Why We Say That!

  • Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May, and they still smelled pretty good by June. Since they were starting to smell, however, 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, resulting in the idiom, “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, therefore, 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, leading folks to coin the phrase “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, subsequently creating 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, and thus 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, creating the custom of holding a wake.
  • 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.”
  • 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.

Thanks to William Poutu, who posted this on Facebook.com for all to see!

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Big Jim

Giving back to the community…

There’s a small town named Bentleyville off of Exit 32 of Interstate 70 in southwestern Pennsylvania.  Until recently, Bentleyville was known mainly as the home of a busy Truck Stop and a Best Western Hotel, both of which are quite visible to travelers along Interstate 70.  On the 9th of June, 2007, Bentleyville acquired another landmark.  His name is Big Jim the Cowboy and this is his story.

Big Jim lived for many years at the Krutz Welding Company on Twilight Hollow Road, which is a few miles east of Bentleyville.  Krutz Welding was no longer in business and the property had been sold, so Big Jim had to find a new home.  He put himself up for sale on eBay, but the reserve was not met.  Other attempts to find a new home for Big Jim were also unsuccessful and he was in danger of joining the ranks of the homeless.  But, at the last moment, a kind benefactor stepped into the breech and offered Big Jim a new home.  And, in addition, on the day Big Jim moved into his new home, invited all the townsfolk over for a free barbecue, musical entertainment, a petting zoo and pony rides for the kids, an antique auto show, and more.

The benefactor was Dr. Kamlish Gosai, a prominent local physician, who also happened to be the owner of the Bentleyville Best Western Hotel.  Big Jim now stands guard 24×7 at the hotel, with his trusty six-shooter pointed westward.  And is visible to all traveling that stretch of Interstate 70.

Big Jim is quite happy with his new home, a new coat of paint, a fancy pedestal to stand on, with a plaque that summarizes his history and vital statistics.  If you ever happen to be in the area, be sure to stop in Bentleyville and say hello to Big Jim the Cowboy.  And if you happen to meet up with him, thank Dr. Gosai for rescuing Big Jim and giving him a new home his community can be proud of.  You can learn more about Big Jim by searching Google for “Krutz Welding Big Jim.”  And, take a look here to view more pictures of Big Jim, some of which show the amazingly detailed work done by the artist/welder James Krutz, Sr.