Sunday, March 3, 2013

Now This is Poor

My brother sent this to me and I just had to share. When things get bad I will have to remember they could be worse.
Have you ever wondered where phrases like “Piss Poor” and “Raining Cats and Dogs” came from? Well here ya go!!

They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot & then once a day it was taken & sold to the tannery.......if you had to do this to survive you were "Piss Poor".

But worse than that were the really poor folks who couldn't even afford to buy a pot......they "didn't have a pot to piss in" & were the “lowest of the low”.

The 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 they still smelled pretty good by June.. However, since they were starting to smell . ...... . Brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet when getting married.

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 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 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 floor 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 thresh hold.

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

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 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 high acid content caused some of the lead to leach onto the food, causing lead poisoning death. This happened most often with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years or so, tomatoes were considered poisonous.

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 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 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....Now, whoever said History was boring?!?




  1. Love the photo. When I was a child we had no running water & we used an out house. Laundry was done once a week by a gas motored wringer washer. Baths were once a week....lucky to be the first one in. Summer wasn't too bad for baths but winters were horrible. There was no heat in the bedrooms and only in the big rooms from a fireplace that was close to the kitchen. At the farm with my folks there was only a wooden stove, well pump was outside and no refrigerator. We were a long way from town....may be why I don't like dirt roads today. Thanks for sharing. Have a great week.


    1. I was lucky we lived in some very remote places growing up. MY dad worked on the reservations at a couple different trading post but we always had running water and indoor plumbing. I did know several who did not. I remember girls coming to school to wash their hair in the morning before school. Although we did use the wringer washer and there was a short time when we had to do our baths in a #ten tub (what fun that was lol Thank goodness I was the oldest so I got to go first lol.). My husband had to haul water and also had the whole out house thing. I really hope we don not have to go back to any of these things.Kids now days have no idea.
      Take care Connie

  2. My Dad was in the Air Force, so I guess we had it pretty good. But, when we visited Granny and Grandpa, that was a different story. It was a hike to the outhouse, but Mom would let us go in the backyard after dark if we just had to pee. There was wood heat in the living room and a wood stove in the kitchen. No heat in the bedrooms, but a very thick pile of quilts on the bed. When the lights were turned on, you might see a scorpion crawling up the wall. The kitchen was hotter than blazes in the summer, but my Granny could cook. You'd take the heat for one of her fried pies. brenda from ar

    1. Brenda,
      Funny how those hard times are what we remember the most Guess they were hard but good.

  3. What a cool article! I've heard these sayings many times over the years, mostly from my grandparents (who have been gone for many years). Thank you so much for sharing!


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