Title: Interview with Mary Italiano (April 16, 1980)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006500/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Mary Italiano (April 16, 1980)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: April 16, 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: UF00006500
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 23

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Ybor 23A

Sub: Mary Italiano

Int: Gary Mormino

April 16, 1980


4114 Oakeller


Page- -1-

/ /: Uh, my name is Gary Mormino and today it'szy pleasure to be talking

to Mary Italiano in her lovely home on Oakeller in Tampa near uh Gandy

Boulevard. Uh Mrs. Italiano why don't.... could you tell me something

about your uh, your family's background? Uh what did the Italianos do

in the old country?

/ .: Well uh,.... Well I... Now there.... I can't tell you too much
fcd11, ce rnMbL
about the Italiano) aWyiamoW I know.... I know they came here from uh,

they came over from ..... uh, SirV f CIffp hO and I think they all came

from there.

M: m hm.

T : But as far as them as far as I can tell ya, I never ya know had the :h;-

I've asked him but-rsima. my... my grandfather who was... there were three

brothers. There was /L Q i j Patisci uh, Li, 'i Patisci, and

Q5 l,6aLI Patisci.
9 .: How do you spell Pitisci?

t ': P-i-t-i-s-c-i, Pitisci.
r/ (?: That was your maiden name then*, T-is 75

Ybor 23A -2-

Sr : That was my maiden name, uh huh

S6: Uh huh. Tell me about the Pitiscis.

" Uh?

AV : Tell me about them.

: Yeah. Well I'll tell ya my grandfather from.... when they left Sicily

they went to umr....... way out .... there were where they have MOSC.I C

whatever ya call it. They went out there to work and well it was near

um......... see what's the name of that side of the country?

: Way down there. Well it was near um..... uh...... I can't remember the

name of that uh.....

1, G: Arizona, sffl-4- 'o
"" : No, no, no, this is in .... in Italy.
d I : Oh uh huh.
M: In Italy. In Italy, over there where they worked there..... they worked
there with the mosaic,e-3aBs. yL0L khO).
l/G': Mosaic?

J : Uh huh.
P^: Oh.you mean mosaic tiles?

L : Mosaic. Yeah, right.
I: : Oh uh huh.

l M: All that stuff there. And they were there.for.... then they came... when
they came over to the United States why......
tq: Yeah. That's whaj he did in the old country, he worked in tiles?

Ybor 23A -3-

;J : In tiles, stuff like that.
? ;: Yeah.
SAnd uh, as far as my grandfather, I know one of ms the brothers and-
one. CcAsc. .
the otherAI couldn't tell you too much --Of ou-em he'll been dead
a long timer- But uh.... and they were very interesting fellows. Bt
they said as I uh, that the Patisci brothers were almost uh..... almost
ya know one of the family. The older one that came down here they.....
because I know McKay, Phoebe McKay, had a write-up about him in the uh,
aO editorial one day about them
c: \fcO
-T p: Ya know about the Patisci brothersAand what they did and they married
Tampa girls, they all married Tampa girls. They'.e-ogna have a slew of
children. They're all grown ups now ya know and everything/
/1 g: Right.
: But um.......

3 : Why.... Why did they come to America?
T7: Well I don't know. I have no idea why they came down here. But I guess
over there there wasn't...... nothing doing over there and ya know they
were from Sicily. From ,,0 i\\AUD
: Right.
TW: So they all lefti:there and they went..... I wish I could remember the
name of it.
/ : Is it in Italy,Mary?
T/: Yeah in Italy, yeah.

Ybor 23A -4-

fl j: What did they do there in Italy?
J W: Well that's what they went with .... with this .... with this mosaic that

I was talking about.

S : Would Florence or.....
J X: Florence. Right near there somewhere. I don't.... can't remember where

it was. But anyhow, uh, they were there a long time and then they came
down here and they married here.

A : Why did they come to Tampa? Do you know?
J f: Yeah.
I 1 : Why.... Why did they come to Tampa?
j M: Well I don't know. Most everybody came to Tampa from New York then they

came to Tampa. A lot of them went to New Orleans. But my grandfather

never went... They didn't go to New Orleans but they came direct I guess

from over there to here.

SMn: bn hm.
7l: And they're all..... they were all in business here. Ya know my grandfather
used to have a........

fAi : What did the do in Tampi4., in Tampa? I mean once they settled here?
J : Yeah he was.... He was in the.... They had a .... My grandfather had a
grocery store and uh andX.. and a fruit stand, one of the best fruit
stands in Tampa.

f 0: Where was that?
7T-M: That was on the corner of 7th Avenue and uh, uh, 17th Street.

AjG : So right about where the Italian Club is today?

Ybor 23A -5-

J: Yeah, about a block this way.........

] I: Uh,,yeah, right.
S$: VOf-the Italian Club and of course we used to love to go there because
on Saturday night'we 1a go there to ya know be with grandpa and all

that. And he had a little machine that would roast uh, peanuts and

/:, : Ah.

,. ; And we used to have a big time there. -a.row we enjoyed going there.
f4: Yeah.

J : And.....
i'j: Now if uh was in the tile business in Italy, why did he come here and go

in the uh fruit business?
.IM: I don't know. I don't know why he went to fruit business here. I don't
know. I don't think... he....had his own business, I think he just worked

out there, L O.Li l cIy 0. 6 )J A5i. When they came down
here none of them had anything from the old country ya know. And the...
and the other brother ...... Now the other two brothers I don't know.
rc(-C rn c Im A..
They've been dead for so long, that I don't 4aw what the other two did.

/; ,G: Yeah. Where did they live in Ybor City? Did they live........
'M: Alright my grand..... Yeah, they lived at ...... Well see my grandfather

lived on uh, on uh, 8th Avenue between uh, 17 and 18th Street.

AP6: Yeah. Uec Y2r CoxUA;iavC 6
.,M: Right. Right at the corer.
G: Right.
at's where I we used to go there all the time.
J ,M: That's where I .t... tho- .bu..... we used to go there all the time.

Ybor 23A -6-

/G G: Yeah, uh huh.

J M: It's ...... That was the little..... That was our hang up ya know? Hck-'o col.

4',: Paul Pizzo, uh huh.

7 : Paul Pizzo today.

: Uh huh.

"T M: His grandfather was there. His name was Pizzalata.

i' d: Mm hm. Right.

1: And they uh..... We had a good time. The Bono kids ya know used to;
Iooc 4o
I.nOed it, fo from one place to the other. I was one of the oldest.
And uh, I.... jas far as the Italian Club, you uh, you have all the

write up about that haven't you?

) i: Yeah. What uh..... Tell me something...... Now what did your father

do? Like when was ..... When was your father born?

Si : My daddy was born ...... My daddy when he died he was let's see he was

79 years old.

: What year was that?

3A: That was about...... oh about sixteen, seventeen years ago.

7V} J: O.K.

SM: Passed away.

r/d: Right.

: And daddy pa- type that......

4` : He was born in the United States? Your father?

_J: Yeah. Yeah, my father was. And uh, they all were born here. My mother

....... My mo..... No, my mother wasn't born here, she was born in Italy.

But she came down here to visit..... She had a sister who was down here.

Got married in Tampa. So, she came to visit her..... a cousin was

Maria Gogtalena and uh, so then while she was here she met my father

Ybor a3A -7-

_T 1: and they got married you know.

Sj: What was her maiden name?

r: Her name was Patisci. They were cousins.

],: Oh.

)i: They were cousins, second cousins ya know.

Md: Yeah, right.

P;: And uh so.....

/f,: Did she ever go back?

-1: Never went back.

i;G': She just stayed here in America?

P : Oh yes. She was married and -hey just about break -t heart# because

she wanted to go back. And we never realized-she has oh about six in

the family-and we never realized that she wanted to go back. But

you know how you do? So think about it but I know she used to pray

one day to go back. Then we.... Then we realized that we should let

her go)ya know. Then it was too late cause she had heart trouble and

there was no way that she could ya know.

M: Must not have been much of a courtship huh?

T M: No it wasn't. It was so fast, I'll tell ya. And uh...... uh......

/ V: Did she.... Did uh, did she ever tell you whether she came specifically

to meet someone to marry?

-: No, no. No, no. She was young. She came to..... Obviounly, she must

have been not more than fifteen or sixteen years old.

S: Mm hm.

Ybor Z3A -8-

J $: She married. She just came to visit and was gonna go back to Italy.

She never went back. Now my aunt went back. Ya knowbut she stayed

with my father. But uh she......

P}: What did your mother's family do in the old country?

T: In the old country? Uh, I don't know, they had their own..... they

had their own land. Ya know they had uh..... they had uh...... I don't

know they had a olive...... uh olive uh.... what do you call it? Grove.

And then they had uh.... then they had another grove that would grow

all kind of vegetables and stuff.

d: Yeah. Have you ever been back to 2/ 26S O ?

S: Who?

I G: You.

S': Yes, oh yes. I was there in '69, I went again in '72.

14 A: What'd you think of it?

7?: Oh I loved..... You have no idea. When I got there, I didn't.... I knew

the name ya know Patisciso and uh Chicarellos so uh, I said my heaven

what am I gonna do? I had the a4ess but I had never met them. So,

when I got there I told em, I said "Well,...... I went to and I was

staying in JCrr0O at -1I uh restaurant which is a

beautiful...... I mean hotel, beautiful hotel out on the Bay of Naples.

And uh, so when uh, I said "Well I've got to go ,53 )fi ) o/` ".

But I said I don't have the a4ress, t t-d t have the name". Luckily

enough, when we get SQnfO S )IYVn)n 100 ('lilO /) /

The cab driver said Who do we meet

Ybor 25A -9-

S: but the mailman. So I said..... So he stops and said "Am you one-4af

Patiscig family?" Said i"Oh yeah, fptEt-that house over there".

1/ (: (chuckle)

Y: And so when we got there, I said well, the cab stopped. And they all

came out by.... in the windows ya know. Came out and kept saying.....

oh said rcY^CA.-PN mean &tws, 5fx;f

/ */f /,L-- So when they came out I said "Well......." All around

like you see in the movies ya know. All around the car. They came over

and said "Well I'm Maria 17 ' daughter". You have never heard

such screaming and carrying on. Hugging and crying and kissing., /hat

day was a holiday. Nobody worked that day.

P k: (chuckle)

f: They went to get =,- Pm- go get thisy- this brother was on this

side and the other this side. And we had a holiday. So I just stayed....

just stayed two days. Now when I went back in '79..... '72 I stayed

about a week.

:' Mm hm.

J : O-I () h r0 i a lovely little town, it's small and while

I was there they had the feast of 5oCifL& !OIIC which is a big... big,

big holiday there. And everybody ya know.... we..... lot of people

walked many miles with the Saint. My cousin was one of the uh.... the uh....

prof.... no..... one of the leaders of that feast.

fi d: Mm hm.

__p: So they.... It took em almost three hours to get where we .... We walked
uttC hue.
to the place where we w.e etvairejg this big picnic there.

Ybor Z3A -10-

ft: Where..... Where.... Where is it held?

I: n *e $r2n .'"I(V r^.,

t,): I mean but do you know where?

1t: Yeah. The name of the place uh.... they call.....What'd they call that
-* L haire- cor'tmcn it
place? Oh I can't think. 'ws-d writ- obran i t down before you came.

Uh, but anyways, this ... this' .f s`-^a-e... They have a beautiful

church there. Ya know, small church. And you could see the people coming

walking way up the mountains..... walking this way. And uh, so everybody


0S: What...... Go ahead. I'm sorry.

1A: And everybody had to....brought their own food. And there were CRO J "-

S__ And so I enjoyed it a lot and uh, then

ya know ..... Of course then they'd bring the Tfl which is .unr'C.

Cc,'fi' And then they'd bring her all over the streets and every-

body of course..... everybody comes out and pins money on ._0 01 aQ0 J(C-

tfe : Right.

j : And that... that was a big thrill for me, c I l never seen that.

/,?: ~Mm hm.

S4: And many years ago they used to have it down here but they don't do -hert
C '( f- h rc>
anymore. They used to have that L -.:-' LCt$5CI C.. ,he little

church Jin Y (y a 8th Avenue.

/AG: Well, what did people ask you about Tampa there? Well what did they....

What kind of questions did they have?

T f: Well, they all .... Well they all wanted to come to Tampa. Ya know they

thought well, money .meownvt on 4he trees here. They all want to come

to Tampa. My cousin kept telling me please^eei4d-me.... send for me, send

Ybor a5A -11-

1 : for me. But there's so many of em, ya know. But they all wanted to

come to the United States. But everybody ..... everybody...... Ya feel

really like...... If you notice, mostly everybody from.... from here

born i Sm''' '. '. I OP) More than nI Some of them

are from there too but mostly oa ) Oc 5' 'i The _

are small, very pretty. I.... The church is lovely. So I

enjoyed my week there the first.... second time.

: Right, right. Now uh, when were you born? If I may ask you.

TA: I was born in 1903.

n j: Nineteen-o-three, uh huh. Where.... Where were you born?

_P: AXn Tampa.

pIG: Yeah. Were you born in a home?

p : Uh yes, I think I was. Yes it was ,'

/A,: That would've been on 8th Avenue and 17th Street?

S: Yes, it would be there and uh, of course then I ..... yy know I was raised

there. Then of course, I was married uh, Sacred Heart Church in town.

jf: Right.

TI: And I was baptized there.

:Tell me about your...... your first memories of what Ybor City was like

as a young girl.

IM: Well, when I was a young girl, you... you... there was no way to describe

what it was then. Seventh Avenue was not paved. It was all sand. And

the sidewalks were made of boards Y# know and uh, to see the... to

see the road today how beautiful it is but then. And everybody .... the

... what th /used to do then. They would..... Our holiday.... Our

pastime was then was on Saturday night we used.to go.... everybody

Ybor 23A -12-

"74: used to go od 7th Avenue to see those people walking up and down, up and
down. That was their.... their yp know.

idl: Mm hm.

T: So um, I think that we were happy. I don't know.if we were happier then.

I guess today we got too much trouble going but then I think it was we
PRec\y loi\cy,
w ,- -- And uh, like I say.... Now uh,......
P q: Where..... Where did you go to school?

P: I went to school ....... They have the... uh the Academy on llth Avenue.

I went thereto a Catholic school.

qd: In front of the church? In front of the church there?

7 $: Yeah, right in front of the church, right there.

0i]: Mm hm, .right.

: And that was pretty......4. 0it was beautiful there. It was a small

1' _hOCcJfufi tre trees and ro like it is today.

/Pd: What.... What'd your father think of uh, of you getting an education?

TM: Uh, well they.... they.... Ya know then, it wasn't like today. Ya..

Now I know I wanted to uh, Dr. at the time who passed

away several..... quite a bit back, he wanted me to..... I used to

work for him at the office ya know and he wanted me to uh, take nursing

ya know. Of course, oh why that was out of the question /or a single

girl Zit--pa to think of nothing like that. So, I uh, I went to school

not till.... I think I went as far as maybe the fifth.... fourth or fifth

grade and then they got a professor for me, Professor Webber, who is

part uh..... He must've been from the Bahamas, he was dark. Professor

Ybor 23A -13-

A I: Webber, he'd come three times a week and give me essons/I fdtff.:

Cause at that time we weren't permitted Bfgs too old to be out in

the streets. So um.....

/: NoT:uh why..... Hmmm. Why didn't you stay in school?

S : Cause my father thought I was too old now. I couldn't.... I couldn't be

out in the streets.

: RRight. ,

J: They were .... ya know. /JSad no, no. You gotta........ .2 i L _cop 5f

)3 OX LOc)a a lovely person.

0 : Mm hm.

:Professor Webber was very very nice and he came twice, three times a week.

Gave me lessons)ya know. But I didn't ever graduate because like I say

I couldn't go back. I went as high as I could.

: Right.

J : I would've love to have gone to college but at that time it was not/today.

t : Right.

1: Ya know.

Sd: What uh.... What would..... Did you get a job?

M": Yeah. I worked at ..... Well then when I..... My first job I worked

for Dr. iie a dentist on 19th Street and 7th Avenue

right today. I worked for Dr. till I met my


:Right. Did you think.... ever think about working in a cigar factory?

-M: Yeah.... No,no.

I'G: Why not?

Ybor 23A -14-

71: Well I don't know. I never did because like I say, when I was very

young I.... I was married I was just not quite seventeen.

P : Mm hm. Right.

I: So uh.....

:Do you remember uh, Isw the Ybor City fire, was it 1912?

Ti: Yeah that was a big firemy heavenly dayS.

P: Tell me about it.

"' : They had a terrific.... That was oh....... I thought the whole k:? the

whole Ybor City was gonna go. Then they had a big one too in West Tampa

ya know. I can't remember when that was exactly.

1,\1: Nineteen-eighteen, 1919.

J : That's when it was, around that time. But the one in Ybor City was......

: Do you remember specific incidents uh..... ?

14: No, not in.....

M: No, not that ..... We just were scared to death. With that thing you

never..... They couldn't put it out.

/i 6: Was your home burned up? P 9/0f Yr Z /y

M: No, not our home wasn't burnt 0,4pbut most tte t was gone ya know.

IG: Mm hm.

J0: And uh, uh.....

/l: Do you remember uh, the 1910 cigar strike? It would've been .......

P: Yes. Well that strike was supposed to last a couple of weeks and it

lasted seven months. AndA had.... They had the..... They had the ... the

central...... the cigar ...... What do you call it? Cigar uh.... They

Ybor .234 -15-

T $: had their own building there on 7th Avenue.

M 0: frr Labor Temple?
I : Yes, right. ,T between 16th and 17th Street.
/ : Mn hm.

4 : And that strike really about cleaned everybody up because it was.... it

was uh like I say, it was supposed to last only a week or two and it
went on and on and on. I'm pretty sure it lasted seven months.

"14 /: What did you think of it as a little girl?
Sfi: What?

P1 P: Uh, what were your reactions as a little girl witnessing the strike?
O- I: Oh I) eaty thought it was wonderful. Isn't that awful. (chuckle) But

they had parades. We had march up and down and they..... ya know and

we.... It's funny, we used to enjoy Oaw? Wejhave our little umbrellas

with the... with the....with with the names on the uh, the cigar factory

thV mwr supposed to be sponsoring it.

" G^ Uh huh.

J : And uh.... But uh, in all I uh, I remember that very very well and uh,
and they um, like I say yA know everybody said oh, it'll be over in

no time. And a lot of the businessmen-and thatae l-ya know you get uh,
get these dairies that.... these big wholesale that deliver a load of... of
food to these uh...... um..... Dairies, my god it's five, six hundred
dollars each load. So when you figure well it'll be over in two weeks,

before you know it a lot of people....a lot of places went bankrupt.

^ p: Yeah. What your.... What your father think of the strike?
A: Huh?

Ybor 23A -16-

f /: Your father?
I : My daddy he.... When we first came here,) \OUh2 he he he was a
cigar maker. That's what he was too, seeYO

1A ^: Mm hm.
S But then after all that then he h o b;h

[A Does he ever tell you why he uh left the cigar work?
S1: Well because it was so bad. They wouldn't pay nothing. Today my.....
If you made $14, $15 and $12 you made a lot. Some of these strippers
fLrIV OZ 4\vC2 d4iJ.'-','
were making only about 4/la week.

SG Mm hm.
j 4: Ya know? So my daddy was uh uh a pretty good cigar maker. He would....
; by
They used to have what.... They used to roll @ m hand then. And my

father was one of the.... one of the better cigar makers here. But uh,
and after that..... After awhile that e I he e sekd
to the grocery store at the corner of 8th Avenue and 17th Street. Now
that was my uncle had a saloon across the street. His name was 4

(f: How do you spell that I1r?
_1K : P-u..... p-u-g-l-i-s-e.
fi: Mm hm.
Fr, Ccsco
,i : FT f SaSI And he was really..... He was a.... He was a man that eve...
all these.... these forrftc /ya know the crackerS1r /

j; ': Right.
21 1: Dtey would come with their wfer every Saturday morning and every Monday
morning. And they would all goAto this .. my uncle's bar at that corner
..... the big bar down on that corner. And they would all go there and

Ybor 23A -17-

: uh sell their wer. And you get eggs there and they were $10 a.... ten
-r / r e thr"
cents a dozen. l#* vegetables almost givIfj away.

S: Mm hm.

_T : And whenever there.... anybody in trouble like they needed interpreter
my uncle was the one that did it. Uh took em to court ya know and

(O T3rj them.
f : Uh huh.

Xq: And he was very well likeAthere. He was.... Like I say, he was one

of the first chief of police in Tampa. That was my uncle.

P1d: Right.

.T: My godfather.

fi q: Right.

:But he was a wonderful person.

/ 5: Right.
STf : A Uh huh.

f p: fid you ever work 4S your father's store? The grocery store?
T 7 : Yeah. Oh kid, yeah. We did. I worked there.
A, W: Who were most of the patrons uh, customers?

-: Well.... well like the who worked right across from us,
Fcrk Ca:s5,h'la o.s
the Frias, the e s......... uh......

'I d: Did Cubans or Spaniards ?

TiM: Oh yeah. Oh yes, yes. There were a lot.... A lot of Cubans here in Tampa.
^^/r.;{'.*;Y' T'hey all were.... They all lived in Ybor City. Ybor City is

not like zfs today.

/iG: Sure.

Ybor 23A -18-

7 : ,;ITt was nice many years ago.

/) : Right.

M: Of course, most everybody was cigar makers with the cigar factory.

/q C: Right. Now uh, did you learn Spanish growing up here?
J [: Yeah, I .... I learned.... I can talk all the three languages ya know.

S, : Right, uh huh.

1 M: matter of fact, I can read and write Italian and Spanish too. All I.....
My uncle he was third president of Italian Club. He

was i.. .. school teacher.

S: Mm hm.

9 M: And he ...... All he taught us was the ABCs in Spanish and Italian. From

there we... we.... we Go0ia,.ot:- at his house.

l : Yeah.

j$: And yeah, I can write, sit down and write it but maybe won't write the
pure thing ya know.

l i: Sure.

M: But my cousin understood me anyhow.

0? d: Right. Now um, regarding the Italian Club now, do you remember when the
first Italian Club burned in 1914? It was across the street from the

present Italian Club.
J : Yes.

f' : Can you remember that?
" I: I don't remember that. When di'id.i... What... What year was that?

" G: Nineteen -fourteen.

Ybor 23A -19-

1 : Nineteen-fourteen, I should aWmebe',A. Yeah. I know that... that they

had .... They had a golden ur, anniversary ya know. Nineteen-o-eight to


0I: Nineteen-o-ehtr ^^^ ^ 7 C- ,7 ^
7 $: What? Cause it was 1908 ya know.
I -ern -
/ : Right. Uh, do you rember them building the present Italian Club when

they built that?

T : Yeah. Yeah.

/ i: What do you remember about that?

.: OhI remember growing up we were all so excited and we were all so

thrilled. Nobody..... Most everybody that didn't work they would go

out there and stand around and watch the building go up.

/i G: Uh huh.

M: It was a beautiful.thig ...... Iisean beautiful club. And um..... I don't...

I remember having that go..... And ya know then they used to have a....

most every year they had a parade ya know. And my cousin was ..... They
4eoe like United States and Italy. Ya know and they had this parade like

we do Gasparillq.

SV : Mm hm .
7: And my cousin who is ..... she died tt Uncle Frank's daughter would've

defended America. They had these beautiful ya know.... costumes on with

American flags all wrapped around and the other girl was .... was... Mrs.
d e.ol-,0oo,
Sharo was her name. Amy Sharo, she's baeist. And she was representative

uh of Italy.

G: Mn hm.

Ybor 23A -20-

T ': It was a lovely affair, I'll tell ya. We used to have a lot of fun

(I d: Mm hm.

S l: And......

0 G: Did you uh spend much time at the Italian Club?

7': Yeah.

1 (: Tell me about...... some of the

T M: Yeah, well we bel..... I belong to the uh..... ya know

di%-....say...... The women's auxiliary.

I'G: Uh huh.

SM: As a matter of fact. And uh we used to have picnics, Italian Club picnics

ya know. We.... We used to have it in uh.... The picnics were held- cx

Palmetto Beach at the time. They had these fireworks at 9:00 at night.

Oh, we had a big time. All kinda good things to eat and they had a

pavillion where they had-t1-- ya know. And they had different contests

for the people there..... ya know there from the town.

p G: How many people would turn out for something like that?

"-'M; Oh I'd say easy 500 people, maybe more. That place was big and everybody

went to Italian Club picnic. And then we used to stay for the fireworks.

They used to have...... They used to have the street cars that would

drive in the park4p see and everybody around Lie\c- cK(klcoy O 0 CI
9oo OG\ ^tV e Z' echa Ab'bOcd.) \YWa1 _o-R.o- tv^e_-'n
tbesrt- A And we used to sit there ea LAJ\QQ

waite- the fire works te-buAtFpar*s And that was the end ya know.

J) G: Right.

Ybor 23 -21-

7 ": And of course, like I say my daughter was too..... My daughter J 'fiifi

W 05 one of the queens.
/: Mn hm.
1: lSheE of the Italian Club. kf1 Grecco Lt \cU O _i She's
Grecco now but she was Italiano. And......

Vhn: What kind of things would be at the Italian Club? What kind of things
would you go to?
T- W: What?

f: At the club.
f : At the club. Well......
4 : Like as a woman, could you.... could you have gone there during the day
and just walked in?
M: Oh yes, of course. We.... We didn't go out ...., e

they wouldn't allow us. But I mean it wouldn't be no.... no hazard
at all to go there in the daytime.
G: Mm hm.

.M: They had all the beautiful uh theatres. They had operas .tooAJ. came
down and we used to get this Angelk Musco. I don't know if you remember....
you would know about hi M,
r G': Musco?

J i: Angelo Musco. He was 4 comedian.
S : Uh huh.
SF: One of the best. And he would go there ya know and.... In fact, the LW.
had picnics, we have the theatre, they have dances upstairs. Beautiful....
the ballroom had uh, the mayflower dance and we all used to get together

Ybor 23A -22-

S: and make flowers ya know to decorate our hall. Oh we had something

to do all the time thenat that time. Beautiful. Which I loved ya know.

t t: Right. Do recall when the uh Broadway Theatre took it over? Oh, is

it the Broadway? Yeah.

j : Yeah, the Broadway Theatre, yeah. Yes, I remember that too but I
never did go back e .: Thfnebwhem after I got married then we moved

to West Tampa is where I lived ya see.

rl: Right.

J: And we didn't go there a lot but uh we were disappointed they did get

..... they had to tear all that down. And we did have the operas jCM rC

Ya know and different op... op... operas would come and then when they

had to choose the uh, in the movie they used to bring the operas here from

different uh...... operas we saw.... we've seen there which was very

very nice.

f) 4: Caruso ever come?
J ): Who?

I1: Caruso.
7 : No he didn't but I'll tell ya who came was uh....... um_

He came. And uh, he came. And
came too. -_ / /

S: Mm hm.

I : He came.
dM : Right.
j l: And as a matter of fact, my husband....... and that group of Italians......

the p-re mt-4t- ware- there at the time uh, they brought him down here.

Ybor 23A -23-

J : And I had a picture I was gonna show you of the banquet that they had
then #o uptown at the Plaza Hotel.

I)) (: Yeah I'd like to see it.
il: Yeah, it's a ...... it's a beautiful picture and it has oh a million
other people all the way around it.
S: Uh huh. TI V IO ".
J7: Yeah I I I have it somewhere but I think I loaned it to someone. I
think my Aunt Venile has it if I'm not mistaken.
I : Mm hm, right.
:0: %.he wanted to see it.

f /: Right. Uh, how did you meet your husband?
j 9 : Well I met him at/ltalian Club picnic. (chuckle)
: Is that right.

,N: That's where I met him.
fi : Uh huh.
T'M: Like I say, I was......
n,(: How old were you then?
IM,: I I was about not quite fifteen.

Sd: Mm hm .
AM: I married him.... Uh yeah, I met him at the picnic and after that well....
He lived in West Tampa see.

11 G: Describe the courtship. What was the courtship like?
JM: Oh the courtship oh. The courtship was something else then cause ya know
you don't go out. When I had to go out with my husband my mother....
We had to have escorts. We had to have two or three to follow us which
was awful. (chuckle) If you even sat on the porch outside you would
have .... somebody had to be there. My sister.... she now... If she had

Ybor 23A -24-

t A: had to go inside then somebody/had to come. Now what could she.....

What could happen on the porch with the big lights going on. No, it

was a beautiful courtship and my husband and I, h vii ; p* api4-

away. But I uh, have beautiful memories of my uh, we were married

thirty-three years.

q\ : Mm hm. How old were you when you married?

: I was about fifteen.

fi d: Fifteen, uh huh.

j-1: Not quite sixteen yet.

d: Right.

SI had three lovely children ya know they _Mair-in, Grecco,

and ___n__/_/ .I

d : Now what.... what did your/husband do?

SM: Well he was in wholesale grocery business. Feed.. O( t He was.....
\ne 6
First mv had a store over in West Tampa. Then after prohibition then

they closed it and then they opened this place on the corner of 6th

Avenue and 19th Street which was in the name of Italiano-Figarotta. And

they was.... And then another strike came too and about cleaned us out.

It did too. Cigar strike- a bad one too.

SG: Which one was that?
SM: Huh? Well, I imagine when it was, it must've been..... I think it was

the last one that we had. And that was the one that was supposed to

last a little bit too but they........

pI C: Nineteen-twenty?

I : Yeah, around that time. It supposed to have lasted a little..... Just....

Ybor 23A -25-

T : Carried on and on and on.

(phone rings)
-I 1
M: Linda get the phone. Huh?

p 4: Could you describe that strike in ....... ?

N: Yeah, that *' that strike was...... Just a second. You can't

hear me. (phone is still ringing)

v G: You were gonna tell me about the 1920 strike )fo y)O( can remember.

: Yeah. Ohhhh heavenly days. We los a lot of money in that strike. Of

course like I was telling ya know, they used to sell these big dairies and

if you take a load like I said, $500.00, $600.00 each load. So if

you're gonna ya say well, they they they gonna ya know..... It's .... It'll

be over in no time. And that thing lasted I think another seven, eight

months too. And a lot of.... lot of .... lot of ... of uh businesses

went broke I tell ya. Just about cleaned us out too.

fG: Right.

S1 : But......

i G: Describe West Tampa. How was West Tampa different than uh.... than uh

Ybor City?

F$: Oh West Tampa. Oh West Tampa. ,,. West Tampa was.... well

everything was soooo..... Ya know to me..... I used to lived on.... We

lived there in there on .... at the corner right Y 17( ya

know all that with the lights on. Palm Avenue. West Tampa,

when I moved to West Tampa after I got married my heavenft,I..... it was

the _wilderness over there. Really and I..... I really cried.

You wanna say that I was scared. Ya know at night they had no lights in

Ybor 23A -26-

T S: the streets. They had these uh, these gas lights ya know. And this

colored man used to come over and light the... light those things.

And whenever they didn't come to light em you couldn't go any.... you

couldn't see nothing outside. No, West Tampa was nothing (0F 'Tj o

Ybor City then.

# : Who lived in West Tampa?

T M: Well the Reyes, the Reyes lived there, the cigar factory people ya know.

Uh, Reye, they lived there and uh, a lot of the um..... a

lot lot of......

f d: Any Italians there?

d: Oh yeah, yeah. Block was mostly all Italians ya know. We all... The

Italianos all lived there and a lot of the VEe as were there and a lot
*:kcr S?{cr),7:
of the uh, Desalvo andS&f*... ift A lot of people ..... Ya

know mostly....... There were a lot of Italian people there. There still
are. ,I I

r4 d: Do you remember the original .es SI '

T-: Yes. On... on Howard Avenue.

/P : And Chestnut.

J T: And Chestnut. Ohhh, that was a beatiful...... f... e y could bake

beautiful stuff in that place. And I tell you, you have to get in a line

to get that bread it was so good there.

G/ .: Really?

J 1: Yeah, it was probab...... That was.... That's been generations back and

back ya know his father and then the other son.

P : Yeah.

v) 6: Right. Mm hm. What was baking bread like then? Do you remember at your

Ybor 23A -27-

.) 0 home or was it.......

J-: Yeah, my home. We used to.... We hat= holiday wejop:d1' bake bread.

SUh huh.

T : But see we.... we used to live there were.... We all lived near ya know

like there was one, two....... there was three hands and uh fYC;'l r

so they would bake bread once a week.

iT: Where would they bake it?

: They have a.... They have an oven outside \/C i (" .C.

S0': Fp /i^.r.r~ .- *,,

4: Huh?

: ( rOr2 Yeah, 4; fl (:, -? Have you ever seen one?

/ d: No.

Mv: Oh they were wonderful. So we... we'd all get together that day and

then we'd bake bread for that day .'-,(/ on a Friday. Then after
the bread was baked, then they used to um, they would have maybe half

/" _____ya know.

SG: Mm hm.

M: And uh maybe a whole one.//7/ 'c,: ','y/' M. And when the

bread was out then they cooked fit and we all ate together. Talk about

a holiday. / / My uncle was whtrn- T d t r

Swell he had a table that would be uh, from this end to the

other end there and we'd all eat there that day and the bread was really

beautiful, oh beautiful bread. And then usually sometimes they would get

Ybor 23A -28-

- M: a couple of loaves ya know like they did..... I don't know if you've

ever had this. Cut it in half and when it's hot you put a lot of garlic,
'./ / /
and olive oil and cheese and a lot of black pepper and then you :'" .'./ h

.Y'f) )' ;//,.,_,. /.6- Oh it was beautiful.

/ : Uh huh. --- ,'

T m I don't know if time today we were ..r but we were happ.... I... To

me, I think we were... we were happier then.

/i: Mm hm.

:The families were so close.

/)} : Right.

J : Moreso than we are today. And today everybody's busy doing something

else but then, like I said, every Friday the bread djL. that

was the day to bake bread. And it was a holiday for us because we

would all enjoy the bread and be all together with all our cousins.

There were a million of us.

1;'C: Well, describe a typical Sunday with your family when you were close.

:Oh yeah, well Sunday was a big day too. We all used to get ya know Af

AG09,/a lot of times the ones that were close we'd have a..... At

that time now you.... They talking about .zt barbeque. We used to

barbeque how many years ago? Uh, I'd imagine uh, I'd say sixty years

ago, sixty-five maybe. And we used to have a.... Roroe I' frliI

used to call it ya know. Little..... little...... Have you ever seen


A : yh-hntr. )O

--A: The yhrJd,.& little \ ,smal small.


Ybor 23A -29-

S-Mm hm. 11
y ued c top
r r4 WMf kerosene ya know put coals and light it. And then we would have

uh, you could smell that uh, the veal ya know with a lot of uh, this

olive oil and garlic and lot of.... j.eC MCA/ used to make this juice

like. And then of course they..... I'll tell ya get together but

Sunday. Talk about a Sunday dinner. Oh we started with soup. We never

had dinner bLC AA4is have to have soup, then we have to have our

"*spagetti. then we have to have our uh, meat, oursa-l', all kinds of dessert

you can think about. Everybody brought something. Now, Sunday was
tiA Call ,f
a holiday ..... which you don't do today. And that was.... OEsga,

barbeque today. Well, that's what we used to do at least sixty-five

years ago. I must've been.........5C-fl2 seventy-five. So, it had

to be at least.... I know I must've been about ten years old. And it

was beautiful. It really was. I really enjoyed it.

S/: Yeah.

T M: And we all did. I think r I'd say today we have everything under

the sun but we didn't have as much then but to me we were happier I

think. Don't you think?

/ G: Yeah.

TMl: Ya know. I mean as far as what we used to do with the families all

together. And Sunday we used to have ya know.... We hardly ever ate

by ourself aev wee There were three sisters

that lived near so we practically always used to eat together.

MV d: Yeah, right. What about in terms of religion?

M: Well, the religion was.... Ya know cause we were all Catholic and we

Ybor z3 A -30-

f4: were all baptized Catholic and we used to go to the ..... Oh

what church we used to go to.

TA: Yes, that's it. And I don't know if the religious .... A lot of people....

We were not..... To me, we used to go more then than they do today. I

don't know a lot of..... I don't know what's happened today. You get

all the children that even went that were Catholics to start from.... from

school C) 100 (Q went on and on and now some of the kids don't even

want to go to church.

h : Would the men go to church then?

7': Not as much. No, not very much. Not the men. You could probably just

count the men that went to church then. Ya know?

1/: Right.

Y: But we did. All.... We all did. I mean the wives did and the children.

Ya know?

/ p': Right.

7 I know my family did because see I. ;f I went to Catholic school.

/; : Mm hm.

: And uh.....

/ G: When I mention uh, prohibition what do you think of?

2 M: Well uh, I remember at the time prohibition uh.... See I was married then

and I was living in West Tampa and my sorl... My husband had a .... they

had a bar right across from on uh......

-PM: O.K. And uh, I remember they had... they had this beautiful big bar

at the corner there. And then when prohibition of course they ya know

closed it and that's when they went into a wholesale grocery business.

Ybor 23A -31-

SI: And feed ya know .

:Other bars stayed open though I mean right? I mean was... was West

Tampa pretty open? Could you buy a drink if you wanted ya know?

S On.... During..../after prohibition?

iG: After prohibition.

': Well I don't .... I don't know. I don't think you could. They were very


: Yeah.

.lJ+: Mor so than the are today.

: Right.

-M!: I know we didn't. We closed up right just..... Closed the place and

sold everything and went on the..... Went over to to Ybor City.

That's where they opened their business first.

: Right. What about )|i tiO

_: u'_____ yeah theyused to have plenty of that.

: (chuckle)

M: They really had a lot of OIICL. Lot of people ya know.

:'G' Yeah.

jvf: And it was open then. It wasn't that bad. At the time they used to

pay you.tVY For ten cents they would give you I think it was nine

and some of them give you $10.00. And these poor people had nothing.

And they used to venture and figure well, maybe I can win a little

something. But I don thinkk t was so bad because

they... these poor people _cents a day.

I)'9: Right. Where could you play .in Ybor City? Which places?

Ybor 23A -32-

:Well I... I don't remember in Ybor City. I.......

l G,: i'a'Bdt West Tampa?

:Well Ybor City they used to have a place there on.... on 14th Street

and 8th Avenue. Uh...... can't think of the name right/then. /:i that

big.... It was that big bar there. And you used to buy _/_/1r ya know

at the time. And um...... I'm trying to think of the name of the uh.....

S: There used to be a..., a famous bar across from the /',' store

too. '- f' What was the name of that? The uh.....

Sr/ Uh, out on that corner?

/Jj: Yeah. Right across the street where the post office is now.

J,: No, I don't remember that at all. Like I said, then I went to West

Tampa to live so I don't really don't remember that.

)# f Right. When you were growing up uh, how did the Cubans and the Italians

T Oh beautiful. We always have. We all.... They're all beautiful Italian

people and Spanish people. Always.

S: Mm hm .

7/: /:

S If... If uh....... What would your father have said if uh, if uh a Cuban

boy would've wanted to date you?

-7~ Well I'll tell you SlVt/was'a no-no at the time. (chuckle)

X/2/: Uh huh.

7-: Ya know I'll tell ya cause uh, I don't know why. Sure we were close

growing up but they wanted you to marry an Italian.

/)d: Mm hm. Right.

Ybor 23A -33-

2 MN' They didn't...... they didn't at all ya know cause.... And then after

that most of my aunts married Spanish fellows ya know.

I/; Uh huh.

V M: I have about three... three or four in my family that married some

lovely Spanish men. But at that time, oh no, my gosh if you got....

They wouldn't allow it at all.

i Mm hm.

There's no way that they would consent to that.

: Right.

_M: Thought it was terrible ya know. It's a shame because they..... I say,

we got along beautiful. All of our neighbors were Spanish and Cubans.

But when they came to 't"P.. to marr4 they wanted you to marry an


/ G': Right. When uh, when you were bringing up your family did you speak

English at home or.....?

Sf: Yeah, mostly speak English all the time but oh I talk to Italian to

the children.

/ G': Do your children know Italian?

SM: Yes, the girls talk Italian. Now Nelson talks talks not very very much
but he understands when we talk to him slowly. And the reason w that

was cause my mother couldn't speak English. ry mama was living, of course

she talked to him in Italian. But then after she passed away, been

over twenty..... twenty some odd years ago. But he still... he still ya

know. Well the girls talk Italian fluently.c"'/ f '2 and

they talk Spanish some too.

Ybor 23A -34-

Sp. Right. -

S .They really-do. / .- -'X,/ (U'

/S: Right. Now Nelson's in politics. Um, what do you remember of the... the

predecessors in politics? Who were the first Latin politicians?

Do you remember?

:In Tampa I... I ... I '7T- ,';p0- I know my uncle

was a council A( ---. ,many years ago. And as far as like

judges and stuff like that, no.

^: How about Nick u / P/cYC O?

fJ: Nick, he's the Mayor of Tampa, uh huh, yeah.

/?: What do you remember about him?

.Jf': Well, uh he was a nice person. I think he was a good mayor.

I really do.

Sd: Right.
ffM: He did good for the city of Tampa. He really did. And after
that I think, who was it.... The we.... We... Then we had


AG': Right.
IM: Dick Grecco. He was.... He made a nice mayor too.

/?G#: Do you think Italians have gotten a fair shake in Tampa?

7,$; Well uh, I don't know. Today ya know.... Many many years ago

ya know I did. Yj .:kribw they .......... But today they ....
/' G: The newspapers and everything give youA fair shake?

-7' M: Yeah, yeah. Well today they did but like I said, wasn't

Ybor \-A -35-

: many.... that many politicians at that time. But uh, uh, I

feel we're getting it better every day. Ya know than we

did then. Ya know they're getting too......

/7 d: Right.

S: Cause we have today ya know have a lot of lovely uh, most

everybody today they all have gone to college and could

afford it now. Even had to go to college I'L on Pirpr.

I can tell you four or five of the most prominent uh uh

doctors today that had to work on tables. Ya got Dr.

he uh, he was the uh, he was that-zwsie4f

ll : Right.

JM: And uh he...... They waited on tables all the w4vaityvV boys

and uh prl/ IQ Most all those people. I mean ya know.

/C: Right. Why do you think the Italians.... The Italians in
Tampa seem to have done pretty well, a lot of doctors, lawyers.
:It's beautiful, yeah.

): Uh, why do you think that is? Why have we done so well?
Shave we done so well?

: I don't know. Well, I think that even as the.... the real....

the older older ones ya know they didn't..... Not that they

didn't want to send their kids to school, they had no money.

They were all practically cigar makers ya know. But I... I

think that after... after that now the... like the kids +hCt

wanted to go. Now if they couldn't go, they couldn't afford

it, like I tell ya.:they would work... work.... used to

wait on tables. They'd do anything to go to school ya know.

Ybor 'MA -36-

SWhich then.... ya know then you didn't the mean But if

... if you wanted to. Now these boys, they all went... I mean

,they worked hard. They were barbers and ya know..... did

everything. Wait on tables. And today they are.... most of

our .... a lot of our prominent men here in Tampa today.

t} G: Right.
3 f: Uh huh. So, I think that uh......

/j B: Yes. Well listen I,'d like to thank-you very much for talking

with me.

- i: Well I enjo.... I hope that I have been some help to ya. I

don't know.

/ (: Yes. Oh, you've been most helpful.

J r: I guess I should've re.... I should've brought down some

q ': No, no it's delightful. Thanks again.

7-d: Yeah, O.K. Enjoyed ya very much.

(End of interview)

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