Aurora Fernandez and Maria Fernandez oral history interview

Aurora Fernandez and Maria Fernandez oral history interview

Material Information

Aurora Fernandez and Maria Fernandez oral history interview
Series Title:
Ybor City oral history project
Fernandez, Aurora, b. 1891
Pozzetta, George E
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 (16 min.) : digital, MPEG4 file + ;


Subjects / Keywords:
Cuban Americans -- Florida -- Tampa ( lcsh )
Cigar industry -- Florida -- Tampa ( lcsh )
History -- Ybor City (Tampa, Fla.) ( lcsh )
Social life and customs -- Ybor City (Tampa, Fla.) ( lcsh )
Oral history. ( local )
Online audio. ( local )
interview ( marcgt )
Oral history ( local )
Online audio ( local )


This is an interview with Aurora Fernandez, a longtime resident of Ybor City, Florida. Fernandez was born in Havana in 1891 and came to Tampa with her family in 1909. She worked in various cigar factories from 1913 to 1937. During the 1920 strike, which lasted for ten months, she had her second son, her husband went to Cuba to work, and many other people went to Detroit; they all returned when the strike was over. When Fernandez first came to Ybor City, she lived in a mixed Spanish-Cuban-Italian neighborhood. On Saturday nights, everyone went to Seventh Avenue to walk around, go to dances, and look for potential spouses; she met her husband at the cigar factory. She used to play bolita, a type of lottery, and once won some money to buy her daughter a dress. For this interview, she is joined by Maria Fernandez, possibly her daughter or another relative, who adds comments.
Interview conducted April 24, 1980.
Statement of Responsibility:
interviewed by George Pozzetta.

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:
002233776 ( ALEPH )
656565121 ( OCLC )
Y10-00016 ( USFLDC DOI )
y10.16 ( USFLDC Handle )

USFLDC Membership

Added automatically
Ybor City Oral History Project

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Fernandez, Aurora,
d b. 1891.
Aurora Fernandez and Maria Fernandez oral history interview
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by George Pozzetta.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (16 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (12 p.)
Ybor City oral history project
Interview conducted April 24, 1980.
This is an interview with Aurora Fernandez, a longtime resident of Ybor City, Florida. Fernandez was born in Havana in 1891 and came to Tampa with her family in 1909. She worked in various cigar factories from 1913 to 1937. During the 1920 strike, which lasted for ten months, she had her second son, her husband went to Cuba to work, and many other people went to Detroit; they all returned when the strike was over. When Fernandez first came to Ybor City, she lived in a mixed Spanish-Cuban-Italian neighborhood. On Saturday nights, everyone went to Seventh Avenue to walk around, go to dances, and look for potential spouses; she met her husband at the cigar factory. She used to play bolita, a type of lottery, and once won some money to buy her daughter a dress. For this interview, she is joined by Maria Fernandez, possibly her daughter or another relative, who adds comments.
Fernandez, Aurora,
b. 1891.
Cuban Americans
z Florida
Cigar industry
Ybor City (Tampa, Fla.)
x History.
Ybor City (Tampa, Fla.)
Social life and customs.
7 655
Oral history.
2 local
Online audio.
Pozzetta, George E.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
Tampa Library.
Ybor City oral history project.
4 856

xml version 1.0 encoding UTF-8
transcript timecoded false doi Y10-00016 skipped 15 dategenerated 2015-06-10 19:40:48
segment idx 0time text length 33 George Pozetta: Aurora Fernandez.
125 Aurora Fernandez: Aurora.
211 GP: Aurora.
316 AF: A-u-r-o-r-a.
418 GP: Oh, dawn, yes?
514 AF: Fernandez.
646 GP: Fernandez, yes. Where were you born, Mrs.-
79 AF: Cuba.
823 GP: In Cuba. In Havana?
931 AF: In Havana. Right in Havana.
10GP: When was this?
1130 AF: Nineteen eight-one [1891].
1275 GP: Nineteen eighty-one [1891]. Yes, do you remember anything about Havana?
1389 AF: Yes. I remember that a lot of hungry-(laughs). I lived in a room this size. Only one.
1413 GP: One room.
15129 AF: My mother and my father and seven kids. Can you imagine? I make everything over there; cooking, sleeping, peepee, everything.
16(phone rings)
17GP: (laughs) What did your father do for work?
1829 AF: My father made buildings.
19GP: A carpenter.
2021 AF: No, no carpenter.
2117 GP: A contractor?
2269 AF: Albail. Albail; you know, made the block between (inaudible).
2351 GP: When did he come or when did you come to Tampa?
2412 AF: In 1909.
25GP: The whole family?
26AF: The whole family.
27GP: Why did the family leave?
28AF: Leave Tampa?
2928 GP: Why did they leave Cuba?
3058 AF: Oh. Because that-you got a lot of kids and you got no-
31GP: No work?
32107 AF: Yes, he's a worker. He made a dollar fifty a day and my mother had to wash a lot of clothes for people.
3348 GP: What did you do when you came here to Tampa?
34AF: Helped my mother.
3527 GP: You helped your mother?
36AF: Yes, she washed clothes.
3742 GP: She washed clothes here in Tampa, too?
3822 AF: And I had to, too.
3955 GP: How about your father, what kind of work did he do?
40157 AF: He, Father, go to the-that room where they had to-Seventh Avenue and Nineteenth Street. Hora. You know? Hora; he go to the different wines to the people.
4135 GP: Oh, you say the wine deliverer.
4224 AF: Yes, wine deliverer.
4360 GP: So, he did not work in the cigar factories? Your father?
4486 AF: Yes, he worked with a (inaudible) the cigar part. That's how you know (inaudible).
4547 Maria Fernandez: Oh, he was the doorman porter.
4654 GP: The doorman porter for one of the cigar factories.
47MF: Of Regensburg.
48GP: Oh, Regensburg, yes. Did-
49AF: (inaudible)
50GP: You did.
51MF: She went to the factory at thirteen [1913].
52GP: What year was that? Do you remember the first year you went to work in the factories?
53AF: What year?
54GP: The year.
55MF: Qu ao?
5670 AF: I coming over here tonight? About eleven-but twelve, 1912 or 1913.
57110 GP: Mr. Diaz was describing the 1910 strike, the seven-month strike, for us. Do you have any memories of that?
5885 AF: Yes, in 1930, twenty (1920), I got ten months strike. My second boy born in 1920.
59MF: And that was the other-another strike.
60AF: Ten months.
61MF: Ten-months strike.
62AF: My husband went to Cuba.
63GP: Your husband went back to Cuba?
6450 AF: No, he was going to work over there, you know.
6549 GP: This was in 1920 during the ten-month strike?
668 AF: Yes.
6773 GP: Did many of the Cubans and Italians leave Tampa during these strikes?
68AF: Yes.
69GP: Some went to Cuba?
70AF: No, a lot of people go to Detroit [Michigan].
7159 GP: Detroit? What did they do in Detroit during the strike?
7243 AF: Worked at machines, making automobiles.
73135 GP: Oh, they worked in the car factories, the automobile factories. Did many of those people return to Tampa after the strike was over?
7441 AF: Yes, they had their family over here.
75GP: So this was this just something temporary?
76AF: Yes.
77MF: They left the families and went there, I guess, during the strike.
78113 GP: What did they do, say in 1910, before the car factories existed? Where did they go in the seven-month strike?
79AF: I don't remember exactly to tell the truth.
80147 GP: Maybe that's a little too early? How about the neighborhood that you lived in when you first came to Tampa? What kind of a neighborhood was it?
81134 AF: Good, very good. I lived over there on Thirteenth Avenue, between Tenth [Street] and Twelfth [Street]. No, Twelfth and Thirteenth.
82GP: Were there other Cuban people living right around you?
8310 AF: Mm-hm.
8438 GP: Only Cubans or were there Spanish?
85AF: Spanish.
86MF: Spanish and Italians. (inaudible) They were all mixed.
8726 GP: Mixed, mixed together.
88126 AF: But I'll tell you the truth; that people back then [are] better than now. It [was] more close. You don't-the people today-
89MF: Do you understand that?
90GP: Yes.
9145 MF: They were a lot closer than they are now.
92108 GP: Did many people used to walk up and down Seventh Avenue? What kind of things happened on Seventh Avenue?
9368 AF: On Seventh Avenue (inaudible) movie pictures and they had music.
94GP: You do?
9593 AF: All the young people would go to Seventh Avenue to find boys and girls. Me, too. (laughs)
9657 MF: That's where they used to go to find their boyfriend.
9739 GP: Is that where you met your husband?
9840 AF: No. I met my husband in the factory.
99GP: In the factory. But others-
10063 AF: Yes. All the people go to Seventh Avenue on Saturday night.
10181 GP: Describe a Saturday night on Seventh Avenue for me. Tell me what it was like.
102MF: (inaudible)
10398 AF: Like Gasparilla Day. (laughs) Like Gasparilla Day, a lot a-a lot of people. I loved that time.
104MF: (inaudible)
1057 AF: No.
106MF: (inaudible)
10720 AF: No, (inaudible).
108MF: El padre, no?
109AF: No.
11095 GP: So the girls and the boys went walking alone by themselves or with their mother and father?
111AF: Or the sister or the aunt, somebody else.
11280 MF: They always had to have somebody. Their brother or sister, aunt or somebody.
113309 AF: I remember one night (inaudible). My husband and I-no, I'm single, you know, he's my boyfriend. I don't know where he told me, too, but he told me something was wrong with the people in the country. I said, "Oh, you don't like it, don't take it." Wow! He [was] mad, he's gone. He left me completely alone.
114514 When I got home I [was] thinking, Well, I'll do it better. No, no, I got to find him. Well, I'm crazy. And I tell my aunt, "You bring me to"-this is Saturday. "You bring me tonight to the Seventh." "No, I can't." Yeah, you can. "All right." And she took me. And I go to the grocery store and he made me a fan. When I go to Seventh Avenue and Fifteenth Street and a guy over there (inaudible). I saw him over there and I gathered the pin the he had made like that. He looked at it and he- (laughs) Oh, I'm so happy!
115MF: Her and her big mouth.
116AF: I'm so happy, we and we carried on.
117GP: So you got back together that night?
118AF: Yes. But I got to call him.
119109 GP: How do you remember the different people, the Italians and Spanish and the Cubans getting along together?
120AF: Yes.
121GP: Did they get along together or were there-
122AF: I got a lot of good friends [that are] Italian.
123MF: Los italianos y los cubanos y los espanoles se llavan bien.
124121 AF: S. The padre-the only thing that the Italian father don't want is for his daughter to marry a Spanish or Cuban boy.
125GP: Why was that do you think? Why? Por qu?
126AF: I don't know.
127GP: Were Italian and Spanish boys marrying Cuban girls at this time?
128AF: Yes.
129GP: But not the other way around?
130237 AF: A lot of Italian girls marry a Cuban man or a Spanish boy, a lot. The father don't want what she wanted, you know, but she don't say nothing. She took the clothes and one day go to the court and marry and then the father (inaudible).
131GP: Trouble.
132AF: Wants to kill him.
133GP: Did you belong to any of the clubs here in Ybor City?
134AF: Yes, Centro Asturiano.
13578 GP: Centro Asturiano. The women took part in the activities also? The picnics-
13684 AF: Oh, those were beautiful; the Sulphur Springs, the picnics, oh, Sulphur Springs.
13797 MF: You were saying something yesterday about going to the Sulphur Springs. What do you do there?
138AF: Los picnics.
139MF: Oh, the picnics.
140AF: You no tell (inaudible) about the Fourteenth Street to Fifteenth Street; the sidewalk is wood.
141GP: In these early days you're saying there's wood sidewalk.
142MF: (inaudible)
143AF: There was a lot of sand. Like that the sand.
144MF: The what?
145AF: La arena.
146MF: Oh, the sand.
147AF: The sand; that high.
14865 GP: (laughs) I read in old newspapers, I read a lot about bolita.
149(phone rings)
150AF: Bolita?
151GP: What was it?
152AF: (inaudible)
153MF: Oh, bolita. You know, they had-
154AF: It's gambling.
155GP: Gambling? Was this common in Ybor City?
156MF: They used to-
157AF: No, no, like Tampa.
158GP: In Tampa, not Ybor City, you're saying?
159AF: No, in Ybor City, too.
160210 MF: In Ybor City and the whole city of Tampa, mostly. Most of the people in Ybor City participated in it. Their number was called in Havana, in Cuba. That's why they called it Cuba, and bolita. It's like bingo.
161AF: I have bingo over here every night.
16288 GP: Bingo here? I see. Was bolita very popular in the early days? Did everybody play it?
163MF: Yes.
164AF: I play a lot of bolita.
165GP: Did you ever win?
166AF: Plenty.
167GP: Oh, you won plenty?
168MF: They'd have greens to play, numbers with the greens. They told me that.
169GP: Yes.
170AF: That's right.
171(phone rings)
17279 MF: Every number means something to them. They have a meaning for every number.
173115 AF: One time I needed money to buy my daughter a dress, and I dreamt of one number. I played and I got it. (laughs)
174GP: How long did you work in the cigar factories yourself?
175AF: I started there in 1913 and I finished in thirty-seven [1937]. But then I worked in another place, too.
176GP: Yes. Which factories did you work in?
177AF: I worked in the Regensburg.
178GP: Regensburg.
179AF: And Fiore de Cuba. And then Corral y Wodiska.
180GP: Oh, yes, Wodiska. In general, why did you change factories from one to the other?
181AF: Because I wanted to make more money.
18261 GP: More money, yes. Did some factories pay more than others?
183AF: No, the cigar.
184GP: Oh, the type of cigar.
18544 GP: What kind of cigars paid the most money?
18636 AF: La regla. Good cigars, you know.
187GP: They're the bigger ones?
188AF: Expensive.
189GP: Expensive. So you got more money when you worked on expensive cigars-
190AF: Sure, they paid more.
191GP: The less expensive ones paid the least money?
192114 AF: I worked with El Coronado. I made good money at that time. I made forty-eight dollars a week during that time.
193GP: When was this, in the twenties [1920s]?
194AF: Twenty-seven [1927].
195GP: Nineteen twenty-seven [1927]. What were the cigars that paid the least money? Do you remember?
196AF: (inaudible)
197GP: Did you belong to the cigar workers union?
198AF: Yes.
199GP: Were you in the five hundred union?
200AF: Yes.
201GP: Were you in the five hundred union?
202AF: Five hundred union, yes.
203GP: Mr. Diaz's union.
20452 AF: Young Cubans belonged to the five hundred union.
205131 GP: Many Cubans belonged to that. Was the other cigar maker union for Italian and Spanish cigar makers mostly? Not too many Cubans?
206AF: Yeah, everybody. You can't work in the factories if you don't belong to a union.
207GP: Oh, there were not workers who did not belong to a union?
208AF: No.
209GP: Everyone who worked belonged to one of the unions?
210AF: Roosevelt came to be president; he put the law [into effect].
211GP: Oh, yes. How about before that, before Roosevelt? Were there-
212AF: Disastrous.
213123 GP: Disastrous. In the early days, were there workers who were not union members working in the factories? There were, yes.
21434 AF: All (inaudible) wanted unions.
215GP: Do you remember the IWW, the Industrial Workers of the World?
216AF: Yes.
217GP: What were those people like? Do you remember that?
218AF: No.
219(phone rings)
220Pause in recording
221155 GP: If you remember, I asked Mr. Diaz what it was like during the Depression here in Ybor City. What was the Depression like for you? The thirties [1930s]?
222AF: Don't ask me that. I don't want to remember.
22356 GP: You don't want to remember because it was very hard.
224AF: Very hard.
225(phone rings)
226GP: Did things get better after the war?
227AF: Yes. It was when Mr. Roosevelt became the president. Then everything changed.
228GP: When did you come here to Hacienda?
229AF: In 1970.
23071 GP: Nineteen seventy [1970]. You've been living here for ten years now?
231AF: Yes.
232End of interview
unicode usage 2-byte sequence starting at 2356 [195 177 (c3 b1 ) {"\u00f1"} ]. [ length="69">AF: Albail. Albail; you know, made the block between (inaudible).
].2-byte sequence starting at 2366 [195 177 (c3 b1 ) {"\u00f1"} ]. [ Albail. Albail; you know, made the block between (inaudible).
23MF: Qu ao?
56].2-byte sequence starting at 5905 [195 177 (c3 b1 ) {"\u00f1"} ]. [ length="14">MF: Qu ao?


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.


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