A Traveler and his Cat exploring America.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

The 1500's pt.2

As close as I have to a thatch roof home photo, this trader's outpost near Chadron, Nebraska.

   In the 1500's houses had thatched roofs - thick straw, piled high, with no wood underneath.  It was the only place for animals to get warm so all the pet 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."  (I always wondered about that one).
   There was nothing to stop things from falling into the house.  This posed a real problem in the bedroom where bugs and other droppings could really mess up your nice clean bed.  A bed with big posts with a sheet hung over the top afforded some protection.  That is how canopy beds came into existence.

From my visit to Ha Ha Tonka State Park in Missouri
 where once stood a castle which caught fire and burned.

From one of the very few surviving sod houses of the Great Plains, this one in Aline Oklahoma.
Really worth a visit if you are ever near there.

   The floor was dirt.  Only the wealthy had something other than dirt hence the saying, "dirt poor".   The wealthy had slate floors that would get slippery in the winter so they spread thresh on the floor to help keep their footing.  As the winter wore on they kept adding more thresh until when you would open the door it would all start slipping outside.  A piece of wood was placed in the entryway and you had a "threshold".  Now you can impress your friends at the next dinner party with this little tidbit of information.

I didn't have a thresh covered floor photo so I stole these off the internet.
- still more to come -


  1. Well, I just learned four interesting facts! A really fun and informative post!

  2. Well we are a lot wiser now, thank you for educating us.

  3. Another very nice lesson please keep them coming John.

  4. I love finding out where sayings originated. I'll have to see if Aline is near my planned Oklahoma route.

  5. i just get creepy-crawlies all over me, thinking about their survival. eek!

  6. This is a great combination of history and language. We use or understand all these terms but their origin is what's really interesting.

  7. I would love to see that sod house!

  8. I always wondered about those sayings! I enjoyed this post a lot! Thanks!

  9. Canopy beds may have originated as a means of keeping out flying insects but if you think about it, people rich enough to afford a canopy bed — a huge investment in the 1500s — would also be living in homes with proper ceilings.


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