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Thread: Numba Tree

  1. #1
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 20,458

    Numba Tree

    It's been a few weeks since I posted a memory of SBH. This is a memory from many years ago. I may have posted it way back then, but I'm not finding it through the Search function. This is the story of Numba Tree.

    At least once on each trip to SBH I go to Le Select for a “Cheeseburger et Pomme Frites”, or a Cheeseburger and French Fries in English. Le Select is a corner bar with an outside patio, and a grill at the end of the patio where you can get burgers and fries. Nothing fancy, and smoking is allowed.

    Things are pretty much the same today as they were then. There was no table service – you went to the bar window to order drinks, and you went to the grill to order food. The window opens into the bar and the bartender. The grill is staffed by a line cook and a cashier. The cashier takes your order, and at that time gave you a wooden square with a number on it. When your food was ready the cashier called out your number over a public address system. When you heard your number you would return to the grill, return your number, pay for your food, and go back to your table to eat. It’s a simple system, and it worked well.

    There has never been any real difference in the numbers – they’re just numbers, and they’re given out in no particular order. But, for me, there was something special about being Number 3 at Le Select. The cashier at that time was fluently bilingual in French and English, but spoke English with a strong West Indian accent which I found to be very pleasing.

    When my order was ready, and she called out “Numba Tree, Numba Tree, Numero Trois, Numero Trois” I smiled… my heart melted a little bit at the sound of her voice and accent… and I went get my food…

    And that’s the story of “Numba Tree”.

  2. #2
    Izzy is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Mar 2016 Posts: 665

    Re: Numba Tree

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinS View Post
    … my heart melted a little bit at the sound of her voice and accent… And that’s the story of “Numba Tree”.

    Three thinkers were thinking how did the thousand thieves go through there... thanks for sharing your lost (I presume) opportunity to serve as Professor Higgins* and provide some tongue-twisting tutelage... and move on to lesson 2 - three squirrels in the tree...

    Dental (or interdental) fricatives, spoken with the tongue between the upper and lower teeth, occur in fewer than 10% of languages but, somewhat interestingly, many common English words contain one. French is said not to have them but I hear a suggestion of one in some words (e.g., théâtre).


    *Although I prefer Julie's complete Eliza, this has only audio and stills - nothing against Audrey and "ghost singer" Marni in the prior clip though...




  3. #3
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 26,498

    Re: Numba Tree

    Thank you for this Izzy. Does anyone know who replaced her in the original Broadway cast? I am pretty sure that Edward Mulhare replaced Rex Harrison.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  4. #4
    Cwater is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Feb 2016 Long Island Posts: 472

    Re: Numba Tree

    Thanks Kevin for a great story and great memories. 1st time Cheryl and I went to St. Barth we had to go and visit Le Select the restaurant that all the locals said was a must visit. Immediately we were swept up in the casual Island experience. While we had to cancel this year we look forward to next year with anticipation. Keep these stories coming. They warm my heart on a chilly Long Island morning

  5. #5
    Izzy is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Mar 2016 Posts: 665

    Re: Numba Tree

    Quote Originally Posted by amyb View Post
    Thank you for this Izzy. Does anyone know who replaced her in the original Broadway cast? I am pretty sure that Edward Mulhare replaced Rex Harrison.

    Hint: someone who was truly scrumptious replaced Julie Andrews.
    Answer: biography here

    More Broadway trivia to return to "Numba Tree": Following three British Eliza's (Pamela Charles was #3), who was the first American to play the role regularly on Broadway?
    Answer: Find out by playing along with panelists Tom Poston, Betty White, and Johnny Carson.

  6. #6
    GramChop is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Austin, Texas Posts: 17,242

    Re: Numba Tree

    I remember those little yellow (I believe) numbered blocks and the voice of the number-caller, Kev; is she the one who passed away a few years ago? I also recall a vibrant thread on this forum when the blocks were replaced with technology.

    Thanks for the smile-inducing reminder of simpler times.
    The waves of the sea bring me back to me.

  7. #7
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,988
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party Memorial -- June 5, 2023

  8. #8
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 26,498

    Re: Numba Tree

    Thanks Izzy..you once again have come through for me. To tell the truth, I could not have come up with Margot Moser if my life depended on it.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  9. #9
    elgreaux is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2003 Saint Barth Posts: 10,633

    Re: Numba Tree

    Even my very posh friends from Trinidad say "tree" for three, it's the way they learn it in school, as Izzy says very few languages that that "th" sound.. even Théatre in french has the hard T, no hint of an H... it's more like tay-atre.... like a cup of tay (thé) or tea...which is also why a lot of French speaking people say muzzer & bruzzer, etc..

    love Kevin's numba tree story!

  10. #10
    islander is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: May 2005 Posts: 1,579

    Re: Numba Tree

    Correct. In fact, the "h" in French is a silent letter (with a few exceptions). It is actually very difficult for us to pronounce the "th". We make fun of ourselves about it.... Many locals learnt West Indian English, not Shakespeare's English. It has its own charm. Feeling irie.

  11. #11
    cassidain is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Ailleurs Posts: 6,581

    Re: Numba Tree

    Quote Originally Posted by islander View Post
    In fact, the "h" in French is a silent letter (with a few exceptions).
    tout à fait. le « h » muet et le « h » aspiré.
    Fils du Sud - Ministre de la Santé

    If I can't wear my Havaianas, I ain't goin'...ÀMHA

  12. #12
    KevinS is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jul 2003 Boston Posts: 20,458

    Re: Numba Tree

    Quote Originally Posted by GramChop View Post
    I remember those little yellow (I believe) numbered blocks and the voice of the number-caller, Kev; is she the one who passed away a few years ago? I also recall a vibrant thread on this forum when the blocks were replaced with technology.

    Thanks for the smile-inducing reminder of simpler times.
    No, the person you are referring to was Nadia. The Numba Tree woman is a different person.

  13. #13
    Izzy is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Mar 2016 Posts: 665

    Re: Numba Tree

    Quote Originally Posted by islander View Post
    ...Many locals learnt West Indian English, not Shakespeare's English. It has its own charm. Feeling irie.
    Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounc'd it to you, trippingly on the tongue...

    Shakespeare in original pronunciation (OP) has many differences to modern English which undoes some rhymes, loses some puns, and changes, or at least obscures, some meanings... This video is a good discussion, as is the podcast linked to the quote from Hamlet...

  14. #14
    amyb is online now
    SBH Insider Joined: Apr 2008 Glen Cove,L. I., NY Posts: 26,498

    Re: Numba Tree

    So informative...thanks for today’s English lit experience.
    Remember Yesterday, Dream About Tomorrow, But Live Today.

  15. #15
    Dennis is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Apr 2004 Austin, TX Posts: 9,556

    Re: Numba Tree


    That dude that dropped the "yum brands" reference is a hoot!

  16. #16
    JEK is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Jan 2004 In the ether . . . Posts: 51,988

    Re: Numba Tree

    Just another Forum Cowboy.
    The Marius 100th Birthday Party Memorial -- June 5, 2023

  17. #17
    Dennis is offline
    Senior Insider Joined: Apr 2004 Austin, TX Posts: 9,556

    Re: Numba Tree

    Quote Originally Posted by JEK View Post
    Just another Forum Cowboy.
    The stories I could tell...

  18. #18
    GramChop is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Jul 2007 Austin, Texas Posts: 17,242

    Re: Numba Tree

    Quote Originally Posted by KevinS View Post
    No, the person you are referring to was Nadia. The Numba Tree woman is a different person.
    Thanks for the feedback, Kev.
    The waves of the sea bring me back to me.

  19. #19
    Izzy is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Mar 2016 Posts: 665

    Re: Numba Tree

    Quote Originally Posted by amyb View Post
    ...thanks for today’s English lit experience.
    To connect to the numba tree, here is an unholy trio prophesying doom through three apparitions in a Shakespearean tragedy that opens with "Where shall we three meet again in thunder, lightning, or in rain?"... the three visions should have been enough but the recipient asks for and gets another, after which he is never the same...

  20. #20
    debd is offline
    SBH Insider Joined: Dec 2005 CT Posts: 1,015

    Re: Numba Tree

    Another great SBH story, Kevin. Sure made me smile.

  21. #21
    Trinigerl is offline
    SBH Member Joined: Apr 2007 Trinidad/Houston Posts: 105

    Re: Numba Tree

    Quote Originally Posted by elgreaux View Post
    Even my very posh friends from Trinidad say "tree" for three, it's the way they learn it in school, as Izzy says very few languages that that "th" sound.. even Théatre in french has the hard T, no hint of an H... it's more like tay-atre.... like a cup of tay (thé) or tea...which is also why a lot of French speaking people say muzzer & bruzzer, etc..

    love Kevin's numba tree story!
    Yes Ellen I can relate after 30 years living in the USA I still say tree and everyone laughs about it.

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