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INTERVIEWEE: June Conner
INTERVIEWER: Glen West hal1
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C: ... famous Savanna building and that's
W: What else, tfere-s I74 r }, Royale in Havana?
C: I don't know what it is_
SThis will give you and then this is
supposed to be, this is the, this is the article that's going to
come out in that famous magazine...
C: ...in two sections and they had every week, every day of the week
they have a different soup. In other words on Monday you have
And on Martes, Tuesday, you have
C: Jueves you have potato and on viernes
you have On Sabado you have
SAnd so this story is I'm
supposed to be a man and fighting about taking some friends out
to show them Ybor City.
W: Oh that, that I'd like to see later.
C: This is a story that's supposed to come out see the
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committee, corrections on it, and it tells exactly, describes exactly...
But::the thing of it was Mr. Buen who had a bunch of big stalward
rough-necks stand here from Philadelphia or somewhere, to build
a gas company whole thing. He decided that
if Hartly went back he was going to give him a big Spanish banquet
and the description of what happened during that time he told
my father about it and I knew him.
W: When, when was this?
C: Well, this was early in the century. This was back in the first
few days, the very first few, my father died in 1902.
C: But he felt good, I remember when he told me. But I have, was
writing this story about, well, have you ever had a Spanish dinner
in Tampa? aer '/. /c c; .
C: But the description of the coffee shopsin here was
the way it was in those days which would make them be
S__Espanole. Now I saw the only, well, they got
all the white out those from South America and they had them here
in 1912. I saw and
all those, the Merry Widow and the Chocolate Soldier
and the Town of Luxenburg, all those operas. They couldn't put them
in the because you know they wouldn't get the audience
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to put them in the, in the Espanole. And then the first grand opera
I ever saw was in We got
W: Ah, that, that must have been great.
C: That was in 1914.
C: But anyway this is the story that, you know...
W: Oh, I'd love to look at that if I could. Now I had just a couple of
things I wanted to ask you.
C: I'll stop blabbing.
W: No, listen I'm fascinated. I, I could keep, I could sit here all
C: interested in pictures.
W: Oh, this is...well, I'm, I'm thinking off of...
C: Oh, here's this nice letter that I wanted to refer to you. This is
a picture taken of the oldest members of the Mass Assembly. Dr.
Openheimer here and Mr. Remirez, Remirez.
Dr. Openheimer was quite a wonderful person and
Mr. Remirez, he was, he passed on. Dr. Ingraham wrote a book.
I have felt outraged for some time about the manner
I wrote him something about this.
letter and I knew about the jealousy that existed in connection with
Ingraham in that situation. I have felt outraged for some time.
This is 1936. Dr. the memory
of Mr. has been neglected. Sometime upon some
occasion I am going to say something publicly about it .
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W: See, that one's what, six, that, this one...?
C: The same as 209.
C: see where this was in '35.
W: March what?
C: You may know how much I appreciate the very fine letter from
It is wonderful to have such a loyal friend and
so forth. I had intended, as I had spoken last Tuesday evening,
to tell something of the activities of Mr. He is
the man responsible for the
in not only in Tampa but in the United States at all and
has been a source of...he was lawyer when he was a young man.
W: Oh, I didn't know that.
C: Oh yes, he was a young attorney and he and Mr;,Manaro wrote a
that manuscript you see Some people
say that Manaro made Knight and Knight made Manaro, but be that as
it may they were a wonderful combination.
C: But in, and it has been a great source of disappointment to me that
in the last cigar jubilee he did not receive even mention from anybody.
It certainly must have been disappointing to his family. You see
his sons and daughter were stockholders in our bank.
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C: He used to be president of that bank. It certainly must have been
disappointing. Sometime I shall be glad to go over, go over a lot
of this with you. And he had a copy of_
But when he started and I thought we were friends and when I thought
bother me, I was handicapped. If
I ever did anything creditable when I was young, why people would
say, "Oh, well, you ought to be smart. Just think what a wonderful
father and mother you have." What a terrible present. I can't
take enough notes. I wrote this one down at the
Bay. \This book Italian
soups.' That is the cottage, one of those is a cottage where
W: I had a couple of things here.
C: All right.
W: When, when I was going through my research I couldn't understand...
I think you pretty well answered one of them, because I found a will
of Ybor dated 1896 in January.
C; Well, he died in '95.
W: Right, right, and this is what I couldn't understand. What, what
happened, how did he die?
C: He just died. He was an old man. He was in his girl friend's house
and died and they took him out.
W: Why did they, why did they cover it up?
C: I don't know. They didn't cover it up. They just wanted to get him
out of her place before his family got here.
W: I see.
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C: And another thing, this is about the when he came over here
the county But the Spanish manufacturers and the
Spanish people who lived in Cuba always sent Mama back to Spain
every year so she wouldn't have her children in Cuba, and one year
there was a terrible storm and Raoul Orango happened to be going
to Cuba and they all kidded him about being a Cuban. I knew it.
He was the best-looking one in the family.
W: Oh my. Well, you remember so much about Ybor City, though, you
C: Well, you-see I had three or four...
C: ...I had five years out I had a year, not quite a
year with the Van American Company. Then after I was married I
went wtth Ray Scott and worked there three years and then Stackleburg
drived back in Cortland Streetcar one time when his car, his auto-
mobile wasn't working. He said, "Listen, I want you to come over to
Santaginia with me." He bought in Santaginia and so I made a deal
with one of the big wholesalers here in Tampa to take out almost
the entire output so that they would do the distribution which would
eliminate so much of the detail work that we had. And I told the
boss about it and told him to stock where he wanted and we parted
good friends. But we were always good friends. He
and then I went over to Santaginia and like I
say I worked there until, well, I was there in 1913, '14, during
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the war strike. But all of a sudden the relatives kept coming.
The only time in my life that I was ever fired,one Saturday after-
noon Taurus, who was married to the neice of Mrs. Aya Ray and
she was a paper salesman. She died, but she was Mrs.
daughter but she wasn't ..... daughter. When Marina
married Agurso Torie, Torie was the office manager and his brother
had been taking some kind of a business course up in New York.
Well, he didn't know is the vernacular from nothing, but he was
there and he was a relative and so Mr. Torie said...at that
time Stackleburg had already told Mrs. Aya that she would either
sell or buy, that he was going to get out of the factory, and
I think he was already gone. So then Torie decided he'd put
Armhel in my place and he said, "Look, we, we won't need you any-
more." Well, I wrote a note to Mr. Stackleburg. I said, "I've
never been fired in my life." I said, "I'm at least entitled to
some notice," and he just balled them out and they sent me a check
for two weeks, which wasn't very much. I think it was thirty-six
dollars. Eighteen dollars a week was good pay. But later
it was, two years later one of them met me on the
street and begged me to come back. I said, "I'm sorry, but I have
other business." I was going to have my first baby.
W: Oh my.
C: I had gone back to Armour and Company. I was, I went through,
I went to Armour after that. I went back to Armour in '17 and was
there until '20.
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W: Why, why do you feel that Ybor City remains so isolated from
C: Well, here's the thing. Now the, the section in between had already
been a sort of a deteriorated area and Tampa near,
and so much of it got out of hand and the people who used to live
around there, those that made money wanted to live down suburb
beautiful or Dade South or some other place and they didn't even
want to live in Tampa Wanted a
house. Up there at across the street one block up
St. Joseph Hospital, there used to be some lovely homes in there.
But they've all, the town changed just like Peachtree's did in
W: Right, right. But what, what I meant, though,was Ybor City had
Italians, it had Cubans...
C: Well, and now...
W: Can I turn it on now?
C: Well, what am I going to say?
W: Well, I just, I just have some...if you don't want me to tape it
I won't, but I just wanted, wanted to know why the Italians and
the Cubans and the Spaniards were able to keep their cultural
C: Well, they didn't.
W: They didn't? Could I...
C: And I know there's not, because I don't, I'm not speaking authoritatively
this way. The Spanish people built these hospitals and clubs because
they took care of their own. We had a Italiano which
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took care of theirs, and we had some...there was, there was an Italian,
a very important person. Tony Pizza doesn't say anything about
him because he didn't1him. John Savery was a wholesale fish man
and he married a beautiful woman
and he was a very important early Italian. But there weren't so very
many Italians too far back and during the Spanish American War
for instance, there were still a great many people who lived when
Heights residential area merged into the beginning
of Ybor City. But Ybor City was, and but Palmetto Beach and DeSoto
Park was a residential area. And see the twenty-second street car
line went down and then turned east and went to DeSoto Park. Well,
during the, the war, those encampments were all down on the Ybor
side and they didn't know that when the rainy season came they
would all be
W: Oh no.
C: They had to dig trenches around it. There were more people that
died in Tampa in 1898 with typhoid fever right in those hospitals
than went to Cuba.
W: Oh my.
C: My mother used to go out there and take flowers and a man who was
a gardner for the Tampa Bay Hotel had trained under:the Shaw
Gardens in St. Louis under my great-uncle, my mother's uncle, and
he knew her. He was a Swiss named and he was very
lovely. Of course in the summertime they had lots of lovely flowers
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and one or two ladies who had horse and buggies would pick Mama
up and they'd go over there and give them, go up to carry some
flowers and she'd go out to these hospitals in Silver Park, I
mean down at Twenty-second Street, and sing and take the flowers
down and they were in critical condition.
W: That was...
C: They had no, during the Spanish American War, they had no, they
came down here from Michigan and Maryland and New York with their
heavy blue uniforms on and the stock broke.
W: This is all the Spanish American War soldiers then that...
C: Yes, you see now the volunteers...those are thirty-second, I can
tell you every regiment at the camp down there at both sides.
W: Oh my.
C: There was a thirty-second Michigan and thirty-fifth Ohio and one
of the Maryland regiments and the second Georgian and the first
Florida and then the sisty-ninth New York which was Ooo Boy.
They were, they used to have, they had a box car down there for
their, for their, to put their men in the guard house. They couldn't
put them in a tent.
W: Oh my.
C: But the Rough Riders were over encamped just west of Hyde Park and
that's why we got so many fleas, I mean flies that...
W: Well, how did the town react to having all the soldiers here? I
C: Well, it was kind of stunned but they, it was nice and it gave us
upgrowth and everything and every vacant store anywhere at all that
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was found was commandeered for storage for arms
so many ___and everything. Then they
sent the men over in the cattle boats that belonged to Dr. Lyke, who...
W: Cattle boats?
C: Cattle boats.
W: Why did they send them over in cattle boats?
W: Didn't they, wow, I didn't know that.
C: Listen, you don't remember. You, I mean this is...
W: Oh, I can't remember, but see, all I can do is...
C: You don't know what it is to live in a world where you have no radio,
no television, no automobiles and very few telephones and...
W: The only way I know is talking to people like you.
C: ...and when there was any news that came up there was a big sheet
let down on the Morrison Building across from the bandstand and
sometimes if it was some special news it could be thrown on the
screen from the slides or you could go by the Tribune and see
a bulletin that they put up, you know, of news so they's get
things like that.
W: I bet that was quite a, quite a celebration when the nineteen hundred,
the year nineteen hundred came.
C: Well, that's still an argument.
C: Yes, if you have a hundred cents you have a dollar, but you don't
have a dollar until you get the hundred cents and the hundred cents
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and nineteen hundred was not the end of the century.
W: It was the beginning of a new one?
C: The end, the beginning of the, there was always the argument about
nineteen hundred or nineteen-one, which was the beginning, the
first year in the new century. Anyway it was interesting. But
they-got that out and they had this Tribune, you ses. He's was a
Roman Tribune. But I want to see,
oh yes, and the way Street looked. Down there's
a sidewalk and see, I don't get around very much. The corner of
Lafayette and to the southeast corner, the sidewalk
all around that corner is made out of irregular pieces of marble,
ground marble, and they were left over from some of the buildings
but they were put down there way back. They were there in 19-, 1895,
and that corner was Gordon Keller's store. He had a clothing store
there. Gordon Keller was the city treasurer and in fact he was the
local treasurer. Then his brother Robert was treasurer and then
his brother Thomas was the treasurer Keller brothers.
Gordon Keller and my father were very good friends. You see my father
was the auditor and Mr. Keller was the treasurer of the city and
they worked with this Colonel Anderson who worked at the State National
Bank and Mayor Bullard who was the first real businessman that
we ever had for a mayor. He was the one who got my father to come
in here as auditor. And when I went in the store now in 1896 when
my father was appointed I was nine years old and I was very old for
my age. I was the oldest of three children.
W: Oh boy.
Page 13. dib
C: And I felt my, yes, I felt my responsibility and I went in the store
and from the very beginning this Mr. Keller always called me Miss
Miller and it was the funniest thing to me and I thought, Oh, the
first time anybody ever did that. From the time I was a child
he did, he always called me Miss Miller. But that corner was then
the, you know where the First Federal Building is?
C: Well, that was 4 grocery store. That was Yardy's Grocery Store
and the big old wonderful old man that was so old, Joe Barren,
who was this big clerk that ran the store, knew everybody. He
used to tell people that he pulled me out of a crackerbarrel by
my foot, and the crazy thing...and he was the one that finally was
the manager of our motor company and came to me during the war
and said, "Come on down here and let's run that old place like
we used to." This was an enormous, enormous business then. See
that was after the war started.
W: How old were you then?
C: Oh well, when I went to work for Mr. Barren I was twenty-one, twenty-
W: Now when, when were you born?
W: What April? What, what...
C: June, June, I'd know my name.
W: June what?
C: Fourteenth, flag day.
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W: June 14, 1887.
C: Put the flag day out on my birthday.
W: Oh boy, and you were born up in...
W: What, what city up there.
C: It's the exact geographical center of the lower peninsula, St. Louis,
and I never tell anybody I'm from St. Louis because they think it's
Missouri. It's Gratiot County. But right in the middle of the
town right across from our house is Park and
there's a little marker in there that's the central part of Michigan.
W: Now did you live in Ybor City or did you live...
C: Oh no. I didn't ever live in Ybor City.
W: No, you just, you just worked there.
C: Good HeaVens I was working in the, in the offices of
W: Thank you.
C: I was in the office and when I worked with the Van American Company
Mr. French was the general auditor and he had charge of all of the
records and business for the nine branches including
Branch and and La Rosa and and
all the different ones that made you come in every.morning for a
consultation. Well, some of them couldn't speak English and he
didn't know a word of Spanish. One of the men that was a young
man working in the office then was Tommy Watson. He actually became
W: Do you want to get something to drink? You want me to get you some
Page 15. dib
C: No, it's just this voice I don't
think And another young
man that worked in the office at that time was Jim Davis and he
started the Davis Cigar Company on the corner of Trapsin and
Florida Avenue, and they're both dead.
W: What, what happened during the Depression? Anything in Ybor City
that was unusual?
C: Well, I wasn't in Ybor City during the Depression. I was at
the City National Bank.
W: Right, but what was it like? Did the cigar workers...
C: Well, our cigar business started to go down in the twenties. That's
when they made that that thing_...
W: Yes, about the_
C: ...that well, they were pushing cigarettes. In World War I they
started doing that and then they started pushing cigarettes and
everybody got in too big a hurry and they didn't appreciate, you
have to be,a fine cigar has to be had at leisure. When shall I...
now Mr. Griffin always had certain very fine brands and the aroma
of a very, very fine cigar is not objectionable. And of course when
Tampa started they were the first ones that ever used machinery.
Everything else was hand-made. Something funny happened when I
was with Santaginia. They used to have a young man that would take
tourists around and show them and I did that one
day because there was nobody else available. Well, of course I
Page 16. dib
had oodles of brown hair and brown eyes.
W: You must have been quite an attractive, attractive girl there.
C: That's what they tell me, and I was, there was a bunch of people
there from up middle country and when I was showing them around,
well, the one thing, though, that strike me so funny was they looked
so shocked. When, I always liked to take them through the, every
process as I could. Of course I couldn't go over to the
and show them the people that were working, the majadores, working
with the manojos, or when you come out of the bag or the bale you
take the dried tobacco and it has to be wet down in this very delicately
and then they walk around in a circle and shake it. And there's
a, there's a gadia, four gadias in a manojo and a hundred manojos
in a bale. And oh, there's another thing about bales, too, is if
you want to you pay a dollar extra--of course, a dollar extra
sixty-five years ago would be about how much it will now--they would
cover it with coarse linen, white linen, and when I wanted some of
that one time and I asked Mr. Ray if we could have some of the girls
to come over with, with branco, white, and I still have
some of that coarse linen that came out of the bale.
W: Oh my.
C: Well, anyway I would take them and I'd tell them that when the, the
people got through with I said, "Now we will go
up into the top floor where the women are stripping," and they looked
around, you know, after they stripped the skins out of the tobacco
leaves. And they always had these description.
Page 17. dib
They are this bale gadoras. Now I know this, the vocabulary
of the cigar business and I know the vocabulary of Armour and
Company and I know the vocabulary of the bank.
W: Boy oh boy.
C: But it's really a whole language in itself and so I took them
through the different processes, you know,
Then we got down on the brewing floor where the talaceros were
making the cigars and they used those
It was on applewood and they knew me. Different ones would
say something to me in Spanish because I would sometimes help
pay off and they knew that I was, because
And so after about two or three people
had spoken to me and I had spoken, this man from Indiana said,
"Did you learn the English over here? Did you learn English
over here?" And I said, "Oh, yes. I was educated here but
the English is very difficult to learn."
W: Oh no.
C: And they thought I was one of them.
W: That you were a native, huh?
C: No, he thought I was one of the Spanish people?
W: Oh my.
C: But there were so many things about the whole business that its
W: That must have been fascinating.
C: I went out on the streetcar. You see, you could get the streetcar
in Hyde Park. I lived in Hyde Park, the old-time Hyde Park, and
Page 18. dib
the streetcar, the one they called the Tampa Height streetcar, started
in Hyde Park, it went through town, went through Tampa Heights, the
one I went to high school on. It went to the Hillsborough County
Hospital. It was up here. Then right on-out, when I was, it
went down and went on that street between the Tasashi and Martinez-
Ybor Factory, and then it turned down Lacaya-Kingsley and went
C: So in both of those jobs, all three of those jobs, I had a street-
car and I always carried something with me to read because I had
to leave college early and couldn't finish on account Mother's
illness and I had to go out and go to work. So I was always a
student all my life and frankly I think that I could match up with
a lot Of people that were supposed to have been educated...
W: Oh yes.
C: ...who could neither read, write nor spell.
C: Well, anyway I had been reading some tall-sto y- and there was a per-
fectly wonderful man that worked in the Van
American Company, this was before I was married, or the doorman,
I used to wear white a great deal and he'd call me Saloma.
Page 19. dib
C: but anyway Mr. Louis used to tell me exactly how
to pronounce all those Russian names of people and places and when
I read I never skip. In my own mind probably I say them, pronounce
them exactly like they're supposed to be.
W: Great, that takes a...
C: I can do that with everything
W: That takes a good ear to do that.
C: It, well, said you have to be able to reproduce a
C: And so many people can't do it.
C: Now is a peculiar word, and then
is Then they have
the people from and then the
girls that put the bands on the cigars, aninodores, and different ones.
They had some funny expressions. I don't know whether they do now
or not. I don't suppose they do, but back in those days if somebody,
well, there was just one telephone in this office, and if somebody,
whoever was nearest to it answered it, they were calling somebody
else, why the way you'd call somebody to the telephone was absolutely
unbelievable. How would you call somebody to the telephone?
W: Oh, I'd just...you mean in Spanish? I'd say bueno.
C: No, no.
Page 20. dib
C: You'd turn around to this person and you'd look at them and say,
punga la apparatus," that you put yourself on
C: punga la apparatus." That isn't as bad as really in the
W: How, how did they do that?
C: Let me get this to working just a minute.
C: In the old days, and I kidded Mr. Ray about that one time. He was
ending his letters like they always did with initials. Instead of
saying, "Yours very truly," they just put, they'd write the letter
and then they'd put in capital letters with periods, the initials,
S.H.Q.P.L.N., and when I realized what it meant I said, "What in the
world do you put that on writing to Roach
over in Havana about these bales of tobacco? But that was their
formal way over there. "Your sure servant who kisses your hand,"
"Seguro servido qui la mano." Where did you learn Spanish?
W: I lived in Mexico for about a year, in Mexico City, and then I lived
in Arizona for a while.
C: Well, when I was in Mexico one time, I went down there for a bank
convention, and then we were having a hurricane over there and my
son was, my older son who is now dead, was division manager of Eastern
Airlines and he had given me passes to Houston and back, and then the
American Express and Wells Fargo had given the National Association of
Page 21. dib
Bankwomen a special deal. Well, twenty years ago, nineteen years ago-
no, it was twenty years ago-you couldn't even open the door for that now.
They gave a trip from Houston to Mexico and a week down there in the
hotel and the guards and the limosines and then they gave us a big
party at Pasco-and...
W: Oh, Pasco is a beautiful place.
C: Yes, we were in that ranch hotel.
W: Right, Ranco Pasco.
C: We were their guests and our whole cost for the round trip airfare and
the hotel and the guards and the limosines was a hundred and sixty-five
W: How long ago was that?
C: Nineteen years ago.
W: Oh my.
C: So then when they got ready to go back there was a hurricane going on
over here, so I said to, and I had already left the bank then about twenty
years ago, and I said, "Well, I'm not going to go back there now. I
want Uto go down to Acapulco because it was cold in Mexico and Mexico
City. And so they had a deal to go down to Acapulco round-trip and
at the hotel, it's up on a hill, it was de la Roca. The
name of the hotel was, I think it was Anyway you'd
have to go around it to get up to it. It was high. It was not down in
the town where, where the bay is. It was right on the Pacific Ocean,
gorgeous thing. A big crowded room with a balcony, just lovely, and
Page 22. dib
everything was high. It was just gorgeous.
W: call? Why don't you give us a call.
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