Interview with A. L. Chiaramonte, February 24, 1974

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Interview with A. L. Chiaramonte, February 24, 1974
Chiaramonte, A.L. ( Interviewee )
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
Hillsborough County Oral History Collection
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: MargaretLenkway
Sept. 23, 1976

Page 1
Interview: A.L. Chiaramonte
Interview Date: 2-24-74

C: He just goes for it in a Hell of a big way which I don't. I'm pretty

conservative and pretty quiet about lots of things. But what are your


I: Ok. In answer to your first question I haven't interviewed But one

student from Ybor Elementary. I didn't want to take up interviewing

techniques if I could help it.

C: It was started... was it 1921? The first part.

I: The date 1903 keeps popping into my mind. There was a school,"school"

there in the 1890's. But buildings is another story. They built a

brand new building in 1915, as far as I...

C: The building in the back or the building in the front?

I: I think the building in the back. Ah, the records are contradictory.

In 1903 I think they build the first building, and then they made an

addition in 1915. And than another record says they built a whole

new building in 1915. But I can't be sure. Ah, what IVm going to do

then, but first you have some other questions?

C: No. I just ah...

I: Oh, this is for my Ph. D.

C: Yeah, well you told me that the other day.

I: Now, can you give me your full name?

C,:It's Al Chiaramonte, that's A-1 and then C-h-i-a-r-a-m-o-n---e,

I: And the birth place of your parents?

C: My parent's were born in Italy.

I: Sicily, or...

C: In Sicily that's right.

Ybor City Typist: Margaret Lenkway
Sept. 23, 1974

Page 2

I: Your own birth place?

C: What's that sir?

I: Your birth place.

C: I was born in Tampa.

I: Ok, Year?

C: September 7, 1912.

I: Nationality that you considered yourself as a child?

C: American citizen.

I: But your parents?

C: My parents were Italian, but of course they became Naturalized

after they came to this country.

I: And what was your native language at the time you were attending


C: Well it was Italian because we spoke in Italian at home. However,

because of the fact that I had two other brothers and three sisters all

of whom were older then I was I learned a lot of English from them.

I: Ok. Italian was your native language. But you probably could

speak English almost as well as Italian.

C: Back then?

I: Yes.

C: I spoke fairly good English. Of course I remember I was only

six years old when I entered school.

If Can you name and give the location of each Elementary School you

attended in Tampa, private or public?

C: Well I attended

Ybor City Lenkway
Sept. 30, 1974

Page 3

C: Well I attended public schools throughout my career, throughout

my life and I also attended the University of Florida. I went through

the fifth grade at B.M. Ybor School.

I: First through fifth?

C: First through fifth, the sixth grade was not taught at B.M. Ybor School

because the school was overcrowded. As I recall there must have been

twelve or thirteen-hundred students there at that time. So my sixth

grade was at Robert E. Lee School. And then from there I went to Junior

High School, George Washington Junior High, and then Hillsborough High


I: And after wards vyou went to the University?

C: Ah, University of Florida.

I: Did you go to any free elementary schools? Any other schools.

C: No. No.

I: Did you know of the _, or the little local schools

they had at the time?

C: Oh yeah. Yes there were, there were some schools, I moved to a house

on llth Avenue and_12th Street in 1926, after I had gone through the

elementary, B.M. Ybor School. And right next door to my home was one of

these Espoleta's that you're talking about. A lady by the name of

was the operator in that school. I'm trying to think of the

woman ... But she had a school there that was more or less kindergarten.

And had 40 or 50 children there and she was teaching it.

I: What was her nationality?

C: She was, I think she was Cuban. She had a son who taught... and she

taught also, she taught piano,'piano and her son also taught piano.

I: Did they do this during the day, or was this at night?

C: No, it was during the day. In other words it's hh, most of the children

who were going to that

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 1, 1974

Page 4

C" No, it was during the day. In other words it's ah, most of the children

who were going to that as you referred to it, were children

of people who were working in cigar factories. And they would take the

children there to be taken care of and at the same time start learning some

things before they went into elementary school. Because there were, most

of them were of course, were ah, pre-elementary school children.

I: And they were mostly Spanish speaking?

C: Oh, yes. As a matter of fact I would say thatmore than 90 percent

of them were, were Spanish speaking children.

I: And the other 10 percent?

C: There might have been some Italian speaking people there. But I

think most of them were Spanish speaking children.

I: Where did you say the school was located?

C: It was at 948 llth Avenue.

I: And this was what year?

C: 1926, 27,28.

I: As late as that?

C: Yes.

I: Do you recall any other types, such as or little kindergarten


C: There seems to me like there was one on 9th Avenue, between 16th and 17th

Street, that was operated by ah, some church group that I do not recall

the name of the church.

I: By a church group. Could it have been Baptist? Or Presbyterian? Or


C: I'm not sure.

I: You're not thinking of Will Powers or Rosa Valdez?

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 1, 1974

Page 5

C: No, no, no. No this was something else that I can not remember,

See that was, that was prior to 1926 that IJm referring to. Because

see I moved from that neighborhood in 1926 and I know that that was,

that school was there in existence prior to 1926, but I cannot give you

any other information .

I: So you spent your childhood days in Ybor City?

C: Yes, oh yes.

I: How was it divided? Did you live in Italian part of town, or a

Spanish part? How were things...

C: No, they were all, people in that area were all mixed up. As a matter

of fact right next door to the house where I was living there was a colored

person living there. Which was very unusual. It.was very unusual for,

it was mulatto you know, not completely Negro.

I: Were they Latin Blacks?

C: Spanish. She spoke Spanish.

I: Ok. This \ is a very elusive thing because there's not

record of them.

C: Yeah.

I: But ah, they were used, indicated that they were principlely for

childcare, or...

C: Yes, it was principlely childcare, but of course they were learning

something there too.

I: Well what were they teaching them?

C: I can't tell youexactly what they were teaching.

I: Ok. You yourself never went there.

C: I know there'd be singing I could, see I was living right nect door

and we could hear the singing in there and we could hear the instructor

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 1, 1974

Page 6

instructing them. But incidently the instruction was in Spanish, it was not

in English.

I: So they didn't go there to learn English, I guess.

C: Huh?

I: They didn't go there to learn English?

C: No, they just went there... it was mostly... I would imagine t was

mostly to take care of them while the parents were working in the cigar

factories, or in some places like that. But at the same time they did some

singing and the lady, Mrs.... the lady that was running the place was

giving them some instruction.

I: How did you find going into the first grade without any pre-schooling?

C: I didn't have any problem at all, Andah, ah.,. As I look back now

I just marveled at the way that the teachers carried on and taught these

kids who didn't know English, with a lot of, of what we call today

audio-visual aids. Like for instance they'd have cardboard animals, made olt

of cardboard and they would just go ahead and put it on there and write on

the blackboard what it was. Like camel, or dog, or cat. And that's the way

we learned a lot of the things there. Of course, as I said I did know a lot

of English myself, but there were children in there that didn't know any

English at all.

I: How would they adapt to the jump?

C4 Well they just, they just listened, just listened to the conversation

and if the teacher would say, for instance they'd ask me "What is this?"

And I'd say "cat" then they realized that's what it was.

I: They were learning from listening to youand other students who could

do it? Did the non-English speaking students, have much chance to speak

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 2, 1974

Page 7

English at Ybor? Did they speak much English? In other words if you can't

speak English and you're a student; we some of the kids can't speak

English, and everyone wants to speak Spanish...

C: Well they wouldn't speak Spanish in the classroom. There was very

little Spanish speaking in the classroom. Most of the SpaAish speaking

was outside in the yard. And insidently there's something that's quite

strange, I don't know why it is but a Spanish speaking chil4 in that school

for instance, and even outside of the school there, would not be able to

wasn't able to speak in Italian but most of your Italian speaking kids

were able to speak Spanish. Why I don't know, but it did happen. And

even today you find a lot of Italian people that come from Italian background

who can speak Spanish, but the Spanish people can't speak Italian.

I don't know why, maybe because they just weren't not exposed, maybe it

was because those of us who came from Italian backgrounds had to learn the

Spanish because most of the people here were Spanish people. I dontt

know whether that was the reason for it.

I: That sounds like it. Well someone told me ___, Mr._

told me yesterday that Italy was under Spanish domination until 1870.

I don't know the history of Italy, but I've heard that said.

C: I'm not able to say that. I know that Sicily was dominated by several

different countries before it became completely under Italian rule. I can't

tell you what those countries are but one day I was looking at some of

the History of Sicily and I found out that there were several different countries,

at one time or another had dominated Sicily. But maybe... I'll tell you

Tony has done a lot of travelling and a lot of studying, as a matter of

fact he told me that he had picked-up a book in England, that give the

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 2, 1974

Page 8

history of Sicily. And in that, he told me that, that ah, the people

with ah, my parent's name had there, were very prominent at one time or an-

other back then. He told me that he was going to lend me the book so I

could read all about it, but I never had been by his home to pick-up

the book.

I: I think it would be well worth your while. Ok. I've got several sets

of questions here, I'll try and go through them as quick as I can. How

much time do you want to give to me?

C: Well, what ever time...

I: I don't want to keep you from anything.

C: No what ever time... I told the lady who is cleaning my house that when

ever she gets ready to go I will go ahead and take her and you can just ride

in the car and then come back with me. So I tell you, I'll tell her now

again that if she's ready...

I: Ok. First set of questions deals with your parents attitudes about

schools and education in the neighborhood. I'd like to know why your

parents choose to send you to B.M. Ybor?

C: Well, we had to go to school, to the school which was nearest our

home, and that was the school that was nearest our home.

I: You.mean the public school?

C: That's right.

I: And why didn't they-:send,'you to private school?

C: Ah, I don't think that they were to interested in sending the children

to public schools, I mean to private schools, to parochial schools. Enen

though they had come from Sicily and they had a Catholic background, why they

still thought it was best to send the children to public schools.

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 2, 1974

Page 9

I: Did they ever express feelings or sentiments...

C: No.

I: Just, private school was out.

C: Yeah.

I: Ok. Because I noticed that many Spanish, I think Cuban, no Spanish

peopleseemed to have sent their kids to the private schools, or the

academies. The Academy of the Holy Names, The Scrid Heart.

C: Yeah, I had noticed that more of the Spanish speaking people, or people

that have a Spanish background go to parochial schools-than people of

Italian background.

I: What... when your parents sent you off to school what kind of ideals

or traits did they express about your becoming educated? When they said

you should become an educated person, what was an educated person? Do

you see what I'm saying? The ideal educated man should be a, should process

certain characteristics, what would they be?

C: Frankly I don't know how to answer that question. I know they were

very anxious for us to get an education and be able to do, be able to become

something more then what they were. In other words, my dad was a shoemaker

and my mother was a cigar maker, and they wanted us to become persons that

would be able to do better than what they had done. All though I just

marvel at the way they scraficed and they way they carried on, and scraficed

in order for the children to get an education. They were quite anxious

for all the children to become Americanized, and get a proper education,

and take their rightful place in the community.

I: Well let me pick some of these statements apart. Because this seems

to be a different way at looking at education. ysayhe educated

YXbpr City' Lenkway
Oct. 2, 1974

Page 10

man should be well read in the classics and history, or this,that and the

other, but your parents seemed to indicate that education was important

to help you achieve things that they didn't have.

C: That's right.

I: A very practical orientation. An Americanization.

C: That's right.

I: Do your parents, and that's another thing your parents weren't trying to

preserve the old culture, or Italian traits, they wanted you to become Americanized

C: That's right.

I: Did all Italian's share this view?

C: I don't know whether they all did, but I know my parents did.

I: Because, for example they had the \ \ \ \ That I

presume was to preserve the culture, or was it not?

C: Possibly, I think well, I think it was um, more of a place for social

activities, and to come in contact with other people that were from the other

country. Of course My daddy belonged to the Italian club for a long time,

the_ and ah, one of the reasons he belonged to it

also was the fact that it had these like a medical society, you know

where people were able to get attention, yeah help. And not only that, I

don't whether Tony may have told you this, at that time they also had a

situation where you pay your dues and if some member of the club died each

member was assesded a dollar, that would go to the family of the deceased to

help them out. See? So that they used to come around sometime in a month,

if eight or ten of the members had died, well there was an assessment of

eith or ten dollars to he&p the family. Sw it was a...he belonged to

it mostly for the contacts he had with other people that came from the

other country and bake bread with them.

Ybor City Lenkwgy-
Oct. 2, 1974
rage 11

I: Well did they then have a library?

C: My daddy had, mother didn't read or write.

I: Not your parents, but the ?_

C: They had a library, but whether they had one way back when he first

became a member, I don't know.

1: I guess I'm getting at, did they have any kinds of educational programs

at ?

C: I'm afraid I can't. You know who could have really helped you out on

a lot of that was Tony's father, Tony father. Because he

was active. See my dad was not active. No he was not active, because

my daddy was a shoemaker and he just worked day and night, seven days a

week and hardly had anytime for too much of the social events and going to

the clubs and all that. But Tony's father was very active in the organization,

I think he was an officer along time ago he

probably told you that. Did he?

I: No he didn't, we didn't cover that. Um, that's very good. Now, I'd like

to get into something, some questions on the interaction between the community

and the school. What role the school played in the local community? The

first question I have is: In what ways did the school officials, or the

teachers, different school personnel communicate with your family at home?

In other words by note, or did they ever didiit at all, or if they ever

invited them to come to a play, or something. What kinds of contact did

the school have with your family?

C: I personally don't remember of any contacts, whatever.

I: The teachers didn't make home visits?

C: No, not that I can remember.

I: Did the teachers ever send notes to your home?

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 2, 1974

Page 12

C: Just the report cards.

I: The report cards?

C: Yeah, that's all.

I: What was the reaction to the report cards? How were they handled at your

home? Did you bring... Did you bring your report cards?

C: Oh, yes.

I: Ok.

C: Oh yes, the parents were always very- interested in seeing the report

cards and especially if the report card was good they compliment you

very highly, t$EL if they were not good they say you just have study a little


I: Did your parents try to help you study, or leave it up to you?

C: No, no they... probably my brothers and sisters might have helped me,

but not parents, because they didn't know any English. They just, all

they knew was to work and work and work and scrafice and send the rest of

the children to school. So they never learned English. And ah, Daddy

knew a little bit and Motheijknew a little bit, but very, very little,

even up until the time they passed away they were not, they didn't know,

they couldn't carry-on a conversation in English, or read an English

language newspaper.

I; There was an Italian newspaper, wasn't there?

C: Oh yes. My daddy subscribed to an Italian language newspaper,

and he read Spanish, too. Yeah,

he could read Spanish.

I: Did he subscribe to any local Spanish papers?

C: Yes, he used to get, he subscribed to a Spanish ne4aper called

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 2, 1974

Page 13

which means The Translation. And as a matter of fact, what daddy used to

do he subscribed to the Italian paper from New York, __

and then he would, after he would finish reading it he would turn it

over to the publisher of this Spanish newspaper \ and a

day or two later why the Spanish newspaper would have translations from the

Italian newspaper into Spanish. From that paper that my daddy used to get.

And of course Mother worked in the cigar factory, and in the cigar factory

they had these readers, who would read to the people in Spanish. Always

in Spanish, there was no, as gar as I can recall there never any

Italian readers in the cigar factories. They were all Spanish.

I: There were a lot of Spanish people working there.

C: There were Italian people working there. Maybe that's the reason the

Italian people learned the Spanish too, because the readers were always

reading in Spanish. Anytime you read... To the Italian people... there's

several hospitals here, some of the best hospitals here are operated by

these Latin Clubs. \ operated by Spanish people from

one part of Spain, and then there's the Hospital, The

Italian people don't have a hospital but they have some sort of a working

arrangement with the other two hospitals, the other operated by Spainish


I: One thing confused me a bit when I read a newspaper and you were talking

about the Communistic incidence of 1930, when people were getting all

adjetated and excited. I know back in the teens, or tens, or what ever

that there were Italian Socialists coming into this country, Italian

Anarchists and these people were influencial in mingling with the CubanN

people who were also interested in And I know in Tampa

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct, 2, 1974

Page 14

this was one of the major issues of the, the whole history. In fact

this is one of the things that interests the people who study, often.

Because it's the only thing left in tack. But all you can get hold of

these days are these early trade papers that Cubans and Italians put out,

and the Spanish put out. And it was all this socialism and all this

anarchism and all this trade unionism in them. Do you have any recollection

of how this effected relations with the American community' and the

outside community?

C: Well frankly I never had heard of that here. Not in Tampa. I never

heard of that. You say that you had some authorization of that here in


I: Tampa Tribune is loaded with it. I've been tracing through the papers

for the tens, earlier and even 1922. And I've got here they, let

me see they deported two Cubans fromnYbor for being anarchists. The

Italians had a newspaper, a socialist newspaper called or

or something like that, back about 1913. The Cubans had there papers, of

course and all of them were working together with what they call Socialistic

ideas, partly because of the coops and benevelant societies they had. This

made a lot of Americans,,Anglo-Americans suspicious, because to them

a lot of this meant either socialism or communism because they had these

beneveloent societies and cooperative type kndevers. And there were a lot

of words flung back and forth in the Tampa Trib and these other papers

about the coops, as they call it the cooperatives.


Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 3, 1974

Page 15

I: Or cooperatives as they call it. They say that cooperatism is a nice

thing but, you know we kinda suspect these Italians, or these Cubans

and Spanish, especially since a lot of them are anarchists and you know

they go on and on.

C: Well I didn't you see you've really brought something to me here

that I didn't know about. I know that they had a lot of trouble in the

cigar factories.

I: In the 1930's?

C: Yes, and even before that Somebody would just get aggitated about

something there and say let's go out on strike. And of course everybody

had to walk out, because if they didn't they call them this and they

call them that, so everybody just walked out. And there were times when

they were on strike, I think one time they were on strike for about ten


I: Yes, there was 1921 strike, 1901 and I think 1910. But 1921 was the big


C: There was an article on National publication, a very lengthy article

that pointed out a lot of this anarchy and all this communistic activity

on light in the Tampa cigar factories. And you know that they claimed that

some of the radical elements were aggitated by the readers in the cigar

factories, and for that reason at one time, I don't know if it was after on e

of the strikes was settle, or what they banned the readers from these

cigar factories.

I: It was in 1923.

C: Because they claimed they were reading a lot of things that were

radical items and things like that.

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 3, 1974

Page 16

I: But in your own experiences in the '20's you don't...

C: I don't. I never heard of anything like that there.

I: Ok. That's just on the side. Um, lets get back to the education.

Now the next thing. We were talking about community contact between the

parents and the school. I was wondering in what ways your parents-had

any contact with the school? We discussed how the school, or the lack

of the schools contact with the parents. Did your parents want to-go: c:

either write notes, or letters, or visit the principal, or visit the


C: No. Neither my dad nor my mother ever went to the schools that I

went, that I attended. If there was any contact, it was made, it wag

made by an older brother or an older sister.

I: I don't understand that.

C: In other words if there was something that my parents would want the

teacher, or the principal to know why they would just have an older brother

or an older sister go to the school. Like for instance, one time my parents

thought that myabe I should be promoted from the third grade to the forth

grade, sort of social promotion, in other words they felt like I, like I

was very intelligent boy, I should get jumped one grade. So I either my sister

or my brother suggested to the teacher that I should be promoted to the

next grade. And so, that's the way it was done. I mean one, one of the

members of the family made the suggestion to the teacher. And of course the

teacher went ahead and examined me on a few questions and found nut I wasn't

ready for the next grade, so I didn't get promoted.

I: Did other families do this kind of thing?

C: Oh yes. From time to time while, if they felt like their children were

Ybor CIty Lenkway
Oct, 3, 1974

Page 17

very intelligent, why they'd ask if the child could be jumped one grade.

Well you know now, today they do that a lot. They really call it social

promotion, now where if a child can't do third grade work they go and

put him in the forth grade, rather than keep him behind.

I: Would other families use the older children as intermediaries?

C: I don't know, I would imagine they did, but I can't tell you.

I: Why would your parents? You probably can't answer-this question.

C: Well they couldn't, because they couldn't speak English.

I: Oh, I see.

C: See, and the teachers were, the teachers were English speaking people.

I don't believe I had any teachers there that spoke any Spanish or.-

Italian. Oh you know one thing, I just happened to think of a teacher

that is related to the mayor here, Mayor Greckle. She was teaching in

that school too... cut it out for a second I'll try to remember the name.

I: Ok. What ideals were stressed by your parents in raising children?

What were expected of children?

C: Oh, to be ah, course honesty was one thing that they stressed, honesty

and in school to be well disciplined, pay attention to teacher, and try

to get the very best education. That's about it, I ...

I: Well say in your homelife too? Ah, what did they expect of you in

terms of, well addressing them, was ah... Anglo culture for example, was

very different from Latin culture, your parents were Latin... How did they

expect you to interact with them, perhaps were you as __with your

parents as Anglo children-are with theirs? Did they punish you for certain

kinds of things? Did they warn you for other types of things? I'm trying

to get a berring on childhood ideals of Latin culture in Tampa, they types

of things parents would expect of their kids when raising them.

YBor City- Lenkway
Oct. 3, 1974

Page 18

C: I just don't know how to answer that to tell you the truth. In

other words, we were justone happy family, I mean everyone just did

something, if daddy asked me to do something why.I'd do it, if mother

asked me to do something whykI'd do it and we never contradicted them,

and it was a well disciplined family. And if, for instance one time I

was anxious to get a motorcycle and my mother convinced me that it was not

the thing, at least she told that it was dangerous, and I ...

Side Two, Tape I

I: In other words, here you had parents that had a different way of bringing

up children than the American way of doing it,_

and so on. Thye come over here and they probably had different way of

dealing with each other as father to son, and mother to sonand'daughter

And then you go to the schools and schools are teaching you a different way

of acting towards your parents, or perhaps even the same way, I'm not

sure, and that's what I'm trying to find out. How did the school affect

relations between parents and children, and what parents expected of the


C: I can't answer that question. I mean I just ah...

I: Well for example some'cases it put a strain because the schools expected

you to ah go to school, and parents didn't want you to go to school,

expected you to support the family and this caused a terrible strain on

relations in the family. In other cases I noticed that children were

taught that ah, ah their parents who worked in cigar factories were not as

good people as people who lead a different type of life, and so there was

a strain put on your family at home because you were taught to respect

somebody else, rather than your own parents.

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 3, 1974

Page 19

C: Well there were absultly no strains in my family. Now there may

have been in some families, but there were absultly no strains in my

family. My family ah, they wanted us to go to school. And we had, we

were given every opportunity in the world to get an education, they

were not anxious for us to go out and get a job, they said the first, the

mosttimportant thing is for you to go to school, get good grades, get a

good education, prepare yourself.

I: So school fit right in with all their goals.

C: Oh yes, absolutely.

I: Ok. Good. That's it for the parent contact. Now we get into something

else. Um, can you recall any adult education programs at B.M, Ybor during

the time you went there.

C: No, none at all.

I: Whether at night or day?

C: No education, no adult programs that I can recall.

I: Any night classes?

C: No there were no night courses.

I: English speaking courses?

C: No, I don't recall of anything at all like that at B.M. Ybor.

I: Do you know who the principal was during the time that you went there?

C: I have a faint recollection of a man by the name of Macintosh. For

part of the time that I was there, and then Frank C. Crow, was principal

for most of the time I was there.

I: Do you ever recall a man called Coleman?

C: Coleman. Yes, but I'm trying to, t-ying to get that name, I almost

started to give you that name before, but I can not recall whether Coleman

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 3, 1974

Page 20

was a principal, or whether he was the Superintent of Schools.

I: That's what I'm wondering about. I thought Crow was a principal and

C: Well Crow was a principal there, but then there was someone by the

name of Coleman, but I can not recall whether he was the Superintent of

Schools or what. And incidently, I might want to refer you to a book

that you will find in the public library on the history of Hillsborough

County. Have you checked that book?

I: By Robinson.

C: By E.L. Robinson, yes.

I: That's a really good book. It gives you sorta of a \ \ \N

background Course it's much more detailed than that, but it's a good

way to start out.

C: E.L. Robinson was a Superintent of Schools here for 16 years, and

he was principal of Hillsborough High School, he was also supervisor of

our school system here for some time.

I: Weren't you involved in the school system?

C: Yes I was

I: I'm not to familiar with anything beyond 1930.

C: Well I was elected to the school board in 1936, two years after I was

graduated from the University of Florida, and I was on the board for 32 years,

with the exception of about 30 months while I was in the Army in World War


I: I wanted to ask you but I'll get to that a little later, a couple of

questions about the mechanics of the school board and trustees. I haven't

gotten any, all I've gotten is the shadow when you are starting

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 3, 1974
Page 21

the school board when the trustees made occasional requests and the school

board granted the occasion requests, or declined, or tabled it, or

something like that. I could never understand what the powers of the

trustees were, what the power of the school board was, whether in practice,

or in paper. In fact it looked like the school board would determine

everything and there was really no need for the trustees, except to come in

and make a request which could either be accepted or declined. But then

I hear people tell me that the trustees had all the power and the school

board was merely doing what the trustees told them. I'm very confused on


C: Well ah, at the time that I became associated with the school board in

1937, when I took office, I think there were about, about 30 different

school trustee districts in Hillsborough Country. And under the law these

trustees would reccommend certain thing things to the school board. Like

for instance, they would reccommend a certain individual, a principal of

a school and under the law the school board could turn down that re commendation.

In which case then, the trustees could go ahead and make a second recommendation,

go to the school board and the school board could turn down that

recommendation, also. That's what the law stated. And then after that the

school board could make its own appointment. That's what the law stated.

However, it didn't prove that way. It seems that ah, that ah the courts

ruled that the board, the school board could not turn down a recommendation

from the trustees, unless there was good and sufficient cause. So if

a person was recommended by the trustees and he was qualified for the job

and had the proper creditials, it was almost impossible for the school

board to turn it down, because if they did turn it down, the trustees would

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 3, 1974

Page 22

go to court and force the school board to take it. So as a result the

school board, the trustees became very powerful in this country. And so

actually the school board almost became a rubber stamp, until eventually

the trustee boards were eliminated in the state and they had for awhile,

they had one county wide trustee board and then eventually the trustees were

eliminated all together, so that now the school board is the all powerful


I: How .did thisitrusteeppower type relationship effect the schools in the

Latin districts? Your trustees, well as I can recall the Tampa school

district covered not only Ybor City, but...

C: It covered quite a bit of area outside of Tampa, yes.

I: Yes, at that point. So how would this affect the allocation,1or

distribution of educational resources for different people in the community?

What was on the minds of the trustees when they tried to make the school

system run? Of course I'm thinking back in the '20's, but your experiences

are in the '30's.

C: Your thinking back, you're thinking baek prior to the '20's, right?

I: Right. You weren't there then?

C: No, no I didn't come into the picture until '37, but after I came

on the board, the trustees were very receptive in doing everything they

could for the ah, schools in the Latin district too, And of course, they

became quite powerful politically too.. THey were more or less employing

all the people in the maintenance department, custodial crews, stuff like


I: Trustees were elected, weren't they?

C: They were elected, yes. There were three trustees in each district.

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 3, 1974

Page 4-3

I: So a school district could have, let's see, a school district would have a

special election?

C: Yes they had a special election and only people who had paid a tax on

personal or real property were entitled to vote in those trustee elections.

So usually the, the elections, very few people turned out for the trustee


I: And yet they had so much power granted to these people.

C: Oh yes.

I: What's personal property, back in those days?

C: Well it meant furniture and things like that, you know.

I: I didn't catch that.

C: Furniture, furniture, your piano, if you had a piano,

I: How about intangible like stocks?

C: None of that, no stocks, they were not entitled to vote on that.

I: Oh, in other words anybody with personal, this is important to me

because a lot of the records I'm turning up are voter registration lists,

and the qualifications were that you had to own real or personal property...

C: Yeah.

I: ... and what else? Probably be 21, um, and be a resident of the county.

C: Yeah, some...

I: SOmething like that. My opinion wasphat the real property meant you

had to ovn real estate.

C: Yeah.

I: Personal property, I'm not sure what that meant.

C: Well I'm sure that the personal property was ah, was furniture, things

like that. See?

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 3, 1974

Page r-?L/

I: Ok.

C: And usually a lot of time what people used to do, they used to go

a head a follow an affidavit, that they owned some personal property so

that they could pay a tax of a very, very small amount of money and that

would entitle them to vote.

I: Oh. Now one other thing is the White Primary. That really confuses

me. Back in 1910, there would be what they had the White Primary Party,

or the White ...

C: Yeah, but that was only in the city elections, not in the county.

I: Oh.

C: It was a municipal. The county didn't have that. But the...

I: How long did that last?

C: I don't know, because I don't remember when they got started. I do

remember that there was the White Municipal Primary, and usually a person

would only of course white people could run in the White Municipal


I: Now that's the thing. How would the law state that, as excluding

Black people? Because Blacks were given the vote when reconstruction hit.

What was it like four blacks to one vote, or something like that. I know

at that point, that lets see, Republicans and Blacks were undesirable people

to vote, and that the primary, the White Primary partly helped to ah,

block out Republicans back in those days and also to block out blacks.

Partly because the colored people were considered to have those

that were partly for that reason. Ok. How would you have a

white primary stated in the laws? In other words, I'm a voter and let's say

I'm republican and I walk up and I say I want to vote in the White Primary,

is there any law against it? What law would there be against voting in a

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 4, 1974

page 25

White Primary, a White Republican? Outside the fact that I have real

property, and I'm over 21, and I'm a resident of the county?

C: Well I don't, course I don't have a copy of the law and I don't know

what it was, but I don't believe that it bared a Republican from voting.

Did it? I don't know.

I: Yes, because it was a primary, so only Democrats could vote in a


C: But this was not a Democratic Primary. Was it? I thought it was a

White Municipal,.. Was it a White Democratic Primary?

I: It was a White Democratic Municipal Primary.

C: Well see a lot of that was before my time.

I: No Republicans could run. In fact they didn't bother to run. ANd

what happens, this is very curious because the elections would take place

in November and if you read the old papers of the time there was just

nothing about the election ah, in November and at first I couldn't

understand it, and then I started reading back in March, when they had

the primary and papers were flooded with campaign advertisements.

C: So were the primaries held in March or were they held in September?

I: In Varch. They held the primaries in March,and that's when people were

elected, because you were only a primary candidate but by November you were

running unopposed. Because .

C: Did you find out when that went out of existence, that White Municipal


I: No I haven't. That's another one of these things that comes out of

left field. This whole business of ... I completely forgot the White Primary

as an institution in the South. I was raised in the South and I forgot about


Ybor City Lenkwav
Oct. 4, 1974

Page 26

C: Where were you raised?

I: In Miami

C: Oh yeah.

I: I remember White Primaries.

C: Well did they have the White Primary in Miami, too?

I: Oh yeah, they had White Primary down there We used to have the Democratic

Primary in those days, we know once you made the nomination you were in.

C: You see the first contact that I ever really had with elections

here was in 1934, the day after that I was graduated from the University

of Florida, I reported for duty on the next morning, which was a Tuesday

and there was a county and state election. And ah, ah, ah, and that's the

first, and the managing editor of the Tampa Times, I was working as, I

went to work as a reporter on the Tampa Times, and Jerry McCloud, who

was the managing editor took me around town to visit the various precincts,

But that's the first time that I came in contact with an election, but

that was a county and state election. That was in '34, Now in '35 I

was involved as a reporter with the City election, that was held in

September of 1935, during a hurricane, that's when ballad boxes were

stollen and people voted more than they were supposed to vote, a very

bad period in the history of Tampa.

I: Ok. Let me g4t back on to this thing here. I'm going to talk a little

bit about classroom organization and my first question is: What techniques

did the teacher- use to manage the class? What techniques and-methdds, or

types of procedures were used in conducting the class from day to day?

C: Teachers didn't have any problem. Back then the teachers absolutely had

no problems what so ever with discipline, because ...

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 4, 197

Page 27

I: No, wait, that's not the question. The question is: What kinds of

methods were used to teach math, to teach geography, in other words how

were classes conducted on a daily routine, when you were in school, back

in the first say through the forth grades? Discipline is a whole other


C: Oh I see. Well I do recall math classes...

I: I know you were talking about they had the animals.

C: Yes.

I: That's a method.

C: Well yes, and I was starting to talk about operating a math classes,

where they would set up a grocery store, and people would come in and buy

so-many apples at so much, and how much would it cost, and they just had,

just like a regular grocery store and the teacher would tell a-person to

go buy so many cans of milk, at so much and to give the person the proper

amount of money. And math problems were worked out that way by the use

of,,um, um, operating like a little grocery store, that was one of the

methods that they used in my classes. I know subsequent to that time

they were even conducting like a cooking class, and um...

I: Home Ec?

C: Huh?

I: Was it Home Ec.?

C: Like a Home Ec. yes, but I mean they would, we would play like they

were going to cook something, and they say well "we're going to cook for

four people."

I: The girls and boys?

C: Yes. It wasxnot actually a cooking class, it was in the math, they

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 4, 1974

page 28

were teaching math, all right we're going to cook a certain thing,-for

four people. Now if were going to cook it for eight people, how much

shoudl we increase the percentages, or the fractions. See? So that was,

and of course the teacher would bring in, in ah, pictures of meals that

could be prepared, and what the recipe cAlled for, a portion for four

people, and then says, "Well now let's find out how much it will take of

each item to make it for eight, or for twelve people?" So that's been done

quite a bit in the schools and in the home ec. classes too, they teach


I: How did they teach you to read?

C: As I recall we jsut read. They just, the teacher would read and then

ask us, a child to read ._

I: How did the children respond to that? That kind of method?

C: Asl remember they responded very well, some of them nashful, you know,

and the teacher would say a good work, when they did a good job reading, and

help them out if they couldn't read, or ask one of the other children if they

could help this person, you know.

I: Did they use children very much for that purpose?

C: They used some, yeah they used some. Especially where ah, ah children

didn't know the language too well, you know. Spanish, some of the Spanish

kids who couldn't read, the Spanish people had a hard time pronouncing a lot

of the words. Like shoes, shoes, the Spanish people had a hard time pronouncing

some of the words and of course that creates laughter sometimes ina

class when they mispronounce the word.

I: Well who would they use to help the Spanish children? Other Spanish


Ybor city Lenkway
Oct. 4, 1974

Page 29

C; Yes other Spanish children, But. ou know-fr a long tie, h ee T don 't

know whether you know, or ever run into tnis thing, speaking SpaAicsh in

class was frowned here, even in the yards at lunch time, it was frowned

upon, and teachers would ah, would admonish the children not to speak

Spanish. And so for a long time, I don't know whether you run into this,

for a long time Spanish classes weren't even taught in the Public Schools

in Hillsborough County, because there was no call for it, the, everybody

was trying to get away from speaking Spanish. My wife taught in one school

here, oh about 15, 20 years ago and the teacher said she wanted her child

to be transferred from that school to another school in the county, because

she didn't want her child to become associated with people speaking Spanish.

She wanted her child to be moved to a school where the people were

predominantly Anglo-Saxon.

I: Was that child an Anglo-Saxon?

C: Yes. Italian.

I: Oh.

C: Yeah. And my wife says, she said, "I don't want my child with no

Spanish." And my wife said well that's, I said I wish I could speak more

than one language, because my wife is Anglo-Saxon. And this women, Italian

woman looked at her, like as if she were crazy that, that she would want

to speak more than one language. But you know it's changed now. There's

a lot of Spanish classes in the schools, now and everybody wants to learn

another language. But there was a period here where people were trying to

get away ...

I: When was that, actually?

C: Oh, I would say, I would say that it was in the '30's. Yeah,

Oct. 4, 1974

Page 30

I: Ok. What about physical ed? Did you have ah, I'm unclear, when did they

introduce physical ed? Was it there at the time you were going to school?

C: I don't know...

I: Did you go out and play ball?

C: Well, yeah we played a little bit outside, but not much of anything.

I don't think there was much physical ed. back then, I can't recall

it, much physical ed. There was in Junior High School, when I went to

junior high school. Right after that I went to junior high school around

the fall of '26, I think... '25 or '26 I can't remember.

I: Ok. Um, can't you think of how they used the p oards in those days?
They had &mp boards?

C: Oh yes. How they did what?

I: How they used them? Would they send you to the board?

C: Oh yeah. We went to the blackboard all the time.

I: Why? What was the...

C: Well they just tell you to write ah, ah, words, like spelling lessons,

they go ahead and ask you to _each person would have part of a

the blackboard then, and the teacher would go and check to see whether the

spelling was correct, or they would go ahead and the teacher would, ah

read a sentence and ask the child to write the sentence on the blackboard.

I: Now, lets see.

C: Course you know one thing, you may interview somebody else who went to

the same school and the teacher might!have had different approach.

I: That's what I have to find out. But ah, generally speaking it seems the

teachers had a course of study, or some annual, or something, didn't they?

C: They probably did.

rDOr iTy Lencway
Oct. 7, 1974

Page 31

I: They tried to follow. Ok. How were the pupils arranged in the

classroom? Was there alphabetical order, or any special ordering

of the pupils? Did they get assigned seats?

C: They were assigned seats, but I don't remember how they were assigned

seats I know, I recall a class I was in the fifth grade and I bet there

must have been about 48 kids in that school, in that class.

I: How would they handle 48 or 50 kids? Was this in a classroom?

C: Yeah, one classroom.

I: Where would they put4hem, would they have seats, for all of them?

C: Oh yeah, yeah. They had these old type seats, you know... Yeah I'm

sure there were as many as 48 seats in that room. ANd I told you before

there was no discipline problem, because whenever someone went out of line,

everyone in school would know that something happened, in the principals

office with Mr. Frank C. Crowlwas principal of the school then, because he

used the paddle. And I'll tell you one thing, everybody behaved' in that

school, because if they didn't behave they would carry, they would be taken

to the principals office. And you could hear, from the outside of the

building, especially during the lunch period, you would hear, you'd see

somebody being taken over to the principals office and you could hear hhe


I: What sort of a man was Mr. Crow? All I hear is the name Crow, and >-

all I read is in the School Board News, but can you make it more human,

or more personal form. Who was Mr. Crow, what did he look like ? Can

you ?

C: I don't know

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 7, 1974

Page 32

I: What did he seem like to you at that time, you were just a small


C: Well he was a tall fellow, and he, I think he was an outstanding

principal, after he was principal of that school, I believe, Itm not sure,

I think he went to George Washington, but I know that he was at Sulfer

Springs School, and ah, and he was very well liked by a lot of teachers

who I have come in contact with, that told me that they liked him very much.

And um, he seemed to be a pretty good principal.

I: How did he deal with the Latin population, as I think the school was

mostly Latin, anyway?

C: Yeah, mostly Latin. He got along well.

I: He didn't speak Spanish though, did he?

C: I don't think so, I don't recall that he spoke Spanish. But he

seemed to get a long all right and ah, and ah, he was in the system for

a long, long time, even after being there at Washington for quite some

timm. But I cannot recall where he went from B.M. Ybor, but I know that

he was principal in several different schools. I tell you, ah, you want

to cut that out while I think a little.

I: They mention a Coleman. I never heard of Coleman. I heard of Crow,

and McIntoish, but never Coleman. So I guess I got to go back and check it

out again.

C: Well I'm just wondering then, I'm just wondering if Coleman, was the

superientent. I don't know.

I: You mean the county superientent?

C: Yeah, yeah.

I: Or the city superientent?

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 7, 1974

Page 33

C: The County.

I: No, he was never county. THere was Marshall Moore, and J.E. Knight...

C: Oh yeah, that's right.

I: ... and somebody came after, it wasn't Coleman.

C: Well then Coleman, Coleman may have been a principal there, at one time,

or other, but they did mention Mclntoish and Coleman.

I: Yes, Mclntoish was almost after your time, Crow may recall...

C: Oh, Mclntoish was after their time, well then...

I: He was the 1930's.

C: Oh well then Coleman, was before. It must have been Coleman,and then

Frank C. Crow and then Mclntoish I guess.

I: That I can't answer at this point, till I look back at the records.

Ok. We'll take...

C: Now let me ask pou are all those things necessary for you to get into,

to work up your program? I mean about who was principal of the school

back then, way back then.

I: Yes, yes, because for one thing I ascertain the past history of Mr. Crow,

as being a teacher, an educator primarily. And this is significant, it

tells me that the school system habit to the only Latin school, and that they

put in charge of it a person that had been an educator, rather than a person

that might have been a businessman for all I know, and that it was a male,

because they probably needed a male person to take care of discipline problem

whenever they might arise, and that's about it. Plus Mr. Crow, then I look

at the outside activities of Mr. Crow and I find that he was also instrumental

in setting up other types of programs for Latins too, along with his wife.

Ybor CIty Lenkway
Oct. 7, 1974

Page 34

So they were very instrumental in their concern with Latins. Now Coleman,

is another name that I'll have to trace in Newspapers, if I run across

that much, I haven't yet. I've never heard of him.

C: Well that name is way back there somewhere, I've had that name in my

mind, too.

I: Which name?

C: Coleman.

I: Oh.

C: Coleman, yeah, Coleman. Ok, let's get back to this. Were students

separated ...

C: Is this thing back on?

I: Oh yeaU. Were students separated on any basis such as sex, age,

nationality, ability, or any other basis?

C: Ah, sex. In other words they kept the boys on one side of the room

and the girls on the other side of the room, and at the lSch period, the

girls they um, one side of the yard, and the boys on the other side of

the yard, that's about the only separation that I recall.

I: Now this separation was in the classroom. All day long?

C: Yes.

I: And what grade did it start with? I know this is hard to recall.

Do you think it was through all the grades?

C: I don't know, I just happen to recall my.,.

I: There was some separation based on sex.

C: It seems to me like their was some.

YBor City Lenkway
Oct. 7, 1974

Page 35

I: Now what about...

C: But in the same room, you know.

I: Right. What about if you had children coming over from Cuba who were

older, 14-15 say, what would they do with these children who had no

education, or probably illiterate and could speak no English, and they

would put them in... I know they put them in Ybor, but did they stick

them in with first graders, or what?

C: I can't answer that question. I know that, that in some of the classes

I had particularly, I remember the fifth grade there were boys that were

three or four years older then I was in that class, in the fifth grade,

but I can't recall...

I: What was there effect on the class?

C: I don't think they had any effect.

I: They didn't disrubt anything?

C:, if they did disrubt, why as I said they'd be sent to the,

but I don't remember nay disrubtion .

I: Are you suggesting that discipline was pretty well obeyed.

C: I think the discipline was very, very good,

I: ; \ measures of discipline included-sending the person

to the principal,

C: If it was ah, um, I don't recall whether the teachers disciplined the

students very much themselves, I think they usually just sent them over to

the principals office.

I: What other types of control would teachers exert on the classroom to

maintain order and discipline? Teacher thought you were talking too loud,

pr trying to disrupt it, and passing notes, what ever it was you did in

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 7, 1974

Page 36

those days, what would she usually do?

C: Oh send you to the clock room.

I: Send you to the clock room?

C: Yeah, I got sent...

I: Would the students go to the clock room?

C: Oh yes, if they were asked to go to the clock room, and I think I was

sent to the clo'k room one time.

I: humllatec'youiror make you feel funny, or you just didn't care?

C: Well I don't know. Well I thought it was embaassing to be sent

to the clock room in front of all the rest of the class.

I: What were some of the things that teachers would reward you for? Did

they have a system of rewards?

C: Oh yes, ...

I: I'm sure they did.

C: Oh yes, they'd give you stars, or,..

I: Gold stars?

C: ... either it was ah, they'd have these rubber stamps that had a star,

or had a ...

Tape Two, Side One

I: What did you point out? What did this have to do with, what did you

get gold stars for doing?

C: Oh, a good grade on spelling, or reading, or discipline, or things like

that, and then ah, and then ah, sometimes if, they even would give us

maybe candy, or ice cream or something maybe at the Christmas time, or at

the end of the semester, something like that, why they Oaid if everybody

be good then at the end of the month we'd have a little party, or something,

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 7, 1974

Page 37

But it mostly it mostly as I said was either the stars, or else they come

with a little rubber stamp that had either a star, or a picture of a

cat or a dog, or something.

I: Ok. Now werelgoing into another area and this area, this is what

I call culture content, the fact that this was American culture dealing

with immigrants from other countries, and I try to understand what the

process of interaction was between Latin culture and American culture, as

expressed in the school system. And that's what these questions are

geared towards. The first question is: What special programs existed

for those students who could not speak English, or those students who

were retarded either in age, ability, or physically or mentally retarded?

Were there any special programs for them?

C: I can't recall.

I: Were there any special attempts to help Latin students who could speak

no English, or not enough to get by in class?

C: Frankly, to tell you the truth, I can not reaall any special programs at

all. I think that ah, I think that what took place a lot of times was that

if the child, the child wasn't able to catch on to certain things the

teacher would try and contact an older brother, or an older sister in the

school and suggest to them that they try to help them at home. And you

see nearly everyone that was there in that school had an older brother, or

an older sister because-therewereenonother schools there, and as I said

before I think there were about 12, or 13-hundred kils in that one school.

And everyone had to go there, there was no other elementary school

anywhere close to there at that time.

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 7, 1974

Page 38

I: And they had to go there because of the boundary system?

C: That's right.

I: That's the school in you district and you couldn't go outside your


C: That's right So you see at one time there, there were possibly

four members of my family going to that same school, three or four members

of my family going in that school. And I know that a lot of times the

teacher would try to contact some other member of the family that was

possibly in a higher grade and ask them to help the child, and ah...

And then of course I do recall, yes that sometime the teacher would ask the

child to stay after school and they would give them little tutoring,

outside tutoring, yes.

I: Well didn't... Did Ybor have one of those Chart Classes, or PreclAsses

for kids that were five ears old?

C: No not that I recall. No. I don't recall anything like that.

I: Do you recall any restrictions that teachers placed on speaking "-'-

Spanish, either on the grounds, or in the classroom, or in the corridors?

C: I ah, at the time that I was there in the school I do not recall, I do

not recall any restrictions on ... I told you that in the t30's there

were a lot of a lot of restrictions though, that was after I had already

gone through, through school myself. But I don't recall when I was in, in

elementary school that there was any restriction at all.

I: What happened if the kids were speaking Spanish in the classrooms?

C: You mean then?

1: Right. In the '20's. When you were there?

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 7, 1974

Page 39

C: In the '20's?

I: I know you must have been sitting there and kids around you started

yacking in Spanish.

C: I tell you there was very little yacking in class, I don't know khy

I think, I think children then really paid attention to their teacher, and

they kept quiet. I don't think there was very much yacking back then.

I: And that's another question I was wondering, did teachers accompany

the children outside the classroom, or take them everywhere?

C: Yes, yes, we had to get in line outside and march in and then...

I: This I see today, elementary schools, the-children, today the children

in elementary schools, in some parts of the cities, are usually well

watched and controled, if you're going someplace you have to go with

your teacher. Was that the way'that the teacher controled, or watched

the classes in those days?

C: Where?

I: Taking them out by ?_

C: Yes, the teachers, teachers, and the teachers stayed outside during

the luch period And you know back then there were no cafiterias, no

luch rooms. The kids all brought their own lunch, cold ham sandwich, or...

I: Did they have heating back in those days?

C: Heat in schools? Yes there was heat in school.

I: Ok. Now let's see.

C: And the kids ate outside, outside there was...

I: In winter too?

C: Yeah, in the winter timeit was nice.

I: Yeah, I did that. Can you recall five methods or techniques that the

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 7, 1974

Page 40

teachers used in working with the Latin people? This would include

yourself to help you with your lessons, knowing that you might not understand

them, for one reason or another? Were there any special techniques

that teachers had for helping students overcome language difficulties in

the classroom. I know you mentioned that they would resort to the older

brother, or older sister sometimes, but in the classroom itself, supposing

the child was stumbling, or just kept saying "I can't read in English", or

what ever. What, to your knowledge and recollection did the teacher do,

with thiskind of problem.

C: Ah, I just don't recall anything except, I mean I just don't recall

whether any problems like that developed.

I: I know, I recall...

C: You see the thing about it is this is that I started there in 1918,

and there were so many kids that had already gone through school there

before, and ah, and in case of my brothers.and sisters, they had already

gone through those schools there, so I had a pretty good knowledge,

a fairly good knowledge of the language already, so that I didn't have

much problem and I, I don't recall whether the other kids had very much of

a problem, unless they were kids that had just come in and usually somebody

would help them out.

I: Being somebody, being who?

C: Well one of the other kids would help them out sometime, even I

know outside of the building, sometime they would try to help them out

and tell them what the, teach them math and... but ah, I don't know,

I just have a faint recollection about some of these things.

Oct. 7, 1974

Page 41

I: See I recall, when I lived in Miami, 15 years ago, Cuban kids started

coming into the classroom, couldn't speak any English and very often the

teacher didn't know how to deal with it and what she would do was ignor it.

In other words, you ask the kid to read something, the kid would go

like that, she say okay you read it instead. And this would go on over and

over, week after week and eventually the kid wasn't learning anything in

school, and would probably have to learn it on his own, or something.

But this was the teachers reaction, being unable to deal with it.
C: Well I would imagine, but that's &**! what was happening then too.

Ah, and ah, and for instance if the teacher would ask the child, "What

is a cat?" and the child would indicate that she didn't know what the

cat was, that's when she would come in with this illustration of wlt a

cat waS,ard say this is a cat.

I: So actually the teacher would try to help her. 4r:

C: Yeah, yeah. And I imagine that's nnne actually going on at that

time too, that whenever a child was having difficulty reading that they

would just past on to somebody else, and have somebody else eead an


I: Okay. Um, now. What aspects of American culture did your teachers feel

most important for you to learn?

C: What exactly you mean by that?

I: Okay. There are something like fifty different items in any culture

that are important, that would include ... Okay, Plant City would be

farm life, for example, here it would be Democracy was very important in

showing kids how to vote, especially since they come from other countries.

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 8, 1974

Page 42

And you have to learn how to read and write, and then you have to learn the

importance of being a citizen so that you could vote. Pledge of Aligence to

the flag every morning, was important, and sometimes respecting your parents,

was an important value. But I don't know if that would be a value that

an American teacher would feel important to stress, you might W-ant

to stress something else, I'm not sure. In the literature in New York

City, I know the teachers were very concerned with stressing to the

kids, that they were no longer immigrants, that they were going to have

to learn to be Americans and they would use different symbols, such as the

flag, ah, history books and history books, pictures of George Washington,

and things like this, so that you were getting ideas that being American

was associated with these kinds of symbols, and it would encourage you

to start making that jumb from there over to here. Now I don't know

what Tampa did, especially since Tampa is not New York City, it's a

different culture entirely. What did teachers keep telling you everyday

in the classroom, for example I'm sure that you were not, you perhaps might

have been considered sorta' of American, I'm not sure, but I know that

in those days, for sure people were either called American or Latin.

Which right there was a distinction, if you weren't American you were

Latin. How did Anglo-American teachers address Latins about this

problem of being Latin instead of American?

C: Well they tried to stress that we were Americans now, that most of

us were either born here, or else we came here to become American citizens.

And I don't know, I think that's, they just, respect for the law was about

the main thing that I can see, and to become good Americans and good citizens.

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 8, 1974

Page 43

I: What... How do you mean respect the law? Was there a law day, or

something like that? Did you write essays about this?

C: No...

I: How did they...

C: THey tell you respect the police and not do anything that was contrary

to, you know to the laws of the community and the state.

I: How did they handleBome of our legendary figures in doing this? Did

they talk about the constitution?

C: Oh, yeah.

I: AId the Bill of Rights?

C: Yeah, the Bill of Rights, the Constitution yeah, and they had bible

reading everyday which now~hey don't have, and there was a bible reading

everyday, and they had Pledge of Alligence everyday...

I: Did they blow a bugle back then?

C: No, not that I recall.

I: No, they did in my day. Everyday we had flag raising ceremony.

C: No I don't remember, I don't remember any flag raising ceremony at

that school.

I: Did they have a flag in every classroom?

C: Yes, yes.

I: An American flag?

C: And usually, yeah, and usually, ah, there was usually a picture of

George Washington in just about every room.

I: Un huh. Did the teachers have special lessons on American History, or

other aspects of American culture? Okay, let 's see here, What activities,

or programs of the school, do you feel helped you most? That was through

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 8, 1974

Page 44

either courses, or types of activities, things like this, anything that

comes to mind. In the six years that you were in Elementary school,

what do you think helped you most of all, inint-ying to get an education?

C: I tell you I'm a poor subject for you to interview. Am I not?

I: Somethings you're very sharp on and here I guess nobodies ever asked

you this before.

C: No, you....

I: You never even thought about it.

C: You just don't think about those things.

I: Well I can remember in my days my favorite thing was hearing stories

from the Phys. Ed. couch, back in first grade. That was my highlight.

C: The thing about it is that I was very interested in going to school, I

liked school.

I: What did you like about it?

C: I just liked everything about school, and I just liked the art classes,

even though I wasn't much of an artist, and I liked reading and I liked

writing, and I liked spelling, and I liked arithmetic, and that's followed

me through high school and college, I took, in high school I took all the

math courses that I could take, Trigonometry, solid geometry, everything

that, I didn't even have to take some of those subjects, but I took them.

I just enjoyed, ah school. All the way through.

I: Did you make good grades?

C: I made fairly good grades. But I was very active in extra-curricular

activities, everywhere I went. So I think that probably I could have made

Ybor City Lenkway
OCt. 8, 1974

Page 45

a lot better grades if I had done a little bit more studying, but I made

good grades. I made honor role, I didn't make honor society, but I did

make honor role many times in college, and out of college. But ah, I

was very interested in many extra-curricular activities. And enjoyed doing

a !hot of those things, even when I was in elementary school.

I: What kind of eytra-curricular?

C: Oh, I was on the newspaper, on all the annual...

I: In Ybor? In elementary school?

C: Oh no, oh you're talking about ...

I: Yeah, at Ybor Elementary... I was wondering what ...

C: No, in the elementary grades there why I'd ah, enjoyed being in plays,

or anything on the stage, and I felt so important at the graduation exercises,

at the elementary school in the fifth grade we had little graduation

exercises, that I was on the program there and I introduced a fellow by

the name of Peter who played the violin, I was on the program,

and my folks fixed me up with a real nice suit because I was on the graduation

program. But I enjoyed being on the stage quite a bit, and making announcements

of programs, like a master oc ceremonies.

I: Didthey have many plays like this every year?

C: Oh, they had several.

I: Just an annual play?

C: No, just the class would ah, probably two or three of the fifth grade

class would all go down to the auditorium and they'd put on a little play

of some kind, and several times I was asked to introduce the numbers.

Ybor City- Lenkway
Oct. 8, 1974

Page 46

I: Where did they usually get the material from for these plays?

C: The principal, I mean the teachers would come up with some of them.

I: Would the teacher write the play out, or students?

C: I don't hink so they probalby had something all ready prepared.

I: Okay. Did they ever have any kinds of plays, dances, or anything

that emphasized Latin culture?

C: Not that I recall.

I: Celebrated Latin culture?

C: Not that I ...

I: Did they ever have a Latin festival day?

C: Not that I recall when I was there, they have sence, but not then.

I: Did they have a Christmas playin those days?

C: Yeah, they had Christmas activities.

I: And Halloween? \

C: I don't recall any Halloween activitity other than we make, you know

art, in the art class there, pumpkins and things like that.

I: Okay. Can you recall any of the things that your friends disliked

a lot about school, subjects, special courses that everybody hated all

together? Any teachers particularly, you don't have to give me any

names? What type of teacher would they dislike, or what type of course

would they dislike ? What are the things that people disliked about school

in those days?

C: I don't recall. I don't recall if they disliked it, or not.

Particularly, of course I know some of the bad boys+isliked the principal.

Ybor City Lenkway
Oct. 8, 1974

Page 47

I: Because of the paddlings.

C: I don't recall of any .

I: Okay. All right I just have one more question left and that'll be it.

It's very delightful the way I finally figured out these questions, cause

it saved a lot of time. Now, my last question is about the teachers and

how they reacted to teaching there. Some of the teachers were very young,

some of them were not so young, as I can recall from the statistics I've

seen, some of them came here fresh out of high school, not high school

but fresh out of teaching training, that didn't even have a lience or

any experience. Do you recall any young teachers especially that were

fresh out of school, practically?

C: Well I don't know but I told you about these two teachers that I, that

started teaching there, but that was after I left school. They started

teaching there with no college training at all, just high school graduates.

But ah, of the teachers that were teaching while I was there in the

elementary school, I don't know whether they had gone to college or not, I

just don't know.

I: But they had to have teaching experience? They were experience teachers.

C: I don't know whether they were experienced teachers, or not. I can't

tell you that.

I: How did they handle the classes, though?
C: I thtnk they handled them very well.

I: In other words the students had confidence in the teacher..,

C: Yes.

I: You would do what you're told and there was no problem.

Ybor City, Lenkway
Oct. 8, 1974

Page 48

C: Yeah.

I: The teachers young, or old had no problem keeping the class together,

having the routine preformed everyday, doing what was expected.

C: You know one thing, ah, ah, persons, back in those days anyone who had,

who had been graduated from a senior high school was considered a teacher, back

in those days, so that they were respected by everybody in the community

as a plain teacher, even though they didn't have any college training.

Because back then there were not very many people who were going through

senior high school.

I: That's right. That was partically equivalent to getting a B.A.


C: I had an annual, a 1912 annual somewhere, but I don't remember if-I

donated it to a library, or not. It was an annual, a Hillsborough, a

Hillsborough High School annual of 1912, that I had somewhere. But I

don't think that I have it around the house now. I would have been glad

to give it to you if I had. That might have given you some clues. But

I just don't remember what I might have done with it.

I: Oh, one thing I was wondering. Is, most of these teachers, you said

,- \ teachers that spoke Spanish, or were Spanish, or


C: Which

I: I think you said earlier that there were no teachers, that you could

recall who were either Latin, or could speak Spanish or Italian.

C: Yeah, at the time that I was in school. Yes. I dontt recall of any,

there may have been, but I don't recall.

Yhor City Oct. 8, 1974

Page 49

only had
I: Then, you -ofi'course maybe five teachers anyhow. But

of the teachers you had these teachers then were all Anglo- Americans?

C: That's right. Yes.

I: They did not speak Spanish?

C: That's right.

I: They would not speak Spanish, anyway. Okay. What did they notice

about Latin culture; in dealing with students years? ARe

there anything that they particurally liked about Latin culture, or -

disliked about it, or reacted too?

C: The contacts that I had with those teachers were very favorable. They

seemed to like me and they seemed to like their work, and they seemed

to like to deal with these Latin children. As I recall. I had absolutely

no problems myself, and my first grade teacher I think she was real nice

to me, and she was very, very helpful. And one time I went to a, oh about

25 or 30 years after I left that school, I happened to go to a school

function and I saw her walk into the place and I recognized her. And I

thought the world of her, all I can remember is her name was Miss, or Mrs.

Rapper. My first grade teacher. And I thought she was wonderful, and as

far as I could see those teachers were just enchanted with working with

Latin kids.

I: Did they- ever notice anything about Latin folk heros, or Latin

holidays, did they ever have any curiosity about Latin foo4 or Latin customs?

C: I don't recall, I never thought of that. You see ah, ah, you see you had,

as I said before there were no lunch rooms, or there, everybody just about

ate sandwiches, and things like that. You know now and days they have yellow

rice and chicken and lunch rooms, and all kinds of Spanish

Ybor CIty Lenkway
Oct. 8, 1974

Page 50

dishes. Back then there was nothing like that. No I don't recall of

any, of any interest in Latin foods by any of the teachers that I came

into contact with.

I; Or customs, or anything else like that. But you still celebrated

your own holidays and customs at home, didn't you?

C: Very few.

I: Very few.

C: Yeah, very few. Ah, the only thing that I recall si the, what is it

on December 12, Santa Louchie, I believe it is, where they eat wheat cooked

with Very few Latin holidays that we observed at home.

I: I never expected, I mean Italians had apparently less trouble assimilating

then say the Cubans or the Spanish.

C: That's why I think that when the Italian people came over here they

came here to become American citizens...

I: Un huh. You didn't have any real intent, well maybe you did, when you

originally, of course you didn't. Italians didn't really expect to go back

to Italy?

C: Most of them didn't. Now in the case of my family...

I: Except to visit.

C: Yeah, my mother always wanted to go back for a visit, but never did get

round to it, to going back to Italy.

I: In your contacts with other Italian members of this community that's

your impression, like wise?

C: Yeah. You know up until the last several years hardly any of them went

back, but it's only been in the last, I say ten or 12 years that a lot

of these older Italians have gone back there for visits, because of airplane

Ybor CIty Lenkway
Oct. 9, 1974

Page 51

transportation. If you cut the thing out for a second ...

I: During the interview Mr. Chiaramonte, went over to Ybor City to

take the maid home, and pointed out a few of the places to me, including

the old Baptist school, located on 18th Street and 8th Avenue, or 17th

Street and 8th Avenue.

He talked about the communist things during 1930's, he said that

during the 1930's Cubans especially, were influenced by communist

elements, oricommunist retorick and communist sloggins, and caused

hardship among Italians who were trying to ah, make their way in the world.

For example, he said that he, his father in addition to being a shoemaker

had borrowed from the bank and then bought real estate, and then borrowed

more money, and bought more real estate, to the point that he had

something like 60 houses, which he would rent to, primarily to Latin

people. Now the Cubansk especially, gave his father a lot of problems

refusing to pay the rent, even to the point, that not only his father but

at least one other Italian family, went out of business during the '30's,

because they couldn't afford the taxes on the property and this principlely

because they couldn't collect the rent. When they went to collect the rent,

when his father did, the Cubans would actually sayhto him, "we don't have to

pay you, we're communists and if you don't like it, you don't have to eat

it." Which is apparently an early Spanish sloggen, "if you don't like it,

don't eat it". And so the communists were influencial in

promising the people all kinds of changes during the early '30's, which

of course wouldn't take place, and, and created this attitude so that

people wouldn't show godd faith and were very disrespectful. If you

Oct. 9, 1974

Page 52

tried to get the Cubans to leave the premises, for nonpayment of rent, you

first had to take it to court, which was a tedious process. Then if you

got them evicted, in the process of eviction they would tear the place pp.

So that it cost more for damages and more for these different expanses,

of prosecution, etcetera, then you could possibly make in profit on

renting to these tenents. And this was partly how you got run out of

business. However, this seems to be the origin, or the circumstances

surrounding the so called Communist Thing. Alligence having been made to

the Communists and the Cubans and they \ \

by \ \ \ and by Shorty Wilson.