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humor: jun 09 -- Life in the 1500's

                              Nick's G-Rated Humor List

Several subscribers have sent me
a decryption from yesterday's emailing.
	>   When cryptography is outlawed,
	>   bayl bhgynjf jvyy unir cevinpl.
	    only outlaws will have privacy.
I hope that you non-cryptographists out
there also got the joke.  I did!   :-)
yjod od s trvptfrf, rddshr


Jeff Owens <cowboyup.phs@juno.com> sent me this piece.
Thanks, Jeff.  Interesting stuff -- though perhaps it fits
together a bit too well!!  Still, it is certainly amusing ...

Life back in the 1500s -

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May
and were still smelling pretty good in June.  However, they were starting
to smell a little, so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body

Baths equaled 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, then the
women, then the children, and finally 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 pets (dogs and cats) and other small animals (mice, rats, and 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.  So they found if they made beds with big
posts and hung a sheet over the top, it remedied the problem.  Hence those
beautiful big 4 poster beds with canopies.

The floor was dirt.  Only the wealthy had something other than dirt, hence
the saying "dirt poor".  The wealthy had slate floors which would get
slippery in the winter when wet.  So they spread thresh 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 at the entry way, hence a "thresh

	Nick adds: I have not seen the word "thresh"
	as a noun before, but I imagine that it refers
	to straw or some similar "threshed" material.

They cooked in the kitchen in a big kettle that always hung over the fire.
Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot.  They mostly ate
vegetables and didn't 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 in there for a
month.  Hence the rhyme, "Peas porridge hot, peas porridge cold, peas
porridge in the pot nine days old".

Sometimes they could obtain pork and would feel really special when that
happened.  When company came over, they would bring out some bacon the hang
it from the rafters to show it off.  It was a sign of wealth that a man
could really "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 into the food.  This happened most often
with tomatoes, so they stopped eating tomatoes - for 400 years.

Most people didn't have pewter plates, but had trenchers (a piece of wood
with the middle scooped out like a bowl).  Trenchers were never washed and
a lot of times worms got into the wood.  After eating off wormy trenchers,
they 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 the "upper

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey.  The combination of lead and
alcohol would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days.  Someone
walking along the road could 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 to see if the
person would wake up.  Hence the custom of holding a "wake".

England is old and small, and they started running out of places to bury
people.  So, they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to a house
and re-use the grave.  In reopening these coffins, one 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
'dead' person's wrist and 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 to listen for the bell.  Hence on the "graveyard shift"
they would know that someone was "saved by the bell" or he was a "dead

	This material is offered for amusement only.
	Do not put these tidbits into high-school
	essays without further verification.  :-)

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