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“Cook at de Town Hall,” Port-of-Spain Gazette, 15 December 1907, p. 6
Winer, Lise
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Port of Spain, Trinidad
Port-of-Spain Gazette
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Subjects / Keywords:
Caribbean Area ( lcsh )
Spatial Coverage:
Trinidad and Tobago

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University of Florida
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Port of Spain Gazette 15 December 1907, p. 6 Note: In this poem, a cook is lining up at the Town Hall to pay the rates, i.e. the city house tax, on behalf of her employer. The Town Hall opens at 9 a.m., unlike private businesses where clerks have to open at 7 a.m. Presumably the day is a deadline for payment (quarterly?), hence the long line. Goodwille was a well known Port of Spain grocery store, where the cook could do the shopping before the Town H all open ed Cook at de Town Hall When can we get in at de door? Not tell de clock strikes nin e! An ef we dont obey de law Wes got to pay a fine. De richest merchants comes to town At seven in de mornin. Unless de clerks is down dey frown While de ficials dem is snoring, Ah bes go long to Goodwille Stead awaiting pon de road, Ah jus got time to pay de bill And get back wid me load. Ah see is only harf pas eight By de clock in the church steeple, But watch dem come to pay de rate! Such a crowd amix up people. Mus stand in line? Me God what time I gon fetch de house today! De missis cross like sour lime She gon want to dock me pay. Eh! eh! Bajan1 an de bakra2 Mongst de Creole3 an Chinee, An see de ole yaraba4 Wide de rhematism knee. M, m! de coolie5 man befo me Smell too strang a ile. Ah isnt had me corfe e Ise sure he rouse me bile! De gent behind me basket Leaning gainst de salfish tail, Sure after dis I makes a bet


His clos gon scent too stale! At las me tun is coming but look! Is nearly ten pas ten, Pellau6 takes long time to cook An she ain s o young dis hen, Well! taint me fault ef Ise late to day When de master calls fer brakefuss,7 Hes bes come here hisself to pay An den deyll hear a first rale [rate] cuss! D.D.


1 Bajan Barbadian 2 b akra White person 3 Creole Local person of primarily African descent 4 y araba. Person of direct Yoruban descent 5 coolie Person of East Indian descent (now considered a negative term) 6 Pellau (pelau, pilau) a hearty main dish made of seasoned meat and rice. 7 The earliest meal of the day was tea usually a hot drink and bread or something similar; breakfast was generally the main cooked meal of the day served several hours later around 11 12 oclock. English Version Cook at the Town Hall When can we get in at th e door? Not till th e clock strikes nine! An d i f we don t obey th e law We ve got to pay a fine. The richest merchants come to town At seven in the mornin g Unless the clerks are down th ey frown While th e officials they are snoring, Id best go along to Goodwill e Instead of waiting on the road, Ive just got time to pay the bill And get back with my load. I see it s only hal f pas t eight B y th e clock in the church steeple, But watch them come to pay th e rate! Such a crowd of mix ed up people. Mus t stand in line? My God what time Will I reach the house today! The missu s will be cross like a sour lime She ll want to dock my pay. Eh! eh! Bajan an d the white man Amongst th e Creole an d Chine s e, An d see the old Yor uba Wi th th e rheumatism knee. M, m! th e coolie man befo re me Smells too strong of oil


I havent had my coffee I m sure hell rouse my bile The gent behind my basket Leaning against the salt fish tail, Sure after this I make a bet His clo thes will smell too stale! At las t my turn is coming but look! I t s nearly ten pas t ten, Pellau takes a long time to cook An d she isnt so young this hen, Well! Its not my fault if I m late to day Whe n the master calls f or breakfast He d bes t come here hi m self to pay An d then theyll hear a first [rate] cuss! D.D.