Federal Writers' Project – Life Histories/2021/Fall/Section010/John Cacciatore
Overview[edit | edit source]
John Cacciatore is a man who lived during the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. He was a cigar maker later in his life and this was his main trade. He originally lived in New Orleans and then moved to Tampa because of the rumors of a great city. It turns out it was far from that. It was all swamp and nasty and the wages were not ideal either. This made it tough for people like him who had full families and had to try and support. Then he started using rental homes as his income and that has not worked out too well. This is because people won’t pay rent and the courts are too expensive for him.
Biography[edit | edit source]
Early Life[edit | edit source]
Cacciatore was born on May 12th, 1860 in the town of Santo Stefano di Quisquina. He grew up on a farm with his father and worked with him for as long as he can remember. All he wanted to do and did was help his father with the farm until he was age 22. This is when he bought his own land where he would again plant wheat, vegetables, horse feed, potatoes, and vegetables. He found this job lasting him a very few years after the tragedy that had struck. He had two children in a span of three years and both of them died shortly after they were born. This was hard on Cacciatore and it forced him to move to the great city of New Orleans.
Life in Tampa[edit | edit source]
Cacciatore moved to Tampa the same year as his second son's death and he was told it was this great city and this luxurious city. When he arrived it was pretty much the opposite. There were swamps, high grasses, and alligators everywhere. This immediately felt like the wrong decision for Cacciatore but it was too late to turn around and he immediately got to work. His first job was working at a produce company as a foreman for about two years. After that he entered the cigar business but wasn’t good enough to make good money so he became a cigar stripper for a short amount of time. Once he mastered his craft of cigar making though that is what he did until he retired. After he retired he decided to rent houses for money but that started an even bigger problem. People would just not pay rent and it would leave Cacciatore in a bind because he wasn’t making any money but he couldn’t take them to court because of the high prices of the court. This left Cacciatore to just having to deal with it and eventually losing his money regardless.
Family Life[edit | edit source]
Cacciatore’s family growing up was a nice and loving family that put him to work. Once he moved out he found his wife and they lived together for about five years until Cacciatore moved to Tampa. Doing this forced Cacciatore to leave his wife back in New Orleans which was not ideal. Cacciatore once he got a stable income in Tampa would send money back to his wife so she could have some additional money to use how she wanted. Eventually his wife moved to Tampa with Cacciatore and was in shock of what Tampa actually was. She expected this beautiful city and what she saw was pretty much the opposite. Once she saw the tall grass and swamps she asked Cacciatore “why did you bring me here.” Cacciatore didn’t really know what to say so they just went on about their lives. They had two more children while in Tampa but only one survived long enough for them to see him grow up. Eventually that cold would have two kids of his own and Cacciatore would be a grandfather in no time.
Social Context[edit | edit source]
Labor Unions[edit | edit source]
Labor Unions were a major part of the workforce in the early 1900’s. This is because they provided many things that people in the south couldn’t offer. Things like retirement help and healthcare which was very important at the time because many couldn’t afford it out of pocket. This forced many people who worked in the south to move into places like New York where they offered these kinds of benefits. This made working in the north more applicable than in the south.
The Cuban Revolution[edit | edit source]
Many Cubans had moved to Tampa because of the increasing amounts of jobs and their skills in the cigar business( Bravo-Elizondo, Pedro). Ybor City was now established as a working community during this time as well. As a city Tampa was a majority Cuban and they all worked very hard and did what they needed to in order to make a living. Jose Marti played a major role in this and was pretty much the George Washington of the Cubans. “In 1886 Vicente Martinez Ybor established a cigar factory in Tampa. From the steps of Ybor's factory, Jose Marti, sometimes called the George Washington of Cuba, exhorted the cigar workers to take up arms against Spain in the late 1800's.” He led them to fight back against Spain in the late 1800’s."(Tampa, History) The Cubans would use cigars to transfer messages back and forth during the time and this would allow them to communicate without actually talking to one another. “Two years later, Marti’s order for the war to begin was smuggled to Cuba inside a cigar rolled at West Tampa’s O’Halloran Cigar Co” (Guzzo, Paul). This allowed for the Cubans to effectively gain independence and even though Jose Marti died in battle his effects were still felt.
Bibliography[edit | edit source]
Guzzo, Paul. 2021. “Tampa Residents Once Had a Direct Role in MULTIPLE Cuban Revolutions.” Tampa Bay Times. Tampa Bay Times. July 21. https://www.tampabay.com/life-culture/history/2021/07/21/tampa-residents-once-had-a-direct-role-in-multiple-cuban-revolutions/.
“Tampa History.” 2016. City of Tampa. January 4. https://www.tampa.gov/info/tampa-history.
Minderhout, David J. 2006. "More than Black: Afro-Cubans in Tampa." American Anthropologist 108 (3) (09): 592-593. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/aa.2006.108.3.592. http://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/more-than-black-afro-cubans-tampa/docview/198090373/se-2?accountid=14244.
“Folder 140: No Author: JOHN CACCIATORE.” 2021. Federal Writers Project Papers. https://dc.lib.unc.edu/cdm/singleitem/collection/03709/id/1009/rec/1.
Long, Durward. “The Historical Beginnings of Ybor City and Modern Tampa.” The Florida Historical Quarterly 45, no. 1 (1966): 31–44. http://www.jstor.org/stable/30145699.
Bravo-Elizondo, Pedro. 1992. "Nicolás Kanellos. "History of Hispanic Theatre in U.S." (Book Review)." The Historian 54 (3) (Spring): 558. http://libproxy.lib.unc.edu/login?url=https://www.proquest.com/scholarly-journals/nicolás-kanellos-history-hispanic-theatre-u-s/docview/1296524428/se-2?accountid=14244.