Sunday, June 13, 2010


I recall that I enjoyed History when I was in school, but my grades didn't always reflect my enthusiasm for the subject matter! Now, had we had some history lessons that included some of the following, I may have gotten straight "A's"! Here's some Olde English history for you to consider next time you ponder the origin of words.

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families would all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor". But, worse than that were the really poor folk who couldn't even afford to buy a pot. They "didn't have a pot to piss in" and were the lowest of the low.

The floors were 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 their floors to help keep their footing. As the winter wore on, they added
more thresh until, when you opened the door, it would all start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed in the entrance-way; hence: a "threshhold."

(Getting quite an education, aren't you?)

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".

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 whisky. The combination would sometimes knock the imbibers 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 wakeup; hence the custom of holding a "wake."

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 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 "deadringer."

And that's the truth! (I think.)

Now, whoever said History was boring!?!

(A special thanks to my dear friend ML for sharing this with me so I, in turn, could share it with you! xxx000)


  1. I loved this post! I learned something new too. Thanks! I am glad you are posting again, I missed reading your stuff.

  2. Fantastic! I love this kind of history!

  3. This is great, I had never heard any of this before! Keep it up!

  4. Hate to burst your bubble, but these are mostly untrue. Check Wikipedia, Snopes, etc.

  5. Tom and Debi, Theresa, Nancy, and Douglas: Thanx for the nice comments. Glad you enjoyed.

    Anon: My bubble isn't burst! This was a fun post, not intended to be published in school books, and I think I qualified that when I wrote (and I quote):

    And that's the truth! (I think!)