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No 's' key after logon

Well, I finally hit a WALL with woody:
Briefly, my problem:

Once I try to login after booting, my 's' key just beeps at me!  So
'startx' won't work because I have no 's'... just a beep.

And, in mc, I get a 'warning, cant cd into archives'..... probably
because it has an 's' in it.  Thinking, it may be the latest bash
upgrade, I wanted to downgrade to the earlier bash that was there.
But, noooooooo, dpkg couldn't find 'bah.deb'.  Even though I got the above
warning, mc did show the archives directory.  In mc, I was able to use
the 's' key.
So I reboot to 'Linux single', but again, no 's'.  bummer.
So I try 'mutt'  (thank the gods... No 's' in 'mutt').  Now, I'm
typing this in 'vim' and the 's' (obviously) is working.

Why couldn't it have been 'z' that went belly up instead of 's'?  
Any help out there?  Any clue to what might be happening?  And
hopefully a fix?

(beep)incerly, your(beep)
Using Linux

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