Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Childhood memories

When I was a teenager, my parents had a well-stocked bar and they often entertained their friends, other couples mostly, usually after a round of golf. They were like-minded military families. Many times I would come home from school and they had gotten an early start on the evening at the bar. My parents were martini drinkers. I've got an image in my mind of Mama sitting at the bar (which was complete with barstools) swirling an olive around in a martini glass, showing off her great legs.

I always thought martinis tasted awful, like I imagined rubbing alcohol would taste. My parents also had a record player and would play music sometimes, but I especially remember an album they had by Tom Lehrer.

Tom Lehrer is a very interesting person, and in thinking about this post, I looked him up (naturally) on Wikipedia, to find to my amazement that he is still alive. He's now 82 years old, and when he was young (and also when I was young), he wrote wicked satirical songs and put them into this album. He was a professor of mathematics at MIT and then at the University of California Santa Cruz, and according to that link,
In 1972, he joined the faculty of the University of California, Santa Cruz, teaching an introductory course entitled "The Nature of Mathematics" to liberal arts majors—"Math for Tenors", according to Lehrer. He also taught a class in musical theater. He occasionally performed songs in his lectures, primarily those relating to the topic.
It's not Tom's fault that almost on a daily basis I can still hear inside my head the lyrics from one of his songs, "When You Are Old and Grey." My dad loved to sing it loudly to Mama when he was "three sheets to the wind," if you know what I mean.  I guess it's because now I get it on a very personal basis.
Your teeth will start to go, dear,
You waist will start to spread.
In twenty years or so, dear,
I'll wish that you were dead.
I'll never love you then at all
The way I do today.
So please remember,
When I leave in December,
I told you so in May.
Reading that link above about Tom Lehrer, if you know nothing about him, will be an education. He only wrote a few songs and made two albums, but he has had quite an influence in the world. Once when Princess Margaret was given an honorary degree in the UK, she cited her musical tastes as being "catholic, ranging from Mozart to Tom Lehrer." This led to his music becoming quite well-known when the BBC played his songs on the radio. (The stuffy US radio stations in those days wouldn't think of it.)

I can't be the only sixty-something person with Lehrer's lyrics still rattling around in my brain.


  1. Okay, dear DJ...I HAD to come as SOON as I saw the subject/title of your post!!!! I'm NOT in my 60s...am younger than you...but I GREW UP ON LEHRER!!!! I would beg my father to play Lehrer's albums over and over again!!! I still have them, and play them for my son...I'm a HUGE fan...In fact, I based a post on a Lehrer song last spring...


    SOOOOO, now you know...WE REALLY ARE KINDRED SPIRITS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Love, love, love it!!! Love you, Janine XOXO

  2. I read the wikipedia piece on Lehrer and it triggered some very vague memories but I don't remember any of his songs.

  3. Nope, sorry, it's all news to me. But it sounds like I missed something good.

  4. I am 64 but don't remember him or his songs. Too bad!

    Your parents were such characters!

  5. Hi DJ, umm my parents are both music minded but I have never heard them hum anhy of Tom's musical piece well, who knows I was a kid then. I often heard Sinatra and Perry Como play in my Dad's record bar studio and was Dad's favorite singers. Mom's favorite? I forgot.


  6. Thanks for the reminder--I haven't listened to him for years. He's on my iTunes collection, but I like other music better. What a fascinating person and obviously talented. It is interesting to read your autobiographical works.

  7. I will give you an A minus on this. I don't know who this is. When you are old and grey. What does that mean? I think I have overstayed my welcome.

  8. Anyone from MIT is a genius. Sounds like he had a terrific sense of humour too. Nvere heard of him, but his lyrics are hysterical. Thanks for the laugh.

  9. I took exception to one of his remarks and I will quote it. "If, after hearing my songs, just one human being is inspired to say something nasty to a friend, or perhaps to strike a loved one, it will all have been worth the while."
    Not my kind of guy, he might have been funny..and I may just be an old fuddy duddy..:(

  10. I don't remember him or ever hearing any of his songs... interesting post though, DJann!

  11. I've never heard of him though my parents love music. Perhaps I've heard some of his music without knowing who he was? I did hear "The Elements" song on an episode of NCIS...:)

    I agree about the martinis; my mother likes them and I've always thought they were ick! I will say on Girls Nights the women order martinis and they sound delightful, things like Mango Madness and Cotton Candy.

  12. My folks drank quite a bit when they when in the Air Force and I was a kid..in fact I think they were close to alcoholism for a period of time there...I don't think it was a good environment for chiidren of military families...in fact, to this day, I do not like to drink from the experience of that. I think the nomad lifestyle and having to socialize quickly to make new friends at new bases caused alcohol to be involved to hasten the process...but for a kid, it was NOT fun.


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