A Lesson In Family History (Part 3)

continuation of A Lesson in Family History

Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey. 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.  Whoever said history was boring!

Maybe we don’t have it too bad after all. I guess we have to simply take the good with the bad. Nothing remains the same and in all fairness, that’s a good thing. We work just as hard now as we did hundreds of years ago and we still have to pay the bills, feed the family; clean the house… I imagine the pace was slower back then though, less stressful. It was a world free of modernization, TVs, computers, Internet, long distance communication, airplanes, cars, trains or the threat of nuclear war.

On the other hand, it was a world without central heating, a sewage system, healthcare, a means to predict and to fight natural disasters, vaccines against any number of diseases…

There were no arguments about which movie to put on, which channel to watch, which computer game to play, which cell phone is the best…

Even if I have missed out on quite a lot of my son’s childhood because I have had to work so hard to survive, I think I am happy I live here and now, not yesteryear, back then.

Have a great day!


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4 Responses

  1. Maggie

    I learned something new again today! WOW did not know where those sayings came from! Moral of the story for me, don’t drink out of a lead cup!

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