Tom Lehrer and the Seven Old Ladies

Tom Lehrer in the 1960s

While I was still in high school, my sister, a few years older, was in college. While home on Christmas break, she was captivated with Tom Lehrer, a Harvard mathematics professor who was a singer and songwriter on the side. She even had a few of his records (45 rpms) that she insisted I listen to. His public career was short. In the early 1970s, he largely retired from public performances to devote his time to teaching mathematics and music theater at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is now 90.

Most of his songs had an academic theme, but I was drawn to Seven Old Ladies (Locked in a Lavatory). I understand that this was a bawdy Celtic song, and before that, a Celtic folk tune.

Oh, dear, what can the matter be
Seven old ladies got locked in the lavat’ry
They were there from Sunday ’till Saturday
Nobody knew they were there

The first to come in was the minister’s daughter
She went in to pass some superfluous water
She pulled on the chain and the rising tide caught her
And nobody knew she was there

The next to come in was dear Mrs. Mason
The stalls were all full so she peed in the basin
And that is the water that I washed my face in
And nobody knew she was there

The third old lady was Amelia Garpickle;
Her urge was sincere, her reaction was fickle.
She hurdled the door; she’d forgotten her nickel,
And nobody knew she was there

The forth to come was old Mrs. Humphrey
She shifted and jiggled to get herself comfy
Then to her dismay, she could not get her bum free
And nobody knew she was there

The fifth to come in, it was old Mrs. Draper
She sat herself down, and then found there was no paper
She had to clean up with a plasterer’s scraper
And nobody knew she was there

The sixth old lady was Emily Clancy;
She went there ’cause something tickled her fancy,
But when she got there it was ants in her pantsy
And nobody knew she was there

The seventh old lady was Elizabeth Bender;
She went there to repair a broken suspender.
It snapped up and ruined her feminine gender,
And nobody knew she was there

The janitor came in the early morning.
He opened the door without any warning,
The seven old ladies their seats were adorning,
And nobody knew they were there.

(The __ old lady was Abigail Quim
Who crossed her legs on a personal whim,
But her thigh got caught twixt the bowl and the rim
And nobody knew she was there.)

About Roger Walck

My reasons for writing this blog are spelled out in the posting of 10/1/2012, Montaigne's Essays. They are probably not what you think.
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