This Oral History is copyrighted by the Interviewee
and Samuel Proctor Oral History Program on
behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of
Copyright, 2005, University of Florida.
All rights, reserved.
This oral history may be used for research,
instruction, and private study under the provisions
of Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of United States
Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section
107) which allows limited use of copyrighted
materials under certain conditions.
Fair use limits the amount of materials that may be
For all other permissions and requests, contacat the
SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
INTERVIEWER: GARY MORMINO
INTERVIEWEE: FRANK GIUNTU
PLACE: TAMPA, FL
M: This is Mr. Frank Giuntu. Mr. Giuntu, why don't we begin in chronological order.
About your family, could you tell me something about your family and sister, when
you were growing up? What did your father and grandfather do in the old country.
G: To begin with, my parents applied for a voyage to the United States, in other words
to immigrate to this country. And they were put in line, to be notified when their
turn came. When their turn came, they took the whole family to Palermo, and as I
understand it, everyone that was to leave the country had to be examined. At that
time, I must have been about a year, maybe a year and a half old, and when they examined
me I had sore eyes, and the doctor refused to give me any medicine. He said that they
would not take anyone aboard who had any physical defects whatsoever and my eyes were
sore so I could not go aboard. And they could either leave me or they could all stay
whichever they wished. My grandmother being present and knowing what a hard time
people had because of the quota that they established at that time, if they did not
go that time, they would have been put on the back, in other words of that quota, and
it might have been several years and maybe never get there but my family could come
over to America. So my grandmother suggested that they all go and leave me with her,
which they did.
M: Hard decision huh? Now what year would this have been? What year were you born?
G: I was born in 1906.
M: O.K. so this is 1907, 1908.
G: We might have been in 1907 because my father came after me and we got here in 1911.
M: What did your father do before he immigrated to America, what kind of occupation?
G: I really do not know but I believed and they believed that they were all agriculturists
over there you know what I mean? Because when my father came you
see in 1911, I would have been four and a half to five years old. So I really did not
know my father or my mother or any of the members of my family besides my brothers
and I had three step-sisters because my mother had been married before she married
my father. And so when my father came to Italy to get me, he came by himself and
being, like I said four and a half to five years old, and having never seen my father
or my mother I was scared of him. -You'know-l did not know who he was, he was just a
stranger to me. So I can not give you much background that concerns my parents in
I taly4 _-'carrnot-do-thaet.
M: Now do you remember Sicily?
G: I remember Sicily, /C6 s
M: Tell me what you remember, this was in SO'qn ic) " L FO ?
G: This was in S i--i ^ < i- As I remember, I would go from my grandmother
which was my paternal grandmother, to the house of my maternal grandfather, who was
living also, at the other end of town. And with him my uncle had left three children,
likewise he had come to this country at the same time my father and mother did and
was living in this country with my father and my mother. And so my maternal grand-
father had living with him three children, and one of the three was named Frank, which
was my first cousin and he used to take me to the country every once in a while to the
land, in other words that it was owned by my maternal grandfather, and I remember
sleeping out there under the stars at night out in the field and hearing the crickets.
M: You told me once several months ago that you recalled the scene about people carrying
water from the mountain. Was that you or someone else? I1I
G: No, I remember seeing people carrying water from the main thoroughfare from
-yes- which was -ng'-- .,-in toerh %iords-this-was something that was
below street level. The water must have been coming from the mountains and the water
S was clear, fresh and clean and the people usedto come form all over to fill their
S which are these clay jars and fill it for drinking purposes. And this
clean, pure, cold water coming down from the mountain, which I did not find there when
I went there the last time. I understand that that water has been distributed to
all the rest of the villages which like the water. But one thing that I remember clear-
ly that came to mind the other day, when you read this week about Halley's Comet which
was supposed to appear again in 1985. While I was living with my grandmother, Halley's
Comet showed up. I realize now that it could not have been any other comet except
that and the comet, it was not like here-that you had to strain to see it, it was big,
just like you go out, and it seemed to me that it lasted maybe a week because every
night when it got dark there was that thing anmd I remember because my grandmother was
old and I was a child and the way that she feared that thing, because people were
saying that the world was coming to an end.And we could see that comet with a big tail
every night to the east, I remember looking this direction here. Every night I would
get up and see that thing and just tremble because my grandmother used to put her hands
together and pray that it may not happen that this thing would strike the earth, which
means we would all die. And now it says that it will come back again in 1985, that
is 's discovery and Halleyi:, found out when it would come back.
M: Do you remember any of the chuches there?
G: The churches as I remember were the, I do not remember the name of the church but I
do remember that there was at church where they used to celebrate the resurrection
every year and we were not far from what they called the
M: What was that?
G: That was like a convent where the, i*t' was being. operated by some monks which used to
participate in all the celebrations that they used to have, you know the Catholic
celebrations. Another thing I remember was the crucifixion on the hill. This was
another yearly thing that used to take place on top of one of hills on the outskirts
of the city or village of Orij And I always used to follow the
crowd even at that agevyor-know.
M: Now were you getting reports from your family, thatyTou _ereaware of at this time
O0 how they were doing in America?
G: Nothing at all. You see at that age nothing was communicated to me, I did not think
it was important and since I had never known my father or mother or members of my
family, I did not even inquire. The only ones I knew were the ones I had anything to
do with there which was my cousin Frank whic-h would once in a while come and take me
-r, iK --
and put me on horseback and take me to the country, property which -wa cultivated
which my grandfather owned and which the family had left. There was the wheat and they
had fruit and so forth and that is where we used to go and spend time in those little
pieces of property in the outskirts.
M: So when your father came to get you, do you remember what happened then?
G: Well, we made peace at last. I remember he must have brought some chocolate candy, I
remember it was chocolate, and it was wrapped up in tin foil. So that was something
really that in a little town like that, children do not enjoy and so we began: to make
friends with the candy and the boy.i
M: I just remembered and we can go back, did your family have a at that time?
How did you get around when you went to the country? Did you walk or did you...
G: No, we used to go by horseback or mule or donkey, I do not remember which it was. I was
too young. But I know that that is the way, it was quite a distance from the village to
the country where this piece of property was. And this concerns my family, let's go
back again. -We were as a family;.in other words, if my family had been there like you
said, they--o d..have-one --e' chOrch'+ike you said and they would have gone to church
or someplace and taken the whole family we probably might have had some. But as it was,
jIiS-s my grandmother with whom I was left was a widow, and she lived alone / .i' !'
it was me and her.
M: Now when your father came to get you, did your grandmother come too or did she stay
G: No, she stayed there.
M: Oh, she never did come to America?
G: No, she never did come to America. She stayed there, she owned her home there, her hus-
band had left it, and she died there alone. She would not come. So I can not tell you
about Grandma'5life as far as I am concerned.
M: Describe you trip to America, how did you get from southernm-.. to Palermo?
G: From smothea to Palermo, that is where we used to __. _
remember. With my father, my father's brother-in-law with him, my cousinr -thli- -was.
living with my maternal grandfather. Two girls and one boy, this was the one who used
to take me out to thq country. So it was my father, my three cousins, and myself in
this _. And we left SarrTT $- O',o in the afternoon, and I remember we
stopped somewhere a4 for the night before we got to the railroad stations which they
called And from I believe we went to Palermo.
M: What did you think of Palermo when you saw-it?
G: Well Palermo impressed me as being a big city. I remember when we got there in the
morning, we were in a big, big building, being a small child, it looked bigger than ever
to me. And do not-kaow-what we had for breakfast, they gave us bread and they gave
us wine in the morning, can .you imagine that? And the vgay number of people were dipping.
-t4e4 aipe cutting the bread in long pieces and dipping it in the wine. A little bit
later we were waiting to depart and so I went out of the building and we went across the
street and there was a park there and which I did finally get to know when we went back,
and the park had a high wall around it and on this wall there were some fountains,
flowing fountains, drinking fountains, which to me was something new, different from
t- i'- because it had faucets which you could squeeze -t,. like two ears,
and the water would come out when you squeezed it. I remember as a child doing that
and when I went back there, I think I still saw these fountains there now. You may
go up there and find them. So was one thing that :pressed me, that
I had never seen a train. And before we got there from the mountains, when you look
down, you see and ... must have had some T-lF sCeYIe could see
those- trains disappear inside the mountain or what, .se I did not know what it was
all about. .5 I could see this long train disappearing inside the mountain find to
me that was one of the strangest things that I saw as a child,d- hen after we left
Palermo I was very much impressed on the way here, going on the ship on the way here
To this country on the high seas, at night we must haveAsome other ship and it seemed
to me like it was all decorated so pretty, it had a lot of lights it seemed to me. fight
not have been that many but to me it was decorated like something that you see at
Disney World. I suppose coming from a country where you do not see any lights like that
might have seemed to me like it had that many lights. And then in the daytime, I would
stand on the deck and look out and see the great big ships, the ship that we were in
would seem to go down, down, down as if you took a bedsheet from four couners and put
the ship in the middle, a small ship and it would go down and see all the rest of the
fleet, way above that level and the sea would swell and then we would be way up high and
all the water all around would seem to go down like that because we were on top,of,
-G ( K; and it would keep on doing that. And the ship set out to sea in the
.hiwch seemed like small boats, seemed to me like they were several inches; like play
toys. I remember also when the sea got roughwe were supposed to have dinner on the
ship and it got so rough that everything would fall off of the tablet AR all the dishes
and everything, and the people would get sick, and I got sick too, my stomach could not
stand it and so we would all hold to something until this thing was all over. I also
remember going downstairs where the ship's motors were, and seeing all the bars going up
M; What was it like when you pulled into New York?
G: We went to New York. There again I can not recall anything about New York at all.
Nothing. That must have been confusion there you know, too much.
M: How about the train ride to Florida?
G; The train to Florida, I do not remember much of that either.
M: You remember your first glimpse of Ybor City, when you got off the train?
G: I do not remember that either.
M: -etme, what about when you reunited with your mother? You would not remember her
either would you?
G: No, I did not know her, I did not know my older brother. The other two brothers were
not born yet. So I had a brother and three sisters that I met here. None of them,
including my mother,,:, .' 1 .I'.I -ta me at the time because like I said, they had left
when I was just an infant. So we had to get acquainted.
M: Who was growing up in Ybor City like?
G: Well in those days most of Ybor City was, the part especially where we lived was on
the countryside. There were a lot of ditches, it was sparsely populated...
M: Now where was this?
G: This was the eastern part of Ybor City. We used to live on Twenty-fifth Street and
M: That would have been not quite in the Italian district, yes, that would have been east
of the Italian district right.
G: Yes, east.
M: Now would you have classified the area as Italian or was there any ethnic
G: It was chiefly Italian I thiTk. Althoughpeople lived, there might have been five or
six families in onw'neighborhood. And quarter of a mile away there might have been
another group and half a mile away there might have been another single family, they
might have been a dairy family. Or another two or three blocks from where you lived
there might have been another farmer because Ybor City was then open. There were a lot
of farms and a lot of Ybor City on this side of Twenty-second Street, east. And south
was all farmland.
M: Owned by any particular group?
G: The groups that owned it were mostly American people. And particularly one Dr. Douglas.
Dr. Douglas used to own not only great portions of land in Ybor City, which he cultivated
in seasonal vegetables, but he owned property in Plant City, Perry, Florida, Dade City,
and other parts//I whichh he used to employ even my father to find people who would like
to go out and farm with them for instance for one month and come back to Tampa MW and
then go back again. The reason that they used to go for a month was because they used
to take food from here, there were no stores appare.t-y where they used to work, it was
unpopulated like yesterday. And there were no facilities so they used to take their food
for a month or so and these men used to cook for themselves and do for themselves and
,'--jLL:boutthey took enough food to last them for a month and then come back for some
more. So this was the life that most of the people were doing around this part of the
country. Now, to the west of Twenty-second Street in Ybor City, was the old part of
Ybor City in which the cigar industry had started, which you have heard about. This was
the heart of Ybor City then. The factories were established, they were well known,
the products had already received acceptance throughout this country and perhaps in some
parts of the world and cigars were being sold all over. The industry which had been
started by the Spaniards was enjoyed by Spaniards mostly because they had started it and
they had all the main jobs in these factories. A lot of Italians were employed.but like
Ssa id thet h ie f in each fac to ry the manage rs and so fo rth w e re Span ish peo p le and they
used to make good money, they used to spend it accordingly, and they had nice homes.
M: How about your father, what did he do?
G: My father like I said, he was employed most of the time by Dr. Douglas, so he was a....
M: What would you call him, a farmer?
G: Well not so much a farmer-because he used to farm with these people and he used to go
M: That's interesting.
G: That was in the farming business.
M: Did he raise, he worked specifically for Douglas, and he did not raise those tools
G: Well later on we did. Dr. Douglas decided to sell out all of hi.s property and we bought
some of his land in Ybor City. And my father bought a horse and wagon and he did sell
his products. The horse and wagon was not to peddle, but to take it from the farm to
the market '-a large quantities.
M: There seem to be a lot of Italians doing stuff like that., yAny explanation why Italians
prfdominated in that area?
G: In the farm? Well let's put it like this, Italy for instance, and those parts of the
country like Sicily where we came from, there were no industries, no factories like you
would find in or in a big city, usually where there is a city there is a
demand for different things that have to be manufactured. So im factories show up and
the people learn the skills that are necessary to run those factories. But when you are
out in the village such as those parts of Sicily, you would iJr hardly find any factories
you might find for instance, somebody skilled in working leather, or -he=mz ht be somebody
who used to shoe horses, in which case he might be a professional with working with iron-
you.klnoa.-whaf-mean? / blacksmith for instance. He could learn to work.,. But other-
wise these people were an agricultural society and so when they came here, the first
thing was what can you do? You have to earn a living. So-'1'-s-sairt with the land.
&e-'either went to work for somebody else or they found a piece of land of their own and
cultivated it and sold the products whichh sometimes made a good living like in Cali-
fornia you know. They created an industry of their own there and by getting thousands
and thousands of acres then their products that they were raising like the
vineyards, they began to make wine and so forth and some of the wine industries came up
from that, from fruits that they raised and so forth and shipped. So that is the reason
that.. i rh .;00 ,OU, ,- f.7
t h a
M: Did your father ever say why he did not go into the cigar industry like so many others?
G: When he worked in the cigar industry for a little while but there were men:)J1 jobs that
they used to give to people, like I said the best jobs were given to the people that
knew the-Spaniards. So in Ybor City there were some elements that began to notice that
there were -inproprjeties in the way that the workers were treated. So they would have
from time to time l-\ ; '" -'i ': -S+DE-TWO.-APE' :-BE GINS -Wfti-4- -
They would call people out -frm 0)'' S L;.Xand they demanded certain fli ____
I do not know what they were at that time, I was not familiar with itflEg-
But the people did strike and the manufacturers would not agree to whatever it was and
sometimes the things would go on for six months, eight months and the. people just -ga.
out of money. The grocery man and the milk man and the bakery man would go bankrupt
because they would give their product as long as people could pay but they still have to
pay for what they used. And so they had to stop giving food, the milkman could not keep
on giving milk and the baker could not keep on giving his bread away and the grocer7man
he might give two, three or four months but then i*e does he get his groceries from
the wholesalers. So everybody was suffering, there would be wide suffering throughout
Ybor City. So when the people began to think about these things they began to think of
how.jitiS get out from under These were economic pressures that they could not stand.
So if a man or a woman could get out from the cigar industry, especially if he was not
in the favored class that ruled in the factory, and making good money so that he could
withstand six months or a year of strife.
M: Now do you remember 1910 strike, would you have been here in 1910?
G: No I got here in 1911.
M: 1911. Oh, well do you remember like the 1920 strike?
M: What do you remember about it?
G: -Ido not -remember :the. .1920, -th s M --_______ thing-might have, there were two-I-t-aij '-.
G: This other feill7o, I think it was in New York, and we were accused of II j -- ].i
M: Oh, Stockholrm rcir'.n\ right.
G: They accused them but they claimed they were innocent. And over here there was striking
and demonstrating at the Labor Temple they called it in Ybor City which was located
between Sixteenth and Seventeenth Street on Eighth Avenue. And there was a lot of commo-
tion amongst all the workers of all nationalities because they figured that they were
doing an injustice to the working class by accusing them of something that was not so.
In other words, capital against labor this was the thingJ 0.i ,'
M: What do you think about that now? There is a lot of confusion among historians whether
Italians were radicals or not. What is your impression? Did Italians seem to strike
very much? Did they welcome radical activities or did they spurn it? Some say they
just wanted to work and be left alone, others say that.....
G: I do not believe that the Italians were articulate enough in the language in this
country to start things like that. But since they had to depend on someone else to
favor them at a job, if they were asked to participate I am sure that they would
have because they always had the worst jobs. In other words, they could understand
more when they should strike than the other fellowebecause they did not have the easy
white-collar job,, In any industry where the person that is in charge at the top has
authority and has a good pay and has a good living, you could see that he would not
be so willing to participate in anything like this so if they have to have a scape-
goat in anything, they would get the one that was-eil and then they-could _i_ _
M: Do you remember.,...
G: I remember when my sister was over there in New Yor
--- -:-' 'r Boston, wherever it was.
M: Do you remember the name Ponepinto? Does that ring a bell with you?
G: Oh yes. That was another thing that scared the life out of me. I was justO \OUno
.\, yCV (yiC" ^ .. i. i., when this occurred and the Ponepinto was a social worker down
at the plant. He was a real good-hearted man. Everybody loved him in Central Station
and perhaps in every city in Sicily. Because he was always looking out for the poor
man and he was murdered. I was driving with my grandmother and again I was terrified
because she was terrified. They used to say that on the night he was murdered they
had these lights on the streets that they used to light by hand, and that night they
did not light those, and there was no moonlight and there was no lamplight and it
seemed like there was no one around that could witness the crime, later on I
remember that somebody that could not read or write but he was a poet, he wrote a
poem about it. I have not been able to locate it, we used to have it. But I remem-
ber just a few words, because like I say I was too young and as I grew up I still
can remember the people just holding the poem from their minds, but the fellow tha4
made the poem somebody else had to write it because he did not know how to write.
And it went something like this, if I remember right.
I cannot remember any more than that. But this is what it meant,-qar they were accusing
the authorities of cooperating with some groups in order to kill him. And-4"have-been ..
trying-to- 1ocate-somebody-- .. So I remember that
part but then what followed that was a whole, seemed to me that is must have been
several weeks, people from all around, they must have come from all the villages in
Sicily, with black flags and all kinds of flags and just parade through the streets
with the bands ,/AjaoilQ, marched down through the main street in -ZJ' .r<-e r"
and it continued/people making speeches and gathering with those black bands. I still
remember, I used to tremble because of the way that the old people used to talkand I
remember my grandmother, it seemed like nobody was safe anymore, the way they were
talking. They could kill anybody, in other words the authorities were not protecting
the workers and this fellow was a social worker. That is what I remember about
M: In Tampa, did you have much to do with the Italian clubs when you were young man?
What do you remember about the early Italian clubs on Seventh Avenue?
G: The Italian club on Seventh Avenue I remember when it was located on the north side of
the street before it burned. Then it burned and they rebuilt it on the south side
of the street. And I remember Mr. Antenore being a secretary of our Italian club for
years and years. He was well-versed in Italian, he knew the Italian language well,
he must have had good schooling in Italian because he represented the colony well.
He could speak on any subject in good Italian and he used to write a bulletin in
Italian for the club. And he used to urge the younger generation/including me, to
be active and contribute something to the bulletin once in a while. Wtlcfa :-4 g-riew
ufcthen-nd I remember one time I wrote them an article and it was about lSe citizenship
if I remember correctly, and it must have been in English as I remember 3
it, and the published it. At that time I was working in the bank in Ybor
City. I had been transferred from the Citizen Bank here in town, by them
to the bank in Ybor City which was growing and they wanted me to transfer
from hand bookkeeping which I did. My teacher in Italian, I did learn
Italian then, not very much, but I did start off with a teacher whose name
was Mr. Romano. Mr. Romano was a preacher, I think that he was a
Methodist preacher, here on Ninth Avenue and Seventeenth Street right
across form the General Telephone Company, you will see a two story block
building that was the school that we started. When the money gave out,
apparently the school was disrupted. That school used to teach English,
Spanish and Italian, all under the same roof.
M: And you went there full time rather than to the public school?
G: No, when I started, because I was younger than six years old I could not
be allowed in the public school as yet, so I enrolled in this school. To
go to this school you had to work in the church, and the church was
located on the back side there of that block building. And like I said
they used to teach Spanish, Italian and English, all three. And you could
take one or you could take all, but I started with the Italian, and it was
not very long after I started there that the school just did not have any
more money, and the mission just disrupted all the teaching and it
finished. Somehow Mr. Romano must have been fighting for some additional
money, and at Twentieth Street and Ninth Avenue there was a space that
Rosenburg, I believe, used to own. They had a store, and he had a space
left unrented, and it was about twenty-five by forty feet deep, and Mr.
Romano, through the church, got that as a school again. So I started
again at this new school. As I remember, the charge was fifty cents a
week to go to the school, and he was teaching Italian only, Mr. Romano,
which he used to do at the old place. I remember getting started there
again to learn the alphabet, having to learn the LaBaillia(?). The
LaBaillia starts with the five vowels, A, E, I, O, U., and after you learn
those, you start with the consonants, B, C, D and so forth. So my first
assignment again was to learn the alphabet. I remember one day he called
me up there, and in Italian when you recite you have to go to the
teacher's desk, and you face the class, you know, and you recite the
alphabet. And that day I started, and I mumbled out five or six letters
and stopped. I could not remember any more, and he says, "Now you have
got to do better than that, you have got to study some more." And I
believe another day I went up there and got just a few more, but I could
not make it. And I went there the next week, and I could not make it.
And one day he says, "Look, Francesco," he had a vest, and coming out of
his pocket he had a gold watch, a chain went through the middle button
here, and something else was in his pocket, so he took it all out, and he
took the watch and he dangled it in front of me, it is a gold watch. He
says, "Francesco, if you learn the alphabet..." I do not remember, it
might have been the end of the week, you know, "By Monday, I am going to
give you this watch."
M: That open mouth! I have got to ask, did you get the watch?
G: I did not, I got what I think is better than the watch. But, so Monday,
when I got up there, I had mastered it. So, all right, I never got the
watch, and the school again ran out of money. By that time I became six
years old. With the LaBaillia, my oldest brother, Angelo, finished with
what they were teaching in Italian school, at that school before they
broke up, and my brother Angelo became so proficient at Italian that they
had him teaching other children there in the lower grades. So Angelo was
teaching me how to read Italian from this little book, and with the
LaBaillia, when you get through with it, I do not know if it has thirty or
forty pages in it, but by the time that they take the vowels and they put
them in front and in back of each consonant, there is nothing that can
stop you from reading. So I learned to read Italian, and like I said, by
the time I was six years old, Romano lost his little mission again and
disappeared from Tampa. I went to public school.
M: Which one?
G: To the B. M. Ybor School(?) which is now on Columbia Drive. Then it was
Michigan Avenue and between Fourteenth and Fifteenth Street. They put me
in the baby class, and the teacher showed us "A, this is A," she showed us
B. All right, she would call on me, "What is this?" and I would look at
the letter, "A, B, C." And other times she would show something else, and
it got to be, you know, "That is A." "What is this?" "B." "What is
this?" "C." She would go back then and change it around, "What is this?"
She says "You do not belong in this class." Well, they take me out and
M: Did you know English by then?
G: No, I did not. So, they took me to four or five different classes, and by
the end of the day, I wound up in the third grade, because they could not
stop me, you see.
M: All in one day, huh?
G: So you see I got more than the watch out of it. All right, let us leave
it at that. I was working in a bank.
M: Now how did you get in the banking business? What made you go into
G: I was going to the B.M. Ybor School which went up to the sixth grade.
When we got to the sixth grade, they did not have any more rooms. There'
were six in there, and they sent me to another school. This was the W. B.
Henderson School. I graduated from the sixth grade from that school, and
when I graduated from there, I went to George Washington Junior High.
George Washington Junior High was seventh, eighth and ninth. I finished
with the seventh, and by that time things were bad at home, so the family
began to ask me what did I intend to do to make a living. In other words,
did I want to go and learn cigar-making, or what were my intentions?
Well, I began to think then, what did I want to do? And I was watching
the papers and seeing advertisements that said that bookkeepers were
needed and all, and officers were needed. So I told my parents that I
think that I should learn bookkeeping, go to one of these colleges and
pick up bookkeeping, accounting, stenography and so forth. "Yes, but what
about the money?" "Well, let us go and find out what it is, you know."
And so there was a Tampa business college which was advertising a lot, and
we went there one day, and they said, "Well, what would you like to take?"
"Well, what do you have to offer?" They said, "Well, we have bookkeeping
courses, and bookkeeping's course on Mondays costs forty dollars," until
you graduate, you know, "And if you take one in banking, it is twenty
dollars in addition to that, and for stenography, it is another forty
dollars. If you want typing, it is another forty dollars." All together,
in other words, if you took all the courses, in amounted to 120 to 150
dollars for whatever time, until you graduated in all of them. So they
asked me, "What do you want to take?" I said, "I would like to take all
of them." "All right." So I did, and we hunted down the money.
M: It must have been quite an investment.
G: Yes, at that time. But, I had intended to get through with my schooling,
which I never did. I graduated from the seventh, I never went to the
eighth grade, or ninth or tenth. I never went to high school, you see.
M: A self-educated man.
G: I went to this school until I finished all these courses, bookkeeping and
banking, and stenography, typing and so forth. I got all of my diplomas
for that, see? And then I began to look for jobs, then I had small jobs
at the college sundry from time to time. And here is something that is
strange. I had been applying in just about every bank in town, telling
them my qualifications, so they used to tell me, "If we need you, we will
let you know." So one day while I was out of work, see I always used to
hang around the college over there, either stenographing or keeping up
with things, and one day the telephone rang in the office, and Mr. Hammond
says to me, "Frank, they need a typist at the courthouse," and he says,
"Would you like to go over there and check on it, see if you would like to
try it?" And I said, "Yes, sir, I would like to do it." So I went, and I
found out it was in the Supervisor of Registration office, just before
voting time. They were getting all the names of all the folks in the
county, and they were making lists of them to distribute to the different
polling places. So I went in there and I reported, "I am from Tampa
(Taylor?) Business College, and Mr. Hammond(?) says you needed a typist,
so I am here." "Well I thought they were going to send a girl." "Well,
we do not have any girls, so they sent me." Then he says, "Well, are you
a good typist?" I says, "I consider myself a fair one anyway." "Look, we
nee somebody that does not make mistakes, because we have Latin names,
Italian names, Spanish names, Jewish names, we have some Greek names, and
I do not want any mistakes made, do you understand?" I says, "Yes, sir."
He says, "What are you?" I says, "I am Italian." "Well then you should
be pretty accurate in typing a lot of these names." I says, "I think so,
sir." And so he says, "Well, wait a minute now, we will find you a
typewriter, and you can go to work. Now let me tell you how we pay you.
We have someone who delivers sheets of that length, eight and a half by
fourteen inches, and two carbons. You have to make three copies, and for
every name and address that you write, we will give you three cents, and
so it is up to you. Now if you type it wrong, you do not get paid for it.
Do you understand?" "Yes, sir." So they looked around, "Hey, how about
another typewriter here, we need to get this man a desk!" And they give
the last, he says, "This is the last typewriter we have." It was the
worst one that they had. It was the oldest, and it was a Remington, and I
do not think that you see that anymore. The Remington was about this
high, and the letters, everytime a stroke came up, it made a noise, it
made a musical noise. From where they type was to where it was tied down
to this circle, it was such a distance that it was a tremendous joltage it
would give you in your fingers. So they gave me this typewriter and it
was the loudest thing. They had about twenty girls there. My typewriter
was the loudest of them all, because of the metallic sound. It sounded
like a catapult(?) you might say, no matter where it came from, the middle
or the side, so much so that it disrupted the girls around me. I was a
good typist, I was fast, so they gave me these great big books, you opened
it up and you copied from there, and at the end of the day, they counted
the sheets which gave you the number of names that I had copied. The
first day I earned sixty-five dollars.
M: At three cents apiece.
G: At three cents apiece, you know. In fact, they had sent me to work in
some factory, and they knew that I was out of college.