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.
Growing up in West Tampa, there was a learning institution that had nothing to do with formal education, yet some of life’s most valuable lessons were learned there. The name of that institution was West Tampa Little League. In fact, you might say that some kids got their first opportunity at on-the-spot career training there, be it as a future player, coach, umpire, politician, or entrepreneur. One of those kids was a boy by the name of Mark Beiro. He was a few years older than me, and although I can’t say that I knew him personally, it was almost impossible not to know of him. He had one of those vibrant personalities that made him stand out in the crowd. And that personality would ultimately find a place to come alive and thrive in when Mark discovered his true calling, which happened to be behind a microphone. I can remember anxiously approaching the fields on Saturday morning, and hearing him announcing the player’s names with an emphasis and precision that immediately validated each child just for participating. His play by plays made us all feel like we were in the big leagues. He made the games special through the passion he displayed for announcing. And the rest is history. His voice would lead him from the fields of West Tampa to the Tampa Jai Alai Fronton, Professional Boxing, Battlebots, and various radio programs. Through the years, Mark has continued to make a name for himself in the world of broadcasting. This Thursday, he will be a guest on The Tamap Natives Show for the second consecutive week, sharing his memories of growing up in Tampa. Don’t miss your chance to get to know one of Tampa’s legendary personalities. Call in, live, and say hello to Mark Beiro.
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.
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.