[Northkeep] Where did "Piss Poor" (and other sayings) come from?

Michael Coone felemid.macphail at gmail.com
Thu Aug 2 08:13:05 PDT 2012

there is problem with debunking or confirming these because of the times
.... not a lot of common words of wisdom or cliches where written down...
much the same as slang is today ... one that has been debated for years,
are from the time of Rome yet argued they did not show up in publication
till the much later ....

Piss poor .... Rome in the early years did have a tax that could be payed
in Piss for the tanneries ... making it piss poor if you payed your taxes
this way ... but they would have not said piss poor ... because they spoke
Greek and/or Latin ... so would have been same meaning but in the right
grammar and language for the times ....

another one is turnpikes ....

turnpike - also came from times of Rome when a tax was levied on new road
... they would put soldiers on the road to collect the taxes (the army also
built the roads when not at war) ... they would block the road with pike a
18 ft long spear ... you payed the tax they would move it out of way ...by
turning them on the stand they rested on ... this gave birth to idea of
taxed roads that we call turnpikes ... again never confirmed ....but people
are people .... and does not take a record to say this is where the name
for toll roads came from ... the next time turn pikes where talked about in
history ... 1500 ish (forgot when ) and they where anti siege blocks of
spikes placed to block the road ... the Rome turnpike idea is more
believable to me ... and not to hard for the locals to come up with simple
name....and call something what it is .... we have been doing it for years
.... Parkways (when cars needed roads the easiest way to add them to towns
was along the parks that where in towns already ... and no one lost homes
from new roads) and driveways ( the way you go to drive ) these are simple
terms that best describe what they are .....

canopy bed also got their start as way to get some privacy, keep bugs and
drafts out of bed ... they would also put hot boxes under the beds to heat
them ... large stones or plates of metal where heated and placed under beds
... the canopy would help hold in the heat ... they also helped if the roof
leaked ....the tops where normal a heavy material less likely to leak ..
the need for privacy was simple ... alot of period homes for common folk
where maybe 1 to 3 rooms ... so if you slept in same room with say kids ...
grandma ... and your wife ... you would want to close sometime off .....

Chinese words of wisdom have been dismissed in place of the English
translation published in the 1930 for "to many irons in the fire" and
"strike while the iron is hot" both appeared when Chinese where still
working copper bronze and brass ... but disputed in part because of  the
word iron ... when it comes to working metal (does not matter the type of
metal) these are good advice that do translate to everyday life .....and
smiths where common enough everywhere for each culture to have the same
sayings maybe worded to match their grammar times and language ...but they
still had them ....

i have watched many a fight break out over these sayings, but i think it
silly .... when i was teen crack was sexual reference(not a drug) ...when
my grandmother was girl .... Gay was good thing ... and 100 years before
that Faggots where little sticks used to start a fire ..... so times and
exact wording will change but the idea of the saying is still the same ...
and the evolution of the language changes ... but they wisdom does not ....
how many forms of "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"
truth is always truth no matter the words, grammar and language  ... so if
find a story you like ... and deals with common sense ...enjoy the story
... do not worry about its place in history ... the truth of the wisdom
should be more important then ....the first person smart enough to write it
down ....

that is my 2 Cents worth ....hope you liked it ...

Felemid MacPhail
MKA Mike Coone

On Thu, Aug 2, 2012 at 8:53 AM, Kathryn Helstrom <kiamichikate at gmail.com>wrote:

> Below is a plethora of sayings and their supposed medieval origins.  Can
> anyone confirm or debunk them?
> My understanding is that "raining cats and dogs" came from early Industrial
> England, when feral cats and dogs roamed the streets, feeding off rats and
> other vermin.  When heavy rains came, the narrow streets would flood
> quickly and drown many cats and dogs.  In a short while, the water would
> drain, leaving the animal corpses strewn about the streets, making it
> appear that cats and dogs had fallen from the sky with the rain.  Am I
> right or is the story below correct?
> Franziska
> **
> **
>  ** **
>   ****
>   This has been around before, but this is where we came from
>                                        *
> Where did "Piss Poor" come from?
> They used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in
> a pot.
> And then once it was full it was taken and 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" and were the lowest of the low.
> 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 the 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; “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 ben 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.
> *
>    ****
> --
> Remember this: that there is a proper dignity and proportion to be observed
> in the performance of every act of life.  --Marcus Aurelius
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