December 04, 2008

That's How the Saying Goes, Part 2

by Deeanne Gist

Last month we discussed the origin of some of our common everyday sayings and customs. I loved learning all the new ones you told us about. Here are a few more.

  • In the 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 and 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 "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 to 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."

Can you imagine having that graveyard shift, then going home to the wife?

“So, honey, how was your day?”

“Well, seems old lady Stokes wasn’t dead after all and had to be dug up. No sooner had we started on her, then Woodward started ringing his bell. Was a busy night, love. I’m beat.”

Ha! Anybody have any new ones they’ve learned about? Share them with us!

Here's Deeanne's contest question:

Who is the cover model for Dee's May release, A Bride in the Bargain? (You must click on "Dee's Chat Room" to find out.)

Please use my blog link: From there, go to the Chat Room.

Leave your answer here on Bustles, in the comments under this post, and don't forget to leave your email in this format: your_email [at] whatever [dot] com


Barbara said...

What a lovely cover for Deeanne Gist's new book. And that it is a photo of her 19 year old daughter is like whipped cream on top of peach cobbler. I am looking forward to reading the book.
Is there a story behind the dress? It is so elegant.

Barbara said...

I just wanted to leave another comment thanking Tina Dee for such a neat web site as Bustles and Spurs. I have yet to read a posting where I didn't learn something. I also enjoy the look and feel of the site. Again, just wanted to say thanks to Tina Dee.


Vickie McDonough said...

Very interesting stuff, Dee Anne. It really makes you stop and think about some of our common phrases.

I know the answer to your question, but as I'm also a resident blogger here, I'll defer to someone else. Love your upcoming cover and such a lovely model. :)

Kathy Fuller said...

How neat your daughter is on the cover! I liked learning about the origin of some of our sayings--the one that really tickled me was "upper crust". I love the bread in the middle, so I would have been very satisfied to be middle class. :)

Sandee61 said...

The model is your beautiful daughter...what a lovely cover! I can't wait to read this book. I'd love to be entered in your giveaway. Thank you.
Your daughter looks like you!



Molly Noble Bull said...

Interesting, Dee Anne.

Donna Moore said...

This is such a cool blog. I had no idea where those sayings came from. As for the question the cover model is her daughter. It is a beautiful cover.


Leigh said...

What great stories behind some of those phrases! My 10-YO son would especially like the graveyard ones. :-)

What a gorgeous cover for your new book - and to have your daughter as the model must make it even more special. Can't wait to see the real version in the bookstore!

Leigh DeLozier

Anonymous said...

A lovely cover with your 19 year old daughter...

Jan Peterson

Pam Hillman said...

Gorgeous cover AND model! You've got to be so proud of your daughter.

Pam Hillman


Deeanne Gist said...

This cover is definitely a favorite for me! I got some fun insider looks at what all goes into the making of a cover. It's crazy all the stuff that goes into it!

Cheri2628 said...

Beautiful cover AND it's your daughter! How wonderful! Has she done any other modeling?


Deeanne Gist said...

Cheri, My daughter has indeed done other modeling. If you go back to my blog, then click on the "scrapbook" tab, scroll down and you'll see some modeling pics of her when she was first starting out a few years ago!

angela said...

Love the cover. Can't wait to read the book!

Nise' said...

I have been seemingly smart with my friends telling them of the sayings origins! LOL The cover model is daughter.

brendalottakamaggiebrendan said...

Deeanne, what a great post! I was so surprised to learn the origin of so many of the common sayings used nearly every day.

Mary said...

You have a beautiful Daughter, Dee, what a good choice for your cover. I love those old fashioned lacy dresses. I look forward to reading it.

Merry Christmas and God bless, Mary

Anonymous said...

It's your lovely.

Maureen said...

It is you lovely daughter.