Con Safo (written as C/S) means many things to different people, depending on who you are, where you are from, and when you were growing up. If you were a 15th century Moorish sailor, you might have yelled “CONZAFOS” to mean your ship was loosened from its dock at port and sailing free and unimpeded out to sea. If you are a 21st century hipster, you might have it tattooed without knowing its significance, other than it is graphically pleasing.
I became aware of term at about the same time I started to notice that boys were interesting. It was in the seventh grade at Mark Twain Junior High near downtown San Antonio. It was “B.FB.”, before Facebook, so our relationship status was announced on our book covers. We would draw a heart and in it write our name along with our beau’s name. We’d always end it with a c/s. To us, it meant “always and forever”: a relationship true and real. It was also a warning—don’t mess with this relationship, because it is true and real. This relationship is protected, treat it with respect.
My high school friends recall using it to mean it was the “last word” on something. It was especially useful to end an argument that had no resolution. Someone would passionately express their point of view and end it with a punctuating “Con Safo!” meaning “that’s it, that’s the last word and here it ends.” Y aí, se acabó. En punto! An article in the San Antonio Express-News titled “You Know You’re From San Antonio if . . .” includes “You know you’re from San Antonio if you use con safo.” It’s an intangible part of our San Antonio heritage.
Over centuries and generations, the word has transformed and had many meanings, including: “to be treated with respect,” “not to be disturbed,” “the last word,” “always and forever,“ “to be protected,” “to conserve, to preserve and to protect.” But always about something you’re passionate about — something that comes from the heart. That’s why we’ve chosen “Con Safo” as the motto for a campaign that asks you to tell us what places and people you’re passionate about. What or who do you think should be protected and respected?
It could be where you learned to roller skate, the place where the best high school graduate party ever occurred, a tree where family birthday piñatas are swung, where your grandparents were married, or it could even be your grandparents!
Take a photo of the person or place you have chosen, post it, tweet it, or e-mail it to us using #ConSafoSanAntonio. Make sure to tell us where your place is located and a little explanation of why it’s important to you. Or come by our office and pick up a yard sign, place it in front of the place you want respected.
Claudia Guerra, Cultural Historian, San Antonio Office of Historic Preservation