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Where did piss poor come from?

posted 12/14/2010 2:32:01 AM |
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tagged: humor, piss, story, straddle

Interesting History

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


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


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?)

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!!!

So...get out there and educate someone! ~~~ Share these

facts with a friend.

Copy & paste to friend: (Click inside box; Ctrl + C to copy; Ctrl + V to paste)

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post a comment!


Dec 14 @ 4:51AM  
believe it or not....
I already knew this and yeas it is rather interesting

Dec 14 @ 4:52AM  
heeey how can i be the only post yet there is already 3 greenies ????

Dec 14 @ 4:58AM  
I already knew this and yeas it is rather interesting
Thanks, Tassie!

heeey how can i be the only post yet there is already 3 greenies ????
Because I gave myself one.

Not sure about the other kudo...

Dec 14 @ 6:19AM  
Good one!!!
#4 Greenie is from me!

Dec 14 @ 5:57PM  
I had to take next time I have a history class...I can impress the professor with this.

Oh..and here is your 5th kudo.

Dec 14 @ 7:10PM  
That is one of my favorite sayins

People have piss poor attitudes anymore

6th greeenie for ya Straddle

Dec 14 @ 7:47PM  
Sorry to bust this myth, but there's a few things wrong:

Current uses of the word “pot” date only to the 18th century, and the use of “piss” as a modifier dates only to the 19th century (source OED). Two exceptions are words no longer used, piss-prophet (urologist) and piss-proud (morning wood), but both are close enough to the 18th century date to hold true. While it's true that tanneries used urine in their processes, that's because urine contains tannins (a modern chemistry term derived from tanneries and not vice-versa.) Both terms “piss poor” and “pot to piss in” are modern, dating after World War II.

Bathing was something that varied widely based on local belief and geography. Most individuals that had access to clean water sources, such as in Mendocino or Bath, traditionally took baths more frequently. The idea that baths would cause you to “catch cold” was not widely believed. In fact, Ben Franklin wrote a whole treatise about how one should expose oneself to cold air following a hot bath for health...a belief also widely practiced in places like Northern Europe and the Ottoman Empire. People that took vows of modesty often did not bathe as they simply did not undress. It was documented that when St. Augustine was prepared for his funeral he was so dirty that every crevice of his body was infested with insects. He hadn't removed his clothes to bathe in more than 30 years.

Although in 1500 the English word “regn” existed (also, OED) terms like “raining cats and dogs” and when it rains it pours” weren't used until the 18th century. The idea that thatched roofs were structurally unsound is simply untrue, and only the most highly skilled modern contractors can perform a task that was commonplace a millenia ago. Thatched roofs are warm in the winter, cool in the summer, and they are so densely woven they are almost air-tight, never mind water drops and larger things.

If you go to a antiques expert, they'll give you a much better explanation for canopy beds: Economy. If you were to maintain heat in your house (or even in just one room) it required you keep a fire blazing. A thickly curtained canopy bed allowed you to be your own heating element, keeping you warm on cold winter nights. During the summer, a lighter gauze could be affixed to the canopy to allow better air flow but keep away insect bites, but this was more because you kept windows open in summer and not because your roof was inadequate.

The idea that floors were just dirt is also untrue. Records of stone and tile floors were common (even in remote areas) by the 13th century. It is true, however, that in some regions a process existed for “pounded dirt” floors. These were dirt that had been highly compacted then sealed with resins (once again, it's a highly specialized construction skill that few people can do today, and it has a wonderful finish – both lustrous and non-skid.) In fact, if you used the word “dirt” in the 1500's you were more likely talking about shit than earth. And “thresh” by the way, is an action not an item. The item referred to as “thresh” (what we might call straw) would more likely be called “thatch” or “chaff”.

Tomatoes were considered poisonous because they are. They are the same family as nightshade, Solanaceae. It was recognized among many people that if a cow or sheep ate tomato plants it would die, so they were recognized as poison and not usually cultivated. It was only once their fruits were recognized as edible that they began widespread use. The same is true for eggplant. However, it is also true that the old way of making pewter did use lead as an alloy, and it did result in the shortening of lifespans, but it was not recognized for doing so until much later.

The use of “upper” to designate class wasn't employed until the 19th century. Prior to that the class system consisted of five units in the West: Royalty (kings and queens), Nobility (dukes, barons, lords, etc.), Gentry (knights, squires), Guildsmen, and everybody else (serfs, peasants, etc.)

The idea of burying someone prematurely was rampant as a Victorian fear (source, Jan Bondeson) but the word wake at that time meant “to hold vigil.” The string-in-a-grave thing was also Victorian, as were lots of other bizarre contraptions, but these were usually for the rich and they were abandoned after a few years use as they proved very impractical. In the middle ages coffins were not generally used. If you were important then you might have your bones committed to an ossuary, or if you were really important your family might own a mausoleum, or if you were really REALLY important then you might have your very own sarcophagus, but most people were simply wrapped with a winding cloth before they were interred. Unless you were really poor then why waste good cloth? Just toss 'em in the ground.

Please...don't try to impress a history professor with this. I have several that are friends and they hear this kind of thing all the time.

Dec 14 @ 10:31PM  
Please...don't try to impress a history professor with this. I have several that are friends and they hear this kind of thing all the time.
This blog I did was just for laughs (notice my tags for this blog as I tagged it humor and funny), Dom. I got it from my mom as one of those email forwards and thought it was funny enough to share on here.

Dec 14 @ 10:51PM  
Good job straddle, i really enjoyed that, if you have any more post them i like reading them

Dec 14 @ 11:21PM  
This blog I did was just for laughs.

Oh, and believe me it is funny. Unfortunately there's a lot of "urban legend" out there that people take for truth. My main concern came out of sugarNspice's comment. Maybe she meant it or maybe she didn't, but I have seen more than one student get a failing grade because of something that was hearsay.

Dec 14 @ 11:25PM  
to both you and BC9

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Where did piss poor come from?