YBOR CITY — As a child, when Lloyd Carrera visited the Cuban Club, his mother always pointed to a photograph on the wall.
“Mom would say, ‘That’s your grandfather,’ ” Carrera, 54, said recently.
On July 19, standing in the club’s lobby, Carrera was surrounded by others who shared his heritage as descendants of Eladio Paula gathered to celebrate the man whose picture was on the wall. Paula was the first president of the club, serving from 1902 to 1908.
Carrera organized the Ybor City event, which also included the installation of a marker in Paula’s name outside the Ybor City State Park Museum. It was in conjunction with a family reunion, organized by extended family members. Carrera, a 1978 graduate of Hillsborough High School who now lives in Virginia, said he thought the celebration at the Cuban Club would, “help keep the culture alive.”
The program included current Cuban Club President David Capote bringing greetings.
“This event shows the history — and it shows this organization is still here 112 years later,” Capote said. “It is nice to honor our forefathers.”
It also included historian Walter Reyes speaking about his research on Ybor City.
“Tampa is a city that is a melting pot of ethnic groups,” Reyes said.
Clubs, like the Cuban Club, were created as Mutual Aid Societies for the different groups that arrived as immigrants in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
Paula and the other founders “created something like a dream — a necessity of survival,” Reyes said. “It provided medical assistance, a pharmacy and a place of camaraderie.”