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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
October 18, 1979
SUBJECT: Nelson Palermo
INTERVIEWER: Gary Mormino
G: Today is October 18, 1979, and I have the distinct honor of talking to Mr. Nelson
Palermo at the Italian Club on 7th Avenue in Ybor City. And Mr. Palermo, why don't
we begin, and you can tell me a little bit about your family, about your father,
your family, and what they did in Sicily.
N: Well, I can't go that far back, but I can tell you my father and mother were both
born in Sicily. In U iO T!9h-OU and they came over her as children,
very young children. And my father lived to be 89 years old, and my mother is
presently 89- years old.
G: Is that right?
N: And both of them have a background of cigar making, which was the main industry of
G: Right. And what did they do in Sicily? Do you have any idea?
N: Ah, their parents, I can't tell you, farming mostly, but...
G: Co d ?__________
N: Probably, but they were, like I say, my mother, I believe was five and my father was
eleven when they came over.
G: Why did they come?
N: Well, like most people, the prosperity was over here just for the grabs, and that's
what all the Europeans, a lot of Europeans looked forward to. This was the land of
YBOR 25A Page 2
plenty and they made their way here as best as they could. And my grandfather came
with part of his family, and then as they went to work and were able to, they brought
the rest of the family here.
e Ve- r-
G: Right. Do you happ.n o remember their recollections, their first view of America,
what they thought?
N: No, I really don't, not truthfully, but I would say it's one of amazement.
N: And I can recall stories that some ot the immigrants' names were changed, not because
0f R((ik JltfitnL
they wanted them changed, but because of the Wo6tY0eS "L" ib bileit. S4me-o-f-cO ra .
Uhkye immigrants were either illiterate, or couldn't spell; consequently, you find some
6 Ar Z -I've,
namesAwhieh sound Anglo-Saxon which really are Italian. 7 had an experience with a
man named Scotty, who was a neighbor of mine for eleven years, and it took nine years
of that to find out that he was an ItalianA his parents were from Sicily. And when
he came into 1/l'5 s 1/04 his name--asked his name, and he told them
it was Scotti, which ends with an "I", Italian. They put it down as Scotty, with a
"Y". And made it Anglo-Saxon. Even some Leas are, 1-e-a, which is Italian. And
several others that slip my mind at the present time. And that's how a lot of names
were changed here in the states.
G: Why did, why did your parents come to Tampa?
N: were raised there. Well, their parents settled here. Naturally, they came with
their parents, and this was the land of opportunity here for them. And, of course,
others without any skills, the-cigar-industry was the easiest one to learn. And upon
three to six months apprenticeship, they were well equipped.
G: Right. Did your father ever tell you exactly how he got into the cigar making industry?
N: Well, because of lack of other opportunities probably, and because he liked it.
G: How old was he?
YBOR 25A Page 3
N: I'd say about twelve years old.
G: When he began?
N: When he began.
G: What factory, do you know?
N: Ah, then he later worked at Charles the Great factory,
and No, let's see, my mother worked at .
And another factory here on Columbus Drive called Recksonsberg.
N: The name still probably exists. Because I have an older brother, who suffered with
asthma, we moved to New York and stayed there -g about eight years, up around the
Catskills, on a farm. We spent a few years there, and then came back to Florida.
Because there's still, pp'lly TmpAi /te opportunities were still here, and they
did not exist up there for them. Farming was a thankless work, what with farm prices
and working eighteen hours a day and seven days a week...when we were transferred
down here again, we've had our roots here ever since.
G: Now, you had mentioned the other day that your father became ar.lector.
N: My grandfather, my father's father, yes.
Vo r r JAS. c Cor-.
GYA How...can you tell me about that process, what you know about it?
N: Well, what I can recall was that he was a fast cigar maker. Fast in the sense that
his share ofAworkwas done so rapidly, he had time to spare. And at the factory he
was in, as I recall, the lector, the reader that was in that factory, got sick and
wasn't able to continue. And when he got through with his work, he would do it.
And after that, he became a full time lector. ah othe history of Ybor City j)OrSa
record that he is the only Italian reader in the cigar industry. He could translate
YBOR 25A Page 4
the English newspaper into Spanish and Italian, of course, and most of it was read
in Spanish in the factory. -g 4i -it in English and then translated it into Spanish.
And when he was through with the newspaper, the local paper, they would read books.
5paniAird S he
Most of them would be the pan orAltalians U)0ld 54$1 (fC0i. 'na, which is- a romance
type of book. And he'd read a chapter or two every day. And of course the, if you
wonder what...how he would make ends meet was that all the cigar makers would contrib-
ute towards the rent, whether it be twenty-five cents each week. But on payday, they
get paid and they come out, and the lector would be there with his collection plate)
,nd financially, he was better off than the cigar makers because all-of them con-
V\Ns he. vJO lLt
G: Now, how wo ..w.were most of the workers, fellow workers, what nationality were
N: Spanish, Cubanq, and Italians.
G: What about -i, that particular factory? The same?
N: The same way. Most all the...there was only one that had a great number of Anglo-
Saxons, and most of them, I'd say, forty percent Anglo-Saxons, was the the Havatampa
cigar factory at that time.
G: Right. Now, how was your grandfather recieved by the fellow Latins? Since he was
the only Italian lector?
N: He was well liked. He was a man of great character. He would put himself into any -
thing he read. If he was reading a part that called for sorrow, he would play the
part, and act the part. And if it was laughter or joy, that's the way he conveyed
the message or the bookAhe was reading or the newspaper. And this endeared him to
many people here. And he was well beloved.
G: How long did he do that?
N: Until this thing of the readers died out, which the factories started going into
YBOR 25A Page 5
machinery, and of course, oh, twenty-five years or more ago, more or less. To say
between twenty and thirty years ago when the factoriesf1ittle^JUh1b e start
emorb into the machinery.
G: Why would MAm factoriesAwqat to get rid of the leaotrs?
N: They didn't get rid of them, but you can picture someone trying to read over the
great noise that these machines were making. And they're just like a fi4l-time
printing press. As the machines operated, it would make so much racket that you
couldn't be heard over the... And of course, it killed all the pleasure of heating
somebody read because maybe where he was at, a few around him would hear it, but
the rest of the factory wouldn't.
NJow T',. rC ^ ^ 4t A l o > o re d+ poti-f ic o4f ,- 46s JO1.
G:\.hat" .eally he- -lU-h LU- wtt^ poiticu 'zL C
N: Well, I don't think politics had too big a part in it. If you would/rephrase that
rather than politics ... Could be that the cigar makers, of course, were fighting
the machines coming into the k It eliminated jobs, and of course, eliminated
the readers because of the... Cnd the readers were their entertainment. So if
they eliminated the machinery or the cigar manufacturers eliminated the readers, 4e-
they wouldn't have the kicks they did about the machinery in the factories.
G: That's an interesting point, yeah. Now, politically, how would youAcharacterize
N: Ah, conservative. Ah, I still look at an old timer, when I say family man, all for
their family was what I looked at as a conservative. If they didn't care about their
families, they were radicals or what have you.
Wplu(J e- kav c beln
E: How about in terms of politics, you know, as we're represent-iti today? Wes-he-a
o Democrat or a Rebulicanu4i.iC ` d(i t?
N: No, I don't think they would, they would...many people interested themselves in
politics. They felt that they weren't qualified to say who was what or the best for
YBOR 25A Page 6
for the country at the time, until they... Now in te second, in the first generation,
then we became interested.
G: A lot of the cigar makers had a reputation of being radical. What do you think?
There was a lot of strikes and everything.
N: Well, there were a few that would create fear. The rest...let's say that something
was said, and one of them, one of the radicals would get up and say "Let's walk out."
The others were probably afraid, because no person wants to go hungry, or especially
see their family go hungry. And because of fear, they probably followed out of
fear ad no.t g else. But then there was others that went hunger-struck. hey
crossed the picket lines or strike, what they call a strike breaker, and went back
to work. And if they had to suffer the consequences, they did. But foremost and
first of all, all the immigrants, all the Latins, the family came first. And...
G: How about your family, now. What about Nelson Palermo, when were you born and where?
N: I was born in 1914 here in Ybor City. And, on 15th Avenue, between 24th and .25th
Street. I have a brother who was born closer here...I think it was llth Avenue
and 18th Street. And I have a sister who was born on 15th Avenue. And...
G: What do you rememberV B=E.were your first recollections of Ybor Cityp' s a young
N: As a young man, I remember coming down 7th Avenue, and not being able to walk too
fast because there was so many people here that you could stand on the sidewalk,
and slowly but surely be pushed, not pushed, but gradually end up on the other
end of 7th Avenue, there's so many people here. I can remember days when the
Model A--Model T Fords, and the old time Chevrolets were predominant iirthis area.
The parking areas here, if someone wanted to get out, they had to wait forever to
get out of a parking p= because there's so much traffic here. It's reminds me
of a eipr. h ghwy,' a congested^ but at a snail's pace rather than a
YBOR 25A Page 7
speeding, fast superhighway. This is a thing that is predominant in my mind, the
people that were here. It was where to go on Saturday evening. And the shops, they
U~tw, ere- ,(X 'AJIk) *01
G: Would you describe a typical Palermo family Saturday evening, what would you edo'
N: Ah, as a young boy?
G: As a young and then later.
N: Family groups, getting together with aunts and uncles. On Sundays,.m go on what
we call excursions atAfoot of Platt Street there downtown off of Ashley Drive, there
would be boats down there. And on Sundays, like this club, the Italian Club would
have their excursion to Pass-A-Grill. It would be a picnic, and a swimming party.
Go there, leave early in the morning, and come back in the evening. And that was
the enjoyment Df children. A As a teenager, why, wenajsn 7th Avenue, aggS just G-r
atetheme many evenings. And of course, all your Latin clubs, or a lot of social
events, entertainment, game rooms, game rooms in the sense of dominos, cards,
G: What did you think of the Italian Club as a young boy?
N: I thought it wasAsomething that was brought over from a country that I h4ae never
seen or never heard of before. It was a place to go. You know, if you wanted to
absorb any Italian culture. You mentioned what I can recall. The other thing I
can recall is, I lived, I was fortunate enough to live near both my grandfathers,
on my mother's side and my father's side. And I could look south from where I lived,
and within three or four blocks away I could see one of my grandfathers coming up
to visit. And I would immediately run a block away and call my other grandfather
and tell him my other was on the way up. And I would rush
back home and on the front porch I was would put two big chairs, little chair between
them, and I'd sit for hours listening to my and .
YBOR 25A Page 8
reminisece about the old country, and things that happened.
G: What were they saying, do you remember?
N: Oh, they would talk about going from one town to another and take two days, and
they'd go on a donkey, and going on this narrow path through the mountains, or
through.the countryside, and things that would happen on the way, you know.
G: Do you think they missed the old country enough to ever want to go back?
N: If they missed it, it was because of family ties, but as far as their own immediate
family, this was their opportunity, and their opportunities to give to their children.
So what they stressed in us mainly was education. And, especially Sicilian heritage,
Italian heritage, If my grandfather had five years of education, he tried to give
his son ten. And they in turntried to give us all the education we could.absorb
or needed or wanted, rather, not needed. And...that was prominent, that was mostly
the thing for, to see that their children became something or somebody. Consequently,
we have a lot of Latin attorneys, my brother happens to be one, doctors, and specialists
in one line or another, andAef ., "the proudest moment of a parent's life when they
has his children well educated and they come up in the world. And you know like the
years back, like the Irish, all they could do was dig potatoes. Well, the Italians
-i. vlev'e here, and others, Latins, all Latins, they were never too proud to do an honest day's
work. If it took digging ditches, they would dig ditches, and laying railroad ties,
they would do that. That one time here they had street sweepers by hand, theydcome
at night. Many of them were Italians, Cubans, Spaniards, they weren't ashamed--it
was honest work. And lay bricks, 20me of 1hP6m 1PeTaid-sand aE one time--street cars
running down the middle. One of the most, mostly traveled streets in the area was
Columbus Drive, and that was sand. And it was paved in the twenties, probably. And
like most 4tfhe side streets here, first the main streets would get paved, and then
eventually the other side streets would get paved. But, we're going way back now.
YBOR 25A Page 9
G: Right. How did the Italians get along with the other Latinigroups? Cubans and
N: Ah, I don't think any of them resented each other. They would socialize, work together...
G: What do you mean by socialize?
N: Well, in their work, they were very congenial to one another. In fact, a lot of them
would visit their own homes, invite them out to eat at each other's homes. But then
when it came down to these clubs, they all had their own groupA. Consequently, you
10C-kad the Italian Club, youJi the Spanish Club, CC l] pif Then you
N: That's another brandh of the Spaniards, you know, they'd have two...like you would
say Italians and Sicilians, that is two different branches. Of course, they're both
Italians. Or the and the other groups of Spaniards, they're all
Spaniards. Then you have the Cuban clubs, and they established themselves with
their own ideas because their heritage is a little different, and they wanted to
instill their/heritage to their children. And
G: Did the groups intermarry? Italians w Cubans?
N: Oh, yesq they intermarried then. And they still do.- And my son...
G: What would your father had said if you had brought home a Cuban bride?
N: Ah, he would had probably first of all, hugged and kissed her, and welcomed her into
the family. I have a son that is married to a Spanish, Spanish girl. I have a
daughter who is married to a Polish boy. Got a beautiful family. Got a beautif61
family, you know. And they are, there are a number of existing problems as far as
envy among one another. The did-j! they e p together.,gg help their own.
This club for instance, in fact I believe you'll find it in Congresional record,
and Senator Claude Pepper was from this area at one time. He was amazed at what
YBOR 25A Page 10
this club could do on the small dues that we paid each week, that the members had
paid each week. And he brought it up before the Congress, and he was/labeled a
socialist, because of it. But, if you look into it, these latin clubs were the
forerunners of today's Medicare.
G: EaIBB3 RcPe ?
N: IN a benevolent association to help each other.
G: You justrSf^Aa point I was'thinking of, Claude Pepper. A student of mine is doing
a paper on the 1934 election. I don't know if you would remember it, you would
have been' years old. Pepper lost very badly. And he was against Clark Tramble
in Ybor City and west Tampa. Why, do you remember anything about that election
N: I don't remember the details. I do remember that he was beat. I recall that I
met Senator Pepper's father-in-law at one time, and I was working in the food
market. And he came in and he mentioned who he was. And later on, I met Senator
Pepper and became acquainted with him, and...he, he gained a lot of votes by being vrf"
able to mix with the Latin people. And I think he turned the tables wjtts the very
next election, if I'm not mistaken.
G: Right, right.
N: I was never too interested in politics except local. I...since I began voting, I've
always exercised my right to vote. And...
do --hpotJ 0 yoq
G: How eav you tribute 0 the success of Nick Nuchio?
N: Ah, I attribute his success to being a well-loved man by everyone. Ah, you've heard
the expression that "I've never met an enemy," well you could refer that to Nick--
he would go all out. Ah, politically and in office, he kept himself clean to an
extent that if he...in jobs for instance. If he had to turn down his own relatives,
enough to get into--what would we call it today--a conflict of interests, he'd tell
them right out he wouldn't hire them. He was well-loved, even out in the county,
YBOR 25A Page 11
people in Temple Terrace today, that I know of, still talk well of him. Well-beloved
G: Ah, on another topic now besides politicsj 6ow about the church, what kind of role
did the church play in Ybor City?
N: The church played a very, very important role. Ah, one of the oldest churches was
right here on 17th Street and llth Avenue. At the moment I can't recall its original
name, but today it is known as Our Lady of Perpetual Health, which I still attend.
In fact, I'm a lector there in one of the masses.
G: Would you say most of your friends attended
N: Many of them from this area would. And then, there was another little church here
on 7th Avenue we used to refer to as the little Italian church. A lot of old-time
Italians attended it.
N: And it was a very strong factor in the morale, moral situation here in this area.
And at that time, if you were...if you've done something wrong, you had to let the
priest know about it. So you thought twice before you done something wrong.
N: It was like, like some children being threatened with a policeman, go call a
policeman, when you had to go to confession.
N: I think the church played a very big role here, and/actually in the history of
Ybor City, it's not brought up enough, the role it played. So...
G: Right. How about yourself? What was the first job you had?
N: The first job I had was right here a block awayAin a little store, apparel store,
that I'd sweep up, put shoes back in boxes, put them in where they belong...
G: How old were you?
YBOR 25A Page 12
N: I could have been twelve years old. Part-time, when I went to school.
G: When did you quit school?
N: Ah, high school. I finished high school and I went to work.
G: Now, was that unusual, for your generation to finish high school?
N: Ah, no, the majority of them would finish, and A, others would go on to college.
Those that could afford it, and those that couldn't afford it, they could make their
way if they wanted to. Like I mentioned that I have a brother who is an attorney.
He became an attorney through a correspondence course. He had it in him. He, he
loved the law, and there was a lawyer's office upstairs of this building that he.
worked for. And he happened to be a retired professor from Stetson Law School. And
he was just thrilled with law. In fact, he took his bar exams when he was nineteen.
G: Your brother?
N: My brother did. And just before his twentieth birthday. Of course, -h fi--ei And
this professorll mentioned, I can't recall his name, he seeked some information 4-t
he got,Awhy flunked ki why they didn't pass him. And they said they didn't
pass him because of his age. He'd gone through court and had his papers of, how
el '+ht e rn,
do they refer to it, of minorities, removed. And at the age of he could vote--
well I don't know if-he could vote)but he could sue and.be sued, legal signing and
make legal contracts. And he... he helped rewrite the laws here during the depression.
He helped rewrite the laws for some of the surrounding towns here, like Tarpon Springs,
and dedicated himself to that as a government project. And...
G: What, what line of work did you eventually go into?
N:. I've been in produce, I owned my own food store, complete food store, and I've run
that--I owned it for twenty-four or five years, and when I sold out, I thought about
retiring, and it wasn't for me.
G: So, you're still doing that work now?
YBOR 25A Page 13
N: I'm doing a little produce selling.
G: Good, an' interesting question, which has been tossed around. Ah, almost every city
you go to in the United States, the Italians dominate the produce business, the
fruit business. Why, how would you explain that?
N: Going back to their ancestors. That's all they do.
G: But, how would you explain that?
N: That's all their ancestors have ever done. It's handed down from generation to
generation. They farm. Ah, the people--now you've broughtAthat recalls, ah, I
recall something that was, that they used to talk about. They'd leave early in
the morning before daylight and get out to the fields.
G: In the old country?
N: The old country, do their work all day long. And just about sunset was when they'd
come home. And this is somethingjjust like the Japanese, they v otrld instilled in
them, you know,Athat's what they've done all their life, and it's handed down.
Consequently, a lot of Italians came over here andAstarted little truckfarms. And
aOr -; IIf
there's a few of them still living today that started that wayAin the produce business.
And it was amazing, you wenld, now I've never been to Italy--my son has--he says
you go outside of Rome and it's all farm country) And Sicily.j the same way.
G: Now, I was just looking at some of the trucks in this town, the brothers, and
VKouW avA ,, J'crv,//
the Grecos, I tn4ersf did they get their start that way? About the same time
N: No, the has been in existence a long time. This .s1 the third
generationAg the They started down the street here on
23rd Street and the railroad& thy went% 6th Avenue. Ah, Nick ___
well he's been dead now quite a few years. His son took over, which is also Nick
he died about eight years ago. Now his two sons are in the
business. Up there by the wholesale produce market on Hillsbourough. Ah, the
YBOR 25A Page 14
business, he's one of the men I mentioned to you that had a little
truck farm. The started a little grocery store on Columbus Drive and
26th Street, and the.,.one of the sons started a little wholesale grocery business,
and it thrived, and he brought in his brother-in-law, and little by little, it
expanded into this each -and 4-e y, which started, it's orginial beginning was a
building here on east 7th Avenue, and it was built like a barn; dnd they named it
the Big Barn. They opened their first grocery store there, big grocery store.
This place on Columbus Drive was started by their father, it was a small, neighbor-
hood grocery store. It's still in existence out there today. And, of course,
they expanded, one idea lead to another, and one of the trips that one of these
brothers made after they were all into the business, out west somewhere, he ran across
a business that was cut-rate. And that's when he came back and had the idea of
this c-ah -and ae y. And by selling two to three percent under the big chains,
and this family operated thing, why, it expanded from there. And, of course, just
this past year, be first of this year, they sold out for several million dollars.
That's a huge operation.
N: And back to produce, there's still a lot of, many people in it today that had their
beginnings as either a salesman or as one of them at the market today, as night
watchmen, he's also Italian, and he's one of the biggest dealers out there today.
o ^le (y\
And, I'd say that fifty to sixty percent theAwholesale produce today are Italian.
G: Now what did you specialize in? Any particular...
N: You mean what I'm doing .now?
G: aik whet ycnn'rP rim-p L e ^occ!o.(cs7"? eo-k, or VAh,. yO VC r- *
N: Ah, food, and what we refer to as wet produce out of California. Wet produce would
be en rve,;CeS le lettuce, anything that holds moisture. That's what we refer to as
YBOR 25A Pagg 15
wet produce. Ah, fruit out of Washington and California, and local products, too.
You know, Florida starts on celery, and lettuce and things like that. We handle them.
N: And you follow the country. For most produce dealers, it's not-availab&e here where
they by--gg they follow where the harvest is.
N: And we draw from Colorado, we draw from Idaho, ah, Texas, all over--Arizona, California,
G: Where did you get the stuff like thirty years ago? Where did you get most of your
N: Thirty years agg, you'd still bring it in on trucks or railcars. Same way as it is
G: You don't do much with South Florida?
N: Yes, South Florida's a huge producer when it comes to water lettuce. South Florida
produces lots of lettuce. Celery, carrots, radishes, you name it, they have it.
Right now, well the season's just about over with, but avocados and mangos, this
type-.of produce. South Florida's tomatos---tomatos start from South Florida.
Then it comes up to Ki ______ then it follows the country.
N: Up to the country, then into California, New Mexico, and.back here. A ight now,
I mentioned they are, the fall crop of ruskin tomatoes are in. Later on, you go
down to South Florida, and then it comes back up. In the Spring, you have ruskin
tomatoes again. And bell peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, strawberries--all this type
of food and vegetables available ona-and-ffeZ And it's a big producer. At one time
or another, we were, it'll be the only supplier for the United States. That and
Southern California. So, produce is the backbone of...
YBOR 25A Page 16
G: I...I know you said you had to take off in just a few minutes. What...by the end
of this session. As you look out on 7th Avenue today, what are your feelings?
N: My feelings are...what we're doing today, I happen to be lemenerr of the Barry
Lehino commission. What we're doing today, I'm proud of. But, what they've done
to this area, it's, they have raped this area. When I say raped, I want to broaden
that to the extent that when this place was cleaned out...ah, it was said that
they're going to rebuild.A kere it is 46 years later, outside of a few new buildings
we haven't accomplished much. We don't get # backing that we should have--whether
it be local, county, state, or government, the assistance is not available, it's
not here. It should be given freely, and they should have advisors in here. As
it is, there's nine people interested iU*iss, to see that this area is not put up
in little shacks and .eape and so forth. We're trying to bring back the...ah, I
call it the Mediterranean architecture type buildings here. You can't say it's
^-pc of Italian. This Italian Club building has a mixture of all kinds of
architecture. You've got...if you'll notice we've got Greek columns there from
the second story on up. You've got Spanish tile. You've got Italian marble.
You've got everything in there. It's not Italian architecture--it's what we call
or if Iaqor in
Ybor City,AI callAMediterranean--445 ? or architecture. I refer to it, backAwhen
I we firstAa member of the Barry Le-ino commission, as Ybor City architecture.
"-:There's no such a thing as Greek, Spanish, Italian, none of them. Even over at the
Spanish Club, there's other architecture there. So...
G: Who's fault do you think it was that the area was raped?
N: Well, it's not that I don't want to get involved, it's that I can't pinpoint it.
It's just that at the time everybody thought it was something great) And as it
turned out to be, nothing. So...
G: Let me mention some \ MlYC I've heard you-ke-eme comment.
YBOR 25A Page 17
i sbulir Community College? \hA+ Jo yoLu Ivk ; I rYO h Com ni + L'.i Ic.
N: I think dqSt it's the first thing that came down here to help this area out. Ah, we
have the community college to thank for that area there. But look beyond this way,
it's still clear and empty. And outside of the sheriff's building, and the enviro-
mental building, there's another example, we wanted to put in a little bit of
architecture in there, brickwork that existed here. Well, the ,b JTh C o(-5 DOA'E '-
were againstAthe brickwork, cause they figured it was expensive.A At the time, it
was a matter of maybe $30,O00Qdifference. But if you look back, and of course,
when I say this, I'm stepping on some toes, the community college--if you go on
the east end and go across the street and look up, you've find cracks all over that
building; and what's going to happen between repairs, water-proofing the building
and painting it over again, if you have done that with brick, it wouldn't exist
today. Consequently, this building that was put up is.,.without the bricks, is
all stuck on blockwork, eventually is going to crack. And it's going to be the
maintainence; our building next door is all brick, the brickwork needs no work
at all to it. The other does, which we have it in our plans to redo the whole
building. And it's going to cost us about ten times more than it cost us to put
up the building.
G: What did this building cost to build, do you know?
N: At the time we it put in late...not late, but early 1900's, I'd say before 1920,
I think the whole three story building---theatre and all, was put up for less
than $100,000.00.If I'm not mistaken, it's about $88,000.0o.Today the building is
worth a quarter of a million dollars or better. It's going to cost us better than
$ 0o00 00.o00
,a hundred t houarnd dollar to redo the building being up to code and to repair it.
G: r.!rht. What do you think of what I mentioned, urban renewal?
N: I think of urban and forget the renewal. It's still urban and it's going to stay
YBOR 25A Page 18
that way until people get interested in building down here. Now, we have some
apartments going up, and we mentioned church a little earlier in our conversation.
We have some apartments going up. We have some existing now. A I think it's OtIvi/-i aiC
apartments, two-stories high. Now the government cng in and tells us that if
we don't go as high as four stories high, we can't put up this building, we can't
get government funds. Now we're going to have another hundred units up there
6ut we've got to go 4 the four story building. e5got tobetl giS--dg
we'll 1w1e anle\t/
Commission, 44iearvAto back down from that particular height, and allow it, or we
lose it. So I'mqQ^s~g of S opinion, 1i0t as long as it's not radical, that I'd
let most anything be built here within reason. Without going to a lot of tass3 ri i)
without going into plain buildings, plain, let's say wood or metal of something,
that distracts from this area. And by keeping ironwork, brickwork, in this area
will accomplish what we can recall Ybor City was. So...
_Fiy fD a ha ndrcci
G: Finally, now, what do you think Ybor City will be likeA years from now?
N: How many years from now?
G: Oh, let's say 4/years.
N: Fifty years from now. I think Ybor City will be, if the trend continues, and we
can step it up a little bit, I think Ybor City will be something like New Orleans...
Little Italy in New York or different areas where the enthic groups are in accord
with what they're d6ing. It will be a tourist attraction. It will be a tourist
attraction, and I thinkc
areas just to see the place. And there will be tours. There areAtours now that
are being conducted here, but's it not too much to show. But if we can maintain
the buildings like we have in mind, and control them as to what they can put up,
and what they can't put up, I think it will be a big tourist attraction for this
YBOR 25A Page 19
G: I'd like to thank you very much for your time today. t C, vie C dof'60 r, .'
N: It was my pleasure. iQ__ 3 4id-, and if you give me a call,tI'll bring you
some pictures, and...
FND W CrTr D of C l-^I E1/