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John Heard
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Just another sunrise in Otago, NZ

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More from those old past days ...

Those with money had plates made of pewter. Food with high acid
content caused some of the lead to leach into the food, causing lead
poisoning and often death. This happened 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 realised they had been burying people alive. So they
would tie a string on the wrist of the corpse, thread 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.

Back in those old days, they often cooked 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, 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
They would cut off a little to share with guests and would
all sit around talking and ''chew the fat''.


More 1500's facts :-)

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?)

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 odour. 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!"
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