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. . .And When Those Pennies Pile Up

<i> Sheldon Harnick wrote the lyrics for "She Loves Me" and "Fiddler on the Roof" as well as the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Fiorello."</i>

The song “Little Tin Box” is from the 1959 musical “Fiorello.” Jerry Bock and Iwrote the music and lyrics respectively. It satirized the testimony of various corrupt officials in the administration of New York Mayor James J. Walker, in the early 1930s. One man was asked where he got the money to pay for certain things he could not possibly have afforded on his salary. His answer: “The money came from a little tin box my wife kept on the kitchen shelf.”

Any resemblance to Oliver L. North’s recent testimony--he said he was able to buy a $7,000 horse for his daughter and an $8,000 car for himself from pocket change he had collected in a “little tin box"--is purely coincidental, and absolutely fascinating.

JUDGE: Mister “X,” may we ask you a question?

It’s amazing, is it not,

that the city pays you slightly less

than 50 bucks a week,

yet you’ve purchased a private yacht?

WITNESS: I am positive Your Honor must be joking.

Any working man can do what I have

done.

For a month or two I simply gave up

smoking

and I put my extra pennies one by one

into a

Little Tin Box,

a Little Tin Box

that a little tin key unlocks.

There is nothing unorthodox

about a Little Tin Box.

In a Little Tin Box,

a Little Tin Box

that a little tin key unlocks,

there is honor and purity,

lots of security,

in a Little Tin Box.

JUDGE: Mister “Y,” we’ve been told

you don’t feel well,

and we know you’ve lost your

voice,

but we wonder how you managed,

on the salary you make,

to acquire a new Rolls Royce.

WITNESS: You’re implying I’m a crook and I

say no sir!

There is nothing in my past I care

to hide.

I’ve been taking empty bottles to

the grocer,

and each nickel that I got was put aside

into a

Little Tin Box,

a Little Tin Box

that a little tin key unlocks.

There is nothing unorthodox

about a Little Tin Box.

In a Little Tin Box,

a Little Tin Box

there’s a cushion for life’s rude shocks.

There is faith, hope and charity,

hard-won prosperity,

in a Little Tin Box.

JUDGE: Mister “Z,” you’re a junior official,

and your income’s rather low

yet, you’ve kept a dozen women

in the very best hotels.

Would you kindly explain, how so?

WITNESS: I can see Your Honor doesn’t pull his

punches

and it looks a trifle fishy, I’ll admit,

but for one whole week I went without my

lunches

and it mounted up, Your Honor, bit by bit.

It’s just a

Little Tin Box,

a Little Tin Box

that a little tin key unlocks.

There is nothing unorthodox

about a Little Tin Box.

In a Little Tin Box,

a Little Tin Box

all a-glitter with blue-chip stocks,

there is something delectable,

almost respectable,

in a Little Tin Box!


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