The Cuban Club

The Cuban Club was founded in company town Ybor City. Town founder and industrialist Vicente Martinez Ybor relocated his cigar factory to the town that bears his name in 1886. Today Ybor City is located just outside of Tampa, Florida.  The Cuban Club was founded as a social space for the Cuban National Club and to this day boasts a cantina, third floor ballroom and its own theatre.

Modern day Cuban Club President Gladys Garcia credits the building with at least half a dozen ghostly presences, but the most distinctive one remains murdered club president Alberto J. Kolby, AKA “El Fumador”, which means “The Smoke” in Spanish.

Garcia has had her own run ins with her ghostly predecessor. She shared an experience of having set two chairs up with space between them. She went about her business and happened to glance back in on the chairs in passing. They had moved close together and the chair on the right was rocking by itself. I got a visual of El Fumador conspiring with a buddy although Garcia didn’t see anyone else in the room.

El Fumador was club president in 1917. He was ensconced a conference room counting cash when charges of skimming off the top caused major dissention among the board members present.

The only facts that are known about what happened next are that El Fumador was accused of stealing from the club. Tempers rose along with a fellow board member who pulled out a gun and shot El Fumador in the face, killing him instantly.

Nobody ever talked about who the murderers were. There was no trial, no justice in the matter. In fact, according to Garcia, the location of El Fumador’s grave is unknown today. I doubt it matters, not like he got much use out of it, as his spirit still resides at The Cuban Club.

Organized crime was a factual part of life in Ybor city as noted by psychic Lori Pablo. I have no doubt El Fumador was in it up to his eyeballs.

This episode strongly suggested El Fumador could be lingering in an attempt to clear his name of embezzlement charges. I respectfully disagree.

I asked El Fumador’s ghost a number of questions, most of which where met with attempts to intimidate or frighten me. I was told to leave him alone or he would kill me. (Yawn.)  He repeatedly chose to show himself to me with his face a mess of red meat following being shot at near point blank range. He remained furious about his murder, screaming at me that, “Nobody takes me out! Nobody!” That was a serious amount of denial since he has been smoked for the last nine plus decades.

El Fumador’s ghost did let a couple of key bits of information drop about his activities and how he was murdered. First of all he said “Of course” he was taking money off the top of the Clubs earnings. What was the point of being in the position of Club President if he didn’t enrich himself in the process? It was expected. He told me his nephew was also on the board and was the one who pulled the trigger. He stated that his nephew was skimming too but got greedy and wanted to pin the graft on Kolby to escape any consequences for his part in the thefts.

This ghost had zero respect for women as the experiences of several patrons who have been scratched by him confirmed. He likes to scratch and has a bad habit of trying to grab women by the shoulder as he did Julie Kennedy to get her attention. I think he was trying to pull her around to face him directly.

El Fumador didn’t confine his activities to the board room where he died. He had been reported by staff and local patrons alike as showing up in the clubs cantina, ballroom and theatre. He also liked to push people down stairs with a fair bit of malice as mother Tina Alft and her young daughter found out the hard way. When Tina demanded El Fumador treat her and her daughter with respect she heard an audible reply of, “We’ll see.” El Fumador even pushed psychic Lori Pablo.

I suspect male investigators might have had better luck with El Fumador, although he certainly managed to freak out local patron Shawn Jones and his friends in the theatre one night. Jones recounted seeing a tall, dark shadow head for the stage. Then some sort of mumbled conversation could be heard followed by footsteps much closer to the investigators. The mumbled conversation was some sort of residual verbal fight Kolby had with a group of actors and elaborately dressed show girls.

I got brief glimpses of the other ghosts populating The Cuban Club. Present President Garcia told the tale of a 1920’s era dancer named Carlita whom was either pushed or jumped from the third floor ballroom balcony after rebuffing the advances of a local heavy. Carlita’s ghost told Garcia and myself she was definitely pushed. She was fairly standoffish, not interested in recounting her story to me yet again. However she did mention she thought she was safe from unwanted advances since at the time of her death she was having an affair with the local top crime boss. Furthermore she expressed satisfaction that her murderer “didn’t live a week” past her own demise. He was executed for killing her.

The ghost of a young boy who haunts the cantina couldn’t sit still. He liked to run around a lot. I saw him at about age eight, running for fun with someone apparently after him as part of a game.

Additional reports of ghosts include an actor in the theatre who doesn’t seem to be aware he is dead. I tried to talk to him but he wasn’t interested in hearing that he was dead, so I left him to his lines.



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(C) 2010 Lynne Olson. All rights reserved.

About Lynne Sutherland Olson

Professional Psychic Medium
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