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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 00019 Interviewee: Kiki Menendez Pannier (KP) Interviewer: Ana M. Varela Lago (AV) Interview d ate: October 7, 1997 Interview location: Tampa, Florida Transcribed by: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Interview changes by: Mary Beth Isaacson Interview changes date: November 25, 2008 Additional changes: Arlen Bensen Additional changes date: December 18, 2008 Final edit by: Maria Kreiser Final edit date: January 26, 2009 Ana M. Varela Lago : This is an interview with Kiki Menendez Pannier. And Kiki, I would like to start by talking a little bit about your family. Why did your family come t o Tampa? Kiki Menendez Pannier : Well, my mother was born in Tampa in 1900. And her mother, my grandmother, had come from Cuba after the Spanish Ame rican War, because they were born in Cuba but the father was Spanish and he therefore was not in favor of C uba becoming independent of Spain. And they settled here, all my grandmother's brothers went to work in the cigar industry. In 1897. And then my mother was born in 1900. And in her teens she went to Cuba for awhile, but she also went to New York where s he met my father who had been in Mexic o during the f irst World War. And had joined the Merchant Marine; the American Merchant Marine, because he met a chaplain that was aboard an American Merchant Marine ship that stopped I can't remember the town now, in Mexico, but it was a port. And he talked him into joining the American Merchant Marine because he said you know, "W hen the war is over you can come to the United States. And so that's what he did. He went, and he traveled in Europe and took troops to, and ammunition. And when the war ended he landed in New York and he met my mother. By then, my mother was ready to come back to Tampa, soon. And she told him that in Tampa there was work in the cigar industry. So my father came first, and then my mother fo llowed. And they were married in 1919 here in Tampa. And then I was born a few years later. Well I can say; in 1926. And I was 10 years old when well, my father corresponded with his sisters in Spain. And his brothers. One brother right, Ginny? [Mrs. Pan nier's daughter] Well anyway, with his family in Spain.
2 Ginny Pannier : His mother and father were alive. KP: Yes, his mother and father were alive. He made one trip back shortly after he was married. In 1920 he went back to visit. I think he was afraid he might not see his mother alive, or his parents alive. But he came back to the United States. And he became an American citizen. And it was funny because my mother, on marrying my father, became a Spanish subject. She had to take out her papers to become an American citizen and swear that she would not be loyal to the King of Spain. It was kind of amusing. I don't think it works that way today. And the [Spanish Civil] war, the correspondence between, as I say, I was, a little before I was ten, I guess bef ore the war started, the letters came. And then suddenly the war came and the letters, as I told you before, they were bordered in black. Which I think was the custom then it may not be today, but it seemed like they were coming all the time bordered in b lack. A nd it may have been cousins, and the people, family people that had died as a result of the war, of the Civil War. Lack of food, lack of medicines. I remember at one point that they needed needle and thread. And something that we take for granted. Something so simple as needle and thread. I thought that M y gosh, it's incredible that they wouldn't have something like that. And of course medicines. I don't remember what kind of medicines that were sent. Because that was before we had antibiotics. Bu t anyway. Then there were, I worked in the Spanish, in the Children's Theater. Also in the WPA [Works Progress Adniministration] At that time it was a project to give employment to actors. And one of the plays that we did was, It Can't Happen Here whi ch was a Sinclair Lewis novel. And I remember I don't remember in what city it took place. Perhaps it was the United States, I think it was. And it was supposedly that we had been invaded by, I think it would be Germans at that point. And it was like sayin g it can't happen here, but it could. And then there were benefits and picnics. And I remember once my grandmother braided her hair with now, my Cuban born grandmother but of Spanish parents, of a Spanish father braided her hair with red, yellow and purple in the ribbons. And she had on, I think she was all dressed in white. And she was selling churros at what is now the airport in Tampa; was then Columna Park, I believe it was called. And that's where the picnics were held. And then, they would gather mo ney and buy an ambulance or buy whatever needed to be bought, or like Amelia [Menendez] told you about the quilts that they made for the people. And in a way it was an exciting period. Because we had parades and for a ten year old it was, you know, lik e having parties all the time. And it seems like it was almost every weekend there was something. Except for those letters that came from Spain that made my parents sad. And apparently they didn't talk too much in front of me about the letters, because may be they, you know, try to protect you, or whatever. And then I remember singing the song, Pero en Madrid No Pasarn! In Madrid they will not pass, or they will not come. And it just seemed like we were very united. And that included the Cubans and the Italians as well. Which is really strange because of, you know, by then it was
3 known that [Benito] Mussolini was with [Francisco] Franco. And Hitler later. And yet the Italian people in Tampa united with the Spanish community, and the Cubans too. And I kne w more leales than I knew the ones that weren't. You know. There were a few that weren't, because I remember saying, "See that? That man over there? He's a Franquista ," he's, you know. And he would it was one that would sing, Pero en Madrid, se colarn ." AV: Oh, really? KP: Oh, we thought that was terrible! And let's see, Ana, what else can I tell you about that time? Ask me some questions. AV: How did you first learn about the war in Spain? Do you remember how you became aware? KP: Hearing my parents talk about it, because I don't think I read the paper back then. And radio my mother had a short wave radio. Which probably got news from Cuba. She could get the CMQ in Cuba, which was a radio station there. And I guess word of mouth, you know, from heari ng my parents talk about it. AV: And what did you think the war was about, when they told you there is a war in Spain? KP: Well I knew there was a bad guy. And that was Franco. And that he was doing terrible things. And I guess I just wasn't, you know, that involved in it to really understand too much about it. I really started to understand more as Hitler began, later, in later years, invading Poland and all the places that he, all the things that he did and then finally we got into the war. So that wou ld be, I think, how I heard about it. More at home. And of course when we went to the festivities, to the picnics, and the beneficios and the dances. The older people would conglomerate and talk about the war, and the younger people would be dancing. So a lmost as if, oh well, you know, it's not my business. AV: Do you remember the collections? What did you do as a ten year old girl to kind of help the Republic? KP: Outside of working in the theater, that I knew part of the entradas the admission price was going to be, going to Spain. I guess they would pay for the rental of the theater and then whatever the balance would be sent. And my grandmother selling churros that's about the only thing that I remember. GP: Did you collect foil? KP: We collected foil! AV: Oh, tell me about that.
4 KP: Yes, that's right. And we made it into a ball, you know, and AV: How did you collect that, like during the day you would go out, or on a particular day? KP: No, every time we if we found a piece, an empty box of cigarettes, we'd open it and carefully peel away the tin foil I guess it was, because I don't think it was aluminum foil. I think it was tin foil. Peel it very carefully and crunch it up into a ball. And it would stay really nice together and then it was kind of like a game, to see who could make the biggest piece, you know. Yeah, I had forgotten about the foil. Yeah, and that was in, on Saturday nights in Ybor City was when we, you know, we all went to kind of like they do in Barcelona, where they walk down Las Ramblas. Yeah, well this was how we would go, you know, the girls all together and our parents would be sitting having cafe, or whatever, talking about the war. And we would walk around. Saturdays and Sundays too. And so I think we were just too involved in our own lives to really it was, something bad was happening, but it didn't really concern us. You know. At ten. Later of course, yes. AV: Tell me more about the foil. What else did you do with the foil? I mean was there a place you had to tak e it to, or ? KP: I remember giving it to my father. So he must have taken it somewhere. Who knows maybe to one of the Centros. The Centro Espaol or Centro Asturiano. No se really, which way. GP: Did your chewing gum come in ? KP: Chewing gum also, ye s. But there was no bubble gum then. Just chewing gum, yeah. And you also had to peel it because one side had a layer of wax paper and then the other one was the tin foil. So yeah, I had forgotten about the gum thank you, Ginny for reminding me. AV: How a bout the churros ? How did your grandmother make the churros ? It was at her home, or did they go somewhere else? KP: No, somebody had brought a big pan, I guess, with oil. And they were cooking them right there at the picnic, at Columna Park. Then she woul d have them in a basket, and she would walk around saying, Churros ? Churros ?" you know, and I guess collect the money, put it in her apron pocket. I do remember she had an apron. In fact the apron had red, yellow and purple ribbons because she had sewed t hem on herself. And there must have been other things too that were done, but I just don't recall, Ana. AV: That's okay. Was your family particularly Republican, I mean like your grandmother, or ?
5 KP: Yes, everybody was against Franco. All of us were le ales o republicanos ; that's the same, one and the same. For some reason, sometimes they used one word and another time another word. Is there an explanation for that? AV: No, I don't. KP: No? Okay. AV: They just used them. KP: Yes, no, no, we were stri ctly loyal. I mean, so much so that we used to sing a song about the bandera You know the Banderita ? Tu eres roja you are red. Tu eres gualda is that the word? AV: Gualda KP: Con una franja morada With a purple stripe. Well we know that the flag di dn't it used to have red, yellow, and purple. But later it was just red, yellow and red. After Franco took over. AV: How about the family in Asturias? Your family was there? KP: Okay, the family in Asturias. I remember more about the family in Asturias a fter the war. And I have since met the children; my father's nephews. AV: Was your father the only one to come to Tampa? KP: Yes. To the United States? Yes. One brother went to Buenos Aires. I got to meet him. And one was in the Navy. And then the sister s. Balbina and Nieves, stayed in Spain and married Spaniards and remained there. So my father was the only one that came to America, and that was GP: Cousins. He had cousins who came to America. KP: Cousins came, that's right. The Garcia family came. GP: Rosendo and Flora. KP: Rosendo, Flora. Yes. They settled in New York. And in fact i n the Apple; upper New York state, right? Platkill, Peekskill, something like that; I can't recall exactly. GP: Yes, Manuel Garcia and Celestino, that group. KP: Oka y. GP: Rosendo, I think, settled here.
6 KP: Yes, he came here. He was yes, he did, he came here. GP: Because he died here in 1940. KP: Right, he did. AV: And where in Asturias were they from? KP: From Gijn. Although my father was born in la aldea t he village of Quintueles. But he spent time in Gijn. And I was fortunate enough to see where he lived on a trip to Gijn in 1970. Before they used the land to put a condominium. It was still there. Nobody was living in these places, in these houses. But w hat was your original question for that? AV: About the family in Asturias. How were they experiencing the war? What kind of things did they write about, did they tell you? KP: Well, they didn't tell me much. Because I think they didn't want to. I just re member, you know, I had mentioned to you about the torture. But I don't know who was tortured. It may not have been a family member, it might have been just that they wrote about the tortures that, you know, Franco did. And it sounded pretty bad. So. GP: We don't know what happened to Eduardo in Estuero. KP: No. Eduardo was in the Navy. And one time the Alfonso XIII, the boat he was on the ship he was on went to Havana. And my mother and my father went to Havana, and my mother got to meet one brother of m y father's. And I got to meet the other brother in Buenos Aires. Which was great, you know. AV: How about people here who volunteered to fight. I know some people went to Spain in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade. Do you remember? KP: I don't remember anybody that went. The first time I remember hearing about the Lincoln Brigade was seeing the movie, For Whom the Bell Tolls And knowing that there was a Lincoln Brigade. And then reading in Ferdie Pacheco's stories, where he talks about the young man who went (phone rings) Recording paused AV: Yes, we were talking about the Abraham Lincoln Brigade? KP: Yes, no, during the actual Civil War I don't remember. But I don't remember when the movie was made either, but it was after the war was already over. AV: I think it was '41. 1941. So you don't remember anybody from Tampa, any families talking about their sons?
7 KP: No, I sure don't. I told you that I really didn't have too much memories of the things. AV: That's okay. How about the speakers who came here to Tampa, and the theater events and all those ? KP: All right, I remember of course Don Fernando de los Ros. Of course he was, but I really didn't know who he was, but I knew he was very important, he was muy elegante and, you know, and very I mean, you k new he was somebody important. And of course he made speeches. And if that was during the war, that was after the war, you think? After the Civil War that he was here or before? AV: No, no no during. During the war. KP: Or during, during. Okay. I'm pre tty sure that part of the admission went for doing something for sending something over to Spain. And you know those were hard times. When I think about it, that people dug into their pockets to try to do as much as they could. And things were tough. You k now. I know my mother and my father both worked. AV: Where did they work? In the cigar factories, or ? KP: Well, my father worked in the cigar factory, and my mother worked for the Florida State Board of Health. And then there was a time there when there was a big strike or something and the cigar factories stopped working. Don't remember the details. I remember reading about it in Jose Yglesias's book, which explained a lot to me The book that he wrote called The Goodbye Land was when he goes to Spain t o find out what happened because his father also left Tampa when there was no work. And then he went to Spain to see, to find out what happened. And that's, I thought that was a very interesting story of how he dug out all the information only to find that his father had had a second family, when he got there. I wish I had met him. Unfortunately he died a couple of years ago. Yeah. Okay, then all right exactly who is she now? Because I'm all mixed up. This girl was sent to Russia ? ( looking at p hotograph) GP: Okay, yes. KP: and she is ? GP: Angel Ordoez's daughter, Nieves KP: And the name Nieves keeps appearing throughout because of my father's sister. GP: She went to Russia. Angel's mother and Papa Mario's mother KP: Which is my father. GP: T eresa Tuero, were sisters.
8 KP: Were sisters, okay. GP: So she was a Tuero; we don't know her name. She might have been a Nieves Tuero for all we know. KP: And as I understood they sent children were allowed, were I guess you had a choice to send your c hildren to Russia to get them out of harm's way. That's the only thing I can think of. And for a long time, correspondence would come from Russia, for my parents. And AV: So she was, left alone? I mean, she was going alone KP: Yes, she went with other children, yes. With other children. AV: But no other relatives? KP: No parents. No other relatives. AV: Sisters or siblings. KP: And then, after a certain period of time, a few years, the letters no longer came. So either she was absorbed into the Rus sian society or, well I don't know the word exactly that I want, or perhaps she no longer could write in Spanish, I don't know. Maybe she just got Russianized. Which is a shame, because here we have maybe family in Russia that we don't even know. And we have this pretty picture of her. That I imagine she sent from Russia. Because she was very young when she went to Russia. GP: It's hard to know. KP: Yes, I know. Because there's no dates on it or anything. GP: It says on it, "So that you can know me eve n if only in a photograph. With affection, Nieves." And it's dated 1948. KP: '48. So, okay, so they wrote then for quite awhile. If she sent that in 1948. GP: If that came from Russia. We know that my grandfather visited this family in Madrid in 1955, an d attended her father's funeral and someone's wedding. Because we have a p icture of, let's see, he writes, "Attendees of a wedding of my cousin, Nieves Ordoez's daughter." But we don't know if it's the Same Nieves Ordoez or not. KP: In other words, we d on't really know if she ever came back from Russia. That's a pity. Not to know. GP: You know. We look at the faces but you can't really tell.
9 AV: And how about the rest of the family? Did they remain in Asturias ? KP: Yes. AV: or did they become refu gees? Did they leave the country? KP: No, no they stayed in AV: They stayed there? KP: They stayed in Gijn. Yes, I guess and, you know, I don't really know what their professions were. I mean, or their jobs. Maybe they were in the mines, or fishermen I'm not too sure about that. I wish I did know more about it. AV: You were telling me before, Kiki, about Fernando de los Ros? KP: Yes. AV: Okay, what do you remember of his coming to Tampa? What comes to mind when you think of that? KP: I just rem ember that I knew he was a very special person because everybody was very excited about him coming. So he was really somebody. But that's about it. And then shortly after that came Doctor Jernimo Mallo, with his daughter and wife. And I heard because this me impresion it impressed me that he had a price on his head. Is what they said. That he had to get out of Spain because Franco would kill him and his whole, his wife and daughter. So he must have been very outspoken. Anyway, he stayed in Tampa for awh ile. But there was nothing, no work for him, and then he ultimately went and became a professor. And I don't believe he spoke any English when he came, but he must have taken a crash course or something to be able to go teach in, was it Iowa or Idaho? What ever. Iowa. Yeah, the book. GP: I thought you said Iowa. KP: Iowa. AV: Why did he come to Tampa, do you think. Did you ever find out? KP: Because I think that AV: Did he have relatives here? KP: No. No. I just think that they knew, word of mouth, t hat Tampa was friendly to them. And my guess is that they probably opened their homes to him. I don't know about Fernando de los Ros I don't know if he had money or not but I just have that feeling
10 that he must have stayed with somebody; with families. I know we saw a lot of him and his wife and daughter. And there were, you know, charlas talking, and conversation with him. Of which I have to admit I wasn't too interested at the time. But I played with Marisol. Because she was my age. And I was, you know, happy showing her my toys. I guess she probably didn't have well maybe she had some, but she probably had to leave them all. Who knows? So, that's the only thing that I can recall is that they were two important people. Perhaps Fernando de los Ros was more important, because he was the ambassador. AV: Do you remember anybody else coming, or having some other events, speakers ? KP: No. Years afterwards there was bailarinas dancers, flamenco groups that would come to work in the Centro Asturiano. But that was much later. AV: How was the feeling of the people when they would get together at these picnics. What would be happening there? KP: Well it was a mix, they were a little angry at the things. Because one of them would say, "Oh, you know what I just heard," or something, and then they would get into these, these big chats about it and. Yeah, I think the feeling was sorrow, anger. And especially if somebody had bad news that they had received about a member of the family, and of course everybody w as very united, you know, as a group. I guess that would be the first of what they now call when they get together and have the groups of, grieve, you know people that have lost a child or that's what it really amounted to, come to think of it, huh? A ses sion. It would help them to get it out of their systems. And I suppose they probably cried too. AV: Do you think people were trying to get their families out of Spain? Do you have that sense of trying to help in that way? KP: I don't remember that. AV: Bringing them to the country? KP: Because I think it was like hopeless that they felt; either it was too expensive I don't really know or maybe it was something that they couldn't do. I didn't know, I never heard of anybody trying, you know, to get fami ly out of Spain. All I heard was sending clothing. You didn't throw anything away. You know if you outgrew it or something, you packed it in a box and shipped it, or took it someplace where it was being shipped. AV: Why do you think people in Tampa were so supportive of the Republic? KP: Hm.
11 AV: How would you explain that? Somebody who didn't kno w anything about this community? KP: Maybe because they were hardworking. Well my impression was that the wealthy people were the ones that were with Franco, and the working man was more loyal. And now I recall at one of our meetings at the Centro about them talking about the cigar manufacturers were with Franco? Except for Corral, which happened to be the one where my father worked. And so that money wasn't al lowed to be collected? Wasn't that what somebody said? A t the factory? Because, on payday, which was once a week, there was always somebody collecting, you know. And so that's what I think it was, is that the common man was more of a, I mean the, the Tamp eo was low income. Or middle inc ome. Hardworking. And they just you know what? I never thought about the reason why. But could that, that could be it, right? That they were more, more a tendency to be with the loyalist forces. Oh, I suddenly remembered. I had been going to Catholic school. And I was yanked out of Catholic school in the 4th grade. After I did the 4th grade. Because it had something to do with the Spanish Civil War. I never quite understood, except that the Catholic church must have been w ith Franco, is that what it was? Oh, okay. All I know is that from one day to the next I was put in public school. But also it was a hardship for my parents to keep me there because it was expensive. So then I went to grammar school, in public school. AV: And you never returned to Catholic School? KP: No. GP: Did you stop attending Mass, too? KP: Yep. AV: Oh, tell me more about that. KP: That's right. My father. That's right. Well. AV: Was your family religious? KP: No, not really. They, you know they believed in God and I'm sure, and I know my mother prayed. I don't know about my father. But I had to go to Mass because I was going to Catholic school, and there was a way that they knew if you attended AV: That was Our Lady of Perpetual Help? Wa s that the school you were going? KP: No, this was Sacred Heart. Because we didn't live in Ybor City, which was where Our Lady of Perpetual Help [was]. But it was Tampa Heights, which was kind of in the middle of downtown and Ybor City. And so I went to S acred Heart. Which, the school is
12 still on Florida Avenue. And so AV: Were there a lot of Latin children going to Sacred Heart? KP: Yes. And also, I didn't speak any English until I went to first grade. And it's funny, I just. Well, I assume, I understo od some because my mother spoke perfect English with no, Spanish and perfect English; neither one with an accent. Which is how you, when you learn it young that's how you learn it. You don't have an accent. So I obviously heard English at home. But with m y grandmother living with us and my father, who preferred to speak Spanish, I really spoke more Spanish than I did English. But anyway my father would take me to Mass on Sunday because it was required that you attend Mass if you were going to school. But once I was out of there, I think that stopped I know it stopped. And I never really understood that so that was the end of the masses. AV: So when, do you remember the year or the date that that happened? Did your parents explain to you why? KP: Well, le t's see. The only thing I knew, that it had something to do with the Civil War. That was all. I mean remember, I was in the 4th grade! And that would have been like I would be nine, nine or ten, right? GP: And you never really returned to the Catholic c hurch later. KP: No, but we sure as heck made sure that all our children were baptized and did at least First Communion. GP: Yes, but Dad took us to church. KP: Yes, I know, well I would go once in awhile. De compromiso you know? AV: Did that happen to other children? Do you remember that happening to other children. They were KP: I think so, yes. I think so, because I ran into some of them at grammar school. GP: Yes, because you went to Robert E. Lee, actually. KP: I went to Robert E. Lee, right. Elementary. And that's how I know Ferdie because he went to Robert E. Lee, too. AV: I see, Ferdie Pacheco? KP: Um h m. AV: What else do you remember of the church here in Tampa? Of the Catholic Church during the years of the war?
13 KP: I don't remember them saying anything against anything about Spain. Because I'm sure I sat at Mass probably hoping that it would soon end. So, therefore not listening too much to what was going on. AV: But do you have the sense they were really supportive of Franco in any way, actively ? KP: No. I didn't sense it. And I don't think my parents did, but for some reason they, knowing what they, if they knew that in Spain the c hurch was with Franco, then that was enough to sway them. To convince them to take me out. AV: And how about the demonstrations? I've heard that there KP: Yes, the parades down 7th Avenue? Yeah, those were fun. AV: What do you remember of them? KP: Well, I just remember that it was lively and colorful. I did not participate in the parades because I guess I was too young. Later years I was in parades when, you know, Gasparilla and that sort of thing. But I just remember that it was fun to watch what was going on. And meet with other children my age. As our parents watched the parade we probably watc hed too, you know. AV: Do you remember that famous demonstration from the Labor Temple? KP: The one that they say that there's a film? AV: Uh huh. KP: No, no. AV: To City Hall? KP: I don't remember. I remember Labor Temple, itself, but not that part icular demonstration. But I bet any money my grandmother was in there. Yeah. I'm sure she was. Because Amelia told me she knew my grandmother. And, you know, that really blew me away, because she was telling me "Y es, your grandmother did this, and the mo re she talked about it, the more it was my grandmother. Because she was like, born a hundred years ahead of her time. She was a woman's libber. Back then, when the word wasn't even coined in that era. So no, but I've heard about it. Especially since your arrival, and our meetings at the Centro. AV: How about your parents? How did they participate in all these events in support of the Republic?
14 KP: Well we went to everything. Every, every beneficio there was. AV: And you went together as a family? KP: Oh yes, yes. I was an only child so, you know, and that was the days before babysitters. Even though my grandmother could have my grandmother went too. That's why I didn't stay home. Yeah, I was old enough to go and, yeah, we went in family. And to me, in my mind they were most at the Centro Asturiano. Most of the things we went. The picnics well the picnics were held at Columna Park. But sometimes they would have an indoor picnic, what they called. And then, the Cantina downstairs was where they served one of the restaurants, mostly the Columbia maybe, would bring the arroz con pollo and it was just a way of contributing. I wouldn't be at all surprised if the Columbia did not donate the food. But I'm just guessing at that, I can't be sure. AV: Was you r father perhaps involved also through the factories, or the labor unions at all? KP: I don't remember, Ana. I don't think they had did they have a union for the cigar makers? AV: Um h m. KP: Well if they did, he was a member, I'm sure. Yeah, no, but I don't remember any involvement with the unions. AV: And how about your mother with all the sewing, and ? KP: My grandmother was in the sewing. My mother being that she worked, and she wasn't really a seamstress she crocheted but, you know, not that kin d of sewing. No, she was in favor of everything that was being done. But, I don't remember her selling churros AV: Do you remember the ambulances from Tampa? KP: I remember hearing that an ambulance or two, or maybe more was being sent that they had col lected enough money. Maybe GP: That newspaper has an article saying the ambulance was sent. KP: Was there more than one? AV: Four. KP: Four. Oh, how wonderful! Goodness. How did those ambulances get across the ocean? On a boat, they'd have to.
15 AV: U h huh. KP: And I wonder where they landed, so they got to the Loyalists. Mr. Pannier : Just like in the commercial; they drive on the water. KP: Oh bull. AV: Okay, how about the Americans you told me that the other groups, the Cubans and the Italians were pretty much together with the Spaniards in supporting the Republic. How about the Americans? Did they ? KP: You know what, I don't remember knowing too many American children back then. I had one very close friend, Sara, but it wasn't something tha t we ever discussed or talked about, so I don't really know how they felt about it. AV: Were there events, like you know the plays or something that took place outside of Ybor City or West Tampa. Do you remember going ? KP: No. AV: downtown for somethi ng? KP: For Spain? No. AV: Um h m, maybe a demonstration, or a theater play, or maybe when Fernando de los Ros would come, maybe. KP: I don't think so. I don't think they were as interested as we were. You know. I can't be sure Ana, because I don't rem ember. AV: And how about the people who didn't support the Republic? Do you remember ? KP: I remember one or two being pointed out as he was like, you know, the scum of t he earth. Don't even talk to him This one particular one was a waiter in one of the Spanish restaurants that no longer exists, called Las Novedades. And he knew that he was disliked. So, it seemed to me that just to get back at them, he would say Pero en Madrid, se colarn ." You know. And that was something that would make it irritated everybody, but nobody liked him. So I bet he didn't make many tips at that restaurant where he worked. Because everybody knew that he was for Franco. I never knew what happened to him. So. AV: But there weren't very many people, you think, or were there frictions between them? KP: I think there were not very many people with Franco in our city. In our little group of
16 Latinos. AV: And why do you think that's so? KP: I wonder. I think the ones that were for Franco were misguided, for some reason. AV: Okay, so you don't think there were many Franco supporters? KP: To me, it seemed like. Well, because the crowd we hung out with were all in favor of the leales But I don't know; I get the impression that there really weren't that many that were with Fran co. I don't know what other people have said when you've asked that question. AV: So what do you remember when Franco was winning the war? What was the feeling of the people here as they realized that their efforts are not really paying off? KP: You know ? Sometimes it looked good, and then sometimes it looked bad. And then it began to look bad all the time. So I just remember, you know, a lot of anger and sadness. And until I don't specifically remember the day that the war ended that they did pasar to M adrid. Oh, I remember La Pasionaria? AV: La Pasionaria? What do you remember of that? KP: Just hearing my father talk about her. And that she was wonderful. She was almost like an angel, I guess. But I don't remember exactly why. Yes, that name just came to me now, all of a sudden. See you're stirring up these memories. AV: So, he told you KP: Yes. I just remember hearing them talk about her. Like maybe in somebody's speech. Was there another woman too that was in there? Involved in the Loyalist cause ? AV: Yes, well one of the women came here. Isabel de Palencia. Do you remember her? KP: No, I don't remember her. She may have come AV: La Pasionaria was the most famous. KP: Famous, okay. And she was a young woman? AV: Well, upper thirties. Yeah, she was young. There used to be postcards with her image. And they used to sell those at some events. Maybe you've seen I'm sure you've seen KP: I probably have. Who knows, we may even have one in some of those boxes that we have of postcards. So rememb er the name, if you come across, La Pasionaria was her
17 name. Well that wasn't her real name, but that's what they called her. AV: She looks very Spanish. Dark hair and black eyes. Side B begins KP: [Describing her grandmother's attire at one of the ev ents in support of the Republic] Okay. I remember white blouse, or perhaps a white dress, because I don't think she wore skirts and blouses. And she obviously bought red ribbon, yellow ribbon, purple ribbon. Maybe a quarter of an inch, half an inch in widt h. And somehow she intertwined it in her braids. She usually wore her braids up. But this day she had them down. And so it was, you could see the red, the yellow, and the purple. And then her apron was trimmed with, I'm sure, the same ribbon because it was the same width. And that's how she did it. I didn't AV: She used to wear that every time she would go to events like that? KP: No. I just remember this one particular time that she did it. She could have done it more often but not on a daily basis. But maybe for another activity, like a beneficio or something that they attended. So she must have belonged to a group of ladies, is the only thing I can think of. Probably the same group Amelia's mother belonged to. That she talks about. Especially since she remembers my grandmother so vividly. She's the kind of person you would remember. AV: Do you, you don't remember having seen your grandmother in that photograph I have with all the women ? KP: No. I looked. AV: and do you remember the visit of this ma n, General Philemore, when he came to Tampa? KP: No. No. In fact I was surprised when I heard about it. I wish I did. AV: Somebody mentioned to me also that here was a shooting between a Republican supporter and a Franco supporter KP: Here in Tampa? H m. AV: I was wondering if you would remember anything like that. KP: No. I remember shootings, but they had to do with, you know, with gangsters type shootings. But no I don't remember any of that. In fact that's the first I've heard of it! AV: I'll tell you more about that later.
18 KP: I've led a very sheltered life apparently. AV: Okay. So your family was sending things to your family in Spain, after the war ended? KP: Yes, yes. AV: Uh huh. So, what happened to the Frente Popular and all these organizations that were here in Tampa during the war? KP: I think they gradually dissolved. I don't remember ever hearing too much about them afterwards. And I was already getting older, so I should remember. No, I think everybody must have retreated int o their, thinking of their families as opposed to Spain in general. And trying to help out as much as they could, their family members. AV: So were people here sending things back to their families what kind of things would they send? KP: Well, I heard m edicines. But you know what? It may have been did we have vitamins back then? We must have. Maybe aspirin? Needle and thread definitely. Which I thought was something so, I never could even imagine nobody having, you know, not having needle and thread. Oh, safety pins! AV: Oh, safety pins? KP: Yes. Funny. I just remembered the safety pins. Yes, I don't remember what kind of medicines. Maybe Mercurochrome? Maybe cotton? But I think they just needed everything in general. And if there were vitamins back th en, I'm sure that would have been included. AV: Were there groups here helping the people who had to flee Spain refugees who were then going to other countries? Do you remember any group organized, or ? KP: I seem to remember that there were certain peop le that opened their homes to those that needed a place. And like, until they got established or found work or made the decision if they were gonna remain here or move elsewhere. But not a group, per se. Just individuals doing that. That's going back a lon g way Ana, you know? AV: Yes. I know. So what was the feeling then? Franco wins the war. Was there any feeling that maybe with the beginning of World War II there was still another chance? Or do you think Spain was pretty much out of the picture already ? KP: I don't remember any feeling. Of course today we know that was the start of the whole thing. And, well, yeah, that it was the beginning of what eventually became the Second World War. But no, I don't remember, I don't have any memories of that parti cular.
19 AV: Okay. Well, just one last question. Do you think there is any other topic that we haven't discussed that you would like to have mentioned in this interview? Some aspect that I forgot to ask you about? KP: No. I think you covered it pretty well In fact you dug quite a few things out of my memory bank. My CD ROM or whatever! AV: Just to conclude the interview, what do you think, Kiki, was the influence of the war in your life? If it had any influence at all. KP: Well it had an impact. It wa s my first thoughts of, that there could be bad people. You know up until then, I didn't think of anybody being so horrible. And so it was like an awakening, that life is not all, you know, gonna be nice and sweet. So that's, I think that's when I realize d that there were bad guys. AV: Okay, this concludes the interview with Kiki Menendez Pannier. And I want to thank you Kiki very much for your help, for having let me come to your home to ask you all these questions. Thank you very much Kiki. KP: You are welcome. I don't know how much help I was. You are welcome. End of interview
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Pannier, Kiki Menendez.
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Ana Varela-Lago.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (48 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.
Kiki Menendez Pannier discusses how the Spanish Civil War affected Tampa's Latin community. She describes Fernando de los Rios, La Pasionaria, some of the ways children helped support the war, and leaving Catholic school due to the Church's stance on the war.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Interview conducted October 7, 1997.
Pannier, Kiki Menendez.
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