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The Cigar Factory
The Cigar Factory West Tampa Library
1718 N. Howard Ave.
Tampa, FL 33607
P: 813-273-3674

The Cigar Factory, 2003
Triptych oil on canvas
Dimensions: 48" x 54"
Artist: Ferdie Pacheco

Artist's Interpretation
A typical day in a cigar factory in West Tampa is represented in this painting.

The cigar workers labored in row-like benches, women, men, whites and blacks mixed without regard to existing segregation laws.

The Lector is the pivotal man, perched on an elevated platform reading to the workers. The first reading was of the Tampa Tribune, translated into Spanish by the Lector. He was given liberty to lecture the workers on whatever theme was appropriate at the time such as: unions, working conditions, international events or local politics. In short, the Lector was the opinion maker for the mostly illiterate immigrants.

A coffee break was taken. In some factories a buchito, a small espresso, was passed out once every hour, in other factories less, and in some none.

After lunch, in most factories, the Lector saved the best for last, the reading of the novel, La Novela. These books were chosen by popular vote. The favorites were the racy books of Balzac, Zola, and Flaubert.

Most labor troubles were fermented by the Lector’s incendiary speeches. In the end after the Big Strike of 1931, and the advent of machine-made cigars, the Lectors disappeared from the cigar factories forever.