Comments for That Was the Year That Was.

1. Lena Horne was a lounge singer from the sixties, famous for her torchy renditions of such songs as Smoke on the Water. Being a mulatto, she was heavily criticised by the various racial-rights groups for her lack of involvement with the civil rights movements. (Hilary D)

2. Sheriff Clarke was apparently a rather infamously racist law-enforcement official from the deep south. (Hilary D)

3. Stanleyville was the old colonial name for the Belgian Congo, later Congo, town of Kisangani. This reference is probably to the Belgian intervention there in 1964. Briefly, what happened was reported in the press at the time as follows. The country was made independent in June 1960, and after a government was elected, the congolese national movement disputed power. What I suppose would be called a guerilla war now, ensued, and the rebels, called lumbumbists, after their first leader, Patrick Lumbumba, captured the town of Stanleyville and with it 1500 mainly western hostages in November 1964. After the rebel's leader, Christophe Gbenye, threated to execute the lot, or in his words, have them 'grilled alive', the old colonial power, Belgium, sent in paratroopers to try and sort the problem out. They reached Stanleyville on 26 November 1964. Once they entered the town, the rebels turned their guns on their hostages and killed about 30 of them. These included 2 children, a woman and a missionary. A pretty wretched business ensued with nobody coming out of it particularly well, and the situation escalated rapidly into a ghastly bloodbath as the Belgian soldiers proceeded to take control. It culminated with rebels killing 15 British missionaries a few weeks later in a town a few miles away as they upped their activites. (Jonathan Howell)

4. Leonid Brezhnev was Premier of the USSR from 1977-82, and quite influential before that. The song was written before 1977. (Daniel Marsh)

5. This is a reference to Bobby Kennedy. He had served as Attorney General in the Kennedy presidency, and in 1964 ran for U.S. Senator (and won) from New York State, though he had only recently moved from Massachusetts. (Ken)

6. Broadway leading lady, opera singer, and star of the 1935 movie SHE before turning to politics. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from California starting in 1944. A friend and admirer of the Roosevelts, her liberal views became a liability with the coming of the Red Scare years, and she was thoroughly crushed in a particularly nasty 1950 Senate race filled with innuendoes of Communism. She was pink right down to her underwear, said her opponent, a young Conservative headhunter building a name for himself with red-baiting, Richard Nixon. (Ken Yousten)

7. At the time, Governor of California. Later he became President of the United States. (Daniel Marsh)

8. Not for long though. In 1966, Ronald Reagan was elected Governor of California, then in 1980 he made President of the U.S. (re-elected in 1984). (Ken Yousten)

9. A term for a Mexican worker in the US, often an illegal alien. (Daniel Marsh)

10. Murphy starred in the movies Broadway Melody Of 1938 and Broadway Melody Of 1940. The year (1984) is presumably a reference to George Orwell's novel 1984. (Ken Yousten, Daniel Marsh)

11. At the time, Lyndon Johnson was escalating the war against North Vietnam, hence the word. (Daniel Marsh)

12. The Christian Scientists are a group who believe in adhering to God's will and prayer as opposed to medical science, and hence do not seek medical attention for their illnesses. (Daniel Marsh)

13. United Nations

14. Organization of American States, an alliance of nations throughout the Americas, founded in 1948 to promote peace and cooperation. (Ken Yousten)

15. Alternate lyrics (also by Tom):

Throw out your breakfast garbage and I have got a hunch
that the folks downstream will drink it for lunch.
The breakfast garbage they throw out in Troy
They drink at lunch in Perth Amboy.
The first set being generic, the second for in New York. The lyrics on the main page are for San Francisco. (John Gowland)

16. During WWII, there was a fairly popular song called "Goodbye Momma, I'm Off To Yokohama." (Ken Yousten)

17. Reference to Chet Huntley and David Brinkley, trusted news anchors of TV's Huntley-Brinkley Report in the late 50's and 60's. (Ken Yousten)

18. Hubert Humphrey was the Vice-President at the time, a notoriously overlooked post. (Daniel Marsh)

19. Deanna Durbin was a teen film star in the 1930s - singing, dancing, looking pretty. She was considered to be one of the biggest movie stars around, and then just vanished out of the public eye. (Hilary D)

20. To subtract 3 from 2 you need to add ten ones to the 2 to get 12-3=9. At this point there are two options of where the 10 comes from. One way is to borrow 10 from the 40 in the first number, changing that 40 into 30. Since the 4 is now a 3, you say 7 from 3 is 6.
Another way is to take the 10 from the 70 in the second number. Since the 70 is being subtracted, an additional 10 will need to be subtracted, so you turn the 70 into an 80. When subtracting the tens, you then say 8 from 4 is 6.
These are two different algorithms that have been used to teach subtraction. (Michael Sanford) (If this is all confusing to you, just laugh. That's what I did for years.)

21. A reference to Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. The were renowned for their erotic imagery, and hence sold millions of copies. (Daniel Marsh)

22. Grave of Alma Mahler Werfel (

23. "The Song of the Earth." It was written by Gustav Mahler when he knew he was dying. As one can imagine, its a very, very heavy piece of music. In general, Mahler's work fits into the category a friend of Daniel's was fond of calling "German Bombast Music." (Daniel Marsh)

24. A beguine is a type of (rather provocative) rhythmic dance. The line refers to the Cole Porter song Begin the Beguine made popular in the Big Band era by such bands as Artie Shaw's. (Ken Yousten)

25. A brand of cold cream popular at the time of Lehrer's writing. (Tom McSloy)

26. China has often used an institution known as the "Five Year Plan," where every five years they would concentrate on a different social factor. (Daniel Marsh)

27. This song was sung at the height of Apartheid, when South Africa was strongly divided along racial lines. (Daniel Marsh)

28. Wernher von Braun was the most notable of Nazi rocket scientists who were brought to the United States following the war.

29. Reffering to the V-2 bombardment of London, the rocket for which von Braun was partly responsible. (Daniel Marsh)

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