Title: Interview with Jose Vega Diaz (August 24, 1979)
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00006507/00001
 Material Information
Title: Interview with Jose Vega Diaz (August 24, 1979)
Physical Description: Book
Language: English
Publication Date: August 24, 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.
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Bibliographic ID: UF00006507
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 30

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SUBJECT: Jose Vega Diaz


DATE: August 24, 1980


Page 1

M: You were an old-timer by then, weren't you?

D: I am, I am an old man, by that time.

M: Hi, my name is Gary Mormino, and today, it's my pleasure to be talking

to Mr. Jose Vega Diaz. And Mr. Diaz, how, could you tell me something

about your family? What about your father? Where, where was he


D: He was born in Spain in

M: In huh?

D: yeah.

M: Well, uh, what did his family do over there?

D: Well, he come, uh, about fourteen years old when he

come to Cuba.

M: Yeah.

D: He come in a...vessel.

M: A vessel? Uh huh.

D: He take over three months to come from Spain to Cuba when...

M: Is that right?

D: Yeah, when he fourteen years old.

M: Uh ha.

YBOR 30A Page 2

D: can tell you

something when he went up to Tampa,

M: What did, what did his father do in the old country?

D: Oh, there's a uh, there's a cigar factory for the

let's a_, ......shipwreck

M: Shipcourt?

D: Yes, shipwreck...

M: In Spain?

D: No, no, Havana, Cuba. No, no, the St. Margaret. My wife and my

mother in Cuba. Oh, yes.

M: Um hum.

D: When she come, she 14 years old, when she come to Cuba. Yeah, she

learned to make job,

M: She learned to make cigars in Cuba?

D: No, he don't make cigars in Cuba. Only, uh, Ship from,


D: Ship see, cigar factory, yeah.

M: Um hum.

D: Ship

M: Right. Right.


M: Ship right.

D: Yeah.

M: Right. What about in Spain? What did he do in Spain?

D: In Spain, _, he was a :young fellow.

M: Young fellow. What about his father?

D: His father? I think he was a farmer.

YBOR 30A Page 3

M; Farmer, uh huh.

D: Yeah, I think it's in the, the where they born.

It's about three or four miles from, uh,

M: Um hum.

D: ...country.

M: Right.

D: That's where it is.

M: What's that area like in Spain? Could you describe it?

D: Oh, I can't describe Spain. No, too long. Ha, I haven't been in

Spain for...three or four times, yeah.

M: Right.

D: I was six years old when I there,


D: The people is good people, yeah.

M: Right.

D: You want to know if ?

M: Right. How did your father get to Tampa?

D: In boat. (chuckle)

M; In boat? (chuckle)

D: Yeah, my father used to work in there.

and we are seven brothers at that time. Ah, three

sisters, before I before the fourth...Yeah,

seven children. When my father come to Tampa. 1892, he come to Tampa,

with seven sons. They come to Tampa to live and work here, 16th St.

and llth Avenue. We come to Tampa at that time to live in Tampa. And,

he got back, he had a job, in the cigar factory. He

get a job at $14 a week, and he had seven, my, one of my oldest sisters...

YBOR 30A Page 4

D: I like that better.

M: Yeah, I think it will be a little less noisy then.

D: Yeah, you can uh, that rubber there, on this, this side here...the


M: Yeah. Uh, how did he learn to make cigars? When, uh, when did your

father learn to make cigars?

D: No, he don't make cigars, he work in the...

M: Oh, he was a clerk here too, in the Ybor factory.

D: yeah. And, uh, pick a packer .

M: Um hum.

D: The ship_

M: Um hum. Why, why, uh did he come to Tampa?

D: Because he had no job in Havana.

M: Um hum.

D: He had and my mother, they have

no job, you have to look for... They had an uncle.here. My mother's

fifth brother. He call her: and tell her

lots of jobs here.

M: Uh huh.

D: In cigar factories.

M: Uh'-huh; right.

D: And he, soon he come here, started working then, up to the end of

the war--cigar factory.

M: Was he involved in any of the political activities in Cuba with the

war and everything....

D: He was president of the Trader's Union, of the union.

M: He was president of the Trader's Union.

YBOR 30A Page 5

D: That's why they always get heavy.

M: Um.

D: union, yeah.

M: What was, what was the name of the union?

D: Oh, the same. They call it _in Cuba.

SI don't know how

they call it in English.

M: Um hum.

D: But it's.

Yeah, that's

M: Um hum. Yeah, right. What did uh, how did you describe Tampa in 1892?

What was Tampa like when he came?

D: Oh, well, uh .When we come to live here,

on this corner here, on 15th Avenue...

M: Uh huh.

D: Then we moved to Avenue, oh, then, this, uh,

from here, to 1503, this close. Then we moved to Martinez

we lived there by the coal mine. And

that's See,

call uh,

We live over, if we have to go to down in Ybor City, we have to walk

for the All this

M; Right. Yeah.

D: And the light, they have to use light in the kerosene lamp...

M: Um hum.

D: To walk around the streets. Yeah, because it's

YBOR 30A Page 6!

better with lamps.

M: Yeah. Well, what year were you born?

D: I was born in Havana.

M: What year?

D: I was born in Havana.

M: Yeah, what, what year? __?

D: Huh.

M: Yeah, what year were you born? In time? 1885, was it?

D: No, no, 1884.

M: 1884 you were born.

D: 1884, on December 21.

M: 1884.

D: 1884, yeah.

M: Right, right. And you came to Tampa, what year, about?

D: About seven years old, not quite eight.

M: Seven years old.

D: Yeah, we come in October 9, 1892.

M: 1892.

D: Yeah. On October 9, 1892.

M: Um hum.

D: On a steamboat only

M: Right,

D: We reach to Tampa about three o'clock.

M: Is that right?

D: And they would come Red Road to Street, and yeah,

Street, and 6th AvenueT

M: Um hum. Right. What did you think of Tampa? Ah,compared to, how

YBOR 30A Page 7

did Tampa compare to Havana?

D: Oh, can't ,can't .

M: Why?

D: Well, because we have in Havana at that time, we had a boat, we had

a seaport, in Havana. Now the seaport go to

Tampa by nine months of the year. That's uh, what they told me

we go to Tampa, when we come to Tampa, we come to

We come to Tampa. Tampa is, uh, three miles from here, I think.

Down south, See, I don't want to come to Tampa,

I cry, night before, uh, they had to call a little girl to come

to tell me that Tampa is a good place, that it's beautiful, see?

(chuckle) And I don't know, when I got to Tampa, right?

M: Well...

D: Then we come to live in-a little town. We moved many place from

here. No, noooo...it's clean, there aren't no Latins, no, no.

you know. No electric light, no nothing,nothing. And sometimes in

the _, that place

... a small light, electric light, By

was something like...

M: Did you uh, did you have any relatives here?

D: Roes?

M: Relatives.

D: Oh no, only my, my sister and my mother's brother. That's all.

M: How did your mother like Tampa? Ybor City? Oh, yeah, she liked it.

My family liked Tampa, __like Ybor City.

like it, because I liked whbre we had

M: Um hum.

YBOR 30A Page 8

D: espanol, espanol, that's the only

they had at that time.

M: What, what was the, uh, ...what was the Center

Espanol like at that time?

D: It was very good, because all the families, all the Spanish families

joined there every Sunday. We had a...

M; What would you do every Sunday. What would you do on Sunday?

D: On Sulday, we had a uh,

M: ?

D: Yeah, uh, ha.

M: What's a ?

D: A Spanish

M: Like a dance, you mean? Or...

D: Oh,

M: Huh.

D: Oh, that's the Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.

M: I guess I can look it up in the dictionary.

D: Yes,

Oh, no, you can_

there. The family that lives here.

M: Oh, well, don't worry...

D: pizza bread, you like?

M: Oh, okay, okay, I get it.

D: A light.

M: Oh, okay.


YBOR 30A Page 9

M: What, what...


M: Yeah, what would you do on Sundays this _?

D: Well, we would go there, and do little bit

I went to school full time. I go to learn cigar making. When I

I was 40 years old.

M: Um hum. You quit school?

D: Huh?

M: Did you quit school?

D: Ah, no. I go free. They send me to learn cigar maker, because my

father make me. And I, that's the way I went to school

here. The school espanol, see?

And I--that's the way, that's why

I come to Ybor City. Ybor City is the same if you stay in Havana.

Only Spanish. You talk English, speak English, not

Spanish. Uh, _, when they grow, grow, grow. The Spanish,

the Spanish, the Spanish, that's why they go, I speak English.

M: Uh huh. Right. Where, where did you learn how to make cigars?

D: Huh?

M: Where, where did you learn to make cigars?

D: I went to work at the cigar factory

M: Uh huh.

D: ...around 18, 1883, in 13 Avenue, along

of May--March.

M: This was 1896 then, right? You learned to make cigars?

D: No, 186?

YBOR 30A Page 10

M: 1896. You learned to make cigars then?

D: Oh, yes, by that time, yeah.

M: Why, how long did it take you?

D: Huh?

M: How long did it take you to make cigars? Learn to make cigars?

D: Why, two years,

what it mean.

M: Do you want me to ask Maria?

D: Yeah.

M: Oh, okay.

(break in tape)

D: What is the Span...

M: that's the word we were looking for,

D: We have that every Sunday. We have the

M: Oh, okay, Well,...


D: That's what I tell you.

M: Okay, in your, in your cigar experience, uh, tell

me how you learned to make cigars.

D: Well, how you learn. They put me in place beside one of the cigar makers.

M: Um hum.

D: And they tell me, they go inside the

cigars. make that, I give to

him, I make a roll and give to him, and that's

very good, then they send me to learn how to make the cigar,

M: How much did you make your first job?

D: Oh...


YBOR 30A Page 11

M: I've been working for so many years. I been working make cigars until,

until I...1926. At that time, I quit making them.

M: Yeah. But, how much did they pay you your first job? Do you remember?

What did you make?

D: Oh, yeah...

M: Money, money...

D: Uh, fourteen dollars for a 1000. Fourteen dollars for a 1000. I can,

I can make thousand, because uh, I make uh, one, 25, 100, 150,

at first. After that, I

make many kinds of cigars. Used to make about 1200, 1200 a week.

M: Um hum.

D: Under one thousand two hundred a week.

M: Why, what were, uh, did you join a union?

D: Ah, yeah, I joined the union.

M: What was the name of the first union you joined?

D: Oh,


D: _, yeah.

M: What was that like? Tell me, describe that.

D: All the cigar factories, the cigar makers, pick a pack, select them,

to one of the, every one of the cigar

factories joined the union.

M: Why, why did you join the union?

D: Why we--I joined the union?

M: Why, yeah, uh, huh.

D: Why, for better conditions in the cigar, in the cigar, the workers,

yeah, and the conditions. Because the cigar manufacturers want to

YBOR 30A Page 12

take more, more of the money...

M: Uh huh.

D: ...the, (chuckle)

M: Right.

D: They very bad...

M: Uh huh.

D: You know, they had sometimes, the

Used to pay, I tell you, the small cigars--$14 a thousand. They pay

$14 for a thousand. When, then they charge you from the main hall,

and they give you the same job, the same size in the uh, downstairs,

another whole, and pay you a lot less. Because

they make you a scraps--pick to put inside the cigars.

They put that stuff, they put it. in better

they get two dollars less, and save the material

for the cigars, for the tobacco.

M: Uh huh.

D: Now, now, you get a surprise because I talk too much. (laughter)

M: What, uh, you must have known, uh, Mr. Ybor.

D: Huh?

M: He was, did you ever meet Mr. Ybor?

D: Oh, yes,

M: What was he like?

D: He was a fat man.

M: Uh huh.

D: It's He used to

live on this block here.

M: Yeah. What kind of, of a owner was he?

YBOR 30A Page 13

D: He was a good fellow. Yeah, a good man.

M: If he was a good man, why did you need a union?

D: Oh, well, there many cigar factory. Not all the

manager of the cigar factory here. Yeah.

M: You ever, ever remember Ybor having a picnic for the workers? And going

out on his carriage?

D: No.

M: No?

D: No, I don't remember that, no. No, Ybor

M: Right. What, what who were the leaders in ?

D: IN ? Leader? Well, the main secretary

is not, is no president, they have only a secretary. They call, uh,

That's the name of the

They had to We forgot them, because if they catch

him, they kill him. They kill him.

M: So he was

D: The strike, uh, when we had a strike, the main strike, and the only

other strike that we love that strike

so much, strike, and they had to, he had to

because if they catch him, they kill him. That was

when would strike. They uh, one night, the

city committee, they come from __, the city committee, go

around in the night, and take those men who belong to the committee,

men, they take them and, take them away into a vessel

from here. In Honduras, they put them in, in the shore, and they

say go that way. Walk that way.

M: Hum.

YBOR 30A Page if

D: And those, they work their way, and they find an Indian. From there,

the Indian ask, they ask, the way, is this the way to go to

the main city? No, that's the way to go to the

The men, they, only while there, they go to the wrong, to the south.

way, and that way, they got to

They go thier way to somewhere. They never come back to Tampa,


M: Who was, who was kidnapped? Who did they send to Honduras? What were,

what were their names?


M: The men who they -took do you remember?

D: Oh, I... No, I don't remember. I know one, but I don't... They

call Mike. See, Mike used to be

of the He was one of the uh, committee.

M: Uh huh.

D: Mike. They say this president of the, of the city committee.

they call him. they take

power of, ah, many fo them would strike. When

strike, another strike would happen here, they call it Seven, Seven

Months Strike, they call, uh, they catch two fellows that don't belong

to the cigar factory, the cigar makers, anything. One have a

and another is a cop. Uh, insurance collector,

One night, in the hanger. And they put a

sign, seven more.

M: What, what did the sign say?

D: We, we gonna get seven more.

YBOR 30A Page i1

M: Seven more.

D: (chuckle)

M: How about yourself? Did you ever uh, receive discrimination?

D: Well, uh, not exactly, well, we sometimes I had to hide myself, because

they, I had to take care because I used to be

of the the committee for

no But the has control to do it.

They had to go, hide myself, because I'd be afraid of that. One

friend of mine, that used to be the president of

They had to quit from Tampa, too, one night, we had to take him, uh,

by railroad, by automobile to Lakeland, so he could go on his way from

Tampa. Because if they catch him, they kill him, too.

M: He was president of what, now?

D: Of


D: They call him when the. uh, the

committee, the the union, all the cigars

makers, everybody...

M: IWW, was that the same thing?

D: No.

M: IWW, no.

D: that's what it was called. That's

what they call it in English. Uh, we

call it in espanol,

All the __ belonged to the factory, had a member

that belong to that committee.

M: Okay, what was the first strike you were involved in? Do you remember?

YBOR 30A Page 13

What year?

D: What, when I was a cigar maker? Well, the first time that I worked

in the But before I, before I was,

before I am a cigar maker, I had another strike. They call


D: They would charge you on the main floor, and

they give you another uh, the same job on the other floor, and two

dollars less. They, that is take down in

wages. And they wouldn't. They in that. They take down the wages,

yeah. ?o

M: Do you remember the wa strike, the wa--t strike of 1899? Where they

said you had to, uh, make so many cigars per pound of tobacco? Were

you involved in that one?

D: Oh, yeah, yeah, that the uh, second one. That's the second strike

that Yeah. We win that. We win

that strike.

M: Tell me, tell me about that strike.

D: You know, that strike come because of the--my brother at that time,

at that time, my brother died, by that

time. My brother, before that, the would be so bad,

he had put a kitchen to give a dinner to the cigar makers. After

that, when he start to work again, they put a scale in the factory, so

that they, they say you have to, because the uh, tobacco cuts too, too

hard, it cuts too much in. Weigh the, chip, Spanish

chip in Havana tobacco to Tampa.

You see? And then, the cigar talk too much. And he

said that to the cigar makers, so that he the scale,

YBOR 30A Page 14

so the safe, the cigar makers a right. For the

cigar maker to allow one cigar maker that don't work there, ask for

a job in there, went to work in there, and then make the others, the

cigar makers go on a strike. They started a strike, we come and we

go, we come and we go, and nobody got to work there. So they, my

brother, he says, why don't the manager of the

cigar factory call manufacturer, and tell him that

they him. Together they make, the cigar makers make

this, the scale in the factory. The other cigar manufacturer go

and close the cigar factory.

M: Huh.

D: They, if you want to go inside again, you have to wait for the scale.

But nobody go, so they allow the cigar, all the cigar factory manufact-

urers open the factory at the and they go to the

committee, committee then say, "All right, but _." We don't

want nothing. We don't want you to put the scale that. That's what

we want. And we to make a union. Then when

they started the then the union at that time.

My brother was, oh, two months later, after that, he

opened the cigar factory calling committee,

M: So you won that one?

D: Yeah.

M: Did you win any others?

D: No, that the only one. (chuckle)

M: That's the only one you won.

D: We won two before that. That's the there.

M: Tell me about the

YBOR 30A Page 15

D: I tell you before.

M: Oh, that was about the uh,

D: in one floor, they give you

the change over to a different floor, and two dollars less.

M: Huh. Well, you were in Tampa during the Spanish American war.

D: Oh, yeah, yeah, I come in 19--1892, and the Spanish American war

was in 1898.

M: What do you remember about the war?

D: Well, I remember the soldiers here.

M: Um hum.

D: There were many soldiers here, that the war.

M: Do you remember any incidents?

D: Oh, yeah, a few incidents. I saw one, I saw one. And I see another

one. The funny one is the one By that time, there

was three here. three

Only had the motor and two wheels,and four wheels. This small

cars. ANd uh, they used to have a and park meadow,

they is down called Palmetto

Beach, something there, by 32th Street over there?

M: Um hum.

D: Palmetto Beach, they have a picnic there. And many soldiers, three

carloads ftll of soldiers go by here, and they, there was three cars

going that way at one time to be out of the track.

Is about by 23. That was the only No, no, no break

in street, only the Red Road, the track ANd they,

all the soldiers get out of the car, like

on the track. All right? When they, they know how to

YBOR 30A Page 16

pave by that time, yes. Many of the collectors, the private collectors

come around and say, "No, no, we don't pay now. We don't pay, we wait,

we wait until we have to put..."' No, you have to pay. No, no,

the streetcar had_

the one in the back took the out. ANd

SThen, everybody go out on the track,

Take out the track again,

SThat's one

My mother's It's in uh, 7th Avenue,

yeah, You know, they, when they, the soldiers come to Tampa, they


be sweet.

M: Um hum.

D: Don't be sweet with the soldiers. They're rough

So And that time; they

used to have the policemen, they skid man, all men, they

,_. And they catch one soldier,

drunk on 14th Street and 7th Avenue, and then try to take to the

courthouse there. _, where the boys,

the call him that time,

They call them that now, what did they call that then? The, the police

car, they take the away.

M: Paddy-wagon now.

D: Uh ha, paddy wagon. Yeah, when they call it, they try to take the

man from the first, the 14th Street, another soldier come to take the....

The policemen get a, a jack, throw down,and they

keep going. they carry

away, and take him in the paddy wagon, yeah.

YBOR 30A Page 17

M: Hum.

D: That one, see, that's one, that one I saw

M: Um hum.

D: The other one, I hear about that.

M: Uh hum. That's really something. Now, you were--uh, being a Spainard,

uh, what did you think? Whose side were you on? During the Spanish-

American WAr?

D: Well, uh, the side of the Spanish.

M: Uh ha.

D: but I know I .After that, I

know I roam. But, because my father is Spanish.

M: That must have been rather

D: My father, my father believe me, we

going the Spanish, now, no chances,

M: Yeah, Did, were you critized for this at the time? Did you suffer

any uh...

D` I was a young fellow at a time, and I...yeah, at that time in

M: Did they close down the Centro Espanol? The government?

D: Yeah, they closed the Centro Espanol.

M: Why?

D: Because they close it. Because they said that we had a... the Spanish

had, the Centro Espanol had the Certainly don't want

to keep Spanish

M: The truth?

D: No, no.

M: No.

D: Why they tell the truth?

YBOR 30A Page 18

M: How about the Cubans here? What did they think of the...?


M: Did you get along with the Cubans at that time?

D: Yeah, Some were raised with me, and they were

Cubans too.

M: Um hum.

D: Yeah, I like, I like Cubans. And my mother Cuban.

M: Um hum. Right, right.

D: There many Cubans, I don't mind the Cubans, but the Italians, yeah.

M: When did, when did the Italians come to Tampa?

D: It was uh, before I.

M: Before you came?

D: When they come to Tampa, yeah, many Italians were in town, yeah.

M: They were? Where did they live?

D: Around that section there. From 17th Street

down to 22nd and over from 10th Avenue, that section there.

M: How would you describe the Italian community?

D: Italian...

M: What were they like?

D: They like--had many friends, their families, they

All my life, I have Italian friends. All my life.

M: How, how were they different from, from Spanards and Cubans? How

would you clarify them?

D: There are lots of work together

in the cigar factory, yeah. In the cigar factory,if youtwere Spanish,

you were negroes, uh, American negroes, Italian, all together in the

YBOR 30A Page 19

cigar factory.

M: Uh huh.

D: No, the discrimination alone. Everybody worked together, yeah. Yeah,

you worked here with one Cuban, another Spainard here, another Italian

there, or together...

M: Um hum.

D: They did that.

M: Right. Right.

D: They talk about why different yeah, (chuckle)

M: Um hum.

D: They same seat for the...

M: Um hum. Right. Ah, during the 1901 strike...

D: 1901, that's That's...

M: Okay, now, I read somewhere that the Italians were, were strike-breakers.

Is that right?

D: Italians, Italians, no. No, you can It may be that

some Italians were--not you can say only Italians, because they see,

breakers is the Cubans, Spainish, Italian, Nigger--everyone is a strike-


M: Um hum.

D: For you cannot say that one section of the city is the one to break it,


M: Um hum. That was a, tell me about the 1901 strike.

D: That's the It was long, because, uh, you

know, the scale strike, the cigar makers would win the strike and

make the union, make the

And then the The manufacturer tried

YBOR 30A Page 20

to make a condition in--he make another, another..._

The call a and then they--

the iHternational union, the it's alright.

But together, but after that, make some--talk, they...

M: Um hum.

D: The have a, a one factory they have

SSo now, everybody said the union, they said the reputation,

only one They make a closed shop.

For the only. So the international union,

went to one factory there, and

on 21st and 15th Avenue, yeah. And they, from the

outside the factory, and after that, the

tell the manufacturer they the strike. Closed shop; That's

what they tried. The tried. We asked them for

closed shop. Only We lost. (chuckle)

many strike-breakers at that time, yeah.

M: Um hum.

D: You know how it is. The have $18,000. Twenty-seven

thousand dollars, and the bank, the uh, city committee. Well, the

bank has money come out. So they joined

the All the way from Havana, from New York,

the money come in, they send the money to help us, to

And then, they put a and uh, some place in the city,

maybe the catina. So the uh, people go there, get into the catina for

free, and the city committee come and around. And

after that, we had to give the, the

Right every thing they got from them.

YBOR 30A Page 21

M: What did you do during the strike? What was your role?


M: Oh, yes.

D: Yeah.

M: Can you be a little more specific? I mean, what, what kind of things

would you do?

D: Well, we... on that one strike, I live in Ybor City. But when the

strike, we live in downtown, over there by

_. Around, around, we had a

_. Around the corner, we went there

to It takes, working in the same labor camp.

I come everyday. Walk downtown to the labor camp in Ybor City. On

the labor camp on 7th Avenue, you know where at?

M: Where Cress's is? Uh ha.

D: Cress', yeah.

M: What would you do at the labor temple? What kind of activities did

you join?

D: Oh, talk about each other.

M: Right. Would you, would you call yourself a socialist? At that time?

D: Well, at that time. Yeah, a socialist? Yeah.

M: Yeah, would be socialistic because of the, everyone,

the laborer get ah, better conditions if the socialists coming. So

it's supposed to be that.

M: Well, what, what did socialism mean to you?

D: Some, some people, they're not socialists? It's a

M: What's that?

D: .That's a

YBOR 30A Page 22

One kind of a rule, Some kind of

people have it.

M: Government--do you remember the names of any anarchists? In Tampa?

D: Oh, well I can't remember...

M: NO?

D: Not anybody in particular.


YBOR 30A page 23

M: Sure, why not? How about a .

D: Another name One is a

the first they go work.. We keep the war against

the Cubans is the last main, and the last

He don't count. He

M: You remember Lorenzo PAntepinto when he came to town?

D: What, I remember when he come to temple for I think

that's what we

M: Pontepinto?

D: Pontepinto, yeah.

M: How about M acwXt ?

D: MctdV- yeah, Sophie. Was an old man.

M: What'd he have to say?

D: Eh,

M: Do you remember anything about him, or what he said?

D: What he said, yeah. Went to one meeting, had a meeting on

Tenth Avenue, we had a meeting there.

He talks very good. Except

M: Did he talk in Spanish or Italian?

D: Oh, Italian. The way, he, it's funny. It's funny,

he took Spanish, yeah, although he's no good in Spanish,

we understand.-what"he say. Yes, a good man. good men

of that. I know...

M: Let me... all right, escave. EsiLve, does that ring a bell?

D: Esivye, yes, everybody knows that. Yeah. We used to have a

club of the president of the club.

M: Which club is that?

YBOR 30A page 24

D: _. It's a good ...

M: What club was he president of?

D: A club they call means the light. A

the light. They, we called them there. We had a few

laughs. We talk of a real

that's what we.

M: Were you an officer of the club?

D: Officer?

M: Officer.

D: No, tables. One is, we all go in this together. We

did not have every, almost every night, we were

in read the papers I

talked to you about that. We don't keep (Laughs)

It's better to _long time. He had a

paper then. I think he had a paper. Called, called it a

or something like that. Wake up.

M: Um hmm. What about the 1910 strike? 1910.

D: 1910? Well, as called like a strike.

M: Lacampa.

D: Lacampa strike. 1910 is the one because we had a

committee, and they, they don't use some

Before the committee, he say, "Pray with God or __.

They make a good for the cigars. People the

of the cigar. some kind of people,


So, Lacampa committee, establish private

factories. Make it a bigger strike basking a,

YBOR 30A page 25

You used to.

M: Who won that strike?

D: the factory.

M: The factory?

D: Yeah, the rats, they tried to break us

That he won, and we lost two we lost.

M: What did you do. .?

D: A lousy cigar factory

This is 1926. I quit the factory, I

furniture collector and now.

M: Let's, uh, on that 1910 strike, what did you during the strike?

How did you eat?

D: How did we eat? We had to get money from the Union. We got

money from the Union that time, yeah. Yeah, they paid us

five dollars a week.

M: What you, um, how long was that strike, why -----------19 ?

D: Seven months.

M: Seven months., right. How about the 1920 strike?

D: That get ten months.

M: Ten months, yeah. Who won that?

D: The

M: Tell me about that strike.

D: Well. The same thing, we close up. Because we were at

from that cigar makers. Is

the American labels. President Wilson

called to join a, one committee with a

YBOR 30A page 26

another man, in the factory. The people

who have the money. They wanted join in together

and bring so they in the country, so we go

to and and when

they, when they going

I am a I am the President of America for


At that time I belonged to a Union, yes, I belonged to a Union

mnay times, and that time they

you had to make a there, because the manufactory all

be united one reduced the the lable there.

everybody, so they take

the how they like it. Because

United States they had to be

At that time

That way, strike in

the committee here a cigar maker. And these

people assumed that you

If you get a strike in one factory, the third week

charge you of the cigar maker.

It uses strike

charge everybody from the

strike that way. We had to

(End side one)

HILLS CO 30A page 27
tape side 2

D: .in Spanish.

M: No, no, this is excellent. You speak your language very well.

You do. What. .

D: I try to become

M: On this 1920 strike, were there any radicals involved? Socialists,


D: No, no. because that we are to

M: What's that, now?

D: Guccia, Guccia Labels that have union

they say that ya, they say that we are

priced low, we are.

M: Bolsheviks?

D: No, we

Break a strike, a strike breaker.

M: Did you stay in Tampa?

D: Oh, yeah, yeah.

M; Did you ever go back to Key West or


M: Yeah. During the strikes sometimes, would your friends leave

town? During the strikes of 1901, or 1910, or 1920? What would

the Cubans do in town?

D: Oh, many go to Havana, to be _, to New York to Jacksonville,

yeah, many go to Yeah, many people go to get

Family. ... some men don't come back to Tampa, it's too low.

HILLS CO 30A page 28

Some come back to Tampa.

M: Oh, why would they leave?

D: __. Many go to New York,

Havana, and never come back, to Key West.

M; Do you remember a strike with the Internation Workers of the

World? The IWW?

D: That's what I tell you, the IWW. That's what everybody called

the Mundo.

M: The Workers of the World, right.

D: Yeah, that's what I said, they, they cigar maker


M: How about the 1931 strike?

D: I don't be there. I quit the cigar factory in 1926.

M: Okay, why'd you quit?

D: I don't remember that.

M: Yeah, this was over the the readers.

D: Oh, yeah, the

M; Tell me about the

D: I, it's a good feeling, we had an because the

manufacturers __, because they don't want

it. No. Yeah, we had a We sat next to the

and we'd select the paper, too, that we got. Yes, the book,

we'd pick the book, and we had the news. American paper, the

Spanish paper, and we had some paper, too. The


M: Why not, why didn't the manufacturers want them?

D: Because, I could tell you in Spanish. I can't. .

YBOR CO 30A page 29

M: Tell me in Spanish, then try to tell me in English. Tell me

in Spanish first.

D: You know

in every place they have a school teacher, a school teacher. In

every town

and they had every time, had

That's why they don't want any.

In every town, in every town, they had a one light, the school

teacher the preachers

they put out the light.

M: Very interesting. Sure. Who were some of the electorates you


D: You need one.

M: Who? Is that one still here, lives here?

D: Yeah, that one lives here.

M: What's his name?

D: Rodriguez He used live, he lives

M: Does he speak English?

D: I think he speaks English.


D: Ask remember his name. "Mr. Rodriguez, yes,

it's two brothers." Mexicanos.

M: What would they read, what kind of things? What kind of books?

D: A Spanish book called a novella.

A Spanish book. Good books, and then a novella,

M: How much would you pay the reader a week?

D: Well, first, we paid by four to eight weeks. After that

YBOR CO 30A page 30

we paid seventy dollars, fifty dollar, seventy

dollars a week, and we collected money and we paid one man,

the president of the electoral, He's the

one that collected money. He was the one we paid. ----

That, you know, that is where learned to watch

the clock. And when they went to cigar makers, the

men teach me cigars, it's the president of the readers. President.

And he tells me, when that, the clock goes to that time, the

hands go this way, you ring the bell. And

the way I learned how to watch the clock. Before that, the

school doesn't teach that, so I was about

20 years old when I learned to...the clock.

M: Well, what did the church do in Ybor City?

D: The church? Used to be You see, one of the

M: Would you go to church?

D: When I went to school, yeah. I went to school there. I went

to church. And after that, I had another, the other

there, I go to the

church there because I went to see the

M: Was this a religious community, would you say? Ybor City?

D: Yeah.

M: It was?

D: Oh, many people go to school, to church, and that

M: How about the men? Would the men?

D: Not so many men. All most women and boys and girls.

M: Hmm. Trying to think of some other things. Would you do it

YBOR CO 30A page 31

over, would you be a cigar worker over again? If you had a


D: Oh, no, no. You're always out to the factory.

Its bad dreams.

M: Bad dreams?

D: Yeah, bad dreams.

M: Why, what are you doing?

D: Bad dreams because you know, we start, when I go up to the work

we start at 6:00 in the morning,

till 6:00 in the evening. Twelve hours our

factory. Well, after that, we started by later than that, but

when we finished late, when I dream about cigar factory,

late, late, I cannot finish, I cannot finish,

I had too many scratches, ___ cigar factory.

I don't like cigar factories. At first, I liked them, but

I don't like And last

time good morning, and wake

very good, but, I don't like it.

M: What do you think of Ybor City today?

D: The city today? Let me see. better than

before. Better than before in one time, in one season, because

they're going to be most gonna be better. At

that time, probably live We all

joined the club, and then almost died because the

people lived too far, they too much. The

whole county the same way, everything too far.

too far from the At that time, they had many,

we had no doctor in Ybor City, no doctor.

YBOR CO 30A page 32

M: What would you do for a good time? In Ybor City?

D: What? I played bingo. That's all

M: I mean when you were a young man, what would you do?

D: Oh.

M: On a Saturday night, what would you do on a Saturday night?

D: Dance, dance. I went to the theatre,

see a movie feature, many movie features in that time. Now,

in Ybor City. Now we have a television. Everything

changed. I am a When I

my own. This one belonged to me because I paid for it. What

a differ. I am ninety five

M: You'll be 95.

D: I am 95.

M: Are you the oldest person here, in the complex?

D: I am 95. and my birthday, 95. That's

only eighteen before

M: Well, listen, I'd like to thank you very much. You've been very

enjoyable. Maybe I can come back again, when you can talk again,


D: Better if you learn the Spanish, English. .

You know I don't learn English but as I tell you, because when

I come to Ybor City, Ybor City is Havana. Same Cuban.

I went to the school learn here Spanish, English,

book, letter, read a book. Spanish. I go to a club, it's

Spanish. Every place where you go is Spanish. You go to the

dry-goods store, or you go to the grocery store, it's Spanish,

they don't talk English, nobody talks English. Only a few, the

ones who used to live in New York, or some other place. My uncle

YBOR CO 30A page 33

when I came to Tampa, he's forty years old in the United States.

My uncle. He's from Havana too. So everybody took Spanish so


Learn English right away. You are Italian?

M: Si.

D: Italian family.

M: Italiano, poco, poco.

D: Uh uh. Why do talk Italian too? Many Italians

My grandson, I had a grandson that took Spanish and English. I

had to forget my English with him.

M: Listen, I'd like to thank you very much. Thank you.

(End of tape)

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