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AMY SCHERZER'S DIARY
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By AMY SCHERZER, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published October 25, 2002


CLANGING WITH THE MAYOR: It's tough to tell who is most excited about the new electric streetcars. The HARTline folks who operate the $53-million line? The TECO executives who created a $1-million endowment and got to name it the TECO Line Streetcar System? Or how about conductor and Mayor Dick Greco, who invited 400 trolley enthusiasts to an appreciation party at Big City Tavern on Oct. 18?

There was no mistaking key players such as Tom Ruddell, who wore a conductor's cap labeled "No. 1." He kept the trolley project on track for 18 years. No. 2 hat belonged to Harris Mullen, a Tampa and Ybor City Street Railway Society founder. Hat No. 3? Attorney Walter Aye. Historian Joan Jennewein, second president of the Railway Society, toted cap No. 4. They and Merchants Association President Dick Swirbul, No. 5, never lost their streetcar desire. They saved hat No. 100 for Greco.

The hat gimmick dates back to 1989, when railway society members first incorporated.

At the party, Tampa Electric president John Ramil, a Tampa native, remembered his parents' lively tales of teen years on the trolley. Across the room, Channelside pioneer resident Kim Markham debated which trolley stop she would use for her frequent jaunts to Ybor City. The Markhams live near two of the 11 stops on the 2.3-mile track.

* * *

PROUD TO BE ITALIAN: The two newest recipients of the Paolo Longo Award, Joseph Caltagirone and Maria Pasetti, earned applause and appreciation Saturday night at the Italian Club. The award honors Longo for a lifetime of perpetuating Italian traditions in Tampa.

Caltagirone, a detail draftsman with the MacEwen Group Architects for 35 years, served L'Unione Italian for 25 years under 10 presidents. A previous recipient, Grace Campisi, introduced the fourth-generation Tampa native as "Mr. Perfection," calling him the club's "unsung hero" and declaring "he isn't finished yet." Caltagirone spoke of Longo, his mentor and dear friend, an active member of L'Unione Italian for 70 years.

Maria Pasetti, "Ms. Scrapbook," received the award as tour guide, historian and cultural curator of the club's museum. In his introduction, Rene Gonzales of the Spanish Lyric Theatre called her "eternally young, eternally enthusiastic." That suited Pasetti and the many guests who stayed on to dance to the equally Italian Rat Pack Too.

More streetcar memories stirred that evening. Lillie Cacciatore recalled that it took two trolleys to get to Wilson Jr. High School from her West Tampa home -- one to the Tampa Bay Hotel, now the University of Tampa, and the second to Hyde Park. Grace Guinta said the streetcar stopped in front of her home, which was the family grocery store on the street now known as Columbus Drive.

* * *

IF WALLS COULD TALK: Imagine if the faces on the wall at the Palm started talking. The original 200 would welcome the 60 new mugs added since the trendy Westshore Plaza restaurant opened. On Oct. 15, ebullient general manager David Crusoe closed the restaurant to all but 300 guests invited to celebrate the first year of business. Crusoe knew just about everyone by name, where to find them on the wall and probably whether they prefer medium or medium rare.

New additions to the Wall -- media faces and Palm regulars -- grabbed a pen and signed their caricatures. Others concentrated on devouring 300 pounds of colossal stone crabs on the first day of the season. (That's why the date was set for October. The first-year anniversary was really July 26.) Also on the buffet: 600 pounds of Maine lobster; 100 pounds of jumbo white pearl shrimp and 100 pounds of prime tenderloin. That went down easy with 150 bottles of champagne.

Throughout the party, live music kept coming from John Shaw, steel drum percussionist with the Florida Orchestra; the Men of Note, a cappella quartet of Busch Gardens; and Fred Johnson, jazzman at the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center.

Crusoe invited 14 community groups to display their stuff, but chose the Boys & Girls Club to receive $5,000. Crusoe was a club member as a kid in Las Vegas and now sits on the Tampa board of directors.

"We're celebrating that's it great to be in Tampa Bay," said Crusoe.

* * *

THINK PINK: "In the pink" usually refers to a healthy glow. Last week, "Think Pink" was the buzzword for three days of breast cancer awareness. On Oct. 17, about 50 patrons paid $50 each to the Tampa chapter of the American Cancer Society for hors d'oeuvres at a private club, Marcelina. They circled the dining room table and a silent auction of mostly pink things from Palma Ceia's DKM Accessories. Breast cancer survivor Lori Taylor spoke of the importance of family during her ordeal. Her mother, Tampa council woman Mary Alvarez, also a survivor, had planned to speak but was delayed at a zoning hearing.

On Friday, 15 women qualified for free mammograms on a screening bus at St. Joseph's Women's Hospital Breast Center. On Saturday, more than 3,000 people, including 400 survivors, participated in the 5-mile Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walk-a-thon.

* * *

CHILLIN' ON THE CHANNEL: It was a mellow Sunday evening at "Island Rhythms," the Davis Islands Garden Club concert on the lawn. About 200 dinner picnickers spread their blankets and ate beneath a full moon while listening to steel drums. Members of the Miata Club parked themselves -- and their red, white and blue convertibles -- on the grounds. Chairman Judy McCormick and ticket taker Judy Munson were thrilled with the turnout, considering there was a Bucs game on TV at the same time. The most popular silent auction item: two tickets to a Florida Gators homecoming game.

* * *

CORRECTION: My apologies to Leonard Stone and Frank Fox, whose names were transposed in a photo caption in last week's Diary. That was Leonard Stone, executive director of the Florida Orchestra, on the far left and Frank Fox, Amadeus co-chairman, on the far right.

-- To pass along tips to Amy Scherzer, reach her at 226-3332 or scherzer@sptimes.com.

Datebook

TONIGHT: Nauti-Night Masquerade benefit for the Florida Aquarium; 8 p.m.; open bar, catering by National Association of Catering Executives; music, costume contest; Florida Aquarium; $50, members; $70, nonmembers; 273-4568.

TONIGHT: SMAsquerade, Hannah's Buddies support spinal muscular atrophy research; food, music, prizes; 8 p.m.; Cuban Club, 2010 Avenida Republica de Cuba; $55; 259-8097.

WEDNESDAY: "Here and Now" fashion seminar and continental breakfast benefits Las Damas de Arte; 8:30 a.m.; Neiman Marcus; $10; 839-1471.

NOV. 2: Pavilion XVII benefits Tampa Museum of Art; dinner, dancing, auction; 6:30 p.m.; 600 N Ashley Drive; $350 and up; 2nd Wave, 10:30 p.m., $100; 274-8294.

NOV. 7: March of Dimes Gourmet Chef's Auction; samplings from 25 restaurants; 6:30 p.m.; A La Carte Pavilion; $40; 287-2600.

NOV. 8: Volunteers of America Patriotic Tribute Dinner Dance benefits Florida Veterans Mobile Service Center; 6 p.m.; A La Carte Pavilion, $50; 282-1525, Ext. 980.

NOV. 9: Zoofari food festival benefits Lowry Park Zoo; tastings from 80 restaurants; 7-11 p.m.; $70 advance; $80 day of event; 935-8552, Ext. 276.

City Times: The rest of the stories

  • Finding comfort in ghosts
  • Despite beauty, trees pose problems
  • The life of the party
  • Electric company
  • Fiction in the kitchen
  • A century of stories, gardening, friendship
  • Lord Hill on history's losing side
  • Mama Guava leads us on
  • Neighbors frown at Ybor City club's gag
  • Upgrades to UT begin with street changes
  • Gourmet grocery will take Giancola's spot
  • A new place to play and learn
  • Neighborhood notebook
  • Two say 'I do' amid medieval trappings
  • To my fans, with love
  • Developers plan to save landmark built in 1925
  • Bay area noted for sprawl
  • Textures, hues adorn house
  • Home accents and gift shop supplies Lutz homeowners
  •  
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