Cigar City Magazine/Sept-Oct 2009

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Fat Cat Publications, LLC e-mail: ©2009, Fat Cat Publications, LLC. 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. The publisher is not responsible for loss, damage, or any other injury to unsolicited originals unless specifically requested to do so by the publisher, Inc. in writing. You can write to us at, P.O. Box 18613, Tampa, Florida 33679 or via email at All letters, emails and their contents sent to Cigar City & Fat Cat Publications,LLC 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.



CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Michael Murillo Michael is a journalist and freelance writer living in Tampa. His father played jai-alai in Spain, Cuba and Miami before spending several years at the Tampa Fronton. Michael can be reached at

Mary Lu Kiley & Kenneth Ferlita Mary Lu Kiley, one of Giuseppe Ferlita's eight grandchildren, is married to Richard and they have lived in Lakeland for the past 35 years. Mary Lu is a Certified Public Accountant and has served on several community boards including United Way of Greater Lakeland and Florida Council for Community Mental Health and is a graduate of Leadership Lakeland XXIII. Kenneth Ferlita is the youngest grandson of Giuseppe Ferlita. Mr. Ferlita is a registered architect and involved in many local nonprofits and community activities. He has served as chairman of the Barrio Latino Commission, President of the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce, President of the Tampa Sports Club and was appointed by the late Governor Lawton Chiles to the Tampa-Hillsborough Expressway Authority.

Paul Guzzo Paul has been a journalist in Tampa for the past 10 years. He has also written and produced a number of award-winning independent films, including The Ghosts of Ybor: Charlie Wall. Paul can be reached at


FROM THE EDITOR EMANUEL LETO| EDITOR@CIGARCITYMAGAZINE.COM Summer is to Floridians what winter is to Canadians. We avoid the heat and seek shade the same way our northern friends avoid the snow and duck out of the wind. Down here, we wait for the temperature to drop a few precious degrees (95 to 82, maybe?) before venturing out again, just like snowbirds pray for Emanuel Leto Editor the mercury to rise. So, it's no surprise that September and October are jam-packed with events as the pavement cools and we head into Tampa Bay's traditionally busy fall season. You might want to keep your calendar handy as you flip through the pages of this issue; I'm sure you'll find more than a few opportunities to hit the town with us.

I'm also excited to bring you another great issue of Cigar City Magazine. We're covering a lot of ground, from jai-alai to Havatampa. It may have its roots in 18th-century Spain but Michael Murillo's article on the high-flying sport of jai-alai is all Tampa. Murillo tracks the sport's progression from its North American arrival in the early part of the 20th century to the fronton on Tampa's Dale Mabry Highway in the 1970s, to its revival in St. Petersburg where local amateurs and a few old pros gather for friendly competition on the only publicly-owned fronton in the United States. 12


Crossing back over the bay into Ybor City, local architect Ken Ferlita and his sister, Mary Lu Kiley, passionately recall the story of their grandfather's arrival and struggle to prosper as an immigrant small business owner in America. The story of the Ferlita Macaroni factory is likely familiar to many of our readers for it's a familiar tale of perseverance and hard work, a hallmark of Tampa's early immigrants. The story continues, though. Today, the building that housed the family business faces the very real possibility of demolition. The Ferlita clan is working to save this piece of their history - and ours. Finally, with the closing of the local Havatampa factory, many people in the community fear that Tampa is losing its identity as the Cigar City. It may sound harsh but let's face it, that identity was lost a long time ago. The truth is the cigar industry in Tampa began its slow decline as early as the 1930s, a trend that has continued ever since. Dozens of factories closed in 1939 in the wake of the Great Depression and the industry here never fully recovered. Dozens more closed after WWII. By the 1970s only a few remained. By the 1990s only three companies in Tampa were actually producing cigars on a mass scale. General Cigar purchased Tampa-based Villazon in 1996. Altadis will move production of Havatampa Cigars to Puerto Rico following the closing of the Tampa plant this past July. The J.C. Newman Company is all that remains. But, the Cigar City doesn't live only in bricks and mortar; it hasn't for a long time. It lives in the stories and shared experiences, the legacies, customs, traditions and culture of this community. The Cigar City lives in each of us. That part will never go away. See you around town!



Healing the Broken Tampa-Cuba Connection


Ferlita Macaroni Company


Farewell to Hav-A-Tampa


Jai-Alai in Tampa: When Cestas Ruled the State





16 18 19 20 44 46 60 62

Cigar Label History

Looking Back: This Month in Florida History

Lost Landmarks

Look Who’s Smokin’

Interview with Jeff Lacy On The Town with Dave Capote The Kitchen

Mama Knows

Visit our web site at 14



Founded in Tampa in 1902, Hav-A-Tampa grew into one of the largest cigar manufacturers in the Southeast. The Hav-A-Tampa Jewel was first produced in 1931 and Hav-A-Tampa cigars were shiped to American military bases around the globe during WWII. By the early 1980s, Hav-A-Tampa was the second-largest cigar company in the U.S., producing Phillies brand cagars and also Diamond Crown products. The company operated two plants in the 1980s and 1990s, one in Tampa and the other in Selma, Alabama. Read more about Hav-A-Tampa on page 34.




FLORIDA HISTORY SEPTEMBER 1861 Confederate Brigadier General John B. Grayson embarks on an inspection trip of the defenses along the West Coast, at St. Marks, Apalachicola, Cedar Key and Tampa. 1935 President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced today that an initial allocation of $5 million had been made for the construction of the Florida Ship Canal, which would cross the state from the Gulf of Mexico to the Atlantic Ocean. 1965 “Freedom Flights” between Cuba and Florida began today. These flights brought a second round of Cuban immigrants to the United States. 1979 Residents of Ft. Lauderdale brace for the onslaught of Hurricane David. Located about 75 miles east of the city, David packed winds of approximately 85 mph and was expected to make landfall in the early morning hours of September 3rd.

OCTOBER 1867 The first post-Civil War voter registration results were filed in Tallahassee. Some 15,441 African-Americans registered to vote compared to 11,151 whites. 1905 President Theodore Roosevelt designated Passage Key in Tampa Bay as a protected breeding reservation for water birds. 1913 The Secretary of the Navy appointed a board to select a site for naval aviation training. Pensacola was eventually chosen as the site and thus began that city's long association with naval fliers. So many aviators pass through the training facility, date, and marry local females, that Pensacola is known as “The Mother of the Navy.” 1980 James Earl “Jimmy” Carter became the first President of the United States to visit the Capitol in Tallahassee. President Carter spent October 9-10 in Tallahassee, slept overnight in the Executive Mansion, and signed into law (in the Chamber of the House of Representatives) the Refugee Education Assistance Act of 1980 appropriating $100 million for refugee relief. 18



LOST LANDMARK Can you identify this Lost Landmark?

Previous Lost Landmark: Seminole Theatre in Seminole Heights, corner of N. Florida Ave. and E. Wilder Ave. Congratulations to Art Maynor of Tampa, who guessed last issue's Lost Landmark! Simply mail the answer and your contact information to:

Lost Landmarks C/O Cigar City Magazine P.O. Box 18613 Tampa, Florida 33679 or email us at by Oct 1, 2009. All correct entries will be entered into a drawing and one name will be selected as the winner. Good luck!



, , Look WhosSmokin by Emanuel Leto

ice e & Ebony A ster team, Jo si d an er th Bro

Master Cig ar Roller F elix Huelg a

Ebony Aice never paid much attention to her brother Joe’s crazy ideas. But, when she heard his pitch for opening a cigar factory and retail shop in Tampa, she thought, “this might actually work.” A & D Cigars, located on the corner of Main Street and Albany, is a work in progress but Joe and Ebony Aice have big plans for the storefront situated in the heart of Historic West Tampa. “We want it to have a lounge atmosphere,” says Joe, who plans to show pay-perview boxing matches and host get togethers for Monday Night Football in the new factory. Ebony is working on a “girls night” for her friends and other women who appreciate good cigars. “I have a lot of good friends who smoke cigars and they said, if you open your own shop, I’ll smoke your cigars,” said Ebony. “A lot of women enjoy cigars.” They also plan to host wine tasteings and live music. West Tampa was founded on the cigar industry. The first factory in this company town just west of the Hillsborough River opened in 1892 and, until the industry’s post-War demise, more cigar factories were located in West Tampa than in Ybor City. But the decision to invest in their current location wasn’t an easy one. “People said, ‘Joe, you’re crazy. It’s a bad corner.’” His sister Ebony was also skeptical. But, after doing some research and reading up on the history of the area, the two decided to give it a shot, opening the first cigar shop on Main Street in what is perhaps decades. They also have a secret weapon: Master Cigar Roller Felix Huelga. A veteran of several Ybor buckeyes, the tabaquero has partnered with the Aices and is creating a complete line of hand rolled cigars for the company. Huelga, a native of Havana, Cuba who learned the trade at the prestegius Cohiba Factory, has taught Joe how to roll cigars and has shared his knowledge of the industry with the Aice siblings. “I wanted to work with Felix to create a blend that is my own,” says Joe. While some might question the location and timing of such an investment given the current economic climate, Joe, who has always been impressed with the “status” cigars project, has a different view. “People have been smoking cigars for hundreds of years. They’re recession proof. Cigars aren’t going anywhere.” Check out A & D Cigars at 1948 Main Street or visit them on line at

A special thanks to our friend Dara Lauria for the new column idea, Look Who’s Smokin’. For more info about Dara visit her at 20


Healing the broken

TAMPA-CUBA CONNECTION at an Ybor City forum by Emanuel Leto

You may not have even known it was happening, but “Rapprochement With Cuba: Good For Tampa Bay, Good For Florida, Good For America,” a conference sponsored by the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation and held Saturday at the Italian Club in Ybor City, was, by its very existence, a milestone in repairing the tattered relationship between Tampa and Cuba. About 150 guests, panelists, professors and local politicians filled the grand, neo-classical Italian Club, once the social, cultural and political epicenter of Tampa’s Italian community. Whether the speeches, panel discussions, and networking sessions will really accomplish much toward ending the 50-year-old U.S. embargo, no one is really sure. However, to get a sense of where the Cuba barometer is pointing, you could start with the venue itself. In 1955, a young, verbose Fidel Castro arrived in Ybor City. This was no accident, no anomaly. In fact, it made perfect sense. Castro, in a bid to gain popular support for his uprising against CIAbacked dictator Fulgencio Batista, he followed literally - in the footsteps of an earlier young, charismatic Cuban revolutionary, Jose Marti. Marti was the ideological voice of the first Cuban Revolution; the one American school children call the Spanish American War. In the 1890s, after an earlier 10-year conflict between Spain and native Cubans, Jose Marti rose to the fore of a new effort to oust Spain from the island of Cuba. Like Castro,



Marti was an intellectual, a writer, a poet. He traveled extensively throughout Florida between 1891 and 1895, raising money for Cuban independence. He visited Tampa some 20 times, giving speeches to Tampa’s cigar workers and strategizing with the exiled leadership headquartered in West Tampa and New York City. Marti’s revolution began in 1895. Teddy Roosevelt and the U.S. Army showed up a couple years later, in 1898. So, 60 years later in 1955, Castro was on a PR tour of sorts that would take him to New York City and the cover of Time magazine but first, he spent some time in Ybor City. His choice for a speaking venue: The Italian Club. He met with then-club president Phil LoCicero at La Tropicana, where the two reportedly talked for hours. Castro’s request to rent the Italian hall was denied, as was his request to speak at the Cuban Club. Castro eventually rented the AFL-CIO Union Hall on 7th Avenue and 13th Street, which is today home of the MartiMaceo Social Club. On Saturday, 54 years after Fidel Castro was denied use of the club and 114 years after Marti rallied Tampa’s cigar workers to action, nearly 200 people, Republicans, Democrats, entrepreneurs, cattle ranchers, and exiled Cubans, gathered in Ybor City to talk, once more, about Cuba. Rain drove the only five protesters away, even though Al Fox, the event organizer, invited them to come in for coffee and doughnuts. Fox, president of the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy, assembled an impressive lineup of experts including an adviser on Cuba policy for the Ke n n e d y Administration, Dr. Wayne Smith; former head of the Democratic Party of Florida, Alfredo Duran; and, via conference call, U.S. Congressman Bill Delahunt, D-MA, who has sponsored a bill to lift restrictions on Americans traveling to Cuba. The bill has several co-sponsors including Jeff Flake, an Arizona Republican; Rosa Delauro, Jo-Ann Emerson, a Missouri Republican; Jerry Moran, a Kansas Republican; Ron Paul, a Texas Republican. Locally, Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor, who was conspicuously absent on Saturday, has expressed her support for establishing direct flights between Tampa and Havana, to

compete for business with Miami International Airport. “Every time a flight leaves Miami for Havana, the airport collects roughly 50 dollars per passenger and other assorted baggage fees,” said local business owner Jason Busto, adding, “People who are opposed [to increased contact and trade with Cuba] are using a playbook from the 1980s.” Business interests were in full force at Saturday’s meeting, eager to capitalize on reestablishing trade with the island. “We’re exporting democracy and capitalism,” said Richard Waltzer, head of the Havana Group, a “facilitator” for companies looking to do business in Cuba, who says the two are linked. “We buy more products from China than any other nation. What’s the difference between China and Cuba?” John Parke Wright, a cattleman who traces his Tampa roots back to Capt. James McKay and James Lykes, was also on hand. Donning a suit, cowboy boots and a wide-brimmed cowboy hat, Park Wright wants to see Tampa and Cuba’s cattle trade “back on the map.” Indeed Tampa’s connections to Cuba extend beyond Castro’s 1955 visit, beyond cigars and Jose Marti. In the 1840s, Captain James McKay (he of McKay Bay) began shipping cattle to Cuba from Ballast Point in Tampa. The still-prominent Lykes family was, by 1906 firmly established in Havana, operating one of the largest cattle ranches on the island. They also operated the Lykes Steamship Company, which shipped cattle and other goods between Tampa, Havana, and New Orleans. In the 1880s and 1890s, Henry Plant operated a steamship line, which traveled weekly between Tampa, Key West and Havana. Ironically, at the very center of Tampa’s city seal is the Olivette, one of Plant’s steamships that traveled regularly to Cuba. The connections are even deeper. When the Spanish sold Florida to the U.S. in 1824, they may have taken groups of Cuban fishermen with them back to Havana. In the 1500s, Spanish conquistadores “governed” and explored Tampa Bay via Havana. “Havana is our sister city,” said City Councilwoman Linda Saul-Sena. “Economically, socially, culturally, we are kin.”

Top: Al Fox, Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation. Bottom: Dr. Wayne Smith, professor John Hopkins University in Baltimore & Rob Lorei, WMNF Community Radio (88.5)

Grab your passport and join the editor of Cigar City Magazine for an exclusive tour of the Cigar City. On your journey, you’ll visit historic landmarks, sample local cuisine, and gain behind-thescenes access to Tampa’s cigar industry. The tour begins with café con leche and Cuban toast in Centennial Park followed by an exclusive guided tour of the Ybor Museum with Cigar City Magazine Editor, Emanuel Leto. Next, we’ll visit some of Ybor City’s famous landmarks, including the historic V.M. Ybor factory, before embarking on behind the scenes tours of the J.C. Newman Cigar Company, Oliva Tobacco Distributors, and Tampa Sweethearts.


REMEMBER Ferlita Macaroni Factory the only photo the family has discovered of the actual building.

Ferlita Macaroni Company By Mary Lu Kiley & Kenneth Ferlita

As a young man, Giuseppe R. Ferlita dreamed of immigrating to America and becoming successful. In 1905, Giuseppe, with only a third grade education, arrived through Ellis Island as a teenager. Emigrating from Santo Stefano Quisquina, Sicily with his family, he joined relatives who had previously settled in Tampa. He first worked as a cigar maker until his father purchased a bakery in West Tampa. During this period, he married his childhood sweetheart Maria Paola Ficarrotta.


ith a loan from his brother-inlaw, James Ficarrotta, and assistance from good friends like Angelo Mortellaro, a local businessman and an active member of the Italian Club, Giuseppe was able to realize his dream of owning a business in America. His first macaroni factory was in West Tampa on Main Street in a building owned by his in-laws. As the macaroni factory grew, Giuseppe anticipated the need to expand within a few years. Consequently, he purchased land in Ybor City in 1918. This land was the site of the factory building standing today. Giuseppe and Maria Paola had four children. Sadly, when their youngest son Paul was just six weeks old, Maria Paola died during the Spanish Influenza of 1918. With a growing macaroni business and four children, Giuseppe later married Maria Paola's

sister, Vincenta. The business continued to grow as Giuseppe predicted, and by 1921, the mortgage on the land in Ybor City was paid and he constructed the brick factory building that housed his family on one side and operation of his business on the other. The family moved into their new home by 1924. Giuseppe and Vincenta had four children. Of these, three were born while they lived in the house on 22nd Street. The macaroni factory operated in the north end of the building adjacent to the railroad tracks where flour, farina and semolina were delivered. The family lived on the south end. The entrance to the residence was raised, with two large, grand white columns facing 22nd Street. The residence consisted of a parlor, dining room, kitchen and bath in the rear, and three bedrooms. The girls shared a bedroom; the three older brothers shared another bedroom and the two youngest slept in Giuseppe and Vincenta's bedroom. SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2009


The factory was located at street level a few steps down from the residence. Giuseppe employed not only his adult children but also other family members at the Ybor City location that operated for over a decade. Family gatherings demonstrated Giuseppe's sense of camaraderie as he was known to feed extended family members, employees and anyone who came to the door hungry. Giuseppe's children recalled that every Saturday, Angelo Mortellaro came to “noon dinner”. He would exclaim, “La carne e per le tigri,” (meat is for the tigers) as if to say, only tigers should eat meat, but then he would eat all the meat he was served.

sisters, sons and daughters all working in some area of the business: the factory, sales, deliveries, or collections. Before Giuseppe purchased his first delivery trucks, he delivered the macaroni by horse and wagon in West Tampa. By the time he moved the factory to Ybor City, macaroni was sold and delivered from Miami to as far north as Atlanta. The factory packaged its own brands of pasta, and sold wholesale to grocery stores. One brand they produced, called Tampa Maid, was sold and distributed throughout the southeast to stores that later became Winn-Dixie. The factory building was sold to Pedro Perez in 1946. His family

Today, the factory is threatened with demolition. Giuseppe and Angelo were great friends. This was exemplified by the many hours he spent at the macaroni factory - a totally family-run business. Vincenta kept the books, with his brothers,

used the factory to produce cigars until the mid 1960's. However, a decade later, the building was sold again. Today, the eighty-five year old Ferlita Macaroni Company factory is threatened with demolition. The building's brick facade with cast stone columns has been listed as a contributing architectural structure in the National Historic Landmark District. One of the few Italian-owned and operated factories in the “deep South”, the factory represents the rich multi-cultural community that has made Tampa a unique American city. During the summer of 2008, the City of Tampa cited the property owner for removal of the roof and documented code violations. As a result of these citations, the owner, 1609 22nd St. LLC, presented options to the City of Tampa either to repair the historic structure or to locate a charitable organization that would accept the factory as a donation and address the code repairs as part of the offer. Unfortunately, the owner was initially unsuccessful in locating an organization capable of accepting this donation offer. As a result, the owner petitioned the Barrio Latino Commission for demolition.

Ferlita Macaroni Factory Time Report lists all the products sold at the Ybor Factory


earning about the potential demolition, I (Kenneth Ferlita, grandson of Giuseppe R. Ferlita, the original owner of the factory) contacted the City of Tampa to discuss available options for saving the building. The City reviewed potential options. As I learned about the option to donate the factory, I wondered if within my professional contacts and friends among the Ybor community, an organization might exist that would benefit from this offer. I called my friend, Joe Capitano, past President of the Italian Club and staunch supporter of many worthy causes in the community. I hoped for advice from Joe, but also saw the potential for the community and took an active role in finding a non-profit organization that could meet the terms of the donation. In order to mitigate the initial restoration costs, I secured my firm's donation of architectural fees and successfully contacted engineers who donated their fees as well. In addition, donations and discounts for materials and other construction costs through local trade associations appeared possible. Joe began working on the feasibility of the project for the Italian Club Building & Cultural Trust Fund to meet the requirements for donation. Currently, the Italian Club is working to address the possibility of assuming this project, including a mandate that requires acquisition of additional land for parking. The desire to save

They believed. They pursued the

Ferlita Family Above, Giuseppe Vicente Ferlita with macaroni truck.

Giuseppe Ferlita

Left, Giuseppe as a young man about the time he started the Macaroni Factory; below,

Paul Ferlita on the truck

Paul was the fourth of eight children

American dream.

the factory exists, but within the next month, if the Italian Club cannot secure additional land and financial support, this building may be demolished and a significant showpiece of Tampa's and Ybor City's history will be lost forever. We are hopeful that community interest and funding can be found to preserve this building as a tribute to all immigrants, especially our Italian ancestors who left their birth country, their families VISIT CIGARCITYMAGAZINE.COM and traveled thousands of miles to an unknown land where they knew nothing of the language or customs. They believed. They pursued the American dream. We are their legacy. Their struggle and sacrifice needs to be remembered in this building: The Ferlita Macaroni Factory.




With the closing of Hav-A-Tampa Cigar Company, another chapter in our city's cigar history comes to a close. J.C. Newman, makers of Cuesta-Rey Cigars among other brands, becomes the last remaining Tampa cigar company to produce cigars here. Founded in 1902, the company that asked, “Won't you Hav-A-Tampa cigar?” did more than perhaps any other company to link Tampa with cigars. “Tampa Jewels”, first marketed in 1931, were sent to U.S. military bases around the world during World War II. Makers of “Tampa Jewels”, “Tampa Sweets” and, later, “Philly Blunts”, Hav-A-Tampa became the second-largest cigar company in the United States. By 1996, Hav-A-Tampa sold nearly 859 million cigars annually with sales of about $140 million and 800 employees in Tampa and Selma, Alabama. The closing of Hav-A-Tampa's operations is a symbolic blow to the local industry and the reasons for it are varied. Taxes are certainly a concern. But other factors are perhaps of equal consequence. Local ownership ended in 1997 with the sale of the company to a Spanish corporation. Since then, Hav-A-Tampa has been bought and sold several times by ever-larger international players. Imperial Tobacco, an English company that distributes the Cohiba and Montecristo brands, recently purchased Altadis USA, which owns the 106-year-old Hav-A-Tampa name.



Krause Brothers registers the brand name “Tampa Nugget”.

Jose Hilgers sells all rights to the name Hav-ATampa to Henry and Fred Krause for the sum of $520.

APRIL 1 1907

MARCH 30 1907

Hilgers contracts with Krause Brothers to produce Hav-A-Tampa cigars.

OCTOBER 31 1906

MARCH 13 1906

AUGUST 25 1902

Roland Wilson, owner of Tampa Box Company, registers the trademark and label “Havatampa”

Wilson transfers the name to Jose Hilgers in exchange for Hilger’s guarantee to purchase 10,000 boxes and labels from Tampa Box Company.



Wilson relinquishes all rights to the name “Havatampa”, transferring ownership to Hilgers.

JANUARY 29 1908

“HAV-A-TAMPA” is registered by the Havatampa Cigar Company. The company also owns the “Tampa Nugget” brand name.

Henry and Fred Krause and Joe Verdyck form “Havatampa Cigar Company,” producing cigars in a factory on the corner of Nebraska and Henry Avenues.

Hav-A-Tampa purchased the V.M. Ybor Cigar Factory, manufacturing cigars there until 1961. They sold the building to Trend Publications in 1972.

Because the company both retails, wholesales and manufactures cigars, the U.S. Justice Department instructs Hav-A-Tampa to divest its cigar manufacturing division claiming the company is in violation of anti-trust laws.


Hav-A-Tampa corporate headquarters moves to a newlyconstructed facility at 500 S. Falkenburg Road near Brandon, Florida.




Tennessee native Eli B. Witt dies. D. H. Woodbery succeeds him as president of Hav-A-Tampa.


JANUARY 31 1947


Hav-A-Tampa Corporation was sold to Oppenheimer Company, a New York investment firm and Culbro Corporation, formerly General Cigar.

A group of local Tampa investors including Doyle Carlton, Jr., Tom Arthur and Tommy Morgan purchased the cigar manufacturing division of Hav-ATampa.

Eli Witt, together with several partners and investors purchased the Hav-A-Tampa Cigar Company, forming Hav-A-Tampa Cigar Company, Inc.

MAY 1920

The company once again relocates, this time to a larger factory at 2411 21st Street in Ybor City.

Hav-A-Tampa moves to 2007 21st Street, formerly the Regensburg and Sons Factory.

The company registers the name “HAV-A-TAMPA” with the U.S. patent office. The name, all in capitals, had been in use since at least 1923.




MAY 06 1918

Hav-A-Tampa agrees to produce cigars exclusively for Eli Witt Cigar Company.

APRIL 1917

The image of a woman replaces that of a man on the Hav-A-Tampa cigar label.

MARCH 14 1917

The company relocates to a factory on the northwest corner of 14th Street and 12th Avenue in Ybor City.

Hav-A-Tampa and Consolidated Cigars merge to form Altadis USA, based in Fort Lauderdale.


A French tobacco company, SEITA, purchases Consolidated Cigar, based in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. SEITA and Tabacalera merge to form Altadis Cigar Company.



Havatampa is sold to Tabacalera S.A. based in Madrid, Spain. Founded in 1636, Tabacalera claims to be the world’s oldest cigar company.




1982 Havatampa purchases the “Phillies” brand from Bayuk Cigar Company, doubling the size of Havatampa. The company becomes the second-largest cigar manufacturer in the U.S.

Havatampa purchases Diamond Products, manufacturers of rubbing alcohol, peroxide, witch hazel and other similar products supplied to grocery stores and drug stores such as CVS and Wal-Mart.

Pride Manufacturing, founded in Tampa in 1930, makers of wooden cigar tips for “HAV-A-TAMPA Jewels,” closes its Tampa manufacturing operation. Altadis Group, owners of Altadis USA opt to purchase wooden tips from China.

MAY 2009

1902 Timeline 2009 Hav-A-Tampa manufacturing plant in Tampa closes.

Imperial Tobacco of England merges with Altadis USA.

Portions of this time line were excerpted from A History of the Name by Earl J. Brown, Jr. Copyright 1980.



JAI-ALAI IN TAMPA WHEN CESTAS RULED THE STATE The ball flies past players’ heads at more than 150 m.p.h. before striking the front wall with a hard click - and speeding back toward them. In an instant it’s trapped in a basket attached to a man’s hand like a wicker hook. He whips his body forward, flicking the basket and propelling the ball back toward the wall - again at blurring speeds - while another player positions himself for a chance at it when it comes back. The noisy exchanges continue until points are scored, teams savor victory and crowds cheer in the stands.



The scene could have taken place in northern Spain's Basque region in the late 1700s or on Dale Mabry Highway in the 1970s. It could have been last Saturday night in Miami as well. Since its creation, jai-alai (pronounced hi-li) has mixed grace, skill, speed and danger in an exciting combination for players and fans. And for a few decades, those players and fans flocked to Tampa for world-class professional contests. Jai-alai, which includes both singles and doubles competition, usually features round-robin tournament-style play where eight individuals or teams vie for a spot on the court and an opportunity to score points. Armed with his cesta, a player must intercept the pelota after no more than one bounce and deliver it to his opponent within the prescribed boundaries marked on the cancha. The losing team or player is sent off the court and to the back of the line, waiting (or hoping) for another chance to compete before the game ends. The winning side is awarded points and faces a new challenger.

Jai-alai players on the fronton, Tampa, Florida, 1957.

rida, az at work, Tampa, Flo Ballmaker Anibal Vel and Jai Alai for 23 years yed pla also He 1. 196 a. Cub of ive nat s wa

Before the Buccaneers, the Lightning & the Rays, jai-alai wasn’t just a sport in Tampa. It was the sport in Tampa. The game that was played against the walls of Spanish churches centuries earlier made its way to the United States in the early 20th century. Cuba (then under United States jurisdiction) already had a fronton and jai-alai magazines of its own. But after debuting at the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, fans all over the country, including northeast states such as Connecticut and Rhode Island, and even at select casinos in Las Vegas, embraced the sport. Over the years, celebrities such as Jackie Gleason and athletes such as Casey Stengel and Babe Ruth were known to watch games, and (not surprisingly) writer Ernest Hemingway expressed his appreciation for the Spanish sport. But jai-alai found a particularly warm welcome in Florida. The first professional games in the country were played in Miami in the 1920s, and with its strong Cuban roots, jai-alai survives in Florida to this day. Within a few decades of its introduction (and after wagering on the sport was legalized), the state was boasting nearly a dozen frontons in locations such as Daytona Beach, Ocala, Fort Pierce and Tampa-more than any other state in the country. In the 1960s and 1970s, jai-alai was entrenched in cities across Florida. Attendance for a weekend date often approached 10,000 spectators (a slate of games in Miami drew more than 15,000 in 1975), and seasonal handles (money wagered) were reaching tens of millions of dollars for successful frontons. Millions of fans were attending games in Florida alone, but an evening of jai-alai was about more than just casual wagering. It was a significant social event for the community.

fronton, Jai-alai players on the Tampa, Florida, 1957.

weaver makes Jai alai Cruz Beain, basket Florida, 1961. He also pa, equipment in Tam rs and was a native of yea 25 played Jai Alai for in. Basque County Spa



Local wrestler and WWE Hall-of-Famer Eddie Graham was a big fan of jai-alai. Here he restrains Murillo while his son Mike (who went on to have his own successful wrestling career) takes a playful swing back in the 1960s. Holding the cesta is Jay North, child star of the 1960s CBS hit Dennis the Menace.



“When the jai-alai frontons first opened up people would steak or seafood, have a bottle of wine and watch the matches on come dressed in ties and jackets, and they would buy their seats big-screen televisions-an impressive technical luxury for patrons weeks in advance because there was literally standing room only of that era. But thousands of others would simply stand wherever on Friday and Saturday nights,” explained Mark Kaminsky, a they could find a good place to watch the action. jai-alai enthusiast and the closest thing the sport has to an Before the games started they perused their programs and American historian. While he never played professionally, studied the match-ups, looking for winners among the list of Kaminsky became enamored with the sport and eventually names. Some were the players' actual names, but many were learned to play himself, adjusting his left-handed tendencies to nicknames or simply the city from which they hailed. But once accommodate a right-handed game. Now he owns an extensive the bets were placed and the players came out to salute the collection of jai-alai memorabilia which he keeps on display in his crowd, the conversation slowed and all eyes were on the contests. home in St. Petersburg. It includes several rare and unique items, In Tampa, those contests featured some of the best talent in jaiincluding one-of-a-kind official alai at that time- Almorza, Bolivar, scrapbooks compiled by frontons, Rufino, Laca II, Randy, Aramayo and autographed pelotas, game-worn Gorroño were among the many who jerseys and a copy of the very first impressed and awed thousands on program published by the Tampa those nights. Better players meant Fronton. more exciting contests and often Kaminsky said that frontons longer points, as volleys were answered and returned, only to be would often schedule their best handled impressively and returned players at the end of the evening to again at higher speeds. As points encourage people to stay and see the reached 30 seconds, the crowd would most talented athletes. The result exclaim and gasp at each exchange. would be crowds that stayed until the At 40 seconds a dull roar continued final matches and several hundred Mark Kaminsky thousand dollars in a nightly handle. “It was a destination; it to grow as those in attendance marveled at the speed and skill on wasn't just a stopping-in point. It was for the scene of being there the court. Heading toward a minute, those special points were greeted with wild cheers and enthusiasm as fans drowned out the and maybe being seen. Everybody went to jai-alai,” Kaminsky said. announcer, whose own appreciation for the game was apparent in A Night in Tampa his voice. The Tampa fronton was certainly a place to see and be seen For several years (1979 until 1994) that voice belonged to during its heyday in the 1960s, 1970s and early 1980s. For many Mark Biero, who still remembers those long, impressive locals, a Friday or Saturday night out meant a trip to the 40-acre exchanges and the fans who enjoyed them. “There were times location off Dale Mabry Highway, just south of Gandy Boulevard. when I was announcing the game as it was going on where I The games started at 7 p.m. but the gates opened at 6-and if you couldn't even hear myself!” Biero recalled. “You feel a sense of were on time, you were a little late. By then lines had already pride that people were reacting to the excitement of the game. I formed at both of the fronton's main entrances and the parking was merely reporting it. I didn't have to embellish anything. It was lot filled with cars and buses (dispatched by the fronton) quite amazing.” returning with eager spectators and gamblers from Clearwater The games continued for hours, with the best talent often and St. Petersburg. Fans waited in line clutching featured in the final matches. After midnight the crowd would programs purchased earlier in the day at newsstands so as not to leave the fronton happy (especially if they won a little money) risk the inevitable sellout inside. After paying the nominal and somewhat exhausted as well. But the evening wasn't over for admission (maybe a dollar for general admission and a few more many of them, who would fill local restaurants and bars for a late for reserved seats) they lined up for a drink at the bar or booth drink or meal. Places like the Lamas Club, Zichex and Malio's concession, or perhaps something from the cigar bar which would accommodate patrons who gathered to socialize or spend featured a wide selection, including hand-made cigars from some of their winnings, and maybe see a few players who would nearby Ybor City. Smoke and conversation (some in English, stop by to relax after a long night. much in Spanish) filled the lobbies, and eventually most fans The next day, coffee shops and restaurants in West Tampa trickled into the auditorium which housed the cancha, taking and Ybor City hosted conversations about the previous night's their place among the 3,500 seats. Others were able to acquire games, as fans celebrated their winnings or lamented their losses reservations at La Cancha Club, where they would sit down to over café con leche and discussed the best matches of the evening SEPTEMEBR/OCTOBER 2009


in passionate voices. We had great seats. Almorza was looking good. Bolivar was in fine form. Did you stay for the last game? It was unbelievable! Those who were in attendance that night provided the highlights and those who couldn't make it planned to attend the following weekend, or whenever they could get seats. Before the Buccaneers, the Lightning and the Rays, jai-alai wasn't just a sport in Tampa. It was the sport in Tampa.

The life of a Florida jai-alai player in the 1970s was enjoyable, but it wasn't always as fun as the social scene that surrounded the sport's games. During the season they faced a rigorous schedule based on the demands of a growing and popular sport. When there were matinee games to be played, a player might rise at 10 a.m. after a very late night in order to be at the fronton

of a four-or-five-month season, and then it was time for some players to head back to Spain, where they would visit with family or perhaps play in the many cities eager for their talents. Others might stay in Florida, take a few weeks to prepare for a new season at another local fronton-Miami players might head to Ft. Pierce, while Tampa players would go to Ocala, perhaps-making the life of a jaialai player taxing both on and off the court. “At one point in my career, we literally played 50 matinees and nights straight, which is a lot of toil on the body. That's with just Sunday off,” explained Randy Lazenby, a former professional who enjoyed a 25-year career before retiring in 1993. Lazenby was also the first American-born player to play professionally in the United States. During his playing days, he enjoyed the French and Basque cuisine provided by his fellow players late into the evening. “Mostly it would be just the guys,” Lazenby said. “We would think nothing of eating at 1 o'clock and 2 o'clock in the morning.” As hectic as that life was, the rewards for a jai-alai player could be lucrative. Lazenby said that players often earned upwards of $40,000-$60,000 for a season during its heyday. For a young athlete (Lazenby was

by noon for the approaching games. The schedule would dictate the order of play (a player might play a half-dozen games that day), but it might be just 14 or 15 hours since their last performance. In the late afternoon, they would have time to go home for a meal before returning for the evening competition just a few hours later. Players would arrive according to their evening schedule, with friendly banter and card games in the locker rooms, and younger players watching more of the action on the cancha. Older veterans might rest during games or try to stay loose and warm if there was a large gap between their performances. When the last competitions ended, many of them would congregate at a local nightclub or restaurant afterward-some preferred smaller or less-crowded establishments where they could unwind and socialize-or they would gather at players' homes, sometimes making multiple stops in the early morning hours to enjoy a meal prepared by their fellow athletes. A player might get home at three or four in the morning and try to get enough rest to do it all over again the next day. That schedule could continue for six days out of the week, with Sunday usually a day off. This schedule was repeated over the course

barely in his 20s after starting his career at 16), it was a good income. But the money coming in to the frontons was even greater, and the players often struggled with management to receive what they considered fair compensation for the attractive crowds they drew (and the millions they spent and wagered). A strike in the 1960s was painful for the sport, and a second strike in 1988 lasted nearly three years. That lack of premier talent during the strikes made it even harder for jai-alai to fend off competition for gambling dollars. The Florida Lottery, with its scratch-off tickets, instant gratification and millions advertised on billboards took a large share. Casino-style gaming opportunities also attracted interest. And the rise of professional sports teams such as the Lightning and the Buccaneers- and even the Arena Football League's Tampa Bay Storm-was providing alternate options for local sports fans. As the 1990s progressed, frontons were fighting to retain their local status and remain profitable. In the end, some succeeded but many failed. Tampa's fronton tried to weather the storm with new management and a card room, but the fans never came back to pre-strike levels. As the handles dropped around the state (Florida Gaming Corporation saw state-wide handles drop from more than $400 million in 1986-87, to $180 million in 1995-96) interest was waning in the Bay area. The Tampa fronton closed its doors after almost 45 years in 1998, paving the way for the Home Depot and Sam's Club which attract shoppers to the location today.

A Player's Schedule



Jack Puryear Park in St. Petersburg

Cestas in St. Petersburg Today, jai-alai players in the Bay area still hurl the ball toward the front court at high speeds while others wait for its return and a chance to capture it in their cesta. But these games aren't played in front of thousands, and there is no late-night social scene accompanying the games. Instead, they play on the cancha located in Jack Puryear Park in St. Petersburg. It's the first amateur jai-alai court built by a municipality in the country (thanks to a combination of private financing and the City of St. Petersburg), and players have been known to use it well after the sun goes down and the lights come on. Amateurs, former professionals and interested parties will make their way to the court, which is open to the public and free to use. Jeff Conway, a director for the National Jai-Alai Association, said that while experienced players have to get used to the court's dimensions (it's only about half the size of what professionals use) and a different ball-since the walls aren't equipped to take the battering from a hard, regulation pelota-they enjoying spending time on the local cancha. “They seem pretty happy,” Conway said. A former amateur player with decades of experience on the court, he contributed $10,000 of his own money to help get the project going in 2007. Now completed and a destination for experienced players, the

NJAA has future plans to expand the game's appeal by developing leagues for younger people and introducing the sport to the next generation of residents. The pelota hasn't bounced off the walls of the Tampa fronton in more than a decade, but long-time athletes and fans still remember that era fondly. In addition to being the “voice of jaialai” in Tampa, Biero's vocal talents have been in demand for many events: Spring training games with the Cincinnati Reds, stadium announcing in the early days of the Buccaneers, high school and college football and the television hit “BattleBots.” But he is perhaps best known for his years of ringside work during some of the most prominent boxing events aired on Home Box Office and Showtime featuring boxers such as Roberto Duran, Evander Holyfield and Oscar de la Hoya. He still works the fights, and his experience and longevity has earned him a spot in the Florida Boxing Hall of Fame. Still, despite his close affiliation with many sports, it's the one played with a cesta that remains closest to his heart. “Nothing for me personally generated as much excitement and as much pleasure in doing a job as the sport of jai-alai,” he said. “I love baseball and boxing, particularly. But man, I loved jaialai. I miss that more than anything else.” SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2009


A bright yellow T-Rex zooms into the parking lot of the tiny St. Pete Boxing Club facility. A cross between a motorcycle and a sports car, the T-Rex sits just a few feet off the ground and can gun it from 0 - 97 in just 3.5 seconds. It is the ultimate attention getter. When a T-Rex cruises down the road, it’s impossible to miss. Not that the driver of this particular TRex needs any help getting noticed. Born, raised and still residing in St. Petersburg, he is one of the Tampa Bay area’s most popular athletes. He measures just 5’8” and only hovers around the 175-pound mark, yet his bulging muscles and intimidating fighting glare make him look like a mountain of a man. He is the proud owner of a {fill in record after fight}, a former two-time IBF Super Middleweight World Champion, a fighter with a left hook that is so lethal that the punch has become synonymous with his name. He is Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy. CCM: You’ve been boxing since you were 7 years old. Do you ever wake up in the morning and think to yourself, “I’m tired of getting punched in the face”? JL: If that was the only thing boxing was about, then, yeah, I’m sure I would think like that. But boxing isn’t only about punching. It’s about challenging yourself. Each challenger presents a different challenge to you. Every fight you see is about two men who each think they’re better than the other and they go to their training camps and meet on the night of the fight to see who the best is. That’s what keeps me going. I enjoy proving that I’m best. CCM: Have you ever felt bad for an opponent? Has your opponent ever been so outclassed by you that you feel guilty about hitting him so many times? JL: [Ponders question for 20 seconds] Actually … yeah. There have been certain times that I’ve knocked someone out and I’ve been really scared for his well being. We step into the ring to do battle, but we always have respect for each other. I never want to see a man hurt. I never want to know that I took away a man’s livelihood or permanently injured him. CCM: You’re not bruised or scarred up after all these years. How have you kept your face intact in a sport in which your face is a target? JL: [laughs] That’s because I’m good at what I do? I can still talk too. CCM: You learned to box at St. Pete Boxing Club and you still train with them. Why haven’t you gone Rocky III yet and gone movie star and moved to a billion dollar gym? What keeps you loyal? JL: You’re right. This has always been my home. I may step away and go to a new gym every once in a while, but I’ll always come back. I’ll never forget where I came from and that’s the most important thing for any man to do. That’s the main thing you need 44


to have under your belt. You need to respect your roots and the people who helped you to get where you are. CCM: Do you ever get used to people booing you? JL: Oh man, it changes. Sometimes in the beginning of fights I’ve had them booing me and at the end of the fight cheering for me. It sends chills through my veins when you have a fan who didn’t know anything about you and you change that person’s opinion of you and turn them into huge boxing fans. CCM: Does it bother you when you when the crowd boos you in the beginning and end of a fight? JL: Everybody is entitled to their opinion. If I’m fighting you and your mom is in the front row booing me, I can’t do anything about that. [laughs] Everyone can cheer and boo for who they want, but at the end of the day I just want to know that I earned your respect. CCM: How much longer do you plan on boxing? JL: Probably for another three or four years and then I’m going to hang it up. I started my own promotional compan - Left Hook Promotions - and I want to give back to the boxing community through it. CCM: Wouldn’t it be smarter to change your name to “Right Jab” Lacy and then surprise your opponent by unleashing a mean left hook? It seems like your name gives away your strategy. JL: [laughs] I’ve been asked that for as long as I’ve had the name. But I can punch with either hand, so let them concentrate on my left, because then I’ll bring the right. My right hand is not something you want to mess with. CCM: Do you have any regrets when it comes to your career? JL: No. Look, we all wish we could go back and fix our mistakes in life, but that’s not possible. We’re all human and none of us are perfect. What’s important is to learn from your mistakes. I don’t mind making mistakes because it gives me something to work harder at to make it perfect.

ON THE TOWN WITH DAVE CAPOTE Make sure to look for Dave at local events around town to get your face in the pages of Cigar City Magazine!



In August, we ventured beyond the Cigar City to New Orleans for the IPCPR’s 77th Annual Convention and International Trade Show. This members-only event features the biggest names in the business, from our home town favorites Fuente and Cuesta Rey to industry giants like Altadis, CAO, and General Cigar. Once inside the New Orleans Convention Center, we were in awe of the lavish displays the companies used to promote their products. Some were elegant smoking lounges, others were walk-in cigar factories. We had fun mingling with cigar reps and company owners before hitting the town for a night in the French Quarter. If only we can find a way to bring this important annual event to Tampa!

The Columbia’s world famous 1905 Salad! Salad Ingredients 1/2 head iceberg lettuce 2 ripe tomatoes, cut in eighths 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, cut in julienne strips 1/2 cup ham, cut in julienne strips (or turkey or shrimp) 1/4 cup green Spanish olives, pitted 2 teaspoons grated Romano cheese

Salad Dressing Ingredients 1/8 cup white wine vinegar

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 cup extra-virgin Spanish olive oil

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons lemon juice

Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation Toss together all salad ingredients in a bowl, except Romano Cheese. Mix garlic, oregano, and Worcestershire sauce in a bowl. Beat until smooth with a wire whisk. Add olive oil, gradually beating to form an emulsion. Stir in vinegar and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper. Add dressing to salad and toss well. Add Romano Cheese and toss one more time. Serves 4.





Dear Mama, My parents just put me through college and I'm about to graduate. I would like to travel but they want me to get a job. Please tell me what do I do? – Wanting to Travel Dear Wanting to Travel, Pobrecito! They should give you a good kick to the borrico! Now go to work! – Mama Dear Mama, I'm turning 40 next week and I still have not been able to find a husband. Do you have any suggestions for me? – Needing a Husband Dear Needing a Husband, 40!!! I would say at this point get a nice dog. You are too old now and you won't get the cream of the crop. At this age a man is either married, has a girlfriend or both! – Mama



Dear Mama, I just bought a goldfish for my son and we want to know with your wisdom what should we call it? – Pet Lover Dear Pet Lover, Who the hell cares? What does a goldfish need a name for? They have no sense, and you can't call it and make it sit or fetch. – Mama Dear Mama, When a man has a lot of girlfriends they call him a stud but what do you call a woman with a lot of boyfriends? – Wondering Dear Wondering A puta. – Mama Dear Mama, My husband burps a lot. What do I do? – Over my Husband Dear Over my Husband, Well, of course, if he doesn't burp he's going to explode. I would let him explode. – Mama Dear Mama, I'm really worried about the flu season. They say it's getting really bad. Should I wear a mask to go out in public? – Worried Dear Worried A mask? Que eso? When you pass away and people ask me what the cause of your death was, I'll say your stupidity. – Mama

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