Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Rio and I are cleaning out his barn

 I was too busy to get to Rio's barn yesterday, so this morning, it was on my priority "to do" list.  Last night I mentioned I had to get up early today and Dad wanted to know why.  I said I was going to muck out Rio's hay barn.  Dad responded, "You don't have to do that.  He will just fill it up again."  I said I knew, but I liked doing it--"it makes me happy."  He smiled and said, "Then it doesn't take very much to make you happy if shoveling horse s*** will do it."  I had to smile then.

It's true most of the time: it doesn't take much to make me happy.  Oh, don't misunderstand--I can get my unders in a wad with the best of them, but generally, it is for a good reason.  It's one thing to complain about things that don't matter, but quite another to be angry over injustice--at least in my book.
After I fed Rio this morning, and heard his welcoming nicker and his eyes were not looking so sad, I put on my working pants and headed out to the barn with my shovel and rake and a bucket.  Rio looked up from his spot under the trees and walked back toward the barn to check out what I was doing.
I walked out to meet him, having earlier placed treats in my pocket, and he nuzzled a carrot cube from my hand.  He stood beside me, looking at the spot where Jenny had laid down and died.  Yesterday, it was the perfect little imprint of her body, the outline of head, ears, tail, all clearly impressed in the soft ground and grass.  I had thought I wanted to make a picture of it--I'm not sure why.
Today, it does not resemble little Jenny at all, just looks like any other spot in the pasture.  I thought how that is so much like life in many ways.  We try to cling to things that connect us to important people, events, things...and then sometimes, they disappear anyway.  I have been experiencing that a lot lately it seems, and it is a reminder of the importance of not getting attached to things that are fleeting.  I don't think that means not being attached in the sense of caring, but that we should not be so dependent upon maintaining the connection that we lose sight of connection in the grander scheme of things.

I was right about one thing, though, and that is Rio was less sad and bereft while I was out working in the corral and pasture today.  I ended up spending the entire day out there, and indeed, I was happy all day long.  Rand said, "Turns out horse poop is an antidepressant."  Rio stood behind me watching, and when I refilled his hay manger after finishing cleaning, he stood with his head in the hay storage barn, munching on a little bit that dropped off the pitchfork.  I asked him to move over and let me get back in with the pitchfork to put it away.  He looked at me for a minute, chewing thoughtfully...and then stepped aside.  I love that horse.
 After I had done all that work on the barn, and clearing the trails I walk down to get to the hay barn, I figured I might as well clean out the water trough.  Turns out that little spigot on the bottom that was supposed to make it easy to empty...won't open.  I think there must be a little tool needed, something similar to an Allen wrench, and I will see if I can locate one.  I flipped it closed with a screwdriver when we filled it, but it would not open that way today, and Sis said she had not been able to get it open either, so she had done the same thing I was doing--using a plastic jug to empty it one gallon at a time.  Once it is down to a couple of inches, you can tip the trough and rinse it and drain the rest of the water before re-filling.

As always, Rio said thank you for the fresh water.  He came up just after I finished and when I was putting out a little of the hay I had cleaned up from the barn floor to help soak up the water and mud just in front of the trough.  He said he didn't care about no stinkin' mud hole, he just wanted a drink.

Another great lesson in the important priorities in life: clean drinking water, regular feeding, and stand next to me while I walk my path.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Saying goodbye to Jennybelle

 Rio's crying.  When my sister texted this morning to see what time we would arrive this afternoon, she said she needed help...little Jenny died.  She had gone to get the trailer when we got here.  I walked out to the pasture and saw Rio standing out under a tree, so I knew that was where Jenny was.  They think she was hit by lightening during the storm yesterday, but no one knows for sure.  When she did not come up to eat breakfast this morning, Sis went to look for her.
Rio stood silent guard while we loaded her to take her to my sister's land and her final resting place under a stand of trees.  I swear, he was crying.  He seems lost, bereft.  I understand.  I was attached to Jenny, and it was not expected at all--I thought I would feed her supper tonight and she would bray softly while Rio nickered, and that by the end of the week, she would be eating out of my hand again.

Rio stands under the tree where Jenny lay down for the last time here, sniffs the ground, and then walks back up to the barn.  I petted him, his winter coat silky and soft, stroked his face and neck.  In the morning, I'll go work a while in the pasture, cleaning out his hay barn and the water trough, just to be near him and hope he does not feel as alone as he might otherwise.  Perhaps, I won't feel as alone either.
Rest, sweet Jennybelle.  Thank you for the company you gave Rio and for being his faithful companion.  One more path on the uncharted terrain, but thank you for walking it with us.

Friday, November 21, 2014

La Liga Patriotica de Instruccion

 The Patriot League Instruction was located on the corner of 8th Avenue and 14th street, and established in 1889.  Classes were conducted by Don Jose Guadalupe Rivero at night, after the Cuban emigres had completed a day of labor in the tobacco factories.  Ybor City's development was begun in 1885 by cigar manufacturer Vincente Martinez-Ybor.  By the end of 1886, over 3,000 workers had arrived in what would become known as the "Cigar Capital of the World" (Ybor City Historical Page, Baldor Academy Alumni).
 Ybor City hosted many of the mutual aid societies and social clubs that were established to enable those marginalized by race, ethnicity, and immigrant status to successfully cope with and adapt to the often inhospitable environment of the larger US society, while maintaining a connection with their identity and culture.  On the corner of East 7th Avenue and 14th Avenue, for example, is located the "cradle of Cuban liberty" which was a tobacco stripping house converted to a social center in 1886 Ybor City historical marker text).
The Sociedad La Union Marti-Maceo was formed when local Florida segregation forced Afro-Cubans from El Club Nacional Cubana, an organization of black and white Cubans in the independence movement (Ybor City History, Baldor Academy).

Cuba secured independence from Spain in 1898, and the La Union continued to provide mutual aid benefits to members until the 1930s when large numbers of Afro-Cubans fled the south along with African Americans.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


 Hav-A-Tampa cigars originated in the USA in 1901.  The "mild-flavored" cigar had a wood-tip, alleged to ensure a smooth and consistent draw.  Tampa Jewels and Tampa Nuggets were among the brands.
Hav-A-Tampa closes its factory ending an era for the local cigar industry and the city it made synonymous with stogies. (Morales, I., & Zink, J. (June 23, 2009). Tampa Bay Times)
Tampa was known as "Cigar City" since its early years of becoming home to the cigar-rolling industry, fueled by the move of cigar factories from Key West to Tampa with the lure of cheaper land, resulting in the founding of Ybor City community.

The company cited rising taxes (used to fund health care for those in poverty) as one of the reasons for the closure of the factory in Tampa.  Cigars, like other forms of tobacco, were glamorized in the early 1900s by both the movie industry and in print advertisements.  Many a child carried a cigar box to school to hold crayons, and cigar boxes were dressed up with crepe paper or silver foil to become Valentine mailboxes.  We vied for the cigar bands to sport as rings--the graphics seen as intricate art for those of us without real jewelry.

It is ironic in many ways that the phenomenon of funding health care by taxes on a product that causes major health issues continues to disproportionately affect the poor and impoverished.  The rising cost of tobacco use, fueled partly by increased taxes, claims a disproportionate amount of the income of the poor, and those who are more likely to lack health care in the first place.  Any number of studies have provided evidence that children and minorities (most likely to be poor) are targeted by the tobacco industry.

It is also ironic that although we can truthfully claim ignorance up until at least 1963 and the first surgeon general's report that linked tobacco use with lung cancer, emphysema, heart disease, and other ill health factors, that is no longer the case.  While tobacco use is declining as a whole, it continues to represent a danger to the health and well-being of all of us.

Bob Newhart probably said it best in his comedic routine in which he has a "conversation" with Sir Walter Raleigh about the discovery of tobacco (roughly paraphrased from my memory of the 1970s):
Now let me see if I understand this--you take the leaf of this 'to-bac-co', roll it up in paper, set it on fire, and inhale the smoke?  Seems like you could get the same effect sitting in front of the fireplace with the damper closed.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Don Vicente de Ybor Inn

 Don Vicente de Ybor was the founder of Ybor City, after he left Cuba.  In 1895, following building his cigar manufacturing center across the street, he built what was his home for many years.  Vincente moved his cigar factory to Tampa from Key West, primarily because of cheaper land.  Other cigar factories followed.
 With the cigar factories came the immigrants, mostly from Cuba, but also from Spain, Italy, and Romania.  At some point much later, Ybor's home was a hospital and clinic, which operated until 1980.  It became a boutique hotel in 1998, and this year, sold for 2.2 million.
 According to the Tampa Bay Examiner, the hotel is one of Tampa's most haunted places, with a variety of guests and employees reporting sitings of spirits, including a nurse in the basement.  Stories are told of the "mad doctor" who experimented on patients and then burned their bodies in the incinerators of the basement.  Allegedly, room 305 is the "most haunted" with the most frequent sitings.
 Interesting, the hotel is a frequently used venue for weddings and other celebrations.  It has 16 rooms, Persian carpet, chandeliers, canopy beds, and a marble staircase.  Apparently, brides descending that marble staircase is the big drawing card.
 You can also book a room if you are visiting historic Ybor City, with a warning that during the weekends, the neighborhood can be rowdy.
The area was a hotbed for patriots during the Cuban Revolution and the Spanish American war, primarily after one Jose Marti made a rousing speech on the steps of the cigar factory across the street from Vincente de Ybor's home.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

El Pasaje

 "The Passage" was constructed from 1886 to 1888 by Vicente Martinez Ybor, and in 1895 became the Cherokee Club--a gathering spot for the elite.  Architects M. Leo Elliot and B. C. Bonfoey are credited with designing the Italian Renaissance Men's Club in 1917 (AIA Tampa Bay).  Elliot was born in 1886 (Social Security Death Index), the year construction started on the building, so it seems safe to say that perhaps Elliot and Bonfoey did some type of remodeling or renovation in 1917.  El Pasaje originally served as the offices for Ybor's companies.  Ybor developed the concept for Ybor City after cigar factories moved to Tampa from Key West.
 Located on the corner of Avenida Republica de Cuba and 9th Avenue, the imposing building is across the street from Ybor City's original cigar factory, and was the second brick building to be constructed in Ybor City.
 Over the years, several restaurants, a hotel, and other businesses have been located in the building.  Among the Cherokee Club's famous guests were Teddy Roosevelt, Grover Cleveland, and Winston Churchill.
Original wrought iron balconies on the upper floor and iron finials on the roofline were removed sometime after the 1950s according to the NRHP nomination form for Ybor City Historic District (no author, no date).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Macon's Art Deco Guns and Ammo Store

The c. 1880 building that occupies the corner of S. Jefferson and E. Pulaski retains its original rectangular two-story form, and the front of the brick building has been stuccoed (Barrow, 2001, NRHP nomination form).  Simple Art Deco details have been applied to the front, including the green marble stepped surround on the entrance door, glass block windows on the upper floor, and a floriated pattern on the metal grill above the doorway.

The c. 1880 building to the right was originally retail space on the first floor, with paired display windows under three-light transoms.  The second entrance leads to the upper floor which served as a lodge meeting space (Barrow).  Brick dentil molding is featured over the arched windows, which has now been enclosed.  The building does not appear to be in use, and needs some sprucing up!

Visible to the rear of the building is the former Carter's Funeral Home, c. 1930.  Much of that building has been altered, but it still retains the plain brick pilasters and recessed tablet above the second floor windows.
The prominent corner location and style of the building lead me to believe this was originally a bank.