Author Topic: Move over Tampa, Jax is Florida's forgotten Cigar City  (Read 2842 times)

Metro Jacksonville

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Move over Tampa, Jax is Florida's forgotten Cigar City
« on: October 27, 2015, 07:10:01 AM »

I-10east

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Re: Move over Tampa, Jax is Florida's forgotten Cigar City
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2015, 08:36:18 PM »
Swisher in New Springfield? I always considered it to be in the Eastside AKA 'Out East'.

thelakelander

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Re: Move over Tampa, Jax is Florida's forgotten Cigar City
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2015, 08:55:53 PM »
Eastside is on the east side of the railroad tracks. Swisher is on the west.
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Tacachale

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Re: Move over Tampa, Jax is Florida's forgotten Cigar City
« Reply #3 on: October 28, 2015, 11:42:09 AM »
What an awesome article. Jacksonville's cigar history is fascinating.

The most noteworthy person ever to come from Florida, James Weldon Johnson, was tight with the Cuban cigar factory circle in Jacksonville. His father was the headwaiter at the St. James Hotel, and learned Spanish to better communicate with the influx of Cuban and Latin American guests at the hotel. He taught his two sons the language as well. The Johnsons made the acquaintance of Sr. Echemendia, one of the heads of the El Modelo cigar factory, and a wealthy Cuban named Ricardo Ponce. They asked if a young Afro-Cuban man that Ponce was "much interested" in might stay with the Johnsons to study and learn English. The boy was named Ricardo Rodriguez (he later changed his name to "Ricardo Rodriguez Ponce") and he became one of James Weldon Johnson's best friends; they eventually went off to Atlanta University together. Ricardo introduced James to smoking, which later caused them both trouble at college, which prohibited smoking.

Johnson tapped his knowledge of the Jacksonville cigar industry and its Cuban population in his novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (which is fiction, not a real autobiography). In Chapter 5, the nameless narrator, a light-skinned black man who can pass for white, goes to Jacksonville and finds work in a Cuban cigar factory. Johnson portrays 19th-century Jacksonville as an unusual place where the strict Southern color barrier was somewhat less harsh. He calls the cigar industry the "one trade where the color-line is not drawn", as it employs black and white Cubans and African-Americans all together. The narrator works his way up to the prestigious position of "reader" (a guy who reads the papers out loud while factory workers worked) and nearly settles down in Jacksonville before the factory closes and he moves on to New York. The book, and this chapter in particular, are very remarkable for something written in 1912, the height of the "Nadir of American race relations".

You can read a public domain version of the book here; the Jax chapter is here.
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Adam White

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Re: Move over Tampa, Jax is Florida's forgotten Cigar City
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2015, 11:45:52 AM »
What an awesome article. Jacksonville's cigar history is fascinating.

The most noteworthy person ever to come from Florida, James Weldon Johnson, was tight with the Cuban cigar factory circle in Jacksonville. His father was the headwaiter at the St. James Hotel, and learned Spanish to better communicate with the influx of Cuban and Latin American guests at the hotel. He taught his two sons the language as well. The Johnsons made the acquaintance of Sr. Echemendia, one of the heads of the El Modelo cigar factory, and a wealthy Cuban named Ricardo Ponce. They asked if a young Afro-Cuban man that Ponce was "much interested" in might stay with the Johnsons to study and learn English. The boy was named Ricardo Rodriguez (he later changed his name to "Ricardo Rodriguez Ponce") and he became one of James Weldon Johnson's best friends; they eventually went off to Atlanta University together. Ricardo introduced James to smoking, which later caused them both trouble at college, which prohibited smoking.

Johnson tapped his knowledge of the Jacksonville cigar industry and its Cuban population in his novel, The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (which is fiction, not a real autobiography). In Chapter 5, the nameless narrator, a light-skinned black man who can pass for white, goes to Jacksonville and finds work in a Cuban cigar factory. Johnson portrays 19th-century Jacksonville as an unusual place where the strict Southern color barrier was somewhat less harsh. He calls the cigar industry the "one trade where the color-line is not drawn", as it employs black and white Cubans and African-Americans all together. The narrator works his way up to the prestigious position of "reader" (a guy who reads the papers out loud while factory workers worked) and nearly settles down in Jacksonville before the factory closes and he moves on to New York. The book, and this chapter in particular, are very remarkable for something written in 1912, the height of the "Nadir of American race relations".

You can read a public domain version of the book here; the Jax chapter is here.

Thanks for that. Very interesting.
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thelakelander

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Re: Move over Tampa, Jax is Florida's forgotten Cigar City
« Reply #5 on: October 28, 2015, 11:24:45 PM »
Pretty cool Tacachale. Thanks for the link!
"A man who views the world the same at 50 as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” - Muhammad Ali