Comments on the Proposed Reading Script for G6mez Recording
I like the relaxed and folksy tone of the G6mez Recording as it has been shortened
and adapted from the one given to the museum staff. It may be that we cannot get
all we would like across in one minute, but this is a good try. There are a few
comments I would like to offer in the interest of exactness.
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1 1 "You no speak Spanish" sounds too broken for a speaker who then
goes on to speak English well.
1 4 "Trade items" is too modern a term. Perhaps say "finest goods."
1 5 "All of Florida" at that time had only St. Augustine for a town.
Pensacola was under another jurisdiction and was not altogether
regarded as a Florida settlement. It might be better to say
"in all of San Agustfn."
1 5 The trade goods came in from the English colonies, Spanish colo-
nies, and Spain. They were not exclusively colonial products, for
Europe was still producing most of the luxury goods for the New
World. Even the things imported from the English colonies had
frequently been re-exported, having been bought in England, France
and the Netherlands.
1 7 "Authorities" may be anachronistic. It is more correct to say
"His Excellency the Governor," or "the royal officials."
1 8 Saying that "the illegal trade is necessary for our survival"
makes it appear that the imports were basic.provisions rather than
luxury items. It was rarely, and during wartime) that the gover-
nors had to import foods from the English colonies. What we
want to make clear is that there was a constant unauthorized
trade of luxury goods in and Florida products out. Foods from
the English colonies were cheaper, and storekeepers would have
liked to buy direct, but the Royal Havana Company had been given
a monopoly on Florida trade and served as official middlemen.
It was when this system broke down that the governors purchased
directly. The other ways that English goods and foods could
enter were by the sale of a corsair's prize, or by smuggling.
1 8 In St. Augustine the governor would usually be the first reci-
pient of luxury goods. He would have been the silent owner of
such a store rather than one of its clients. Also, if the goods
were illegal, he would not have had his servants shop there openly.
1 9 Although the term "British" may be used by historians after the
death of Elizabeth I, a floridano was still saying "de los ingleses."
1 10 The word "nation" was in that time used for Indian tribal allian-
ces rather than European countries. "The silver and gold of any
king," would be more natural.
Again "I am, how you say," is too broken-sounding for the context.
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"Businessman" is a modern term. He would have called himself a
shopkeeper. And "flexible" was probably not used in this sense
until later. This whole section sounds too eager and marketing
for a period when the goods were in short supply and the shop-
keeper did his customers a favor, rather than have to court them.
The "dried beans and rice" is a modern idea of what Latin Ameri-
cans eat, based on the present Cuban and Puerto Rican diet.
What the floridanos constantly tried to import was wheat flour,
olive oil, wine, vinegar, salt meat and salt fish, and "menestra,"
a mixture of dried legumes. Rice eating in colonial Florida
came in gradually through contact with the British rice-growing
planters. The luxury foods that would have been offered to a
shopper were fruit pastes in wooden boxes, jellies, chocolate,
spices, hard sugar, syrup or molasses, almonds, dried figs and
dates, brandies, liqueurs, and fine wines.
A "merchant" was someone who traded wholesale. He was a step
up socially from a shopkeeper, who might be nothing but a front
for him to sell the goods retail.
The city officials rotated the duty of wine tasting at the
taverns, which was done any time a new barrel of wine was opened.
The wine or rum sold in a shop would not be sold by the drink,
therefore its test of quality would have been done upon entry
by the treasury officials (who in St. Augustine were also city
officials), at the time they set the official prices. The taxes
collected in St. Augustine on imports were collected upon entry.
There were no additional sales taxes at the time of retail sale,
therefore the city officials would not be checking the stores
to see that they were passing on the taxes. Each shop and tavern
had bought a license from the city in order to operate.
It would be better to say "powder and shot, flints, wax candles,
hard soaps..." "Gunpowder" was, I think, the term for the powder
used by artillerists. The flints came ready made. Tallow candles
would probably not have been imported, as they were cheap and
easy to make at home. The same goes for the ordinary soft soap,
which was made at home or locally and kept in a keg or barrel.
Note: In the draft I did for the G6mez Store, the Narrator was supposed to he
someone of the present day, who would use modern terminology, and the two Voices
were to be contemporary to the store itself, and speak with Spanish accents. This
relieves one of the need to keep one's commentary limited to what was known in 1740,
and the wording strictly 18th century.
People in St. Augustine grew their own garden stuff any time they
could; what was for sale in the market would have concentrated
on products that were local, brought in to town by Indians, free
negros, and castas, who were the mixed bloods. (Those who were
mixtures of Spanish and Indian only are known to historians as
mestizos. In their own time they were called gente vil, gente
baja, and gente mestiza.)
The terminology of this paragraph is too modern for an 18th-
century speaker. It would be appropriate for a present-day
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narrator. In the 1740s the woman going to market was a servant
or an "ama de casa" (house manager), by Spanish terminology.
It was the English who included the marital status in the term.
All markets were open air--well nearly all. In some cities
fairly permanent stalls were erected by the vendors, but in St.
Augustine I suspect they sat under moveable canvas awnings, dis-
playing their wares on mats. "Blacks" will sound like a modern
term to the visitor who knows when we started to use it, even
though the Spanish were calling them negros from the start.
Fish and beef would not have been sold in a specialty shop, but
at the fish market and the slaughterhouse, if they were fresh,
and at the royal warehouse or the market or the import shops if
they were dried or packed in salt.
I don't think there were self-service stores in the 18th-century,
nor would the goods have been arranged in displays as we know them.
The customer would ask the shopkeeper if he had something, and
if he did he would bring it out. This was especially necessary
when some of the goods were contraband. In such a case there
could be, behind the tienda, a trastienda for special customers
only, with the door to it concealed by other merchandise.
The prices were set by law and posted in the shop itself, so
the only variation would have been in the customer's being short-
changed on the measure. This was supposedly prevented through
the regular inspections of weights and measures.
Note: For more background than was given to you by my Gomez Recording draft,
dated 3-12-85, you may want to refer to the Tavern Report of 4-5-85, the report
called"A Store for the Barrio,/of 7-12-82, and Joyce Harman's book on Trade and
Privateering in Spanish Florida, 1732-1763. I would also be glad to talk to you in
person, which seems a more natural way of collaborating than to communicate only
Amy Bushnell, Historian
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