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Bea Rodriguez, Cheryl Rodriguez


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Bea Rodriguez, Cheryl Rodriguez
Series Title:
Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
Physical Description:
1 sound file (21 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;
Rodriguez, Bea
Burroughs, Ericka Lynise
Baber, M. Yvette
Anthony, Otis R
Black History of Tampa Research Project
University of South Florida Libraries -- Florida Studies Center. -- Oral History Program
University of South Florida -- Tampa Library
University of South Florida Tampa Library
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
Publication Date:


Subjects / Keywords:
African American business enterprises -- Florida -- Tampa   ( lcsh )
African Americans -- Florida   ( lcsh )
African Americans -- History -- Florida   ( lcsh )
Oral history   ( local )
Online audio   ( local )
Oral history.   ( local )
Online audio.   ( local )
interview   ( marcgt )


Bea Rodriguez, wife of civil rights leader Francisco Rodriguez Jr., and her daughter Dr. Cheryl Rodriguez, professor of anthropology and Africana studies at USF, discuss Central Avenue and Tampa's African American businesses.
Interview conducted July 21, 1994.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by Ericka Burroughs and Ginger Baber.

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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:
aleph - 020800205
oclc - 436229544
usfldc doi - A31-00046
usfldc handle - a31.46
System ID:

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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, 2009, 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.


1 Otis R Anthony African Americans in Florida Oral History Project Oral History Program Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library Digital Object Identifier: A31 00046 Interviewee s : Bea Rodriguez (BR) and Cheryl Rodriguez (CR) Inte rview ed by : Eric ka B urroughs (EB) and Ginger Baber (GB) Interview date: July 21, 1993 Interview location: Unknown Transcribed by: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Interview C hanges by: Kimberly Nordon Interview Changes date: January 6, 2009 Final E dit by: Mary Beth Isaacson Final Edit date: January 2 8 2009 Erica Burroughs : Okay, Mrs. Rodriguez, what we're doing is a study an African American history in Tampa. And it's a general study and what we're doin' is looking at the general different asp ect of the community African American community in Tampa. Bea Rodriguez : Umm hmm. EB: Right now we're focusing our research o n Central Avenue. And if you could just tell me, you know, describe what was the black business district that surrounded Central Avenue. C an you name some streets for me that did that? BR: I could name some businesses. Central Avenue was the main we used to call it like the "main drag EB: Right. BR: If anybody came to Tampa to visit, the relatives of whoever came to visit woul d take you down to Central Avenue. EB: Yeah. BR: And they had places like Johnnie Grave's Smoke Shop, Kid Mason a ll these people were owners of different little shops there. The Greek Stand. The Palace Drug s tore is one that really touched my heart a litt le bit because we did not have transportation ; we had to walk back and forth to our church. So, after church o n Sundays and we lived quite a distance from the church, but we had to pass by Central Avenue, Scott Street and then back and if we were very good my mother would take us there and sit down to a beautiful little marble tabletops that we had never seen before (laughs) T all ice cream glasses t hose tall old fashioned [kind] a nd we would


2 have ice cream. So we really looked forward to that. I mean, this was really like heaven. Cheryl Rodriguez : What church? BR: Oh, we went to Alle n Temple Church, which is still o n Scott Street near Central Avenue. CR: The old building. BR: The old building. EB: Okay. And their old building is still standing, right? BR: It's still standing. Uh huh. CR: Is this the original one? But the act ual congregation now is over o n (inaudible). EB: Okay. Now, do you know how long Palace Drug s tore was there? BR: No, I sure don't. I know that it was there for a long, long time EB: Uh huh. Do you know when it closed or is it still open now? BR: No. Oh, no. No, the whole thing is down now. E B: Because it was o n Central Avenue. BR: That street is no longer Right. EB: Okay. BR: See t he Palace Drug s tore was o n Central and Scott. EB: Um hmm. BR: That area doesn't even exist anymore. EB: Oh, okay. BR: See? So that's all gone. EB: Right. BR: They had quite a few, like newsstands. I don't remember the people who ran the newsstand, but they had the newsstand. They had some thing called Moses White EB: Right.


3 BR: Chic ken. They had something called C otton Club. This was run by a Mr. Jo y ner, Henry Jo y ner. EB: Okay, I remember running across his name. BR: His daughter is an attorney here EB: Right. BR: in Tampa now, A r then ia Joy ner. Mrs. Harris had a place called Rogers Dining Room. Then there was another family who owned the hotel upstairs over the dining room and it was called t he Roge rs Hotel. EB: Right. Because at first wasn't it, like, the Pyramid Hotel? BR: The Pyramid Hotel. EB: And then BR: And they chang EB: they changed that. BR: The Rogers bought y eah. EB: Okay. BR: The Rogers bought it. EB: And was that o n Central Avenue? BR: Umm hmm. Ye ah, it was an Central. And EB: Was that, like, the only h otel that they had BR: The only. EB: for blacks? BR: And it wasn't even as big as this room, I don't think. EB: Oh. (laughs) BR: It was very, very tiny. Cher yl's father had a office also, o n Central.


4 CR: Actually it was o n Harris. BR: Yeah, Sco tt S treet. No. No, when he first CR: Oh, I didn't know that. BR: when he first opened. EB: Yeah, I remember readin' in Mr. [Robert] Saunders memoirs that attorney [Francisco Junior] Rodriguez had a n office o n Central. BR: Central EB: An (inaudibl e) with a Mr. [William A.] Fordham BR: Umm hmmm. That was his partner. And in that same building was Dr. Sauers, Dr. Irvin EB: Right. BR: Uh huh. And this office is still EB: Now, he was a dentist, right? BR: Dr. Sauers was a dentist. EB: And D r. Irvin was a dentist? BR: Umm hmm. EB: Okay. What about Dr. [Edward O.] Archie? BR: M.D. EB: Okay. BR: He was o n the corner I'm glad you reminded me of that he was o n the corner from just a wee bit over from where Cheryl's father's o ffice was. E B: Okay. Okay. BR: And that same area, the Florida Sentinel had an office there. And my cousin reminded me this morning that they was really if you could get with Kay Wells EB: Okay. BR: S he runs the Florida Sentinel


5 EB: Who's Kay Wells? CR: She ac tually is the BR: The daughter. CR: editor and she sort of took over the business from her father. BR: From her father. EB: She's (inaudible) Jr. CR: Right. She's Kay Andrews. EB: Okay. BR: (inaudible) CR: I mean, ac t u ally EB: Is he still ? CR: Oh, yeah, he's still around. BR: Oh, yeah, he's still there. EB: Okay. BR: And the grandfather has a business now. EB: C. Blythe Andrews, Sr. BR: Right. And they had an office also o n Central Avenue. EB: All right. BR : And they moved to the o ffice where they are now EB: Right. BR: But, Kay would have o h, s he would have lots [of] information o n the EB: Umm hmm. BR: from her pictures.


6 EB: Now that building that your husband had his office in, is that owned by Dr. Anderson, or something l ike that? Seemed like I somebody told me that he owned the building or something. Do you know? BR: I thought Dr. Irvin was the owner. EB: Dr. Irvin? Okay. BR: Umm hmm. I thought he was the owner. RB: Who was Dr. Anderson? BR: I'm not sure. EB: Okay I think I remember running across that name and... BR: I don't know a Dr. Anderson, but Well, I was quite a young lady during that time that you and some of it I can remember, but I don't remember a Dr. Anderson. EB: Okay. BR: Dr. Archie was very po pular because in Tampa we have very few black doctors. EB: Right. Right. BR: Cheryl's father was and the man he practiced with were the only the first two black attorneys here this area. Well they had lots of The whole street was just filled with busin esses all the way down. And most of them were run by black people. Ginger Bab er : Was the housing project there at that time? BR: The housing project was there. Yeah, the housing project was there. EB: The one that's there now? BR: Umm hmm. EB: Oh, ok ay. BR: It was there. GB : (inaudible) I t was called CR: I don't know whether the name has changed now, but it was I can't think of that name right now.


7 EB: Was it named after somebody? CR: It had a name um a nd it may like I s aid, it may still have that name. Do you know what I'm talkin' about? BR: Yeah. CR: It was called a BR: It was some kind of a Some kind of a Some kind of a Central Park (inaudible). EB: You sure? Central Park Village? BR: Centra l Park Village, yeah. CR: Okay. EB: Wha t about that street that's over there, like Nick Nuccio Parkway or something, was that there? BR: No. That wasn't there. EB: So that came after urban renewal. BR: That came after urban renewal. That's right. Umm hmm. EB: So BR: That came after EB: Wh ere's Scott Street? BR: Scott Street is still there. Scott Street is the street that the church is, on Allen Temple. CR: It crosses Central. EB: Okay. BR: Right, it crosses Central. EB: So, is it like, behind a not behind, but is it like BR: It r uns through that project. EB: Oh, it does?


8 BR: Uh huh. EB: Okay. Okay. BR: It runs through the housing project. GB: And it goes to a BR: Down to Nebraska. CR: It goes down to Nebraska. EB: Okay. Yeah, because it's runnin' east and west. BR: Y eah. CR: Umm hmm. BR: Right. EB: Does Okay. I forgot what I was going to ask. I was going to ask you does Scott Street So it's o n the other side of Nick Nuccio Parkway? BR: Well EB: Like, if you're standing where the BR: Nick Nuccio Parkway wasn' t there. EB: Yeah, but BR: Yeah, now it is, yes. EB: now. Like, if I'm standing in Perry Harvey S enio r Park, it's o n the other side of Nick Nuccio Parkway. BR: On the other side. EB: Okay. Now, was there a park that was at the end of Central Avenu e? Somebody said that there was a park that wa s there. Or was it Perry Harvey S enio r Park ; was it there, or that came after urban renewal? BR: All of that came after urban renewal. EB: Okay.


9 BR: When I was a little girl Perry Harvey Park that park was not there. EB: Right. Did they have recreation places where black BR: They had one recreation center which is now Kid Mason Center. EB: Okay. He owned like a variety store or something. BR: Right. He had a variety store and also a newsstand. CR: A nd that building is still there even though I don't know whether they are doing anything. But I don't know what they do. That Kid Mason Center is there. EB: Is that o n Harrison Street? CR: It's o n Harrison. BR: Oh, yeah. It's o n Harrison. CR: It's o n Harrison. EB: I'm gonna have to check that out. CR: And I'm not Like I said, I'm not real sure what it's (inaudible). But I remember going. BR: I think they do have CR: I remember going there. BR: some They do recreation with the children stil l, I think. And they still have CR: They used to have dances there. BR: Yeah. It's right across the street from the Longshorem e n's Hall. CR: Longsho remen's building. And the cemetery is o n the BR: The cemet ery is o n the opposite side. CR: Umm hmm. EB: Okay. Somebody told me that there was another newspaper besides the Florida Sentinel called the News Reporter Do you remember that one? BR: I can't remember the little street it was on. But they did I think they had like a little office


10 o n the Cent ral Avenue area and it was run by a man called Mr. James Jackson. And I think he died last year. EB: Oh. BR: But o n the corner of Main and Howard, in West Tampa, they moved there. And I think that little I think they still run it but it's not like a bi g newspaper like they had it before because the Florida Sentinel bought them out. EB: Okay. BR: But they still Some of the people who ran that little newspaper saw that as too much (inaudible). GB: Didn't your father do that? BR: The Florida Sentine l the I think it was called the News Bulletin EB: Okay, your dad had a newspaper? What's your BR: No. He used to He used to deliver it. CR: No. He delivered it. EB: Okay. What's your maiden name? BR: Bea Tabor. EB: Your maiden What, Temple? BR: Tabor. CR: Tabor. EB: Tabor. CR: T A B O R. E B: Okay. BR: And my father used to, in order to support us, because there was four of us, he worked at the he worked as a train how do you say it ? Anyway, he worked for the railroad. EB: Oh, okay. B R: So, like a little second job, he would deliver newspapers in the afternoon. And all four of us


11 would help him. EB: Oh (laughs). BR: The four of us would help him. We didn't like it, but we did it anyway. And believe it or not the paper was only, like, five cents. And people would have us coming back, "Please come back next week, come back." EB: You didn't get the quarter. BR: Yes. And Well, th ey would get the paper EB: Right. BR: and, you know, they wouldn't have the nickel to pay us. So we had to go back the next week. EB: Oh. BR: And sometimes the little kids would come to the door and say, "My mama says she ain't home." EB: Oh... BR: (laughs) But we would leave the paper anyway. EB: Oh, that was sweet. GB: Were there any other this is just sort of an aside, but were there any other business districts like Central as far as the black owned business ? B ecause that's part One of the reasons why Susan and Harrison and I are why the people are interested is one of the reasons why we re inter ested is because of the fact that it was unique because it was all it was primarily black owned. And so people had a sense of being able to participate in their community and you just y ou know, you did business. Like you said, when black people came to tow n they would want you took them there. BR: Oh, yeah. That was the first thing GB: You know, you patronized BR: was take them... GB: the black owned businesses and that type of thing. So were there any I know that in West Tampa, o n Main Street, ther e was a bunch of stores that I remember we used to go to but those weren't owned by black people.


12 BR: Those weren't owned by black. After the After they tore down for the urban renewal GB: Right. BR: came through and Central Avenue was no longer the re, Mr. White which was Moses White EB: Moses White. BR: moved to West Tampa EB: Okay. BR: O n Main Street. EB: Okay. BR: There were some other people, Mr. Becksley, a few other black people who were they were there too. But it was not like Centra l Avenue because most of the businesses o n Main Street were owned by white people. EB: Okay, so they just worked there for the white people, or managed the stores for the white people? CR: Sometimes they didn't even work in the stores. BR: No, sometime s they didn't work in the stores. EB: Oh, okay. BR: Sometimes EB: So it was just, like, scattered from that. BR: Yes, like the grocery stores, you could go there CR: You just went to 'em and you give 'em your money but BR: and buy your food. C R: Black people didn't work there. BR: They didn't work there. But when Central Avenue was no longer there then Mr. White and a few other black people started a business out in West Tampa. And some of them spread to Twenty Second Street. There was a blac k man, his name was Lee Dav is, and he has the Lee Davis


13 CR: A lot of things are named after him. BR: the center. The center that CR: You know the Lee Davi s Well, maybe you You know it. BR: Then (inaudible). This man used to own a club, you know, like the people o n Central Avenue used to have a little club. Mr. Lee Davis had his o n Twenty Second Street. EB: Okay. BR: So some of the people after Central Avenue left, Johnny Gray and some of the other people went to Twenty Second Street. EB: Okay. BR: I don't think they have it any more. I'm not sure. EB: Right. Well that's no problem. EB: No. There's no problem ; it' s always easy to look up. But BR: Most of the businesses o n Central Avenue were run and owned by blacks. CR: Right, so that wa s the primary business district for at that time f or blacks. And I don't think that there's anything like that ever again. EB: Right. CR: I don't think that any place in Tampa has been able to dupli you know, re create that type of BR: A lot of people were EB: Right. BR: angry when the urban renewal EB: Right. I was gonna ask you when did urban renewal start? Or, you know, I don't know maybe when their plans municipal government started, but I mean when did they actually start tearing down busine sses and people having to sell their property? BR: That, Miss Harris would know more about EB: Okay.


14 BR: you know, that part of it because she was involved in that CR: It might have been like in the sixties [19 60s ] don't you think? EB: The reason why I'm asking these questions is because somebody had proposed that the riots the 1967 Central Avenue riots was responsible for the businesses being destroyed. And I don't know, you know, urban renewal plans had happened before then, were they starting to sell out before the riot or not. Do you remember? Do you know? BR: Do you know Erica, I don't remember that. But, I'm not sure. I remember the riot, but I can't remember EB: And I know there were some businesses there because I remember reading in the newspaper that businesses were destroyed by the fires and looting. But BR: Yes, but CR: Do you remember that? BR: What? CR: The riots? BR: Umm hmm. I remember that. CR: What set it off? Do you remember how it happened? BR: I can't remember what s et it off, but CR: I was It was tossed BR: I would think that some of the Well, let me say this to you M any times black people would get angry if a white policeman or something of that nature would take place with a black person. They would set the place o n fire and start looting, you know, that kind of thing. They did have some riots during the civil rights movement. EB: Oh, really? BR: Yeah, they had some. Not very many, but they had some. EB: Oh, (inaudible). BR: But they had Really, some of it I cannot remember. I should be able to remember back that far.


15 CR: But a big part of the elimination of all that area had to do with the highway. BR: Oh yeah. CR: When the highway tried to the interstate BR: Th e interstate CR: was being built. And they used that as a way of my father called it "urban removal." EB: (laughs) CR: That's what he called it, my father. He really did. He called it "urban removal." BR: Because people were disrupted. CR: That's right. You know, people's lives were g reatly disrupted. BR: A lot of people were very hurt by this. In fact, one man, that he helped with urban renewal O ne place was for sale, and this man just could not He knew that he was going to have to leave EB: Oh, yeah BR: and he kept holding on He kept holding on. So I remember asking him, you know, did the person finally make up his mind to move? All the other places were empty and this man finally CR: Held an to the house. EB: Oh, it was a house. BR: I t was a house, uh huh. And he didn't want to give it up. EB: Yeah. BR: He finally gave it up. He got the check because they pay you the amount of money that you know, and at the hospital we handled a lot of that. So after he got the check he died. EB: Oh. BR: He never got a chance to EB: That's terrible. BR: Because he was in love with this area. "My home, I've been here for years and years and


16 years. I don't want to go to West Tampa. I don't want to go to Ybor City." But they start tearin' down and, of course, they're tearin' down ev erything around you and CR: And there were not that many choices for black people o n the BR: Right. CR: There were not the choices like at you know, I was telling them the other day that, as an example of how limited the geographical space was, we di dn't know anyt hing about Temple Terrace and BR: Yeah. CR: I mean, even if we knew about it there was no way we could move there. EB: Right. BR: No way. CR: Right, but the point was that our lives were really restricted to certain geographical areas in terms of where we could live and where we could have businesses and things like that. So people didn't have a lot of choices. And you could live in West Tampa in that small little area there that's called North Boulevard Homes. And not just the projects but there were other s; there was like extending from that there were some homes beca use we lived in West Tampa. But And then there was parts of Ybor City that we could, you know, live in. But it was really limited. BR: But we couldn't pick up and say, w ell, okay the urban renewal took my house or they're havin' us to move we're gonna move to Temple Terrace. We couldn't do that. EB: Right. BR: We couldn't do that. CR: Yeah. And then everybody that you knew lived in, yo u know, in that little i n those ce rtain areas so that was your community, that was your This was your support system. These were the people who supported your business. So BR: Yeah. CR: And these were the people that you were accustomed to. EB: Was Central Avenue did it have any resi dential homes? Did it have any? Or i t was just mainly businesses? BR: They had some little huts


17 EB: Uh huh. BR: for houses. And when Oh, they finally tore them down EB: Right. BR: and this is how the project the Central Avenue or Central Park Vi llage project came up. EB: O kay. BR: When Central Avenue was first there it had little tiny homes. People had little private homes there. Very tiny. Very small. Little huts like this. EB: Wow. BR: And I think this is why they (inaudible) putting that project because the project would you would have a larger space for people to CR: Do you know which one was built first that one or the one in West Tampa? BR: I think the one in West Tampa was built first. EB: The North Boulevard Ho m es? BR: Uh huh. Because when I was a little girl the North Boulevard Homes I was five years old. EB: Oh, they were built. BR: Uh huh. EB: Okay I was thinking they were built like in the '50s. BR: I was a EB: You Your age. BR: Yeah, oh okay. EB: I'm sorry. BR: Back in sixty [19 60 ] this was. I'm g onna say the sixties [19 60s ] CR: Then nobody wouldn't ever guess. BR: About 54 55 years ago.


18 CR: That those were BR: And my family was the first family to move in those project homes o n that particular street, w as Union Street. We had Main Street and then we had Union Street. And we thought we were See, when we moved in that project, we thought it was like moving over to Temple Terrace. EB: Right. Well, I'm sure it was very nice. BR: Or moving to Davis Island EB: I'm sure it was. BR: Oh, beautiful. Beautiful. CR: Um hmm. It was. EB: All projects are nice when they're built. CR: But I remember the projects and I was born in 1952. And my grandmother Well, actually, we lived there for a time and it was B R: It was nice. CR: It was nothing like BR: That's right. CR: People had it EB: No, they were built nice. CR: People had their own yards. BR: Oh, yeah. CR: And people took care of things. BR: Right. I was gonna tell you CR: And there was no such thing as drug dealers BR: that her grandmother CR: and guns.


19 BR: Right. We never had that. CR: It was nothing like that. Those same projects that BR: Her grandmother used to CR: Y eah those same ones that you wouldn't dare BR: They would give CR: that you don't even want to ride through now BR: I'm scared to (inaudible) of 'em CR: I used to play right there right there BR: Right in the CR: in the little courtyard. BR: Beautiful CR: and thought nothing of that. BR: gra ss. Grassy street. In fact, Union Street was just CR: Big beautiful. BR: grassy. Beautiful. EB: Okay, now I don't know where you say that I don't know BR: Right next to Main Street. EB: Yeah, I haven't been to West Tampa so I'm still CR: She's n ot from Tampa so BR: Oh, okay. EB: I mean, I'm familiar with Ybor City and that area but I haven't gotten over to West Tampa yet. I will. BR: Yeah. Lots of people.


20 EB: I hear lots of people talk about Main Street on Saturdays. "I'm goin' to Main Str eet." What's o n Main Street? BR: It's a little bit dangerous. If you want a little danger you go down there. If you still want to live in the danger zone then you go to Main Street. CR: It's not a little bit. It's a lot dangerous. BR: A lot that's rig ht. EB: Isn't it kind ? CR: And it wasn't like that ; it wasn't like that. And that's what's so sad. BR: That's what's so sad about it. CR: You could walk down Main Street and get BR: And I remember. CR: I mean, I remember it well. Just We would go to the s tores BR: To the store CR: to August There was a grocery store. BR: Oh yeah. CR: There was a little rest a u rant. And those weren't black owned, but the point is that you could go to those places and you could walk down Main Street and not have any BR: No fear. CR: fear. BR: Right. CR: Because it was i t was fine. And it wasn't that people were not poor because they were, but it was that we didn't have the kinds of EB: Crime problem for one. CR: w e didn't have the crime problems BR: Yeah, the crime problems.


21 CR: We didn't have this escalating crime so the danger wasn't there. So, anyway, I'm sorry you were EB: No, that's okay. I was gonna ask that. West Tampa, that's far away from Central Avenue, right? BR: Yeah. EB: S o, did a lot of people walk? BR: Yeah, we used to walk. EB: Oh, okay. BR: Umm hmm. Once in awhile we would get a ride with some relative EB: Oh, okay. BR: but a lot of it was walking. We used to walk any you know And I can remember so well, we use d to cross a bridg e. It was called Garcia Street B ridge. And I was so scared. EB: (laughs) BR: Scared to death lookin' down at that water. EB: Right. BR: But I walked across that bridge long enough to have gotten used to it. EB: Umm hmm. BR: Never g ot used to it. EB: Oh, you're not (laughs) BR: And I mean, it was really scary. EB: Really? CR: And then when I was born then we used to walk to downtown Tampa. Remember? We lived in West Tampa BR: Yeah. CR: and then we'd go I mean, we had By t hen


22 EB: But wasn't that kind of a far walk? Because, I mean, if they had the interstate they have two different exits for it. CR: It didn't seem far then. BR: Yeah, it didn't seem so far. CR: I mean, it was just something that you did. Because we liv ed in West Tampa and it really wasn't that far. It's really not that far. EB: It's just when you get used to driving CR: But we walked. EB: and that's why, I'm used to driving. CR: I remember my mother pulling me across the bridge sayin' "Come on." EB: (laughs) You wanted to get off too, right? (laughs) Right. BR: W alked across the bridge. CR: to go dow ntown. Because we didn't have BR: we called malls. CR: Yeah, we didn't have them. EB: Right. BR: We didn't have no place. We didn't have a ny of them. CR: So we would walk across the bri d ge and go downtown EB: Yeah. CR: subject ourselves to that. BR: Finally her dad built her dad got a car so we put that part behind us and we would get in the car and EB: And go out. BR: My father ne ver had a car. Never. He had a bicycle. He didn't ever have a car. I remember so well. We used to get a little spankin' for even touchin' his bicycle.


23 EB: (laughs) That was his only mode of transportation. BR: That's right, because that was his transport ation. EB: Right. BR: And he didn't want anybody to touch that EB: Exactly. BR: to touch, you know. Her grandfather had a bicycle too. CR: Umm hmm. My grandfather. BR: And my husband and we used to CR: My other grandfather. BR: Yeah. Right. EB : Umm hmm. BR: He remembers that his father used to spank him for touchin' the bicycle. EB: Umm hmm. BR: Because that was his transportation. EB: So, where did Mr. Rodriguez grow up at? Because you grew up in West Tampa, right? BR: Yeah. He grew up in the Ybor City area. He was born in Cuba but he grew up in Ybor City. EB: Okay. BR: As a youngster he came to the United States. His parents worked at a cigar factory. EB: Okay. BR: So they didn't live too far from the cigar factory. Do you know anyth ing about Ybor City? EB: Yeah, I know some. BR: There's a great big factory there called Ybor Square. EB: Right. Right. I know that.


24 BR: That was a cigar factory. It used to be a cigar factory. EB: Right. BR: And Cheryl's grandmother used to work the re. EB: Oh, okay. CR: Grandfather. BR: Umm hmm. Grandfather CR: Well, both of 'em did. But mostly he did. BR: Umm hmm. CR: Oh. BR: And the cutest thing was that EB: Yeah, I love Ybor City. BR: that her father was never allowed to go inside the cigar factory. EB: The cigar factory. BR: Never. If he went there to speak to his mother he could just go to the front door. Because his mother and father decided years ago that EB: That he would never BR: he would never be a cigar maker. EB: And t hey didn't want him to be influenced at all. BR: They didn't want to see They didn't want him to see it at all. So they were not allowed to go inside th at building, never, never. You could stand o n the outside, but you couldn't go inside. EB: Umm hmm. BR: Because she decided that her father grandfather decided that all three of the children would go to college and they did. And, you know, it worked out beautifully, but they just didn't want them to be inside the factory because they didn't want to have any you know, have the children have anything they wanted to do with the cigar factory. EB: Right.


25 CR: Well, anyway they didn't have. . Side 1 ends; side 2 begins. BR: Mrs. Anderson used to tell about They had one called Charlie Moon EB: Right. I wanted to ask you now, Charlie Moon had a nightclub sort of? BR: Just like a little nightclub. EB: Okay. What was the name of it? BR: I don't know. I was asking my customer this morning and she couldn't remember either. It was very small. EB: It is? Okay. BR: He was very smart and EB: (inaudible) Okay. BR: Umm hmm. EB: (inaudible) Okay. BR: Yeah, it was very He died at G od it must have been he was only 45 years old when he died. EB: Oh, so he had one of the older clubs. Okay. BR: The club s till stood for a while EB: Okay. BR: even after his death. EB: Okay. BR: Then they had one called Oh, I gave you the Moses White diner. EB: Right. BR: And Mr. White (inaudible). Arthen i a Jo y ner really could give you some good (inaudible). EB: R ight. She's the attorney and


26 BR: Umm hmm. EB: Okay. BR: Her dad had a big club there. He had a kind of a little nightclub. EB: Right. Right. BR: Umm hmm. So she As a young girl s o she had a EB: This is great. You're doin' very good. Wonderful ins ight. BR: Yeah, some of the things I can remember but I really want you to meet Mrs. Harris. EB: Harris. Yeah, we ll do that. BR: She is a wonderful person. And she had this business there. And really and truly whenever we wanted to, like, show off fo r our relatives we would go to Rogers Diner. Because they had not only good food but it was just a really nice place to take a family. We wouldn't have that many, you know, families CR: We didn't have Shoney's and all these other places. EB: Right. (la ughs) BR: So the Rogers Dining Room Whenever someone came to town we would take them to Rogers Dining Room. EB: That's great. BR: And not only that you were gonna get a good meal but it was really nice (inaudible). Really, it was just real, real, nice CR: Is that where we used to go ? F or example, sometimes I remember we would go to D ad's o ffice and meet him for lunch then we'd walk over is that where we would go? BR: Umm hmm. CR: I remember going EB: You remember the food? CR: I j ust remember w alking in and BR: She was quite small.


27 CR: I just remember a restaurant. And we used to go remember we used to go to my father's office a lot. BR: Right. CR: In fact, I have We have pictures of when we would go because some My father used to take a lot of pictures EB: O h, good. CR: A nd some days we would go to his office and then he'd take pictures. BR: And we'd stay there sometimes and wait for him because he would, after he would finish work, he would take us to a place called Rogers Park I' m not sure if that's the same name from Rogers Dining ; I'm not sure of that but it's called Rogers Park. CR: You know Rogers Park? EB: Where's that? BR: And he played tennis there. And he used to take all of us, you know CR: It was the only place tha t black people could play tennis or golf. EB: Oh. CR: And, actually, it was really one of the I'm not sure if there was any other parks that we could go to but that was one of the few parks. BR: That was the only EB: That might be the park I was tal king about earlier. CR: That was the only park that we could go to. EB: Where was that park at? CR: And it's still there. BR: It's still there. EB: Umm hmm. CR: People don't go to it as much. Have you been there?


28 EB: No. BR: No, they go a lot. EB: Why is that? BR: I think mostly white people. BR: And mostly white people go there. CR: Because it has a real nice golf course. BR: But it's EB: Oh, I see. I see. CR: I remember that. BR: It's close to Sligh Avenue. CR: Yeah. EB: Oh, okay. C R: It's off I mean, you can go I remember going down Hillsborough [Avenue] BR: (inaudible) CR: Yeah, I know. BR: And go down Waters [Avenue] CR: What's that street? What's that street that you turn on? BR: It's Thirtieth, isn't it? CR: It's Thirt ieth, because we used to call it Thirtieth Street Park. BR: Right. Used to call it Thirtieth Street Park. CR: And you just go o n follow Thirtieth Street going to the north until it runs out and then you'll the park is there. BR: The park is right down there. CR: But it was Really, I remember we went there a lot. We used to go there almost every


29 afternoon. My father was very EB: Athletic? CR: Yeah. He used to like to play tennis. And so he played tennis every afternoon almost. And that's where he co uld go to play until BR: He finally got the bright CR: Y ears passed BR: idea that he would file suit against Hillsborough C ounty. EB: (laughs) BR: A nd he did. The park, the schools, everything. He did it. And w e finally got a chance to play o n Da vis Island. There's a tennis court right across from Tampa General Hospital EB: Oh, okay. BR: and he's No black kids could play there. He made it a point to make sure they could play there. EB: Okay. BR: So, it was possible. (inaudible) EB: Was Bil l Fordham working with the NAACP too or just BR: Yes, uh huh. EB: O kay. BR: They were partners. EB: O kay. BR: And EB: And they were both members of the legal counsel then, NAACP? BR: Umm hmm. EB: Okay. Because I can't seem to find much informati on an him. BR: Okay N ow, like I said, Mrs. Fordham is still alive, but from what I can understand she's in


30 the EB: Nursing home. Yeah, I'll check with BR: And they have three children and I think EB: Were they born before your children? BR: I thi nk they Cheryl? I think they were. EB: Okay, they might be able to remember (inaudible) BR: But they have a family home out in West Tampa. It might be Grace [Street] or Nassau [Street], or one of those streets like that. I'll find out for you. EB: Grea t, okay. BR: And they still live there. CR: Grace. BR: One of the daughters still lives there o n Grace. EB: Did he BR: No. Mrs. Fordham is from California and s he will remember how they met. EB: O kay. Okay. BR: But they decided, you know, t o be p artners. And then as the o ffice got busier then he decided to split and Cheryl's father took an office down o n Harrison Street. I think that yeah, it's sti ll there. It's another kind of o ffice. But it's CR: The building is still there. BR: The building is still there. Right. EB: Whic h one had the library? The one o n Central Avenue? Was he in the building with the library? BR: That was o n Central Avenue. EB: Okay. BR: That was in the same building with Dr. Ervin


31 EB: O kay. BR: Dr. Salas and, as I can remember, a lady ran the library ; her name was Mrs. Paine. EB: That's right. Somebody else told me that. BR: She ran the library. Right. EB: And then for awhile Bob Saunders office was there. BR: Right. EB: And then he moved to the Longshorem e n's Hall BR: Yeah, he's a Uh huh. He did. EB: building. And that's the one that attorney Rodriguez moved to too? BR: Right. EB: Okay. BR: He moved there. Uh huh. EB: Okay. BR: Did you have a talk with him? Because he knows a lot EB: Bob Saun der s ? Oh yeah, I'm working directly with him. BR: He knows a lot of stuff about EB: I'm help editing his manuscript. BR: Oh. EB: The manuscript that he's done. He's doing a memoir o n the civil rights movement. BR: Oh. All right. Yes. Yes. He knows a lot about Central Avenue. EB: Oh yeah. BR: A whole lot. EB: Yeah.


32 BR: Much more than I do. EB: No. No. He's helped us out a lot. Thank you. CR: Well, you know, she's talked to Mr. Pride too. I told her to EB: I sure did. BR: Oh, you talked to Mr. Pride. EB: And he was helpful. CR: to talk to him BR: Umm hmm. CR: because he's lived in Tampa for so long. BR: A long, long time (inaudible) CR: Yeah, I told her that. You know. And that's why, you know, Mrs. Pride was one of the first I gues s she was one of the first EB: She was the first CR: black person to work o n campus. EB: Yeah, she was. BR: USF. And they EB: She was. BR: They were the first couple, black couple husband and wife to work EB: Because he said he was the fourth person that come. She came like three years before he did or something like that. CR: He told me something that I forgot to ask you about. When we were in Africa we were just sitting down talking and he said that he and Dad were the first black people t o get mortgages in What did he say? How did he tell me? He said that they were the first black people to actually get mortgages from to own their houses to buy houses it was in a certain part of Tampa. Do you remember that? BR: Uh uh. I didn't know that CR: He told me that. I' ll have to ask him about that again. But he was telling me. He was saying


33 how difficult it was, and that's not hard to believe, how difficult it was to get a mortgage. BR: Oh yeah. CR: You know, to get any kind of loan. He was sayin' that he and Dad BR: These people just didn't think you were (inaudible) EB: Was there ever a black bank here? BR: They had one black bank. EB: Oh, really? BR: Rever e nd Lowry was the president of the bank. EB: Okay. What was the name of it? BR: I don't know. EB: That's okay I BR: (laughs) EB: I mean, I just thought about that when Cheryl said there was something about the mortgages I'd never thought about that one. BR: Rever e nd Lowry was the He would be a good person to talk to. EB: Oh yeah. We have already; one of his names I mean, interviews that was transcribed that was done by Otis Anthony. BR: Oh yes. EB: And I've read two interviews with him and I still have questions. Because he knows so much, I mean, he can never get it al l in one interview. So there's still things I need to ask him. BR: Otis knows a lot about Tampa too. CR: Umm hmm. I was tellin' Erica that (inaudible) EB: It CR: He brought over a lot of information. He's helping with this project. BR: Oh. (inaudibl e)


34 EB : It's big. It's getting bigger CR: He knows about it. EB: and bigger. BR: Yeah, that's (inaudible). CR: Since he's I was telling Erica that even though he and I were in the same grade and we grew up together I left for a while, for a few yea rs, but he's always been here. So he's real connected with the people. And he works in, you know, for the city EB: Right. CR: for city government so he really is in touch with a lot of people. So BR: Umm Mr. Alton EB: White. BR: White would be a good person EB: Right. BR: because his dad was the Moses White business EB: What else did Moses White leave us? I mean, I heard that he I don't know. I mean, is that the only business he ever had, basically? Or BR: He ran a funeral home EB: Ok ay. BR: but this was later o n in years. EB: Okay. BR: A black lady; her name was Mrs. Pughsley She died. EB: Right. BR: Anyway, she passed away, she left the funeral home to him EB: Oh, okay.


35 BR: S o EB: And was Pughsley and Stone the only two mortuaries? BR: Uh huh. Years ago. And the people that run Wilson Funeral Home, they were two young men who used to work for the Stone family. EB: Oh, okay. BR: And this is how they got interested. EB: Oh, okay. BR: I guess it grew out of EB: Stone is pretty old though, right? Weren't they around, like, in 19 like, in World War I or something ? BR: Yeah. Yeah. I don't think they have the business anymore. EB: O r they came about BR: I don't think so. EB: Okay. CR: But Wilson is still BR: Wi lson is still EB: That's a different one. CR: the largest or the most BR: I think so. I think it's the largest CR: funeral home. BR: That's right, in the section. Yeah, Central Avenue was really a So many people were they were very disturbed w hen the urban renewal came through there. I mean, this was EB: They totally wiped out the black business district. BR: Yes. EB: That's what happened.


36 BR: It was just like a big bombshell that, you know What are these people doin', but I said, you kn ow And, of course, the white people always win because they decide o n something and they sit you know . P ause in recording EB: . .wrong about this. They didn't bother to say anything about it, protest or anything? BR: Yeah. They did. Yeah. Yeah. They did. They didn't like it one bit. EB: And they just didn't or was it didn't help. BR: Yeah. Growth is painful and They just had to, you know The urban The I 4 [Interstate 4] and these other EB: Right, [Interstate] 275 BR: h ighways were com ing through and t he urban renewal, that program Well, see, there were a few blacks who were very glad because Central Avenue was started getting kind of a Well, you know, how people act sometimes around a lot of beer EB: Umm hmm. BR: a lot of wine. Then some of the older residents decided, "Oh, this is gonna be a saving for us because we'll CR: Eliminate the b ars and things like that. BR: Yeah. And See EB: Oh. BR: T hey got money for their homes and they didn't have to stay there. They moved to West Tampa and a few other areas. But a lot of those people were attached to "I 'm not leaving here. EB: Yeah, well they'd been there all their lives. BR: This is where I've lived all my life." And they were very upset v ery upset b y havin' to n ot be there. EB: Let me ask you. What street was the Lincoln T heater on? BR: Central. Central and


37 EB: Did it close? BR: I think they had the Lincoln Theater and the Carver T heater. CR: The Carver theater was in Tampa was in West Tampa. BR: Oh, was i t it was? end of interview

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Rodriguez, Bea.
Bea Rodriguez, Cheryl Rodriguez
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interviewed by Ericka Burroughs and Ginger Baber.
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University of South Florida Tampa Library,
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Otis R. Anthony African Americans in Florida oral history project
Interview conducted July 21, 1994.
Bea Rodriguez, wife of civil rights leader Francisco Rodriguez Jr., and her daughter Dr. Cheryl Rodriguez, professor of anthropology and Africana studies at USF, discuss Central Avenue and Tampa's African American businesses.
Rodriguez, Bea.
Rodriguez, Cheryl Rene,
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African American business enterprises
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African Americans
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Anthony, Otis R.
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University of South Florida.
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