Minson Rubin, aka “Cripp”, Rufus Lewis, aka “Jabo”
By Rose Smith, Contributor
ST. PETERSBURG — Three native sons of St. Petersburg talked about the fun they had as children and teenagers growing up in the “projects.” Born in the mid-1940s, they reminisced about experiencing Jim Crow and other negative attitudes about Blacks people in their city. As children and young teens, they decided not to spoil their fun.
While remembering the fun times, they recalled that they did not know that they were impoverished by that day’s standards. They had fun, food, clothing, shelter, good friends and loving parents. What else was there to life in their youth?
In 2010, Minson Rubin, aka “Cripp,” Rufus Lewis, aka “Jabo” and Willie Felton, aka “Butch,” came up with the idea to celebrate their childhood and teen years by forming a group. The group would be composed of people that enjoyed those days as they did. There you have it, the birth of the JPPNA, the Jordan Park Projects Nostalgic Association. Rubin and Lewis became founders. Lewis was the first president, Rubin was the first vice president and Felton was the first treasurer for the association.
Lewis became a basketball star at 16th Street Junior High School. As the three entered Gibbs Senior High School, Rubin and Lewis dominated the Gibbs Gladiator basketball team. While the three men went on to Gibbs Junior College, Rubin and Lewis became star players with Gibbs Junior College Cobras.
The basketball players, Lewis and Rubin, attribute their success as players to several coaches: Theodore Johnson, Love Brown, Sidney Campbell, William Wysinger, Harvey Hollins, Freddie Dyles, Herbert Dixon and Norman Jackson.
All three achieved successful careers, Rubin in education, Lewis in law enforcement with the Tampa Police Department ( one of the Fearless Four) and Felton was the first of African descent to work in the finance department at the college, was grafted into St. Petersburg Junior College and is now St. Petersburg College.
Unfortunately, Rubin passed last February and did not see his dream of having Coach Freddie Dyles’ name on the Jonathan C. Gibbs Senior School gymnasium. The name was installed right after his passing.
Last year during the pandemic, the Nostalgic Association experienced some growth issues, as did other groups. However, under Shirley Abrams’ leadership, a retired educator, they held their election complying with their bylaws. Lewis was elected president for the 2021-22 period.
Under Lewis’s leadership, the group wishes to continue the Nostalgic Association by celebrating and remembering the fun of their past while bringing joy to their community. They also want to continue to find new ways to celebrate their past and present while looking forward to the future.
Current officers for 2021-22 are Lewis, president, Brenda Gilstrap-Stokes, 1st vice president, Robert ‘Bob’ Perry, 2nd vice president, Louis B. Williams, treasurer, Ruben Mayes, chaplain, Leroy Lewis, Jr., parliamentarian.