I’d like to thank 970 WFLA’s AM Tampa Bay and their crew, Jack Harris, Tedd Webb, and Corey Dylan for reblogging I Remember Tampa yesterday. It was in May of last year that I originally posted the video on YouTube. In early June, it started skyrocketing in views after Jack mentioned it on his morning show and posted it on his blog. Since that time, it has been seen over 24,000 times, and that number has been steadily climbing every month. I’d also like to thank Dan Perez for posting it and identifying the sources of all the pictures on his wonderful Tampapix website, which is celebrating its 10 year anniversary this month. And, of course, I’d like to thank The Tampa Natives Show and its hosts, Mario Núñez, Sally Núñez, and Steve Cannella for inspiring the song through their efforts in preserving Tampa’s rich history, and for believing in my work enough to embrace I Remember Tampa as the show’s theme song. Last but not least, I’d like to thank all the fans and followers of these programs and sites for taking the time to view, comment on, and share the video. I know all this activity stems from our mutual love for this city. Something tells me that this video has only scratched the surface of potential views, and that as long as it remains archived throughout the web, future generations will gravitate towards it and keep coming back when they want to reminisce about the experiences here in Tampa.
Christmas in Tampa was special for many reasons, but perhaps the most memorable of them, for me, was the West Tampa tradition that revolved around a stretch of Braddock Street about two to three blocks long. Every year the residents would go all out in decorating their homes for the holidays. Many of the families within our community and throughout the surrounding communities would pile up in their cars at night, ride on down to Braddock Street, and slowly coast by the lit up homes, enjoying the magic that was created in the spirit of Christmas. Some would park, and just walk up and down the block, enjoying the Christmas carols ringing gently through the air, congregating with friends, and stopping in so that their kids could personally say hello to Santa, who would always make an appearance at some point during every evening leading through to the 25th of December. Those precious memories are engrained in the hearts of so many Tampa natives. It was a time of simple pleasures, and the Christmas lights on Braddock Street were as pure, simple, and pleasurable as anything I can remember.
Pictured here is one of the greatest assembly of servers in the history of fine dining. I’ve often compared this picture to that of an elite professional baseball team from the past. It has all the essential characteristics (including a few members of legendary stature) that you might find in one of those classic team shots on an old baseball card or in a collectible program guide. Tonight, one of those legends, Joe Roman, joins many of his former teammates, including my father, Miguel, at that big 5 Star Restaurant in the sky. Joe was a true Hall of Famer, not only in the service industry, but as a husband, a father, and a friend as well. He will be remembered by many as the singing waiter and Ambassador at Tampa’s historic Columbia Restaurant. But I will always remember him as a warm, loving godfather, who did his best to make me feel special whenever he’d see me. Coincidentally, his passing comes right before the holidays. Back in my younger years, the December 24th gatherings at his home in Ybor taught me my first lessons on what it meant to revere Christmas and Family. God bless you, Joe, and may your soul rest in everlasting peace.
Dan Perez has assembled and documented a wealth of information about the city of Tampa, and has made that information accessible through his very colorful Tampapix.com website. There you will find an endless stream of photos depicting life as it is and was in nearly every community that makes up this great city. You’ll find yourself being thoroughly captivated, entertained, and amused by the stories and pictures he’s posted. Stop by today, and browse through this amazing labor of love. It’s a virtual landmark that you’re sure to visit time and time again.
I remember anxiously waiting up on Friday nights for the end of the local news broadcast on WTVT Channel 13. That’s when my favorite program would air…Shock Theater. I would fight sleep in order to watch the scary double feature which might include classics such as Frankenstein, The Wolf Man, The Mummy, Dracula, etc. My love for these films still lives nearly 50 years later. Here is a video I put together featuring many of the monsters that entertained me then and now. Just click on the “Monsters in the Closet” link above the photo. Happy Halloween.
For the past 3 years, Tampa has been the beneficiary of a unique television experience specifically designed to celebrate and preserve the city’s colorful past. Each week, The Tampa Natives Show comes into the homes of thousands of viewers, in the form of a live broadcast that features rare pictures and/or video footage pertaining to carefully selected topics that appeal to those who were either born in Tampa or who have lived here long enough to call this city Home. For the most part, these topics lead fans through an invigorating trip down memory lane–one that leaves them feeling spiritually renewed by the end of what is affectionately referred to as “the fastest 60 minutes in cable braodcast history.” The show’s hosts are Mario Núñez, “Tampa” Steve Cannella, and Sally Núñez, aka, The 15 Minute Girl. With the aid of their phone correspondent, “Hello Dory” Antinori, they invite viewers to call in and reflect on the topic of the hour. You never know who will call: from Olympic Gold Medalist Brooke Bennett to legendary meteorologist Roy Leep…even Mayor Bob Buckhorn has chimed in to praise the show’s efforts. Some of the show’s more memorable moments have featured special guests, such as former pro baseball player and manager Lou Piniella, former wrestling champion Mike Graham, and author John Cinchett. What’s more, if you happen to miss the show, or you just want to see an episode again, you can visit TNS’s website at www.tampanativesshow.com and browse through their archives. There you will find nearly every installment that’s aired since day one. It’s a wonderfully addicting experience and one that seems to be gaining momentum with each passing season. The Tampa Natives Show can be seen live, every Thusday night, at 7:00 p.m., on Brighthouse 950, Verizon 30, Comcast 20, or on the web, at TBCN.org (click “Watch Us”). To get an idea of what the show is all about, watch the video of their popular theme song, I Remember Tampa.
I remember Tampa back in the days when there were three major networks–ABC, NBC, and CBS–and viewers had very limited choices when deciding what channel they were going to watch. Usually, the decision came down to what your favorite programs were, or what movie was showing on any given day or night. That same principle applied to the morning, afternoon, and evening news, as well. Which family of newscasters did you prefer? Who were you more inclined to let into your living room. Here in Tampa, the choice was exceptionally hard to make. The 3 local stations were WLCY Channel 10 (ABC), WFLA Channel 8 (NBC), and WTVT Channel 13 (CBS). They were all equiped with popular and talented crews, and all handled the local news with optimum professionalism. But for me, Big 13 was the one I tuned into more often than not. There was Salty Sol, Andy, Roy, Hugh, Ernie, and a host of other familiar faces bringing us news, human interest stories, event listings, sports, weather, and entertainment updates on a regular basis. You could bank on the same faces, day in and day out, for years at a time, sharing their lives with you. You trusted them. You believed in the pinpoint accuracy of every word that came out of their mouths. And even though mind boggling technical advancements like remote contols and color t.v.’s were beginning to find their way into our homes, the news was still being delivered in a simple, straight forwartd, and figuratively speaking, black and white format. No tricks…no gimmicks…we relied on solid sources and they rarely proved us wrong. Those were the days: before the flood of channels and programs offering alternative points of views on non-newsworthy items invaded the airwaves; before the gossip columns that disguise themselves as newscasts started swaying viewers to their mindless mass communications chatter; and before legitimate newcasters compromised their standards of reporting to try to recapture the markets they lost to the soothesayers. Yes, those were the days, and they won’t be back again anytime soon. But if, by chance, you’d like to momentarily revisit the past, just to get a taste of how it was back then, you’re more than welcome to do so by clicking the following link to the May 17, 2012 archived episode of the Tampa Natives Show: WTVT Big 13. There are some very rare clips and photos featured in this episode. If you happen to be from the Tampa area, you will find them very intriguing. If not, it’s still fun to watch this look back at a time when you were guaranteed to be exposed to true broadcasting professionalism, familiar faces, and news you could trust.
Tony Zappone was a very young photagrapher when he got the opportunity of a lifetime. Days before John F. Kennedy was assasinated, he visited Tampa, FL, and Mr. Zappone was there to capture some timeless images of one of the most beloved presidents in U.S. history. The following paragraph’s are Big 13.com’s account of this special moment in time:
“The day was sunny, mild and clear…somewhere in the mid-70’s. It was perfect Florida weather and excellent for taking pictures. If it was slightly cool in the shade, the adrenalin of JFK’s visit warmed the onlooker’s body to a comfortable temperature. Despite the lack of any serious humidity, Kennedy, apparently a quick change artist, switched his suit three times during his five-hour visit. An aide carried extra clothes in a bag that remained undetected by the press and spectators. He made the changes of clothes in the helicopter on the way to Al Lopez Field, after his appearance at the International Inn and in an anteroom behind the speaker’s platform at Ft. Homer Hesterly Armory.
Air Force One, the official plane of the chief executive, set down precisely on schedule at 11:24 that morning. Members of the local press were taken by bus to the tarmac and assumed their positions atop a flatbed truck loaned for the day by the Florida Steel Corporation. Things were fine until the national press corps stormed out of Air Force One to join us on the truck and more or less took over. I learned the game really fast and edged them off to the side like I owned the place.
Less than a minute later the man I had wanted to see in person for so long walked out the tail exit and down the stairs. Kennedy looked exactly as I had seen him many times on TV, in films, in magazines and in the newspaper. The leader of the free world was just as “bigger than life” in person as I had imagined him to be. He carried a hat in his right hand and hardly let go of it the entire trip. JFK was in Tampa without his admired first lady Jacqueline, who stayed in Washington to care for other business.”
View this moment in Tampa’s rich history, alongside many other memorable images. Visit Tampapix today, and watch the I Remember Tampa video, as you click through the countless links that lead to the sources of each picture in the video. And don’t forget to visit the Tampa Natives Show website, too, where there are archived episodes specifically dealing with WTVT Channel 13, Tony Zappone, and various other topics dedicated to remembering Tampa’s colorful past.