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Dear Sen. Rubio and GOP Hispanic Delegates, | Susan Clary

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Dear Sen. Rubio and GOP Hispanic Delegates, | Susan Clary

Dear Sen. Rubio and GOP Hispanic Delegates,
Thursday, May 31, 2012 — Susan Clary

It has been 40 years since Florida played host to your party’s convention. We are honored you have chosen Tampa for your August gathering. And we hope you’ll take time to experience our Latin Quarter, called Ybor City.

In the center of the historic district, you’ll find a bronze statue honoring the Northern Spaniards, Cubans, Sicilians, Germans and Romanian Jews who founded and helped build this community.

Ybor came alive in 1886, when Vicente Martínez-Ybor bought 40 acres northeast of Tampa to build cigar factories for himself and his associates. Businesses and farms that supported the cigar industry flourished with mutual aid societies, civic groups and organized labor.

On Seventh Avenue, the neighborhood’s main artery, you can still find some of the beautiful architecture, culinary tastings and culture that made this community so vibrant in its heyday. 

As you walk down the avenue, look at the street signs between 14th and 18th streets, with the word “La Sétima” under Seventh Avenue. Unless you are from Spain, you probably know the Spanish word for seventh spelled as “séptima,” with a letter “p.”

There’s a story behind the signs, one you’ll hear if you visit the Ybor City Museum, take a walking tour or talk to an old-timer.

Ybor City is one of the only places in the United States where immigrants learned a non-native language first. Before learning English, the Italians, Germans and Jewish people from Romania who settled here first learned to speak Spanish. And they learned from Northern Spaniards, from Galicia and Asturias, who spell and pronounce seventh as “sétima,” no “p.”

To honor this unusual footnote in our history, a well-known Ybor native and historian asked members of the Tampa City Council 16 years ago to mark the distinction in the avenue’s street signs.

That man, Frank Trebín Lastra, now 89, wrote the book, Ybor City: The Making of a Landmark Town. It’s available at the Ybor City Museum bookstore. In it, you’ll learn Frank’s father hailed from Galicia, Spain.

You may wonder why I’m telling you about street signs. It turns out that some people who currently live in Ybor City don’t know the history.

They think the signs are slang and misspelled. They’re asking the city council to spend thousands of dollars to tear down Frank’s signs and replace them with “La Séptima.” Their big concern is that when you come to town, you might think we can’t spell.

Can you imagine? They want to replace authentic signs with misspelled ones to try to impress you. Now, that’s embarrassing.

Tampa’s City Council will decide the matter June 7th. Rather than remove the flavor of our heritage, council members would do better to take the money and feature “La Sétima” signs along the entire avenue. 

It would be a kind nod to Frank Lastra, who is bedridden and unable to visit his beloved Ybor City, and a sign of Tampa’s pride in its unique Latin history.

Susan Clary Zayas de Thompson is a former reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and the Orlando Sentinel. Of proud Cuban heritage, her parents’ names can be found on the Ybor City Immigrant Statue in Centennial Park. She can be reached at [email protected]

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Signora Clary (that's Italian in case you didn't know)....I know the man of whom you speak. Your Dad - Signore Clary, a self proclaimed "preservation freak" was part of the small clique that opposed the replacing of the misspelled signs on ...La Séptima. When I "Googled" you I was impressed but am less than amused by your comments. Seeing your credentials - I am shocked you did not check and double check your sources before posting your very biased comment. Please open YOUR very own volumn of Gary Mormino's book - The Immigrant World of Ybor City - and turn to page 245 and read the first sentence of the last paragraph..."As Ybor City matured Seventh Avenue (La Gran Séptima Avenida) evolved as the social magnet for Latins." The rest of the book only refers to Seventh Avenue. And for your information - Professor Mormino is neither Spanish nor a Tampa Native and I spoke with him and he could care less one way or the other. SAD - but if you lack the passion and the love - indifference sets in - in the case of Mormino. With all due respect to your Father - there was only a small group of friends including Angel Rañon, Rafael Martinez Ybor (Vicente's great grandson), Vince Pardo and a few others that were opposed to the CORRECT spelling because they supported their good friend Frank Trebín Lastra who thought it was a great idea to honor HIS book and he himself lobbied the Ybor City Chamber of Commerce, The Ybor City Museum Society and finally got the blessing of the administration at the time. I challenge Mr.Lastra's book where he states that all tabaqueros referred to 7th. Avenue as La Sétima. I have complied a list of loyal supporters who beg to differ with his assertion.

It is believed that as other nationalities came to America (Ybor City) with heavy accents like the Germans, Jews, Romanians - the P accidentally became silent - not through stupidity but through ignorance of the Spanish Langage. No grandparents or tabaqueros I have heard of pronounced it incorrectly. They all know it is a colloquialism/slang and is NOT even a word in Spanish nor Italian. Italian is La Séttima but I am not fighting for Italian because the Spanish/Cuban are the ones that called it that because that is the ONLY way to spell 7th. in Spanish. Hope you learned something Ms. Clary!!!


Susan, you are apparently unaware of the factual history of Tampa. "La Setima" is not a historical term. It is an insult to Spanish-speaking citizens of Tampa and was not a part of Tampa's history until Lastra dreamed it up as an acceptable interpretation of his opinion of the pronunciation of "La Septima." Please allow me propose an analogy: Suppose street signs were put up on Buffalo Ave. with the spelling "Reverundh Mawtin Luthah King Juniah Blvd." How long would those signs have lasted? I've heard it pronounced this way many times. If I was as influential as Frank Lastra, that's how the signs would have been spelled. Why not put up signs with this spelling? Answer: Because it is an insult, and it is disgustingly ignorant. Quit worshiping Frank Lastra, no matter his age, and realize that "La Setima" is not historical. I challenge you to research the spelling and find it ANYWHERE in a historical reference other than Frank Lastra's opinion. What is embarrassing is your opinion expressed as fact. If "La Setima" is a colloquialism, it should have been expressed in quotes on the street signs. Nobody intends to "impress." Those in favor of correcting the spelling only want to correct a stereotypical opinion. Nobody "thinks" the signs are misspelled..."they" KNOW the signs are misspelled. No visitor is going to ask someone walking on the street why it's spelled that way. Do your job and first do some research before expressing your opinions as fact. Look up the writings of Tampa historian Karl Grismer or even well-respected Tampa historian Tony Pizzo. You won't find any of their writings referring to 7th Avenue as "La Setima." If anything, you will find that it was often referred to as "Broadway." (You also won't find them referring to Tampa as "Tampa Bay" other than reference to the body of water, but that's a whole other subject.) Your column refers to you as "Informed Personalities," but I disagree with this entirely. "La Setima" is not the "flavor of our heritage." Your "flavor" leaves a bitter taste in the mouths of many Tampa natives, whether educated or uneducated. Face it, it was just another bad decision by Tampa's city council, not unlike the decision to tear down beautiful historic buildings and Ybor homes, or the replacement of the historic street lamps with the "modern," disgustingly ugly street lights in the 1960s during their urban renewal program. You write, "Unless you are from Spain, you probably know the Spanish word for seventh spelled as “séptima,” with a letter “p.” This implies that persons from Spain don't know that the Spanish word for "seventh" is spelled "séptima." Really, Susan? You might want to add to your article, "is", between "seventh" and "spelled." Grammatically, it should read as "This implies that persons from Spain don't know that the Spanish word for "seventh" IS spelled as “séptima,” with a letter “p.” Factually, it's an insult to Spaniards. I don't write for a living, nor am I a language major, but it is my opinion that those that do should do so correctly and factually, unless their column appears in an editorial section.

Clary - Emiliano J. Salcines wrote the forward for Lastra's book and he is the first name on my supporter list. He states that Lastra's book is the best book ever written about Ybor City BUT the only issue he has is the misspelling of LaSéPtima. He would have come to support us before City Council but was in Spain. Dr. Paul Dosal, Ph.D. - Provost at USF wrote a fabulous letter of support. He is an expert on Latin American and Carribean studies. La Gaceta has traced it sources back to the early 1920's and their is no reference to your ignorant spelling.

ONE MAN - ONE BOOK - who lobbied for HIS VERSION to be placed on our famous 7th. Avenue is self righteous and sad to say the least. I have letters of support from USF Library Archives, Tampa Bay History Center and La Gaceta to remove those ridiculous signs.

RAE states "no es palabra" and refers you to the CORRECT spelling. We all agree on two things - YES - both sides agree - 1.) It is NOT a word and 2.) it is misspelled - where we do NOT agree and NEVER will is where Lastra states that "ALL TABAQUEROS" pronounced it that way. NOT!!! Then you have you supporters(few as they may be) who want to erect markers explaining the misspelling - this is ABSURD and LUDICROUS and only proves your ignorance

You referred to Mormino yet you never checked - Mormino refers to it as "La Gran SéPtima Avenida" and Tony Pizzo, Emilio Del Rio and all authors I can find refer to the correct spelling. And you have the audicity to write a open letter to Marco Rubio -WOW - that's makes me laugh - and if he does read your blubber - he too will know you have NO CREDIBILITY! ABSOLUTELY NO CREDIBILITY! Sayin'! Fran Costantino, leading the effort to replace those ridiculously misspelled and self righteous signs!


Setima IS a real word. Here is the real dictionary definition. Whoever says this is not a real word hasn't done their homework!


Incidentally, from reading some of the posts above, someone should call the Grammar Police.

by Dr. Radut.