Cigar City Magazine Jan-Feb 2007

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VOL. 2, ISSUE 8 - JAN/FEB 2007

Brighter • Smarter • Faster

Fueling Tampa’s Growth Since 1931.

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CIGAR CITY MAGAZINE P.O. BOX 18613, TAMPA, FLORIDA 33679 (813) 358-3455 WWW.CIGARCITYMAGAZINE.COM ©2006, 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. Printed in the U.S.A 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 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.




Dear Editor, Wonderful issue – I loved it! Avidly read the recipe for Verzada and have this comment. From my long time association with Spanish bean soups, chocosuela is “shin beef”. It is round with the shinbone of the beef in the middle. It is not easy to come by in modern times. Maybe that is why they use sirloin tip (not the same thing). Keep up the good work. -Kathy Echevarria


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Editor, Enclosed is my order for a subscription to this very informative magazine. I’ve been excited and impressed with the articles, which I have read thus far. -Vincent L. Tata Dear Cigar Cit y Magazine, A special thank you to the magazine and Jane Ball Watts for the wonderful article on my mom, “Mochine – A DeSoto Park Legend.” Jane hit her to a tee! I have had many wonderful messages from friends and family in Tampa about the article. My mom truly loved her work. Everyone at the park was part of our family. I have so many wonderful memories growing up at DeSoto Park with my mom at my side. My mom in her early years worked in a cigar factory in Ybor City and that is how she met my dad. Thoroughly enjoyed your magazine. Thanks again. -Genelle Fernandez Garverick Dear CCM, I was raised in Ybor City as was my mother and father (Ligia Labandera Fernandez and Antonio (Tony) Fernandez…Thank you for all that you are doing to preserve Ybor City. Maybe all is not lost. -Sylvia A. Fernandez



To Cigar City Magazine, Was thrilled to receive the back issue (5th) of Cigar City Magazine, which featured a picture on the front cover that included my Great Uncle, Pancho Arango. Without reading the description, I knew instantly which one he was. I have read the magazine from cover to cover and have thoroughly enjoyed reading all the articles. Having been raised in West Tampa, the article by E.J. Salcines was of great interest. I have sent information about the magazine to fellow Tampanian friends who live elsewhere but their roots remain in Tampa. Continued success in this wonderful endeavor. I look forward to future editions but having enjoyed the 5th edition so much, now I must buy the remaining back editions!!! -Gisela Arango-Harper Crestview, Florida Editor, Enclosed is my check for membership and a back issue of your magazine with the Roberts City story. My cousin Gilbert lived in Roberts City. My father was Tony Bernardo and we lived on a chicken farm in Thonotosassa. My parents are both gone but they went to the Roberts City dances. My husband and I often went too. I remember going to my grandmother’s store and Gilbert’s dad’s gas station. We would always go on Christmas Eve. We enjoyed going to town as we had cousins to play with. We lived in the country and our nearest neighbor was a mile away. Thanks so much. -Dolores Bernardo Counterman Editor On a recent visit to the area, I picked up a copy of your publication in a cigar store in St. Petersburg. I thoroughly enjoyed it–keep up the good work and best wishes for continued success. -Ed Sinette



Happy New Year to all of our readers! great food, and four incredible cigars hand selected by Cigar City Cigar City Magazine was very busy during the last few months of Magazine. It was an enjoyable evening with the silent auction proceeds 2006. In October, we moved our operation to Historic Ybor City on benefiting the Ybor Museum Society. 19th Street between 8th & 9th Avenue, across the street from The day following our smoker was the Cigar Heritage Festival in

Centennial Park and diagonally across from the Ybor City Museum. Our office, a quaint 100-year-old cigar maker’s home, was remodeled to its original splendor and beauty. We instantly felt at home in our new surroundings and are honored to be a part of the Ybor commu-

Historic Ybor City. Cigar City Magazine presented the attempt to roll “The World’s Longest Cigar”. Master cigar makers, Wallace and Margarita Reyes and their team, including Cigar City Magazine staff, worked tirelessly for 10 hours to assemble and place the wrapper on a

nity. record 101 foot cigar! Judges and officials were on hand to certify that In November, together with our friends at Tampa Sweethearts Cigar the cigar met all requirements to qualify for the Guinness World Company, we held our second Cigars and Stars smoker in the garden Record. It is only fitting that the Cigar Capital of the World–Tampa, at the Ybor City State Museum. We were privileged to honor the Florida holds the title of the World’s Longest Cigar! Proceeds from the Oliva Tobacco Family and recognize their contributions to the tobac- event benefited the Ybor City Museum Society and the Humane co industry and community. Guests received a sneak preview of a sec- Society of Tampa Bay. tion of the 101-footworld record cigar, enjoyed live entertainment,







20 26 36 38

44 45 46 50 48

Coming Together Through Music Arturo Sandoval The Guava Expedition


18 46

The Bridge of Fortune


El Lector Not So Trivial Lost Landmarks Dreamers & Doers: Salvatore Chillura Reina The Kitchen Mama Knows

Visit our web site at 16





grabbed a rung as I slowly climbed the ladder to my chair on the tribunal. With a heavy heart, I pondered how I was going to tell the workers what I knew. As they sat in the gallery quietly waiting for me to begin reading, I heard the sharp sound of their chavetas cutting cigars. Taking a deep breath, my lungs filled with the aroma of the tobacco that always permeated the air. A smell that, strangely enough, I like. Combined with the smell of the Cuban coffee the workers drink, it gives me a warm feeling and produces special memories of growing up in this cigar city. These smells and thoughts helped me momentarily escape the sad news I was about to tell the workers. While I waited for the courage to speak, some began to lift their heads - their concentration broken by the silence coming from the tribunal. Instead of taking my seat as I normally did, I remained standing. A few of the workers began to look at me curiously, especially since I did not have a novel in my hands. I nervously touched the back of my neck, cleared my throat, and said, “I must inform you of some very sad news.” Instantly work came to a halt as chavetas and cutters stopped; the cafetero who was leaning over pouring café con leche stood up straight and held the white porcelain coffee pot still in his hand. All eyes were now focused on me.


cleared my throat again and began, “Early this morning a talented El Lector, my friend and yours, Rafael Garcia Luque climbed to the top of his tribunal at the J. Ellinger Cigar Factory and shot himself.” The factory floor was now filled with gasps and cries from many of the 500 workers. “Is he dead Señor Dumas? Please tell us he is not dead,” cried out one woman. “He would not do that – the Mafia must have made him do it!” yelled a man in the back wearing a straw hat. The noise level grew louder as they began to speculate with one another what had occurred. I could not calm the workers as I called out, “No, no, please let me finish everyone. It was self-inflicted.” “No, it can not be. He is my cousin and he would never do such a thing,” one woman said as she ran out of the factory. Many workers stood up and yelled angrily across the room to others. “Please everyone, sit down, sit down and I will explain further,” I pleaded. The noise attracted the attention of the foreman who had been in his office and was now standing in the back of the factory, trying to determine what had happened. One of the workers in the last row whispered the tragic news in his ear.


lease, tell us what happened,” one tabaquero in the front row asked. It was difficult for them to comprehend that no one else was involved. I began to explain. Luque, as many of you know, has been working at the Ellinger Factory in West Tampa for about thirteen

months. This morning, soon after ascending his stand, he gave a speech to the 200 workers in the factory. He told them that the pay he was receiving was not enough to support his family and he would rather die than keep on living. With his hand shaking, he drew a 32-calibre revolver and fired it once at his head, but the ball missed and went into the ceiling. He pulled the trigger again and this time the ball went into the beam over his head. “Aye Díos mío,” one woman said as she made the sign of the cross. Another shot rang out and that one missed as well. In order to steady his right hand, he grasped his wrist with his left, and pressed the muzzle of the gun once again against his head just above his right ear, and fired! This time his aim was better and he died instantly. Cries were heard from the workers in front of me as they listened and others bowed their heads in prayer. “What happened next, Señor Dumas?” someone called out. I described the scene further. At the first shot the cigar makers had rushed towards the stairway trying to escape the dreaded scene. There was chaos. Eventually the police and undertaker were called and Luque’s body was placed in the dead wagon. Three hundred workers formed a procession, walking behind the wagon to Luque’s residence on Florida Avenue between Scott and Kay streets. We have just learned that Luque had previously killed two men because they were teasing him about going to the war. He was also suffering from consumption and his doctor had recently advised him he was not going to live much longer. That is all I know my friends.


s I finished speaking, I could see the foreman in the back of the room use his hands to form an open book and point to it, encouraging me to begin reading. I knew he was worried that if the workers were upset, today’s production would be adversely affected. I began to speak loudly over the sea of voices. “I ask you, tabaqueros, to remember how Rafael Garcia Luque lived, not how he died! He was a good and honorable man.” Then, speaking more softly, I read from a poem given to me by an old lector a long time ago: I climb the pulpit no more My words have been silenced forevermore. It was not my choice but my destiny And now I must prepare for my journey. But listen carefully and you may hear The echoes from my tribunal loud and clear. Words of hope and not despair. For life was good and more than fair.

Source for historical information: Tampa Morning Tribune, September 15, 1896. Article on the death of Rafael Garcia Luque.



Tampa Library Public Library System

Fortune Street Bridge Construction 1926 20



The only way across the river to West Tampa was on Jim Hooper’s ferry, which was just a small boat or skiff. You got on the skiff and the ferryman pulled you over, using a rope strung across the river.

n African-American slave, a Scottish businessman, and a Cuban factory worker: An unlikely trio with an even more unlikely memoria–the Fortune Street Bridge. One hundred forty years ago, a former slave named Benjamin Taylor moved to Tampa where he married another former slave, a woman named Fortune. Together, they tended orchards of oranges, guavas, and peaches on the eastern shore of the Hillsborough River. When Benjamin died in 1869, his 33-acre homestead became Fortune’s. Three years later, Tampa mayor Edward A. Clarke bought some of her land for $252. Clarke, whose personal wealth came from local real estate investments, portioned the former Taylor land into house lots, Clarke’s Subdivision. Thomas and Ellen Jackson were also freed persons living just north of Tampa, which was not a very big place then. In 1871, the Jacksons sold eight acres of their homestead to Bartholomew C. Leonardi, a Reconstruction-era Republican. Leonardi re-sold this property as home sites for African Americans. The development included new streets, one of which Leonardi named in honor of Judge Perry G. Wall. Soon, however, Wall Street became Fortune Street, since the road led to Taylor’s homestead on the river.


ortune Taylor remarried, and left Tampa for a few years. However, by the 1890s she was back in town, living on her own, and working as a maid for Clarke’s widow, Sarah. She was known as “Madame Fortune” to some and “Aunt Fortune” to others. When Christina Saunders told her son Robert about Madame Fortune, she remembered her as a “short, stout woman” who bought church bake sale pies and gave them to neighborhood children. Madame Fortune let young Christina comb her long hair. In the meantime, Matthew Hooper - a northerner, a white man, and a county commissioner - claimed a homestead on the west side of the river, opposite the Taylor’s place. Here his son Jim ran a dairy and grew oranges. The Hoopers worked with Scottish businessman Hugh Macfarlane to create a new cigar factory town across the river from Ybor City. Macfarlane accumulated acreage and investors, and in 1892, the development of West Tampa got underway. he only way across the river to West Tampa was on Jim Hooper’s ferry, which was just a small boat or skiff. You got on the skiff and the ferryman pulled you over, using a rope strung across the river. This mode of transportation did nothing to promote West Tampa, and soon the only cigar factory


in town was sinking into bankruptcy. Macfarlane tried to convince other factory owners to come to this new town, but the lack of a bridge made West Tampa a hard thing to sell. What factory would build where there was poor transportation? How would people and tobacco and cigars get from the docks to the factories and back to the docks? At that time Tampa had only two bridges over the Hillsborough, and one of those belonged to the railroad company. The railroad bridge had a wooden footpath, but the swaying and shaking kept many people from using it. Another bridge, further south at Lafayette Street, connected Hyde Park and downtown, but there were no paved roads between Hyde Park and West Tampa until the 1910s. Fortunately, Macfarlane and his fellow West Tampa investors convinced the Tampa city council to let them build a bridge over the Hillsborough River. In October 1892, the American Bridge Company of Roanoke, Virginia, began construction of the Fortune Street Bridge, a 500-foot long, 88-foot wide span completed in less than three months. With the bridge in place, many factories were built in West Tampa, and Macfarlane’s project was a success.


ampa’s businessmen and streetcar companies built the Fortune Street Bridge with their own funds, and once the bridge was finished, the investors donated it to the City of Tampa. This bridge let streetcar passengers cross the Hillsborough River without having to get off on one side and back on again on the other. Tampa’s professional men and businessmen were real estate men out of necessity. The stock market was too risky for any but the very wealthy, so local real estate offered the non-millionaire a relatively safe way to invest hard-earned money. Streetcar companies also speculated in real estate, since new neighborhoods meant more riders. A bridge tender opened and closed the Fortune Street Bridge to let boats go up and down the river. Using a hand-held metal crank, the tender walked in circles to turn the gears that opened the bridge. This was a fascinating spectacle for local boys, but wearisome for workers after a day of rolling cigars. Whenever the bridge opened for a boat, the streetcars, wagons, and bicyclists all had to wait. As West Tampa grew, the Fortune Street Bridge quickly became a victim of its own success. The bridge shut for repairs every few months because of repeated openings and closings, rickety streetcar crossings, and numerous boat collisions. JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2007


Hillsborough River 1927



University of South Florida, Special Collections Department

University of South Florida, Special Collections Department


Streetcars 1892

ne fateful Sunday in May 1901, a tugboat knocked the Fortune Street Bridge off its foundation. The bridge was open when the boat hit it, and the resulting mechanical damage was enough to freeze the draw in the upright position. Anyone who wished to travel between West Tampa and Ybor City or Tampa was forced to cross the river in rowboats. Many female cigar factory workers refused to use the boats after some passengers fell overboard. However, the dangerously overcrowded rowboats remained. On Wednesday morning, May 15, 1901, some workers were late to a West Tampa cigar factory after an hour-long wait to cross the river. Reprimanded by the foreman, the workers voiced their grievances to their co-workers. Soon, the grumbling escalated into a factory-wide strike, and the protest spread to other factories. A group reported by the Tampa Tribune as numbering “five hundred or more,” marched across the railroad bridge to factories in Ybor City. By the time the crowd reached Palmetto Beach, well over one thousand striking workers demanded a better bridge between Tampa and West Tampa.


he city quickly built a pontoon bridge for everyone to use until the Fortune Street span was repaired, ending that particular strike, but not before the story was picked up

by newspapers all across the nation. People in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and Boise, Idaho, read about the unusual protest, which was just a single episode in the struggles between labor and management in Tampa’s cigar industry at the turn of the century. Labor issues, war, and other demands on public fund sdelayed construction of a new bridge at Fortune Street for more than two decades after that strike. However, the 1920s brought prosperity and growth to Tampa, and the city went bridge crazy. Real estate was again a hot investment, and big chunks of land were available on the west side of the river, if only people could get there. In 1924, Tampa voters approved $3 million of public improvement projects, including several new routes over the river. By January 1927, four Hillsborough River bridges were in various stages of completion: a new bridge at Michigan Avenue (now Columbus Avenue), a new bridge at Florida Avenue, areplacement bridge at Fortune Street, and a new bridge at Sligh Avenue that used the old iron from the Fortune Street Bridge. UGI Contracting Company of Philadelphia built the second Fortune Street Bridge. The new bridge was a trunnion bascule, with a large weight dropping to lift the end of a large metal arm. This was, and still is, an unusual type of bridge for automobiles, being more commonly used for trains. JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2007



he new Fortune Street Bridge opened at midnight, May 14, 1927. No public ceremony marked the event, although some boats blew their whistles at the flag-festooned bridge. This was the last of the bridges built over the Hillsborough River in the 1920s, with a final cost of $402,000. In its early days, Fortune Street lived up to its name, being a valuable commercial connection between West Tampa and the Franklin Street business district in downtown Tampa. By 1967, its fortune had reversed. A Tribune reporter described Fortune Street as being “in the midst of Tampa’s Skid row, with the city’s only tattoo shop, three bars, a mission, a barber shop, and a couple of less-than-first-class hotels….” The street was also now quite short, only eight blocks or so, the result of interstate highway construction and urban renewal. Tampa’s urban renewal projects also rerouted and renamed streets, and so the bridge became the Laurel Street Bridge. The bridge underwent major renovations in 1969, when glass towers replaced the original wooden bridge tender houses. New plain concrete parapets and tubular metal handrails reflected the stark modernism of the times.


rom freed slaves to labor strikes, and new towns to urban decay, the Fortune Street Bridge, in its various incarnations, has served Tampa for over one hundred years. In 2006, the Tampa city government designated six Hillsborough River bridges as local historic landmarks, including the Fortune (Laurel) Street Bridge. Although modern development overshadows the bridge, it stands ready to assume new importance. Tampa Riverwalk proposals in the 1970s included the Fortune Street Bridge as a walkway to Riverside Park. Downtown traffic tie-ups show that the bridge may be useful as an evacuation route. But for saving West Tampa, and preserving the memory of the freed slave, the factory worker, the businessman who invested in a community, the bridge has already done enough to earn our continuing respect.





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A local band preparing to board a train 26



Each ethnic group - Italian, Spanish, and Cuban–has their own style of folk music: that which is passed down over several generations. The roots or origins of these styles are varied and result from centuries of emigration, war, migration, or conquest.

Courtesy of Ybor City State Museum

n the factories, social clubs, and neighborhoods of Ybor City, quite a bit going on musically in Ybor City. This article will mereseveral distinct ethnic groups evolved into a “Latin” commuly highlight the variety and breadth of music heard in the Latin nity. Several factors aided this slow but eventual transition. neighborhood from 1900 to 1950 and explain how music allowed To begin with, the ethnic groups making up the majority of each distinct ethnic group to celebrate its heritage while also Ybor residents settled within a few blocks of each other, helping becoming a part of a larger community that was both “Latin” and to facilitate cultural interaction. Additionally, the five mutual aid American. societies–Centro Asturiano, Centro Español, Círculo Cubano La Union Martí-Maceo, and L’Unione Italiana, born out of revolutionWhat is folk music? ary struggles or the need for “mutual protection”–began to work Folk music is the “unselfconscious” expression of a people. The together. The ethnic societies regularly provided each other suptraditions, customs, stories, songs, and food ways passed from genport in times of need, sharing meeting facilities, loaning supplies eration to generation, told, re-told, changed, and told again make or equipment for special events, and hosting dances that were up a peoples’ folk culture–the part that is shared but rarely writopen to all. It should be ten down. “Once it is writnoted, however, that this ten down,” says Spanish interaction generally excludLyric Theater founder and ed the Afro-Cuban commuYbor City native, Rene nity of Union Martí-Maceo. Gonzalez, “it ceases to be By the turn of the 20th folk. It becomes a choreocentury, Ybor City was a graphed performance.” growing, cosmopolitan immigrant community. Popular Music With the cigar industry as Popular music differs its stabilizing economic from folk because popular force, each of the neighbormusic is made with the hood’s mutual aid societies audience in mind. Where provided a host of amenifolk music might be heard ties with an especially wide on a front porch, a wedding array of cultural offerings, or a funeral, popular music providing members a is made to sell tickets or chance to socialize, debate recordings. Folklorists have Cuban Club Dance 1942 politics, dance and see intershown that once a folk tradition is performed and accepted by a wide commercial audience, national performers. Socials, dances, and concert recitals were a it ceases to be folk and becomes popular. Tempos and rhythms regular part of life in Ybor City between 1900 and 1950 and, might be altered making them more palatable to a wider audibecause dances were attended by a cross-section of Ybor residents, ence, usually from outside the original culture. The folk-to-popumusic was one key factor in unifying the various ethnicities of lar metamorphosis has taken place often in 20th century Ybor City into a “Latin” community. American music. The blues music of the South, for example, To understand the musical landscape of Ybor City in the 20th evolved into rock-n-roll; New Orleans funeral marches and ragcentury, however, several distinctions must be drawn. While time became jazz and swing. music and concerts were ever present, musical styles and expresThe music of the Spanish, Cuban, and Italian communities of sions varied depending on where and when the music was heard. Ybor City went through the same metamorphosis. The music of Music played at a picnic, for instance, was not the music heard in the “Latin” community changed, blended, and was celebrated difthe theater of Centro Asturiano. The music heard in the cantina of ferently by each generation. Music and musical performance the Círculo Cubano was not the music heard in the dining room of allowed each distinct ethnic group to celebrate both its unique the Columbia Restaurant, and youngsters looking to flirt and heritage and, eventually, the traits each of those groups had in have a good time did not frequent the operatic performances at common. L’Unione Italiana. From concert recitals to zarzuelas, there was JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2007


Courtesy of the Ferlita Family and the Ybor City Museum Society

Picnics were common social events for members of mutual aid societies. It was here that each group enjoyed traditional folk music. A photo from a Centro Asturiano picnic in 1912 features a young gaitero with his bagpipes. A membership picnic in 1924 for the West Tampa club, Nuove Sicilia, shows a full Italian brass band, and a picnic for L’Unione Italiana of Ybor City, also in 1924, features a group with guitar, mandolin, and other stringed instruments.

Spanish Folk Music of Galicia and Asturias

Joachim Barcena, Sr., quinteto, Ybor City in the 1940s

Folk Expressions in Ybor City

The majority of Ybor City’s Spanish community emigrated from the northern Spanish regions of Asturias and Galicia. By 1910, census records report 2,337 Spaniards living in the area. Though most passed first through Cuba before settling in Ybor City, they maintained many Spanish folk customs and celebrated their regional identity through music and dance.

Folk and popular musical styles have existed side by side for most The Gaita and the Gaitero of Ybor City’s history. The Spanish, for example, danced the Jota The bagpipe, most commonly associated with Scotland, Ireland and played the gaita (bagpipe) at picnics, but they also attended and Celtic tradition, in various incarnations is widespread throughzarzuelas– light opera sung in Spanish. The Italian community, mostout Europe. France, Hungary, Romania, and Italy all have a form of ly from Sicily, had traditional brass and stringed bands but the “pipe with a bag.” L’Unione Italiana also hosted an opera season with world-famous perOver the centuries, several rather disformers. Afro-Cuban members of La parate cultures have influenced the Union Martí-Maceo enjoyed the American music of Spain. At different periods, the popular music of Cab Calloway but also Celts, Romans, and Moors each condanced the Cuban “Son.” Círculo trolled some portion of Spain. Each conCubano, the club for white Cubans, hostquest infused those regions with the cused musicals and “Bufos Cubanos” but toms of the dominant culture. The music also danced the danzón at picnics and perhaps most closely associated with played Puntos Guajiros (Cuban folk songs) Spain, flamenco, evolved from the at social functions . Moorish influence while bagpipes Each ethnic group–Italian, Spanish, remained part of the northern folk tradiand Cuban - has their own style of folk tion. music: that which is passed down over In Ybor City, the Spanish members of several generations. The roots or origins Centro Asturiano and Centro Español of these styles are varied and result from brought the music of northern Spain to centuries of emigration, war, migration, their picnics and social gatherings. The or conquest. And, because music does Spanish bagpipe is called a gaita and the not follow prescribed political boundplayer a gaitero. aries or borders, folk music always conThe gaita differs from the Scottish tains elements derived from several ethpipe, having only one large drone pipe nicities or groups. while the Scotish pipe has three. Gaiteros The folk music of northern were common fixtures at outdoor events. Spain–Galicia and Asturias in particular Photos and accounts from 1911, 1914, - exhibits many Celtic styles one might A Gaitero and the 1920s depict large picnic gathermore commonly associate with Ireland ings with gaiteros prominently highlighted. and Scotland. In Italian folk styles, specifically in Sicily, Moorish “One of the features of the day that drew special attention,” reports accents are found. Cuba’s music is a fusion of Spanish, African, the Tampa Daily Times in 1914, “was the presence of …one of the oldFrench, Mexican and a host of Caribbean nations. Indeed, before time pipers, who played several times during the day to large and Cubans, Spaniards, and Italians arrived in Ybor City, the music they interested audiences. [The piper] is a native of Asturias.” listened to had already crossed several oceans. 28


Sicilian and Neopolitan Folk Music

Italian Musicians-1922

Very little has been written regarding Italian folk music in Ybor City. When the Works Progress Administration of the 1930s sent field workers to Florida to document the stories, songs, and life histories of “Latins,” comparatively few Italians were interviewed. There are about 30 Spanish-language WPA recordings of songs and melodies but there are none in Italian. As a result, the folk music traditions of Sicilians in Ybor City can only be pieced together or compared with other similar communities. The instruments commonly associated with Italy, and Sicily in particular, are the mandolin and the guitar. Like the Spanish with their gaiteros, photos from Italian Club picnics depict large groups of people surrounding a band of musicians all holding stringed instruments. Mandolin player and Tampa native John Pellegrino, interviewed in 1989, recalls, “I had an uncle and once or twice a month he had musicians come into his home. He would fix sausage and something else to eat and people would dance.” Pellegrino learned to play the mandolin in the 1930s on a homemade instrument built by his uncle, a furniture maker. Writing in 1958, folklorist Alan Lomax states, “The tradition of Italian folk music is arguably the least spoiled, most vigorous, and varied of Western Europe.” In the spring of 1958, Lomax traveled throughout the Italian mainland, Sicily and Sardinia. Since over 90 percent of Italians immigrating to Ybor City were Sicilians from the agrarian Magazzolo Valley, what Lomax recorded on this trip, especially in Sicily, might approximate the folk styles found in Ybor City. Period photos also show several Italian brass bands. As with Italian string-band music, little has been written about these brass ensembles save a few mentions about their participation in funeral processions and parades. Regarding funeral rites, University of

South Florida historian Gary Mormino tells us, “…a brass band led the throng to the cemetery,” while an 1893 Tampa Morning Tribune account reads in part: “The corpse is carried by four large men…followed by a brass band, then an empty hearse and carriage precede…sorrowing relatives…” Former Hillsborough County Historian Tony Pizzo provides this short caption regarding brass bands: “Professor Ferdinando Mazzarelli was brought from Italy by the citizens of Ybor City to organize an Italian [brass] band. Besides organizing the band he taught music…” Little else is known of Italian brass bands and their appearances in Ybor City.



Courtesy of Ybor State Museum

Centro Asturiano Orchestra Circa 1916 Henry Santa Cruz-violin, Wilfredo Fernandez-violin, Consuelo Bas Cuervo-piano, Isabel Marquet (later Rigau)-soprano, Rogelio Rigau-violin chelo, Jose (Pepito) Riesgo-violin

Art Music: Opera, Musical Theater, & Classical Recital

Picnics and festivals were perhaps the only time traditional, relatively unadulterated, folk music was heard. The clubhouse theaters were reserved for formal musical expressions, termed by musicologists as, “Art Music.” Musical theater, opera, and classical music recitals were all part of Ybor City’s musical tradition and each was heard, practiced, and played throughout the Latin neighborhood in first half of the 20th century. While the sounds of brass or stringed bands was heard at Italian club picnics and casual get-togethers, in the 1920s the club hosted an annual opera season featuring internationally known performers of the day. Club member Joe Maniscalco recalled, “We used to get the operetti from New York. The locals also formed a theater to work with them.” A Tampa Times article from 1922 mentions opera tenor Cavalleri Salvatore Sciaretti who had recently been knighted by the King of Italy. Sciaretti was playing a season of opera at the Italian Club, starring in Aida.


Another form of opera, though usually characterized as “light opera,” was the Spanish zarzuela. Of all the styles of Spanish music heard in Ybor City, one of the most revered and remembered is the zarzuela. The zarzuela is considered the “traditional Spanish form of comic opera.” Zarzuelas are generally two-act performances with dialogue that is both sung and spoken. “They are considered light opera because every word is not sung,” says local theater director Rene Gonzalez. The zarzuela remained popular in Spain throughout the 19th century. The art form spread to Cuba where eventually Cuban zarzuelas were produced. In Ybor City, the comedic light opera of the zarzuela was incredibly popular and remained so into the 1960s. 30


Classical Music

Children taking music lessons learned a fairly standard repertoire of Western European classical music along with a few Spanish zarzuelas. Adela Gonzmart, a well-known local resident and former owner of the Columbia Restaurant, was a classically trained concert pianist who attended Julliard in the 1940s. She performed recitals at the Centro Asturiano and other concert halls in Tampa. Her repertoire included the works of Schubert and Stravinsky but usually also included works from Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona, perhaps Cuba’s most famous classical composer. Adela’s husband Cesar, a classically trained violinist, studied at the Havana Conservatory and played “Society Music” at hotels and ballrooms throughout the United States and Cuba before finally returning to Ybor City.

Cuban Music

Cuban popular music is without a doubt the most enduring of all “Latin” styles heard in Ybor City. Because of its proximity to Florida, because Ybor City residents frequently traveled to the island, Cuban music maintained a strong presence in Ybor City. “If it was popular in Cuba, it was popular here [in Ybor City]. You could walk down the street and hear Cuban radio,” recalls Rene Gonzalez. The island of Cuba was a crossroads where the musical influences of white Cubans, Afro-Cubans and Spaniards blended before eventually making their way to the neighborhoods and dance halls of Ybor City. The number of different styles that originated on the island is a direct result of the many cultures that called the island home. The Son, the Danzón, the Bolero, the Rumba, the Cha-Cha, to say nothing of the music of the Afro-Cuban Santeria religion, merit more detail than we can go into here. It is safe to say, however, that many of these styles made their way from Cuba to the dance halls of Ybor City.

Local Afro-Cuban band

The African Slave Trade, Cuba, and Music

Forced into slavery and made to work the sugar cane plantations, slaves in Cuba, like those in the American South, maintained as best they could their cultural identity, infusing Spanish musical styles with African rhythms, instruments, and melodies. The slaves forcefully imported to Cuba were from several African regions. Each of these African descendants brought with them music that, over time, influenced and changed European musical styles in Cuba. Although complex and unique in their own way, the music of these groups shares many similarities. “The polyrhythmic and polyphonic language [of these groups], which is specifically African, is found in all Cuban folk music,” explains one musicologist.

The Danzón

Like almost every Cuban form, the danzón is a combination of several musical styles and cultures. The danzón has the danza as its root, a Spanish dance form written in a 2/4 time signature. A review of Spanish language publications yields some insight into what people expected to hear when they went to a dance at one of the local social clubs. A 1912 issue of Tampa Illustrado advertises a “Baile Social” at the Círculo Cubano featuring Felipe Vazquez. The announcement reads in part, “We all know how everyone prefers the danzón.” The danzón was essentially a ballroom dance that “bears the mark of Europe.” 32


The Son

Musicologists regard the Son as, “…A mulatto, and quintessentially national genre of both African and Spanish origin.” Combining the ten-line décima Spanish song form with African drumming and rhythms, the Son became the most popular musical expression in Cuba by the 1920s and, “the single most popular dance music genre of 20th century Cuba.” The Son is defined this way in the book The Latin Tinge by John Storm Roberts: “The Son is the classic Afro-Cuban form, [with both] African and Hispanic elements.” Almost all the numbers Americans called rumbas were in fact Sons. The Son was a marriage of black and white. Like American blues and rock and roll, the popularity of the Son, with its mix of black and white styles, was scandalous for some, exciting and sexy for others. So controversial was the Son, it became the subject of debate among the membership of the Martí-Maceo Club. Minutes from 1928 highlight the controversy: Mr. Perez had attended a dance [at the club] and protested because the Son had been allowed. Mr. Perez said … all the Cuban societies collaborating for the advancement of the black race did not allow this music. Mr. Gerbacio said the Son is regarded unfavorably in Havana. Mr. Punales said that in Havana, the white societies are dancing the Son…and he sees no reason to believe that because we are black that we will be degraded for dancing the Son…Mr. Rodriguez spoke in favor of the Son. Mr. R. Perez spoke against the Son. The president put the matter to a vote and the results were 4 against and 8 in favor [of banning the Son].

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Courtesy of University of Florida, Special Collections Department

A local band performing at the Columbia Restaurant–a young Cesar Gonzmart is seen far right and next to him is musical composer Ernesto Esperante, the grandfather of editor Marilyn Figueredo and the great grandfather of the Publisher & Founder of Cigar City Magazine, Lisa M. Figueredo.

Cuban-Spanish-American–Music Until 4 A.M.

In the dance halls of Ybor City, acceptance and identity were explored through music. Regarding the Martí-Maceo club, Anthropologist Susan Greenbaum writes, “Young and old, traditional and modern, belligerently Cuban and insistently American, were discovering common ground.” By 1930, American popular music was fully entrenched in Ybor’s social scene. There is this account from the Tampa Daily Times in March, 1930: “The dance at the Cuban Club…was attended by 2,500 persons. American music was furnished in the main ballroom…and Cuban music in the second floor.” La Alegra the “Official Organ of the Centro Asturiano,” features many announcements for dances and socials including one for the Bob Sylvester Orchestra who had headlined “all the major hotels and cabarets in New York” and played American big band and swing music. Other announcements indicate that tastes had shifted from the older style to new. The Martí-Maceo also shifted to American music. As membership lagged, the Afro- Cuban club rented its meeting hall to African American touring musicians. “They had big bands, Cab Calloway, Nat King Cole, Louie Armstrong…when they were gonna play in Tampa for the Blacks, they would get the Cuban Hall,” recalled one 34


former member. The Martí-Maceo also hosted split-level entertainment or “Top and Bottom Dances.” The club celebrated the grand opening of a new outdoor patio in 1942 with two American bands and one Cuban band. By at least 1940, top and bottom dances were the norm in Ybor City’s social clubs. However, despite what appears to be a complete shift towards American jazz and swing, traditional music continued at picnics and other gatherings. A “Gran Picnic” in September of 1940 advertises, “Dance all day, Paso-Doble and Jazz!” And Centro Asturiano’s 1940 New Years dance featured, “The Bob Porton Orchestra playing American dance music and the Siboney Orchestra playing Latin rhythms in the salon cantina.” Two bands, one American and the other “Latin,” became the norm and remained so for most of the second and third generations of Ybor residents. As the second and third generations came of age, the music featured in the social clubs of Ybor City was not tied as much to a specific ethnicity as it was to a common “Latin” community. The program for the Loyal Knights of America’s Spanish Fiesta, “Noche De Mantilla,” featured “American Music,” “popular Cuban songs,” as well as music from Argentina, Italy, and Mexico, while the Don Francisco Orchestra played “Cuban-Spanish-American Music until 4:00 a.m.” The music reflected the fluid crowds of Italians, Cubans and Spaniards who were sure to be in attendance.

Arturo Sandoval is fluent in at least four musical languages. Grammy Awards performing with pop-phenomenon Justin He can burn through an Afro-Cuban groove, tear up a bebop Timberlake as well as on the Latin Billboard Awards with the tune, soar over a Mozart concerto and sooth you with a lus- gifted Alicia Keys, where he was awarded his 6th Billboard cious ballad; with equal power and grace Granted political asy- Awards for "Best Latin Jazz Album". lum in July 1990 and US citizenship in 1999, Sandoval and Not only is Arturo a tenured professor at Florida his family now call Miami, Florida home. A protégé of the International University, but he works nationally and abroad legendary jazz master Dizzy Gillespie, Sandoval was born in with innumerable institutions and their music departments Artemisa, a small town in the outskirts of Havana, Cuba, on offering several scholarships, exercise books, clinics and semiNovember 6, 1949, just two years nars, and has rendered a considafter Gillespie became the first musierable amount of time working cian to bring Latin influences into with the NARAS educational American Jazz. Sandoval began program. Furthermore, Hal studying classical trumpet at the age Leonard Publishing has not of twelve, but it didn’t take him only released additional educalong to catch the excitement of the tions books with recorded CD’s jazz world. He has since evolved that include original exercises by into one of the World’s most Sandoval, but has published varacknowledged guardians of jazz ious big band, combo and trumpet and flugel horn, as well as a marching band charts from his renowned classical artist. award winning albums. Arturo Sandoval was a founding member Sandoval maintains one of the of the Grammy Award-winning most extensive educational progroup Irakere, whose explosive mixgrams in the industry. Sandoval ture of jazz, classical, rock and tradiis also a renowned classical musitional Cuban music caused a sensacian, performing regularly with tion throughout the entertainment the leading symphony orchesworld. In 1981, he left Irakere to tras from around the world. Arturo Sandoval form his own band, which garnered Arturo has composed his own enthusiastic praise from critics and "Concerto for Trumpet & audiences all over the world. Sandoval was voted Cuba’s Best Orchestra", which can be heard on "Arturo Sandoval: The Instrumentalist from 1982 to 1990. Classical Album." Also, he has been chosen to perform with Arturo Sandoval has been awarded 4 Grammy Awards, 6 the foremost orchestras on primetime television, and was Billboard Awards and an Emmy Award. The latter for his asked by John Williams to record on Williams’ original composing work on the entire underscore of the HBO movie Trumpet Concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra. based on his life, "For Love or Country" starring Andy Garcia. His classical artistry has earned him the respect and admiraHe is one of the most dynamic and vivacious live performers tion from the most prestigious conductors, composers and of our time, and has recently been seen by millions in the symphony orchestras world-wide.



Arturo Sandoval’s versatility can be heard on recordings with everyone from Dizzy Gillespie, Woody Herman, Woody Shaw, Michel Legrand, Bill Conti, and Stan Getz to Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Paul Anka, Rod Stewart and Alicia Keys amongst many others. He has performed with Celine Dione at the Oscars, John Williams with the Boston Pops, and in the Super bowl with Tony Bennet and Patti LaBelle. His playing can also be heard on Dave Grusin’s soundtrack for "Havana", in the "Mambo Kings" soundtrack with his Grammy nominated composition "Mambo Caliente", in the soundtrack of "The Perez Family", was commissioned by the Kennedy Center to compose the music for the ballet of "Pepito’s Story" choreographed by Debbie Allen, and, as mentioned above, he was awarded an Emmy for his composing work on the entire underscore of the HBO movie based on his life, "For Love or Country" starring Andy Garcia. Arturo Sandoval reaches beyond the scope of mere effort. His struggles while in Cuba and since his defection have given him more energy and strength, urging him to accomplish and surpass his childhood dreams. Filled with a virtuoso capability, he desires nothing more than to share his gift with others who feel the same intense adoration for music as he does. One frequently speaks of Arturo Sandoval’s virtuoso technical ability or his specialty in high notes, but he who has seen him on the piano, lyrically improvising a ballad, or has had the opportunity to enjoy the diversity of his music, through his compositions from the most straight ahead jazz, Latin jazz or classical, knows that Arturo Sandoval is a prominent musician, and one recognizes that Arturo is one of the most brilliant and proliferous musicians of our time. JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2007


Gavino GutiĂŠrrez used his imagination and business acumen to open the door for the vibrant cigar industry that turned Tampa into the Cigar Capital of the World.



By Marilyn Esperante Figueredo

“I tell you Gutiérrez, there are thousands of guava trees in this little town called ‘Tampa’ and we must go there to investigate. You and I can become very rich making guava paste and jams!” “Just go alone Gargol. Why must I go?” responded Gutiérrez. “Because you, my friend, speak English and I do not.”


erhaps this is how a conversation between Gavino Gutiérrez and his friend Bernardino Gargol may have transpired back in 1884. They were both young entrepreneurs living and working in New York. Gutiérrez owned an import/export business, selling merchandise from Spain, Cuba and Mexico, and Bernardino Gargol owned marmalade and guava paste factories in Cuba. The two decided to plan a trip to Tampa to search for guavas. They went by rail to Sanford, Florida, and then by a rough stage ride to Tampa. Gavino Gutiérrez was born on October 26, 1849, in San Vicente de la Barquera, a beautiful little village in northern Spain near the foothills of the Cantabrian Mountains. Deciding to leave his homeland when he was quite young, he sailed to Cuba, a popular destination for Spanish emigrants. He worked in a store on the island until 1868 when, at the age of nineteen, he left for New York with just $6 in his pocket. He found employment, saved his money, and eventually established an import/export business. He had been schooled in architecture and was a civil engineer–trades that would serve him well in the future.


fter the exhausting trip, the two guava travelers arrived in Tampa and found a quiet village of about 700 inhabitants who spent their days fishing, hunting, farming and cultivating citrus. The town was rustic with the main streets constructed of wood and the rest made of sand. The local residents did not seem to mind the livestock, geese and hogs sharing the streets with them. Palmetto bushes were scattered about the land and alligators were frequent visitors. Advised that guava trees grew plentifully east of Tampa, Gutiérrez and Gargol packed their gear and headed towards a region known as Peru near the Alafia River. They did find a few guava trees, but nowhere near the numbers they were told to expect. Disappointed, they returned to Tampa, frustrated that their business idea was not going to materialize. Gutiérrez then looked around the town and liked what he saw. Tampa possessed a natural harbor and good climate; the railroad was being built and wild game was plentiful. Gutiérrez loved hunting, and since this was a place he could certainly get used to, he decided he would return. His mind began contemplating other business opportunities that might exist.


utiérrez decided to stop in Key West on his return to New York to visit a friend, Don Vicente Martinez Ybor. He boarded a paddlewheel ferry and headed to “Cayo Hueso”, as the Spaniards called this Florida island. Gutiérrez wanted to tell his friend Ybor about Tampa. Ybor was the princi-

pal owner of the Principe de Gales cigar factory in Key West. He was experiencing many labor problems with his workers and was considering moving his cigar production elsewhere. When Gutiérrez arrived at Ybor’s home he found another friend, Ignacio Haya, visiting. Haya was the co-owner of one of the largest cigar factories in New York City called La Flor de Sanchez y Haya. He and Ybor had been discussing the state of the cigar industry in Key West. Gutiérrez excitedly told his friends about Tampa and all it had to offer. As Tampa’s new self-appointed ambassador, Gutiérrez explained how this area of Florida would be perfect for the cigar industry. Plenty of fresh water existed, the Plant railroad and steamships would provide transportation, and the weather was good for tobacco just as it was for Gutiérrez’s rheumatism. He urged them to visit the city as he had done and see for themselves. Tampa sounded appealing to the two cigar manufacturers. In addition to labor problems, Key West did not have a fresh water supply and could only be reached by ship.


s they toured Tampa, they knew they had found the perfect place to build their cigar factories. Ybor and his business partner Eduardo Manrara looked at some land two miles northeast of downtown Tampa. Captain John T. Lesley owned the 40 acres. He agreed to sell the land for $9,000 but Ybor felt the price was too high. Eventually he was able to secure financial assistance from Tampa’s Board of Trade who was trying to attract new business development to the city. They agreed to subsidize $4,000 of the purchase price of the property. Additional acres of land would be purchased later. With Gutiérrez’s background, he became Ybor City’s architect and construction foreman. He surveyed the land and decided the streets would run north and south and the avenues east and west. The founders discussed what to name the new cigar town and chose that of the eldest of the group–Vicente Martinez Ybor. The first tree was cut down on October 8, 1885 as the land was cleared. Ybor and Haya began building their factories as well as the houses for the arriving cigar makers. The two cigar magnates rushed to production because each wanted their factory to be the first to produce a cigar. Ignacio Haya’s factory, Sanchez y Haya, won the honor when his factory made the first cigar on April 13, 1886. Large numbers of cigar makers flocked to Ybor City as more factories were built. Businesses opened to support the new residents. In a few short years the population of Tampa grew rapidly and its reputation as a “sleepy hamlet” faded into history. JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2007



Gavino Gutérrez in Spain (seated 2nd on the left)

nce Gutiérrez settled in Tampa, he sent for his wife Nellie Daley, a young Irish girl from New York whom he married on October 31, 1877, when he was 28 years old. Together they had four children–Aurora (married D. B. McKay), Gavino Jr. (married Lolita del Corro), Maria Harriet (married Dr. L.B. Mitchell) and Adelaida (married Franciso Colado). Gutiérrez built his family home on a piece of property he called Spanish Park. His land extended from 7th Avenue in Ybor City all the way to McKay Bay. In the early 1950s, Gutiérrez’s daughter, Maria Harriet Mitchell, sold a large strip of land to the State of Florida for $1 for the construction of Adamo Drive. The family still owns a remaining strip of the original estate along the bay. Gutiérrez also owned another piece of property on the Palm River, nicknamed “The Creek.” He held outdoor fiestas and picnics for cigar makers and their families on Sundays. They rowed their their small boats across the bay from present day 22nd Street and were treated to a day filled with Cuban music and food. Gutiérrez hoped it helped them from becoming too homesick for their homeland. 40


The small zoo Gutiérrez had on his property intrigued visiting children and adults alike. One large cage held a bear, and Gutiérrez liked to brag that the door of the cage oncebelonged to the first jail in Tampa. It was given to him by his friend and sonin-law, Tampa Mayor D. B. McKay. The jail door remains in the Gutiérrez family today as a keepsake.

Spanish Park


Gavino Gutierrez & friends

n outdoorsman, Gutiérrez spent lots of time hunting with friends and family. Many of the existing photographs of Gutiérrez show him standing proudly with his hunting dogs and gun. You can easily pick him out of pictures–a robust man with a red bushy mustache and beard. In addition to hunting, Gutiérrez loved traveling. In 1919 at the age of 69, he decided he wanted to take a trip around the world. He planned a voyage aboard the ship of an old Scottish friend and together they set sail. His timing was not good as World War I was getting worse. When the news reached the ship, it was off the coast of Africa. Fearing for their safety, they headed to Spain for safe port. While in Spain, Gavino Gutiérrez became very ill and died. The death of this man of vision occurred on March 8, 1919 and, because of the laws of Spain at the time, the family had to wait five years before his body was returned to Tampa for burial. In 1924 Gavino Gutiérrez was laid to rest in Myrtle Hill Cemetery.


ooking back on the life of one of Tampa’s early pioneers, one must wonder how our history would have played out if Gutiérrez had not decided to search for the elusive guava. Fortunately Gutiérrez was not disappointed by his failed trip. Instead he used his imagination and business acumen to open the door for the vibrant cigar industry that turned Tampa into the Cigar Capital of the World. For this, we are eternally grateful. 42


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In 1819 Spain consented to give the United States title to East and West Florida and the agreement was ratified in 1821. More than 16,000 Floridians served in the Civil War with 15,000 in the Confederate army and 1,290 in the Union forces. By the spring of 1865 at least 5,000 Florida soldiers were dead. Two Key West cigar manufacturers, Severo De Armas and Juan La Paz moved their cigar operation to West Tampa in June 1894. The Severo De Armas Cigar Factory was located on the corner of Armina Avenue (Armenia Avenue) and Walnut Street, and employed 68 cigar makers. The first Cuban cigar makers arrived in Tampa in 1886 aboard the Hutchinson side-wheeler. In 1918 a worldwide influenza epidemic strikes; by 1920, nearly 20 million are dead. In U.S., 500,000 perish.

A tugboat, “The Three Friends” operated around 1895. It was used to assist Cuba in their war against Spain. Food and medical supplies were a few of the many items the tugboat smuggled to Cuba from Florida. In 1855 the first law enforcement position, City Marshall, was created in Tampa. In 1886, the first police force began and the position of City Marshall was changed to Chief of Police. The police force had a total of six officers. In 1881 there were only 885 persons living in Tampa. In the late 1880s a Spaniard by the name of Manuel Súarez (known as “El Gallego”), is said to have started bolita (Spanish for “little ball”). It was a type of lottery where 100 small numbered balls were placed into a bag and bets were taken as to which number would be drawn.

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LOST LANDMARKS Previous Lost Landmark: Belk Lindsey or Fernandez and Garcia Belk Lindsey Department Store and earlier, Fernandez and Garcia (either guess would be correct). William Henry Belk founded Belk Lindsey Corporation in 1888. The store was first called, “New York Racket” and then “Belk Brothers,” after William Belk made his brother John, a partner. The building still stands on 7th Avenue in Ybor City. Congratulations to Vilma Ferlita of Tampa, who correctly identified the landmark and won a Cigar City Magazine t-shirt.

This landmark was located at 601 E. Lafayette St. (now Kennedy Blvd). It was originally known as the Tampa Board of Trade in 1885. The organization changed its name in 1928.

You can win a Cigar City Magazine t-shirt by correctly identifying this landmark. Simply mail the name of the structure and your contact information to Cigar City Magazine at P.O. Box 18613, Tampa, Florida 33679 by February 1, 2007. All correct entries will be entered into a drawing and one name will be selected as the winner. Good luck!


1700 E. Hillsborough Ave. • Half Mile East Of I-275 North • 877-223-2887 JANUARY - FEBRUARY 2007



Salvatore Chillura Reina

lives lives have have been been around around for for thousands thousands of of years. years. If If you you are are aa fan fan of of these these tiny tiny green green fruits, fruits, you you may may not not know know that that some some of of Spain’s Spain’s best best olives olives were were bottled bottled right right here here in in Tampa. Tampa.

Sevilla Olive Ad



Greeks were the first to cultivate the olive tree around 3500 BC on the island of Crete. By 2000 BC cultivation was on a large scale with exports to mainland Greece, Northern Africa, and Asia Minor. For the ancient Greeks, the olive tree was a symbol of peace, wisdom and triumph. Olympic athletes in Greece were massaged with olive oil and believed that three gifts of the gods would be acquired - wisdom, power and strength. They also used olive oil to heal wounds and cure many ailments including insomnia, nausea, cholera and ulcers. In the Bible you will find many references to olives and olive oil. The Book of Genesis speaks of the dove that was let loose by Noah. The dove later returned with an olive branch in its mouth indicating the symbol of peace and the end of God’s anger. In the Book of Exodus God tells Moses how to make an anointing oil of spices and olive oil. During consecration, holy anointing oil was poured over the heads of kings and priests. So, when Salvatore Chillura Reina started his olive business here in Tampa, one has to wonder if somehow he knew the magical power of olives and their oil.


alvatore Chillura Reina was born on December 11, 1882 in Santo Stefano Quisquina, Sicily, to Ignazio and Giuseppina (Chillura) Reina who were farmers. He came to Tampa in 1903, could not speak English and needed employment. He was given a job driving a mule cart for his uncle’s wholesale feed and grocery business known as Reina Brothers Company. When he was 21 he left for a brief period to try his hand at rolling cigars, but eventually returned to his uncle’s business where he worked as a dispatcher.

Above: Sam Reina at work & Sevilla Olive Company Right: Sevilla Olive Company Truck



Left: Reina at the Columbia Right: A businessman and Sam Reina Bottom Left: Women Olive packers

In 1938, he started Sevilla Olive Company in Ybor City. The business imported olive oil, maraschino cherries and olives from Spain. Olives were shipped by freighters directly to Tampa where they arrived packed in brine inside manmade wooden casks ready for bottling. Women workers used colanders to dip olives from the barrel and place them on steel trays to be sorted. Steel prongs were then used to select the olives. The prongs had a spring release that would allow the olive packer to release the olive and place it attractively in a jar. Each worker packed approximately 40 jars a day. The olives, cherries and olive oil were labeled under the name “Silvia & Marti.” The company also imported La Estrella Guava Paste and other products. They were first located on 8th Avenue in Ybor City behind the Kress Building, but later moved to 2601 2nd Avenue. In a short period of time, Sevilla Olive Packing became one of Florida’s most successful wholesale grocery and import firms. Salvatore had married Maria Spoto in 1908. She was a native of Casteltermini, Sicily, and the daughter of Michele and Pietra 48


(Caltagirone) Spoto. Together they had three sons Alfred, Ernest and Hugo who eventually worked in the business with their father. Salvatore passed away in 1979 at the age of 97 after a long legacy of involvement in his community. He came to America as many Sicilian immigrants did in early 1900, looking for opportunity and a way to support his family. Salvatore Chillura Reina will always be remembered as one of Tampa’s early pioneers who contributed so much to our city’s rich heritage. An excerpt from a story written about him in 1949 in Il Volte D’Italia described him well: Salvatore Reina, we can well affirm, belongs to those heroic immigrants whose coming marked the dawn of Italian contributions to the culture of the Stellar Republic. The life of this gentleman of our race has all been spent amid honest commercial endeavor, with his family and in doing good works…his name is known everywhere as a symbol of excellent products and of honesty.


Bubby’s Potato Latkes BY BARBARA BUNTING

My great grandmother, Rebecca Tannenstock known to her family as, “Bubby”, came to the United States from Poland in the late 1800s. Bubby was twelve years old and traveled with her family aboard the S. S. Rotterdam. This recipe was handed down from her mother and prepared during the Jewish holiday, Chanukah. It was one of the family’s favorite dishes and enjoyed by all. The wonderful smell tortured those of us waiting to sample this wonderful dish. I hope you and your family enjoy this as much as I did.


5 large baking potatoes

1/2C of flour (sifted)

3 eggs

Salt and Pepper to taste

Sour cream

ubby” Rebecca “B

2T Parsley flakes (optional)

Garlic powder to taste

Apple sauce

Cooking oil


Peel and grate potatoes and onions, then sift in flour and mix thoroughly. Beat in eggs, then add salt, pepper, garlic powder and parsley flakes. Mix together until mixture is slightly thick (if mixture is too thin, add a teaspoon of flour). Heat 1/4 inch of cooking oil in a large frying pan. Use a large serving spoon to drop large portions of the mixture into the hot oil. Fry until golden brown, then flip it and brown other side.


2 medium onions


Remove from pan and place on a platter with paper towels to remove oil. Garnish with applesauce and sour cream. Recipe feeds: 4 people


Dear Mama, If 50 is the new 30 and 70 is the new 50, how will I know when I’ve reached old age? -Waiting for Wrinkles De ar Wrin kles, Here are a few signs - When you’re walking around Ybor City and the historical sights are younger than you are. When you go to an Italian wedding and really enjoy the accordion music. When gravity becomes your worst enemy. Trust me…you’ll know. -Mama



Dear Mama, I recently lost my voice and my abuela freaked out claiming that I caught the sereno. I explained that I wasn’t around anyone that was sick, but she said that I caught it from the air. I’ve never heard of sereno, what do you know about this airborne illness? -Doubting Tomas Dear Tomas, Sereno is a mysterious dew that lingers in the night air year round. You are at risk of contamination if you go outside without a hat and jacket. Sereno can only be detected by the Cuban elderly. - Mama Dear Mama, Can you settle an argument between my brother and I? He says “It’s what you know” that counts, and I say, “It’s who you know.” Which is it? -Sibling Rivalry Dear Sibling, You’re both wrong!!!!! It’s who you know and what you know about them!! Enough said! - Mama

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