Life in Early Beartown
Winter is a good time to reflect on
the unique history of the area. What better way is there
of passing a cold, dark evening than learning about how
the early Beartown settlers lived.
Most people got
married in June because they took their yearly bath in
May, and were still smelling pretty good by June -
although they were starting to smell - so brides carried
a bouquet of flowers to hide the BO.
Baths equaled a big
tub filled with hot water. The man of the house had the
privilege of the nice clean water, then all the other
sons and men, then the women and finally the children.
Last of all the babies. By then the water was so dirty
you could actually loose someone in it. Hence the saying,
the baby out with the bath water."
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
pets...dogs, cats, and other small animals, mice, rats,
and 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."
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; so
they found if they made beds with big posts and hung a
sheet over the top, it addressed that problem. Hence
big 4-poster beds with canopies.
The floor was dirt. Only the wealthy had something other
than dirt, hence the saying "dirt poor." The wealthy had slate or marble
floors which in the winter would get slippery when wet.
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 opened the door, it would all
start slipping outside. A piece of wood was placed at the
entry way, hence a "tresh
They cooked in the
kitchen in a big kettle that always hung over the fire.
Every day they lit the fire and added things to the pot.
They mostly ate vegetables and didn't 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 the stew had food in it that had been in
there for a month. Hence the rhyme: "Peas porridge hot, Peas
porridge cold, Peas porridge in the pot nine days old."
could obtain pork and would feel really special when that
happened. When company came over, they would bring out
some bacon and hang it to show it off. It was a sign of
wealth and 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."
Most people didn't
have pewter plates, but had trenchers - a piece of wood
with the middle scooped out like a bowl. Trenchers were
never washed and a lot of times worms got into the wood.
After eating off wormy trenchers, they would get "trench mouth."
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 the "upper
Lead cups were used
to drink ale or whiskey. The combination would sometimes
knock them 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."
were brought from England to New England. England is old
and small, and they started running out of places to bury
people. So they would dig up coffins and would take their
bones to a house and re-use the grave. In reopening these
coffins, one out of 25 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 on
their 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 to listen for the bell.
Hence, on the
"graveyard shift," they would know that someone was "saved by the bell" or he was a "dead ringer."
what radio station the bears and humans of BEARTOWN
listen to while on the internet? Why good old
Country Music, of course, on none other than: www.countrybear.com
here for genuine real country.
purpose of this paper is to report area news, and
nothing but the news so help me God, unless I
feel like doing something else, which I can do
whether you like it or not because it is my paper.
You can read it or not, just as you please. But
remember, if you don't read an issue you don't
know what your missing.
SOMEBODY SAY BEARTOWN
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