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Old 08-10-2013, 12:50 PM
minlokwat minlokwat is offline
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Question About All in the Family Theme Song

The All in the Family theme song, Those Were the Days, has an odd line in it.

Full lyrics here: link

The song appears to be a sincere reminiscent stroll down Memory Lane except for the line, “Mister we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again.”

Is this supposed to be sarcastic?

I know Hoover was widely respected before his presidency and then after his term, many years later, Truman relied on his expertise during his presidency.

Yet what Hoover is mostly remembered for was his failure during the Great Depression. He was widely ridiculed and his name served in a mocking fashion to describe shanty towns (Hoovervilles) and pockets turned inside out were known as Hoover Flags.

So back to the song. This one line seems out of place. Was this a deliberate insertion of sarcasm –the good old days weren’t as good as they seem- or is it sincere with the general population eventually regarding Hoover in a more positive light after the passage of time?
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  #2  
Old 08-10-2013, 12:56 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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I always interpreted it as meaning they thought the New Deal sucked, because socialism or something, and they'd just as soon reset the clock back to March 3, 1933.
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  #3  
Old 08-10-2013, 12:58 PM
PSXer PSXer is online now
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that's the whole point of the show

the producers don't really think colored folks and Jews are inferior, in case you didn't catch that either

Last edited by PSXer; 08-10-2013 at 12:58 PM..
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  #4  
Old 08-10-2013, 12:59 PM
Prof. Pepperwinkle Prof. Pepperwinkle is offline
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It isn't sarcasm, though it is somewhat ironic. The idea is that The Good Old Days were, through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, delightful particularly because the times of the Depression were hard and this put the good moments in higher relief. Consequently, we could use another Hoover to return us to "the good old days when we all so miserable".
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Old 08-10-2013, 01:01 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Pepperwinkle View Post
It isn't sarcasm, though it is somewhat ironic. The idea is that The Good Old Days were, through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, delightful particularly because the times of the Depression were hard and this put the good moments in higher relief. Consequently, we could use another Hoover to return us to "the good old days when we all so miserable".
Concur fully. It seems to me that irony without sarcasm is something a lot of people have almost completely forgotten exists. Mistah, we could use a man like LBJ again.

Last edited by KneadToKnow; 08-10-2013 at 01:01 PM..
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Old 08-10-2013, 01:03 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
Mistah, we could use a man like LBJ again.
Doesn't scan. Try "Jimmy Carter."
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Old 08-10-2013, 01:08 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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Doesn't scan. Try "Jimmy Carter."
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  #8  
Old 08-10-2013, 01:38 PM
minlokwat minlokwat is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PSXer View Post
the producers don't really think colored folks and Jews are inferior, in case you didn't catch that either
Not entirely convinced of this.

I know Archie regularly got his comeuppance when all was done and said but the producers knew that they could –and would in fact- get huge laffs as a result of the racist comments Archie made.

Watch the famous Sammy Davis Jr. ep. From memory, Archie says, “We got any fried chicken around? I hear they like to nibble on that.”

Gets a huge laugh from the audience.
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  #9  
Old 08-10-2013, 01:55 PM
ElvisL1ves ElvisL1ves is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prof. Pepperwinkle View Post
It isn't sarcasm, though it is somewhat ironic. The idea is that The Good Old Days were, through the rose-tinted glasses of nostalgia, delightful particularly because the times of the Depression were hard and this put the good moments in higher relief. Consequently, we could use another Hoover to return us to "the good old days when we all so miserable".
I vote for irony. "Didn't need no welfare state / Everybody pulled his weight."

"Guys like us, we had it made." Yeah, we were rich enough to own a LaSalle. So many of those others didn't know their place, or were poor through their own moral failings, though.

Last edited by ElvisL1ves; 08-10-2013 at 02:00 PM..
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Old 08-10-2013, 03:17 PM
Buffalo Bilious Buffalo Bilious is offline
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Originally Posted by minlokwat View Post
Not entirely convinced of this.

Watch the famous Sammy Davis Jr. ep. From memory, Archie says, “We got any fried chicken around? I hear they like to nibble on that.”

Gets a huge laugh from the audience.
Heh.... When the Jeffersons moved in next door, I recall his lament was that watermelon rinds would be flying (discarded) out of their window.

Those were the Days.....

Last edited by Buffalo Bilious; 08-10-2013 at 03:19 PM..
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  #11  
Old 08-10-2013, 03:46 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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Originally Posted by KneadToKnow View Post
. . . Mistah, we could use a man like LBJ again.
Whatever became of Hubert?
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  #12  
Old 08-10-2013, 04:30 PM
BrotherCadfael BrotherCadfael is offline
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Whatever became of Hubert?
We miss you, so tell us, please...
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  #13  
Old 08-10-2013, 04:46 PM
ducati ducati is offline
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Whatever became of Hubert?
Has anyone heard a thing?
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  #14  
Old 08-10-2013, 07:41 PM
Jim's Son Jim's Son is offline
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Herbert Hoover ran programs that fed some 10 million Belgians during the First World War. He was a highly respected efficiency expert during the 1920s. He probably could have been the Democratic presidential nominee if he could have figured out which party he belonged to, according to the book "Six Presidents". Which is what made his Presidency so disappointing...he could not end the depression. Not that FDR was a whole lot more successful, unemployment in 1938 was still 18%. But when you have a high reputation before hand, it can swing the other way.
It is almost certainly satire by Norman Lear....a guy who loved to call working class whites bigots but lived in some exclusive monochrome neighborhoods himself.

There was a feeling among a lot of people in the 1950s and 1960s that the Depression was a world wide circumstance that happened and Hoover just happened to be the unlucky guy when it did. He had been in the political wilderness during the FDR presidency. Truman brought him back because he thought Hoover could streamline government and because Hoover was the only living ex-President who could give advice. Hoover was regularly one of the "10 most admired Americans" the last 20 years of his life. It's not unusual for former Presidents who were unpopular in office to become respected elder statesmen....like Truman and Nixon.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Herbert...anitarian_work
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  #15  
Old 08-10-2013, 08:09 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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Originally Posted by ducati View Post
Has anyone heard a thing?
Once he shone on his own . . .

Back to the OP: The lyrics are obviously from a Conservative point of view, that all of the country's troubles began with FDR. Nothing "ironic" about it. But I was always bothered by the fact that Edith sang the lyrics along with Archie, although I doubt that her politics were the same as his.
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Old 08-10-2013, 08:19 PM
Washoe Washoe is offline
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Whatever became of Hubert?
Hubert who?
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  #17  
Old 08-10-2013, 09:26 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by panache45 View Post
Once he shone on his own . . .

Back to the OP: The lyrics are obviously from a Conservative point of view, that all of the country's troubles began with FDR. Nothing "ironic" about it. But I was always bothered by the fact that Edith sang the lyrics along with Archie, although I doubt that her politics were the same as his.
My sense was that she saw her own existence as being an extension of her husband's. She was a "dutiful" wife, and however much the underlying sentiments of the song might rankle in the sleepless hours before dawn, at the moment she was making music with her husband.

Last edited by kaylasdad99; 08-10-2013 at 09:27 PM..
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  #18  
Old 08-10-2013, 09:40 PM
Hermione Hermione is offline
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I always thought that line was a perfect summing up of Archie's character--one who feels so out of place in the new world that he looks at the old through rose-colored glasses, so much so that he romanticizes a brutal economic depression and a destructive world war. He can imagine those times as times when everyone banded together against common problems and "pulled their weight", not like this scary new age when old values seem to be getting trampled underfoot and there's all this conflict.

There's a longer version of the song than the opening theme version (which was written for the show, but shortened somewhat). The final verse goes, "Hair was short and skirts were long/Kate Smith really sold a song/I don't know just what went wrong.../Those were the days!"

I wish they'd left that last verse in instead of the "La Salle" verse. That line "I don't know just what went wrong" is ALSO a perfect summing up of Archie's character.

(And what would a working-class family like the Bunkers be doing with a ritzy car like a La Salle, anyway?)
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  #19  
Old 08-12-2013, 01:18 AM
ducati ducati is offline
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Originally Posted by Washoe View Post
Hubert who?
Hubert Humphrey.

Former V.P of the U.S.A.
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  #20  
Old 08-12-2013, 11:01 AM
Freddy the Pig Freddy the Pig is offline
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I love the conceits of the left--everybody loved Roosevelt; how could anybody have been nostalgic for Hoover? Well, he did get 15.7 million votes when he ran for reelection, and was considered a viable candidate for a comeback at the 1940 Republican convention until his speech fell flat because his microphone didn't work.
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  #21  
Old 08-12-2013, 12:12 PM
kaylasdad99 kaylasdad99 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Washoe View Post
Hubert who?
Quote:
Originally Posted by ducati View Post
Think you got whooshed there, ducati.

SPOILER:
In his rap prior to singing the song, Lehrer tells an anecdote about LBJ being unable to attend a state funeral in some small country. Someone floated a suggestion that he send Hubert (since one of the VP's "duties" is to attend not-important-enough-for-the-President-but-too-important-to-ignore funerals). And Johnson said, "Hubert who?"
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  #22  
Old 08-13-2013, 03:38 AM
Annoying Buzz Annoying Buzz is offline
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What gets me about the song was that Archie was born in 1924*. He was 9 at most when Hoover left office.

*This gets mentioned in one of the early episodes. It also fits with him being a WWII vet and having a college-age daughter in 1971.
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  #23  
Old 08-13-2013, 04:06 AM
mbh mbh is offline
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What gets me about the song was that Archie was born in 1924*. He was 9 at most when Hoover left office.

*This gets mentioned in one of the early episodes. It also fits with him being a WWII vet and having a college-age daughter in 1971.
He was a teenager during the years when FDR was the authority figure in the White House. So he questioned authority.

My father was born in 1922. The New Deal turned him into an ardent laissez faire capitalist. In his view, the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression.

Norman Lear's view of conservatives was just as stereotyped as Archie Bunker's view of minorities.
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  #24  
Old 08-13-2013, 09:59 AM
astorian astorian is online now
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Since I was born and raised in Archie Bunker's neighborhood (Astoria, Queens), I can tell you first hand: NOBODY in Astoria, let alone a working class guy who remembered the Depression, would EVER have reminisced fondly about Herbert Hoover.

I liked the show, and thought Carroll O'Connor did a great job imitating a lot of the men in my neighborhood. No question, there WERE a lot of white, middle-aged, blue collar Astorians who tossed around the "N Word" casually, who hated hippies (remember the "hard hat riots" of the Seventies?), and who loathed liberal mayor John Lindsay.

So, were they staunch conservative Republicans? Hell, no! If Archie Bunker bothered to vote at all (he frequently didn't), he voted a straight Democratic ticket. Why? Because he despised Herbert Hoover, and regarded Franklin Roosevelt as a demigod.

In my Irish grandfather's vocabulary, the word "Republicans" didn't exist. There were only "Democrats" and "Republicanbastards." Oh, my grandfather was extremely conservative and, yes, racist, but he would NEVER have voted for a Republican or sung wistfully about Herbert Hoover. To blue-collar Astorians, Herbert Hoover was synonymous with soup kitchens and unemployment, while the Democrats were The People's Party.

That Archie Bunker was a bigot and a staunch conservative in many ways is quite believable. I know! But that he'd sing fondly about Hoover? Not a chance.

Last edited by astorian; 08-13-2013 at 10:00 AM..
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  #25  
Old 08-13-2013, 12:27 PM
NDP NDP is offline
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That Archie Bunker was a bigot and a staunch conservative in many ways is quite believable. I know! But that he'd sing fondly about Hoover? Not a chance.
But wasn't Archie a bit of an outlier even among his blue-collar peers? Aside from being a diehard Republican (when he voted), he was a loyal Protestant of English-descent while nearly everybody else at his workplace were ethnic Catholics or Jews. I also seem to recall in a few episodes he inveighed against unions even though he was a union-member himself.
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  #26  
Old 08-13-2013, 12:32 PM
Prof. Pepperwinkle Prof. Pepperwinkle is offline
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The show was about whatever producer/writer/political activist Norman Lear wanted it to be about, even if that meant stretching Archie out of his normal bigot-ridden bounds on occasion. It was ground-breaking in that it covered such fare as racism, homosexuality, women's liberation, rape, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause, and impotence.

And at that it was a softened-down copy of the British series Till Death Do Us Part.
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Old 08-13-2013, 12:59 PM
KneadToKnow KneadToKnow is offline
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It was ground-breaking in that it covered such fare as racism, homosexuality, women's liberation, rape, miscarriage, abortion, breast cancer, the Vietnam War, menopause, and impotence.
And the sound of the terlet flushing.
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  #28  
Old 08-13-2013, 01:11 PM
astorian astorian is online now
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But wasn't Archie a bit of an outlier even among his blue-collar peers? Aside from being a diehard Republican (when he voted), he was a loyal Protestant of English-descent while nearly everybody else at his workplace were ethnic Catholics or Jews. I also seem to recall in a few episodes he inveighed against unions even though he was a union-member himself.
That's what I'm getting at: Archie was an entertaining character but he didn't make sense as written.

I knew Archie! I lived next door to him (seriously, the steamfitter next door said comically racist things all the time). But that guy was a die-hard union man and a loyal Democrat. The real-life guys who inspired the character were very reactionary in some ways but tended to vote for liberal Democrats.

Norman Lear's modus operandi was to make Archie the voice for every cause Lear opposed, even if a blue collar New Yorker would never really hold the opinions being mocked.

Last edited by astorian; 08-13-2013 at 01:12 PM..
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  #29  
Old 08-13-2013, 01:34 PM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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Has anyone heard a thing?
He's sad and he's cross and he's gathering moss.



You folks need to rewatch All In The Family. Archie's prejudices that he has been taught are almost always wrong, but in the end he always does the right thing for the reason that it is right and humane.
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  #30  
Old 08-13-2013, 01:50 PM
Tethered Kite Tethered Kite is offline
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Those times were trying for many families as much as for the country. Old met new with a painful collision.

Everyone was clamoring for notice of their issues. All at once. And better media services made us all aware of it.

If I hadn't have been so young and inexperienced I would have realized how unprecedented it was.

If you've ever seen Born on the Fourth of July you have had a peek at some of the issues that were damaging American families.

I think that program was a real gem and a gift to middle America at a time when we could hardly speak to each other because of our differences. Everybody got their say and everybody took a shot.

And Edith was just there to remind us not to let ideas get in the way of love.
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  #31  
Old 08-13-2013, 02:02 PM
Sherrerd Sherrerd is offline
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...I wish they'd left that last verse in instead of the "La Salle" verse. That line "I don't know just what went wrong" is ALSO a perfect summing up of Archie's character.
(And what would a working-class family like the Bunkers be doing with a ritzy car like a La Salle, anyway?)
I don't think audiences were supposed to believe that Archie had written the song. In the world of the show, presumably, this was an existing song that Archie and Edith simply enjoyed singing.

As for studio audiences laughing at Archie's racist remarks--wasn't this discussed at the time? As in, the producers intended that Archie be despised, but people are inexplicably identifying with him.

Similarly, today, right-wing viewers supposedly watch Stephen Colbert's show with no awareness that he is actually parodying right-wing pundits. They take him at face value and enjoy his reactionary remarks as much as they enjoy those of Bill O'Reilly or Rush Limbaugh.
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  #32  
Old 08-13-2013, 02:09 PM
bup bup is offline
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In one episode, Archie and Maude are arguing, and it comes up that Maude's favorite president was FDR, while Archie's was Herbert Hoover.

Regardless of how realistic that may have been for a Bronx construction worker, that was explicitly stated in the show.
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  #34  
Old 08-13-2013, 02:19 PM
astorian astorian is online now
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In one episode, Archie and Maude are arguing, and it comes up that Maude's favorite president was FDR, while Archie's was Herbert Hoover.

Regardless of how realistic that may have been for a Bronx construction worker, that was explicitly stated in the show.
I realize that. I'm just saying that, in reality, no blue collar New Yorker would have had a single good word for Herbert Hoover in the Seventies. Indeed, the Democrats were still running against Hoover decades after the end of the Great Depression.

Norman Lear and his writers made a conscious choice to put Archie on the "wrong" side of EVERY political issue, no matter how implausible that might have been.

Like it or not, the blue-collar whites (whether in large Northern cities or small Southern towns) now regarded as hopeless bigots or mocked as "fundies" were yellow dog Democrats! Bible thumping Mississippi Klansmen voted for FDR four times, based on the pocketbook issues.

Last edited by astorian; 08-13-2013 at 02:21 PM..
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  #35  
Old 08-13-2013, 02:53 PM
cochrane cochrane is offline
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Crud. Edit window has ended. Please disregard my previous post; I apparently misremembered an exchange:



Archie also compares FDR unfavorably to Richard Nixon, which is probably the germ of the false memory I have.
And woe be to the Meathead whenever he said anything negative about Nixon. Archie was a staunch Nixon supporter. At least during his first term.
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Old 08-13-2013, 10:00 PM
Hermione Hermione is offline
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Originally Posted by bup View Post
Crud. Edit window has ended. Please disregard my previous post; I apparently misremembered an exchange:



Archie also compares FDR unfavorably to Richard Nixon, which is probably the germ of the false memory I have.
I always liked Maude's line: "One of his fireside chats is worth a barrel of 'now let me make this perfectly clear.'"

Last edited by Hermione; 08-13-2013 at 10:01 PM..
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