NPR logo

Cigar Stories

Only Available in Archive Formats.
Cigar Stories

Lost & Found Sound

Cigar Stories

Lost and Found Sound: El Lector - He Who Reads

Cigar Stories

Only Available in Archive Formats.
A portion of the painting by Ferdie Pacheco showing a Lector reading to a group of cigar rollers.

A portion of "Literary Disagreement" by Ferdie Pacheco hide caption

toggle caption
Portrait of Lector Joacquita de la Llana, crossing his legs and sitting on a chair.

Portrait of Lector 1929 Joacquita de la Llana, Lector of Martinez Ybor. Courtesy of USF-Tampa Special Collections hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of USF-Tampa Special Collections

Produced by The Kitchen Sisters (Nikki Silva and Davia Nelson) with Laura Folger.

At the turn of the century until the 1930s in the cigar factories of Tampa and Ybor City, a well dressed man in a panama hat with a loud and beautiful voice sat atop a platform and read to the cigar workers as they rolled. These readers, known as Lectores de Tabaqueres, read Cervantes, Zola, Victor Hugo, Karl Marx, Jules Verne... It was the voices and words of these lectores - before radio and mechanization, who informed, organized, and incited the cigar workers, who labored by hand 'til the 1930s, when both the rollers and readers were replaced by mechanization. A lost tradition of story and smoke.

Narration by Andy Garcia for Lost and Found Sound.

Special Thanks To: Descarga Latin Music.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.