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1 Spani sh Civil War Oral History Project Oral History Program Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library Digital Object Identifier: S 64 00001 Interviewee: Aida Azpeitia (AZ) Interviewer: Ana M. Varela Lago (AL) Interview date: J une 6, 1997 Interview location: Centro Asturiano de Tampa, Tampa, Florida Transcribed by: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Interview changes by: Mary Beth Isaacson Interview changes date: November 18, 2008 Additional changes by: Arlen Bensen Additio nal changes date: December 1, 2008 Final edit by: Maria Kreiser Final edit date: January 13, 2008 Ana M. Varela Lago: This is an interview with Mrs. Aida Azpeitia. Aida, I would like to start by talking a little bit about your family. Could you tell m e, why did they come to Tampa, what did they do here in Tampa? Where did they come from? Mrs. Aida Azpeitia: Well, my mother was from Asturias. AL: Where in Asturias, do you know? AZ: From oh my God! Now let me see if I remember It was a little town n ear el rio Naln Near the mines. And oh my God! isn't it something? AL: Probably will come to mind later AZ: and her, they were country people. They had their goats. And my grandfather worked for the railroad. Le llamaban caminero AL: Caminero rig ht. AZ: I guess that was cleaning the railroad tracks, keeping them clean, and all tha t. And my mother which her nam e was Pilar. AL: And the last name? AZ: Her maiden name was Menendez. AL: Pilar Menendez. I see.
2 AZ: And they sent her, when she was fifteen years old in fact, she was fifteen years old o n the ship, coming and, it was a hard trip. She was so young. And she had these two young men that were supposed to take care of her, and she never saw them in the ship. They were gallivanting, having a good time. But when she got to Cuba, en Triscornia. AL: Triscornia, right. AZ: Well, her brother was supposed to pick her up, and he never showed up, to pick her up. So, they were going to send her back to Spain. And at the last day he showed up. And fr om Cuba they got a ship into Tampa. AL: So she wasn't in Cuba really AZ: Just in the p ort of embar k ation. AL: Right. AZ: Then she came in to Tampa, to her sister's home. And, the oldest sister was here. And the oldest brother. And they brought her i n to my sister, my aunt's house. And there, in a week's time she was working in th e cigar factories. At fifteen years old. And, she met my father at the factor y. My father was, believe was nineteen years old. AL: Your father was Gumersindo. AZ: Gumersind o Del Valle. AL: Del Valle. What factory were they working at? AZ: They worked at, I think it's the, Regensburg I think it was. I don't remember that. But, he was from Poreno. AL: Poreno? AZ: Um h m. AL: Uh huh. That's also in Asturias? AZ: Yes. Near Villaviciosa. My mother was from Villamarin! Now I remember! AL: Villamarin. AZ: Villamarin de Candamo. AL: De Candamo, uh huh. AZ: De Candamo, now I remember!
3 AL: Okay. So they met here in Tampa? AZ: They met in Tampa. AL: Working in the factory? AZ: Yes. AL: How did your father come to Tampa? AZ: He came through Cuba too. Through Cuba. AL: Did he come alone, or ? AZ: Alone. AL: Was the family there also in farming ? AZ: He had AL: a peasant family ? AZ: He had a brother here. Two brot hers came. One went back, back to Spain. He didn't like it here. Pause in recording AL: Okay. So we were talking about your father. AZ: La familia de mi padre AL: (whispers) In English. AZ: eran rubios todos Pause in recording AZ: Dimelo, d imelo, porque My father's family were all blondes. Because everybody thinks that a Spanish person has to be dark. When they were all blondes, with blue eyes. Which thank God, my children are too. I'm not, but they are. But, my father came and went in to wo rk at the cigar factory. And he was very active in the labor movement. To get the cigar workers going with a little more pay. Then when the war started in Spain, he came right away he was very involved in the makings of the committees, and writing. He used to write a lot. And he made a lot of friends and they made this committee. Naturally, the ones that had a little more education got the higher ups. But, like Manteiga,
4 who was from the newspaper, and a learned person, was in there a lot. But they all work ed so hard. Everybody. And they were pretty good in unity, you know. They were united a lot. There wasn't too much bickering. When you ha v e a lot of people working. And I remember them having a lot of stage plays to o fundraisings. And picnics. I remembe r one picnic they used to call it el Parque La Columna. Park. Which was out there on, where the airport is now, down that way. It was just a lot of acreage of land. But if you wanted to see people there was wall to wall people there. Spanish people. And th ey had yellow rice and chicken and they served, I mean everybody, there was tables out in the picnic grounds, and music. Beautiful music. And dancing. And I remember my father, my father never drank. And he was a thin person. He was serving, he was so tire d, and somebody came around and gave him a beer. And he drank. And it knocked him out. He was under a tree. And when my mother saw him, oh, you can imagine they were young and we were kids. But I' ll never forget that. Mama got us kiddies, says, "We're goin g home! We're going home!" And then when we got to the car, there was, the car to take us home, there was a car in the back of us and one in front and we couldn't get out. But it was a beautiful day though. My father worked so hard for it, so. But, they ha d picnics, out in the open a lot. Now they have them in, like they have here. But here, the stage play in the Centro Ast uriano it was beautiful; plays and musicals. There was music and young people singing, like myself and one time I was dressed as a S paniard, with the comb in my hair and la mantilla wrapped around me, and I was singing. And this boy that was in the choir was making fun of me. And I started to get nervous. I couldn't sing. I forgot the words. Oh I mean, madre I couldn't. And you know he's a teacher, a music teacher now. Played beautiful violin. But just like kids, we were kids. We were kids, eleven, twelve years old. And you know, it's hard to handle. And this Victor Gonzalez, who had the orchestra La Sonora, he was in charge, he had t he kids. And he, you know, trained them for music. Him, and another man from West Tampa Salgado. He was, those two, they got the bands going and, so they could have music, you know, in all these stage plays. It was beautiful! Oh the work, people worked a nd the talent that was in the community of the Spanish people there was a lot of talent! AL: What kind of plays did they stage for the Spanish Civil War time, period? Were they written by the people, or were they already ? AZ: It was written a lot from t he people, but a lot of them were plays, Spanish plays playing, you know, like the operas and, you know, something like that. And these actors that would act in there, like this lady here. [pointing at photograph] AL: Carmen Ramirez? AZ: Carmen Ramirez was in charge of the plays and the people. And those people had to work. They worked in the factories. And then at night they'd practice until all hours of the night. And they all had families. Carmen had about four, five girls. They all had families. So, it goes to show you that, what enth usiasm they had here. And, but I as myself being as young as I was I had a, what you call a collector's route. And I went and I
5 was a country girl because where we lived, in this part of town, was not built up like now. The homes way out. AL: Where did you live at that time? AZ: And I used to collect go to businesses to for donations. AL: I see. Did you go alone, or ? AZ: Nobody. Nobody bothered me. Nobody; it's not like now. Everybody knew me. I'd go to the barbersh op to Joe. Joe is still there. Joe gave me my first haircut. The haircut the wind blows. All that. AL: So what area? What was your route when you would go to do collection? AZ: Well, it was right from 26th Avenue all the way to where Martin Luther King [ Jr, Boulevard] is. Now that's, I had to walk a long way! But I was young. AL: Did you go just to the businesses, or did you go also AZ: To the businesses. AL: private houses, or ? AZ: No, to the businesses. AL: To the businesses, um h m. AZ: Yes, t his was a business collection. They didn't want AL: And, how oft en did you do that? AZ: Every week. AL: Every week? AZ: Every week I went. Joe gave me a quarter. The guy in the grocery store gave me fifty cents. It was a feed market, feed store. No it wasn't, it was a warehouse grocery. And the man died last week. I thought he had been dead already but he died last week. And there was feed store in the corner. Then I used to walk my God, to another there was about three feed stores there. It was cou ntry. I'd go over there too. They'd give me fifty cents. They they were just as poor as everybody else. The poultry market there was a poultry market where you got your, not like now, you go to the store, you went over there and got your fresh chickens. Al ameda And they used to give me a dollar. Oh, I was rich, with a dollar!
6 AL: Were these people, these business people mostly Latin, or were yes? AZ: They were all Latin. Like the people from the poultry were Spanish. The ones from the feed store just ha lf a block away from the place a big feed company they used to take food to the dairies. They always gave me five dollars. Oh man, I used to be i n seventh heaven! So, then we'd walk my daddy and I we 'd walk all the way up here to S eventh A venue S eventh A ve nue? E ighth A venue. To the Labor Temple. That's where they had their office. And give our money out. AL: Did you give receipts when you got the money? I mean, how did you go about that? You just collected the money and then gave it? AZ: Just collected th e money and, that I remember, just gave them. I don't know whether they gave a receipt to my daddy, because he was responsible, but he used to send me. AL: I see. And you did that all throughout the war? AZ: All throughout. All throughout. I remember the y brought, I don't know whether he was Spanish, I think so, a violinist. He was alto, he wasn' t that young. And we had this fu nd raiser at the Labor Temple. I'll ne v er forget it, because I sang that aftemoon. And being I was a young kid, twelve years old n ot like now that they allow them to put they wouldn't allow me to put stockings on. I had to have socks on. And no makeup on. I'll never forget that. I had a white suit that I made. Mind you, I was just twelve years old. A white suit that I made out of the sugar the s ugar used to come in white sacks. White sacks. Beautiful material. We'd wash it and bleach it. Boil it. And I made me my suit. With a pink blouse, and pink socks I' ll never forget it. Oh, it was something to see! But I sang there. Some military song from Spain, I guess. And, but that man, I'll never forget the violin. It was just gorgeous. But we used to have fund raisers. I remember one, at, they used to call it Plant Field, it was a football stadium for the University of Tampa. We had a big oh that place was fall. And we had this Spanish singer that came. That was from Spain she was traveling the world, and she sang. AL: Do you remember her name? AZ: I can see her face. She started to get hoarse because, you know, out in the open a singer i s very b ad. But, we had a fund raiser there. And they work hard. Everybody. We used to have those fund raisers all over. I remember in Palmetto Beach, they have a clubhouse there. Like a park. They'd have a picnic there. And they'd serve food and music and c ollect money. We sent a lot to Spain from Tampa. And a lot of volunteers from Tampa went. AL: Do you remember some of them? The volunteers? AZ: I remember one of them. His name was Granell. AL: Oh.
7 AZ: I don't know his first name. AL: Jose? Jose Gar cia Granell? AZ: Jose. AL: Uh huh? What do you remember of him? AZ: I don't remember much of him, but I remember his family. AL: Oh, te l l me about it. AZ: His family, his brother, Vicente, was my father's best friend. And he ha d another brother, Gonz alo. And Vicente was very smart. And he was well educated in Spain. And they would walk and collect and do anything for Spain. And we were so happy when we send those ambulances! AL: Yes, tell me about that. There was a big picnic also for that. AZ: Tho se ambulances that was a big thing. AL: Where was that picnic for the ambulance? Was that also La Columna? AZ: I think it was at Columna. AL: Uh huh? And a lot of money was collected there. AZ: A lot of money! When you stop to think that these people that were giving the money weren't making much money themselves. They were barely making a living. Barely making a living. Because the factories don't they didn't give much out. AL: How did the committee here decide for instance, okay now we're gonna do a picnic for the ambulances; now we're gonna collect milk. I mean, how was the whole process if you remember. AZ: I can't remember. Because I wasn't allowed in the meetings, you know. AL: Do you remember yes you didn't go to the meetings? AZ: No. I was too young. AL: How about your mother? Was your mother involved in this? AZ: No. No, no. My mother was a sick person, and she was not active. Until, my daddy was so active that she had to be home. Take c are of us and send us up to school. And go
8 to work. AL: Now, was he also at this time, still in the union, working in the union and everything? AZ: Oh yes. AL: What was his position in the union? D o you remember? AZ: Well, h e was one of the delegates. And when they AL: For the cigar workers? AZ: Y es, for the cigar workers. And they worked very hard. And naturally right away they accused them of being communist. Well, they weren't communist. Any Labor movement was stabbed like that, but they weren't. So, he had a job. He worked. And also he was inv olved with the Centro here. AL: He was a member of the Centro Asturiano? AZ: Because the Centro Asturiano here not many people know it but the Centro Asturiano was not pushing for our side. AL: You mean like the Board of Directors, or you mean ? AZ: Ye s. So, my father he was a good speech maker from the heart. So he got o n that stage one day when they were meeting. And he told them. He told them. What they were and what they were doing, and all this stuff. And they all approved what he said. And that's when they started really working hard. AL: I see. AZ: For the fighting man. Oh gosh. I had an uncle in Spain, he just died, that was in the war. Naturally, he was young. And he was a wanted man. And they got him as a prisoner. They got him. And he was i n prison and he was going to be shot the next day. And he escaped into the woods of Asturias. My grandmother who was an old l ady would fix him food; that she didn't have, her own, and she would walk the woo ds looking for him. To feed him That was pathetic The fascistas caught her. And she was quite old. They caught her. And they were gonna put her in jail, or do something to her. And this young man, from the other side, un Fascista saved her. Then my uncle gave up. His beard was down to his knees and you can imagine he gave up. To the back to prison. But there was a nice man there, that sort of liked him. And during the war he said he had saved his life. So he says "Y ou're gonna hav e to stay here for a while. How l ong, he stayed five years but he finall y came out. Now, this story is pertaining to the war. A neighbor of ours here, Veronda, went to Spain
9 after the war, and all that. Went to Spain. And they were having a big get together, the families. And he said, "Y ou know, I would like to see this fami ly, because they are neighbors of ours, and I would like to see their brother. And he said who he was, he says ,"W ell, we' ll invite him. So they invited Alberto, was my uncle, the one that had been in prison, to the get together. Well, in the meantime this young man that had saved my grandmother was the nephew of this man from Tampa. So when they got there, and they started to talk about this and that. And they realized that this was the one that had saved my grandmother from being in jail, or killed be cause you know they were, especially these films that I have seen honey, they killed what atrocities! But, they met there. And my uncle appreciated and thanked him for saving his mother. But he was such, this Veronda said that that was the biggest thing th at he had ever seen. That reunion of these two opposites. But appreciated for what they had done. They were young men. My uncle worked in the mine, in the steel mills in Aviles. Yes, he lived there. But, the war was hard o n everybody! AL: How did you keep informed about your family during the war? Did you receive letters, or ? AZ: We did receive some. Not much. But we did receive this, Alberto, he would write. Oh God he would write! AL: Yes. Is there anything your family could do from here? You fe l t t hat, you know, they could try to do? AZ: No. We couldn't do nothing. It was terrible! Besides that, there was another brother who was wounded in the war, Bernardo. And, there was another sister. And her husband was in charge of one of the big brigades. An d he lived he lived through the war. But it's amazing. What these people went through. Because what we saw, my brother and I in those films, oh! AL: Where did you see those films? What films are you referring to when you say ? AZ: It's two cassettes. AL: Oh these, more recent, films? AZ: I don't know where he found to look for them. There's two cassettes. It cost him, I don't know if it was sixty some dollars or something like that. And, they're about six hours. AL: Do you remember watching films wh en you were young? At this time of the war, here in Tampa? Films about Spain and what was going o n there? AZ: I don't remember. I don' t remember anything like that. I remember the people working. The men. Like Martinez. The one that you see, Jos e Martinez After the war and
10 af ter everything, Martinez and my father, they had something going for them in Spain. That's where they brought all these people out. And he was always communicating from, in Spain. Martinez was much a worker for everybody. AL: Did you r father help organize this Junta de Cultura Espa ola? Do you remember anything about that organization? AZ: I think that was, I think this was something like, maybe Martinez's job. AL: It was organized after the war to help the refugees from Spain. AZ : That was Martinez's thing. That was his thing. Oh yes. Martinez and my father worked together in the sa m e off i ce. AL: Do you mean in the union? In the Labor Temple? AZ: No, in La Fraternidad. AL: Oh, I see. AZ: It was a medical thing. My father was secretary there, I mean he kept the books. AL: So he left the cigar industry? AZ: Yes, my father did. AL: Oh, okay. AZ: In 1937. AL: In 1937? AZ: No, '37. AL: '37? AZ: When S ocial S ecurity started. Never got any S ocial S ecurity. Yes he left it, he couldn't tolerate it. Because he was so outgoing, he couldn't tolerate the abuses. So he left it. And he worked at anything he could find. And then he finally finished after so many years. He worked at Fraternidad did book work, and then when they started getting their social security check, well this Vicente Granell that I told you about, they used to split the salary that they got there which was nothing, really. But Vicente my father would go in the morning, open the place up, and stay until abo ut twelve o'clock. Vicente would come in, and work from twelve o'clock, or one o'clock, to about five. Isn't it ? They were two good friends. So they could be working, and supply their little money they had.
11 AL: Right, sharing. AZ: They both shared their salary. Not many people would do that. And they both worked there, and kept the books and kept everything going. But, it was hard for them, with this Spanish war because they suffered so much. Then with the defeat, and seeing the Germans. Like in the film s that I saw, those German planes coming in, the Italians, the Italian Army that they sent over there. You were born after that, weren't you? AL: Yes. What do you remember, how did people get news from Spain? Do you remember? How did you know what was goi ng on? AZ: I don't know how we, I mean I'd AL: Did you read news papers, or did your family? You s aid AZ: Well, I think the news must have been coming in from somewhere. Like France, coming in through France. The Spanish people there, you know, sending news out. There was always somebody. The underground sending stuff out. There was a lot of underground. AL: Do you remember any of the Republican speakers who came to Tampa to speak? I know the a mbassador ca me here several times, Fernando d e los Rios. I was wondering if y ou would remember any other AZ: I remember Fernando d e los Rios. I remember him. I don't remember anyone else. I was too young and had other things an my mind it was just the whole thing. AL: How about the things the women did? Becau se the women had their own committee also. Do you remember that? AZ: Well, the women, they had their own, and they would do a lot of collecting and, like in the factories. They'd go to the factories and collect in the factory and they'd get out there in t he doors and collect. They also were arranging all these picnics and things together. They worked very well with the men. Very well with the men. Which was very good. I remember Violet. [looking at photograph] She was sort of a secretary. She was one of th e smarter ones. AL: Do you remember when this photograph was taken? You are there with the rest of the women. Do you remember the visit of this General? Santiago Philemore? He was representing the Red Cross, I believe. AZ: No, I don't. I have a hard time remembering that AL: How about the people here in Tampa who supported General Franco? What how did the community react to that?
12 AZ: There weren't many. And if they were, the y kept qui et, because they were afraid, I think. You know I don't remember. I don't remember. Really. In the community. AL: And, people from the other immigrant communities, like the Italians and the Cubans, how did they ? AZ: They supported us. Oh yes. AL: No problem, at all? AZ: They supported AL: Because the Italians were, as you mentioned before, helping Franco AZ: Oh my God. AL: in Spain, so was, was there any bad feeling here against the Italian community? AZ: In that film. In those films, this, my brother, my youngest brother, Angel, he says he's got to see it th ree or four times. Because he wanted to see, because how he was so young, he wanted to see, you know, the how and the why and all that. He says, "Man, that was something! Oh, yes. Mussolini giving the s peeches. AL: So, but that didn't affect really relat ions between the Spaniards and Italians here? AZ: No, they related with the Italian people. Because you know, they worked with the Span ish people in the factories. So they were friends. And you didn't see this, you know, rivalry and, you know, they didn' t see that. They sure didn't. Which was good. AL: And the Cubans also helped the Spaniards? AZ: Oh yes. AL: Yes. AZ: The Cubans. You see women there [looking at photograph] that are Cuban. Oh yes. AL: And how about the Americans? How did the America ns look at this Latin support for the Spanish Republic? AZ: They really didn't interfere. AL: Did they participate? Do you remember them AZ: Not much.
13 AL: helping out, or AZ: Not much. AL: organizing events? AZ: that I can remember. Maybe the older ones would remember. It's a shame that you c ould not have done this, oh God, ten years ago. When all these people were alive. Because well there is not one left, of these groups. There's no one left that I know of. Gee whiz. AL: Did you go to any of the demonstrations Aida? The demonstrations. AZ: Oh yes. AL: What do you remember of that? AZ: Oh, why, it's fun to go o n de monstrations and parading, and I thought I was a big woman! AL: Were they big? I mean the AZ: Oh yes. Very big. AL: S o where did they start? I know one started at the Labor Temple. How many ? AZ: At the Labor Temple, usually organized there. Start at the Labor Temple, you know, up. AL: So, what would peop le do in these demonstrations? I mean, they would just walk quiet ly, or would they chant these songs, or ? AZ: Walked quietly and or sang or they had banners, you know. AL: Were there speeches also then at the end, or ? AZ: Oh yes. I think they would speak before this, but, it was hard. With me being so young, I, a lot of it was fun for me. Not realizing, really, what was in back of it. But AL: Do you remember the relations between the Latin community here and the Church? Because in Spain the Catholic Church was very supportive of Franco. A Z: Yes. Well, I'll te ll you the church here didn't that I know of didn't interfere. At least the church here in Ybor City, I don't think they interfered. People would go pray and all that; I don't, they didn't interfere.
14 AL : So there weren't any conflicts between the communit y and the church? AZ: That I know of. I don't remember any conflict with the church. AL: And how were the people feel ing as the war, you know, went o n and General Franco was winning and the Republic was losing. Do you remember? AZ: Well they were downh earted. But they kept on. I mean, I didn't see, they stopped when they couldn't send anything else over there. AL: And what did AZ: They were, they were very upset when America, the United States didn't support. A L: Right. AZ: And they let those Germ ans that's where the World War II started! That's where it took hold. And Franco didn't want the Americans in Spain. Because during World War II, my husband was in the Ferrying Command. They're the ones that take the planes over, and the food whatever the Army needs. He was in that, was dispatching in charge of that. And, he was to go to Spain. To the new base. And Franco wouldn't let him in. And my husband waited in England. And waited in France. And then they finally sent him o n to Italy. And he worked fr om there. But they wouldn't let him come in. To Spain. It was a secret, and all that stuff and he would not allow the Americans in there. And now they're in there. For business. They bring a lot of money. AL: Do you remember what people felt about Franco, as the years went on? He stayed in power for a lot of time. Were feelings somehow changing? AZ: A lot of people never accepted him. Never. No, the people that worked here that I know of, nobody accepted him. Nobody. And it was, I was looking at La Pasion aria in that film. Talk. And she died a little after the film was made. But, oh no, Franco was never accepted. My brother went to Spain after the war, my youngest brother, with a cousin from Argentina. He went back to Spain. And he went to see where my pa rents were born. And would you believe that my father's home was sold. And they were fixing it; painting it and fixing things. And there was a pile of trash right next to the house. And the man said, "Oh, they were supposed to, excuse me, because they were supposed to burn that today." My brother went to the pile. When he did, he saw a picture. A frame. He looked at it. AL: lt was your father? AZ: And it was my father's communion papers. The diploma that they gave, when he was a little thing, in perfect c ondition. He brought it here, and I have it in my house. And that was amazing. He also brough t a Catholic symbol that is put o n the door t hat my grandmother had put there. And he brought that. He brought it for one of my cousins
15 who's very very religious and gave it to him. But that picture I show it to everybody and they cannot believe it, because it's beautiful and it's all in gold, you know, made, and beautiful. But. And he took pictures of the house inside. It's beautiful. Poreno is beautiful country. AL: Did you ever go to Spain? AZ: I never got to go. Because my husband died. We had planned to go. Before that. Our children had paid our way. But he wanted to wait until he was retired. But, by the time he was retired, he was a very sick man. And he d ied. Died a year after he retired. Me, in the condition I am, with my legs and all that. And I lost my heart when that uncle of mine that was in prison died. AL: Oh, he died? AZ: Because he died. Becaus e that's the one I wanted to see. Because he used to write to my father. Oh, about the war. He told him everything about the war and what they went through and all that. And you sort of feel like you knew the man. So it's AL: Your father never returned, also, to Spain? Or your mother? None of your parents visited? AZ: No, we I have an aunt here, the youngest one, and she, I have the cousins in there. She has three boys, and my uncle had three boys. Would you believe that there are, there were 34 grandchildren. And one granddaughter. And I'm the only one. And I got two grand two child two boys. It's all that means! AZ: Is it finished? [the tape] AL: No, I need to Side A ends, side B begins AL: You told me before, Aida, that your father at some point had considered going to fight in Spain? AZ: Oh yes AL: That was early o n in the war? AZ: Early in the war. He was, had considered. There were a few of, in Tampa, that he knew were all going. Oh, he was ready to go! And, that's what I told you about my mother telling him, how about the children? He deci ded to stay. AL: Were people here in Tampa in touch with the fam ilies of those who had gone to f ight?
16 AZ: Some of them. Not too much. You couldn't get mail through. And we used to send, they used to send, the women were in charge of collecting clothes? A nd there were certain clothes you could send, you know. And we'd send clothes to Spain. AL: How did you collect those clothes? Did you go house by house ? AZ: Well, some people, you know, they knew about that. And yourself like us, we'd send clot hes too. From my brothers. And when my brother went to Spain, and he saw these two cousins, and they, one of them said, "Hey because he's a, my brother's a hefty guy, he says, "Many good clothes that I wear He could see now why because the other guy was hefty too. But it's like everything else. Not everything got there, because they would steal it. They do every place. So. But a lot of clothes were sent, oh! I remember the clothes that was sent, the food that was sent, shipped over there. AL: Why do you think, Aida, that the people here in Tampa supported the Republic so strongly? AZ: I don't know. I think about their families that, back there that were, y ou know, supporting it too. But nobody liked Franco, for one thing. And they didn't like the King. Because 99% of them came here to avoid serving the King. AL: Did your father do that to avoid conscription, and ? AZ: To avoid AL: Being drafted? AZ: Being drafted over there. Now you see this, the King that's ruling now, I think a lot of them would have a greed because he changed a lot. They'll fight, anyway. AL: So your father was never a monarchist, really? AZ: No. AL: So, was he happy in '31 when the Republic was proclaimed ? Do you remember anything about that? AZ: No. AL: Five years before the w ar started. AZ: I don't remember. But I saw that in the movie Oh, what a, it was a lot of divisions there; I mean, too many factors. One pulling against each other. But, they didn't have a chance. With those Germans coming in and the Italians coming in. I t didn't have a chance. And, they brought the ones from Morocco. But, it didn't have a chance.
17 AL: I heard that some people and you said that before that some people thought that people who supported the Republic were just communists, or reds. Was that a AZ: Oh that's a AL: feeling that was widespread? AZ: That's what they say now. In our time. When they were fighting, I didn't remember seeing, seeing people saying those things to us. No, I don't remember that. AL: No? AZ: Now everything is that. You know? And the world doesn't realize that, now we support the communists. We are over there in their country, helping them out. Why the big Soviet Union and not Cuba? That little old island that you can throw a bomb and it'd disappear. All this stuff, i t's just pettiness. Just pettiness. Oh well. I gotta be quiet, what I say around. AL: There are divisions also here in the community, I guess? AZ: Yes [sigh]. AL: Okay, I wanted to ask you just once more about the you mentioned the undergrou nd and how af ter the war people here in Tampa were helping some of the people to leave the country? AZ: To leave the country. AL: How did they actually do that? As far as you remember. AZ: I really can't tell you much of it. How they got here. But I know that the committee that was in charge of that AL: They would come through the Port of Tampa, or they would come through AZ: I don't know how in the world AL: other parts? AZ: they got in. But, I know how they got out. AL: Yes, so what happened once they got to Tampa, I mean what ? AZ: Well, they were hidden. They were put away where nobody would and then, what they did, they worked o n the
18 AL: For fear of the American authorities? AZ: Oh, my God! If they were caught AL: Because they weren't legal AZ: they would have been sent back to Spain, they would have sent my father back to Spain. AL: So after awhile, what happened to them. They went to ? AZ: Well, they fixed papers for them. Passports and all that. I do not know that they were legal or il legal but they got them out that way. They got all of them out. A lot of people. AL: Were there a lot of people, do you remember? AZ: They were men only. And they were sending them to Cuba or to South America. Different countries in South America that wo uld accept them. AL: For how long was this going on? As far as you can remember. AZ: Just a few years. AL: After World War II, or ? AZ: Well, after the World War II, before AL: Before. So in between you figure, the end AZ: Between. AL: of the w ar in Spain AZ: Yes, between, or before, or it was done. AL: Right. AZ: Oh yes. AL: So af ter the AZ: Especially this fellow here. AL: Yes. We have the photograph there.
19 AZ: He was a good looking man. Smart as could be. You know what happens? Bec ause, to get the name all these people are dead, that's what I mean. All these people are dead. And their wives are dead. Even his daughter, that was a young woman, is dead. So, where are you gonna get the information? At the dairy where they were hidden t he man's dead. Sacramento, he's dead. And there's no dairy anymore, and his son of the guy in the dairy Sacramento, that knew about it, is dead. The daughter in law is still living. Wanda. But I don't know if she knows anything. AL: That was during the wa r? Do you remember the date, approximately of that picture, you think? AZ: I really don't know. AL: So after the war ended, then people here I mean the Frente Popular disappeared as such. And people kept sending money to Spain, do you think, or, how did they ? AZ: I think for awhile they kept sending, you know like food and stuff like that to the families. But I don't remember. Well, they were so defeated and so disappointed. And you know it's hard to collect anything after the war is over. You go ove r there to ask for money and they say W hat for, you a re gonna put it in your pocket? It's hard. So. That's about it. AL: Okay. Aida, is there anything else you would like to add that we haven't talked about and maybe you would want to make sure is incl uded in the tape? Some topic we haven't touched on? No? AZ: Not that I can remember. AL: Okay. I want to thank you Aida very much for participating in this project AZ: Well, I mean it's nothing, I really didn't tell you AL: T his concludes the in terview with Mrs. Aida Azpeitia. End of interview
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h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Ana Varela-Lago.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (53 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 transcript (digital, PDF file)
Spanish Civil War oral history project
Supplemental material available in the USF Tampa Library Special Collections area.
Aida Azpeitia describes the ways in which Tampa's Latin community supported the Spanish Republic during the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s, including fundraisers, demonstrations, sending clothes, and helping people leave Spain after the war.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Interview conducted June 6, 1997.
Ybor City (Tampa, Fla.)
y Civil War, 1936-1939.
Varela-Lago, Ana M.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
USF ONLINE ACCESS