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Interesting History
ifihadahif Posted: Mon Apr 11 10:41:38 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  


In George Washington's days, there were no cameras. One's image was either
sculpted or painted. Some paintings of George Washington showed him
standing behind a desk with one arm behind his back while others showed
both legs and both arms. Prices charged by painters were not based on how
many people were to be painted, but by how many limbs were to be painted.
Arms and legs are "limbs," therefore painting them would cost the buyer
more. Hence the expression, "Okay, but it'll cost you an arm and a leg."

As incredible as it sounds, men and women took baths only twice a year (May
and October)! Women kept their hair covered, while men shaved their heads
(because of lice and bugs) and wore wigs. Wealthy men could afford good
wigs made from wool. They couldn't wash the wigs; so to clean them they
would carve out a loaf of bread, put the wig in the shell, and bake it for
30 minutes. The heat would make the wig big and fluffy, hence the term "big
wig." Today we often use the term "here comes the Big Wig" because someone
appears to be or is powerful and wealthy.

In the late 1700s, many houses consisted of a large room with only one
chair. Commonly, a long wide board folded down from the wall, and was used
for dining. The "head of the household" always sat in the chair while
everyone else ate sitting on the floor. Occasionally a guest, who was
usually a man, would be invited to sit in this chair during a meal. To sit
in the chair meant you were important and in charge. They called the one
sitting in the chair the "chair man." Today in business, we use the
expression or title "Chairman" or "Chairman of the Board."

Personal hygiene left much room for improvement. As a result, many women
and men had developed acne scars by adulthood. The women would spread bee's
wax over their facial skin to smooth out their complexions. When they were
speaking to each other, if a woman began to stare at another woman's face
she was told, "mind your own bee's wax." Should the woman smile, the wax
would crack, hence the term "crack a smile." In addition, when they sat too
close to the fire, the wax would melt . . . therefore, the expression
"losing face."

Ladies wore corsets, which would lace up in the front. A proper and
dignified woman. As in "straight laced" . . . wore a tightly tied lace.

Common entertainment included playing cards. However, there was a tax
levied when purchasing playing cards but only applicable to the "Ace of
Spades." To avoid paying the tax, people would purchase 51 cards instead.
Yet, since most games require 52 cards, these people were thought to be
stupid or dumb because they weren't "playing with a full deck."

Early politicians required feedback from the public to determine what the
people considered important. Since there were no telephones, TV's or
radios, the politicians sent their assistants to local taverns, pubs, and
bars. They were told to "go sip some ale" and listen to people's
conversations and political concerns. Many assistants were dispatched at
different times. "You go sip here" and "You go sip there." The two words
"go sip" were eventually combined when referring to the local opinion and,
thus we have the term "gossip."


At local taverns, pubs, and bars, people drank from pint and quart-sized
containers. A bar maid's job was to keep an eye on the customers and keep
the drinks coming. She had to pay close attention and remember who was
drinking in "pints" and who was drinking in "quarts," hence the term
"minding your "P's and Q's."


One more: bet you didn't know this! In the heyday of sailing ships, all war
ships and many freighters carried iron cannons. Those cannons fired round
iron cannon balls. It was necessary to keep a good supply near the cannon.
However, how to prevent them from rolling about the deck? The best storage
method devised was a square-based pyramid with one ball on top, resting on
four resting on nine, which rested on sixteen. Thus, a supply of 30 cannon
balls could be stacked in a small area right next to the cannon. There was
only one to prevent the bottom layer from sliding or rolling
from under the others. The solution was a metal plate called a "Monkey"
with 16 round indentations. However, if this plate were made of iron, the
iron balls would quickly rust to it. The solution to the rusting problem
was to make "Brass Monkeys." Few
Landlubbers realize that brass contracts much more and much faster than
iron when chilled. Consequently, when the temperature dropped too far, the
brass indentations would shrink so much that the iron cannonballs would
come right off the monkey. Thus, it was quite literally, "Cold enough to
freeze the balls off a brass monkey." (All this time, you thought that was
an improper expression, didn't you.)

ifihadahif Posted: Mon Apr 11 10:42:23 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I can't vouch for the accuracy of the stuff in the above post, but it is still interesting nonetheless.

Posted: Mon Apr 11 11:52:19 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  I've actually heard the "Freeze the balls off a brass monkey" explanation before from a coworker; all those are pretty funny :)

Asswipe Posted: Mon Apr 11 12:46:47 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  and history repeats itself again as i believe you've posted this listing before? or something similar?

ifihadahif Posted: Mon Apr 11 13:06:41 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  Asswipe said:
>and history repeats itself again as i believe you've posted this listing before? or something similar?
I posted something similar some time ago called "life in the 1500's".

I get a lot of this kind of stuff in my email. Most of it goes in the trash but every now and then, one of them piques my interest and I will post it here if I think some gt'ers might like it as well.

addi Posted: Mon Apr 11 13:17:19 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  personally, i love reading about the history of words, slang and phrases.
...and if it's a repost then my memory isn't good enough to recognise it as one : )

DanSRose Posted: Mon Apr 11 14:33:36 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  A thing most people know, but still is very cool:
The nursery rhyme "London Bridges (Falling Down)" is about the Great London Fire, which also put a stop to...
The Black Plague!, which has it's own nursery rhyme, "Ring Around The Rosie". That one is about how to spot check for the Plague. The rosie, being the elbow (and the knee, too) would get a black-ish ring around it, which they thought was the cause of demons, called posies. They burned the bodies to ashes, ashes, or every dies ("They all fall down").

Speaking of playing cards, the modern playing card deck is derivative of the Tarot deck, with all the major arcana cards removed, the pages and knights combined into jacks, and the suits of swords, cups, wands, and pentacles made into spades, hearts, clubs, and diamonds, respectively. Also the Fool card was doubled and made into the supervillian ever.

Mark Posted: Tue Apr 12 16:26:50 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  lol... great read. thnx :)

Mesh Posted: Tue Apr 12 19:01:30 2005 Post | Quote in Reply  
  addison said:
>personally, i love reading about the history of words, slang and phrases.
>...and if it's a repost then my memory isn't good enough to recognise it as one : )



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