Make a Donation

Consider making a donation to support SHAKSPER.

Subscribe to Our Feeds

Current Postings RSS

Announcements RSS

Home :: Archive :: 1999 :: June ::
Think any of this is true?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 10.0982  Friday, 11 June 1999.

From:           Larry Weiss <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 10 Jun 1999 14:18:55 -0400
Subject:        Think any of this is true?

This came to me from someone who thought it was amusing.  The list may
find it intriguing too.


---------------------------------------------------------------------

Life in the 1500's:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in
May and were still smelling pretty good by June.  However, they were
starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the
b.o.

       *************************
Baths equaled a big tub filled with hot water.  The man of the house had
the privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other sons and men,
then the women and finally the children.  Last of all the babies. By
then the water was so dirty you could actually loose someone in it.
Hence the saying, "Don't throw the baby out with the bath water".

       *************************
Houses had thatched roofs.  Thick straw, piled high, with no wood
underneath.  It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all the
pets dogs, cats and other small animals, mice, rats, bugs lived in the
roof. When it rained it became slippery and sometimes the animals would
slip and fall off the roof. Hence the saying, "It's raining cats and
dogs."

       *************************

There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house. This posed
a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could
really mess up your nice clean bed.  So, they found if they made beds
with big posts and hung a sheet over the top, it addressed that problem.
Hence those beautiful big 4 poster beds with canopies.

       *************************
The floor was dirt.  Only the wealthy had something other than dirt,
hence the saying "dirt poor."  The wealthy had slate floors which would
get slippery in the winter when wet.  So they spread thresh on the floor
to help keep their footing.  As the winter wore on they kept adding more
thresh until when you opened the door it would all start slipping
outside. A piece of wood was placed at the entry way, hence a "thresh
hold".

       *************************
They cooked in the kitchen in a big kettle that always hung over the
fire. Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot.  They
mostly ate vegetables and didn't get much meat. They would eat the stew
for dinner leaving leftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then
start over the next day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been
in there for a month. Hence the rhyme: peas porridge hot, peas porridge
cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

       ****************************
Sometimes they could obtain pork and would feel really special when that
happened. When company came over, they would bring out some bacon and
hang it to show it off. It was a sign of wealth and that a man "could
really bring home the bacon." They would cut off a little to share with
guests and would all sit around and "chew the fat."

       *************************
Those with money had plates made of pewter.  Food with a high acid
content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food. This happened
most often with tomatoes, so they stopped eating tomatoes ... for 400
years.

       *************************
Most people didn't have pewter plates, but had trenchers - a piece of
wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl.  Trencher were never
washed and a lot of times worms got into the wood. After eating off
wormy trenchers, they would get "trench mouth."

       *************************
Bread was divided according to status.  Workers got the burnt bottom of
the loaf, the family got the middle, and guests got the top, or the
"upper crust."

       *************************
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey.  The combination would
sometimes knock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the
road would take them for dead and prepare them for burial. They were
laid out on the kitchen table for a couple of days and the family would
gather around and eat and drink and wait and see if they would wake up.
Hence the custom of holding a "wake".

       *************************
England is old and small and they started running out of places to bury
people. So, they would dig up coffins and would take their bones to a
house and reuse the grave.  In reopening these coffins, one out of 25
coffins were found to have scratch marks on the inside and they realized
they had been burying people alive. So they  thought they would tie a
string on their wrist and lead it through the coffin and up through the
ground and tie it to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the
graveyard all night to listen for the bell. Hence on the "graveyard
shift" they would know that someone was "saved by the bell" or he was a
"dead ringer."
 

Other Messages In This Thread

©2011 Hardy Cook. All rights reserved.