A Storyby Barry Gifford
Tampa, Florida, was a sleepy fishing and cigar-manufacturing city in the 1950s, when Roy’s Uncle Buck, his mother’s brother, moved there and went into the construction business. Roy enjoyed visiting Tampa, which was easy to do from either Key West or Havana, the two places Roy’s mother preferred spending time when Roy was a boy, before they went to live in Chicago. Roy’s mother would often leave him with her brother while she traveled elsewhere. Roy was happiest when he got to hang out with his Uncle Buck, taking fishing trips in the Gulf of Mexico or just accompanying him while he did business in Tampa.
One of Buck’s closest associates was his poker buddy, Chino Valdes, who owned the Oriente Bank in Ybor City. Chino’s real first name was Nestor, but everyone, including Roy, called him Chino because his narrow, slanted eyes gave him an Asian appearance.