Historically Speaking

Making sense of it all!

  • Archives

  • Pages

  • Subscribe

  • Meta

Posts Tagged ‘pilgrims’

Don’t Let The Bedbugs Bite

Posted by Admin on March 15, 2010

Bedbugs were the bugs that came in with the straw.  Although some mattresses were stuffed with goose down feathers, other mattresses were stuffed with straw.  However, whether a mattress had goose down or straw in it, pioneers who came into contact with straw unwittingly carried bedbugs back into the house.

Bedbugs were dangerous in that they inflicted people and animals alike with irritating, and sometimes painful, bites.

It’s from this era that we have the children’s rhyme:  “Good night, sleep tight — don’t let the bedbugs bite.  If they do, grab a shoe and whack them ’til they’re black and blue.”

Posted in Idioms from the 17th Century | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Good Night, Sleep Tight

Posted by Admin on March 12, 2010

Back in colonial times, mattresses were made of goose down feathers. While this made for a very luxurious sort of mattress, it wasn’t as firm a mattress as some would have liked.

In an effort to create more firmness in such mattresses, ropes were tied around the mattress width-wise at the tope, middle and bottom and pulled tight in order to condense the goose down feathers. The tighter the ropes were pulled, the firmer the mattress. For those who preferred a firmer mattress, this provided a better night’s sleep than the unbound mattresses.

Posted in Idioms from the 17th Century | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Nose To The Grindstone

Posted by Admin on March 11, 2010

The Pilgrims were also responsible for this phrase.  Back in the 1600s, the main staple food was corn.  However, in order to get the greatest use from corn, it had to be ground finely until it was cornmeal.

In order to achieve this feat, corn kernels were poured into a stone bowl in which the millstone rested.  The millstone, of course, was turned by the power of the windmill.  However, in order to get the corn into the bowl, the miller had to pour it in from the backside which meant his face was as close to the millstone as you could get without actually causing injury.

Posted in Idioms from the 17th Century | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Three Sheets To The Wind

Posted by Admin on March 10, 2010

Three sheets to the wind comes from the Mayflower and its Pilgrims who used the resources of the Mayflower once they arrived in the New World.

These windmills were built with three ‘blades’ that caught the wind.  In time, the Pilgrims came to realize that three sheets made for a rickety windmill and so they added a fourth blade to their windmill design.

When someone overindulged in alcohol and walked in a ‘rickety’ fashion, it was said that he was three sheets to the wind.

Posted in Idioms from the 17th Century | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »