Posted by: malia | September 26, 2015

saturday 9: take a letter maria

Saturday 9: Take a Letter, Maria (1969)

1) In this song, R. B. Greaves gets a shock when he gets home from work. When is the last time you were surprised? Was it a happy or sad surprise?
i was pleasantly surprised at how thoughtful some of my kids are. some of them remembered my birthday and brought things for me, and i was touched by that.

2) Mr. Greaves sings that he didn’t get home until “about a half past ten.” That’s a very long workday. No wonder his wife felt neglected! Have you ever had trouble maintaining balance between homelife and career?
yes, i’m afraid so. i tend to do too much for the career and not enough for the home.

3) According to the song, “Maria” is a secretary. Have you ever worked in an office?
yes, my first job was working in an office. it was a student job, and i worked as a clerk-typist. the secretary there was an older person and wouldn’t use the computers (just typed everything out on the typewriter) so i was the person who did all the reports on the computer. i also did a lot of filing (the secretary always put it off so there were piles and piles and piles of papers to be filed–it took almost a year, but i finally was able to get everything filed away and those piles were gone!) and answering phones (which i hated because no one took me seriously since i had such a kid-sounding voice).

4) In today’s office, R.B. Greaves wouldn’t ask Maria to “take a letter.” Instead, he’d keystroke his own email to his wife and cc his lawyer before hitting, “send.” Think of another phrase, like “take a letter,” that we seldom hear anymore because of technology.
huh, i never thought of that. dictation skills (writing shorthand) are no longer needed because most higher-ups just type their emails themselves. i suppose anything with “dial” since most phones are touchtone instead of rotary. we don’t seldom hear “cc” any more but the literal meaning of it, using a piece of carbon between papers to make copies, is rarely used, i would think? also, i said the other day that i sound like a broken record because i had to keep repeating myself before realizing the kids have no idea what that means. 😛

5) “Maria” is mentioned in many songs (“Maria” from West Side Story, “Maria, Shut Up and Kiss Me” by Willie Nelson, “How Do Solve a Problem like Maria?” …) but Crazy Sam discovered few, if any, “Samantha” songs. Does your first name figure prominently in any lyrics?
i know of one; funnily enough, maria is also in the title.

6) 1969 was the year that Neil Armstrong first stepped on the moon. Do you believe in life on other planets?
yes. there has to be. how can we be the only ones out there?

7) In 1969, the Beatles performed publicly for the last time as a band, on the roof of Abbey Road studios. When did you last climb up onto your roof?
i have never climbed onto a roof! i’m afraid of heights.

8) Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries sold at a brisk pace at Christmastime in 1969. Were you a fan of these books? If not, tell us about a book you remember enjoying when you were young.
i think i’ve read maybe one or two nancy drew mysteries. i much preferred encyclopedia brown instead.

9) Random question: Do you consider yourself old fashioned?
i guess in a way, yes, i am.


  1. Wow, carbon paper! I haven’t thought about that in years, and yet every day I “cc” someone.

  2. Carbon copies! Good one.

  3. I had a similar student job. I am so glad I did not make that my career

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