Saturday, December 8, 2012

Little Vignettes of Memory

The Fountain room decked out for Christmas at the Columbia Restaurant


I have grown up in the tropical city of Tampa. It is a city rich with history, but has now forgotten much of what made it so special. Tampa needs to embrace its past and revitalize an incredible energy that beat with Latin music and culture.  It is a port city that brings many cultures to its doors.  Long before Florida had roads built through the marshes and swamps coastal ports and rivers were the lifeline of travel and goods. 

photo by Elizabeth Gordon

Tile detail exterior of Columbia Restaurant

 When I was a child bananas came straight off the boat from Cuba. My Aunt Josephine bought them by the stalk and we carefully checked them for tarantulas!  Ybor city was still Cuban, filled with wonderful restaurants and fabric stores that carried cloth straight from Spain that my Mother cherished. The cigar factories that brought the Cuban and Italian workers to our city were still busy making the worlds cigars. We spent days walking the streets, hearing the vendors call out Deviled Crabs, Deviled Crabs here.  Wrapped in a thin crisp paper and served with tabasco sauce they were a true specialty. 

Tile Details on the outside of the Columbia Restaurant 
But our true delight was to go to the Columbia Restaurant and have a Cuban sandwich and spanish bean soup.  And even as a child I was allowed sips of Cafe Con Leche.  The restaurant takes up an entire city block and much of the exterior and interior is imported from Spain.  It was like Disney world for me when I walked through those doors.  The delight of foreign smells, the Cuban waiters with their starched red cumber buns singing as only the Spanish men can, the snap of the castinets as the flamenco was gracefully performed-I felt as if I had entered another world. 
Today I sat in the room I went with my Mother and my brother as a child and soaked in the pleasant memories.  A glance here and there, the details so etched in my memory, I felt as thought I was time traveling backwards in time.  Today I sat and sipped a cafe con leche slowly with delightful pleasure and smiled peacefully satisfaction-I am home!

This room was the cafe at the Columbia when I was a child, the cheaper room for sandwiches and soup

As an artist what I would like you to focus on is taking an odd angle or just what the glance out of the corner of your eye might be.  Our eyes see so much, but we forget to really look.

Detail of the Columbia Restaurant    photo by Elizabeth Gordon
TAMPA               YBOR CITY

Sangria pitchers drying at the bar of the Columbia Restaurant      photo by Elizabeth Gordon
CUBA                              ITALY

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