Title: Interview with Multiple (June 30, 1979)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006506/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Multiple (June 30, 1979)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: June 30, 1979
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: UF00006506
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 29

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Full Text

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behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of

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SUBJECT: Philip and Helen Spoto
548 Lucerne, Davis Island, Tampa


DATE: June 30, 1979

G: Today I have the pleasure of talking with Mr. and Mrs. Philip Spoto?

P: Yes.

G: ...in their lovely home in Davis Island, on Davis Island. Why don't
4-he 'Sp0of5> i
we begin---ah, -bi -o g)a ah, eo C p book .Why

don't you tell me how the first photo came to Tampa? Do you have any


P: Well, yes, I have a little idea.

G: Uh huh.

P: First, I want to clarify...

G: Sure.

P: ...about my name.

G: Okay.

P: Ah, I call myself Philip Peter Spoto.

G: Philip Peter Spoto.

P: Yeah, when I was born, (laughter) my name was in Italian, it was

Spoto. But I didn't know.it, so when I went

to school, high school, there's another Spoto from west Tampa.

G: Is that right?

P: And I was a senior here, this guy was a freshman, and they give me

his grade, and they told me I'd better use my middle initials, so

YBOR 29A Page 2

my middle name, uh, I couldn't think, all I could think of was my

father's name, Peter.

G: Is that right?

P' And I stopped calling myself, and using Philip Peter Spoto, that's what

my name is, Philip Peter Spoto.

G: What, now, uh, might one of the reasons had been, would you have been

embarrassed to use the Italian middle name?

P: No, no, it wasn't embarrassment, I just didn't recall.

G: That's interesting.

P: You know, my father told me my name was Philip but

who thinks, they always call me P anyways, when I was


G: Uh ha.

P: Nickname, you know...

G: Yeah, sure.

P: All the family used to call me P see?

G: (laughter)

P: Which was in, the Italian Philip, actually.

G: Right. Right.

P: And f to make a long story short, I was born March the 61%, 1916.

G: Nineteen-sixteen.

P: At 1826 1/2 7th Avenue.

G: So you were born right in the heart of Ybor City.
Co ,fC
P: The fWFSr of 19th Street and 7th Avenue. As a matter of fact, that
fhe wookevn
was the Spoto Building there, we-thd-a building there, and across the

street was another Spoto building, that brick building is still existing'
there the siver ring'satyouer know?
there, c=tEEia the silver ring's'-at,_you know?,"

YBOR 29A Page 3

G: Um hmm.

P: Sure. All right. That was, that was my family, or my Spoto' family
OXJ A ehe
pvYoD /f- ,A there was some down there between 19th and 20th Street.

They hadAtw houses 4W there 4 ogher ie./Wolo% Actually, there was

about seven brothers.

G: Is that right?

P: cks> came here originally.

G: That's why there's so many Spotos now. They were all prol i-f,
6eAh well,
P:A O, here's the names of them. Ah, Angelo, Salatore, Francoso, which

was my grandfather, Antonio, Goannin and

SNow, didn't have any offspring, but the

rest of them did. My, my grandfather was Geovanni, I maan Francoso,

but I never did see any of my grandparents,Aboth my maternal and paternal

sides, they--they went back.

G: They went back.

P: They, my father came here when he was eleven years old in 1888.

G: To Tampa?

P: ;F Tampa.
G: jjiB9F, he must have been one of the pioneers.

P: He was, and ah, he grew up here. And, uh, my grandparents, of course

they went here, they went to New York, and then my grandparents didn't

like it. And they...

G: Why not? They were...

P: I don't know. They think they were better off over there than here.

They had property there, and uh,...

G: Yeah, sure.

P: And they weren't that hard up. So they decided to go back, and they

YBOR 29A Page 4

took some of the children back, and left my father behind. Of course,
^r oalWr(C
he stayed behind, and he stayedJin New York S e. He went to

night school, and completed high school there. And of course, then

he came back here, and, uh, he told me he had worked at St. Cloud,...

G: Oh, yeah.

P: The sugar place.

G: Yeah, yeah.

P: He told me a few stories e=sat happened there, when he was working

there. (giggle)

G: Oh, what? Tell me, tell me, I'd love to hear about the the

sugar plantation.

P: Yeah. Well, they were working in the swamps there. Of course, a:lot

of them had never seen alligators and possums, you know.

G: ?

P: (laughter) And uh, 't o

you knowcZiF but the main thingA he told me several stories -4a+t +ts

poor oucl while on a break, you know, he saw this gator, and

he stuffed the shovel in this gator's mouth, and he clamped down on

it2 ejm he couldn't get the damn, (chuckle)...
G: Shovel out?

P: Shovel out, and the whislte blew to go back to work, and the poor guy

didn't have his shovel to work, and he was CYrlinf +?c damn blue

you know, no work, no pay.


P: Everybody was making fun of him, you know.

G: Yeah, that's funny.

P:A t a one of the stories he told me-,. t-don4-w bt somebody cd<

YBOR 29A Page 5

f: keen a possum, you know, he hit e 4 dcr -0iW' A, Possum0s s _re (I

plays dead.
G: Right.
shoulder.and-they were going home, you know, somebody told him they

were good to eat, see? And those dern fools went back there, and

(laughter) and touched the uh, the possum, to see if it was still alive,

and he did C! (vi snapped his \iv1er.

G: /Ya,. Right;yeoLL
P: I\n k'iwil, kle [l fd c A what he was. Anyways, fli vJaS cabou-i (cs Clno, I'

G: Yeah, why, um, how did he wind up in St. Cloud?

P: Well, that I don't know. He didn't go to much detail. I guess they

were looking for work, you know.

G: He must have come straight from Sicily to St. Cloud, right? Before

he came to Tampa, right. Is that right?,or not+

P: Yeah, they landed, I think they landed in Virginia somewhere.

G: Hum.

P: And they, they came here?

G: Yeah.

P: And uh,Alike I say, all the brothers came here, you know, you know
how it is, with _JeCVn broiF.

G: Sure, sure.

P: But, uh, you know, my grandparents went back, they took all the young

ones back with them, they left my father here, and he in .turn, was

working, and he go A back up there--every time he go, he bring back

brothers and sisters, and all that stuff.

G: Right.

YBOR 29A Page 6
P: JMSt he brought back most of the young ones.

G: Right.

P: And the old folks stayed back there.

G: V ScantVo te phDt, or...?

P: SanV+o 5- hi no_____

G: Right, right. Ah, have you ever been back?

P: Huh?

G: Have you ever been back?

P: I was born here, I've never been there, but...

G: What, what...

P: He made it, yeah, he made it about four or five trips up there.

G: Um hmm.

P: To see his folks, you know, and things like that. And every time...

G: What did he, what did he tell you about it? What was it like in


P: He didn't tell me too much about it, ah...

G: What have you heard from uncles and things?

P: Well, that we had a lot of land there, and that the house is still

there, as far as that goes. And so is the land, because ah, my mother.

was planning on going back, but he wasn't, because he grew up'here,

I mean he didn't have any ties down there, and most of his folks had

left anyway. There isn't-a Spoto ,,, left in Sah-o S{cn *o .
"1hyY i\ CJ a ovle.
G: Is that right?

P: And we still have this house over there. What happened was, when my

grandparents died, they were planning on taking over the property and

distributing it. And, of course, uh, mst Cff -ttissoni pt j c- i

down there, he couldn't dispose of it. And of course, he lost some

YBOR 29A Page 7

money over there, because they wouldn't let him take Te money out
5(,^ |~:O~; viy tij~)C )nI~~CIi0VC r
_-_CC' ______ cToe.ro c-]SgTh they would let him take

it out,^he lost all of that. They were only drawing a percentage, .- IL.

G: Yeah, what did he do in Sicily?4_:I mean, what occupation?

P: Ah, he was years old when he came here. He was just a student, I


G: Right. What did your grandfather do? Do you know? Was he a farmer

or what?

P: I guess so, he had some property. That's probably what he did over

there. He didn't do anything specific that I know of.

G: Right.

H: Olive trees.

P: Yeah, they had olive trees, and you know, all those--they grew wheat

and all that stuff,aie they had property.

G: Um hum. Yeah. Let my ask you.,.

P: They had a street named Spoto there,--E:ayr

G: Is that right?

P:' there must have been a bunch of them to have it named after them, I


G: Right, Yight. Let me ask, um, Mrs. Spoto, you're ah, something about

your family's background. You said your maiden name was Martinez?

HI Martinez.

G: Right. Ah, what is that, Cuban, or Spanish?

H: Cuban.

G: Cuban. Yeah.

H: I was born in Cuba.

G: You were born in Cuba.

YBOR 29A Page 8

H: Yeah, I was born in 1919.

G: Uh ha.

H: And my mother, she had four-thirteen children.

G: Is that right?

H: And uh, &.tea nine of us living now. But, uh, when the, she was

expecting me, my father died two months before I was born. So she

was left with all eight kids, because the oldest one, she came over

here and she got married. She met, you know, her husband over here,

she came with relatives. So then she sent for all the family--my

mother and all the children, we were all little, you know.

P: Before she was born, you know. Because her father died.

G: Right.

H: Excuse me for a minute, but I was born in Cuba.

P: Yeah.

G: Uh ha.

H: So when my mother came, I was only two months old.

G: Gee.

H: When I came to Tampa,

G: Right.

H: And so, we've been here since.

G: What did your father do b-cfero -you weoro br?. CI a

H: Well, he, he was a cigar maker. And he had a farm, a little farm, and

uh, he was--hli"k

G: Right. s-was this in Havanna?

H: Ah, no, .

G: What providence was it in?

H: Uh,

YBOR 29A Page 9

G: ,Z 4 ,____"__..,, _-z s it?

H: No, it was...

P: No, that's part of the, the, uh, providence of Havana, isn't it?

p' I think it is.

G: /yI 6, Why, why did he never come to Tampa, if he was a cigar worker?

H: Well, all his family was there, and he was born there, and all his
-l `1 -.
a runn, nlIsetr.
uncles, you knowA ere there.

G: Right. Right. Right. Did you have many uncles and auntsgaF--
No-- du-|
H: Yes.A Well, as- SL, I did have, yes,/and uncles and...

G: Right.

H: And they had been TUp .. ,, i-. for my sister, the oldest

one, -4eS she came here when she was single, you know, the...

G: Right.

H: l voC o io.

G: Um hum.

H: They intrnditedhgg her husband, and they got married.

G:A Did you ever go back to Cuba?

H: 40,.. when I got married, in 1950.

G: Yeah.

H: We spent a week there, and I went to sit-- C to see

the house where I was born.

G: Was it still there?

H: Oh, yes, it was. a hicC....

G: What was like?

H: Very nice house, it was large, and very well kept, and uh, had a

step ob.rJ 41he6c

G: Right. Uh hUl, Yeed

YBOR 29A Page 10

H: And, uh, it was very nice.
A, / O? o.K "
G: Um hum. Now where did your family move tof/- /1 ba typ move to

Ybor City, or west Tampa?

H: No, Ybor City.

G: Ha...ha. Do you remember where your first home was here?

H: I think I...they mentioned 9, 9th Avenue, I don't recall the street.

G: Right.

H: But I remember gSb ,where we lived when I was little...

G: 2jijj9*, T+ wn, 94k AqennC.
i4- w H: ... .msas Vd on 14th Avenue.

G: Uh ha, yeah.

H: In Ybor City.

G: Yeah.

H: Then my mother, in turn, she went to work for this, ah...ah,

Church, looks like a church.

G: Um hum.

H: And, uh, she take care of children there, and in +u-r take the

little ones there.

G: Right.

H: -After 11 yo know. A look a-fic uyou kl.l,

G: Yeah, she had so.much spare time there.

H: Well, she had something to do and I didn't help it. And then she went

to the, ah, cigar factory--where the Ybor Square is now?

G: Um hum.

H: What do they call it? The, ah...?

G: The Ybor Factory.

H: 4iFf Ybor Factory, right? And she worked theregg, as a stripper,

they call it, for a little while. And A4i t01. l she don't work anymore,

YBOR 29A Page 11

so we start oin and taking as

G: Did she ever tell you stories about the cigar industry? What it was

H: No, because, ah, in those days, when she was in Cuba, the woman, they

just stayed home, and the husband came and .- l make cigars, and/

and never said. And he brought, you know, bread and butter, as the

saying goes.

G: Right.
H: Yeah.
re mtk'-crcA y i f I fU
G: Pe-t-e-, et-me-a k you, what'our first memories were about Ybor City?

You know, what... .
n LCk^e r (ald Y oV,
P: Well, jeit ynec e 'r.lAingo into detail ZL34t that now. Ba
\N born' n O 7 Of c CouY5e i) 4osc As A
I aLiy'ffw asI s-eve7Ath -4S? venue '-we a had an alleys running
4-eha ot Md-t houIC'.
behind 1, and they hadst, asew. They didn't have indoor
A-o0 ct';
giafesf you know -i'j' hin '-pi or-S. And I remember I used to see the
wagons come by, th^oiei7drhg-- wagons in those days. "'ho0c itnuc i
boclksyjAto pump them out.

G: Huh.

P: You know, eve x o ofen e^ come by, and they'd (-can +6 "If

G: Right.
P: And also in the back,A -t. eU -. us kids used to use the alley,
as a matter of fact, everybody L\eXc J.D or caeg 'iS

G: Um hum.
bu-f run
P: xh&, we used to p up and down the streets, you know, my brothers and
my cousins, we all lived together. And in the,. awwl f they used
talusc God kOIs h l
to have, people used to Jadf chicken and goats, and-w,,,e. ,, else. But

YBOR 29A Page 12

anyway, back then they used to have these ovens.

G: Oh, yeah.

P: And every so often, once or twice a week, they used to bake, and boy,

you could smell that baking going on all over the neighborhood.

G: Yeah.

P: It was delicious. As a matter of fact...

G:i T w Lco IlJ'ke ldisl 'hie.

P:A In fact, everybody had one.

G: Right.

P: And uh, of course, they had bakeries then, too, but most of them

used to bake their own bread.

G: We had trouble in town, we've been looking for...

P: I know it.

G: It's really...

P: A5 C6 rter of fod remember when we had the energy crisis here?

G: Yeah.

P: I told my wife,A"Not only am I looking, Jad-Tf g g.a. build one

myself over here!"

H: Yeah, and then...

P: We were doing baking too, you know, and...

G: Yeah.

P: I like to do that. But anyway, let's, I don't want to regress too

much from that, ani, of course, we had streetcars,AI remember those,

Ut they were the open kind. They had steps--you know, open, and

the uh, you used to run and jump on the streetcar, and get in.

G: Yeah.

P: And they had a conductor swing around and collect the money. And

YBOR 29A Page 13

I remember a couple of things vividly while I was a young boy there,

besides the streetcars and so forth. A couple of accidents that

happened, My father had a right in that same building,

used to live upstairs, and he had one down stairs. My uncle had the

hardware store, and other uncle had the grocery store on the corner,
owvvej 4-tC
and he peneda bulldia stG, and my other uncle had a grocery store,

and wholesale groceries access the street. And, uh, well anyway, while

I was there, Ybor City had that Spanish custom on weekends you.know,

after they get paid, they go up and down 7th Avenue,

and of course, after people get paid, working people, they go out

and spend their money--buy groceries, and shop for food, new clothes,

and on weekends. And, uh, during this particular time

it was in the afternoon, and a car came along, it was one of those

Model T's, and a woman was crossing the street, 19th Street, he ran

over her, and4 4gL right in frovit of my daddy's place. And he

kept turning, trying to stop, he was trying to stop, she was

And another time, the same thing happened. This blind man used to

be in h.C aT he) (And he got hit, but he got knocked into the sidewalk,
right in front my father's cafe, right on the sidewalk, he just)_i, ea

k\ 4^C cp_',t1ng 1l C4M v.( n adl

G: Yeah.

P: And I remember those vividly. Another thing that I remember vividly,

we had a hurricane here, at that time. I think it was, ah, 1921.

I was about five years old. And I remember, w st with the

wind rolled up, cause we found out these things later. Had rolled

up that metal roof, sort of a flat roof r)il o iIC,- o i.f. It

rolled it up like a carpet. I mean, all, the whole roof, just rolled

YBOR 29A Page 14

it! And it fell downpon -khe- roudA.

G: Right.

P: 4 Of Gourse, the second story was leaking like a__
bus Ame5s r Oce~ ec.
so we went from there, went downstairs to the &ew4n-ta.g )

G: Huh.

P:A leaked some, but not as bad as upstairs gause I'm telling you

it was just.... And, uh, at that time, later, I found

out, I see a lot of people pushing carts and wagons, and everything

else on the street. It was soaking wet! It was, had clothes in

there, and they were just pushing carts--whatever they had,

G: UA ha.

P: And the old hand wagons, everything. And later, I found out, that
To, c "\ac\Cc\\ P&so nb qrk,
P-a-+ty- Beach, as we used to call it, PI4amay Beach, or this-ether

cwhatever you want to call it, was underwater. And most people

had, you know, evacuated, b6coute and uh...

G: You were talking about the promenade on 7th Avenue on Saturday' What do

v...-. ai pw would the Italians j-aia-?.0 itre.

P: Huh?
A ,Jll1..
G: e., y ou said, the Spanish...
VJ~l~c\ 90
P: Oh, yes! Oh, no, the Italians 444 dgwat too.

H: Everybody did.

G: Well, what do you remember about the town then?

H: Well, we looked forward to Saturday. We got to eat dinner, and we

would walk up and down. We started, I'd say, at 14th Street and 7th

Avenue, that would be closer to where we lived.

G: Um hum.

YBOR 29A Page 15

H: Walk all the way to 19th, or whatever, and turn back, 'stop at the

dimestore, get a bag of candy, and keep going up and down, up and

down, until ==!zrjk, or wh-at--e-v-r.

G: Right.

H: And walk hack home.

G: What happened when you got a little older-- Ig-fd flirting?

H: Well, when I started flirting, I started going the Center Espanol Dances,

a a- -ass& Sunday.

H: And we'd dress up, and of course, we go there and dance from ah...

G: Did your mother let you go alone?

H: No, no, no. Weesie' a group of girls, and when I was much younger

than that, that was when I was about eighteen or whatever. But before

that, we had to take a chaperone.

G: Yeah.

H: Always.

G: Until what age?
eiq ljccn or ine_'?e-
H; Well, like I said, until aboutvn -OeWZ or so.

G: A Ihat did they feel about f3-- c young girls, did they feel that -kka

was right?
ei, ^ eq c,
H: Yes. Yes. My sister was aboutAS^ one of my sisters she wasA^t when

she had her boyfriend, her only boyfriend, and ah, if she went to, he
houce vdd JJoutl have been
lived t' i .about four houses down from where we lived, and

if we had to go to the corner store, I had to walk with her and her

boyfriend. And no way that they could go by themselves.

G: (laughter)A I bet you used to enjoy that.

H: Oh, yeah.

YBOR 29A Page 16

G: (chuckle) Right.

H: I think it was, it was nicer then, and the ... Frankl.l that's the

way I feel, it was nicer then than now. Because we were more together.

More togetherness than it is now. Now the kids, while I'm going here

and there, they're going--parents go one way, and the kids the other.

And I don't believe.in that. I still like the family together.

G: Yeah.

H: Which we use--we always do. As a matter of fact, on New Year's, we
ninety-t /o
get all the family here. I have an uncle, he's' years old.

G: Is that right?

H: And he comes here, and he enjoys himself.

G: Um hum. Yeah. How about, how.about the Italian family? What was

the Italian family like?

P: It's the same.They were strict with -t-hen yga. As a matter of fact,

everybody was protected. They walked up and down there, like what

she said, but my sisters wouldn't walk by themselves, they'd walk
th, -ethc.-f sth e 'o
with FW mother. And, uh, of course, a L-i=ba that I yad e them,Why

I sort of followed behind a little bit to make sure they weren't,
wellI we
you know, |ie(fcrc jiyi. ....,. And if they were, 4I'us-;o

-Tfrcaiqkc'c C c r o- You know how it _. Ad that's
,,tJ- hI-a ff
the way we were. And uh, but nobodyA^s. extreme. Sometimes, a few

would try to make some remarks, but that's about it. Other than that,

but, they wouldn't ia they'd be chaperoned all the time, As a

matter of fact, my sister was engaged,Ashe still had to go out with

someone. My brother usecgo out .Ai-fthi at first, but then my other

sister would go with her. You know that?

G: Right.

YBOR 29A Page 17

P: This was after they were engaged. Sc b,,' d i I :v .'

H: We did have our very good. And the whole

family got together,, and we'd go.

G: Where would you go?
o^ roy ,0 Qo(
H: They had, uh, they had this place on Memorial, ah, f -se4 s-aci I-aecv

forgotten the name of it. Ah,...

G: Center Espanol?

H: No, I think they called it.
P -e-def-' -4wcw-bh~T.me-wE~-i-.t"?

H: r n,' And usually, the family, everybody went. And if we

belonged to a club like Center Espanol, or the ,_

lrlA4,-ie well, we'd all get together as a group, and work _G-'c-ic4 lc -, k rcrcJ cp

Sti cl ss _. And we Sc\/,e you know. And, uh,
but the whole family went. Which was very nice, very interesting,

and jy Vey . .. Y j^-i4 .

G: Right. Now you--I'd say you spoke Spanish at home, right?

H: Oh yeah.

G: Now, when did you learn English? Did you learn English as a young


H: Well, when we went to school.

G: And, well, did you know any English before you went to school?

H: No, no.

G: 0 ?

H: Yeah. So that's why I haveAmy boy4 to speak Spanish at home* and

his father talks to him in Italian, and he doesn't speak it, but he

understands a few words.

G: Whkat he re f-ej- ds-? _[PC^'^_ L+V

YBOR 29A Page 18
H: And I wish he would, you know...

G: That's great. IVai, wjouli o c '-iJ'....I wish I had learned them.

H: But we do talk Spanish at home. We speak Spanish at home.

P: Well...
S ke4 o' deC-+ I a
H: Because I have a sister, aR-e-4er one, she speaks uL,ho too& ,,e, and

her husband's Spanish, and he

G: Now, did you speak Italian or Spanish at home?

P: At home, we alw4ye spoke Italian. As a matter of fact, I didn't know

a word of English when I went to school. I didn't have to at the
time, AtE I wanted to go to school. _-& my brother'sw_ a little older
of ifl o0 +Ce aA(
than I was, I was the thirdAboyS, the youngestlboys. 4n TlheyA went

to school before I did,AT used to have a tantrum every time they went

to school I told my dad I wanted to go with them, because I wanted

to g6 with t I--ggtI- 7T ho go to school. I really had a

desire to go to school. And, uh, that's one thing I wanted to bring

out. When I went to school, I didn't know a word of English.

G: Um hum.

P: And how they taught us, I don't know. But they did, they did a pretty

good job. But another thing--an incident that happened to me when I

was a kid I was in elementary school. One of the teachers asked me

my mother's name, you know. And I said, "Mama", and uh, she said,

"You know her name isn't Mama," I says, "What's her name?" I thought,

I said, "Well, maybe I didn't pronounce it right." I said, "Ma-ma,"

she said, "NO, no, she must have a name!" Do you know, \eJ i'|,,Tl n:cu..
cVi 0( ict ker
Q, always/qi i0 calls hIs mother Mama. You know, I mean, she has a

name, of course, you know, I didn't call her that name. la=i =, 6u
"J coul 1'o 6kc,W h at your name?"oh
c.rIte=e think of it, \I went home, andA, _g- what's your name?"

________________________________________________ -J

YBOR 29A Page 19
kk e ,OA,

She said, ""i' '"Abn't you remember My name is Pauline."

but we call it Pauline.

G: Um hum.

P: So I remembeirPdai I went back, and I told.s_1 teacher. She says, "I

thought she had a name." I said, "Yeah, but she's Mama to me." (laughter)

The only thing I ever called her. I never called her anything, but,

you know, Mama.

G: When, when did you learn Spanish? Did you ever know Spanish?

P: Sure. I speak it fluently. Is it, every

they have it, and we know it going to high school. And my cousins

lived on uh, Jenessee and Nebraska these two, Dr. Spoto, and

his daughter. And we usually walked together to school, to

High. And on Nebraska, we'd be, coming, walking back to their house,

you know, and we'd be talking. Well, we were fluent in three languages,

you know what I mean, but we didn't realize it. We normally slipped

from one to the other, so we could express our thoughts faster, and

I still do it. Whether it's in Spanish or Italian, I'll come out.

And a could, most of the people here understand all three languages.

G: Right.

P: And one day, this guy, AGerman Anglo-Saxon,I guess he was German,

or what, but anyway, he said, he stopped me, he said, "You know,

I've been observing you all coming by here everyday, speaking." I

said, "What's wrong?" He said, "You know, I admire you all." I

said, "What?" I couldn't believe it. He said, "I've noticed that

you all speak different languages--you speak in Italian, and Spanish,

and then you jump into English without--without hesitating," he said,

"you go from one to the other." And he said, "That's uh, admirable

YBOR 29A Page 20

you know," he said, "to be able to do that." And I said, uh, "We
hkovJ Jvsf
didn't realize we was doing it." But, you knowA when you'redspeaking,

you express yourself in the best language you can, and sometimes 6-ti

Italian or Spanish expression .axre more appropriate. -o5 we were

doing that, and didn't realize it. ^htee different languages.

G: Right, right.

P: And we were fluent in all three of them, and could understand them.

bJad most of them aJFeue c .

G: Um hum.

P: And esp-ecal4ly I pick up Spanish here and too.

G: Right.

P: Spoke it just as fluently as I did the others. As a matter of fact,

I'm getting rusty in that, because we didn't use the Italian a tot Clke

we used teai;.

G: Let me, let me change the tape.

XBreak in tape)

G: You guys, I take it, you grew up on the streets using Spanish. It

wasn't-- yOVl Jl you spoke Italian at home, and Spanish, generally,

in the streets.

P: Italian and Spanish in the streets...

G: Right, right.

P: More than I did English.

G: What would you say would be the universal language of Ybor City?

What would most people speak in Ybor City? What language?

P: Well, they spoke Spanish. It depended whether you were...
G: But did you know,.-L. you know Italian?

H: No.

YBOR 29A Page 21

P: No, she didn't.

G: Yeah, that's why--that was why IAw-rs='&.
P: Let me tell you what, because it was harder for/Spanish to learn Italian

than Italian to learn Spanish. I don't know why.

H: Well, because they all went to the cigar factory, and there were a lot

of Spaniards there, yeah, and they spoke Spanish all the time, and

the people that ran the cigar factory, they were Spanish...

G: Right.

H: So, they had to learn the Spanish language.

P: I, I was...

H: And, uh, as a matter of fact, I have a b ig--t= rin& brother$, that

they were one of the best cigar makers in Tampa.

G: Is that right?

H: I'm proud to say, yes.

G: Are they still alive?

H: Yes.

G: Yeah, maybe I .aig1tF to talk to themR oc:io

H: Well, my sister's here, but my brothers are in St. Augustina

G: Oh, is that right?

H: He lives there.

G: Oh, yeah.

H: But he was still the...

G: Where did he learn to make cigars?

H: Well, he learned, uh, when we lived in Cuba.

G: Um hum.

P: He was >-years old, I think, when you came here, wasn't he?

H: Yeah, but they werealready working at the cigar factory.

YBOR 29A Page 22

P: He was a cigar maker then. He started -i&ea young.

G: Yeah, Etz-..

H: But there's a cigar factory here that used to be 'ci_ .::! r_

in west Tampa?

G: Right.

H: Which waS sold. And, uh, they, uh, I think they both worked there,

but then they worked someplace else. And they always had to bring

them over there to make samples of Ae cigars,

G: Oh. Uh ha.

G: Yeah. What was your impression of the cigar industry growing up?

Did you want to, did you want to work in the cigar factory?

H: I did work in the cigar factory.

G: You did work in the cigar factory, yeah. Oh, you didn't really want



P: I never worked in the cigar factory.

G: How did you, first of all, how, how did you get the job?

H: Well, I was in school, and when I was, got out of school, I didn't

know any better, you know, toAdo anything else, and I lived with,

at that time, with my sister, and my brother-in-law, we all lived

together, so he said, "Well, the best thing to do is to get in a

cigar factory." All the others were, going along that line. So,

they put me in there, and I thought it was nice. It was a nice art

really. But as I grew older, I didn't, I uh...

G: How old were you when you began?

YBOR 29A Page 23
'5 K>.... $<'^!)fc H: I was about...l-14-P-t 1_
ev$g;r CV.'"< C(>X6 tfh.
G:A Yeah, how does one learn to make cigars?

H: It's...to me,.it was:hard. But, uh, they teach you. They have somebod...

G: Um hum, -rig Y d

H: My sisterZp was teaching me there. And...

G: How long did it, did it take you?

H: Well, it took me, it seemed forever, because I wasn't the best cigar

maker, I'll tell you truth, but, uh, you can learn it easily. But, uh,

some of themVAbetter than others.

G: Right.

H: Like anything else.

G: Right.
H: You can make something a.is. you know, creative, something creative.

G: Right. What factory did you work-at?
HL I worked- at -c.g( Garcia.

G: Um hum. Did they have the lectores, or had they gone by then? The

readers? In the factory?

"H: No, they didn't have it, that, when I went in.

G: I think they phased out e '32.

H: Yeah, I don't remember...

G: Yeah. Did you remember the readers?

P: I, I never worked in the cigar factories.

H: I did see it, because they took me along, when my mother was working

you know, and I went, and I heard the man reading, and it was very


P: I used to hear about them.

YBOR 29A Page 24

G: Do you remember what he was reading?

H: No, I was real young.

P: I used to hear them when I'd walk by the factory, because they used

to read pretty loud.

G: Uh has

P: No, I never did get into the cigar factory. But to continue with

my story--I went to, to that area, around, you know, where

School is at?

G: Right.

P: Well, beyond that, which 5 nowA you see buildings there,4where <1S-

Amercian Caq Plant is at?

G: Um hum.

P: Well, they used to be open there. As a matter of fact, it was swamp,

there used to be some ditches, drainage ditches there, and when the

tide used to come in, it used to flood that area. And we used to

go crabbing there.

G: Um hum.

P: We did what you call around the ditches e \ e uc 4o Cach

Of course,Aa few snakes and even alligators. / ne time my brothers

and I were there, and we were jumping over these

ditches, must have been about six to twelve feet wide, you know, to

jump over 'e F itL'umped a foo, and I followed through, and

this gator snapped at me.

G: ), h 0o. (laughter)

P: So I called them back, and I said,.. Look,,!t,.lE' 'snapped at;me."

"Where, where?" My brother had a y lj6U-hl -hi.o

G: Um hum.

YBOR 29A Page 25

P: Rifle. And he shotAit. He .-Bt it. It must have been about five

or six feet long, you know, a good size.

G: Um hum yeA.-

P: It was a trophy. So we brought it over--home, *\%agr-we were

living in 9th Avenue then. And, uh, we had it in the middle of the
ah it W^^ you Cear j f ric.-lr Lk r'
street/iaVo=- summer, and s- stinks there after .

awhile, you know. And everybody was complaining about that alligator,

(laughter) that we brought home.

G: Right.

P:j used to go out fishing and crabbing around, i /i'e bl .

G: Tampa must have been fairly rural.

P: It was. It was young, it was a small, small, uh, town, uh, and uh,

usually, people were very friendly, and I grew up,Amostly, everybody

knew each other. And, uh the Sicilians now, they corrected each

other.A They always told meArespeet the elders, I mean, all of us

were brought up that way. And the elders looked after the kids.

When they did something wrong, they straightened you out. And besides

that, they told your father. And if you had a whipping coming, you

got it, on top of that. But they looked after fif inSfS .i e
on, and o
Wsaany dangers, and soAforth. Ah, L.r )If -*\'. I mean everybody

corrected everybody. .-

H:l jf you go visiting, a2 you sit, and if you, <0 you sjt=;- move
from where you were sitting, but if you did, they just agS*aat you,

and -jsgafe*, that was it. You knewd_ you had done something wrong.

And uh,Auh,, we used to make our ice cream on the weekend, and friends--

they would come by, and hello, and you know...

G: What was a typical Sunday? Describe a typical Sunday. What you did

YBOR 25A Page 26

all day?

H: On Sunday, either we walked to some friends' house, or relatives, or

they come over. And then, like I said, we make the ice cream, and
then we talk, and have the ice cream and cake, and whatever, and

just talk, you know, family...

G: A big dinner?

H: Yeah.

G: What was the typical dinner?

H: Well, with us, it was, usually yellow ri--I mean rice, and black

beans, and the pork, and theAsaladAthey call i mIe ...

P: IAchbO.

H: TZia3s=s salad?

G: Um hum.

H: And, uh, then the ice cream, and the enjoyment of talking, ros4L/,

G: What about a typical Sicilian dinner?

P: My, my mother used to make on Sundays--she used to make rolls, and

uh, then after the rolls, we'd have And the meat,

of course, which

G: Um hum.

P: Then after that, she'd have, uh, You

know what that is, don't you?

G: No.

P: is baked chicken.

G: Oh.

P: Fryers, you know, used in the oven.

G: Right. Well...


YBOR 25A Page 27


P: with potatoes,

and cheese.

G: Uh huh.

P: ...with the cheese. Ever eaten any of that?

G: No.

P: And it's simple to make, believe

me. Now that's one thing my mother had to have) cheese and olive oil.
CI1l1 0 144(,, lo, bJ, CfICCC .. o ic- a0,f
"C1hese anrd -mu iu ch e. She'd puttthat cheese |'n K( aCcnV blecA all

her cooking. S(r ucd TAVc A 0 1j) [
LICcl 1t
H: She/lmake the ?

P: Yeah,

H: I learned how to make that,yi O':' ,

P: Yeah, she makes it just as good as my mother made it.

H: IDelearned how to make all the Italian food.

H: Yeah. I enjoy--that's what I like. I, I like my home, and cooking.

I love that.

G: Yeah.

H: I make Lasagne, uh, ...

G: Um hum.

H:/I b- with the pork inside, they call it,----- .




H: Manacopia, I make my own.

P: Yeah.

YBOR 25A Page 28

H: My own paste, yeah.

G: Yeah. All them.

H: So, uh...

P: That's what they call them.

H: Since I like to...


H: Yeah, I enjoy J\-l cd-

G: Right.

H: She was a terrific cook,

G: Right, right. Well, what did your mother say when you told her you

were dating a Sicilian?

H: Well, she liked 40. really, from the beginning. No, we had nothing

against the Sicilians, or anything, but, uh, as a matter of fact, when

he asked me the first time to go out...


H: You know, so/AFe-a ads e-to go out with him, and uh, but come home

early. I was already--S '-, and he was...

P: Iwei0y-.e.!.T S 4e!i V li y--c''I-L

H: ,k-es And I said all right, and we came home about, I don't ktovw,

T'ed cifea it was t \\'oo anc ....

P: I think we went to the movies. You know, the picture...

H: Yeah, ll:or 11:30, whatever. And she was waiting for me, and, I mean,

she wasn't mad, but she was, you know, she was used to meA-- e ai
U'l/ a-ic r "! -^ -
.es= be home at ll-.o0I was home at ll:o.-And, uh, fsaesPffeh we just

went out and all that, and uh, of course, he took a liking f my

mother right away too. So, if we went to a ,movie or whatever, he

took her along too.

YBOR 25A Page 29

G: Right. How many of your, your, uh, your friends, your girlfriends

would you say married, uh, Spanish boys, or Cuban boys as opposed to


H: Well...

G: Would you have said that your relationship was unusual? Cbu'ld most

Cuban girls,4ff y an Italian by aL ny m

H: No. No. That happened earlier, many years earlier, that did happen

really, because they just like to...

P: They disowned you.

H: ...the Italian, yeah, the Italian with the Italian, or...

P: The Italian, if a Italian girl-married a Spanish or Cuban, she was


H: Yeah.

P: I mean it.

G: 44t about him?

P: Huh?

G: WhAt about the Italian kid?

P: The kid, well, they didn't disown him, but the girls, I'm telling you,

they were disowned.

G: Yeah, niri hra.

P: But the other p not too much. I mean...

H: But there were...

P: ButAweren't too many of them, mcrrvla-yrciq Tie well they already


H: They got out of that They got out of that. They--it doesn't


P: js like everything else.

YBOR 25A Page 30

G: Yeah, your parents didn't have any objections, or anything? Dating

a Cuban?

P: No. Oh, no.

G: No.

H: No.
H6)a boi"f VYu)
G: -Ite eeM how many brothers did you say you had?

P: I had two. One was and heAs married.

G: Uh hum.

P: I'm the only one with a by- and a girl.

G: Right.

P: I have two sisters, one of them is married, and one of them is not


G: Um hum.

H: Um hum.

P: I was the youngest of the boys.

G: Um hum.
t'^etz.V{* fi c.
P: And I married late. See, I was called into the service when I.was sa .

-ae five years in World War II. I came home when I was So

actually, I got married when I was about s -K'i -lfUY.

G: Um hum. Right.

P: It put me behind...
wou d'^,o gcn
G: Right. What, what would you all do on a typical date? This/ias after

the war?

P: Yeah.

G: 1-4uQf A io 40

P: Yeah, as a matter of fact, when I came back...

G: When you came back from the service...

YBOR 25A Page 31

P: I, I got out in '46. Not in, I went to work,and I was a, a...
di'd you o -o 100orv ?
G: Where a..- A on ,-eg"
P: I was working, at the time I met. j *t e, I was working with a WhIch

i's a brokerage firm. A brokerage firm.

G: Where was it located?

P: Ah, located in the _1 0 outh FloridaA and, uh,

____________ And I was jt t e you


G: Uh hum.

P: And I used to goz, and work in the stores.
\) !I(< he g
That's aE I met 4SBf, she was working in one of the stores there.

G: Uh hum.

P: That was...

G: Right.

P: That was in '49 I met her, and we got married in, uh, February 25CU|.

wasn't it?

H: Yeah.

P: In 1950.

G: Um hum.

P: And I got called back in August, '50, and I stayed-in for the Korean -ia-.

G: Is that right?
6,t- 0 V-t- I\V
P: For twu more years. (chuckle)A/14i '52. So, we...

G: Did they cut your hair?

P: Yeah. So, that's where most of my time was spent, in the service.

G: Yeah.

P: You know.

G: Did you, when you came back from the service, did you move back with

YBOR 25A Page 32

your family?

P: Yes.

G: W&w._QEF They were still living in Ybor City?

P: Oh yeah, they were living, as a matter of fact, we've been living
y)f rPy-lwo af 1/03
thereA4 years h-i 18th Avenues And my brother's still living


G: Um hum. How many, what, what were...

P: q 6"5 +K 'eA .I

G: Did you notice any difference in Ybor City when you left in '42, I

guess and came back in '46?

P: When I, when I left, and I came back, there wasn't any difference,


G: There was not?
P: -t was still the same, uh---the streetcars were still going, everything

was the same. Then, afterwards, the changes start coming in. They

start removing the streetcars...

G: Yeah, why do you think, why did Ybor City die, or what, jae4 true i '

not fW ....

P: Well, I, I'll tell you what'. my\ opinion is, and uh, when this urban

renewal came in. And uh, or course, they sold most of that property 4+Aah
they had in the colored area. The Sm they used to call it.

G: Right.

P: Along Paris, and there. They start buying that property, and it never

fails, these Anglo-Saxons control this damn town. Pardon me for

saying it, but it's i,(ist' facts. And, uh, they're trying to whitewash

themselves, but it's the truth. They control it, they've had this

propertyAfor years, run down shacks, and they rent it to these blacks,

YBOR 25A Page 33

you know...

G: Um hum.
P: ...w.ai-- or collections, and even in the Latins, they had a lot

of property like that, and they had the weekly collector go by with a

sack, you know, "Pay me three dollars or get out," and all that stuff.

And uh, but they did urban renewal, they sold this property, here, you

know, cash for something that wasn't worth two cents. So what happened,

they start a down these places these blacks, Well, they've got

to go somewhere.

G: Um hum.

P: So what i they start pushing them into Ybor ::City.

G: Um Hum.

P: And some of the Jews that were there start buying the property.

Moving whites out, and putting blacks in there like sardines.

G: Um hum.

P: And that started -e. -d_-..i e the area.

G: What would you say, what was the critical period? Timewise?

P: Timewise...

G: When you saw Ybor City really begin to...

P: I Jrrhwn it was--in the late '* -t"S .

G: Yeah. .

P: The late W ? Because when I went, when I still, in the fs it

was still good.

G: Um hum.

P: Because I was working in the area, like I said, was calling on these

stores that was still there.

G: Um hum.

YBOR 25A Page 34

P: But after that, when they started this urban renewal, which I think

was in the late f they did that, or early -.i'-('fcS,

G: Um hum.

P: Ah, Ybor City could have been saved. As a matter of fact, I believe

that if those Cubans had left Cuba, would have come here instead of

Miami, we would have had a beautiful Ybor City, because I'll tell you

one thing, they can what they want, but I think they would have

revitalized Ybor City.

G: Yeah, they're workers.

P: Yeah, they are workers. They did the same thing with an area in

Miami that was run down, they revitalized it. Yeah.

H: They would have had a lot of...

P: Yeah, a lot of industry and everything, you know.

H: ...grocery stores, and walk...

P: Yeah, like it was, you know. Neighborhood stores and all that.

G: Yeah.

H: Yeah, that's what I meant. Neighborhood stores and you could walk
there, and it would have been a little different where the uh, c ra

wherever they went, they ds As you can see how.

G: Um hum.

H: They had, like a o Nebrao ( or { OQc.e beautiful homes ,when-

ever they went there, there's nothing 4a3a5

G: Yeah.

P: Like termites, you know.

G: What was, you, you were of Cuban ancestry. What, what were your

relatives, and your, your relationships with the black Cubans? Was

there any difference between the Amercian Cubans or the blacks?

YBOR 25A Page 35

P: Oh, yeah. (laughter)

H: Well, I don't know because we didn't know any blacks except that there

were some living in the corner of a house, and they were very nice,

and uh...

G: Yeah. Euban blacks?

H: No, they were...

G: Yeah.

P: I knew some Cuban blacks.

G: Yeah.

P: Yeah, they was different from the others. I mean, t -c-r rHC, they

were more of the family type. There was a few of them, the others,

that, but, their attitude was different than the others, you know

what I mean? They were more family type thanr ie when they grew


G: Right.
A tj P: T9m q .an A-3; 1 different.

G: Right. Yeah. When, where were, when did you see Ybor City begin to


H: I thought it was around 1953 ora-So.

G: Why do you think, what happened?

H: I thought that because that whbn the blacks took over, and they destroyed


G: Um hum. gma

H: ...was there.

G: Right. Right. When did, you all were married in '50. Where, where
\ j\ e t- yow,
did you move? was, was, wasAfirst home?

P: We moved to, uh, well...

YBOR 25A Page 36

H: Well, we had an apartment.

P: Yeah.

H: In the Italian fairgrounds.

G: Where was this?

H: -Ths 5re of .- Nebraska.

P: Yeah.

H: A lc......

G: Would you have moved to Ybor City if there were.Q.ot 'ou/ Ct

P: Oh yeah, sure.

H: Oh yeah.

P: Yeah.

H: As a matter of fact, we were living in Ybor City with my mother on

17th Street, but then I saw the blacks coming in, and we saw that

happen, and we left.

P: Yeah.

H: Because, uh, we saw it coming.

P: Yeah.

G: Do you remember how much you sold the home for? What was a home running

for then?

H: Now then, it was only what -Five thousand dollars?

P: Yeah, something like that, yeah.

G: Yeah.

P: Peanuts.

H: Nothing. It was a big house.

G: Yeah.

H: In those days, in fact, I thought it was good.

G: Yeah.

YBOR 25A Page 37

H: So then, we started looking, you know, at the apartments, ah,

we started looking for a land and we saw g, and we bought it,

and then we built it.
G: Um hum. Right. Right. What else, a-seme ask you another question

now-__hat was the role of the Catholic church in Ybor City?

P: Well, they, they played a role there. They had the, uh, the LOPH

there, didn't they?

H: Yeah. They had a lot of...

P:The a robab role, they had -(ouqkt the school, and so forth.

But I tell you one thing--ah, I know most Sicilians, my father wasn't

too much of a religious man. Most of the men weren't. But my mother


G: Why, why do you think she was?

P: I don't know. They just had it against the, their looksJ

G: You ever remember your father, or uncles ever saying anything...

P: He never spoke much.

G: ...about the priest or church?

P: No, he never-ws religion, don't get me wrong.

G: Um hum.

P: He just wasn't for the church. You understand what I mean?

G: c .C

P: No, no, he was religious man inside. But he just wasn't for the church.

He didn't go to church, and (C c(Idn"'F \ii' -o oGo.

G: Vs.YIyn im.

P: But my mother did. And she took us, you know.

G: Right.

P: But he wouldn't go. He didn't care about the church.

YBOR 25A Page 38

G: Right.

P: And, uh, there was quite a few of them like that. And from what I

gathered, even the Spanish, too.

H: The Spanish...

P: Now, my brother-in-law's the same way. And ta n ere g

kids, they just didn't like those, those, those, uh, what is it, monks,

that they had over there I guess. teoy used to teach them or run the


G: Right.

P: Because, I guess, they've been an authority figure down there. And

they used, some of them used to abuse the authority, let's face

it. They used to probably get the fat of the land, you know, cx ec.l

b ,exgsyq the best of the crops, and this and the other.

G: Right.

P: And, they--uh, poor people resent that.

G: Um hum.

P: Some of them.

G: Right.

P: It's all right if you give them gifts, but if you start taking, you

know, that's different.

H: Wtthe women, they did 9k believe in going to.

P: Yeah, the women always did.
G: ER -Y- as well?

H: Yeah. Very much so.

G: Yeah, what about the Spanish women?

H: Yeah.

G: Hum hum. Right. How about the men?

YBOR 25A Page 39

H: No.
Did 'oK
G: No.A ever hear any stories about...the family, uh...

H: No, but the menAdidn't like to go to church. They thought that they

would...I don't know, they just didn't like the idea of going to


G: Right.

H: For whatever reason, I don't know.

G: Um hum.

H: I guess they thought that they should.i have another job besides...

G: Right.

H: ...- p'4, r: and you know, what's going on and all that.

G: Right. What ah, did you ever feel, ah, that being aItalian was ever

an asset, orAhindrance in Tampa?

P: Well...

G: Well, what, what was it like to be an Tcti -- Sicilian growing up'

in Tampa? Do you remember any stories, or...

P: Yes. Well, the stories, I can recount some, you know, things that

happened to me, though...

G: Um hum.

P: Of course, everybody here, especially the, uh, the uneducated people,

are biased, seamis the more ignorant you are, the more biased you


G: Um hum.

P: And, uh, they look down on you. As a matter of fact, they considered

us worse than the blacks. And a lot of places had signs there, "No

Degos," you know, ah...

G: Um hum.

YBOR 25A Page 40

P: ...you know, "permitted here," and so,4so forth. And they de-4-iin

-C(/c' aLt ls let's face it. And...
G: AWere you ever turned away jgB a store or anything? Your ownpersonally..
P: No. But I've been turned down jobs, thought.And this was after, easre a
talking about after World War II.

G: Um hum.

P: And Iehad this bigbackground in sales, like I said a iC
j'Ve i%'rcpsric g,v/,. And I went to apply for this job at an employment

agency, and the guy was happy, he saw me, he said, "Man, you're the

man, everybody we're looking for, just you, you fit everything to the
looked Vf me Qam fd 5he IsyS-,
T." And then he turned around, he says, ah,A""SfLet me ask you,/ hk

S5); % sSpoto--Spoto,'' he says, "What's that?" I said, "fhat's Italian."

He says, "Are you Latin?" I said, "Yeah, I guess you.would call it

Latin." -*Ol He turned redA^ rLzt i he says, "I can't hire

you." They had written "ipe uvtm 6der 4 c it says no Latins.

G: Is that right? Do you mind saying what company it was, or...

P: I don't recall now.

G: c P: I don't recall now.

G: Yeah, that's very illustrative.

P: Yeah.

G: Hum.

P: And this was after the war. Mind you, if I wanted to, ...

G: This was in Tampa, right?

P: Oh, yeah, in Tampa. If I wanted to, I could have got them into
Weare bImn
trouble, because actually, you know, &at* the Civil Rights dqdeLsay

violated, you knows Poo-r a-: ': .-'Ji;s 'C ic

YBOR 25A Page 41

H: That wasn'tAlong agogxAai os y<

P: No, that wasn't too long ago. Then, another time, uh, I was working

as a manufactures' representative with the Company. But

this4mostly, not because I was Italian, I don't believe, but because

I was in the service. The guy, ah, I told him I was in the reserves,
'Ne \' )Crc
and I had picked out my date. Just as soon as I found out my date -fer

i' t summer camp, I told him itgsws re March, I told him that in June, I

was going to summer camp, and once you set those dates, you can't

change them, you know. And, uh, at the last minute, they came in

and told me that they're were going to have a meeting in Jacksonville.
And I tried to change my dates,*t I couldn't, they were set, and as

a matter of fact, in that year, they were stressing that if you didn't

go to summer camp, they were going to court-martial you. And they

would do it.

G: Um hum.

P: I was an officer in the reserves, you know. So he told me, he said,

"If you don't come up for the meeting, you don't have the job." I

says, "Well," I said, "look, ah, which deadline- -------, I can't...

As a matter of fact, I asked the C.O. Harris,;ated,-_---ti can't

change it.0 He said, "Spoto,it's too late." He says, uh, and I told
-le t Yle
him what happened, he says, "Well, you can't lose your job.:''If you
lose it, you can take a-to court." But I did lose my job. But I

didn't take them to court. I'll tell you why I didn't take them to

court. I might have won the case, it's true. But then, who else is

going to hire me after that?

G: Um hum.

P: If you're a trouble-maker, they don't want you.

YBOR 29A Page 42

G: ^s^yeah.
A r
P: I&f ostracized here. I'd have to leave town. You know.

G: Yeah.

P: And anytime you asked for a recommendation, you know what you're

going to get, don't you? Who's your last employer? And why did you

leave him?

G: Right. Right.

P: So that's why I didn't do anything. But besides that, the kids used

to ostracize us, you know, I mean, not ostracize us--

G: Um hum.

P: Rick on us, and we used to have quite a few battles.

G: Did the Latins stick together, or would just the Italians...

P: Yeah, they did.

G: ...would stick together, or would it be Italians against Cubans,or


P: Not too much of that. No, the Latins didn't, didn't battle too

much, ah, against each other, but we did with the Anglo-Saxons.

G: Um hum.

P: Because they pushed us.

H: They had, they had a lot signs like, ...
yed2an, 1eq Wk
P:A-Og that's we had a few battles then, you know, "Stay out," and

all that stuff.
-f eL( hItf +k,& *ciJ r o.'. cot da5os __n...V___0
H: cA ui, no Cub an&-,-=iq* crs n nor

P: Yeah.

G: Um hum.

H: Yeah. oyi
P: Yeah.

YBOR 29A Page 43

H: Tkhc jitl1 kw t, J pI '.

P: Yeah.

G: Do you ever remember any stories of your ownself, uh...?

H: No ,JeW, iei we couldn't go, so we just didn't care to make any


P: I, I never run across...

H: \p J)' go we knew they didn't want us there.

G: Um hum.

P: But...

H: Things start changing, and ah...all right,AI mean, we were never

turned down, because we never tried...to go...

G: Right, right.

H: But I mean, as far as, department stores and everything, they didn't

treat us like they do now...

P: No, no, no...

H: We could go anywhere.
Oc' -Fr O 'CHs lt oes.
P: Yeah, anywhere n a -departmnt s4tor c

H: Except, the beaches, they had a control, they just wanted to...

P: But they did discriminate against us in jobs, as far as that's concerned.

H: In jobs, yes...

P:' IHi supervisory positions,even if you wereA' or you know, better

qualified, 4s- .' ; the Anglo-Saxon, who couldn't even read

or write, most of the time they would give it to him before they would

give it to you.

G: Um hum.

P: I remember that was a fact, -for '(nsfMi C p- the sanitation department.

Or any of the, you know, the city or the county. It was that way.

YBOR 29A Page 44

G: Um hum.

P: It was S.O.P. Jones would get it, he'Jhave the supervisor, and he

wouldn't have the...

G: Yeah.A4. thisone reason why so many Spotos went into 99i*l

and things like that?

P: Ah, no. I think the reasongytheyeyse qoabove average intelligence,
for one thing.

G: Um hum.

P: Not that I want to brag, but it's the truth.

G: Yeah.

P: You.know, I mean, let's face it. And uh, and uh, anybody that has a

little common sense is not going to get a common labor job.

G: Um hum.

P: Try to advance, you know.

G: Right.

P: Of course, I wasn't as fortunate as the others, because ah, circumstances,


G: Um hum.'

P: gpThat's it, but, uh, those that could went ahead.
G: Right.

H: i 125 V oIita -o try to get aebdm V 5v0o O 0o -1o ____ ho C .


P: gh- tyet,.But my father, QE azs& one thing I want to bring out. he was

very liberal. He, he's unusual for a Sicilian, because usually--I

remember the other kids, friends of mine, their parents were strict,

and they held them back, they didn't believe too much in education,

they wanted their kids to work with them.

YBOR 29A Page 45

G: Um hum. ,/

P: As a matter of fact, when I wentil-At- ah, grammar school, there were

kids there that were in the 4 and 5*h grade, -- years old. And

they stayed there-uRjE4- they pulled them out. See, J, after 0, you

can get out of school. And they knew it was aa -,, you know, that

you could get out. And I went through high school, senior high school,

I was r years old, and there we- men there, a-, 4 years old. And

I was a young kid, J- years old, when I first went to high school,) 'u. ,

1931. Which was unusual. But he was very liberal. He believed this,

in educating us, and he went to a lot of trouble and expense. This

was during the depression, now. Because we had to buy our own books

you know.

G: Um hum.

P: And, of course, streetcar tickets, and uh, the food, also, lunch,

and all that. And he sacrificed himself. -Ufy.- my sisters went too,

which was unusual. And like I said, the women$4- go to high scho61

in, uh, in those days, and as a matter of fact, I remember one time

I was walking with my mother, and an Italian lady stopped my mother,

my sister had just graduated from junior high school, see aShe says,

"Well, are you going to send her to work in the cigar factory-eihovj "

"No" my mother said, "No," she says, "she's going to high school."

She says, "High School! What for?," she says. "When she come out

of high school, she get married." (laughter) And she won't bring

no income, you know what I mean? (more laughter) That's all they

were thinking about, bringing the income. So my mother says, she

says, "No, she's going to high school." Which she did. And both

of my sisters wentA/tehigh school.

YBOR 29A Page 46

G: You mentioned the depression--what, what, what-,;what strikes your

mind now4 \When people mention the depression? What was the depression

like thentr) In rt-etiy-, in Ybor City?
SicliaI ', 7"I erc l
P: Well, -tse''en e tE??e there weren't many jobs open. We were

the last ones on the totem pole to get a jobA44tg I mean, uh, but

of course, in those days everybody was out of a job. And, my prblgm!,T-

just--let's say I got out of high school at what did I do? Nothing.

You understand what I mean? I was able to get a few odd jobs. One
Wkho wLelHt +0 V I r'1 "1C)
time this friend of mine EE=e-aas school\ and his father was

a contractor, and, uh, he was painting a house over there on the

beach Indian Rocks. And he remembered, you know, he remembered

me. He says, "Spoto can go over there and paint wjstaas, "A I told

him I had learned a little painting, then. And uh, he looked me up,

and he said, "You want to go?" and I said, "Yeah." So I went with

him, and we spent a week over there painting a houseA And I made a

few bucks.

G: Yeah, Right.

P: But that's the way it was, I mean $9 4J ob.

G: Do you remember a lot of people out of work?

P: Huh?

G: A lot of people...
yvJ cy-
P: A lot of people, as a matter of fact,Aout of work, and a lot of them

going hungry, too.

G: How would, how would Ybor City cope with this? With uh, you know,

hunger, and people unemployed. What kindd- elie W ( o4.- .

P: Well, it didn't matter, some of them went to work on W.P. after that.

A lot of them went fishing here, and crabbing, and we passed things

YBOR. 29A Page 47
-Sor tO^c J
around. Ah, es, I had avocados and fruits, and things around.
Wheo? WC 5 P -e,
__ we had 44as you know, we passed around. Everybody

helped each other out. That's one thing about it. You know, if

anybody knew tCFe--nobody was greedy, they passed things

around--fish, crabs,4-igst, you'know, avocados, you know, they were

very generous on that part.

G: Yeah.

P: And, uh, the bread man would deliver bread a lot of times, and milk

and you know, he'd wait, he'd wait before he collect. So, I mean,

but they didn't have any uh, welfare, like they have now. Later on,
-ThokCc vw3o J-re
the W.P.A. came in. 4c0 cout d C\ r (COLOc Coi-^ C-01^ i'4f-.
were given these jobs, :you know, .^ jl-t -4 ir /

G: What would your father -fh said!F -i 3-3A social workerA Asuggested

that your family go on welfare?
cuse. he
P: Well, we never did go hatrr-y7eme had a grocery store.

G: Yeah.

P: He lost his shirt, but he had a grocery store.

G: As i I.J t.

P: No.'1 he wouldn't have_ oo____

G: A lot of people were unable to pay .aneE yolA ., durS(j e )LDfco" .

P: Yeah, well, give credit, what do you mean? Credit--they eat it, and

they won't pay if e grocer 4V S4+O-yf,

G: Right.

P: They couldn't pay. Some of them, most of them wouldn't pay,

G: Right.

P: And uh, but Come...

YBOR 29A Page 48

G: In conclusion, how would you say ah, future historians a HB- years

from now, are going to look at Ybor City? What do you think), You

know, having lived 4'VyX through really, the "glory days?" What...

P: Well...

G: How would you summerize it?
,, 1of evCnl
P: I think4with time, theyr:.aV at) going to even know what existed there

(nless we leave something behind. But even then, they're not going to

visualize what it was.

G: But even physically, okay...

P: Actually...

G: I mean if it'sl, i oA --vJ q iL '-c "?

P: Abu ei't Ceia.. .. You see, it's not the physical building itself

that existed there--what I'm telling you is this--it is, itli. a close

knit community. I mean, everybody knew each other, they respected

each other, they were all workers. Let's face it. Remember when

I told you that when I was a kid that anybody used to see me in

the street doing something out of order, they used to correct me.

And then tell my father to boot. And, um, that's the way it was.

Yeah, I mean, that's just like you, you know, having control of all

the kids around you, andAthe way they were. Everybody helped each

other out, and respected each other.

G: Um hum.

P: And that's something unusual, that you're not going to find now.

G: Right.

P: That's...you're not going to see that. I'm not talking about the

buildings itself--I'm talking about the lifestyle we had.

G: Right.

YBOR 29A Page 49

P: The doors were kept open, everybody was welcome. My daddy told me,

he said, "Well," he tried to impress us, "a handshake was his bond,"

you know, "his word was his bond." In other words, if a man doesn't

have a word, .t4 he's a liar, he's not believed, he's nobody. What

does a poor man have--you know, Ap_eagt his honor, right? If he's

dishonorable, he's no good. He-'Pt got nothing.

G: Right.

P: As long as he's got that, that's his. That's what hes:t to impress l'

jgsR me all the time, you see.


P: ...you take, uh, vegetables, whether they be collard greens or, you

know, CeiCcY or whatever it was, .

In the morning, they'd pick them, and they'd be fresh, you know, and

they would cut them up with a wet __ a wheelbarrow, and bring

them over and sell them, and then, after lunch, they'd come back again,

see.Soiyou were getting your vegetables real fresh. I mean, directly

from the farm, I mean. Cause they were just down the street here.

They around 24th and 25th ah, streets. Eighth and

9th and 10th Avenue, in that area where I told you, around there, south

of where Admiv&i Dvrv is at now?

G: Um hum.

P: That used to be farms there. used to have a lot

of cut farms there. They used to grow a lot of vegetables. Then she

mentioned the fishermen there. Ah, he used to come with a hand cart,

everyday, you know, he'd come around .tgt,, e used to sell fish, and

he used to cry, "."

G: Which would translate as?

YBOR 29A Page 50

P: As "one by one?"

G: One by one#.

P: 6u 1N-J4 I I says to him, I says one day tfsr_____

I says, "Who are you 4NhSgp 'one by one?' to?" And he says, uh, cause

I, I didn't see no customers, cause the customers hardly want fish, and

he'd cut it up and wrap it, you know, and he was:cleaning one up, and

he just throwing the guts out to the cat. And actually he was talking

"one by one" to the cats! (laughter) That's what he was doing, feeding

the cats one by one! I asked him, you know. But he was the fish. See,

uh, another thing forget 1h.er ; Oq was the sea port, I mean

as far as the fishing industry concerned. A lot of Italians were

fisherman. all those

people. And they used to have fishing boats, he was
by-ihe (t//J
killed.Ain one of the disputes they had. But anyway, we used to get

fish daily and fresh and reasonable. For instance, you could get a

red snapper for about V cents a pound. Then you could get a Q O2ce
44i J- wei, A +-ev ,
t- a pounds for a dollar. Of course a dollar was .,b ta of of vtone

I( 4iose X h even then, it was plentiful. And, uh, all the time, ,e lf
wasAbrought in. And you also could go crabbing and fishing yourself.

I mean, it was

G: Right.

P: And another thing they used to do, a lot of people used to have, like

I mentioned before, goats or cows at home in the back yard--chickens.

And we used to get rl-co tf Fresh ricoTtc brought to your

door. They come right here. Msi.e what they used to do--they'd

bring it in the thing, the canister.

G: Um hum.

YBOR 29A Page 51

P: And dump it right there in your plate, you know.

G: Right.

P: It would be warm--I mean, they just make it, and they bring out)iUit b

dW4 still warm. And cheese, you know, fresh cheese like that. And

yott ------ they used t do all that.

G: Um hum.

P: And that was a daily .-e ..emase, and milk wSq the same thing.

H: And bread...

P: Twice a day delivery. He could deliver in the morning, and in the

afternoon, see?

G: Um hum.

P: You'd get delivery twice a day. Early and in the...

H: The bread, they used to come twice a day.

P: Yeah, twice a day.

H: Early in the morning, and...

P: Early in the morning, and early, and then...
or-- 46r\\ l(o-er or
H: Seven thirty in the morning, and then typ w- eiaa again/
-VELrib- 1 'd CN-,C -41 C^ b
G: 44h..IHey jtu D leave 1c bra '7

H:1 L They knew how many you wanted unless you wanted more, you wait

for them, but other than that, you know...

P: Or tell them about it, you know. Tell them about it.

H: Yeah.

P: We used to get about, a to six loaves of bread a day. You eat about

three in the morning, and then he'd come back in the afternoon, r: we

wanted extra, you know, we'd tell him, you know, to bring an extra.

G: Um hum.

YBOR 29A Page 52

P: Because we used to eat a lot of bread, we grew up eating bread.

.t hose are some of the things that are missing.

G: Right.
P: oo Q, 7-.7r
P : /V never 0gtyg-=ti find 4 anymore. tO k(o, l yean .....

G: Right.

H: No more deliveries.

P: No. .m- it, people used to--I guess refrigeration wasn't _-twa available

then, cause people used to buy daily. They used to go to the store and

get their meat daily.

G: Right.

P: And, uh, like I said, the vegetables were real fresh.

G: Um hum.

P: And, uh, the only thing that they used at home canned, my mother ever

used, was peas and tomatoes. Everything else was fresh. She wouldn't,
Jcd r- (odi've in
she pidJ.tr k:wi-th canned food.

G: Um hum.

P: That's the only thing she would buy, would be peas, and tomatoes, canned,

that's all.

G: Hum.

P: And, uh, when she had to...

G: Right.
I mean, vjoidr/r
P:A Other than that, sheAWae--everything was fresh.

G: Right.

P: Vegetables, had a lot of vegetables all the time.
[i'koine vJou(8 441- c
G: If one reads just the newspapers, 3ic in the 1930s, 4ggane

impression 4e Ybor City E a pretty tough place` The oi

the gambling, uh, the prohibition, what do you, you think?

YBOR 29A Page 53

P: It's, it'sAl:-r, look,Athat existed. That, you see, that's another

thing that burns me up, about the Anglo-Saxon here.

G: Um hum.

P: They permitted this. th assawas wide open. They had--^rtii-" i-

Sh-teS, houses, on Nebraska Avenue...

G: Um hum.

P: was on, on 7th Avenue and uh, what was it, 12th Street?

was on 14th Street, there was another on 15th Street...
G: 0r-hes
G: 4ngme hesegambling houses?

P: Huh? Gambling houses. They even had one, the Olympic was on the corner

of .i-Tiph c _

G: Um hum.

P: And uh, guess what, you'd go up there, and they had, they had gambling

tables there, roulette wheels, whatever you want to call it, policemen
kis kViads
standing there with. ,j- behind his back, it was permitted. Let's

face it. And, uh, but what happened--naturally they had to show some-

thing, so they used to raid these poor people./I'hey had, besides the

houses, they used to have people, people used to go out and write numbers,

you know, and some of these people used to work for factories, and pCtcovJ

-s esr a1 the numbers...

H: qTHWSSZT 7EES \Ahot JcHl i (^ ii
P: Yeah, Bolita. You know, besides, they used to, they used to call them

riders, you know. And they used to go out to solicit business.

G: Um hum.

P: And once in a while, they used to raid these poor guys. You know, they'd

pick them up, you know, and take them,Abook them. Theyaprobably put
Sa bond and the bond see? So what haxens all these
up a bond, and pFb1:Cstyaifelss the bond, see? So what happens, all these

YBOR 29A Page 54

people be getting a bad reputation, and .-iaIat the money.

G: Um hum, yeah.
WrAe peAnrj+,c C+f)e
P: And uh, because they w asdscandal. And actually they were working

for them. Now, as far as killings an. concerned, that's true, there

were a few killings, but not--not .-a'- that endangered my life any,

because I wasn't involved in it.

G: Right.

P: Those who were endangered were the people that were involved in that.

And they were pushing themselves around. All the killings that they

had here, was among the gamblers. You know, we used to call the gamblers.

ai all of 4o05se -lfiCI c oere yvfo. ftket power,) you know they

were against it. The pacds 4qa {i1i was in control at the time. And, uh,

that's it. But, *OaB, as far as the individual citizen is concerned,

let me tell you +here was one rape here. I walked around Ybor City

at all hours of the day and night, and in the morning, and do know, I

never once was molested, or held up or anything by anybody.

G: txaA? H rvm .

P: Black or white...

G: Um hum.

P: Never. Never.

G: Um hum.
P: And all this was going on. Of course rumorsAalways flying around Ybor

City aBge dangerous place4,Abut to me, it wasn't. Bcro.uT I we- ,t-'a

They never threatened me.

G: Right.

P: But, like I say, the only killings that they had, were people that

were involved in that.

YBOR 29A Page 55

G: Right.

P: I mean, it's ab^r_ wstt-ni-Sf power play, so and so forth.

H: They wanted power, too. Well, actually...

P: See, aws change,.

G: Um hum.
V/e yO Minfc VO_ 'W/ +a
P: In other words, hell, w T here, now that aa gT "into it, -w about
Anglo-Sexons, the gi1 of police was involved. Not only that, but in

burglaries, he.' used to go out and sell protection, see? Buy this

shield here, and so and so forth, and, uh,...

H: (laughter) with you and you won't get home.
"3E dovl'+- cArc aib-U btLei I
P: h-, -on't kid with mc, -o._. But anyway,...

G: You don't have to.
anv evter.
P: Do you know, if you didn't get the protection, they used break i.T tr

Cause you used to get some of these koodlum _break in.

And that was the way you-*9 S get protection.

G: Right.

P: And, uh, the sheriff used to distribute moonshine.

G: Um hum.

P: See? all of them. Don't think they/Wow

here's a good example of what I'm trying to tell you. And it's a known
-lh& e_ Ccyy nY, if-
fact, even aifh -effTES here brought it out, .

his boys suve Anthony's distributors, right?

G: Um hum.

P: He, and ___ as a matter of fact, I helped him when he ig for

election--see? And he came out as sheriff, just before the war, and uh
of course, I left. And they would combine, a combination, see? He ws
k." C'1c 11 OA-)dd CS Cou"i- j. 4
i3r!=tCf gambling, b4tte 6_ permitted him to do that. So he.

YBOR 29A Page 56

got control of the gambling here, right? -f*ou wanted to gamble here,

you had to pay off. To who in turn gave it to Carver,


G: Huh.

P: So what happened? When the come in here to investigate,
---cn -bo1tt --l^-, ^" 0
and uh, they questioned Mr. Carver, he had what --he-thcvughh he-ad Lst

cash in his vault in his, uh, vault at home. See?

G: Um hum.

P; And by the way, his boy is, is president ofATampa Electric, see?

G: Right.

P: Now, Mr. had to leave town. Well, because he was an

Italian. He was a racketeer, see? Yet, he was a public official, you

know, that uh, actually should Jn been hung, because he's the one

that violated 4te trust of the citizens. Not Mr. .But

he's the one.

G: Um hum.

P: But they didn't do nothing to him.

G: Hum.

P: They asked him, he couldn't answer. He said, well, "I don't believe

in banks.' I '%e it-here, "ou know foney that wasn't accounted

for. But the other guy had to leave town.

G: When, uh, when Nick Nucchio became mayor, did you, what were your feelings,

the fact that he was a Sicilian--I mean, did you, did it make any

difference to you? That a Sicilian had finally won---

P:A Well, we had, we had some representatives here before that. We had

and'a few of them from Ybor City) butwhat did they do?
They made it city-wide after that, to break our power. You know, we

YBOR 29A Page 57

started getting political power in the and they did that

to break it.

G: Um hum.

P: See? You understand what I mean, even ah, ...


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