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a lighter side of history

Apr 05, 2002 09:55 AM
by Eldon B Tucker

Here's something funny that I saw at work. It's a piece
on history. We should consider the logic used, when
looking over the various postings on theosophical
history. <grin> It's important to not just read the
nice-sounding stories, but also to consider the logic
and arguments offered!

-- Eldon

---- history lesson starts here ----



Next time you are washing your hands and complain because the
water temperature isn't just how you like it, think about how
things used to be....Here are some facts about the 1500s:

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly
bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they
were starting to smell, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to
hide the body odor. Baths consisted of 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 lose 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 dogs, cats and other small animals (mice, 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. Hence, a bed
with big posts. And a sheet hung over the top afforded some
protection. That's how canopy beds came into existence.

The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other than
dirt, hence the saying "dirt poor" The wealthy had slate floors
that would get slippery in the winter when wet, so they spread
thresh (straw) 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 in the entranceway-hence, a "thresh hold."

In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a big kettle
that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fire and
added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and did not
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
there for quite a while-hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas
porridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old."

Sometimes they could obtain pork, which made them feel quite
special. When visitors came over, they would hang up their bacon
to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man "could 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,
causing lead poisoning and death. This happened most often with
tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were
considered poisonous.

Most people did not have pewter plates, but had trenchers, a
piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Often
trenchers were made from stale bread, which was so old and hard
that they could be used for quite some time. Trenchers were
never washed and a lot of times worms and mold got into the wood
and old bread. After eating off wormy, moldy trenchers, one
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 "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

England is old and small and the local folks started running out
of places to bury people. So they would dig up coffins and would
take the bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When
reopening these coffins, 1 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
the wrist of the corpse, 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 (the graveyard shift) to
listen for the bell; thus, someone could be "saved by the bell"
or was considered a "dead ringer."

And that's the truth... (and whoever said that History was

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