Alfredo Naranjo

Alfredo Naranjo

Material Information

Alfredo Naranjo
Series Title:
Florida food families oral history project
Naranjo, Alfredo, 1932-
Huse, Andrew T
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Publication Date:
Physical Description:
1 sound file (53 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;


Subjects / Keywords:
Ice cream parlors -- Florida -- Tampa ( lcsh )
Family-owned business enterprises -- Florida -- Tampa ( lcsh )
Restaurants -- Florida -- Tampa ( lcsh )
Oral history. ( local )
Online audio. ( local )
interview ( marcgt )
Oral history ( local )
Online audio ( local )


Alfredo Naranjo, owner of Snack City, describes his transition from a lawyer in Cuba to owner of an ice cream shop in the United States.
Interview conducted July 24, 2002.
System Details:
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Andrew T. Huse.

Record Information

Source Institution:
University of South Florida Library
Holding Location:
University of South Florida
Rights Management:
All applicable rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier:
020201764 ( ALEPH )
385043846 ( OCLC )
T30-00018 ( USFLDC DOI )
t30.18 ( USFLDC Handle )

Postcard Information



This item has the following downloads:

Full Text
xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8 standalone no
record xmlns http:www.loc.govMARC21slim xmlns:xsi http:www.w3.org2001XMLSchema-instance xsi:schemaLocation http:www.loc.govstandardsmarcxmlschemaMARC21slim.xsd
leader nim 2200445Ia 4500
controlfield tag 001 020201764
005 20140206111623.0
006 m u
m d
007 sz zunnnnnzned
cr nna||||||||
008 090610s2002 fluuunn sd t n eng d
datafield ind1 8 ind2 024
subfield code a T30-00018
0 033
b 3934
1 100
Naranjo, Alfredo
d 1932- .
Alfredo Naranjo
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Andrew T. Huse.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (53 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
Florida food families oral history project
Alfredo Naranjo, owner of Snack City, describes his transition from a lawyer in Cuba to owner of an ice cream shop in the United States.
Interview conducted July 24, 2002.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Streaming audio.
Naranjo, Alfredo
2 610
Snack City (Restaurant).
Ice cream parlors
z Florida
Family-owned business enterprises
7 655
Oral history.
Online audio.
Huse, Andrew T.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Tampa Library.
4 856

xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
transcript timecoded false doi T30-00018 skipped 15 dategenerated 2015-06-10 19:29:08
segment idx 0time text length 33 Alfredo Naranjo: Alfredo Naranjo.
143 Andrew Huse: Okay. And where were you born?
212 AN: In Cuba.
318 AH: Where in Cuba?
446 AN: A small town called Aguada de Pasajeros--.
540 AH: I see. What area of Cuba is that in?
670 AN: It's in the center of the island. It's the-where was the invasion-
720 AH: The Bay of Pigs?
8AN: That is my town.
924 AH: I see. Right nearby.
10103 AN: It's a town like-most of the part of my town there is like the Everglades [National Park, Florida].
119 AH: Okay.
12AN: It's on the water, and is no people.
1358 AH: Swampy?AN: Yes. That is where-that part of the island.
14113 AH: So, what was childhood like for you growing up? What year were you born, by the way? AN: Nineteen thirty-two.
1561 AH: Okay. And what was your childhood like? AN: What was my-?
16345 AH: Your childhood? Growing up as a boy?AN: I went to the primary school only. And then I-I am a self educated person. I studied myself, and then I went to the-around the university to get a degree in public administration. And later on with that degree I passed an exam on the court. And they gave me another degree. They call it ---procurador.
17AH: What is it?
1836 AN: Like a lawyer for a small claim.
19AH: Okay.
20257 AN: I have-I represent people on-to certain amount of money, or certain cases where-in the criminal-the judge (inaudible) you more than a hundred eighty days, I can't represent you. And it's like that-they call it small court. But here, that does not exist.
2110 AH: I see.
2227 AN: Yes, it's only lawyers.
23107 AH: So what was life like in Cuba in those days? Growing up in the forties [1940s] and the fifties [1950s]?
24306 AN: I never think even slightly to travel anywhere, to move to any other country. I consider my small town as a good place to live. Nice life, everything was good for me. Even if we don't-me, I'm not planning to travel even as a tourist. I feel good over there. I don't see nothing; no sense to go nowhere.
25170 AH: I see. And what did your parents do? AN: My father had the same occupation as me. And my mother is in-mostly women in that time, they didn't work. They are housewife.
2694 AH: How many siblings did you have? AN: I had two. They are here. My son and my daughter, two.
27AH: Oh, I mean brothers and sisters.
28AN: Only one sister.
2967 AH: Okay. Was that considered a small family where you were living?
30AN: Yeah. I have only me and my sister; she already passed. And I'm the only one survived now.
31AH: I see.
3221 AN: Me and my father.
3392 AH: So how long did you practice law?AN: From twenty-one years old to twenty-nine. AH: Okay.
34AN: I mean like nine years or ten years.
35178 AH: Did you enjoy it? AN: Yeah. But here, was no chance to do the same job, because I have to pass all the examinations, like start from the (inaudible). --And I had no, no plan.
36AH: I see.
3726 AN: I never think of that.
38AH: Okay.
39239 AN: I like business anyway. Some people became-they have a degree on law or whatever, and later on they convert into a business person, because business is maybe better than I get as a lawyer or a doctor or engineer or something like that.
4014 AH: So if you-
41AN: Business is not bad.
42213 AH: If you stayed in Cuba, what do you think you'd be doing right now? Like, what were your plans? You were just going to keep practicing the way you were practicing? AN: If I come back to Cuba, you mean? Or if I-
43322 AH: I mean-let's say you never left. Like when you were twenty-eight, twenty-nine years old, what do you-what were your plans?AN: I quit, because there was no sense to practice law over there to do what I did. First thing they do is they cut my (inaudible)-my ability to make money or to live was cut by the common system.
44AH: I see.
45176 AN: They don't like-they don't want to pay the lawyers of the people that-they create their own personality, their own people. They don't want to-they don't want me over there.
46AH: Yeah.
47195 AN: They offer me job in development. But no, no, because there was my training of-because they want to use everybody. Especially if you have any education or-they may use you for their purposes.
4884 AH: Yeah, with your background in public administration, you may have been used for-
49203 AN: Yes, that was good for them. I even could be a minister or something big. But I had no idea. I don't like it. The first time they-when they made the first law, was the-they called it reforma agraria.
5097 AH: Land reform?AN: Land reform. As soon as I take a look, I knew they [were] communists. I knew.
5172 AH: Yeah. So before that, when [Fidel] Castro was first coming to power-
5230 AN: I was against it then too.
5362 AH: You were against it before you even knew he was communist?
54201 AN: Against that because I-I know communists in my town. They like Castro, and I don't. That's the only-I'm not-I know politician as a part of the [Fulgencio] Batista system, and I was against him too.
55AH: Yeah.
5637 AN: But I was not in favor of Castro.
5763 AH: Yeah, so you were stuck between a rock and hard place then.
58AN: No, I don't like none of them. Because both of them are dictators. And I don't-I don't go for that.
5981 AH: Did you experience any repression under Batista? You or your family? AN: Yes.
6042 AH: Yes? What kind of things would happen?
61248 AN: Okay, one day I was in my house and a group of people come with a piece of paper they call manifiesto de la bana. They wanted me [to] sign the paper. And I said, "No, I don't sign that because I know that (inaudible) what they said over there."
62AH: What does it say?
63131 AN: They're talking about our approval of [what] the government do, stay with the system, and things like that. And I wasn't-I had-
64AH: This is under Batista, right?
6517 AN: Under Castro.
66AH: Oh, okay, under Castro.
67570 AN: And they even came with-like the army. And it was common people. I said, "No, I don't sign no paper (inaudible). I sign when I vote." If I vote I sign, but that's the only time. I don't have to sign no paper. That cost me-across the street, one of the people who is on the city-they call him comisionado, the commissioner. They know me, and they heard on the city hall [that] I say that. And they sent me a little note that tell me, "Alfredo, you better go, or stay away for a while, because they come to you, to put you in jail." Then, I left the house up to today.
68AH: I see.
69AN: Then, I went to Havana. I lived there for a year-a year or something. Then I came to the United States.
70161 AH: Let's go back a little while, back when Batista was still in power. What kind of-did you experience anything like that under Batista? Any kind of repression?
71250 AN: Batista-Batista government, we were worse than-my father particularly was in the opposition part to Batista. Now Batista-we have a politician that said one time, "Batista government was a malformation of democracy." But, it still was a democracy.
72AH: You said it's a malformation?
7347 AN: He said it's a malformation of a democracy.
74AH: I see.
75438 AN: And I agree with that, that guy who say that. Because there you have liberty to do any kind of business, you have liberty to move to anywhere. You can change jobs; you can have money in the bank. The only thing is Batista want to stay in power, because that [was] the way he is. Anytime he got the chance to take the power to govern the people, he did it. More than one time. And then we don't-I don't like that one. I like [to] vote.
76AH: Yeah.
77287 AN: I like the republican system like in here. But he keep the House, the House of Representatives, he kept the Senate. But it's only-all that who agree with him. And eventually, he may change to democracy, because he did it one time. But I don't feel no repression under Batista either.
78AH: I see.
79232 AN: The repression was for the people who act-to act non-politically, just by force. They want to use the same force that Batista used to go into power. And then if anybody tried to force Batista to move down, they put them in jail.
80393 But I was not in that particular position. I just want to- He make election, and we can talk about it. We can say, "Okay! I won [the] election, I won the vote! You have to move! I won the vote!" You can say whatever you want. But you can't say, "You don't make the election, I kill you." Things like that you can't say. It's a kind of-I don't know. I don't like Batista because of what he did.
81397 But all the things-people say he did good things for the people. He was (inaudible) government. They make a school, they have-they make a school, they keep the university open. The educational system was excellent. The economic system was excellent too. Everything was good, except we can't vote properly. But on the-any other thing was good. The repression-even he condoned the life of a pastor.
82261 Now, Castro kill everybody. Everybody who opposite, really-in the real opposition-he put them in on the (inaudible)-you know, on the wall. And kill him. But Batista don't do that. Batista put them in jail for a while. It [was] different times, different things.
83AH: So it went from bad to worse.
84AN: Yeah.
8569 AH: And so you left your small town and lived in Havana for one year.
8666 AN: Yes, until-I worked from (inaudible) the way to come to Spain.
87AH: Okay, you wanted to go to Spain?
88205 AN: I planned to travel to Spain. And I got some dollars to pay for the ticket on a boat, in a big boat. And the day I went to buy a ticket-Che Guevara was at that time the minister of-minster of hacienda-
89AH: Of economics?
9080 AN: Minister of the-who kept the account of the whole expense of the government.
918 AH: Yes-
9225 AN: Hacienda, we call it.
93AH: Economics of the interior? The House? I understand.
9413 AN: Treasure.
95AH: What's that? AN: Treasure.
9629 AH: Minister of the treasure.
97Unidentified Man: Treasury.
98AH: Treasury. Okay, treasury. Gotcha.
9978 AN: And then he suspended pay of the ticket for travel abroad with the dollar.
100AH: Oh, okay.
101162 AN: And then I was at (inaudible) in Havana. There was no chance to come. Then my father about that time was in the United States, because he exile in an embassy.
102214 AH: Oh, he went to the United States embassy? AN: No, he is-cmo se dice se asilo? He exiled on the Uruguay embassy with my brother in law. And then he found a way to get me a visa from here for the United States.
103AH: Okay.
104320 AN: And then I go. And there was a plan, too. When you have children like me-I have my passport, and I find a way to put the visa from the United States to travel to the United States. And this government allowed to do that. And then I got the visa on my passport for me and my two kids. And we came with that visa, too.
105AH: Okay.
10674 AN: It was made by the United States to protect the-to reunite the family.
107AH: Yes.
108146 AN: This government help you up to the-forever. This-I don't see no difference between Cuba and the United States, too. I don't see no difference.
109102 AH: No difference between Cuba and the United States? AN: When I came here, I don't see no difference.
11079 AH: What do you mean?AN: This is a country, same as my Cuba before. But better.
11138 AH: I see. So you mean it's your home?
112AN: It's my home too.
113AH: Yeah.
11476 AN: We are Cuban for that-from that time, we are very Americanized. AH: Yes.
115315 AN: Very, very, very. We use the English language; many words we use from the English language. And we look at Americans as a good person. We don't hate. We don't-we never hear nothing bad about American people, or about American government. Like kids, we have no political ideas against [the] United States at all.
11650 AH: So how do you explain the rise of Castro then?
117AN: Because Cubans are rebel people.
118AH: Yes, rebellious.
119375 AN: You impose something to a Cuban, they don't except it. If you explain it, and convince them, they take it. But from-we fight against the Spain domination [for] two wars. And then, we don't want get dominated by a dictator. All people are not like that. I don't think nobody like to repress, you know. As many things-I understand many things now that I don't think before.
12068 AH: Yeah. So you did you feel lucky to get out of Cuba when you did?
121AN: I was one of the lucky.
12256 AH: What year was that? Fifty-nine [1959]? Sixty [1960]?
12323 AN: Nineteen sixty-two.
124AH: Sixty-two [1962].
125AN: June-13 June, 1962.
12659 AH: So you lived under the Castro regime for a while, then.
12716 AN: Three years.
128AH: Yeah. So you knew enough about it to know you wanted to leave.
12960 AN: No-the first year, I don't even think of that. AH: Okay.
130AN: Because I didn't expect what he did.
131AH: Okay.
132151 AN: But when he said, "If you live here, you have to be a revolutionary. If you are not here and you are not a revolutionary, you better go."AH: I see.
133AN: And I say-
134AH: So that convinced you.
135648 AN: -"Okay, I'm going. I'm going out of this state." But it's more than that; it's more than that because you-the person that have the smallest idea, of freedom, the person that has this small idea of what is freedom, they don't stay under communists. They don't like it-no matter if they live there. It's like they said, "No, now he make like an election over there, everybody have to sign. We want the common system to stay here." He said that 99 percent of the people signed on, 90 percent. That is not true. It's like that paper they wanted me to sign. Probably nobody signed it. Why? I don't sign paper that said I agree with you. (door opens)
136AN: [to someone else] "Hello!"
137Unidentified Man #2: Hello, my friend, how you doing? AN: Fine.
138AH: So when you got to the United States, where did you end up first?
13949 AN: First I go straight to Elizabeth, New Jersey.
140AH: Okay, why New Jersey?
141AN: Elizabeth, New Jersey.
142105 AH: Yeah, but why? Your father was there?AN: Because my father-my brother in law, they was there already.
143AH: Okay
144AN: And then I started working in a factory for two or three years.
145126 AH: What kind of factory? AN: All kind of factory. Because we moved from the worst to the little better, and then to the base.
146137 AH: So what was the worst? What was the worst job you had? AN: The worst was that I started as a (inaudible)-as a cleaner of the factory.
147AH: A cleaner? AN: Cmo se dice? A janitor.
148AH: Janitor.
149153 AN: It was not bad, but it-you (inaudible). Sweeping the floor, clean the bathroom, taking up all the garbage. But I stay there like two or three months.
150AH: Okay.
151233 AN: Then, New Jersey's a place [where] you can work many places. You-there's open jobs everywhere. But even I don't think to work in a restaurant like I work here now. Because there is no-I can't go over there, I don't speak English.
152Then the worst and the one I stayed for more longer was-they call it refinery of copper. AH: Copper?AN: Copper, gold, silver. But I stayed there three-I worked there three years.
153116 AH: What did you do there? AN: I started as a cheap labor. But later I go up because there is a union. And you sign-
154AH: Okay.
155568 AN: -and you go up, up-at the last time I was- We wait, all the materials came to the plane. The material come in or material come out. Was big. Three thousand people worked in the factory. They call it copper work. But it's a big plant. And after that I quit that job. And that was the best job (inaudible). But [it] was better to start with; then I grow up to a better position. Eventually I do almost nothing. Because it was the-work on a big scale, the material coming in and out. But I quit that job to move to Puerto Rico. And I lived in Puerto Rico for a year.
156AH: Okay.
15751 AN: I'm doing business over there, selling clothes.
158AH: Okay.
15999 AN: For women. But after the year past, I come to [the] United States again. I like it here better.
16089 AH: I see. So in Puerto Rico you sold clothes? Was this on the street? Was it in a store?
161AN: No, I have a wagon. I merchandise and I sell it to the store on the island.
162AH: Okay. So you're like a-
163AN: It was good, it was good.
164AH: -a wholesaler, kind of.
165265 AN: Yes. It was good, it was good. And I represent people who sold clothes for their store too. I was a good talker. I like to sell, and [it] was easy for me. But eventually I went in and my kids bring it to the United States. Here it's better opportunity for that.
166AH: Okay. So you came for the opportunities for your children?
167AN: I don't see [a] good life like here for them from Puerto Rico. Then I quit.
168AH: Yes.
169AN: Then is when I start as an ice cream maker.
17041 AH: Okay. So you went back to New Jersey?
171AN: [nods yes].
172AH: Okay.
17382 AN: And over there, I have no money! I can't clean. And I rent an ice cream truck.
174AH: Okay.
175AN: One of them, Mr. Softy. And there's where I start my life as an ice cream man.
17675 AH: Okay, so you weren't making ice cream, you were just selling it, right?
177AN: At that time.
178AH: Okay.
17964 AN: I buy the ice cream in the truck-it's like a soft ice cream.
180AH: Yes, soft-serve.
18186 AN: And then I sell soft-serve, Italian ices, novelties. After a year I buy the truck.
182AH: Okay.
183AN: And later on, I buy two more trucks. And later on, I open the ice cream store.
184AH: So you hired other people to drive these trucks, or did you have relatives, or-? AN: No, I had-
185AH: You hired-
186AN: -my son driving one, one time. But when he get-my son in law. And other people. And by that time, I had-I open an ice cream store. When I drive the truck, like for five or six or seven years, I open the store.
187133 AH: What year did you come back to New Jersey and sell ice cream?AN: It was in nineteen sixty-like in 1967. I don't remember exactly.
188AH: Okay.
18952 AN: And then I start as an ice cream man in a truck.
190110 AH: Okay. And then you started making ice cream. You got your own store, you said? After you get three trucks?
19165 AN: When I got two or three trucks, I opened the store. AH: Okay.
19253 AN: The first one I opened, I closed in three months.
19332 AH: Why?AN: Because no business.
194AH: No business?
19519 AN: Wrong location.
196AH: I see.
19790 AN: I have a partner at that time. I tell the partner, "Keep it. I don't want this store."
198AH: (laughs)
199AN: And then I open a few blocks down.
200AH: Okay.
201AN: Where it was a success.
202AH: It was better.
20339 AN: Better than good, better than this.
204AH: Okay. Were you making your own ice cream then? AN: Then I start making my own ice cream.
205AH: So how did you get interested in making your own ice cream? I mean, you're obviously very good at it.
206AN: Because I buy my ices, my ice cream from the regular manufacturer. And they don't have all [the] flavors I want. They don't have tropical flavors. And the ices-the Italian ice in particular, it's a big seller over there. And they sell me a lot.
207AH: I see.
208297 AN: And I find a way-if I make it myself, the process is almost nothing, it's ridiculous. They sell you four or five dollars a gallon, when you can make a gallon with a fifty cents or something like that. And then I start making the-I started with Italian ices. Grape, lemon, orange, pia colada-
20957 AH: I'm from Chicago; there's a lot of Italian ice there.
210AN: Blue, blue-and all the flavors. Cherry.
211AH: Yes, lemon.
212353 AN: But the good thing with education, that's what I tell my kids-you have a base, foundational knowledge [of] how to look into the books, then you can do whatever you want. And I don't ask questions to nobody. I go through the book. The first time I made my ice cream I went to the library. I look into the ice cream. Probably nobody know more than me.
213AH: Yeah.
214111 AN: Because I learned up to the end of the ice cream industry. I could stay talking about that for a whole day.
215AH: Yeah.
216AN: I know how they make everything! Because I make it. What I can do, I do. And I don't-I have no stuff. I don't make anything on the ice cream. I make my own toppings, my own shell, my own chocolate, my own ice cream, my own ice. I don't make no (inaudible) like lollipops-I don't make nothing like that.
217AH: Yeah.
218206 AN: But I pack in quarts, half a gallon, all the sizes. And I don't go into big because there's no way. Actually, for years I'd go over there to-you can't sell wholesale from any retail place. It's illegal.
219AH: I see.
220115 AN: They need-you need like a daily plan. They said no human touch on the product you make. It had to be automatic.
221AH: A machine.
222313 AN: Made by a machine. If you go into an ice cream factory, it's more clean and more regulation than in the hospital. You don't see it, you don't believe it. And I've already seen it. Already seen it. You see, you have to be a very, very, very millionaire to open up an ice cream factory. There's no legal things.
223AH: There's probably more regulations in ice cream than for meats.
224AN: A lot more.
225AH: Yeah.
226445 AN: Why it's more? Because the ice cream is only cold processed. And the meat, the meat is cooked after they get it. And then when they-the people, by the cook, they kill the bacteria. But on the ice cream, not. The ice cream, the product go direct to your stomach. And then if it's contaminated, your loss. It's something that's a lot different. But the (inaudible) from the history of the industry, very regulated. It's not only the ice cream.
227122 AH: So how long did it take you to learn these things? Did you pick up things gradually? Did it take several years?AN: No.
228637 AH: No? Just read up on it and started doing it? AN: Yes, yes. In the life, doesn't give you any chance to study. Because the way I grew up, there's no school. Then, I study book to go into the university, as myself. And that's a big task. And I accomplished. You think making ice cream has to be a big task for a person to have a find all the time for-to go here. I find all the time, against my surroundings. I got no chance. But my chance is my own decision, my own pushing. I push, I go. I don't push, I stay where I am. That's the only division in life. Whatever you want to do, you do. But you have to have the intention, the drive
229AH: Determination, yes.
230AN: Exactly.
231AH: Yes. So, you're in New Jersey, you learn how to make your own ice cream, what next? You-
23222 AN: Over there I stay-
233AH: -you got a new store? AN: I was in that state fifteen years.
234173 AH: Fifteen years? AN: But one day, I had the two stores. This one and that one. I left my son over there, and I travel back and forth because that was very, very busy time.
235AH: All right, so you came down here to Tampa?
23698 AN: Because my neighbor across the street, he called me there and tell me this place was for sale.
237AH: Okay.
238AN: Then he called me at eight in the morning.
23954 AH: How did you know this man? You knew him from Cuba?
240AN: He's from my town.
241AH: Okay.
242AN: I tell him if any chance that place was for sale, let me know, I [would] come to buy.
243123 And he called me at eight in the morning. He told me what-the price, and what I have to do. Six o'clock. The store is mine.
244255 AH: What, you flew down by six o'clock?AN: It was in the morning. I take a plane; the plane is just a minute from wherever. I take the plane, I bring the money-the down payment, whatever. And I came here and I signed the paper the same day at six o'clock.
245AH: What year was this? This was 19-?
246AN: Twenty-three years ago.
247AH: Okay. So 198-
248AN: I open here in June-in June 1981, I think.
24928 AH: Eighty-one [1981], okay.
250AN: And then I let the people stay here for fifteen more days. On June first, I opened. There was nothing here. Nothing. I pay for-
251AH: It was empty? AN: No, it was something, but not good.
252AH: Yeah.
25377 AN: I can't use it-it doesn't work. But I paid for the position-the location.
254AH: I see.
255AN: And over there, when I moved to here, the landlord over there raised my rent three times in one shot.
256AH: You mean, by three times?
257AN: No, no-one shop, my rent was three times higher. And I said, "Keep it!"
258177 AH: And how many years went by that you had both places? AN: One year and the second year when I tried to start it, I went there to-because over there we worked only six months.
259AH: Oh, okay.
260AN: The store is open six months.
261AH: During the summer or the winter?
262AN: Only in the summer. And then there is no money there.
263AH: Yeah.
264186 AN: No money. And then, when I go over there in February to set up the place for opening the first of March, he said, "You have to pay three times the rent." And I said, "Okay, keep it!"
265AH: Yeah.
266138 AN: I tried to sell to the other person who wanted to open the store over there, but what I have over there, he don't want to buy nothing.
267198 AH: Did you serve other food in New Jersey?AN: Over there I sell hamburgers and fries, little things. AH: Yeah. So you had made other food. Was there any kind of Cuban specialties you served? I saw-
268AN: Over there was-
269AH: -deviled crab-
270AN: Over there, I don't-it's different than us. Totally.
271AH: Yeah.
272479 AN: The states-from a state to state, people think it is the same, it's not. The food over there, I sell-one summer I sell over there a hundred hamburger a day. Here I sell three. Over there I sell not many hamburgers. Here they buy more hamburgers. I don't sell many Cuban sandwiches there; here I sell a lot of Cuban sandwiches. And sausage is one. You don't sell sausage in a store over there-you know, Italian sausage or (inaudible) sausage. They use a different (inaudible).
273And my story, I have a lunch wagon truck for three years too.
274AH: What happened?
275AN: A lunch truck.
276AH: Oh, a lunch truck.
277AN: Because in the winter I have nothing to do.
278AH: I see.
279127 AN: Then I buy a truck, with a kitchen inside. Big truck! And I sell food, like in the restaurant. It's a restaurant on wheels.
280AH: You went to work sites? AN: I went to the port, Port of New York. AH: Okay.
281AN: Port New (inaudible)-it's the same port. They call it Port of New York.
282Side 1 ends; side 2 begins
283104 AH: -just moved down here, they raise your rent, you say goodbye to New Jersey. You're in Tampa to stay.
284158 AN: I bring my son first. I don't bring my son; my son was that time to when he leaves. He have a tremendous job over there. He worked for the Exxon Refinery.
285AH: Okay.
286226 AN: He has a degree on (inaudible). And he used that degree, or that diploma, to get the job over there. But he can't resist to stay there without a mother and father. He quit and come and live here. And he became a policeman.
287AH: Here in Tampa? AN: He's already twenty years in the police department.
288AH: Wow.
289AN: He finished the police, then twenty-on the twentieth of this month, he had the right to retire.
290pause in recording
291258 AN: He chose to stay. He chose to stay for seven more years. He's a detective on the (inaudible). Same name as me. And my daughter is-eventually my daughter came to be here, my only daughter. And she work as the-on the shipping company for twenty-four years.
29245 AH: What company?AN: Navieras of Puerto Rico.
293AH: Okay. AN: But the Navieras now, was bankrupt. And put her out of a job.
29485 AH: What kind of company was this? What did they do? Unidentified Voice #1: Shipping.
295AH: Shipping?Unidentified Voice #1: She worked in computers.
296AH: Okay.
29711 AN: Sylvia?
298Unidentified Voice #1: Si.
299AN: No, she was secretary of the president.
300Unidentified Voice #1: Oh, you said something about shipping.
301AN: Shipping, shipping. Shipping.
302AH: Shipping. Moving-yeah.
30331 AN: Yeah. Shipping on the boat.
30444 Unidentified Voice #1: (inaudible) computer.
305AH: Yeah.
306120 AN: And then I see her, she's out of [a] job after twenty-four years of working there, because the company was bankrupt.
307Unidentified Voice #1: Yeah, the company went bad.
308AN: But now she work for the Lykes Brother.AH: Lykes?
309AN: Lykes. AH: Yes.
310AN: In the same job. But she get less money. But eventually she'll go into more money.
311101 AH: Yeah. So what were some of the challenges you faced when you first came here? What was difficult?
312169 AN: What challenged me?AH: Yeah, I guess, I guess-either New Jersey or here. What were the difficult things about starting your own restaurant, your own ice cream place?
313406 AN: Like I said, I see no difference. The only difference is over there is the population is bigger. And because the population is bigger, you have to change the plan. Over there the trucks, you sell ice cream on the truck and you need a few blocks to do your business. Down here because the population is extended, you need more, more-more. More time driving. Then the ice cream truck here is no business.
3147 AH: No.
315543 AN: But same thing with the store. Over there I sell-I use-a batch is a count of 250. Here I use it a hundred. Then, how you bring the people to your place to make more money-you are (inaudible). You sell only one item, you can make it. But I sell anything. I sell Cuban food, American food, ice cream for the American, ice cream for the Puerto Rican, ice cream for the Colombian, ice cream for the Indian people, ice cream for everybody. Plus, you are the only one in town who sells shoes. Everybody when the meet you, they have to go to you.
316AH: To sell what?
317AN: Shoes.
318AH: Juice.
319Unidentified Voice #1: Shoes.
320AN: Shoes.
321AH: Oh, shoes, okay.
322181 AN: If there's only one person who fix your shoes or sell shoes, you have to go there. And here it's-okay. Because I know what to do, I said, "Okay, I make ice cream for everybody."
323AH: There was an Indian gentleman here when I first came. He says he ordered one hundred buckets for a party once. Yeah.
324AN: In India, they don't buy the ice cream here for their parties, they have no ice cream.
325AH: Yeah.
326AN: They have no ice cream.
327AH: So you mentioned Colombians, Puerto Ricans-
328AN: Colombian, Puerto Rican-
329AH: Indians, what other kind of people? AN: Cubans-
330AH: Cubans.
331AN: Cubans, Mexicans.
332AH: Mexican? What kind of the flavor do the Mexicans like? AN: The Mexican people, they like incredible strawberry.
333AH: Strawberry.
334AN: And they like mamey too, the tropical. But they more inclined to strawberry.
335AH: And with Indians it's mango and it's the saffron?
33648 AN: Mango, and they have calling cashew raisins.
337AH: Yes, cashew and raisins.
338AN: And they like the tropical fruit too, like (inaudible); they call it (inaudible). Another called-
33935 Unidentified Voice #1: Kesar pista.
340AN: No, the kesar pista, I mentioned that. Kesar pista is saffron with pistachios. And they like another calling-
341Unidentified Voice #1: Chiku?
342AN: Chiku [sapodilla] is another tropical fruit we call nspero. They like it.
343Unidentified Voice #1: Lychee.
344141 AN: Lychee. That is a red little fruit from China. Lychee. They like it. But they're very inclined to one flavor. They like kesar pista most.
345Unidentified Voice #1: (inaudible) grande fiesta de los Indian.
346AN: Oh, I went a few years to the Indian festival here in Tampa.
347148 AH: Oh, and you sell your ice cream there?AN: Yeah. But the last year I went there, they bring another Indian people, Indian guy, to sell ice cream.
348AH: Oh.
349270 AN: And when they call me the next year, I get a stop here with them. A bunch (inaudible), that red ice cream nobody wants. And the next year I said, "If you give me the exclusive to sell ice cream to your people, I'll go. You don't do that, I quit." I don't go no more.
350AH: Yeah.
351AN: And I (inaudible), to the Indian. It's coming. Ten thousand, I don't know.
352Unidentified Voice #1: It's really big.
353AN: And they're done there.
354AH: Yeah, over at USF?
355AN: Yeah.
356AH: Lots. Yeah.
357AN: I went there like for three or four years. I sell a lot.
358AH: I'm sure.
359AN: It was good.
360AH: Yeah.
361AN: But one day, when I get stuck with the ice cream and I had no way to sell it, I say, "Okay, stay with your own people."
362AH: What other kinds of- So, Puerto Ricans, what do they like most? AN: Coconut.
363AH: Coconut. What about the Cubans? Obviously, some mamey.
364AN: Coconut. And mamey.
365AH: What about Col-
366AN: Colombian, they like guanbana.
367AH: Oh.
368AN: They call it soursop. But all the Spanish people from the Caribbean area-they eat all tropical flavors.
369AH: Yeah. Papaya.
370AN: More or less. Papaya is a good seller, but only small amounts.
371AH: I see.
372272 AN: It's no big thing. Most flavor I have for-because I don't like to say, "I don't have these, I don't have that." I like to say, "I have." And then sometimes I have to even throw [them] away, because they get old in the freezer and I have to. But I don't like to say no.
373AH: Yeah. AN: And I just made it.
37483 AH: What other big items do you have that you sell a lot of? You got the ice cream-
375327 AN: Of the Cuban food, I have one item that nobody else makes it here in town, is called the frito cubano. It's like a hamburger. But it's spicy. Not spicy-hot; it's with a condiment. They have Spanish sauce in the compound, they have roast pork, ground beef, and then we add garlic, onions, saffron-no saffron-si, (inaudible).
376AH: Oregano? AN: No, the red powder.
377AH: Chili powder?AN: No. It's from Spain. Okay, never mind.
378AH: Cayenne?
379AN: No. It's a-
380AH: Red powder.
381AN: Something I forgot the name of.
382197 AH: Oh, paprika?AN: Paprika. From Spain. And salt, eggs-real eggs with the white part-and then I bread it, with bread powder to make a dough. And we make little patties of three ounces. Very tasty.
383AH: Sounds good.
384AN: And we sell a lot. Every time I make, I make like four or five hundred at a time. But I have to do it myself.
385AH: Yeah.
386AN: I don't trust nobody.
387AH: (laughs)
388AN: People help me. They-maybe a few onions, bring me this, bring me that. But I-
389AH: Yeah.
390AN: -I'm the magician. It's me. (laughs)
391AH: Yeah, that's right.
392AN: I made the concoction all the time. I don't trust nobody.
393134 AH: Well, it said-where was it?-it says you, you know, you try to-your son destroyed every flavor. You tried to show him how to do it.
394AN: And not only him. I use him as-he's mad, he's mad with me because I say that.
395AH: But it was an example.
396316 AN: Yeah, but everybody's the same. If you teaching somebody to do things, they have to have real interest. And learn with a purpose. If I-he teach me what to do later on, I can do it. Then they learn well. But if they don't want to do it after leaving or to prove something, nobody like. Because they forgot.
397I tell-you tell them, "This is required amount of citric acid."
398And then the next day they ask you, "How much citric acid I have to put in the compound?"
399"Man, it's an ounce!"
400"Oh. Oh, yeah."
401But on my case, you tell me one ounce, I don't forget. Because I know it's an ounce. Like salt, salt is little bit only. Majority of people, they don't know what to do with the salt. In one batch of coconut ice cream, I used to put three little spoons-in ten gallons-of salt. Teaspoon! They don't want to learn that.
402AH: Yeah.
403AN: They don't want to go into details. But if you put four spoons [of salt], the people feel it salty.
404AH: Oh, you taste the difference.
405348 AN: And then it's-if you don't put no salt, then it's bad. It's empty. And it's like that. All the (inaudible) requires salt. The ice cream place or the food is all with the salt, mainly from the salt on the ice cream is sugar. On the cooking and the kitchen is mainly-the main ingredient is salt. The way to accommodate it is to salt it, the food.
406AH: So let's say that-
407AN: Other things are good here [that] I sell is roast pork.
408AH: Roast pork?
409273 AN: That I roast here, I cook in here. We make another thing they call (inaudible). That is the (inaudible). We make ox tail. We made ground beef. The ground beef we cook in here is different than any other one. Because in England they call it like a sloppy joe. AH: I see.
410AN: But it's a lot different. They cooking with olives. Green olives, with-
411AH: Like picadillo?
412132 AN: Yeah, we put some of them-raisins, black raisins. And then we season it different. It's not a Cuban food like many people think.
413AH: I see.
414215 AN: The Cuban food is a Spanish food. Spanish, from Spain. And we are more Spanish inclined than other nationalities in America. Our food is like a Spanish food. We don't cook nothing if we don't make sofrito first.
415AH: Yes.
416AN: And then we put that into the meat or rice or whatever. And it's of course more tasty.
417AH: Yes.
418AN: More tasty.
419185 AH: So if someone went back into time, when you were young-a young man, say twenty years old. And they said to you, "You are going to spend the last half of your life making ice cream-"
420AN: I don't believe it.
421AH: You wouldn't believe it. No?
422AN: No. That is only- That's my son.
423AH: How you doing?
424AN: He [Andy] is writing a book for-(inaudible)?
425117 AH: Sure. Well, you-so you wouldn't have believed that you would have gotten an ice cream business? AN: I no believe.
426AH: Yeah, so you can-in a strange way, you can thank-
427AN: (inaudible)
42896 AH: So in a strange way, you can thank Fidel Castro for getting you into the ice cream business.
429AN: No.
430AH: No?AN: No.
431AH: Yeah.
432AN: No, I don't-I have nothing to say thank you to Castro. I don't want to live here. I live here because [of] the dictator in Cuba.
433AH: Yeah.
434224 AN: I like my country, I want to go back to my country, and I think everything of my country. And I hate what he did to my country. And I suffer internally for the disgrace he cause to my people. I'm very political about it.
435AH: Yes.
436AN: You can't be talking good about Castro-I am not talking to you.
437AH: No, I wouldn't do that.
438AN: I'm very political on that.
439AH: Yes.
440AN: Very, very sensitive.
441AH: I understand.
442AN: Very, very. No, I don't-
443AH: Yeah.
444AN: When I see my kids grow up here, my dream was not that-my dream was they grow up in my country.
445AH: In Cuba.
446143 AN: Not here. I told you, I don't see no difference between my Cuba in my times, and the United States of this time. I don't see no difference.
447AH: Yeah.
448216 AN: We-I think Cubans are great people, smart people, people that push for the one and I-even the Cubans that came from there, we saw that (inaudible), good too. They bad if they bad. If they good, they exile people.
449AH: So what's your favorite thing about running this business? Besides the singing, of course.
450AN: The freedom.
451AH: The freedom?
452183 AN: The freedom. I was accustomed to-it's a funny story. I work on the court up to twenty-one years old. And I get my degree from the court-the same court gave me the title. AH: Okay.
453AN: The day I get twenty-one years old-that is majority of age, like here it is eighteen. Was twenty-one. The next day I have an office across the street from the court, where I start work as a procurador.
454AH: As a what? AN: Procurador.
455AH: Procurador?
456AN: Procurador.
457AH: Okay.
458AN: It's like a lawyer.
459AH: Okay.
460AN: Like a lawyer for the small claims.
461AH: Yes.
462AN: Small claim degree. Let's put it that way.
463AH: Okay.
464139 AN: And the first day, imagine-I'm [an] independent person. I'm a professional. I don't want to work for nobody. I want to work for myself.
465AH: Yes.
466167 AN: I had a boss mind. I don't want to work for nobody. And that's what it is. If I came here now-see-now I sit down, the guy that work over there, that's what I want.
467AH: Yeah, you're still the boss. Yeah.
468AN: And I really like-I am the boss.
469AH: What's that?
470AN: You born as a boss.
471AH: Yeah.
472202 AN: Some people cannot act as a boss, because they have no attitude. First thing, you have to know what you're doing. You are boss, and you don't know how? What kind of boss you are? You don't know how-
473220 One example-the other day, yesterday, I have things to-you have to be a little plumber, a little electrician, a little roofing man. You have to know everything! If a fire happened over there, you have to know what to do.
474AH: You have to be a fireman.
475383 AN: You have to be a fireman, too. But that is not all in me; the only people think that-my son sometimes tell me, "You are a-" how you call it? They think I am too much talking about me. I say no. Everybody is the same. Why everybody is not the same is because they don't push or they don't go for what they want. But when they got something in hand, they act the same as me. Same.
476AH: Yeah.
477380 AN: It's not because I'm like that-no, no. Like I said, I tell- I give you example. I don't like the people who steal from me. I get mad. I have a dime in my pocket. You try to take that dime from my pocket. It's only a dime. I fight for that dime, because it's mine. It's not the amount of the money. And here is the same. They throw away something that cost me money, I get mad.
478AH: Yeah
479AN: They have to watch me because I look at everything, because it's my interest. It's a penny-a ketchup-two pennies. Hey, I tell them, "Give it to me." They can get fired, get mad.
480AH: Yeah.
481AN: And they think I don't see it, I see it.
482AH: Yeah.
483188 AN: And that is different between a boss, the owner, or somebody that does not know how to do-has no attitude. You have no attitude to own a business? They'll give away everything you got.
484AH: Yeah.
485AN: They don't care.
486AH: So what else do you enjoy about the business? You like the freedom, what else? Anything else you want to-?
487AN: The business is creative.
488AH: What's that? Creative? AN: Creative.
489AH: Yeah.
490278 AN: You are-a constant challenge to do things better. And it's a satisfaction when you do something and the people tell you, "I like this today. The ice cream is good! These stews taste good. I come here because I like it." What make you happy in the business is the repetition.
491121 AH: The repetition?AN: The customer come today, but he come back. And they come back. And that's what make you feel good.
492AH: Yeah.
493AN: The other people don't realize that. The same customers every day make you feel, "I win the case."AH: Yeah.
494AN: I win the case.
495AH: Yeah.
496AN: I had case in the court too. And I had that emotion too. You go into-even the judge, I tell you, "No. You say no, but I say yes." You fight for them.
497AH: Yeah.
49855 AN: Eventually, you are like-and that's a good feeling.
499AH: Yeah, definitely.
500AN: Success.
501AH: Yes.
502AN: Success is a feeling-is a good feeling.
503AH: Well, I'd say that you're a success here, sir.
50471 AN: I don't know, but I feel happy. And a happy person is stay. I stay.
505AH: You're a happy person?
506AN: [Nods yes].
507AH: Yeah.
508AN: No matter what happens, I get naturally (inaudible) for why-but I come up with the happiness all the time.
509AH: Yeah. Anything else you want to add? AN: No. You want to ask me any other thing?AH: I think we've about covered it. Yeah, I just-I really wanted to just find out how you got to where you are today, what you like about it, what's-
510AN: Another thing is a (inaudible), a part of me. Many young kids or young people, or other person, they think-they measure success with the amount of money you got in the bank.
511AH: Yes.
512271 AN: And I don't measure that way. I measure like I measure-like I say, I feel happy here. My family is accommodated to-I call them all day and they says, they don't-what they want I can pay for. And that's enough for me. That's-I don't want no more. I want more-AH: Yeah.
513284 AN: But what I got is enough. That is what I want to pass to the other people. That they know-to my kids, to my son. When you got it, when you feel happy with what you got, that's plenty. Don't suffer for what you don't got or what the other people have. What we have is enough? Good.
514AH: Yeah, I understand.
515end of interview
unicode usage 2-byte sequence starting at 16660 [195 179 (c3 b3 ) {"\u00f3"} ]. [ embassy? AN: No, he is-cmo se dice se asilo? He exiled on ].2-byte sequence starting at 23550 [194 191 (c2 bf ) {"\u00bf"} ]. [ A cleaner? AN: Cmo se dice? A janitor.
148].2-byte sequence starting at 32222 [195 177 (c3 b1 ) {"\u00f1"} ]. [ Grape, lemon, orange, pia colada-



COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 20 1 0 University of South Florida. All rights, reserved This oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrig hted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fo wler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.


Download Options

Choose Size
Choose file type
Cite this item close


Cras ut cursus ante, a fringilla nunc. Mauris lorem nunc, cursus sit amet enim ac, vehicula vestibulum mi. Mauris viverra nisl vel enim faucibus porta. Praesent sit amet ornare diam, non finibus nulla.


Cras efficitur magna et sapien varius, luctus ullamcorper dolor convallis. Orci varius natoque penatibus et magnis dis parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus. Fusce sit amet justo ut erat laoreet congue sed a ante.


Phasellus ornare in augue eu imperdiet. Donec malesuada sapien ante, at vehicula orci tempor molestie. Proin vitae urna elit. Pellentesque vitae nisi et diam euismod malesuada aliquet non erat.


Nunc fringilla dolor ut dictum placerat. Proin ac neque rutrum, consectetur ligula id, laoreet ligula. Nulla lorem massa, consectetur vitae consequat in, lobortis at dolor. Nunc sed leo odio.