He arrived in America with his father, Vincent, and two brothers in 1886. He was still experiencing the pain of losing his mother, Sarah, the year before. His father wanted to start a new life with his sons, and America was the place to do that. They first arrived in New York but soon after that settled in Tampa, knowing there were many jobs to find.
Question: A “zarzuela” is (a) a royal palace in Spain, (b) a briar bush, (c) a Spanish operetta, (d) a seafood concoction, or (e) a Spanish word guaranteed to throw non-Spanish speaking people for a loop? Answer: All the above!
I knew the workers were anxiously awaiting my arrival to share with them the news in today’s morning Tampa Tribune. I would have to delay drinking my first cup of café con leche until after I read about yesterday’s daring bank robbery attempt. “Read Señor, please read and tell us what happened,” one voice yelled.
He was a simple man who owned a bicycle shop in Ybor City, which doubled as a makeshift museum. He spent his time and money decorating its walls with old photographs and documents from the early days of Ybor City. His father, Antonio del Rio, arrived with Vicente Martinez Ybor in 1886 and helped build this cigar town, so Emilio had many memories.
I awoke early on this fourth day of April 1930 to an unusually cold day. My oil heater did little to keep the chill out of the wooden boarding house I called home. I looked down from my second-story window to the activity on the street below.
Olives have been around for thousands of years. If you are a fan of these tiny green fruits, you may not know that some of Spain’s best olives were bottled in Tampa!
On any given day, you could find him riding his small scooter up and down the streets of Ybor City. You could not resist his deviled crabs–they were the best!
Gavino Gutiérrez used his imagination and business acumen to open the door for the vibrant cigar industry that turned Tampa into the Cigar Capital of the World.
Between 1936 and 1940, the Federal Writers Project, part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA), visited Tampa to take oral histories from residents. They collected several writings from residents. This particular writing comes from Enrique Pendás, a well-known cigar manufacturer. The narrative below contains his personal feelings regarding the politics of the time and other controversial topics. Some words are illegible, so question marks (?) or suggested words in parentheses are used in their place.
I grabbed a rung and slowly climbed the ladder to my chair on the tribunal. With a heavy heart, I pondered how I would tell the workers what I knew. As they sat in the gallery quietly waiting for me to begin reading, I heard the sharp sound of their chavetas cutting cigars. Taking a deep breath, my lungs filled with the tobacco aroma that always permeated the air. A smell that, strangely enough, I like. Combined with the scent of the Cuban coffee the workers drink, it gives me a warm feeling and produces special memories of growing up in this cigar city.
It was 1957, and I was excited about the crab enchilada dinner my parents and I were invited to at Nena and Ulysses Henriquez’s home. My brother had recently married their granddaughter, Yolanda, and our two families often gathered for big dinners. I always had fun at their house; the food was plentiful and delicious!
I didn’t expect to be Queen. I was so proud and happy to be chosen for such a beautiful club -Marian Italiano Greco
José Ramón Sanfeliz was born in Havana, Cuba, on September 21, 1870, and by age ten, was working in a cigar factory. He found employment at the Hijos de Cabaña y Cajal Factory, stripping the stems from the tobacco leaves. Two years later, he worked with his father at La Concordia Sugar Mill and then, at age fourteen, began an apprenticeship at El Nuevo Mundo Cigar Factory. Sanfeliz wrote, "I distinctly remember this place as I received many beatings, blows, and very poor food." At age twenty, he left the revolution-torn island and came to America.
In the early 1940s, Justo Fulgueira worked as a cigar maker in a Ybor City factory when a shortage of cigar molds inspired him to design a fantastic machine. He would eventually become a "master mold maker," and his reputation would be known worldwide.
In the 1800s and 1900s, millions of immigrants came to this country hoping to escape religious and social discrimination, political unrest, and financial struggles. In the following stories, you will learn about three immigrants who believed America would provide them unlimited opportunities. Their achievements would ultimately impact the cigar industry in Tampa and the world.
Imagine visiting the neighborhood you grew up in, and it's not there! Not one single house, grocery store, bakery, or church–everything gone! In a panic, you rush to your home, and then your grandparents' house and all you find are empty lots full of sand and rocks. Your mind races back to a time of big family dinners, especially around the holidays. You think of the playground where you and your friends played stickball and Bernardo's Grocery Store and Garage, where you would hang out, drink Coke, and chew on penny bubble gum. The city you remember no longer exists. If you grew up in Roberts City, then this is your story.
Sadly, during the 19th and 20th centuries, child labor was prevalent in our country. Our children worked in mills, mines, and factories 12 or more hours a day, six days a week. Americans knew the practice existed, but whether they knew the issue's scope or depth is still being determined. But it happened, and no one seemed to care.
"THE BEST OF THE BEST"
Winston Churchill liked the mild Optimo cigar manufactured by A. Santaella Cigars, and so did Babe Ruth. Tampa was one of "The Babe's" favorite places to visit–he had made his mark here on April 4, 1919, in a pre-season game the Boston Red Sox played against the New York Giants. He knocked a 587-foot home run out of the Tampa Fair Grounds, over a fence, and into a furrow in a farmer's field!
When an unknown woman showed up on her doorstep, Ignacia’s life changed dramatically. As the two women spoke, she discovered the man she loved and the father of her children had a secret of his own–he had a wife in another town. The two women spent the afternoon talking, comparing their lives and trying to make sense of the painful discovery. It became clear how easy it was for this man to lead two separate lives. His job as a railroad engineer took him from town to town for long periods of time.