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Reflection of a Cigar Era

I was born in a clinic called A.A Gonzalez Clinic (which has been restored and transformed into the (Don Vincente Inn) the clinic was located in the heart of Ybor City in an era where cigar factories made history. My grandfather Virgilio Fabian worked at a cigar factory King Bee Cigar Factory before owning La Llave Cigar Factory in this predominately Latin community. The factory workers of Ybor City who made the hand-rolled cigars earned good wages for the times and had a certain amount of control over their work day. Because they were paid by the number of cigars they turned out each day rather than by the hour, they set their own rate of production. These cigar makers were entertained as they worked by lectors or readers in a cigar factory by reading books or newspapers aloud while the cigar makers were busy working.

My mother's name Nilba was derived from a character in a novel read by a lector. Fuentes, is a family known for Fuente cigars that are popular world wide and known for excellence. My family and the Fuentes were friends during these early times and have continued friendships through generations.

I have fond memories as a child of spending my summers in Tampa. We would sit at the 1950 retro style kitchen table where were typically the family gathered. The aromatic smells of Cuban Coffee and a quality cigar filled the air. I would watch my grandfather meticulously hand roll the mahogany colored leaves into a cylinder shaped works of art. Then he would place them in a wooden cigar mold that held 8 cigars, he would line them up like tin solders. With great anticipation of sharing his masterpieces with his cigar aficionados. His love for a good cigar continued as did his love for politics. He assisted in many democratic campaigns, where politics cuban coffee and good cigar seems to be one of the best pairings enjoyed by family and friends. When ever I catch the bouquet of a fine cigar it floods my fond memories of a time gone by.

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