I think the conversation began during a television commercial for Tampax. Yeah, you girls know what I’m talking about. Guys, I hope you know how damn lucky you are that you never needed them. My cramps were so horrible I used to want to cut my ovaries out with an Exacto knife.
My roommate and I were watching this commercial and I was simultaneously ruminating about Tampa. “Ya know,” I began, “the city of Tampa got its name from a Calusa word meaning, ‘sticks of fire’.”
It’s funny to me that Tampa is one letter away from being named after a feminine hygiene product. Did the namers of Tampax think of their tampons as sticks of fire? 🔥 Actually, because I am the Google Queen and I need a crown advertising that, I googled how Tampax did get its name. Seems it’s a marriage of the word, “tampon,” and the phrase, “variety packs.” Kind of lame. I like my story better.
Ok, here’s the male story of a Tampa landmark. This building depicted below was the NCNB Building when it was, err, erected. Many of us Tampans (not Tampons) referred to it as, “The Giant Penis Building.” This was back in the 80’s and 90’s. Back then NCNB was the acronym for the, then thriving, North Carolina National Bank. I had my accounts with them up until 1992 when I moved to Oregon. In fact I wrote the last payment of $2,000 on Brian’s VW Fox on an NCNB check.
So, when NCNB merged with… who knows? the way banks were eating each other, a decade or so after its erection, the building got new tenants or owners or whatever and it was named after the Sykes Corporation. You’d think I’d get some kind of royalties for the privilege of using MY last name. LOL.
The Sykes Corporation also made a huge donation to the University of Tampa and got the school’s business college named after it. It is now the Sykes College of Business, or something close to that. Interesting because my daddy, Benjamin Sykes (Pitt class of 1948), was an accountant, later a comptroller, which is a big fancy accountant.
The University of Tampa has an interesting history. What is now that university began as a resort built by one of Florida’s Two Henrys. The East Coast had Henry Flagler, which Flagler College is named after. My friend, Chelle, graduated from that school a few years back. She was valedictorian of her class. I’m so proud of her and blessed to have her in my life.
Meanwhile, the West Coast had Henry B. Plant, who in my fantasy, is somehow related to my favorite male singer, Robert A. Plant. Hey, it could be. Henry Plant was from Connecticut, close to an area of the country where speakers turn the ending, “a,” sound into an, “er,” sound. For example, “area,”is pronounced, “aree-er,” In one of the globe’s great vowel shifts, this is when a critical mass of humans bring their speech patterns to a new locale, immigrants from the English Midlands settled near Connecticut and planted this speech pattern into their new culture. It is possible that Henry Plant had this speech idiosyncrasy.
Robert Plant is from Wolverhampton, which is near Birmingham, smack in the middle of the Midlands. And for the Zep Heads out there, listen to the opening line of, “Livin’ Livin’ Maid,” from LZ 2. Plant sings, “With a purple umbereller and a fifty-cent hat…”
So, Henry Plant built his hotel on the Hillsborough River and named it, guess what, the Plant Hotel. A hundred, or so, years later his hotel became the foundation of the University of Tampa.
Another Robert P. connection: in the 80’s those minarets were the sites of much college student debauchery. I’ve seen the beer can evidence. Any scholar of rock and roll history is aware of the Led Zeppelin related debauchery. This would be more an example of social, rather than, genetic inheritance. Zeppelin, by the way, had this amazing lead singer who happened to be Robert A. Plant.
Curiously, in rock and roll history, Tampa is Led Zeppelin’s bi-polar city. In 1973 the band broke a concert attendance record when 56,000 plus, mostly stoned fans, crammed into Tampa Stadium. Five years later the band attracted a crowd (I was there) of over 70,000, mostly still stoned fans, who crammed into the same stadium where a thunderstorm interrupted the concert, which got postponed, which caused a riot, which got the band banned from Tampa until Zep disbanded because the death of their drummer, John HENRY Bonham, in 1980.
Thus, doesn’t this all mean I’m Robert Plant’s legal wife?
Or, it could mean I get to attend University of Tampa for free?
I can dream.
P.S. “Major Crimes,” is on the tube, for background noise and, in the story, one of the characters was a resident of Tampa. I swear. I’m not lying.
P.P.S. My dad graduated from Pitt, in three years, in 1948. The same year Robert Plant was born.
See what I mean?
Note: I borrowed all images from the internet.