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 and how Engineers have changed peoples lives for the better.
Here are some facts about life in Briton the 1500’s:
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 odour.
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 followed by the children and 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 of thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath. It was the only place for animals to get warm, so all of the dogs, cats and other small animals including mice, rats, and 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 garbage from falling from the underside of the thatched roof and into the rooms of the houses. This was a general problem throughout the house but especially in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could be really annoying to people who are sleeping. Hence, a bed with big posts and a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection and that’s how the 4 poster canopy beds came into existence.
The floor was dirt and only the wealthy had something other than dirt. Hence, the saying “dirt poor.” The wealthy had slate floors and in wet weather these would get slippery. To prevent the floors from being slippery, thresh (the waste husks left over from threshing the grain) was spread on the floor to absorb the water and moisture. In very wet weather, more and more thresh was added so that when the front door was opened the thresh would all start slipping outside. To prevent the thresh from slipping outside, a piece of wood was fixed across the bottom of the doorway and this was called the “thresh hold.”
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, the 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.”
The wealthy had plates made of pewter. Food with a 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.
Most people did not have pewter plates, but had trenchers, a piece of wood with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Often, trenchers were made from stale bread which was so old and hard that they could use them for quite some time.
Trenchers were never washed, and a lot of times worms and mould got into the wood and old bread. After eating off wormy mouldy trenchers, one would get “trench mouth.” 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.”
Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes knock them 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.”
Briton is old and small, and they started out 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.
And that’s the truth …
So where would we be without Engineers ………..
To take a quote from James A. Michener
“Scientists dream about doing great things. Engineers do them”
Lets mash it up a bit and say –
“People might dream of a better life. Engineers make it happen”
And that’s the truth…(Whoever said that History was boring?!)