What does a ten-year-old do on a Saturday morning in early November? Well, that depends on the kid. My family had just moved into a small apartment over a barbershop on 7th Avenue while we waited for our new house to become available. I had never lived on a street that was too busy to play ball on, and there were no vacant lots nearby, but I felt far from trapped.
Sunday, May 7, 2006, Tampa's legendary cigar industry fell silent for just a moment as a sign of respect for the death of one of its last chinchaleros (tobacco stand owner)–Vincent Ruilova, age 92. He was better known as Majomia, a Spanish nickname his friends gave him, meaning impatient or restless, describing him perfectly.
"Janie, come on, get up!" she said, shaking me roughly out of a lazy Saturday morning reverie. Blinking sleepy eyes, I groaned in short-lived protest and then rolled out of bed. The gruff intruder on this humid summer morning was not my mother or one of my siblings. It was the local park director, Mochine Fernandez (pronounced "Mo-cheen"), rousing my two sisters and me to play a softball game. Quickly getting ready, we hurried out to her waiting station wagon. There were three more stops, and after rounding up her softball team, we headed across town to play ball.
Having been on strike for 6 months, Cigar workers in Tampa called a workers’ meeting and voted to continue the strike. The Tampa Tribune reported on the meeting and called closed shops “un-American.” When the strike ended 4 months later, it had been the longest and most expensive in the Tampa cigar industry.
Several of Tampa's most notable culinary creations remind us of life's difficulties. The elongated loaves of Cuban bread betray a history of hunger and rationing during Cuba's struggle for independence from Spain. The Cuban sandwich turned those thin loaves into symbols of plenty. Tampa's deviled crab croquettes tell a similar story of want and abundance.
I didn’t expect to be Queen. I was so proud and happy to be chosen for such a beautiful club -Marian Italiano Greco