A Pot to Piss In, and Other Stuff

A friend of mine, Lee Muller, posted the following on Facebook. It came from a site called Interesting Amazing Facts and I thought you might get a kick out of reading it.

“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 folk 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.

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.”

I haven’t a clue how much of this is true but it is interesting reading. Here’s one I read about years ago. At some time in Europe men made a living by wearing a huge cape and carrying a chamber pot. A gentleman would walk up, pay the man a few pence, be engulfed by the cape for privacy, and then relieve himself in the pot. Mel Brooks played such a character, Le Garçon de Pisse or piss boy, in his film History of the World, Part 1. 

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