During its heyday, 22nd Street South in St. Petersburg, affectionally known as the Deuces, was full of enterprising businesses. The surrounding neighborhoods wanted for nothing; they had it all right there.
One such business, the first owned by an African American in Pinellas County, was named Suncoast Seafood. The owner, Isaac Morris Tampa, offered the community a delicious array of fresh seafood such as different types of fish, most notably mullet, trout, catfish, sheepshead and brim.
He carried other favorites such as shrimp, oysters and blue crabs. Again, the first and only business of this nature along the Deuces during segregation.
Mr. Tampa, a quiet and respectful gentleman, was dedicated to his business and supportive of his community. Many times there were residents who couldn’t buy dinner but could depend on Mr. Tampa extending them credit.
Mr. Tampa’s oldest son, Morris, was often asked to deliver the credited food items to Jordan Park residents. Fortunately, the residents were more than willing to repay him.
Suncoast Seafood was a great community partner and exemplified what a business relationship with its community could and should be: helpful and supportive.
Mr. Tampa was a World War II veteran who served honorably in the military. In 1964, unfortunately, he experienced a debilitating stroke and was hospitalized for an extended period at Bay Pines Hospital. He passed away in 1965.
We honor a life well lived — a St. Pete legend.
This article was part of the 28 days of Black history heard on WUJM – 99.1 FM.