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1 Spanish Civil War Oral History Project Oral History Program Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library Digital Object Identifier: S64 00014 Interviewee: Angeles D. Marti (AM) Interviewer: Ana M. Varela Lago (AV) Interview date: May 12, 1997 Interview location: Centro Asturiano de Tampa Transcribed by: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Interview changes by: Mary Beth Isaacson Interview changes date: November 24, 2008 Additional changes: Arlen Bensen Additional changes date: December 17, 2008 Final Edit by: Maria Kreiser Final Edit date: January 26, 2009 Ana M. Varela Lago : This is an interview with Mrs. Angeles Marti. Angeles, I would like to start by talking a little bit about your family. Can you tell me why did they come to Tampa, when did they come here? Angeles D. Marti : My father came from Santander to Cuba. He stayed in Cuba a few years, and then he came to Tampa. Actually, that's why my dad everybody thought he was Cuban bec ause he had so many Cuban friends. My mother came from Asturias, from Grado. Born in Grado. And she came, she followed first came two brothers and then she and her twin sister came, and then, years later, her younger sister came. We all lived together, ver y happy. We were, I'd say at one time or another we were mostly about 12 people living we had a big, big house, and it was a wonderful life. We got along good and, but actually most of our friends were Asturianos. Like my dad never nobody ever thought of him being Spanish, like I said, because he did, h ad come from Cuba at that time. We had a good childhood and we really really enjoyed our life. We were very close like I said we were, sometimes we were 12 liv ing in a big house; that we had, a nice, big house. And I don't even remember when people say the Depression was so bad. Because for us it wasn't bad. We were, like I said, somebody always worked. We always had electric lights. We always had gas stove. We never had, you know, just, like a lot of our friends. My dad would say, you know, "If there is somebody in your class or in your school that you know is hungry, take turn bringing them home," and that's what we did. We brought them home and one would eat one day, and one ate the other. Like I say, w e were very very close. And that was, oh gosh, then when we were, when I was about 16 then we each moved to separate, the three aunts but we still were very close. We still are a close family.
2 AV: Tell me about your father. Why did he come to Tampa? A M: Well, like I say AV: How old was he when he came? AM: How old? AV: Um hm you think? AM: Yeah, I think he was about let's see he went to Cuba when he was about 12 AV: Twelve? AM: 13. And then from there, he was in Cuba about he worked at a gro cery store for his uncle. He had a grocery store in Cuba. And then he came here when he was about 18 or 19. I really don't recall. AV: Do you know why he left Spain? Did he ever say ? AM: Well my father was a very they were very well off. They were well off and they had a matadero AV: Oh. AM: And they had, yes. AV: In Santander? AM: Um hm But my dad was, if there was anything he was very giving and I guess he never liked the way that, you know, the workers were treated or whatever. So he was like a rebel. Always. So that's why his mother sent him to Cuba to his uncle. So. And then from there, you know, he came on here. And like I say, he was a very fair man. Exceptionally man; he was really something. AV: W hat was his name? AM: His name? Leopoldo Diez Villar. AV: How about your mother's name? AM: Honorina, with an "H," Fernandez del Rosal. AV: And why did she come to Tampa. She had family here? AM: Well, like they always say well they, she came, two br others. And this, I don't
3 know whether you want to put it or not, I always complained to my mother that had I been starving I would not have sent my children over really never to see them again because it was and my mother said "Well, no, we had to beca use things were bad." I don't care how bad things were, I would never had done that! But they all did. All the Spanish, Italian, they send their children here. Now, like I say, my mother at least came, her two brothers were here. And then she came with her sister. And then they all became cigar makers. And they were, actually my mother spoke very little English. Now my dad didn't. My dad spoke, my dad was very smart. And, of course, it wasn't like now where we, they moved into Ybor City and everything was i n Spanish, you know, the grocery, the paper, so actually they didn't. And I had an aunt, who was hell on wheels and would not allow us to speak English at home. AV: Really? AM: So actually they would have learn ed my mother, after, learned a lot with my g randchildren. Because, of course t hey spoke English. But my aunt [said] (knocks on table) En esta mesa nada ms que se habla espaol ." AV: So they settled in Ybor City? Your parents? AM: Yes. AV: And they were both cigar makers, both of them? AM: Both. My mother was the roller, and my father was the bunch maker. AV: Oh. They worked together? AM: Yes. Actually at the same AV: That's how they met? AM: No. No, they met I guess my father was a terrific dancer. And I guess that's where they met, at one of the clubs; I really don't remember that very well. But he was very well liked, and all the girls in the neighborhood, young girls, much younger, he taught them all how to dance and he, you know, he was very he had like I say, he was Spanish, bu t you know the Cuban people have that and he picked it up among them. He was a guarachero and he was, you know that's why a lot of pe ople thought he was Cuban. But I always tell my grandchildren today, I would not trade my bringing up for yours." You may have had three cars and three bathrooms we had one bathroom for 12 people and, never had any problems, you know, they just AV: How many siblings did you have? AM: One. I had one daughter. I had one daughter, and three grandchildren. My oldest grandson is 30, will be 31 next month. Yeah. And
4 AV: Did your parents belong to the clubs? AM: Oh yes, yes. AV: What clubs did they belong to? AM: We always came here; this was our home away from home AV: The Centro Asturiano. AM: but we also belonged to the Loyal Knights, which, I went a lot to the Loyal Knights. Now, my dad, until the day he died, he belonged to the Cuban club too. Because he felt, you know, it was part of him. His friends there's only friend left from Artemisa. That's where my fathe r went to in Cuba. And, there's only one left. All of the rest are all gone. Of course my father would have been over a hundred years old by this time, you know. AV: So, what are your memories of growing up in Ybor City? AM: Good. Very good. Very good. L ike I say, we lived, until we were about 15, and then we each separated from AV: Where did you live? Where did you have the home? AM: Where? When we lived together? AM: Um hm AM: Okay, we lived on 13th Avenue and 19th Street. It was a big home there that, like I say, it was a well we had like five bedrooms, one bathroom. But we were, like I said, we were always happy. My father was, the most of all, you know, is happy. In fact, even the family all of them they were just so close to him because he was this happy go lucky guy. He always worked. That's why I say even when things were bad, bad sometimes none of them worked but him and he always was kind of a go getter. He would go and, in Ybor City they had a place called La Mezquita. They sold blinds and so he would get them. And he always had a car. My dad always had a car. He has his little car, and he would go around, old, and sell old things. So actually he always brought money home. So we were, like I say, we were never hungry, we were never for u s it was, and you talk about nochebuenas Oh, what nochebuenas we had! Oh, it was just wonderful! It was just. Well, we still celebrate nochebuenas I hate to give it up. Because they're gone. But, it was wonderful. Everybody came, we were 30, 40 people si tting around the table and it was just wonderful!
5 AV: Tell me a little bit about school. What school did you go to? AM: Okay when I, I went to grammar school I went to V. M. Ybor. Which is right there on 15th Street and Columbus Drive, and then I went to George Washington, and then I went to Hillsborough High. I graduated in 1940 from Hillsborough High. That's why I know most like Angel, you know, we all graduated together. And, like I said, it was, at that time, we were kind of, not really separated fro m, but we were still it was that stigma that, you know Latin. You know, it was not really but I was always a fighter. So I just never let that bother me. And I was, it was bad at times, because they said No, Latino, que But a lot of times you, they lo oked for it. Because like in, we used to go to Clearwater Beach oh, another thing about my mother and dad. They worked together. One week out of the summer, we had to go to the beach. Every day. At twelve o'clock my father would say okay, tpala and we' d go. Of course, we couldn't afford to stay at a house at the beach, you know, it's too much. But, I don't know, it was so different. Life was so different that, of course the young people today you can't tell them that because they'll say [mocking] "Oh, Ma, you don't know AV: So yes, you were telling me about going to the beach. Was there a problem because you were Latin? AM: Well see, when we'd get there to the beach, there's a place, the Palm Pavilion, in Clearwater Beach. Which my sister had her h usband they had homes at the beach; so, it was no problem for them. But if you went to the Palm Pavilion, and they would take the Italian people would take spaghetti and all that kind and actually, they would leave it kind of messy! And then t here was a si gn there that said, "No Latins or Dogs," you could see the things on there. You know. But like I say, I really never had any problem. Because I always, you know, found my place I said H ey, I'm very proud of what I am and, you know. But I am an American first of all. So that was the main thing. And out in Sulphur Springs, which were the guys used to say, crackers con pelo en los dientes went out there. AV: Meaning what? Con pelo en los d ientes? AM: Son lo ltimo de los Cracker, you know? But actually they would go over there and, of course, the American girls loved the Latin boys. And they'd go over there and take away the girls and there was always a fight and, you know. But as the ye ars went by we went, you know, we settled and now when I graduated from high school, I graduated in 1940. And I think the year before I graduated I think it was before the year, I forgot was the first time they ever had a Spanish speaking president of Hil lsborough High School. His name was Joe Aizpuru. And he still had his Spanish accent and although he was born here but there's not too many people that have kept their accents, como la zeta like I do. Very few. And it's the funniest thing because my hus band was from Guanabacoa, I mean you know, he came when he was very little. But if he said "C abesa it didn't sound bad to me, but I, if I say C abesa ," I gotta go back and say C abeza because it does not sound right, you know?
6 So it just, like I say we, when we were growing up there was. But it was different; if I'd go with my mother downtown actually we really shopped mostly in Ybor City. We had, on Saturday nights was the big night. We'd walk around and see the boys and you know. But then if we wanted to go downtown; if I would get in an elevator fu ll of people and of course I had to speak to my mother I would apologize and say, "I'm sorry, my mother cannot speak English Which today people don't do that. Which I still think is rude. I think if there's people in here that cannot speak Spanish, speak English if everybody knows how to speak it. So, you know I had that, I just felt bad that, you know, I was being rude if I spoke Spanish to my mother. But then, like I say, it went on, and then we inter because nobody, you found very few girls that married Latin, American boys; very few. AV: Why was that? AM: Well, the first thing, the first thing that they would say, even, even our culture, "Oh they drink so much, they're a bunch of drunk AM: Really? AM: Drink. Who drank more than Spanish and Cuban then? Where we lived in Ybor City, we had one, two, three, four cafes that they'd go, the men would go in there and play cards and drink. Yet, none of the boys that I knew ever became alcoholic. But they did drink a lot, the men did drink a lot; the older men. But there was an, but American husbands made very good husbands. Then they found out that they did make very good husbands, see? My daughter's married to an American and I am tickled pink. I wanted her to because I wanted this thing to end Latino, Americano, you know? We're all Americans. You know, just don't. But today even so, I have kind of argued a lot of times; especially when I go to the beauty parlor because there's two or three Cuba ns that, you know, I call Cubans; not like my ex husband who was born in Guanabacoa but he was here all his life, but the ones that came with the Mariel and all that, those are what I call Cubans. And whenever they say "cracker I go "Hey! Just slow down My son in law is terrific." And all my children, and my grandchildren are married to American boys. But that has always been the thing that they thought no. Then they found out that they did make AV: So when did that start to happen? That people, you k now, married Americans? I mean that Latins got involved with Americans? AM: Well. I think let me see, I got my AV: Not in your generation then? AM: No. No.
7 AV: Most of the people you grew up with married within the group. AM: That's right, within the group. AV: They could marry also Italians, or Cubans or Spaniards. AM: Oh yes. But even, even not that a long time ago because, I know this real good friend of mine, her mother had his mother had to elope. Because she's Italian and she married a Sp aniard, who died right here downstairs because he was Spanish until the end, Asturiano too. I mean they had to elope because they would not let them, because he was Asturiano and she was probably Sicilian, you know. At first they didn't like it. No, they d idn't like it. But I say as the years went by, then everybody, like my sister. One sister married not, like I say, not at home because there was no prejudice, my dad would say, "You wanna marry so and so? I don't think it's good for you, but if you want t o get married, that's your business." One of my sisters, they're twins, I have twin sisters, married a young man who was completely Italian; both sides. The other one married one, Spanish; era Gonzalez Tramontana, half and half. And actually, you know it just wasn't, that was a long time ago because the one is a widow, but the other one has been married fifty, about fifty seven years But even so her mother in law was a little bit, she wasn't too happy, you know. Because some of the older ones, they didn't. But then after awhile they just, everybody just intermarried with everybody and, like I say, I have very good Italian friends. Very good. But actually I really have more Spanish friends than, because we were in that we belonge d here, we belonged to the Loyal Knights so that, which, you had to be either [whispers] which was stupid You had to be either Spanish or, generation. Like my husband AV: So you couldn't be Cuban or Italian? AM: No I got my husband in and he was, actually his father was Catalan; he was from, era Catalan But actually you had to be either Spanish or Spanish descent, you know. AV: I see. AM: So that, yeah first we joined that because over here we didn't have La Ju ventud Entusiasta like we did over there. So that was a young AV: Right. AM: And mostly people that were at the Loyal Knights were either gallegos or monta eses and actually my dad was monta es not that anybody knew. Until a few years ago when I told one of my girlfriends, No, si mi padre es monta es "What?! How come" I said because My dad was asturiano because at home we were all asturiano That was my biggest disappointment when I went to Spain.
8 AV: Why? AM: I knew. I could speak Asturiano more than my cousins who were there, because they wanted they don't say, we used to say, "Grao." No way. Now they say "Grado." They wanna be r eal, you know. And I couldn't, I said "N obody knows how to sing El Chalanero here? Which we sang, you know, on e to another. No. AV: So your family kept the culture AM: Here, here A V : more than over there? AM: more than over there. That was my, like I say, the only disappointment, because I loved everything and my cousins were of course my parents, my mother of course, and my father had to have agreed to it and everybody, every month they'd send money. I mean eve ry single month. It was always all the brothers, sisters, everybody had to send money. Even when things were bad here, they st ill got together and very month they would send. And clothes God they sent clothes over there! And actually now, I went back, I'm 76. And I was, when I was 18 months was when I came, so actually I didn't remember anything. AV: So you were born there in S pain? AM: I was born in Spain. In Grao. AV: So your parents had gone back to Spain ? AM: Yes, see, my AV: were they visiting ? AM: no, my mother and dad, there was a big strike, cigar strike. So actually, my dad and my mother were gonna go back to stay. Actually gonna go stay. Now my sisters were already born, they had the twin sisters. And actually, I think what happened it's been so many years that I kind of lost is that my father, they were actually gonna stay. And then my father had to go to Melilla. Isn't that where you go to fight the Moors or whatever? AV: Yes. They were sending him to fight in Melilla? AM: Yes. From. So he came, h e just came o n to Tampa. And of course he never saw me. He never saw me. I was born. And then my mot her came, see? So, you know, it, that's, nobody, it was a bad thing for him to leave, but he says "N o, I'm not leaving my family here and going off to fight something I don't believe in. So, you know, that's the So when I went to Spain, like I say, I had to have an operation it was a serious operation and I told my daughter, "I f I do not die I don't fly; see? I hate to fly I am going to
9 Spain. I'm gonna se e where I was born. Because we were always very very Asturianos I mean. So, nobody be lieved me because they thought, oh she' ll never get o n a plane AV: Get o n a plane. AM: Yes. I got well, and the year following, I went. I had never seen anybody and it was like I was home! It was, they were so wonderful I went with this friend of mine, and she couldn't get over it. Because we were in, we went to Andalucia. We started off in Madrid, went all throu gh Andalucia to Barcelona, and o n Barcelona, we took a plane to Renedo, no, Ranon. AV: Ranon? AM: Yes, that's the name of the airport cerca d e AV: Oh, in Asturias. In Oviedo? AM: No, in Oviedo. That's the name of the airport, Ranon. In fact when I came home and I asked Angel, "Hey is there anything you know, because el es Ra on So, we were seven days in Asturias, in Grado. And Olga, my friend, says, "I cannot believe it. We were there seven days, we didn't spend a penny." They paid for the rooms that we were in, for every meal. I said "H ey, you know? The y said "W ell, all that you all did for us," you know, "we don't" they didn't forget. The only objection is that I wanted to go to church. Because we always go to church. And they weren't too happy about it because they still, you know, because my uncle was killed right taken out, and my cousins were and one was in jail two years, and the other one a year. AV: During the war? The Spanish Civil War? AM: Yes. And my cousin that is now in Madrid, Maria del Pilar, disappeared, and she was gone about a year and a half and then she went to Madrid that's where they found her. So actually they have no love yet for at all. Can you take that off a minute? AV: Sure. Recording paused AV: But you went to church, I mean when you were there? AM: Oh yes, they took me, they took me. Because I've never been and I wanted to go, you know, I wanted to. Yes. AV: And you had been born in Grado then? AM: Yes. Um hm
10 AV: Right. So how about the family in Santander, did you go to visit, or that's ? AM: No. We did n't because I' ll tell you why we didn't go is that bec ause they took us to Oviedo to but I figured if I go over there, they would want to pay for everything there, because I wanted to go and stay over. See? So we didn't get we did go to Santander but just, just passing, you know. But I would have wanted to go because, like I say my, his family my father's family was well off. And when my mother went to Spain, because my mother went to Spain one time; she stayed nine months. I'll kill her. Nine months she stayed over there. Left my dad here with us. And then the second time she went, she was there seven months. So actually, what she would do, is the money they gave her because my father had an inheritance so they gave her and she spent that money over there. See, they were, like I say, well off and they, but I would have wanted t o go there. But I didn't. And I don't think I'm ever going back. I don't think it's a AV: So apart from that visit, during that big strike here in Tampa, did your parents ever think of settling back in Spain? AM: No, they didn't. They were, like I said, they were here, their friends were here. And we were in Spain as far as my house was concerned. I mean, we were very, very so, just all our friends were asturianos It wasn't one you name an asturiano I know everybody in Tampa. AV: Okay. Tell me a litt le bit now about the Spanish Civil War here in Tampa. What are your memories of those years? AM: Well. Yes. We worked, like I say, we collected. Which was a nickel. We collected every Saturday or at the foot of the cigar factories. We would go, and actually times were very bad; a nickel was a lot of money then. And then we made churros right near the factory. And we, we were lik e, like some people would come and get the churros and go sell them o n 7th Avenue here, but we made them and then, we sold them right there, you know, we did. AV: How did you become involved in this support, I mean you personally? AM: Oh, because of cour se my mother was very active; my mother, my aunts, and everybody in the family was active. So that's how we became, you know, involved in it. Of course it had to do with, in Spain. We walked from th e Labor Temple, which was on 8th [A venue] all the way down town for them to lift the embargo, and nobody even knew there was a war going on, except us, you know. But, actually at that time I never thought of it as being a communist. We never thought, that el Frente Popular was, you know, and La Pasionaria [Dolores Ibrruri] we didn't, we just didn't. AV: So how did you think of what you were doing?
11 AM: You mean what did I think? AV: Yes, other people thought that you were a communist by doing that, or ? AM: No, no we never the only thing that was dumb, and I still say it's dumb, is that a lot of the young people we didn't because my father never went into church since he came from Spain, because he says in the name of religion he saw a lot of things that weren't right. So that my father first time my father ever went to church was when my daughter got married. He never now, we went. You know. We could go, that was up to us but he never went. And actually it was bad because there was a lot of people that sent their children to Catholic school. Now my dad woul d never do that. I mean he wouldn't. And, when this came about, they just, that was it. I mean a lot of them had to. And what he was talking about the other day, what's his name? Frank Lastra. Is unbelievable, Frank, he's, he wasn't like that in school, he was quiet. He, we had a friend, I know who he was talking about, that their father was, they were fascist, like that. And he did get beat up once in awhile. Which was not his fault AV: The child? AM: Yes. But you know, it was just but they had to take the children out of school. Because if not, they were, you know people. Which, nothing to do because, after all, religion here, we don't pay for the priests. You know. It isn't like Spain that's part of the, over here it wasn't like th at. You know. Whatever you gave is what, you know. But AV: So you don't think t he church here really did anything AM: No. I don't know, of course, if the church said anything. I don't recall. B ecause we used to go to church o n Sundays and that was it. We didn't go to the school. But all our friends were going to They were quite a few friends. But they had to take them out. Because of the stigma; you know because you're a fascist if you send your kids so, out they went. So, it made it bad o n the kids bec ause they had been going there a long time, and personally I didn't think it had anything to do with that. This is America, that's Spain over there, you know, just not, were not giving them anything. But, you know how people are. AV: Yes. How did your par ents become involved then, in this Frente Popular thing? AM: Well, like I say, the Labor Temple, Martinez, he was active in it. And my sister in law, Mirta Cruz, she was very active. And then, there were all, in other words if there was something to help Spain, they were of course Loyalists they were and we knew that my cousins were in, had been to jail and then the other one had disappeared, and they killed my, Cesar, their father. They don't believe me, they haven't forgiven them yet for that. Which, you can't blame them, you know. And, you see, like in Spain, I think the women would like to go to church. But they know that the men don't want to. I mean, no way.
12 AV: Was your mother religious, for instance? AM: No. They weren't. They weren't religious be cause, like I say, my dad always thought that in the name of the Church, they did which I'm sure what was that great big thing that they had ? AV: What, the Inquisition? AM: Uh huh. You know. And they said, my father said no, because they destroyed the c onvent and there were kid, you know, babies in there and there were, you know which, you see it every day, you know. But you, it's what you believe in and you don't have to believe in them. They're human like everybody else, you know. AV: Um hm So your mother also shared that idea ? AM: Well AV: with your father, or was your mother ? AM: no, my mother, but if we had to go to church, my mother would go with us. My two sisters started school at the Catholic school. When they, but they're only a year or two; see they, they make I never now I make communion but at that time I didn't belong to any of that. And since my boyfriend which, I went out with him for years, wasn't involved with anything I, we just didn't go to church after we grew up. Now the n, my daughter was 16 before she made her because my husband said "W ell let her make up her mind. And she did. She went by herself and she made that's what she, and my daughter's very religious. I mean she is. And my son in law was Methodist. And my da ughter says "L ook, it's up to you. I will not change my religion. If you wanna S o he said no, so my sister baptized him and he is you know the ones that go in when they're oldish, he's very very and I think, I may not be, I don't know if I have the wrong impression, but it does my heart good when I see them all together go to church every Sunday. Except of course the youngest, I mean the oldest, that's Olivia. Like yesterday, we'd take the whole thing all together, and it does my heart good. It may not be, they have a very good marriage, the kids, we have never had any problems maybe it works and maybe it doesn't, you know? But in our case, it's always been and everybody said, B oy Sandra really did a good job. Her husband Albert also, because he's t here. So. AV: Okay so going back to the things that people did here, what else did they do? They went to demonstrations, they made the churros AM: Oh yes, we did. We had the churros and we had dances. I remember like in Palmetto Beach, you know. I r emember one year it was, I remember the date, July 1931. We had a big, at Palmetto Beach which was a little place but it turned out, it was always packed. I mean they, we had a very good turnout. Well you can tell in the money
13 that we picked up. You know. And we sold because things were bad at that time but everybody, you know, they gave and gave and gav e. Til l Yeah we did a lot of they had demonstrations over there, near the Labor Temple and all that, you know make it but it was, we still lost the war. AV: Tell me a little bit about the speakers that used to come here from Spain and other parts of the States, do you remember any? AM: Well, I don't remember that much about it. It isn't that we di dn't go, but it just, you know; I was young and thinking of other things and Fernando de los R os came, and La Pasionaria, she was one of the ones that came. But I really don't remember, you know, what their actually what they said or what they, of course I knew what we wanted to hear. But. AV: And how about the women and the young children? They seemed to be working a lot AM: Oh yes. We di d, because I was, that was in 36, I was, I guess I forgot that was in '3 6. Well it wasn't until about 37 that we really I think organized. And I'm 76 so that shows you how old I was. AV: Right. AM: So, you know. But they were. We were, like I say, we were very close; the whole community was very close. And I can't remember how many Italians were in that thing. One thing about the Italians, they 're always winning wars. I'm sure they turned over. In Italy. AV: Yes, was there conflict between the Italians and the Spaniards? AM: No, not really. Not really. Not really, no. AV: So, were they supporters also ? AM: Yes well, they gave like, you know. They gave and, like I say, we went from one house to another. I remember collecting o n Saturday morn ings; going and for a nickel, gave them a receipt and everything. AV: Oh yes? How much would you collect, le t's say, in a day? Do you think? AM: Oh, like o n a Saturday morning? AV: Um hm AM: Maybe fifteen dollars or something but we went a long ways. We took, you know, all. We only went to the houses that we knew, you know, were because of course they
14 can tell you to get out. But AV: Did you ever run into any problem? AM: No, we really, like I say we went to the houses; we had addresses and we went to the houses that so, we didn't, never had any problems. The only problems, like I say, we had was with like us and t he, the Latin people and the American people that did it was hard. You had to be tolerant and you had to be But no AV: Were American s here aware of what was going o n in Spain? AM: No, I don't because like I say we walked a nd I mean we walked a long way, down in fact the parade was shown on, one of the parades was shown on they didn't know; they were wondering what's going on? Yeah, because a lot of people didn't even read the newspaper. In fact, today a lot of people don't read the newspaper. Not that I blame them for that, but AM: What newspapers did you use to read to know what was going on? AM: Tribune It was and we had La Gaceta La Traducci n See because my dad read English and he always got the Tribune But, La Tr aducci n La Gaceta La Traducci n Prensa. Yes. We had AV: Did you listen to the radio too? AM: Yes. We listened to. And then we had a newspaper that came, El Diario de la Marina that came from Cuba I believe. AV: But that was a very conservative newspaper. AM: Yes. My aunt the one that was stricken with codornices she used to know Diego, who was kind of, like a boyfriend. I was telling her son the other day, "Y our mother was a flapper at that time. So, I don't know what else to tell you. AV: No, that's okay. Tell me a little bit about you were talking about the Americans how did the Latin community here thin k about what was their opinion o n the neutrality? You know. The whole idea that the United States didn't want to intervene. AM: Well of course, you know, we didn't, they weren't happy about it. But actually I don't think anybody was that in other words, there wasn't any quarrel between them and actually we didn't mingle so much because, like I say, we lived in Ybor City; just that area. An d w e went, even though by the time I went to high school, sometimes I'd walk all the way to Hillsbo rough from where I lived, you know, because there was a but we kept, really kind of to ourselves in Ybor City. We did our shopping. And they were downtown. S o actually
15 AV: Right. AM: Until after 19 le t me see I graduated in '40 or 4 2 after we were really grown that we started mingling with them. Like, you know the idea you get, "Oh no, because they drink and they do this" everybody drinks! And, actually in our house, we were, I think, kind of the exception because we had I never had a chaperon to go out. Where most of the people girls my age, they couldn't go out without a chaperon. And in my house they were liberal; my father would say "We l l, you know what's what. You know what to do." You know so we didn't have any problem. And then, my daddy and my mother danced. So actually, like every Saturday we were here. They would be downstairs and we would be upstairs, you know. And young people didn't drink they drank but not as much as they do now. So we would take them downstairs and my dad would give them a drink. Which really was wrong, now that I think about it. At that time we didn't, see? So, they, after awhile everybody just became together and everyb ody intermarried I know a lot of my friends at that time married Anglos a lot. It's just like all these Cubans that came how many of them have married Anglos? A lot. So, you know, the young people don't think that much of AV: Those categories AM: Yes. AV: anymore. Were there any problems between the people here who supported Franco and the people who supported the Republic, do you remember? AM: Well, I'll tell you we knew very, very little. I knew one that worked in the factory. I think they called him El P xaro But, we really didn't mingle with anybody that wasn't anybody that we knew was you know, just. No, no. AV: Do you remember any inc idents, like, I don't know, discussions or ? AM: No, but I do remember what Frank was saying the other day, that this kid was hit, which to me was unfair because he can't help it if his father, you know? But. His father worked in the cigar factories and of course he was ostracized; nobody wanted to you know. But there were not that many not that I recall. But. Life went on. AV: Did you work very close with your mother in all these things you did? AM: Yes. Well, like I say, every Saturday AV: She would go with you? AM: Yes. And my sisters, you know. We would all go and yes, we were and like I say at first we were really mostly at the Loyal Knights, because that's where, you know, we had the in fact some of the pictures here of the little girls wit h their hands up and all
16 that AV: Yes. Like this one. You are in one of them. AM: Oh yes, yes. I was I don't know who recognized me back here somewhere. AV: Right here, no, I think it's are you this one over here? AM: Let me see. This is Rachel; she's dead already. Young too, Rachel was younger no. AV: What do you remember of this picnic, for instance? AM: I really don't remember that. And I, but I'm not here. AV: Were they common? AM: Yes, they had, we had. But actually we had a lot of picni cs ; we had a lot of things going o n I'm not o n that one I don't think. AV: No? AM: I don't think. AV: Aren't you this one? AM: No, that's not me. AV: No? Um somebody told me that you were here; either this one or this one. AM: Let me see. Oh, here I am. Right here. That kid, that kid this is me back there, yes. This was in La Columna. AV: Do you remember the s ongs they used to sing? AM: Yes, I remember, yes. A lot of, you know. AV: So, what were the feelings when, you know, the Republic was losing the war ? AM: Well, actually AV: Do you remember how people were reacting to that? AM: Of course, you know, you were upset, because your parents were upset, you know. But actually I don't remember that much towards the end of the Jesus! Back there is Isabelina. This is Isabel Fernandez, the name up there.
17 AV: Are these members of the Loyal Knights? AM: Uh huh. AV: So this is a Loyal Knight picnic? AM: Yes, there's the man. Right there. Here's, what's her name, here? That comes here? AV: Delia? AM: Um hm And Eva. I, you know, towards the end I really don't remember here's Martinez. AV: Right, yes. AM: I'm so surprised that there's not one picture of my sister in law. My sister in law was so pretty. She looked like Sonja Henie AV: Yes, tell me about her you were telling me before that she was very involved AM: Yes, she was involved in all because, like I say, you know, she had a great belief and she was a good person. But actually, most of the people that came like from New York and al l that? They were not that, they, the ones that were communist? No, they were not that. AV: No. But she was from Tampa? AM: Oh yes. She was born in Cuba. AV: And she joined the Communist Party here in Tampa? AM: Oh yes. AV: Um hm Now, was it hard to be a member of the Communist Party in Tampa ? AM: Oh, it was hard, yes! The FBI was always, you know, checking and, you know. And in fact, even up to the time I got a divorce, they came up to my house and want ed, you know, to find out and I said T her e's nothing to find out; I don't know anything," you know. I didn't wan t to have any problem. I said "I could tell you one thing, my husband is not a communist." I did that I knew but, like I say, she was very good hearted. And sometimes you say well, in theory it's very good. If you work it out the way it is, it's very good. It's just like our Constitution, there's nothing like ours of course it doesn't go, lo leyeras al pie You know. AV: de la letra
18 AM: Yes. But, in theory it was, because people like my sister in law was the type of person, she would give you the shirt off her back and then some of these slimy people that were in it because there were some that were, that I wouldn't have nothing to do with them! So, you know, she was a good person. An d my father in law was, would go to anything because he was a very naive very naive person. Good person. AV: Um hm So was she already involved with the Communist Party in the '30s, or was that like a later development? AM: Well I think she, they were all involved already at that time, yes. Now, I wouldn't say that he was. Now I don't know about Martinez. Because it was the Labor Temple and if you were in the Labor, automatically, you know, they would. They did a lot of dumb thin gs like put the flag o n top of the my brother in law, who was not a communist (inaudible) AV: Really? AM: They'd just do it just, you know. Kids do things. He was a real young boy. They climbed o n top of the, cigar factory had the, what do you call? the tank of water? climbed al l the way, put the red flag up o n the top. AV: Oh, they did that? When was that? During the war, or ? AM: That was AV: earlier? AM: let's see, I lived o n 16th Street. I think it was, maybe during the war. I don't really remember when it was. Then, you know, my sister married him but he, that, it was nothing, he was not a communist, he wasn't they were doing it for fun AV: He was actually the one who did that? AM: He went up there, to the top of this thing up AV: That was your brother in law? AM: Eulogio. AV: Oh really? AM: Yes. He went Recording paused
19 AV: So what else do you remember of the Communist Party here in Tampa? AM: No, I just remember that they used to come from New York. You know, they used to come and have meetings; but I never, you know and like I say, I never really spoke too much about it because I didn't want to be involved in any way. But I know that some of the people that were in, they were good people, that really believed in sharing. Now, I can tell you a few who were not who had money and wouldn't share that money for nothing. Then I would say, "Okay, you believe that? Why don't you share?" No way. You know. AV: Do you think people here thought maybe more the Americans th an the Latins that the people supporting the Republic were really communist, or ? AM: Communist? I never thought that. I really, now as years go by and I'm older I think, I never never thought that we that I just thought exactly was democracy. You know? I nev er, never thought they were. No just but I guess the co m munists figured, you know, they pulled. La Pasionaria was she supposed to be a communist? AV: Um hm AM: Yes. So you see, I didn't even think about it it was just D emocrats and that's it, and I'm sure my mother I don't know about my dad because my dad, like I say, would give you the shirt off his back, so actually if it was in theory, he would, you know, b ut AV: They weren't political in anyway, your parents in that sense? AM: No. No, they w eren't. No they weren't. My father was, you know, he got his papers, a citizen. And he very much, he was against anybody that didn't vote. He would have a fit if you didn't vote! AV: Why? AM: Because, he says, "T hat's you r right." Don't, I'll quote him, "Don't bitch if you don't vote." You know. AV: When did he become a citizen? AM: Well, see, he became a citizen when they, let me see, my dad because I went with him. Happens that the ju dge was, his sister taught me in school. I forgot what year; I was already married. And they took it in Sp no, my mother took it in Spanish but he took it in English. And my father was a smart person. He was nobody's dummy. But he was such a good person, that when we went to talk to the judge Childers was the j udge's name; I'll never forget and he asked my dad a couple of questions, something like that. And my dad got so nervous that his lip started to tremble I told the j udge, "Listen here. I am a high school graduate. I graduated with a good and I don't even know al l those things. He knows, he's good, he's So.
20 But it made me so mad because my dad was so nervous he couldn't answer him. Now my mother took it in Spanish. At that time I think they gave it in Spanish I don't remember. But, my dad was very America he d id not he couldn't stand it. Says, "Y ou came here, embrace the country, you do, go by their rules and, you know, wouldn't want to do anyt hing that and you vote." I have a, one of my sisters who, you have to be after her to vote I have to call her, "D on't forget that next week you've got to vote!" My dad would have a fit. "You've got to vote. That's your privilege." And then, and I do, I always vote. I don't care; I vote all the time and I'm very loyal, Democrat, always. AV: You learn ed your lesson! AM: Yes. S ide B: AV: I wanted to ask you Angeles, why do you think the people here were so supportive of the Republic? People here in Ybor City and West Tampa? AM: Why? Because it was the thing. You were, you know, a democracy. We lived in a democracy. And we wanted it to be, you know. And, like I say, although there was America, they were very loyal to Spain. They always, you know, we always, you know, tried to help as much as we could. And when they could, they did. Because of course in the first few years they were here they couldn't go anywhere. But then as time went by, you know, they could take trips. And always I think most of the the small people, the small villages, it was here that sent the money and it was here that sent the clothes and it was you know? So we were supportive because we, like I say, we lived in a democracy, and we wanted them to live and then after all, when we got wind of what was happening and, like I say, the familie s were being killed and being put in prison you know, so you were trying to do all. And then not really, it was no problem to collect money. It was no problem to se l l. And actually we were a lot of people helping. You know. Of course, now that I think back I 'm trying to think who besides the Spanish helped. Because I don't remember any Italians being in any of these things. I really don't recall any of them. Like I say, they had a and even, now that I think, I have a lot of Spanish friends that I haven't se en come up to say, you know. So maybe they were o n the other side, and we didn't know it, you know. Which is really, that's their prerogative, whatever they want to do, they, you know. But this AV: So what happened after [Francisco] Franco won the war? AM: Well, of course, everybody was very down, very down and, but as things went back to normal, and they went back to Spain, like my uncle. My youngest uncle, he went back to Spain and he found that things weren't that bad, you know, after awhile, that eve rything was back to normal then. They just said W ell, there's nothing we can do,"
21 and that's it. So. AV: Did you keep helping your family throughout all those years? AM: Oh yes. In fact, I was, my dad died and my mother was retired. And I had just rec ently gotten divorced with no support or no nothing. And my mother was still sending money. Say "Hey Ma, that is enough! We need the money here. At least pay for the lights." Y ou know? But they were very they always and they were so funny because, like m y uncle I had an uncle, and his wife, well they were Spanish Cuban; they came from Cuba. And they would call them, "Don't forget." Well, you know, enough is enough! They had more things in Spain than we did. They had impermeables. They had a typewriter. Th ey, when they went to get married they sent them sheets a nd pillow cases and more than I had when I got married. So they still, up to the like I say, my mother, I was, it's been 25 years that I separated, and my mother was still sending money. All of the m. They all got together to send money. And actually my sister, the one that's married to the whole Italian she was the one better off and she would send too. And then I had another cousin that was a m aitre here at the Columbia Restaurant. He would always send. So actually we sent as long like I told my mother, E nough is enough; they're all grown. They all have more money now." When we went over there I told them I said, "I don't want you to pay for anything." "We' ll never spend al l the money we have." And here I don't have it! AV: Ironic. AM: Yes. So it's just a but they were real good to them when they went. One year they, when the three sisters went together, and when they got into Grado, they went by train I think it was. And when they got out, the w hole, t he whole town was there, I said, O f course, the goose that laid the golden eggs!" Because they sent clothes and everybody could use the clothes you know. There was too much AV: There were a lot of people from Grado here. AM: Oh yes, oh yes. AV: Right, so. AM: Grado, or right around. Yeah. Right around. There were a lot. Oh gosh! AV: Let me ask you this last question. Looking back from today, do you think the Spanish Civil War had a n impact o n your life in any way? AM: Not o n my life, because I was, like I say, we were very involved, and we were, at home we were very asturiano I say asturiano because that's where we were we, so actually, it didn't. Like I say the biggest disappointment to me was when I got to Grao And I say Grao! Grado. You know, they were, they don't we sang all the little songs.
22 There's nothing more aggravating like last week we went to la paella and I went three times up there, "Would you please play a pasodoble ?" Stop playing b b b bk buk uk tak uk um Cuban music, and African music. You know. But we weren't, because that's they didn't do that in Grao. They didn't have anything like that anymore. They didn't have, they don't have verbenas they don't have anything. And that's what I was used to because my mother, again and again, they would tell you what they did and to we lived it! We lived it with them, you know. And, like I say, over here, we had so many people that were from Grao. My mother one time; my mother was in a nursing home for ele ven years. But not like a regular we, I went at noon; fed her every meal. And, one time this lady that was from Grao, came in and saw her. And I tell you, it was heartbreaking. She came in and saw my mother said, "My, Nora cu ndo vamos pa Grao? And the w hole place started to cry. Because there were a few there that we, you know. We were always together in there. Because people say "N o, a nursing home" I couldn't handle her at home, I couldn't handle her by myself. But I was there for every meal. I mean I was there all the time. And it was, I can't forget her, "Nora cu ndo vamos pa Grao? Everybody started to cry. So. That was it. AV: Okay, just to conclude this interview, Angeles, is there anything else you would like to add, or some topic we haven't touched that you think should be included in the tape? AM: No, I told you about everything I can remember. You know. Just, that's about. AV: Okay. This concludes the interview with Mrs. Angeles Marti. I want to thank you very much, Angeles, for participa ting in this project. AM: You're very welcome. End of interview
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Marti, Angeles D.
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Ana Varela-Lago.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (51 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.
Angeles Marti discusses how Ybor City reacted to the Spanish Civil War by hosting guest speakers and holding demonstrations and other events.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Interview conducted May 12, 1997.
Marti, Angeles D.
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