OT: History / slang terms and what they all mean

This was sent to me in an email today. I found it interesting enough to want to share. How true any of it is, i don't know. Even if it is all "bunk", it is at least an entertaining read and better than some of the feuding that takes place here : ) Sean

Next time you're washing your hands and 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 awhile. 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 "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 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. . . (who ever said that History was boring)?
Great.Quite entertaining.
Fascinating. Thanks for the change of pace.

"The Whole Nine Yards" - in WWI the American machine guns were liquid cooled, but still had a tendency to overheat. If the gun overheated it would jam. Gunners were advised to shot in short burst to avoid that situation. The bullets came on belts which were approximately 27 feet long. Hence when the combat became particularly intense, despite the risk of jamming, gunners would go the whole nine yards.
Very good. Thanks for taking the time to share it with us.
Vedddy intresting....probably a blend of truths, half-truths, wive's tales, and pure BS, but a lot of fun, nonetheless. Thanks Sean.
I think you have been surfing the web a bit too much.

Having said that, let me add to history of slang:

The "history" of why the middle finger has the meaning it does goes back to conflicts between the French and the English. Apparently, said finger was critical to the English (or was it French or Norman?) archers pulling back their bowstrings as well as accuracy of aim. When English archers were captured by the French (or was it Normans?), their captors would cut off the middle finger to keep them from plucking their bowstrings when eventually freed. When faced with fighting de-fingered English archers, the French would taunt them by holding up thier middle finger indicating "pluck you". That, eventually, morphed in to what it suggests today.

Or something like that.
I liked it Sean.
very entertaining, thanks sean.
more diversions...confucious say:
"though many are cold
few are frozen"
"many man smoke
but fumanchu"
Very entertaining indeed. Thanks Sean. (As all these things have had me perplexed for 500years)

For more of the same read "Uncle Johns bathroom reader plunges into history" They attempt to debunk and explain history for the last 5,000 years. "very cool"

Also read Terry Pratchetts DiscWorld "the color of magic" for the day to day parody of life in the middle ages.

Good fun, Sean. To add a little to the English archer story that Wstritt started, I heard that the wood of choice for the long-bows was "Yew" wood. And what they were saying when they held up their middle fingers was, "Pluck Yew!"
Yes, but in the 1500's which was the more preferred, tube or transistor amps?
Fatparrot: The preferrence on how to listen to music in the 1500's was to do it live, with your own group of musicians playing in the chamber : ) Sean
Fatparrot, they may not have had tubes, but they had tubas! And at that time, I think transistors were bands of people trying to stop migration across borders. :^)
Excerpt from Sean's post:

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."

This happened to Jerry Garcia long before he became famous, and when suddenly awakened, he exclaimed,

"Grateful (I'm not) Dead.

We all know what evolved into.
I love things like this. "Up the creek/river" comes from the Renaissance when major cities were built along a river. During this rich cultural time, citizens did not want to see beggars and mentally ill people, so asylums were established (often converted Leprosariums) upstream, a little outside their respective cities.
Ohlala: You would think that they would send these people "downstream" from them i.e. would you want to be drawing your bath & drinking water when you had a bunch of "derelicts" living upstream ? Slang terms aside, it sounds like the designers of that plan may not have been any brighter / better off than those that they were trying to get rid of : ) Sean
Here are a couple more...The first is for the lyrics of "Ring around the Rosie":

Ring around the Rosie - Plague victims, having contracted the disease from flea/rat bites, typically exhibited a red, "ring-shaped" area around the central bite area (rose);

Pocket full of posies - dead bodies typically had flowers placed on/near the body to mask the stench;

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down - In an attempt to prevent the spread of the plague (and because so many people were dying), large funeral pyres were built to cremate the bodies. When the wood burned through, the ashes/bones fell to the ground. Cute, huh?

The second is related to why men's shirts and coats button the way they do (with the button holes on the left half of the shirt). Back in the days when it was fashionable/necessary to wear a sword, long coats were also fashionable. In order to draw one's sword quickly (with the right hand, of course) one needed to open one's coat quickly, and with one hand. Thus, by having the button holes on the left side, one could open their coat with their left hand and draw their sword with their right.
Until someone invented the zipper. You can draw your sword much faster with a zipper than buttons ;-)