Interview with Phillip A. Bondi, January 8, 1974

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Interview with Phillip A. Bondi, January 8, 1974
Bondi, Phillip A. ( Interviewee )
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Hillsborough County Oral History Collection ( local )
Spatial Coverage:
Hillsborough County (Fla.) -- History.


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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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
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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
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Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug, 12, 1974

Page I

Interviewee: Phillip A. Bondi Ex-principal of Phillip Shore

Elementary School; Tampa

Date: January 8, 1974 Y f16 414

I: Will you state your name and give me some of your background.

B: Well my name is Phillip Bondi. I was born and raised in Tampa,

64 years ago. I attended the local schools, and in fact I was

Valedictorian of George WashingtoOHigh School in 1926, from this

very same building here, and I attended the old Hillsboroygh High

School for two years, where the old Hillsborough High School was

where the George Washington School is now located, at Highland

Avenue, right next to Columbus drive, that was Hillsborough

High School in those days and it later became Jefferson High

School. And then in the last year, of course they built Hillsborough

High School in Plant. I went to Hillsborough High School and

graduated from...

I: So you graduated from there in 1926, you said.

B: Not from here.

I: Oh this is where...

B: January 1926, here and made High School

Senior'alf year; started, I went to the University of Florida in

1929. In those days you could receive a two year degree known as

a LI degree, normal degree, you could teach with a two year degree.

So I received my LI Degree.

I: Did you get that with the intention of teaching?

B: Yes.

I: So. yoa were interested in education even in those days.

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 13, 1974

Page 2

B: I was always interested in education, and ah, so, I

started right here, the early George Washington Junior High

School, right in this building here. We didn't have any trouble

in those days in regards to attending this particular school, or
the other particular school, or boundary lines, or your Civil

Rights, or the trouble that were having now because we only had

two Junior High Schools. And everybody on this side of the river

attended this school here and everybody on the other side of the

river went to Wilson, and there was no trouble.

I: By Civil Rights though you were talking about Spanish, Latins.

B: No I'm talking about the trouble were having now with Blacks.

I'm just comparing, they were no trouble at all, of course no

blacks attended white schools in those days. They were all white.

I: Right.

B: And the blacks would agree that the schools were

they didn't have the advantages that white's had

in those days. But to going back from the University of Florida,

then I went, met it hard, I married in 1931 and it was hard for me

to continue my education, so I had to go during Summer School. So

I went 12 straight years to Summer School. And received my BS Degree

and I continued commuting back and forth once a week and other

summer school and other courses, and I received my Masters Degree,

and finally got my Rank One. In those days they received their

Doctoriate or their Rank One. They were totally the same thing,

they paid the same,the courses, the oral and written were the same

thing. All you had to do was take six extra hours instead of writing

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 13, 1974

Page 3

your dissertation or your thesis. So I took six extra hours and I
had my Rank One, but not the title to go with it. You see.

I: Right.

B: I thought here three years, started in 1931, and went to

Franklin Junior High, was there eight years.

I: As a teacher?

B: As a teacher. And from Franklin Junior High I went to Tampa

Junior High, and from West Tampa I got my Rank One. Right at the

University of Florida I received a telegram that I had been appointed

principal of Phillip Shorekunior High School, that was in the summer

of 1949. I had my credentials, I was perhaps, not the first but

one of the first male teacher3to have Elementary Education

Certificate, one of the first to have supervision of Nursery

School, so I imagine that because I was one that did have my certificates,

you know the right certification that I was choose principal. And I

had 13 wonderful years at Phillip Shore.

I: Thirteen years.

B: Thirteen years.

I: Till 1962.

B: Yeah. When I first went there it was strictly Elementary. And

then we gradually added the seventh grade, and the following year

the eighth grade, and the the ninth grade. So we were

the first school within the City of Tampa that had grades one

through nine, in the same building. So I operated two schedules.

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lehkway
Aug. 13, 1974

Page 4

one for elementary and one for the junior high. And we had to have

different classroom schedules, different lunch roon schedules, entirely

different curriculum. And we were very interested in the, in

reading in those days, cause I realized that's what they needed

most was improved reading, mostly Latin factions there, and

realizing that they had to __

I: What percentage of students there were Latins?

B: I would say about 80 percent, 80 percent and 20 percent were


I: And about what percentage of the 80 would you estimate could

speack very little, or no English?

B: No, no they ah...

I: They spoke English?

B: They ah, ah, English was spoken, we did not allow the students

to speak Spainish, or Italian, within the boundaries of our schools,

in order to English you have to speak it, and

speak it correctly, that was in class, in class we are doing this,

you see. But not the parents were a different situation, ee most

of thefppga r maybe spoke Spanish and Italian, but the children

they were becoming modernized, that was the beginning I would say,

more or less. And there was a very extensive reading program that

we instituted there, and I think that we increased their proficiency.

And in those days the eight and ninth grade was as far as, they, Y0 J

didn't go to High School, some of them did not go to High School,

they dropped out in the eight and ninth grade and went to work.

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug, 13, 1974

Page 5

But we had, I think it was five graduate classes while I was there

and all of them went to High School, every single one of them

attended Jefferson High School.

I: Now I don't understand that too well in terms of time. You

mentioned five graduating classes over a thirteen year period.

B: We were elementary school at the beginning, than I would say

another six, we had six graduating classes in the ninth grade,

see from the ninth when they went to the tenth that was at

Jefferson High School, so it took them three years to become a

fullfledged Junior High School. So the last three years we got

three graduating classes, you see.

I: NOw, right.

B: Because in those days, they don't do it now but in those days

you did have graduation.

I: At the Junior High Level.

B: That's right. We had ceremonies and we had caps and gowns.

And so that's the reason I say the last three years all of them

attended Jefferson High School. Because by that time the parents,

I imagine realized that education was very important, and now they

were saying I want my children to have a better chance than I did,

so because then you see a lot of people going to collages, and

a lot of them were becoming teachers, becoming, going into other


I: Well before the ah, school had the Junior High grades in it

what did most of the children do after they godthrough- h.the first

six years?

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 13, 1974

Page b

B: They remain in the same building, they went from the sixth

to the seventh and they continued there, in other words they

went their nine years instead of six years.

I: Before the nine year period, you said that I think it was

three years before you got your Junior High School in there

Well during that three year period what would most of the students

do, cause there were only six years?

B: They went straight through elementary school, and than we

added the seventh grade, so we had one through seven, and then the

following year we had one through eight, and the third year was

one through nine.

I: I iee. But what I'm trying to find out is how, what happened

to these people before they could go to Phillip Shore through the

first nine grades. Did they simply drop-out, or did they go to

another Junior High School?

B: No, no they were, we, they were attending, than we changed

our boundary lines and most of the students came from the DeSota

area and from the Gary Area, in other words we got students from

those two areas, because we expanded our boundary lines.

I: After getting your Junior High School in?

B: Yeah, we went up to the Seventh Grade we expanded our lines.

I: Oh another words it was planned for the Junior High School in

Phillip Shore boundaries, and expanded

B: That's because you see this building here was known as George

Washingto Junior High School, and more or less not over crowded but

they had the maximum, they had capacity students here, so that's

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 13, 1974


why the Junior High section .

I: At that time for the elementary school kids who were foreignly

Spanish Speaking or Italian speaking, what kind of special programs

did you have, for them? Or did you give them special treatment, or

how did you handle that situation?

B: No, we had the regular curriculum, exactly. The ah, the, we didn't

have the open house set, or the other type program, but we

the two of them allow for, for instance if he was very slow in

math we would assign those students to a good math teacher, more or

less like, I would say we would have some sort of a team teaching

in those days...

I: Was teaching?

B: Well it was something, it was on the small scale of team

teaching, because we got out best teachers to teach those particular

subjects. Like reading for instance we placed them with the best

reading teaching we had at that particular time, the same with

science, and that sort of thing. In the secondary school we didn't

just strictly have the go from one room to the

other, we more or less tried to place them where the need was.

And the elementary school was almsot the same thing, because we had

a few that, for instance in parts of speach they were very poor

in parts of speech and the regular verbs were very, very hard for

them so, I remember one time we had a teacher who had experience with,

experiences in teaching English and in reading, she came to us;-from

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 13, 1974

Page 8

another school, and ah, we used her a lot. We also went into

small groups and those that needed some more, more training. But

the curriculum, the main thing was for the improvement of

all the way around, both from the stand-point of teachers as well

as students.

I: Let me ask you this, this is, I hadn't thought about this but

to day for example, in elementary school structure usually all children

stayed with the same teacher all day long, ...

B: Well in other counties...

I: ... it doesn't sound like you...

B: ... it all depends on the on the, for instance we had a, we

have the kinda schools now they call the IGI

Program, which is under the

Program, and they went into that sort of thing. The open concepts

schools, where more freedom is practiced, and the other schools

still follow the traditional type program, but in that particular

locality, in that section we realized that we had to do more than

just the traditional type schooling, so we branched out, and we

gave them more of what they needed, you see, and it was reading

and Enlish and math.

I: This is what I began to suspect, you were flexible enough ...

B: Very flexible.

I: ... to allow different situations.

B: That's right. And I think that we were one of the very first

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 13, 1974

Page V

that called in outside help. For instance, we had specialized

teachers, we had them from School,

oh we had a lot of them that were specialized, you know the disability

and the gifted, and the learning disability, emotional disturbed

type program, but we didn't have that, but we had like reading

teachers that would come down, come to our school say twice a week

to help those that were real bad, I mean that really needed it. You

see? And that type thing and we saw the need then, I mean there

was nothing new of course, we had these things.

I: Could you describe the Platoon Concept? I'm not familiar with


B: Well the Platoon Concept was practiced at the B.M. Ybor

School. They would have the academic subjects, what we call

academic subjects, subjects in the morning and then in the afternoon

they would place them like so many in art, so many in physi ed, and

other areas, music, and that's what it was, more or less.

I: Why did they call it platoon?

B: Because they just rotated around. I mean they go there so many

weeks in music, and then they, that group would go into art, and

from there they go into phys, ed., and that sort of thing, they

platoon them around. The subjects were there, but they were in

the morning. That's just more or less a saying, because you have

to go according to ability, I mean now you don't do it today, you

see. Some principals will say I will place 1/3 o4fright, 1/3 of

average and 1/3 of slow, but the concepts not that way, I mean it's

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug, 13, 1974

Page LU

the other way. And in our area you have to keep in mind that

English was not spoken in the homes and when we first started.

Now it's the very opposite, I mean Spanish and Italian is not

spoken in the homes, they only speak to the parents, the children

and the father and mother today they speak English in the homes,

we didn't have that in those days, and it was hard because ah,

as I said before, if you dl4tnot understand English the only way

to learn English is to associate with a person that speaks to you

only in English, and the same way in Spanish, you can't learn

Spanish oit of a book, you got to go into some particular Spanish

home and live with them, and let them speak to you in Spanish.

That's the only way to learn.

I: Right.

B: You may learn a few words from a book, but the only way to learn

not only the practical but the is the dialect from

the home.

I: You know I'm interested in this platoon concept and I want to

get this straight. Somebody mentioned it before, somewhere. I

understand that it originated at Ybor School, and about when

did it originate in Ybor School?

B: Well, Mr. -k, was the principal there, F-a-u-l-k, he was the

only, I think Faulk, F-a-u-l-k, was the only male principal in

elementary school, you know because they didn't go into elementary

school. Then another one came...

I: When would this be? The Faulk's? 1900's, 1910's?

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 14, 1974

Page 11

B: He started about the I would say this was the middle '20's.

The middle '20's, because I first came here in 19..., as a student

in 1923.

I: And he was principal then?

B: He was principal then, well he had just started then, there.

So that, he's the one who had this particular system first. Now

another person that you can talk to is Shorty Wilson, are you familiar

with the name?

I: I'm setting-up an interview with him today or tomorrow.

B: Shorty Wilson was principal of B.M. Ybor School, and than from

there he went to be principal of some High School, he was ah, a very

good friend of mine, and he may have a few ideas you


I: I talked with him over the phone and he mentioned the Team

Concept, and said it might have come from Gary, Indiana, and it

sounds like there's a lot of things going on here...

B: Faulk was the one who put in the

Team System. Of course after he left, Shorty added and he kept

on with it. It was a very simple thing, I would say. I mean, see

they had so many students there, oh gosh I think

they had about 1200 or 1400 students in that building there, and

they were, and no playing facilities, no court yard out there, and

in order to, that's whyVthey had to group them as they did. :)So

the Platoon was all there was, I mean. But

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 14, 1974

Page 12

the word, it's a little different now I mean you can say Platoon,

it's used in other areas as ______...

I: I think of a quad of men, but apparently this is... Would

they keep the samegroup of students for the'different activities,

or would they shuffle them around?

B: For awhile. You see for instance, let's say for awhile

for six weeks let's say, this particular

group would be in music, another group will be in phys, ed. and

another group would be in art, another group will be in something

else, see.

I: Would they test people...

B: No...

I: did they determine this?

B: .... no it was just perhaps maybe all sixth graderso start,

or something, all fifth graders, all forth graders, that sort of

thing. And at the end of six weeks they would just rotate around,

you see so they all on the will have music, art and

phys. ed. You see what I mean?

I: SovPlatoon would be everybody taking music for six weeks?

B: Thats... maybe longer maybe less, I don't remember, see, but

that was the idea.

I: But why do that instead of the ordinary method, um everybody,

for example all six graders...

B: By period?

I: ... had music, or by period?

B: Well, it was a little different in the elementary school, we

didn't go by periods in the elementary schools, I mean they were

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 14, 1974

Page 13

strictly a one teacher affair. You stay with one teacher the

whole time, see. Um, and that's what it was and even the

teacher was taken out to phys. ed., she would teach the art, she

would teach the music. Now they have music teach..., special

music teachers, now they have phys. ed. teachers, see but the

teacher had the class the whole time.

I: Ok, this... From what I understand in part, only in:the morning

the student would have music or art...

B: No, no, they have art in the afternoon.

I: In the afternoons they would ably the platoon system, but in

the morning you'd still be studying English, Spanish...

B: Oh yes, they'd be regular elementary schools, the teachers, the

teachers had the students than, you know in regular classes. But

in the afternoons they had these special things, I think it

was strictly more or less because of the enrollment, the large


I: They could handle larger groups of people, this way.

B: That's right.

I: And this was only at Ybor?

B: That's right, that's right.

I: Now, I'd like to get back to dealing with this problem of dealing with the

linguistics, of the Latins and the Italians. You mentioned

that they had to speak English on the school grounds and in the

classrooms. How could you enforce this'issue7 How did you

them to...

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 14, 1974

Page 14

B: It was hard, it was hard, it took us some time to really put

this thought across to the.students, you know, because just

like you say, will they were very forgetful, we'll we didn't

mind that, I mean we ah, we didn't scold them or get after them

for that, we just through, we will have certain programs in an

assembly, for instance bringing out, you know this sort of thing

and ah, through plays maybe, sometimes, and gradually they got

the idea. It really wasn't easy, it took us for, it took us

a while, it took us a while.

I: This is wy very hard to understand just from a couple of

words. I had visions of a sign up on the wall saying "Don't

Speak Spanish."

B: No, no signs.

I: Yet you mentioned things like plays, assemblies.

B: Yeah well,'for distance it was not all teaching in the class-

room, a lot of times you had leisure time and other, other things

that they like to do in the class. For instance each class would

put on a play once a year, or a program once a year, you see, and

we usually had a committee that would write these things oit. If

we wanted to stress citizenship, we wrote a little program on

citizenship, and ah, that was put on in the assembly for the

benefit of all concerned, grades one through six at that time, and

ah if we wanted a program in good manners, well we had it, if we

wanted a program of the importance of speaking English correctly,

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 14, 1974

Page 15

well than we put that on there, or the importance of an education,

ah but we always stressed this, we always stressed herigage, I mean

we always encouraged that, we didn't try to take anything away

from them, because they would resent it, if you did. No the sad

part was that ah, changing conditions, changing times, the necessity

of having a better-chance in life than their parents had, because

the parents did not go to school and now and days in order to

hold a job, in order to do the, in order to be a doctor, in order

to be a lawyer you had to go to school, and with that idea in mind,

see. But, no it was, oh G-d, everytime we were constantly reminding

them and that way, now and days you don't

hear any, you don't hear it. I mean only in very small, you know

once in a while they would forget and speak Spanish within a group,

but they don't... In fact I hate to say this and I get somewhat

perturbed my children and grandchildren don't know any Spanish, they

don't know any Italian.

I: Did you speak Italian? Didn't you? I think you were...

B: Only to my mother.

I: But as a child you spoke fluent Italian?

B: Well not as good as you think I would. You see.

I: You were already starting to loose the....

B: Oh well we spoke English at home. My dad saw

to it that we spoke English, only with mother once and awhile we

would speak Italian. But we ah, we always spoke English, because

we lived in an American neighborhood all our lives.

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 14, 174

Page 1b

I: Let me...

B: You see, that was the difference there.

I: Where did you live?

B: I lived not too far from here, in what we called the Tampa

Heights, in those days.

I: That was a pretty good neighborhood, to.

B: That was, next to the Bay Shore Boulevard, we were next. It

had beautiful homes, and ah, that was the, the neighborhood in

those days. We lived in the corner house, a two story house there

for a long time, we had, all our neighbors were, were Anglo-Saxons,

with the exception of George Seirra, the fellow that had the, the

cigar factory, and they all spoke English, all the others were...

So you see the only words that we learned were from relatives or

from mom, but with dad we spoke English to him all the time.

I: Was he from Italy? Was he born in Italy, or ?

B: he was born in Sicily, but he came here when he was very,

very small.

I: How old was he?

B: He was about I think maybe seven years old, and ah, I think

five, and ah and he was always, he was education conscious, ver

much so, and ah that sort of thing.

I: How did the neighbors react to your being Italian? This was

say back in the '2U's, and this was still a relatively new ex-


Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 14, 1974

Page 17

B: Well, well we were accepted as neighbors, for that matter,

I mean we were accepted as neighbors there because we were there

a long time, you know. But in Ybor City there were Spanish and

Italian spoken all the time, traditions, you know are a very important

thing for them, but ah, when they went elsewhere, for instance

they would go to a social function, where they.would have a mixture-

there they still spoke Spanish and a lot of times some hard words

were said, and that sort of thing, but they didn't mean anything

by it, it was just their heritage But

ah, as I said I think that the ah, I would say that around the,

right after the Depression, I think, things started to move around.

Tony P Tony will be able to fill you, fill you

in on a lot of that because he had to go through all the experiences

to, he knows this prejudice thing, and in those days, he'll tell

you stories, you know of after you cross a boundary line they

were waiting for you to pick fights....

I: Now wait a minute, no, no...

B: ... just because we were not allowed to

I: What elementary school did you go to, I can't remember?

B: I went to Henderson.

I: Henderson. Where's Henderson?

B: Well Henderson in well it's on Henderson Avenue and Jefferson.

See then that was all...

Ybor City Typist: argaret Lenkway
Aug. 14, 1974

Page 18

Side II

But they were not considered

I: Latins weren't considered ah...

B: They did not go to school with us, they went to Black schools.

I: Could you describe a little bit more about that, that's a

that I can't quite comprehend?

B: What do you mean? What's that?

I: Well you come to this country, your skin is black, but your
heart is Latin, and you speak Spanish, what happens when you come


B: You're talking about back in those days? they

had to attend the black schools, because their skin was Black, and

of course a lot of them did not attend school, because they did not

want to go to the black public schools. And they ah, I don't

remember anyone going to the High School. There came Black people

from Cuba, from There was, they had a cast

system in those days to, you know, I mean they,

that's what it was.

I: I'll tell you one thing that the Sicilian's are protrayed in

the literature that I've read, as being among the most hard working

lot? How did, how do Sicilian's view the ah, Black?

B: Well of course, of course you know that the they came here

not only for perhaps maybe religious reasons, but for opportunities,

for making a better living for themselves and their children.

I: Did you say religious freedom?

B: I mean some perhaps did. Now you have to go before that time.

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 14, 1974

Page 19

B: But in the early '20's there were not these-opportunities

to better themselves, because hardships that I

can gather, I've never been to Europe and he has never been to

Europe since he came here when he was five years old, but the

stories that here was that in the small towns there was no opportunities

at all, so realizing that they came here to better themselves.

I: How did they feel about a place like Tampa, it's in the

South and...

B: Well, they migrated to New York, and than because they did have

a Latin family, a Latin Colony here they came here where perhaps

they would have some relatives here, or something, see. But ah,

the ah, they came and they brought their trade with them, or perhaps

learned a trade, they did have to learn the cigar trade, because

that was the biggest industry here at that time, from the Latin

stand point.

I: Well that's another thing I wondered, how did they learn that

thing? I don't see the Cubans and the Spanish teaching the cigar

industry to the would they?

B: Yeah, no, no they needed cigar workers, because the industries

were big and growing. You see they are strictly the worlds best

hand made cigars, in those days, and they needed workers in those

sections, and especially those that were real good at it. See

in order to make cigars, you got to know how to make them, and they

only selected the "cream of the crop", in good cigars. So they

came and they learned a trade very young, they can be nine years

old or twelve years old, see. they had to go through

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 15, 1974

Page 20

the apprenticeship and then-fipally into the different stages of

work until they got to be cigar makers. And ah... But others had

some were masons, some were in carperentry and that sort of

thing, you know.

I: How did they react well, I wouldn't to much about

B: Well the others, Yqu mean cigar makers? They were Latin people,

teaching Latin people.

I: I don't know if your recollection would include such early age)

as back in 1910 or so, cause you were probably born in 1910, or so

back then. But from here how did they react to the

educational problem of going to the public schools?

B: Well I would say that nill, they didn't ah, they had, see the,

they raised a large family and the income was not enough, sufficient

to maintain the family so they had to send their daughters and sons

to work, at an early age. And in those days, prior to the middle

of the '20's, I would say they didn't go beyond the sixth grade.

I: So they really had not much use for all this education?

B: No, no they really didn't.

I: What about private education, parochial schools?

B: Ah, very little, very little, very little in the private

education, and only the, those that were sons of cigar owners,

manufacturers, millionaires would send them to private schools and

in those days they were usually in the convent or the Holly Names

Academy here in Bay Shore, see. But the average worker, Latin

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 15, 1974

Page 21

worker could not send anyone to private schools at all. O cassionally

they would ge some one to come and try to teach them some English

at home and that sort of thing, but never on a large scale.

I: But the did it have any adult classes or...

B: No...

I: ... or Americanization classes...

B: ... no, they what they had...

I: ... English classes?

B: No they, not in those days, that came later.

I: How much later?

B: I would say about the middle '30's, I would say. Right after

the ah, after the depression of '32, I would say. But they were,

the building was Ysed more or less as a classroom, for those that

were interested in going there, see. For instancewe would have from

Italian to English, you see, not from English to Italian.

I: They had English classes than.

B: Well ah, they perhaps may have had a few classesbut not on a

large scale, not on a large scale, only those that were interested,

you see. See you always had a few thatlooked beyond, and wanted

to improve themselves, and we, just like we ah, had a number of

families that what they wanted was for the children to benefit,

and have an education and so to it that they did.

I: It sounds like generally in order to ge ahead the average Italian

immigrant and his children didn't associate getting a head with

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Page 22

Aug, 15, 1974

public schools for themselves, they saw getting ahead as going out

and working.

B: That's right. They had to go out to work. And I would say

about the middle '20's, and they, they started to go beyond the

sixth grade to the ninth grade, and from there they went into

High School. As I said we had ah, we had, we were very proud of

ourselves because as I said, the last three years at Phillip Shore

every ninth grader that graduated from the ninth grade went to

High School in the tenth grade, every single one of them attended

High School, which was unbelievable. Usually that's not the case.

Usually someone falls by the wayside, or that sort of thing.

Because we constantly, ah, counceled with the parents about the

importance of education, and they realized the benefits in-those

days it was very important.

I: Well this is another angle.

B: that's right.

I: You're saying that you involved the parents?

B: Oh, positively.

I: I was going to ask you if there was some sort of Parent Teacher


B: I'm talking about, I'm talking about, now ah, ah the last

three years, especially, over there. See, then the school, then the

school because of theblack, the Black people coming in into the

community it was necessary to close the school and turn it over to

them So that became strictly a Black school, entirely, a 100

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug, 15, 1974

Page 23

percent black school. That's why I kept saying the last three


I: Oh, 1959 till 1962?

B: Something like that.

I: During that period of enrollment.

B: Oh, yes.

I: At this time.

B: You had to, you had to,you couldn't just strictly

oh no we had, well you know we always had, for instance we had a

Home Economics class there at night for the parents, we had a

sewing class there at night for the parents, we had art classes

there for the parents. I would say that, ah they benefited

from it. Remember now this was, I won't say was the beginning, but

it was a continuation, or a better larger continuation of parents

getting involved and getting benefitted from it. In fact we had

a couple of them that took h, ah sewing classes are now teaching,

are now teaching ah as substitutes in the High Schools at night,

that sort of thing.

I: _

B: Yeah, ah, but ah we also had football, and basketball, remember

the ah, the ah, course this was, we had football and basketball a

lot of them were involved in sports by that time, see. But because

of the possibility if they were good they would get scholarships,

a lot of them concentrated harder on this thing, a lot of them

received scholarships, after they graduated from high school.

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. la5, 1974

Page 24

I: Let me ask youdgain, in the first years of Phillip Shore in

1949, when you were there, what was the relationship between the

school and the parents? How did they perceive the school, or

how did they get involved?

B: Of course paved the way there as

to say. He really started the program, then I enlarged it when

I was there and I went far beyond_

He was interested to he had the concept of that education was

the only thing in those days for Latin speaking people in Ybor

City, and ah...

I: What did this mean in terms of implementation? You know he

sits down and he decides we got to have a program for the Latin

American people. What did he mean by that? And what did he

do about it.

B: Well um, ah, I think, I don't know about the programs, but

another, my idea was when I took over that every child should get

the benefit of at least standing on top of the stage, participating,

taking part even if he didn't say anything, and you'd be surprised

the encouragement. But we used to work out programs, special

programs, we would sit down, with the teachers and they would work

out, together they would work out programs.

I: _by we, you mean you and the....

B: And the teachers.

I: ... and the teachers.

B: Later on we involved the parents, later on. And ah, one of

the things we need to do this year, what does this school need

to do inorder to help our students? What do the students need?

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 16, 1974

Page 25

What is the greatest need? As I said before, we concentrating on

reading, for awhile because we realized that they needed it, you

see. So we-worked out different programs in reading, we brought out

outside people, to help these people, specialists in this field,

at that time there were not too many. So each class would work out

"a play or a program, once a year, I mean one time, participate once

"a year. See? And they looked forward to it. All right, now

special events like Christmas a class would put that on, or a

special event like Thanksgiving a class would put that on, but we

also had, ah, programs like citizenship: What is a good American?

What do you...

I: Well how would that program, like would it be on the stage, or...

B: Yeah, it would be on the stage.

I: ... an auditorium assembly.

B: yeah, we had an auditorium there, where all of them came to

watch that particular program.

I: What would happen during this kind of program? What would you


B: What would I do?

I: Well not you personally.

B: Well we would put in an assemblyfor the benefit of the students, and

then we would put it at night for the benefit of the parents.

I: Now I understand.

B: And, and, and we always had a large group come, because if

you want parents to 4% to a PTA meeting, lets say, you get their

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 16, 1974

Page 26

child involved in some program there, they'll come. So and they

really had, they were enthused they had a lot of pride in their

children. Look, I didn't know that my child could do this well,

I didn't know that this was going on, or I didn't know that they

were putting this thing on. And they would come, and ah, in

fact we jamed that thing up because we all, when we had a program

we involved the students, you see, we involved the students.

I: How would you get all the students to be involved?

B: Because we'd go by classes, I mean different grades...

I: I see.

B: ...You see? We would start let's say with the older children,

like the sixth grade, they would put ona Christmas play because they

had a few lines that they had to memorize or say, so you get them.

But, the best programs that I enjoyed the most were the little

ones, I mean the first and second graders.

I: What would they do?

B: They have different programs, you know.

I: Would they read a poem...

B: No...

I: What would they do, I'm really curious.

B: They would dramatize. You-see dramatization, we was, a lot of

times we have representing a country, let's say Greece, or Italy,

or France, what even they wanted, and than they would dramatize.

They would dress in the custume of that nation and that country,

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 16, 1974
Page 27

and they would demonstrate different things. You know...

I: Like dances, for instance?

B: ... like dances, the dances or the products, or agriculture, or

anything in those days.

I: This is, than what you're saying is that a lot of these, these

Latin students, especially had an opportunity to display their own

culture, or some og the dances and things like that.

B: Oh yes, surely.

I: So it was sorta' of ...

B: They believe in tradition and they had a lot of pride, and ah

I'm talking about the beginning part of it, now and later on as

I say they, we didn't have to do that as much, you see. But ah,

it was hard work but it was worth it because we realized that in

order to help these people that we had to for some kind of a

different program from 4 traditional type elementary school.

You know what I mean? It can become sometimes boring if you, all

you do is just trying to teach them the parts of speech, or some-

thing similar, you know, and add and subtract all day, I mean

these, you got to have a variety in the program.

I: What about your own childhood experiences in the school system?

You went to Henderson Elementary?

B: Yeah.

I: And you went right here to Junior High School? Ah, did this

Junior High School at that time have a lot of Latin American students?

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug,. 1l, 1974

Page 28

B: No they had a lot of Latins in here too.

I: Lets see it would have been the early '20's, no it would

have been the late '20's that you...

B: Early '20's, '23 I was probably maybe '22.

I: Right, right.

B: '22 and '23. You see we had, we had in those days in this

particular building we would have, let's say a 50-50, because

everybody from this side of the river came here, so that included

Semonile Heights, that included Gary, Jackson Heights, you know

all the way till Six Mile Creeks, see. And of course from this

side from Ybor City. So we would say it had about 50-50. And

ah, and ah, a lot of Italian and a lot of Spanish were spoken

here a lot of it.

I: What kind of programs did they have in those days for Italians

and Spanish people?

Bi Well they didn't have, they didn't have too much. They did

what they call an "Opportunity Class" for these people that were,

not because of the lack of English, but because they were poor

students, so they call it the "Opportunity Class" where they stay

with the teacher all day, and then use the ground floor, this site

here had about four or five classes, and they were put, they

used to call them the "dumb ones." And they resented it, and they

were no such thing, they were just slowerethan other students, but

Ybor City Typist: margaret Lenkway
Aug. 16, 1974

just opportunity. And they could stay with the

teacher all day. And, it didn't work out for the simple reason

that they didn't have the program for it.

I: Well just-as I understand, they had the "opportunity classes",

but that didn't work out, but they didn't have any other programs


B: No.

I: What would happen to most of the people, how would you

assimilate, for example people who were Spanish background, back

in the early '20's when you were a student here you see people

coming in

B: These were not, these were not necessarily Spanish -Catholic

decendents, these were Anglo-Saxons to, that were poor students,

they couldn't add one and one, and all that sort of thing they were

really poor students, so they placed them all together then.

I: So everybody in "Opportunity class" was Anglo, Spanish, Italian,

they just couldn't make the grade.

B: That's right. But they tried it and they had a to finally

resolve it, but in those days the Latin people will stick with the

Latins, you see. Associate with the Latins. Anglo-Saxons associate

with Anglo-Saxons. Unless they were on the football team, you see.

I: Kinda like today.

B: Yeah, ah, and they speak a lot of Spanish, and over here they

try and get into, to concentrate on speaking English. I remember

distinctly that the principal was telling everybody to speak English.

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 16, 1976

Page 30

Speak English. They were constantly reminded, but not too much

d:f that...

I: Did they have English as regular courses?

B: No that was regular courses, English classes.

I: Well...

B: Departmentalized, they go from English to math, math to social


I: Just like anybody else.

B: Yeah, oh yeah, sure. And remember a lot of these students were

brillent. The language barrier perhaps, maybe because they didn't

have the opportunity at home, because only Spanish was spoken at

home, or only Italian was spoken at home. But they were other

families that lived in other neighborhoods that were not living

in Ybor City, that had the advantage of these other people, I put

it that way.

I: What about the elementary schools? I'm not too clear on that?

Which ones back in the '10's and '20's were considered predominantly

to be Cuban, Spanish, Italian or a combination of the two?

B: Well of course the B.M. Ybor was the, is the, and Henderson and

Lee were the three in the called Ybor City in

those days and ah, and Gary was not included at that time with mostly

Anglo-Saxons there. But in the early times, just like I said they

went to school because they had to, and when they reached the sixth

grade or the fifth grade they would drop out to go to work because

of necessity.

I: Let's see Ybor Elementary, what other schools would have been

predominantly Latin?

Ybor City Typist: Margaret LeA.way
Aug. 16, 1974

Page 31

B: Well then ah, the others came a little later, like DeSota and
Phillip Shore, came a little later, you see. But I'm talking about

the early stages of it. They went to school and they didn't care

too much about it and the parents were waiting until he became 14

or 12, which ever it was, so he could go to work you know, and

Spanish was spoken inside the building, Italian was spoken for that

reason. But then, then I would say that in the middle '20's or the

early '20's you could see some difference there of the sanctions

of the different Latins, Latin families expanding

going to we had a lot of

And then the they wanted to make something of

themselves, and they always encouraged people to go through

that they had to graduate from High School in order to go to

college andbecome a doctor, and they were perhaps the first to

go to medical school, they were great. Dr. was

That sort of thing and you know others

went into other professions, dentistry, not so many in teachers,

that came later but architechs, not too many, engineers, not to

many, they was medical and dentistry more or less the main ones,

but we didn't have too-many.

I: You mentioned teachers came a little bit later, why would that

be? It sounds like there was a pattern there.

B: Well.... I don't know really why unless they, unless oc course

perhaps maybe, I don't know, I mean I really don't know. I'm not

certain why. I think I do but... The school teachers came a little

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 16, 1974

Page 32

later. Not too, not too far behind though a little later. But going

back to Philip Shore it wasn't all Spanish speaking, I mean we still

had it, we still had a lot of them speak Italian, we still had a lot

of them speak Spanish, but not as, you know not as great as I would

say ten years before, see. That sort of thing. But the main thing

is that we realized that they needed help and we were there to help

them. And we did, I think. I think we did.

I: It sounds like your program at Phillip Shore was a lot more

exceptional than...

B: I would say that we had, that we were one of the first to

pave the way in that respect, because we had

schedules outside, we had this fellow Nick who came

and put out_ for us, he was the County Commissioner

and he put all kinds of benches out there

and tables, outside, underneath the trees and we had the -

SAnd we would take

them outside, Tsomething different and they loved that shaded

area, and we tested the students without their knowledge in playing

games to see where there weaknesses and their strengths were, and

we expanded on it, I mean we concentrated on their weaknesses.

I: You had testing programs?

B: Well we didn't have a testing program, but we did have testing,

in order to find out more of what they lacked, this was needed.

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 16, 1974

Page 33

I: And you had you started the Platoon System.

B: No, we didn't have it at Phillip Shore.

I: ___________

B: No we didn't have it at Phillip Shore, no we didn't.

I: It was strictly at Ybor?

B: Yeah.

I: And it was probably phased out at Ybor.

B: Yeah.

I: By when?

B: Oh I can't quite remember, I guess just after Shorty Wilson

left, I think it was, it was phased out.

I: I thought I had one more question. How would you summorize,

ah, the various special programs and things that you did at

Phillip Shore?

B: Well first before we go to that, I think that we have come

a long way in education and we are professionals, and today we don't

consider whose a Latin, he may have a Latin name, but ah, I think

that we have come a long ways, they don't even think

now. The Blacks have come a long way, and I think the Blacks will

have the same, the same, in fact they have a greater opportunity

than we did and they arekt giving it to them, and I'm glad to see

that, you can, positively, because we are all human beings. But

of course I was principal of Phillip Shore, and I was also principal

of Preston, I was at Preston for four years, yeah four years, and

from there I went to Graham, I was principal of Graham for six

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 16, 1974

Page 34


I: Wasn't also Latin?

B: They had a Latin Community, but when I went to _

see the ah, ah, the ah, the modernistic approach&a4c-place, I

mean, more or less. See?

I: What's the Modernistic Approach?

B: When they transform the past, speaking about the past they

become what we call Modernists, they believed in education now,

and they were moderner, they wanted their children to go to school.

And West Tampa has produced a lot of good citizens

But West Tampa was similar to Ybor City, very much, almost the

same. But when I went to Crawford, that was, I don't know that

was, what was it in '68-'69, no it was before that, I was there

four years, and I've been here three...

I: It was in the sixties that you thought at Creston?

B: Yeah I started in '49, and was there 13 years.

I: Right.

B: And four years at __,.

I: What about '62 to '66?

B:: All that I know is that I've been in this system 42 years.

I: Right, that's a...

B: It's a long time. 42 years. And of course I have to say that

I'm and reminese and go back cause so much has happened,

since then. I have something here that I'm sure you can... This

is ah, this these papers are what we call the WashroomC.f d 3 13 '

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Aug. 22, 1974

Page 35

B: And just to show you for instance, just to show you, this

of the year, this is February, December 26,

we graduated the first week in January, was the middle school, I

mean \ \ year. They don't have that anymore, But this

is what it was supposed to be, December 27. This is the principle

,\ __ for the second half. And this is a

commensment number from graduation from.

As you can see...

I: Oh you have an article.

B: Oh yeah I was in those days it was called the class

principle, the valedictorian. That was in ... I had

See they didn't get an Anglo-Saxon, they selected me,

I: Why did they do that?

B: Well ...

I: not to select an Anglo-Saxon,

B: No, no half and half as I said _

(Can't pick this up as my tape is running to slow as it is near the


I: All of those were from the

B: Yeah. And this is the they used to go by class, and this nsed

to be the 9A1. Which was the 9A1, which was the homeroom section. TRis-

is my wife. She looks different there. See how skinny she was.

Williams was class President.

I: just out of curiosity you knew your wife...

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
i .34 Aug. 22, 1974

B: Yeah.

I: When did you marry her?

B: '31. This is 9A2. A lot of these people are dead now...