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Possible Origins of Some Cliches Used Today

I found the following to be interesting, however, I can't verify if the origins of the cliches are factual or not. The original author, not myself, claims the following cliches originated in 1500's Europe.

Most people got married in June because they took their yearly bath in May and still smelled pretty good by June. However, they were starting to smell so brides carried a bouquet of flowers to hide the body odor. Hence the custom today of carrying a bouquet of flowers 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."

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 thought 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."

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whisky. The combination would sometimes knock them out for a couple of days due to lead poisoning. 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."

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 dogs, 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, which posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really 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 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 in the entranceway. Hence the saying a "thresh hold."

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 and 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 "upper crust."

HistoryBuff.com Update

The last week of June I will be travelling down to Harrogate, Tenneesee, Hodgenville, Kentucky, Lincoln City/Santa Claus, Indiana and Fort Wayne, Indiana. I will be visiting tourist spots relating to Abraham Lincoln. It is here that I will also be making my first attempt at panorama/virtual reality for inclusion on HistoryBuff.com.

If there are any subscribers that would like to meet with me while I am down there, email me and let me know.

The 4400
On the USA Network Series
Returns For Season Three
On Sunday, June 11 At 9PM ET/PT

THE 4400, the critically-acclaimed series that chronicles the reappearance of 4400 people previously reported missing or dead, returns for a third season on Sunday, June 11 as a two-hour special from 9:00-11:00 PM ET/PT on USA Network, and then will air as weekly one-hour episodes at 9:00pm ET/PT starting Sunday, June 18.

THE 4400 premiered as a limited series on July 11, 2004 on USA Network as the highest-rated and most-watched new series premiere ever on a basic cable network. Last summer, the show ranked as the #1 original scripted series on cable in P18-49, beating every other cable network’s new series launches. THE 4400 received three Emmy nominations in its first season, including Outstanding Miniseries, as well as Outstanding Writing and Cinematography for a Miniseries or Movie.

The third season sparks a new beginning for the 4400 people who, over a span of years, mysteriously disappeared - only to be returned to Earth all together in a ball of light. Though the returnees had not aged physically, many of them reappeared with dramatic abilities ranging from enhanced reflexes to precognition. NTAC (National Threat Assessment Command) is the government agency responsible for keeping track of the returnees and investigating all things related to the 4400.

Fans seeking the truth about the destiny of THE 4400 learn all they need to know at USANetwork.com. The official site of THE 4400 offers the opportunity to examine the returnees through detailed profiles, weekly blogs by the characters, and exclusive webisodes that go beyond the script. Videos interviews with the cast and crew, blogs by the series writers and episode guides offer fans additional clues as to where the show is headed. And in time for the season three premiere, viewers will discover which 4400 they resemble thanks to an interactive personality profiler that pairs fans and 4400 characters. Visit http://www.usanetwork.com/the4400 for more.

For photos of THE 4400, please log on to the NBC Universal Media Village at http://www.nbcumv.com/

May Brain Teaser

If you have only one match and you walked into a room where there was an oil burner, a kerosene lamp, and a wood burning stove, which one would you light first and why?

Answer: The match: You can't light any of the lamps without lighting the match!

June Brain Teaser

A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over 5 minutes. Finally, she hangs him. But 5 minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be?

Answer: Next issue. (No prizes offered for correct answer.)

PS: If you make any money by winning bets on these brain teasers, a little commission would be nice :-)

May Contest

GRAND PRIZE QUESTION: At the time that the Declaration of Independence was drafted, John Hancock was president of the Congress. Who was secretary at the time?

ANSWER: Charles Thomson, Secretary of Continental Congress-1774 to 1781.

ALTERNATE PRIZE QUESTION: A draft of the Declaration of Independence was presented to Congress on June 28, 1776. On July 1, a vote was taken, and all but two states approved the Declaration. Which two voted no?

ANSWER: South Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Fifty-four people entered the contests. Twenty people either had the incorrect subject heading or the wrong answer to the question. For the Alternate Contest, almost everyone got the answer correct. For the Grand Prize question, twelve had the correct answer. One prize went unclaimed.
The May contest winners were:
  • Mac McLaren - Arizona
  • Bettye Short - Texas
  • Arlena Thomas - California
  • Julia Allison - Texas
  • Jessica Graham - Ohio
  • Jay Windham - Mississippi
  • Arlene Ross - Massachussets
  • Karen Duld - Pennsylvania

This Issue's Question

To enter the Grand Prize Contest, answer the question: Only one President of the United States WAS NOT inaugurated on the day set by law. He was inaugurated the next day instead. Which president was it and why was the inauguration delayed? (Hint: It wasn't George Washington.)

To enter the Alternate Contest, answer the question: In what year was the first United States census taken?

Contest Rules

  • Contest entry deadline is Thursday, June 15, 2006. Later entries will be disqualified. Winners will be notified by email within 24 hours after the contest deadline. Winners' names and states will be published in the next issue of the HistoryBuff.com newsletter.

  • Subscribers may enter both contests, but can only win one prize.

  • To enter either contest, email your answer to help@historybuff.com.

  • If entering for the Grand Prize, enter "Contest Entry Grand Prize" for the subject heading.

  • If entering for alternate prize contest, enter "Contest Entry" for the subject heading.

  • Entries with prize desires such as "any prize is OK," "any of the historic newspapers" etc. will be disqualified. You MUST select ONE prize.

  • If entering both contests, send separate emails.

  • From subscribers entering the alternate contest, submitting the correct answer, correct subject heading, submission received by the deadline, as well as advising which ONE alternate contest prize they want to win, EIGHT will be selected to win ONE of the alternate contest prizes below.

  • From subcribers entering the Grand Prize contest, one will be selected to win the prize from those submitting the correct subject heading, correct answer, and by the deadline.

  • Subscribers to this newsletter that won a prize in my trivia contests in the last 90 days are ineligible to win.
Grand Prize
(One winner will be selected)

The French Revolution:
  • Softbound book "The Days of the French Revolution" by Chirstopher Hibbert
  • DVD "French Revolution," a Documentary produced by the History Channel
Alternate Contest Prizes
Alternate Contest Prizes (Only one of each offered)

Little House on the Prairie DVD
2 Hour Movie
I'll Be Waving as You Drive Away

Fabulous '50's
Music CD Includes:

  • Rock Around the Clock - Bill Haley & the Comets (Live)
  • There Goes My baby - The Drifters
  • Tequila - The Champs
  • Bye Bye Love - The Everly Brothers (Live)
  • Little Darlin' - The Diamonds
  • Great Balls of Fire - Jerry Lee Lewis
  • The Great Pretender - The Platters
  • Plus 23 More Songs!

  • DVD Movie
    Little Lord Fountleroy (1938)
    Mickey Rooney and Freddie Bartholomew

    CD ROM Game
    Ultimate Civil War Battles
    Robert E. Lee Vs. Ulysses S. Grant
    Original Historic Newspapers

    Original The Columbian for the Country historic newspaper from 1819

    Original New-York Observer historic newspaper from 1836

    Original Detroit Tribune historic newspaper from 1864

    Original The New York Times historic newspaper from 1874
    That's it for this issue.

    Rick Brown

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