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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
ORAL HISTORY PROJECT
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
INTERVIEWEES: Aurora Fernandez
INTERVIEWER: George Pozzetta
DATE: April 24, 1980
G: What is your name?
A: Aurora Fernandez.
G: Fernandez, yes. Where were you born Mrs...
G: In Cuba. In Havana?
A: In Havana. Right in Havana.
G: When was this?
A: Eighteen ninety-one.
G: Eighteen ninety-one. Do you remember anything about Havana?
A: Yes. I remember that a lot of hungry...(laughter). I lived in a
room this size. Only one room.
G: One room.
A: My mother and my father and seven kids. Can you imagine? I made
everything over there. Cooking, sleeping, peepee, everything.
G: (laughter) What did your father do for work?
A: My father made buildings.
G: A carpenter.
A: No, not a carpenter.
G: A contractor? When did he come to Tampa?
A: In 1909.
G: Did the whole family come?
A: The whole family.
G: Why did the family leave?
A: Leave Tampa?
G: Why did they leave Cuba?
A: Oh. Because that... You got a lot of kids and you can't all...
G: No work?
A: Yes, he's a worker. He made a $1.50 a day and my mother had to wash
a lot of clothes for people.
G: What did you do when you came here to Tampa?
A: Helped my mother.
G: You helped your mother?
A: Yes, she washed clothes.
G: She washed clothes here in Tampa, too?
A: And I had to, too.
G: How about your father, what kind of work did he do?
A: He was a wine deliverer.
G: Then he did not work in the cigar factories?
A: Yes, he worked with a
M: Oh, he was the doorman porter.
G: The doorman porter for one of the cigar factories.
M: Of Regensberg.
G: Oh, Regensberg, yes.
A: Then when I turned thirteen years old I would go to the factory.
G: You did.
M: She went to the factory at thirteen.
G: What year was that? Do you remember the first year you went to work
in the factories?
A: It was about 1912 or 1913.
G: Mr. Diaz was describing the 1910 strike, the seven month strike, for us.
Do you have any memories of that?
A: Yes, in 1920 there were ten months of strikes.
M: That was the other strike?
A: Ten months. My husband went to Cuba.
G: Your husband went back to Cuba?
A: No, he was going to work over there.
G: This was in 1920 during the ten month strike?
G: Did many of the Cubans and Italians leave Tampa during these strikes?
G: Some went to Cuba?
A: No, a lot of people went to Detroit.
G: Detroit? What did they do in Detroit during the strike?
A: Worked at machines, making automobiles.
G: Oh, they worked in the car factories. Did many of those people return
to Tampa after the strike was over?
A: Yes, they had their family down here.
G: Was this just something temporary?
M: They left the families and went there during the strike.
G: What did they do, say in 1910, before the car factories existed?
Where did they go in the seven month strike?
A: To tell you the truth, I don't remember exactly.
G: Maybe that's a little too early? How about the neighborhood that you
lived in when you first came to Tampa? What kind of a neighborhood
A: Good, very good. I lived over there on Thirteenth Avenue, between Twelfth
G: Were there other Cuban people living around you?
G: Only Cubans or were there Spanish?
A: There were Spanish.
M: Spanish and Italians. They were all mixed.
G: Mixed together.
A: To tell you the truth about that, people is better than
M: They were a lot closer than they are now.
G: Did many people walk up and down Seventh Avenue? What kind of things
happened on Seventh Avenue?
A: and music.
G: You do?
A: All the young people would go to Seventh Avenue to find boys and girls.
Me, too. (laughter)
M: That's where they used to go to find their boyfriend.
G: Is that where you met your husband?
A: No. I met my husband in the factory.
G: In the factory. But others...
A: Yes. All the people would go to Seventh Avenue on Saturday night.
G: Tell me what it was like on a Saturday night on Seventh Avenue.
M: Does one live like one is?
A: Like Gasparilla Day. (laughter)
G: Did the girls and boys go walking by themselves or with their mother
A: Or the sister or the aunt, somebody else.
M: They always had to have somebody. Their brother, sister, aunt or
A: I remember one night My husband [we were not married yet, he was
still my boyfriend] told me something was wrong with the people in the
country. I said, "Oh, you don't like it, don't take it." He was mad, and
he left. When I got home I was thinking I could do it better.
G: Did you get back together that night?
A: Yes. But I got to call him.
G: How do you remember the different people, the Italians, Spanish and
the Cubans getting along together?
G: Did they get along together or were there...
A: I got a lot of good friends that are Italian. The only thing that the
Italian father didn't want is for his daughter to marry a Spanish or
G: Why was that do you think?
A: I don't know.
G: Were Italian and Spanish boys marrying Cuban girls at this time?
G: But not the other way around?
A: A lot of Italian girls marry a Cuban man or a Spanish boy. The father
didn't want what she wanted, but she didn't say anything. She just
takes what she wants, which leads to...
A: The father wants to kill him.
G: Did you belong to any of the clubs here in Ybor City?
A: Yes, Centro Asturiano.
G: Centro Asturiano. The women took part in the activities also?
A: Oh, those were beautiful. The sulphur springs, the picnics.
M: You were saying something yesterday about going to the sulphur
springs. What do you do there?
A: The picnic.
M: Oh, the picnic.
A: from the Fourteenth Street to Fifteenth Street the sidewalk
G: (laughter) In an old newspaper I read a lot about Bolita.
G: What was Bolita?
M: Oh, Bolita. You know they had...
A: It's gambling.
G: Gambling? Was this common in Ybor City?
M: They used to...
A: No, like Tampa.
G: In Tampa, not Ybor City, you're saying?
M: In Ybor City and the whole city of Tampa mostly. Most of the people
in Ybor City participated in it. Their number was called in Havana,
in Cuba. That's why they called it Cuba, and Bolita. It's like bingo.
A: I have bingo over here every night.
G: Was Bolita very popular in the early days? Did everybody play it?
A: I play a lot of bolita.
G: Did you ever win?
M: They'd have greens to play, numbers with the greens. They told me that.
A: That's right.
M: Every number means something to them. They have a meaning for every number.
A: One time I needed money to buy my daughter a dress and I dreamt of one
number. I played and I got it. (laughter)
G: How long did you work in the cigar factories yourself?
A: I started there in 1913 and I finished in '37.
A: But then I worked in another place too.
G: Yes. Which factories did you work in?
A: I worked in the Regensberg.
A: And Fiore de Cuba. And then
G: Oh yes, Why did you change factories from one to the other?
A: Because I wanted to make more money.
G: Did some factories pay more than others? Was your pay based upon the
type of cigar produced?
G: What kind of cigars paid the most money?
A: La Coronoa. Good cigars.
G: They're the bigger ones?
G: You got more money when you worked on expensive cigars...
A: Sure, they paid more.
G: The less expensive ones paid the least money?
A: I worked with El Coronado. I made good money at that time. I made
$48.00 a week during that time.
G: When was this, in the '20s?
G: Nineteen twenty-seven. What were the cigars that paid the least money?
Do you remember?
G: Did you belong to the cigar workers union?
G: Were you in the five hundred union?
G: Were you in the five hundred union?
A: Five hundred union, yes.
G: Mr. Diaz's union.
A: Cubans belonged to the five hundred union.
G: Many Cubans belonged to that. Was the other cigar maker union for
Italian and Spanish cigar makers mostly? Not too many Cubans?
A: Yeah, everybody. You can't work in the factories if you don't belong
to a union.
G: Oh, there were no workers who did not belong to a union?
G: Everyone who worked belonged to one of the unions?
A: Roosevelt came to be president
G: Oh, yes. How about before Roosevelt? Were there...
G: Disasterious. In the early days, were there workers who were not union
members working in the factories? There were, yes.
A: All wanted unions.
G: Do you remember the I.W.W. the Industrial Workers of the World?
G: What were those people like? Do you remember that?
G: If you remember, I asked Mr. Diaz what it was like during the Depression
here in Ybor City. What was the Depression like for you?
A: Don't ask me that. I don't want to remember.
G: You don't want to remember because it was very hard.
A: Very hard.
G: Did things get better after the war?
A: Yes. It was when Mr. Roosevelt became the president. Then everything
G: When did you come here to Hacienda?
A: In 1970.
G: Nineteen hundred and seventy. You've been living here for ten years now?