often staged grandiose events to call attention to himself and his developments. But eventually, life had gone on for most of us, and the disappearance of EQ Edmunds had faded from our minds. For Edmunds' wife, however, the question still gnawed. “Please, Mr. Heart. You're my only hope of finding the truth.” Her tears were beginning again. I knew I should walk away from this one. The last time a Corazon had taken on the Anglos, he'd left a bereaved widow and an angry son behind. I felt the cycle beginning again. “Twenty-five dollars a day plus expenses.” I usually get ten, but I figured she could afford the Meade and Barkin rate. “All I can afford is fifteen, including expenses.” “Is that what you offered Meade and Barkin? Or is fifteen just the Dago price?” Her eyes grew wide under arched eyebrows. “I wasn't lying when I told you I was broke. I'm selling my jewelry to pay you. It's all I have left.” She began to sob. We settled on twenty, including expenses. Twice my usual, but not much for the trouble I was about to stir up.
CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE
here's an amazing amount of jargon involved in roller derby. There are “Jams” and “Quad Killers”, “Packs” and “Pivots”. The girls have aliases: Spank Sinatra, Dee Bauchery, Anne Tagonize, Eliza Lot, Debbie Does Damage. Blockers try to smash the Jammers before they call off the Jam. It can be really hard to keep up. But if you're expecting elbows to the face and bloody noses- think again. Today's roller derby is a long way from the exploitative1970sera version of the sport, which more closely resembled pro wrestling, complete with headlocks, hair pulling and staged falls. In the 1940s, and through the 1970s, derby bouts were full-contact brawls, mostly staged. A 1948 issue of Life Magazine profiled the sport, concluding, “Roller Derby is a teeth-jarring contest, with enough spills and body contact to gratify even an ice
while simultaneously trying to block or “smash” the opposing team's jammer. Modern roller derby, however, is fueled by a do-it-yourself work ethic rather than the for-profit exploitation of yesteryear. Most local leagues are volunteer-driven, run by women, for women. The Women's Flat Track Derby Association (WFTDA) includes over 75 teams in four U.S. regions. The Tampa Bay Derby Darlins includes three intra-league teams, the Black Widows, Cigar City Mafia, and the Switchblade Sisters, plus an All-Star team, the Tampa Tantrums, comprised of players from all three teams. The Cigar City Mafia takes its name from local author Scott Deitche's book, which chronicles the history of Tampa's notorious criminal underworld. Players come from all over the Bay Area, some traveling from as far away as Deland for practice, and pay dues to supplement travel and other team expenses. During the season, they sell tickets, souvenirs (like bumper stickers that read, “We Fight like Girls”), t-shirts and DVDs, and hold fundraisers to raise money to help keep the league going. It's really no different than your local softball league. Well- maybe it's a little different.
There's the costumes and the faux names, the makeup and the tattoos but, visiting practice on a Monday night, no
costumes, no crowds, no makeup, you find out the real reason these girls travel, sweat and pay dues to be a Derby Darlin'. hockey fan.” The 1972 film, Kansas City Bomber, starring Raquel Welch brought roller derby back to pop-culture prominence with plenty of gratuitous girl-on-girl violence. In fact, the sport has seen several re-inventions dating back nearly 100 years. In the 1930s, roller derby was an endurance contest with two-person teams competing to see who could skate the longest without giving up. Couples would literally skate thousands of miles around a track in an effort to win prize money. The endurance competitions are chronicled in a 1936 Time Magazine article, while other accounts trace the genesis of roller skating endurance competitions to the first decade of the 20th century. Today's incarnation resurfaced at the turn of the 21st century in Austin, Texas and, in just under a decade, has spread to literally dozens of cities across the United States and Canada. Even Hollywood is interested again, with Drew Barrymore set to release a roller derby-themed comedy sometime in 2009. By the 1940s, derby had evolved into its present incarnation with two five-member teams competing against each other. Each team includes a four-person “pack” and a “jammer”. Teams score points each time the jammer laps the pack. Blockers from each team try to assist their jammer
Tampa Bay Derby Darlins: All-Female Flat Track Roller Derby League
orrowing somewhat from earlier eras, there's still a campy burlesque-like feel to today's roller derby. Bouts find players dressed in fishnets and short skirts, glam makeup spackled on their faces. Tonight, the Cigar City girls don fatigues; camouflage miniskirts and black tank tops circle the rink in a messy blur. Fans sit on the rink, close to the action, defying the odds that a couple of Derby Darlins won't careen into the crowd. Taken together, it reminds you that this is serious but maybe not too serious. “I wasn't expecting it, but I do like getting dressed up,” says one-year vet Anne Vela, a.k.a LUCE GearZ. The exhibitionism is undeniable. There are the costumes and the faux names, the makeup and the tattoos, but visiting practice on a Monday night- no costumes, no crowds, no makeup- you find out the real reason these girls travel, sweat and pay dues to be a Derby Darlin'. In plain black t-shirts and helmets, the Darlins go through practice laps and reps as coaches shout instructions. “Trust your pivot! She knows what's going on!” yells a coach from the center of the rink as packs of women skate around the track, struggling to hold tight formations. They bend and lean, touch hands to stay close, form a wall. “If you're in the back,” yells the coach, reading glasses tucked into her hair, “you're the eyes! You see what's going on; you're the leader of the pack!” Wreck T. Fire, real name Clay Montgomery, helps with practices, serves as a color commentator during league bouts, and occasionally referees. As we chat during a break in practice, he's emphatic: “It's not like the '70s. It's not kitschy. This is a real, competitive sport.” Most of the Derby Darlins, you'll soon discover, are here for the sport, not the camp. “I was thinking of either playing on a softball league or trying out for roller derby,” says Vela, a coffee shop owner by day who works upwards of 60 hours a week and still finds time to attend twice weekly practices, which sometimes stretch until after
11 p.m. “I've gotta make time for myself. It's good for me. It's a challenge,” she says during a visit to her downtown Tampa coffee shop. “Roller derby is completely outside of my normal life.” Kimberly Chaffin, who goes by the handle Flirtin' W. Disaster, echoes Vela's sentiments. “These women come from all walks of life and roller derby gives them a chance to be someone they never were.” “Roller skate and fight? I definitely found my calling,” says rookie Derby Darlin', Pixie Poison , real name Jennifer Flynn. “But I remember my first practice- I fell down and a hand reached out. I didn't even know who it was but they pulled me up so I could keep going. I couldn't have made it on my own.” MAY/JUNE 2009
By Andy Huse
CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE
ampa has had a long love affair with coffee: dark Cuban roasted coffee, often mixed with boiling milk. The birth of the cigar industry in the 1880s brought legions of coffee drinking Cuban, Spanish, and Sicilian immigrants to West Tampa and Ybor City. Besides the dark roast and boiling milk that Cuban coffee is known for, it must be freshly roasted and ground. Tampa's first coffee mills sprouted up soon after the cigar factories opened. Tampa's first, Gibson & Bigham, opened in 1888. Reportedly, Mr. Bigham roasted six hundred pounds of his “Rio” coffee a day with the help of a steam engine. Tampa's growing immigrant population would soon require a much greater volume of coffee if any cigars were to be made. Danilo “Dan” Fernandez, Sr. is a third-generation coffee roaster at the oldest surviving mill in Ybor City. His grandfather, Carlos Menendez, immigrated to Florida from Spain. He worked many trades in his younger years: cigar maker, phosphate miner, and restaurateur. None of them quite fit like roasting coffee in Ybor City. When he founded his coffee mill in 1921, he named it Naviera, after the shipping line that brought him to America. In its early years, Naviera became successful roasting coffee for local consumption: households, restaurants, social clubs, and other institutions. Menendez passed the business on to his children, Vicente and Serbia Fernandez. When their son Dan graduated from the University of Tampa in 1959, they took a long-awaited trip to Spain. They asked Dan to run the business while they were away. “I've been helping ever since,” Fernandez says. “I thought I was going to be a lawyer. That generation, coming from a foreign country, not knowing the language, not having much education, they did a hell of a lot. We tried to pick it up from there and run with it, and do a little bit better.” During the 1950s, Ybor City's streets buzzed with pedestrians. When the factories let out, a cloud of people swarmed the avenue. Everyone mingled in the stores and markets. They dropped into the lively cafés at any time of day. Back then, Naviera was surrounded by a grocery, bakery, and fish market. “It was a living, thriving community,” Fernandez said. “You had twenty thousand different smells. You'd smell the coffee roasting, the Cuban bread baking, the cod fish hanging.”
Coffee assumed a profound importance in Tampa. It punctuated every meal and stimulated every conversation. The cigar workers seemed to run on coffee, and demanded copious cups in the factories. Coffee vendors known as cafeteros became a fixture in the cigar factories. Although the lectors, or readers, initially received more attention, cafeteros persisted long after the lectors had been abolished in 1933. As they walked down the aisles of workers, the cafeteros poured cups of coffee. At the end of each week, they collected payment. The coffee mills also delivered freshly roasted, ground coffee to customers' homes twice a week, directly to their doors. They also supplied restaurants and the immigrant social clubs. “Those clubs, they had their bars and they had their cafés. They played pool, they played bowling. It was a social gathering. So coffee had a lot to do with it. The Centro Español, I remember taking them one hundred pounds of coffee a week.” Naviera delivered to homes for many years, typically half a pound on Tuesdays and Fridays, for twenty-five cents each. “People would owe my grandfather money during the Depression. Whether they paid or not, he'd always leave the coffee. Many families paid him like two or three cents a week in order to pay their back-balance. Everybody helped each other. Delivery by bicycle was practical until after World War II. The aftermath of the war and the G.I. Bill gave Tampa's Latin families new opportunities, such as access to education and housing. As the Latin community began to move away from Ybor City and West Tampa, delivery became more expensive and less practical, even when using a truck. “I would park a truck on a block, and I'd put about ten or fifteen pounds in my arm, and I'd walk from house to house to house to house. By the time I walked back, I had sold all my coffee. Then you go to the next block. But when they started to spread out, you had to crank back up and go five miles, and then it didn't pay. The drivers wanted to make more money, gasoline prices, the truck prices-everything went wild. It was not affordable anymore. We gave that up back in 1965.” The personal aspect of delivery was much more difficult to leave behind. “You just didn't knock on the door and say, Cafetero! You had to come inside and drink coffee with them, socialize with them. They'd tell you their problems. It was really sad when we had to close it, because you made a lot of friends. But it's times gone by.” MAY/JUNE 2009
Inside Navier coffee mill on 22nd Street & 18th Avenue, 1924 in Ybor City. Navier also had delivery trucks that delivered the coffee to local groceres.
As a young man, Fernandez saw tremendous potential for his family's business. When he joined the business in 1959, he knew that Naviera had to grow or go out of business. He immediately began to plot the company's expansion and sought customers outside of Tampa. His mother didn't understand his restless ambition. “Why do you want more?” she asked. He replied, “It's not that I want more. It's that if we don't grow, we're going to die.” Bulk suppliers were no longer interested in filling orders of twenty or fifty bags of coffee. “I could see that that was coming.” Today, Naviera orders semi trailers at a time. When Fernandez joined the business in 1959, ten coffee mills called Tampa home. Today, Naviera has only one small competitor. “The oldest one that I was told was Modelo. We bought out Modelo in the 1960s. And then we bought out La Norma in the 1970s.” Expansion called for adaptation of the business and its recipes. The use of roasted chicory root in the coffee, which has been a Tampa tradition dating back to the late 1800s, became problematic for customers in Miami. Necessity sometimes forced Cubans to stretch scarce ingredients, and some of those adaptations stuck. Cubans cut coffee with roasted chicory root, also popular in New Orleans. When Naviera sought clients in Miami 38
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in the 1960s, they withdrew chicory from the recipe sold there. The relatively recent Cuban immigrants there did not care for chicory. The differences do not end there. “They don't brew their coffee with drip grind, they brew it with espresso. It's a little lighter roast, finer ground. So we had to readjust our blends in order to sell coffee in Miami.” Surviving urban renewal in Tampa called for more adaptation. The renewal programs forced Naviera from its building near the present-day Tropicana in the mid1960s to its current at 2012 East Seventh Avenue. The recovery of Ybor City seemed so remote that when friends learned of his decision to stay, they said he was crazy. “And it really was crazy! Ybor City was bad. I said, No, this business has always been on the avenue, and I want to keep it there. Two years later, I bought the corner building. But I'm glad I stayed. I really am. Now it's turned around.” The coffee preparation process begins with a green (raw) coffee broker. Westfeldt Brothers out of New Orleans has been the company's traditional broker. Naviera creates its blends with raw beans. “Through the years, we've come up with certain blends,” Fernandez said. “So in case there is a time in the year where this coffee's not available, so you have to substitute it with one like it. But since it's only 25 percent of your blend, you won't notice a difference. So that's why we use three or four different blends of coffees in each blend.” Large automatic roasters, set to the exact standards of yesteryear, have replaced the whims of individual employees. “Today is not like it used to be. It used to be all by sight. The guy that was roasting would let it out when he saw the colors, of which you could get little fluctuations here or there.” The demands of volume prompted the company to use large automatic roasters, and Fernandez is happy with his product. Coffee is delicate at such
Navier coffee mill on 22nd Street & 18th Avenue, 1924 in Ybor City.
high temperatures, and the slightest error can compromise his standards. A typical American roast calls for fourteen to fifteen minutes of cooking. A Cuban roast calls for seventeen to twenty minutes, which breaks down the caffeine by as much as eighty percent. Controlling the bean's temperature is key to the quality of the roast. “The temperature inside of the roaster reaches about four hundred and fifty [to] four hundred and eighty degrees. So it can slip away from you real fast.” During roasting, the coffee beans shed their papery skins and dry out. The roaster shuts off and cools itself with water to stop the coffee from roasting further. After cooling and airing out, the beans are ground and aired out once more. “Once you grind coffee it starts deteriorating. You can vacuum pack it, like we do now. Actually, the gasses in the coffee are accumulating inside that can or bag. Because you vacuum pack it, it has room to expand inside the can or the bag and the freshness stays in.” Ironically, as the U.S. consumed more coffee, the quality of the beverage took a nose dive. It got to the point that pennypinching coffee vendors, especially at workplaces, gradually doubled the water content. “All you were drinking was dirty dishwater.” The strength of American brew never really recovered, according to Fernandez. “They did it for economics. Office coffee service people don't sell you coffee by the pound. They sell you coffee by the cup. Even the big companies, like Folgers and Maxwell House, 40
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they fell in that grave. And I'm saying, 'What the hell are they doing? They're killing their own business.'” Coffee consumption peaked in 1962, when more people turned to sweet soda or tea. Since the 1980s, coffee has made a gradual recovery. Fernandez has welcomed America's rekindled love affair with coffee. “If anything, I would be grateful to Starbucks … for educating the public, because, for a long time, coffee was being bastardized. They've done a hell of a job of merchandising … but I think we have a better cup of coffee. We'll get some people that will walk in and say, 'I'm from Seattle and I know an espresso.' They just found out, what, twenty years ago? And I'll show them that picture up there. I'll say, 'My grandfather knew what good espresso was in 1921.'”
The Columbia Restaurant is a stone's throw from Naviera and almost twenty years older as a company. The two businesses have survived by modernizing while tenaciously clinging to traditions. As Ybor City's oldest and most famous restaurant, the Columbia has a long history of great coffee. From the 1930s until the 1980s, Evelio “Chacho” Hernandez ran the restaurant's coffee mill. He took his secret recipe to the grave with him in 1981, and the Columbia turned to Naviera to fill the void. Today, the Columbia's seven locations serve a steady stream of an exclusive Naviera coffee blend. Fernandez recently spoke at a seminar on coffee for Columbia restaurant managers from across the state. Fernandez drilled his audience with the coffee basics: cleaning the equipment, grinding and brewing properly. “You can walk into the Columbia and have a fantastic dinner. The last thing you'll have in your mouth is a cup of coffee. If that coffee isn't good, you forget about the whole thing.” Fernandez admires the Columbia as a kindred family business and identifies with their struggle against mediocrity and ruin. He beamed when he recalled a recent dinner party the Columbia held for its suppliers. “I thought that was real classy of them, and they are people that are appreciative of who helped them out when they needed help-and who stood by them. They're people that don't forget their roots.” Richard Gonzmart, fourth generation owner and president of the Columbia Restaurant Group is a dedicated Naviera customer. When other coffee companies make a play for the Columbia's business, Gonzmart replies, “No, I buy it from my cousin.” That statement tends to discourage eager salesmen.
Naviera is still being roasted, packaged and shipped from their location on 7th Avenue in Ybor City.
Dan Fernandez, Sr.
When Fernandez began showing his son Dan Jr. the ways of the business, he gave him a list of Naviera's suppliers. “I don't care who comes in the building,” he declared, “who offers you something cheaper, and better. These suppliers-you stick by them- because they have stuck with us. I want you to respect that. Sometimes cheaper is not the answer.” Fernandez believes that losing a sense of history and responsibility is often a slippery slope from authenticity to mediocrity. “Then you become like everybody else,” he says. In the mid-1980s, Fernandez Sr.'s wife Millie retired from teaching and joined the business. She created a gift shop facing Seventh Avenue, which blossomed into an espresso bar, El Molino. Today, the Fernandez family runs a business that seems to occupy two worlds. The Naviera mill is alive with activity, and its roasting coffee perfumes the streets of Ybor City before being shipped across the country. On Seventh Avenue, El Molino is a home away from home, hearkening back to Cigar City's headiest café days. Just last year Tampa was declared the most caffeinated city in the nation, no doubt with the help of sodas and so-called “energy drinks.” But Fernandez remains devoted to producing a great coffee. “A cup of coffee in the morning will relax you. I think it's like the final touch of a good meal is a good cup of coffee. You can sit down with your friends, and you talk. The meal isn't abruptly finished. You can sip a little bit and talk a little bit.” The nuance of great coffee keeps the journey interesting. After all he's learned and done, Dan Fernandez Sr. still can't quite master the art of espresso. He admits that his son is a superior barista. “He'll brew you a better tasting cup of coffee than I do and we're using the same coffee in the same machine! I don't know what the hell he does. But his coffee tastes better than mine!” MAY/JUNE 2009
CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE
The authentic Cuban sandwich has raost pork that has been marinated Cuban-style with sour orange juice, garlic, and oregano. Sugar-cured ham cut in thin slices is a very important part of this delicious sandwich. And it has to have hard salami, not blogna which some people use. There’s also Swiss cheese and sour pickle. Most everyone today uses dill pickle, but it should be a sour pickle. Yellow mustard is spread on one side of the slices. It has to be cut diagonally, and it has to be wrapped in tissue paper. If it’s not wrapped, with a toothpick through the paper, it’s not right. Excerpt from The Columbia Restaurant Spanish Cookbook by Adela Hernandez Gonzmart
INGREDIENTS 10-inch loaf of Cunam bread 4 thin slices smoked ham 2 thin slices fresh pork ham 2 slices Genoa salami, cut in half 2 slices Swiss cheese 3 sour pickle slices (may use dill) Yellow Mustard
PREPARATION Slice bread down middle lenghtwise. Layer ingredients to cover bottom half of bread in the following order: ham, pork, salami, cheese, and pickles. Spread mustard on top half of bread. Cover bottom half and slice sandwich diagnally. Sandwich may be heated in oven or served at room temperature. If Cuban bread is not available, you may use French bread (baguette type) or Italian bread.
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GOT A QUESTION FOR MAMA? EMAIL HER AT: INFO@CIGARCITYMAGAZINE.COM
Dear Mama My wedding day is approaching and my parent's divorce is causing some tension. My father's new wife and my mom bought the exact same dress for the wedding. I asked my stepmother to please exchange the dress and she of course refused. I don't think it's fair that my mother should have to return her dress because she had hers first and she is after all the “mother of the bride.” I don't know what to do. – Bride to Be Dear Bride Tell your stepmother that the dress makes her look fat. This will make her cry and her eyes will swell up and she won't want to go to the wedding. If that fails; suggest your mother wear the dress to the rehearsal dinner. – Mama Dear Mama Since you know everything, can you suggest a good doctor for my grandmother. I love the doctor she currently has, but his name is Dr. Baxter and she keeps calling him Dr. Bastard…I just can't show my face there again! – Cuca
CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE
Dear Cuca Maybe your grandmother knows something about the doctor that you don't. – Mama Dear Mama Growing up in the 70's, my best friend lived in old Carrollwood. Whenever I asked my mother to drive me to his house, she would say, "There is no way - I'm driving you to Casa Carajo." I am now trying to find my friend's old house. I have driven around the area many times and I cannot find this part of the neighborhood. Can you help me find it???? – Dr. Buster Dear Dr. Buster I can't really blame your mother for not wanting to drive you to “Casa Carajo” because it's very far away, difficult to get to, and the neighborhood is full of people who are unwanted in other places. Many people who live in the south side of town generally pack a light lunch and thermos of coffee before venturing to “Casa Carajo.” But to answer your question, “Casa Carajo” is a little further north than “Casa de la Malanga”, but not as far as “Casa del Diavolo.'' The best thing to do is head towards “Casa Kimbamba” and drive until you see the exit sign for “Casa de la Yucca”, then you'll know that you are half way to “Casa Carajo.” – Mama P.S. Dr. Buster, do you know Cuca's mother? Dear Mama Is it normal to wash out plastic bags and hang them on the clothesline? – Generosa Dear Generosa It is if you live in Ybor City or West Tampa. – Mama
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