Pat Shingleton: "The Reason for Old Sayings"
Our daily bath or shower is routine but not the case years ago when the “man of the house” enjoyed the privilege of clean water for his bath. Dad’s “scrub-up” was followed by the other sons, then the women and finally the babies. The dirty water posed a threat of losing a family member, leading to the saying: “Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.” If you've ever read, “Pillars of the Earth,” or saw the movie-series, only the wealthy had slate floors and during wet weather a layer of thresh was placed on the slippery surface for better footing. During the winter months, piles of thresh would cover the doorway and once opened, thresh would spill onto the entryway, creating the word “threshold.” In years past, the origin of this food stuff recognized a slab of bacon as a sign of a wealthy man who “could really bring home the bacon” and sharing the bacon led to guests - “chewing the fat.” The wealthy also had plates of pewter while the poor used rarely washed wooden bowls called “trenchers.” Bacteria and worms got into the wood causing cases of “trench mouth”. Finally, this procedure began in England as limited space meant re-using graves for burials. Some coffins displayed scratch marks for those buried alive. A string tied on the wrist of a dead person was attached to a bell above ground. Someone on the “graveyard shift” would identify a “dead ringer” or someone “saved by the bell.”
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