Sunday, February 28, 2010

Oral History Sources Plus for Podcast

Tony Pizzo remembered Seventh Avenue (La Gran Septima Avenida[1]) as a “vibrant main drag.”  The best stores were there and stayed open until eleven p.m. on Saturday nights, because it was pay day for the cigar workers.  Everyone got dressed up to go down to Seventh Avenue. [2] Cuban, Italian, and Spanish families and vendors crowed the streets and sidewalks, bumping into each other it was so busy. People sat in chairs in the street, remembered Rosemary Craparo. [3]  When the shops closed, then the dances would start in the Latin clubs.[4] 

“The Septima” was also shared with the electric streetcar or trolley.  El Carrito Eléctrica was first installed in the 1890s.  “By 1913 Tampa Electric Street Railway System” connected Ybor City to all of the important areas of Tampa with sixty-seven coaches and fifty-three miles of track.  Frank Trebín Lastra remembers that during the 1920s through 1940s when he was growing up there, that the trolleys “were painted a soft yellow and their presence gliding through the streets seemed inviting, reassuring, and exciting-like the visit of a friend.  The entire family rode on them.  Children loved them, and many mothers and fathers rode them daily to get to their distant factories, though within the core area most walked to the local factories.  Their slow operating speed was perfectly suited to Ybor City’s small grid.” The street cars began operating at 5:30 a.m. and stopped between midnight and 1 a.m.  The trolley system was shut down in 1946.  However, in recent years a trolley line, called Teco Line Streetcar System became operational.  It connects Ybor City to downtown Tampa with vintage Ybor cars painted yellow.[5]   

The Gaceta, "the Nation's only tri-lingual newspaper and one of the oldest minority-owned and targeted newspapers in America."

Merchant Marines WWII: 

In searching for information about the Merchant Marines WWII  I came across this site containing military information for all wars, and branches of services. 

[1] Gary R. Mormino and George E. Pozzetta, The Immigrant World of Ybor City, Italians and Their Latin Neighbors in Tampa, 1885-1985, (Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1987),245.
[2] Tony Pizzo and Interviewer, “Tony Pizzo’s Ybor City,” Tampa Bay History, 2 no. 1 (Spring/Summer 1980).
[3] Gary R. Mormino and George E. Pozzetta, “Immigrant Women in Tampa: The Italian Experience, 1890-1930,” Florida Historical Quarterly, 61 (1982-1983), 245, 246,309.
[4] Tony Pizzo and Interviewer, “Tony Pizzo’s Ybor City,” Tampa Bay History, 2 no. 1 (Spring/Summer 1980).
[5] Frank Trebín Lastra, Ybor City, the Making of a Landmark Town, (Tampa: University of Tampa Press, 2006), 98, 112, 115.  

Monday, February 15, 2010

Cuba Pictures, Tampa midwife records...

All of us who are trying to trace our Cuban American lines have the goal to get back into Cuba, and most of us would love to travel there to visit our family sites.  Until that happens, take a virtual tour of Cuba at Tampa Pix   There are 28 pages of pictures of Havana, Cuba and the surrounding areas through one link “pictures of Cuba”, and another 21 pages of pictures through the second link “more pictures of Cuba.”   

At the bottom of the page are also links to pictures of Tampa. 

Note that there is a link to the “Tampa midwife records” of Maria Messina Greco, births from 1908 to 1939.   Scroll down and read a few things about Tampa’s history. 

There is also a link to “Tampa Natives” on Facebook that some of you may enjoy reading or being a part of.    

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Columbia Restaurant Spanish Cookbook and Tampa City Cemeteries

Book Review/HistoryThe Columbia Restaurant Spanish Cookbook, by Adela Hernandez Gonzmart and Ferdie Pacheco. 

The authors of this interesting book, not only worked at and have strong ties to the celebrated Columbia Restaurant, but are renowned and colorful Ybor City natives.  Adela Hernandez Gonzmart graduated from the Juilliard School of Music.  She was a concert pianist and toured the United States and Cuba.  She was instrumental in forming the Tampa Symphony Orchestra, and has received numerous awards for her contribution in the community.  Ferdie Pacheco is an author, and painter.  His paintings have been on display in London, Paris, New York, and Miami.  He was Muhammad Ali’s personal physician from 1963 to 1977, and wrote about his experiences in Muhammad Ali: A View from the Corner, and Blood in My Coffee: The Life of the Fight Doctor.

The Columbia Restaurant is acclaimed as “the nation’s largest Spanish restaurant and Florida’s oldest.”  It was started by Coasimiro Hernandez, Adela’s grandfather, who purchased a bar in 1905 and started the Columbia Café, where he sold coffee, soup, and sandwiches.  The name Columbia comes from a popular song, “Columbia, Gem of the Ocean,” which represented his love of America.  His vision for the café must have prompted him to add to the Columbia sign, “The Gem of All Spanish Restaurants.”

This cookbook, containing some of the Columbia Restaurant’s recipes, is also a history of the restaurant.  Though I had eaten at the Columbia Restaurant, I knew little about the history until reading this book.  I found it interesting, including the four pages Pacheco writes about the history and making of Cuban bread.*  Although it is called Cuban bread, Gonzmart points out that it not like the bread she had in Cuba, which is lighter, and therefore should be called Ybor City bread or Tampa bread.  One interesting fact Pacheco relates is that “In the old days we would deliver the morning bread to each house by sticking it on a big nail on the front door frame.  You could look down the street and know we had been there.”  

The Columbia Restaurant customers included local political leaders, professionals, and mobsters “Santo Trafficante, father and son, kingpins of the world of bolita (the numbers games), and what Pacheo calls “zanies”:  "Pan con Chinches, the resident charity case; Pepe Lu Babo, the babbling newsboy; and Crazy Benny, who carried a rubber briefcase.”   Among the celebrities who ate at the Columbia were:  Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jack Dempsey, Rocky Marciano, Esther Williams, Cesar Romero, Carol Burnett, and President John F. Kennedy.   President Kennedy visited in November 1963, only days before his assassination.    Gonzmart tells about her and her husband’s visit with Generalissimo Francisco Franco in 1965 because of a report by his minister of tourism about the Columbia Restaurant.

Of course, the real treasures of the book are the recipes from this famous restaurant, so you can sample some of these gems of Ybor City cruise from your own kitchen.  Make sure you try the Chicken and Yellow Rice, Arroz con Pollo, a classic dish.   

I was researching online for Arroz con Pollo recipes and learned that there are endless variations, but none like the Ybor City versions I remember.  Fortunately, the website for The Columbia does have some recipes, including the recipe for Arroz con Pollo. Try it out.  Most people, Cuban or not like this dish.   You can leave out the wine, and use the prepackaged yellow rice (saffron is expensive) and it will still be delicious.   The website also has the recipes for three other classics:  Black Bean Soup, Spanish Bean Soup, and the Cuban Sandwich.  If you decide to make  the Spanish Bean Soup, and don’t care for the favor of chorizo (Spanish sausage), you can substitute a smoked sausage of your choice and get a flavorful hearty bean soup, though I guess we will have to call it American Spanish bean soup.  

*I promise I won’t write about Cuban bread again, unless it comes up in Ybor City’s history being used to smuggle weapons to Cuba or something.   But just in case you are interested in more history about  Cuban Bread and the Cuban Sandwich, visit this site which has pictures, and a short informative article, History of Cuban Sandwich, Cubano Sandwich:  

Genealogical Source: Tampa City Cemeteries

 The City of Tampa, Park Services maintains several cemeteries:  Jackson Heights, Marti/Colon, Oaklawn, Woodlawn, and Pyramid Crypts. You can search their database online.  Click on this link,   or in the future go to the side bar of my blog: Genealogy Research Links, Tampa City cemeteries.   There will be a link “Search the cemetery records database,” as well as individual links to the cemeteries.  The cemetery links will have pictures and some historical information about each cemetery. 

Oaklawn Cemetery was the first public cemetery, established in the mid-1800s.  It was for “white and slave, rich and poor.”  Tampa’s first mayor, Judge Joseph B. Lancaster was buried there.[1]  This is where the pioneers of Tampa are buried.  The next generation is buried in Woodlawn.

Woodlawn Cemetery was opened in 1888, when Oaklawn was full.  Until 1917, it was one of the most popular burial places, and many prominent citizens are buried there.  A fire in 1986 burned records of the grave sites.[2] In the center of the cemetery is a block of Confederate and Union soldiers side by side.

In 1942 Tampa City was given Jackson Heights.  Originally it was called Oakland and “Woodman of the World monuments are very prominent.”  

Marti/Colon is actually two cemeteries.  Marti is owned by Tampa City and the other only maintained by them.

Pyramid Crypts records are part of their database search page, although they are not listed on the main page, and no history is given.[3]  

[1] City of Tampa, City Cemeteries, ( accessed 7 February 2010).
[2] Janet Zink, “Cemetery Roomier Than First Thought,” St. Petersburg Times, 16 June 2005, online archives ( accessed 7 February 2010).
[3] City of Tampa, City Cemeteries.