The test of an adventure is that when you are in the middle of it, you say to yourself, "Oh, now I've got myself into an awful mess; I wish I were sitting quietly at home." And the sign that something is wrong with you is when you sit quietly at home wishing you were out having lots of adventure. -Thornton Wilder

The nice thing about being confused is you get a chance to notice things a lot better than if you knew where you were going.

Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The 1500's pt.5

   Lead cups were used to drink ale or whiskey.  The combination would sometimes knock a person out for a couple of days.  It was not uncommon for 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 eating and drinking to wait and see if the person would wake, hence holding a "wake".

   England is old and small and they started running out of places to bury people.  So, they would dig up coffins and would take the bones to the house and reuse the grave.  When opening these coffins one out of twenty five 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 to the wrist and 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". 

(all images taken from the internet)
I didn't take the bother to verify any of these facts and this, the final post of this series may give some cause to speculate a little.  I mean, being out cold for days just by drinking from a lead cup?  And one in twenty five is a pretty high percentage.  Knowing that would make anyone afraid to die.


  1. I have read somewhere that the decline of the roman empire also had to do with lead. The flasks where the soldiers hold in their wine where from lead and also the watercontainers in the rich houses of those days. People where poisoned by it.

  2. I don't like to be burried, we had a funeral a few months ago and it was so miserable to hear the earth falling on the coffin and knowing someone was in there. No way for me. And when I read your story it scares me more, imagine to be burried alive!

  3. I really enjoyed this series of posts that gives the origins of some of our expressions.

  4. That is just kind of scary to think awful that would be.

  5. FYI:

  6. Great series, John! Lead is nasty stuff.

  7. This would have made an excellent Halloween post, John. ;))

  8. Followed John W's link...thought some of this stuff sounded a little too cute to be true!


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