Title: Interview with Multiple (February 9, 1980)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006495/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Multiple (February 9, 1980)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: February 9, 1980
Spatial Coverage: 12057
Hillsborough County (Fla.) -- History.
Funding: This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00006495
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location: This interview is part of the 'Hillsborough' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: HILL 18

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{. ;:./?-., to

j46fl'r ) /^c /A I
Hills Co 18A Page 1

M: ...Noto sisters. Sisters?

N: Sister-in-law.

M: Sisters-in-law-are Lena and Lora Noto, and Mr. Emilio del Rio, at their

home on Holmes Avenue in Tampa. Ladies and gentleman, why don't we begin,-.

' be interested in/your family backgrounds. When did you...you both were

born in Tampa, right?

N: Oh, yes.

M: How about your fathers? Were your fathers born in Tampa o0 ij- old country?

N: Yes, he was born in Tampa. z '<

M: In Tampa? So, you, Mr. del Rio is your fatheA kight. 4Viow about yourself?

N:L Well, my parents, they were born in Italy, Siciy.

M: ARight, let's talk about them for a bit and then we'll ;,. CU C Lh,...
N: And theO4 they were married here. They met here. My father came from a

small town and so did my mother. Two different towns.
M:' / /e i -. I
M-.il hrn
N:L' They met here,Agee?

M: Did they know one another in the old country?

N: No.

M: No, they did not. U hILc .

N:' They met here in Tampa.

M: Why did...what did they tell you about the old country? What was Sicily

like n their youth?

N: Well, my father never saidior mentioned that he wanted to go back to Italy.

I never heard him mention thattAecause he was so young and so was my mother

that they felt that they belonged here, you know?

M: Um hum.

N: And then my mother, the only relatives she had was my father. I mean, my

Hills Co 18A Page 2

grandfather, and he died, so she really had nobody.

M: Um hum.
N: But my father had,all his family was here.

M: How did they get here? Did they ever tell you stories like...

N:L Oh...

M: ...by ship or anything, any stories Fk-e that?

N: ...yes, they came by boat in storage, in storage. And they went through

the 61- Island and the...I used to, they used to. it once in a

while, and that it was real bad, but they were so glad to come here that

they overlook all these at that time. So, that's it.

M: What was their first impression of Ybor City? Did they ever tell you?

N: Well, it was such a small town. They even had wooden sidewalks, they say.

And they came from small towns so they really weren't, I mean, but they

came through New York and they saw what a big city...but they were coming

directly here to Tampa. Why, I don't know.

M: Did they have jobs here or u ofer ..

N: Well, they started in the cigar manufacturing, that's all.

M: What was the cigar industry like?

N: Well, it was all by hand. All by hand. No such\things as machines, nothing.

M: Right.

N: So, and, of course,^ the pay was very little, you know. But everything was

cheap, It wasn't like it is now. It seems it's I- In fact,

when I hear it mentioned what they earned, I don't see how they made a

living, but everything else was low, and as far as the economy was'-like

it isn't today.

M: Right, right. et4-r, how about the del Rio's? How did they get to Tampa?

N: LWell, my grandfather, L .p f... .is]

Hills Co 18A Page 3

R : 15tok-,,o,-

N:LIs it all right in Spanish?

M: Sure, well, yeah, that'll be fine.

N: Well, he understands, he came from Spain...

R: Spain to Cuba.

M: To Cuba.

N:" To Cuba.

R: And "uv heard that in Key West was a lot of work in the cigar factory.

M: Uh huh.

R: So, he went bl himself to Key West. And he met ir, /eor there, so

he gave him a job and he told him well, I}our family sent, I pay the

trip to, to Key West. So, Mr. Y/Lh paid the trip to my family from

Havana to Key West, and he gave him job over there, so that's why my

father is~- of this town here, Ybor City. And that's why--they've been
having some trouble, you know, staying in Cuba,3 hey go and come back,

so Mr. J'l_, say, "Well, I'm going to see what Tampa looks like."

So they told my father and my uncle and ,l/ o' "r and Sc'w(

..Ke.. j )'Let's go to Tampa, see what it looks like. So Mr. P/1& ,

railroad man, he already was -44en '.^ '___' and threy-wenit-thTrough
--_c0 _Tampa and they cqme from Key West.

M: Uh huh.

R: And there used to be a man, used to call him He come to find

out if why it was true 0 Qt i cU0J cD". And he found it wasn't


M: uh huh.

R: So my father came from Key West, o- they stayed here and

Mr. Y0 told...

M: Mr. 0_,1_ uh huh.

R: Well,

Hills Co 18A Page 4

M: Oh, yeah?

R: He told him, "I want you to build me up a house here.
la ,Ybor, ',' cI ,see? So, that's why they say that

was the first cigar factory that iwake- cigars. So,
"-1- wanted to 4-- up fR the ig-b- sdb because d'it" r no

more uo;,Jh bilc60ivc, because they had a big fire in Key West, burning all
the cigar factories over there. And so he had a chance to come to Tampa

M: Right, now, your father, where in Spain...was he a Galetian.or...

N:tl Madrid.

M: Madrid.

R: Madrid.

M: / ,( j

N:' No, no.

N: My dad's C`'ai'c. J the people that came from Madrid.

N:Lt" _______ ____________

R: L ^p^-i~ kJ

N: Spain,

N:L She was from Spain. On my mother's side.
N:"L No, no, on your father's side.

N:L No, my father's side. Mario was from .My grandfather was

from Madrid.

M: I'd be curious, you ladies, what...you don't have to tell me what year

you were born, but if you'd like, that'd be fine...your first impressions

of what life was like in Ybor City. What are your first memories?

N: LOf Ybor City?

N: Everybody was just like family.

Hills Co 18A Page 5

N: 'Yeah, it was family.

N: Everybody friendly. N6w,you don't see that anymore.

N:t No.

N:LO Between television and what's going on now, everybody's locked inside in

their air conditioning. Television.

(Talking together)

N: I remember we used to play in the streets practically and there was no

trouble, no trouble at all.

N: Everybody was, everybody knew everybody.

N: Everybody's sheltered now.

R: was the one that paid to tear down a lot of trees, you

know, and he paid for putting water, lights and everything because Tampa

had only -fte4--lit houses they had pumps. That's all.

M: Is that right?


N: Well, he's the one that started Ybor City for them, got back to the people.

R: He's got a million dollars here.

N:L Oh, they had so many cigar factories. They're still standing.
c- iiar
M: There was nearly a hundred -&me factories over there.

M: Mr. del Rio, you were born in Tampa or Key West?

N:l Tampa.
) t sev tr,1/-
R: I wa-ts-r- years old after my father came in 1893.

M: You were born in 1893 then.
N: Fort Brooks.
N: Fort Brooks.
R: Fort Brooks.

M: Fort Brooks, right.

R: Because the railroad on the other side was from the state from Fort Brooks.

On this side was Ybor.

Hills Co 18A Page 6

N: Z Oh, uh huh.

N: Yes, that's why he was born--in Fort Brooks.

R: So, I can say I was born in Ybor City. you


M: Is that right?

N:L1 It's only, what he means, see, the.Santos and the del Rio were the ones that

were brought here.


N: Some were cigar makers, some were cabinet makers, some were in the theatre.

Ybor wanted to put a play in the theatre and some of them were from the

theatre, so they were brought here. In other words, to start the culture

of the city in the city. And he and his cousin are the only one or two

left. The Santos and the del Rios...they both were born the same day and


R: Same day.

N: He still alive?

N: He's still alive _


M: That's amazing.

N: Yeah, they're the only ones left.

M: What was growing up in Ybor City like? What do you remember about your


N:' Growing up in Ybor City?

M: Um hum.

N: '-It was very, I think, in spite of the fact that we didn't have everything

we have today, we were very happy.

N: Yeah, I think we were happier then /!C .e-n _

N:LL Yes.

Hills Co 18A Page 7

N:' And the kids were happier too.

M: Uh huh.

N:' And then, really, Tampa started to grow-

N:L I mean, they were satisfied.

N: After the war.

M: Right.

N: That base, MacDill Air Base...

M: Right.

N: : The soldiers, oh, you couldn't even walk down the streets of the town.

M: Let's talk about The childhood. For instance, what did you use.to do around

Christmas? Describe a typical Christmas that you remember as a young girl.

N: Well, we didn't have so much like now. We didn't, we didn't...

N: L No,

N: Maybe I was little, we had maybe a Christmas tree one time or something

like that.

M: Um hum.

N: I don't remember. Although I wasn't...I'm not trying to brag and say I

was well off, no, but my father always had business, so, and I was the only

child until I was thirteen, so I was a little better off than some others.
d1ffdo /Ih'
But even so, things were, I think, a little/from th4A now. We didn't live

like -oday-, ur children, they do now. More luxury, more...although we


M: Dif you t-i4l have a lot of Spanish customs?

N: Well, jor L Bue

N: Yes, yes.

N:"L Yeah, _Vo fe .

M: What's that?

N: Well, fC i'eA -i- at twelve o'clock...

N:' Christmas Eve.

Hills Co 18A Page 8

N: Christmas Eve.

M: Uh huh.

N: We have the black beans, rice, and the pork, that's the 'for the

Noche tr_ ._

M: Yes.

N: _

M: Would the children eat with the adults, or were they...right.

N:L Yes, yes, all the family. Yeah, the family.

M: Would you celebrate Santa Claus?

N: Yes, we did, in a way. They used to bring but not as...they didn't put so

much like they put.

M: Now, being Sicilian, did you celebrate _

N: I don't know what that is.

M: _, _-t-+eag theyc celebrate in Sicily, brt it's te witch,

it's kind of a different offspring of Santa Claus.

N: No. Are you from Sicily?

M: No, but my family, right, right.

N: Family. In what part of Sicily?

M: It's, actually, it's near Palermo, i 7tL) &l

N: Oh, you see, my father came from / It :, r.i .r

M: d A/ OLC;o uh huh.

N:7 And my mother from ,, i ic'5'r

(Talking together)

N: And he used to go out of town and bring in the...he had sheep.

M: Uh huh, right.

N:9 And, very interesting.

M: Right. What would you do around Christmas? Any special customs

Hills Co 18A Page 9

N: Over here?

M: Uh huh.

N: Well, I don't know what they did around this tewrr. Around o4r town we used

to have a lot of fun. The clubs had dances, you know, and matinees and...

M: Right.

N: Well, we used to have that. That was when we were older.

N: Around our time, but around the older people I don't know what they did.

M: Right. What was school like?

N: L The family had reunions at Christmastime and New Year's.

M: Uh huh, yeah.

N:' Well, school was the same, I mean...

M: Where did you go to school?

N:1 I went to the convent.

M: The convent.

N: _

M: Right, and you did too?

N:'- No, I went to public schools.

M: Uh huh, yeah. What about- ? Was Ybor City a very religious


N: Well...

N: Well, mostly Catholic, but I tell you, that's what the sister used to tell

me,-s a-d, ew-cufe your parents all come from the Old Country, from

Spain and from Italy, and when they come here they don't go to church

anymore?" You know what happens. were-Aioping they-were

01/' there, you know -A44 they e-ett& -go from church to home or home to church.

M: Right, right. (chuckles)

N: And, so, they used to send the children to the Catholic school.

M: Um hum, right.

Hills Co 18A Page 10

N: But...

M: Were most of your classmates Latin?

N:l Latin? Most of them...

N:1CMost of them.

N:L. ...but a lot of them...

N: Born here.

N:Lc Born here.

M: How about you? What school did you go to?

N:V I went to W. B. Henderson, which is still standing there, but it's not a

school anymore. They, they have offices there where they keep the records,

you know. In fact, I was there about two years ago to get my school records..
M: Is that right?

N: ...and I got them.

M: Yeah.

R: _____,_____________

N:L'And then there was elementary school, it really wasn't a school...we had

a woman principal, which was the only school that had a woman principal.

And she kept that'school --it was terrific. Really terrific.

M: Right.
N: And I, I had a happy time, I'll tell you the truth.

M: How about like dating. Would Mr. del Rio let you date?

N: With chaperones.

M: Chaperones.

N: Oh, yeah.

M: Did he go or did your mother go alonglor 0 r S;"9

N: My mother or, no, my sister was...we would with a crowd-.

N:'"That's real European.

Hills Co 18A Page 11

N:LO We used to go to the matinees stag, which I think it was better than now-

adays'-the dating business. We used to go stag and then we used to...

remember, Lena, we used to meet the boys there and then it used to be from

4 to 8, and then, sometimes...

M: Where was this?

N:______ __________


N: yeah, different clubs. The clubs were really nice. They

used to give the Flower Dance in May.

N:1I Uh huh.

N:L Which they don't do it anymore.

M: Describe that, what was the Flower Dance?

N:LO The Flower Dance in May when all the girls wore organdy dresses, very flowy,

very pretty, not like now.

N:t6 Very springy.

N: Yes, spring-like, all the pretty colors. And, because I remember one time

I was standing and I saw all those pretty girls and I would see them now...

what a difference.


And all the boys...the best suit. Maybe they only had one suit, but, you

know, remember, Lena, that time?

N: L Not like the jeans like they do now.

N: 0 Yeah, just one suit but lightly pressed.

N But now, that's not so bad now.

N:LO And then we didn't have air conditioning either.

N:Lf Oh, yes.

N:l9 And then the, let me see, the Carnival Dance that we used to dress up and

Hills Co 18A Page 12

N: Halloween.

N:LO No, no, the carnival now, February, sometimes they usually had...

N:-Uh huh, that's right.

N:L1 And the New Year's dance. The club used to give that. Now they don't give...

now they say it's too expensive. Remember the New Year's dance?

N:t Yes.

N:[t They used to get,the club used to give it free for the members.

N:Le Yes, yes. For the members, and no. the memberss have to pay for the tables.

N:1- Table, and all they get, they give private cabaret or something.

M: Now you were born of Spanish parents; How...

N:LOWell, my mother was Cuban.

M: She was Cuban, right. Now, could you date anyone you wanted?

N:lO Oh, yes, they were not particular. We were all toge...

M: Did you bring home a Sicilian boy?

N:L9 Well, I married...

M: You married a Sicilian.

N:Lo No, we were always, we were always with the Italians. See, we were, I was

brought in 8th Avenue, and then to 12th Avenue and then around here.

N:4 And there was a mixture.

N: We had a mixture.

N: Yes, Spanish, Cubans, and Italians.

N: In fact, I had a few boyfriends who were Italian. I think I had Italian
hi lY1(
bloodfrom all the Italians, I had a few Italian boyfriends, but it didn't

matter. As long as he was a nice, you know.

M: Right. How did the groups get along basically, the Spaniards and Cubans and


N:' Well, the beginning it was, let me tell you, because I know a lot of Italian

girls, that's before our time...

Hills Co 18A Page 13

N:L But why? I know what you're g6ing to say__

N: Because their fathers were strict.

N:LoWell, no, but they used to, they didn't want the, the Italians didn't want

the girls to marry the Spaniards. And they used to elope. They used to...

N:L- If I were to tellyou tales that I used to hear, you'd be very shocked.

N:t Saturday they used to...(chuckles)

N: ...that his daughter married a Spaniard and he went and took her and he

says that all the family came in and spit in her face. It's incredible,

but it really happened.
N: It used to happen, right.

N: Because my father, there was a slight relationship.

N:LONo, the Italians were very against, the Italians were very much against.

N:1 All of them were too disciplinarians.

M: How about your father and dating. Would you consider him strict?

N: Well, when I dated, I used to go out with my sister-in-law and my brother,

and we went out and...remember, Lora? We used to go to matinees in groups.

We knew everybody, knew everybody else. It really was...and during the war,

my goodness. Met so many...some of the girls married soldiers and so on.

M: Let's take a typical, like, say, you're 16, 17 years old. Describe:a

Saturday night, what a Saturday night would be like.

N: Ybor City?

M: Right.

N:O Ybor City.

M: What would you do?

N:ODBack, back.

N:LR Downtown too. We didn't have.no shopping centers.

N:LOYou could see those Copi, people, you know, walking

anyone that...

Hills Co 18A Page 14

N:( Do you remember Christmas,you couldn't even walk


N: 1Downtown in Ybor City.
Lt- tte 4, A rtf
N: It was e my God. We weren't used to-da-e-

N:_ ._ And those, the stores used to stay open till ten,

eleven, twelve, all night. It was like...

N:L No shopping centers, you know.

N:t0 Sure.

N:A Those were the only two...

M: Where would you go on Saturday night? I mean, would you stop for a bite

to eat? Did people eat out then or...?

N:L No, not too much. We used to eat at home, then go over there. Maybe

early, because the stores used to stay open till ten or twelve.

M: Right.

N:LC And he had his business so, we'd go...when we finished, got through and go

over to his place.

N:[( C^^D.

N:L" That's where we used to meet the boys too, the boyfriends.

N: L Yes.

N:L- They used to wait for us.

N: And then everybody knew everybody else

N: L That's what I was suggesting.

M: She care to join us?

N#: No, she, she's...

R: That's my wife.
?:u r r ons


M: What about regarding that question of race relations? How,did.whites

Hills Co 18A Page 15

interact with blacks at all then? And particularly like, what did Cuban

black do? They must have really been a strange lot altogether.
N:"Lo w, tL f .

M: How did, did whites, did blacks ever come to Ybor City?

RA/Oh, yes.

N:10 Oh, yes.

N:RL Yes, but they lived in their section.

l-.OiBut they behaved, you know.

M: Right.

?: They even had them close to white people tha, ..it's not like these smart

aleck:ones, you know, that they weren't...

N:L Well, then they .had...

N:L Very few of them...

M: Right. Was there then an area when you grew up called "the Scrub"?

?: Yeah...

N:Le Oh, that was the black area.

M: Right. Now where exactly was that located?

N:' Around -lie / erlO

?: On Central Avenue...

N: Central Avenue.

?: ...they've made like a little park there now.

M: The new Parkway, that kind of thing.

?: Yeah. You go out Chess Street and you get to Central, you make a right.

M: Yeah.

?: That used to be the shopping district.

N:& From Henderson south, Henderson Avenue, I remember, because Henderson, W. B.

Henderson school was on Henderson. And south of Henderson, that was the

beginning of that section.

Hills Co 18A Page 16

M: Right, uh huh. Right.

N:Lo Well, we did not...I know my family didn't associate with the colored

people like that.

N:LCNo, no, no. They lived in their

N:L, In their own.

N:LLIt was rarely...there was a family that they were -eZs and they were light.

You know, they weren't black. And, you know something, they used to care,

take care of white children and they were so nice and clean and, in fact...
N: Well, some were nice...
N: ...they took care of me.

N:L ...it's just that we didn't...

N: Uh huh, but those people...

N:1 As my grandmother told me...

N: K...they were considered as whites, the ones I'm talking about. And they

were very nice, ,/_ __0_ .

N: See, especially my family, see, my grandmother used to tell me, listen, I

don't have anything against them, but I cannot associate with them because

I had them as slaves, my grandmother had them.

N:l( No intermarriage.

N: So, I can't, socially I can't, like we do now, see?

M: Now how about the Cuban blacks? Were they a group unto themselves?

N: Very few black ones.

?: Well, 4i)Jh ivcAro-6 were never as wild as the American peBepe-w.. I

mean, they...

N: They were more refined.

?: tAThey're more settled and polite and everything.

N:1 More refined.

M: Where'd they work? Did blacks work in the cigar industry?

Hills Co 18A Page 17

N:A Some of them, yes.

?:: Yeah.

N: LSome.

M: How about...let's talk about the cigar industry now. Did, did you work...

you worked as a cigar worker, right?

N:tt Yes.

M: Right. How did...when did you drop out of school and why and how did you

get your job?

N:4 Oh, I was very young when I started.

?: In those days they did, they took them out of the schools right away.

N:Lt I was very young during the Depression.

M: What was the...how late did you have to stay in school? Was there a law?

?:'Oh, yeah, there was a law, just like there is now.

N:L There was a law.

M: Did people obey it really?

?: But, no, they didn't, they took them out. There was no hassle to take them


M: Right, right. How did you get your first job?

N: Well, first I had to learn...

M: Apprentice?

N: By hand, you know. I started from the bottom.
e i/) (,/ci l/
M: At the or where?

N! No, factory.

M: At the factory. Which factory?

N:Le I started at Perfido Garcia. And then, my father wasn't working there anymore
,ore0 / U
so I went to where I'm working now, And I been there 50 years.

M: Is that right, oh, my. When you started, did they have the readers at Perfido


Hills Co 18A Page 18

N:L Yes, but it was during that time that they got rid of that.

M: Right. What do you remember about the readers?

N:L Well, how -ys spoke Spanish, but they used to read the news and gradually

I learned the language, you know. I didn't speak Spanish at all.

M: Is that right? Uh huh.

N: Most of -te- tie- used to speak pretty good Spanish and we got to read it.

N:L Uh huh, you see, the Spanish wouldn't learn Italian but the Italians learned

the Spanish.

N:4 T^ T.li\ t4.e readers.

N: Like my father, he used to read and write it, you know. He could write

Italian which the language is similar in many ways, you know.

M: Right.

N:1 But then, they didn't have them anymore, you know.

M: Why did they get rid of them.

N: I don't remember, I really don't remember.

M: Some people suggested they were radical. What do you think?

N:L Maybe it could have been on account of the radio, the radio started it.
?: Well, yeah, I was going to say, I think the radio used to...

N:t The radio, the radio.

M: But during, I think it was 1931 when they were abolished, I believe.

N: The readers?

M: Yeah, and many of the owners claimed that the,.readers were causing strikes.

You think that was true?

N: No.

M: No. Why not?

? There was more strikes before then, tf14i/$'/.

N: Once in a while, the worker will, "Come on, let's go."

M: _

N: ___

Hills Co 18A Page 19

N:e-Or during the war, World War II, some of ;ha __

N:'O That's what they tell me, I don't know, because I don't know anything about it,

N:LLThey had, I remember this, during World War II. Some of them would come to

work, you know, and oh, that factory had about over 1000 workers.because they

didn't have any machinery, see? And some people...they had, I remember, I

used to work the little coronas, you know, and the wrapper was beautiful,

you know. I used to, then I had a bunch maker, you know, bunch maker.

Gradually it became, automation was on the way, you know. And all of a

sudden you see people coming from the rear or side of the factory walking out,

during the war. And they said, why( the material is bad. It wasn't true,

they just didn't want to work. See? So the mob followed the leader.

M: Were you involved in any big strikes during your early years there?

N:L( No.

M: No.

N:I No, but before, before, I used to hear my meiua talk about the...

M: What'd she say, you remember?

N:1C ...the seven-month strike which was...then they had 7/4-i_/ that L-'

was before.

M: She tell you any stories about any of the specifics? S j

N: Oh, my goodness. They wanted __


N:Lt They wanted an increase in salary. They didn't accept the union then. My

father was a straight union man, even before it was accepted by the manu-

facturers, but then, you know, after the Roosevelt administration, all those

things started to, to, you know, advance in everything. The union they had

to accept the Wage and Hour bill and all those things, and now they have to

have a pension,which it started in my factory five years ago. And every year

they build it up, you know?

Hills Co 18A Page 20

M: What did your father tell you about unions, do youremember those days?

N:4 My father was a union.man.

M: Did he ever pass on any nuggets though I mean about what you should do or...

N:L Well, he used to go to meetings and he was all for the working people. In

fact he talked too much and he was discharged many times for that reason.

M: Is that right?

N: They didn't approve.

M: Ever physically harm him?

N:t But now you get up and work and everybody follows you because what you demand

is within your rights.

M: Right, right. Do you remember any strikes, you know, either on the outside

or the...

N: No, because I...

N:IL She never worked in the cigar factory.

N:to No, I never worked in the cigar factory.

M: Did you ever know any of the readers?

N1t Well, my uncle was a reader

M: Is that right? How would you characterize him? You know, kind of describe

him. I mean, was he a...just in your own words.

N: You see, when they...

N:1 I don't know, let me see, well, he had a -4t-s education.

M: How did he, how did he...

N: He had a education.

N: LYes, of course.

R: ______?

N: No, no, no.

N: You know, they used to, when a reader would read, they used to give aOd'0on5

Hills Co 18A Page 21

M: Uh huh.

N: ...to different ones, and let the people vote.

M: Is;:that right?

N:LeI remember, as you talk, I remember those things, you know? And whoever did

the better, you know, they voted for him. And they made pretty good money.

The workers used to donate every week. And they used to make pretty good

money, at that time, what was considered good money.

M: The fact that your uncle was lector, did that give him an advantage anywhere?

Was he considered a very respectable working...

N:l1 No, not that I know of. I mean, he was a cigar maker and many times he used

to read, he had been a reader too.

M: Right.

N: I don't know much a because I don't remember when he was a

reader, see?

M: Do you remember any of the bad strikes?

N: No, no, I was young.

M: How about yourself?

? No, I just as VfA she is, I didn't...

N:L4 No, he never went to the factory.

?: I never worked in the factory.

N:( In 1931, December of 1931, I remember, my uncle--during the Depression,-gy

uncle was murdered. That's why I mention one thing with the other. And

at that time they had a strike. Something to the order of Communistic ideas,

you know, they used to blah-blah-blah, and the people would get out and

follow it. And that's when they didn't allow the readers to actually

read. I don't know whether you heard about it.

M: Right, no. Why was your uncle killed, do you think?

Hills Co 18A Page 22

N:c Because, I don't know.

?:' Well, he was a grcap- laburT and they told him they had a load of liquor

for him...

N:t No, no.

?: And when he went there to get it,-/r re"n /A,, You know, h/A .

Frket they step on each other's toes.
M: Right.

?: And that's it.

N: He was murdered.

?: IThey didn't shoot, they just beat him to death.

N: With \,c l5 I still remember.

M: The fact that you didn't go into the cigar...I don't think we ever got

your name, sir?

?: Noto.

H: Noto. Your first name?

N: Alfonzo.

M: Alfonzo. Why didn't you go into the cigar industry? That would have been:

interesting, you know, because, certainly, your father, that generation

almost automatically went into the cigar industry. Now, you're second

generation. Why?

N: Well, at that time it was beginning to...where the people were sending the

kids to school more than they did.

N: And you had no future, you had no future.in it.

N:1 There was no future.

N:LOAlthough, today, these Cubans, these-young Cubans that graduate from high

school, they don't go into...some of them go to university but some, they

dome to the factory. You know, they hardly have any workers now?

is going to go crazy. He's going crazy.

Hills Co 18A Page 23

N:' He can't get workers?

N: And the professionals, we're getting ready to retire.

M: Uh huh, right.

N:L And he really has a problem -- his hands.

M: Right. Why didn't the cigar industry look appealing to you? Was it wages,

or working conditions?

N:h The future.

N:A No, I never cared for it.

N:l No future.

N:hThere was no future in it.

M: Right, right.

N:IAnd then when I graduated, things were really bad, in 1935.

M: You graduated from high school?

N: Yes.

M: Would you say that was typical or did you get more education than most of

your friends?

N: No, 4i- that town just about everybody was going at least to high school or

junior high.

N: Some of them went to...


Hills Co 18A Page 24
Side lB

M: Right.

N:AJAt the time I graduated,most of the kids would 0 at least junior high

or high school.

M: Um hum, right.

N:' lAnd a lot were going to college too from around here.

M: Um hum, right. Did athletics play a very big role in your growing up?

N: Yeah.

M: Yeah.

N:10 Oh, they had basketball,...

M: In what sense?

N: ...football.

N:Oh, football, basketball, everything.

M: How about boxing?

N: !Yeah, oh, they had a lot of good boxers here from Tampa.

M: Why do you think that was?

N:/ Uh?

M: Why do you think so many good boxers Ybor City?

N:- I don't know. See, the PI' N11Ud -G+- the Cuban club, their gym,

that's all they did was train boxers and they put -na a lot of good fighters.

M: Would an Italian boxing a Cuban be an extra draw, or would...

N:tl No, not necessarily. They had Americans there too.

M: Um hum, right.

N:A Anglo Saxons.

M: Jimmy Puig, was that how you pronounced his name? He came, he was a big

boxer, wasn't he?

N:4 Puig.

M: p-U-I-G.

Hills Co 18A Page 25

N:IYeah, he was a good boxer. The last fight he had, I think he had a con-

cussion or something...

M: Right.

N: ...left him paralyzed.
L v a+
N: They ita4- fighti.f in the Cuban club?

N: Yes.

N: What about young Raymond? Young Raymond, he had, he was quite...

N:O0h, Manuel 6n_ .

N: ,___ yeah, young Manuel, they used to call him.

N:AdHe went out for the championship and he didn't make it, lightweight champ-

ionship of the world.

N: And then he was puncho-drunk.

N:A He was defeated.

M: Did you know Louisi -sViscusy very well?


M: Lou Viscusy?

N:LLOh, yeah, he was a promoter, wasn't he?

M: Well, trainer, I think.

N: Yeah.

N:4UYeah, yeah, he was a trainer.

N: I didn't know him but I know his wife.

M: How about baseball? Baseball big?

N:' Oh, yeah, baseball...well, the first Floridian to make the major leagues

was Al Lucas.

N:' Al Lucas.

M: Did you know him very well?

N:' Oh, yeah. In fact, three years ago we gave him a dinner at our club when

he made the Hall of Fame.

M: Um hum. Which club was this now?

Hills Co 18A Page 26

N:7 The .

M: Uh huh, right.

N: We had 600 people attend.

M: Do you think baseball was a way out for kids? You know, they needed a way


N:' Oh, yeah, there's a lot of them...

N:"0 Yeah, there was a lot of baseball.

N: '...well, all tehs-e- clubs, all the clubs had teams. After the war years,

well, before and after the war. But during the war, MacDill Field had a

good team and the Elks Club... they used to play right here at

ttke they did ,i/ > ', t",tat night, they took the lights off of it.

Everything's changing now.

M: Right.

N: With tv.

M: Right.

N:0'You take softball, if you weren't there at 7 o'clock, you didn't have a


M: Is that right?

N:'k With the -evo-t of tv, it just started dying out. And now they have a

game, I bet they have twenty spectators, that's too many.

M: Um hum. All of this was going on, the baseball and everything, the end of

the$l ectr, during the Depression...when I mention the Depression, Lora,

what do you think of?

N: he lost all his business.

M: Um hum. What business was that?

N:Lc Bicycle shop. Well, you name it, he had it. He was the first to have a

gasoline tank in ,.. 1/ / /V .

M: Mr. del Rio?

Hills Co 18A Page 27

N: t/es. And selling gasoline and I was little at the time, but they claim

they used to come even at night to get him out of bed so they could get some

gasoline because there wasn't...and we were the first people who, almost

the first on the block that owned a car, 8th Avenue. And then, who had,

who first had the gasoline station? You or inob_ ?

R: First station?

N:J Uh huh.

R: I was the first.

N:l! You were the first...after. So, I remember...

R: I was the ___

N: Now that he's mentioned it, I remember it too. It was near my aunt's house.

N:L Uh huh, yeah, he was the first, and then he had to take it out because he

didn't...he just had a tank, well, he had his business and he wasn't...they

didn't allow him to fix it, you know, to make a bigger one there. But he

was in the bicycle business.
v t,(y "/A,;4
R: I used to do 44-tI-e _. I used to work at the fairs and carnivals

you know.

N:1' No, that wasV you were-v-yeah. You were...

R: I didn't know much about the factories inside because I used to do more

repairing. -I- + could do no kind of work, I used to fix up bicycles, phono-

grah, typewriter, sewing machine,make keys, all those things I used to do.

N: Watches, he used to do those.

R: Watches.

M: What happened when the Depression hit? You just, lyIe O, ?

N: Well, everything, yeah, we lost everything.

M: Do you remember any personal stories of how it affected you?

N: Well, I guess everybody was the same way, so...

N: Yeah.

Hills Co 18A Page 28

N: ...naturally we did without.

N: We didn't starve.

N: We didn't starve, no.

N:C Didn't w-rk. much. I got out of high school in '35 and for a year and a

half I worked for fourdollars'a week, helping a friend of mine that had a

dry cleaning -acsk. -Ad I started working at a store for $8.00 a week.

M: Doubled your income.

R: -T c6 i /0 L runner too. Used to run over five miles.

M: Is that right?

R: Every day.

M: Before it became popular, huh? Right. Right. The, many men laid off in

the cigar industries because...
to' V se, .JY--
N: They-was tot worri-e4., the industry. Every, the time about Christmastime

they always laid off some people, you know.
U1hey C\^.
N: They'd go for two or three weeks then.

N:t Uh huh, and then in the early part of the year, they'd call them back and go

back to work.

M: Right.

N: But they made a very cheap cigar during.. even the ___F wasa e- C''/ then

and the small cigar they made so that people could buy, you know? The

working people, you know, because a cigar is a luxury, you know? So they

made a small cigar and they named it McKay. That's what they started making,

selling, you know. Cheaper so everybody could buy.

N:L1 There was a time too when they were just hiring women.

N:t In the factory?

N:t Uh huh.

N:- I don't know.

Hills Co 18A Page 29

N:0 onlY / O' bat I don't know where 5. I remember that.

M: Right.

N:1t Yeah, there's so many things that happened.

N:" They say that the men used to make cigars and then make cigars for themselves.

Something I used to hear, something.

N: Well, they used to take home the smokers.

N:L The smoke, uh huh. And they'd hire...maybe the women last or something.

M: Interesting. Did many women smoke cigars?

N: No.

M: Were women smoking cigars?

N:Lv No, no.

M: No, she t/ c __

R: Ot i# .a ;)iMi I guess.

N:Lv I never saw any.

M: What, how did World War II change Ybor City, Tampa?

N: I tell you, after that, it changed, everything changed. The people, they

used to build houses in new sections. It was terrific. The city was

growing just like that. Terrific.

M: Right.

N: And then in 1960 that University of South Florida...you know people went

wild. They bought land over there. Like the They were the

first ones...in fact, when they were going to move in, in the restaurant,

it rained. We had a storm and it flooded the whole thing. No streets, no

sewers, nothing. And from then on, the University and other things and

other business that came to Tampa...what was it?

N:t Budweiser and Schlitz.

N:(- Budweiser, Schlitz, Westinghouse.

N: Pepsi Cola 4iP CfaP '

N:' Honeywell.

Hills Co 18A Page 30

M: Right.

N:L Oh, terrific. It's not the same as it was then, you know.
M: Did you enlist the service?

N:ANo, at the time I graduated even the armed services wasn't taking anybody,

and I tried to join the navy a couple of times. They didn't want any men.

M: Right. How did you see Ybor City change--before the war and after?

N:')Well, Ybor City, in fact, after the war changed for the worst. With urban

renewal and all that--they tore those buildings down in West Tampa. They

used to be along the...not as popular as Ybor City, grew up to where, the

other side of town.-New-they got the stadium, they got the Tampa Bay malls

there, and they got a lot of new shopping centers. They outgrew Ybor City.

N:t And downtown practically.

N:i Yeah, well, downtown...

N:L, Downtown during the week...

N:1i-P -Aa-to- downtown (>U 0 l are dead

N: "Yeah, downtown during the week... 1

N:!Al-so--ho-s-e buildings...they really improving ow-there.

N:-( Oh, yes.

N:'- And building, gonna build a bunch of buildings and a big hotel now. But

you go there after five o'clock and you could fire a machine gun and not

hit anybody.

M: Right.

N: I remember we used to go to the Tampa theater. Used to love...

N:lt That was beautiful. That theater is a museum now.

N:t0 It was like going inside a dream with the stars and the beautiful clothes

I used to love.

N:t-And elegantly dressed.

N: 'Yes.

N: Not like now in blue jeans.

Hills Co 18A Page 31

N:L% With a rose, with a rose.

N: t No, no. ,

N:! T-ey-ws-a-wys making...I used to dress better than some of these kids that

are making good money, but they go around like they're starving to death.

I had a tuxedo, I had everything.

N:1 When we got married, he brought a tuxedo. He wasn't making too much when

we got married.

N:' I was making four and eight dollars a week. And I had everything.

N:LO ...had everything.

M: Just kind of describe a typical wedding celebration.

N:1 Well, it was nothing special, l'? 7b/'Ir even they couldn't afford

f/l -J 7\y v / /^ ''tf they had a big wedding.

N:l They still do.

N: ____ Ii___ the Cubans don't '/ 1'/ i -P

N: 4No, the Spanish and the Cubans didn't, but the Italians, they've always

been noted for that...big weddings. In fact when her

daughter got married, they had it at the coliseum, which doesn't exist any-

N: And what about the church ?

N: They invited the public.

N: What about the church? That was the last wedding they had on a Sunday at

the Sacred Heart...

N:" /On account of that.
N: ...because it looked like a carnival. And they said, from now on, no more

weddings and they stopped. Any otheriday of the week but Sunday.

R: When I used to work at the carnival, I worked with the magician, ventrilo4


M: Is that right?

Hills Co 18A Page 32

R: Ventriloquist...

M: Were you a barker?

R: Huh?

N:0 No, no I don't think he was a barker.

Well, he used to...you told me you were a decoy. You used

to walk around with a lot of things in your hand like dolls and things, so

the people...he was a decoy. But not a barker.

M: One of...

N: That's what the stories he tells.

M: Yeah. One of the other topics that's interesting is politics.

N:4They were dirty like everywhere else. Filthy.

M: In what sense?

N:0 As a matter of fact, in that job I had, dry cleaning job, I won't mention

the name, but I went to this house and they had the ballots already,

marking them, two days before election.

N:L0 Oh, my gosh.

M: Do you...Gee, I'm trying to guess that...what year would this have been?

N: 1935 and 36.

M: Well, actually, those are notorious years.

N: Oh, yeah.

M: I'm trying to think. Several people have told me about elections during that

time, that Claude Pepper was running. In fact, /ir ll/ beat Claude

Pepper in Tampa, and he particularly lost in west Tampa, Ybor City. It's

been rumored Charlie _II was in control of all the Do you think

that's true?

N: He lives around here.

M: Is that right?

N: Yes.

Hills Co 18A Page 33

N: IHave you seen the house?

M: No, no.

N:J15th Street.

N: Nice house.

N: I mean, right here, 13th Street and 17th Avenue.

M: Is that right?

N:'';Northwest corner.

M: Yeah.

N: The corner house.

Nr Southwest, I take it back. Southwest corner.

M: Did you know him at all?


M: What kind of guy was he like?

N:L He used to jog every morning. t / // < ri0 / '
4l1- Yo ktI W G''4s w ~ -j?''urA
(Everybody talking at once) ft \/ !, //-cr< : rv t

N:10 ...running with a dog and a colored boy, the colored boy. Used to run

around here.

N: Yeah. Jogging every morning.

M: Charlie.
N AnJ ) +o that
N:l Jtggi7rg was bad -e-- my cousin. The last timeAhe was seen alive, one of the

the oldest he was mixed up in this he was the one

who took him home drunk and then somebody...how did he die?

N:11'Somebody must have been in the house because it was well guarded, but some-

body must have been there already and stabbed him to death.

N: The V wasn't home, wasn't Ua it?

N: No, his wife wasn't...

N:1 ...wasn't home and I guess everything...


Hills Co 18A Page 34

M: If he controlled politics in West Tampa and Ybor City, how do you think

he got control? What was his power base?

N:'/'Well, the ones that control the most votes and ran the rackets, they were

_rl- ____ -e do anything they wanted.
N: Uh huh, they controlled the elections.

M: Was he in control of ?

N: Yeah, ____
/. 1 o Iii,
N: Gambling, gambling, besides tre they had gambling.

M: Was he involved in bootlegging at all or '( '*" ~/'

N: During Prohibition, yeah, he was...

N: In '32...

N: -Wire-r Roosevelt...

N: That was the end of Prohibition.

N: And they all went into gambling.

M: Right. Did, would people be paid to vote or was it simply...

N: /JSome were, yeah...

N: Some were, uh huh.

N: And they'd intimidate you. The first time I voted, they wanted me to vote

as they \1 V- T-sad ,-moe. I was just a kid, tt- -/ r' -

-b-t I always felt this way, nobody's going to tell me what to do.

M: Yeah. I mean, where'd they sty, outside the precinct or inside or where did

the discussion take place?

N:1 Right inside the precinct, they started telling me who to vote for.
i .:rj "*'..'{'o- ./,,: r''P
M: __. How did come to power?

N:; Well, he was, at that time, they used to call +-i-m p /erCk That's how

he started.

M: Um hum. Why do you think the Latins, he was the first Latin mayor and it

took 60 years for Latins to get in power in Tampa.

Hills Co 18A Page 35

N: 'Well, you know, therej-wa-- always that prejudice. Let's face it, we're all

Americans, but the Anglo Saxons think that they're the only Americans.

They're very prejudiced. Even today, they talk to us and they chew us but

they won't swallow us. Let's put it that way.

N: What about...

N:01 IT*i/s0Dg-321trI it this way. I feel sorry for anybody that has that much

hatred in them.

M: You ever experience any...

N/' Stupid.

M: ...discrimination?

N: No, not personally. I'e. always get along with them, and when they bring up

that they're 100 percent American, 2 5 *" __ii'p-

Ayou're no more American than I am.

N:10 What did you tell that lady?

N: 'Oh, yeah, one time I was looking for a Polack in Zeph4 hills and I stopped

at this lady to see if she knew. I told her, by that name, says, he must

be Polish. And she said, "I'm a hundred percent American." I says, "Why?"

Says, my ancestors came over with the Pilgrims. I said, "Let's see, that

was in 1620." I said, "All my cutthroat teS drunk and cutthroats, came

over with Columbus and it was 138 years before, so I'm a better American

than you."

(Chuckles) She turned br--gi-tt pink and (9 ('0 I'll tell Ih.- right

off. When they tell me that all-American stuff, I'll tell them.

M: That's good, that's good. How about you...

N:M They don't stop to think that what made this country great is all these

nationalities that they call the melting pot.

N: The and the Italians and the Spanier-d.s...

Hills Co 18A Page 36

N:1 Not only that, but that's what made this country great.

M: Have you experienced any discrimination?

N:O1 No, I, like him, I don't remember. I used to try to get along and I tried

always to behave in a way that would make them aware that we're just as

good as they are.

N:10The trouble with those Anglo Saxons is they think that, they judge everybody
r 11
by the bad ones,just like theiS rre-igrbTrs-. All the -i -ghbo-r-s e-a-n I don't

believe that. I know some niggers that are better than me, but they don't.

Oh, just like they used to say to the Indians, a dead Indian is a good

Indian. Don't stop to think that we took their country away from them and

I don't blame them for killing the white people they killed.

M: Right. What do you think happened to Ybor City? Who's fault is it, you

know, the Ybor City?

N:/F/I think the merchants themselves. Because all they were ever interested in

was making money and never thought of remodeling their stores. In fact I

used to work over-i- one of the stores after I quit working. Like I told

you, cleaning. And he told me one time, that's after I quit working for

him, the mayor went to see him to do something for Ybor City, to remodel it,

"the-w,-ie-e--uldvn-t e-mn.join him. So I always say, dammit, it's their fault.

Don't blame under urban renewal or the negroes or anything. It's their


N:Lo Part of it o, a f'f; the young generation...

N:' T-!-. -t-e- im about, -'Tl-t-e-l-1-h-im about the commercial _i o .

N: Well, youtalk about it. But the residential is bad, everybody is...

N: Yeah, the residential, they...

N:L Everything was expanding. /,'';

N: ...Italian, oh, they're very Latin. I oh, yes, I'm very...but

they live in the island or they live in '' "They live, you tell

Hills Co 18A Page 37

them to move around here. Oh, no, they don't want to.

N:^ C-r'}!s

N:L ,1- ..' That's what it is.

M: Right. What do you think, do you...

N: Well, that's the way it is. Talking about what you said a while ago about

6"C Rl0 it took him 16 years but Nick ____cIO was county commissioner

for many, many years, and he became very popular.
N:l I think he got...he won the county commissioner race four or five times.

N: That man...

N:i'In fact, when he was defeated for mayor, then he went back to county com-

missioner, then he come back again.

N: Yes. That man...well, he knows about politics. He learned to--re experience,

not by going to school or becoming a lawyer, and let me tell you, I thought

he was a very intelligent man. He is,-a-t-he, e s-e he's still a--44,e.

Did you ever meet him?

M: Yes, I did. Interviewed him a couple of months ago, right. He lives down

by the river.

N: LSt. Isabel, yes.

M: Right, off the river.

N:" We live on this side.

M: Right.
N: He used to live...he was a county commissioner or mayor and he used to live

near here.

(Everyone talking)

N: He built the house near the river out in Temple Terrace, I think the last Yl'/r

of his, in office of mayor. And then, I guess, he didn't want to live there

anymore. He moved where you probably...to St. Isabelle. /His family, too,

well, his sister lives here.

Hills Co 18A Page 38

N:A Near here, yeah.
N: Two or three brothers.

N:tL Two sisters.

N:LO And the other one lives on 12th.

N:V)On 12th and 17th. No, 18th. 12th and 18th.

M: Well, listen, I would like to thank you very much for spending the afternoon

with me. I do appreciate it.

N: I wish we could have produced more.

M: It's been delightful.


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Last updated October 10, 2010 - - mvs