Hey, it's Labor Day Weekend and everybody is getting ready to head to all kinds of places for a three-day respite. So, with the courtesy of mortgage broker par excellence, David Steinberg, here are some little known facts and figures to give you a chuckle, hopefully, as you prepare to get the kids off to school next week.
- In England, people got married in June in the 1500s because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, since they were starting to emit some kind of scent, brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
- Baths at that time 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 sons, then the women and children, and last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty you could actually lose someone in it. Hence, "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 the dogs and cats (and other small animals) lived on the roof. When it rained, the animals would slip and fall off the roof. Hence, the saying, "It's raining cats and dogs."
- Of course, only the wealthy had something more than dirt for a floor. Hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter when wet. People spread thresh (straw) on the floor to help their footing. As the winter wore on, they added more thresh until when you opened the door, straw would all start slipping out. So they placed a piece of wood--a "thresh hold"--in the entranceway.
- 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 nd death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so tomatoes were considered poisonous.
- Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock people 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 to eat, drink, and wait and see if they would wake up. Hence, the custom of holding a "wake."
- 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."
- England is old and small. When they started running out of places to bury people, they would dig up coffins and take the bones to a "bone-house" and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, one out of 25 were found to have scratch marks on the inside. They realized they had been burying people alive. So, they began to tie string on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through the coffin and up through the ground and to a bell. Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night--"the graveyard shift"--to listen to the bell. Thus, someone could be "saved by the bell," or was considered a "dead ringer."
Have a good holiday!
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