Did you know…

…that my brain is full of useless shit?  It is.

For example, I have the song, “Ring Around the Rosy,” in my head.  Don’t ask me why. It happens.  I bet you are singing it now, aren’t you?  Try getting it out of your head. You’ll be singing it all day. You’re welcome!

But, did you know that it is supposedly a little ditty about the Great Plague of London?  I believe they also called it the, “Black Plague,” or “Black Death.”  Take your pick.  Leave it to some questionable individual to write a catchy tune about people dying.  Leave it to children to hold hands and dance in a circle and then fall to the ground when they get to the last line.  Leave it to adults to make this acceptable.

So, let’s break it down, shall we?  If you aren’t interested, just close this window and come back tomorrow.  But for those of you who wish to accumulate the same shit that occupies my brain, here we go.  First of all, here’s the first part of the song.  That’s all we really need.

Ring around the rosy,
A pocketful of posies.
ashes, ashes.
We all fall down.

Breaking it down:

Ring around the rosy: A rosy rash.  Apparently a symptom of the plague.

A Pocketful of posies: These were carried around in their pockets to ward off the smell of the “ring around the rosy.”  Posies were supposedly little satchels that held herbs.  Can you imagine the stench without the posies?  I mean, we are talking about decaying flesh here.  **gag**  Sorry.  I’ll stop providing a visual.  If you were eating while reading this, I apologize again.

Ashes, Ashes:  those who died were cremated.

We all fall down:  They died.

It seems that the line, “Ashes, Ashes” should come after, “We all fall down,” but then the song wouldn’t have that catchy little tune, would it?

Moving on…

Here something that I learned while touring Nathaniel Hawthorne’s house in Salem, Massachusetts. By the way, if you’ve never been to Salem, you should go.  It’s an awesome place!

Anyway, I learned where the saying, “Chairman of the Board,” and “Sleep Tight,” came from. Here comes some more useless shit.  Make some room in your head.

Chairman of the Board:  A loooooong time ago, people used to gather in the kitchen because it was the warmest room in the house.  Hell, it did have an over-sized fireplace (for cooking). In the kitchen, there was a long board with 4 legs (we call this a table today, but they just simply called it a board) with a bench running along the side.  There was also one chair at the end of the table, but that was reserved for distinguished guests. This distinguished guest was called the Chairman.  When such a guest arrived, he was given the honor of sitting at the head of the board/table in the only chair.  Thus, he was the chairman of the board.

Sleep Tight:  Before modern mattresses and box springs were used, ropes were spread across the bed frame in a criss-cross pattern so that it could support the mattress.  Over time, the mattress would sag (as ropes tend to do when stretched).  If my fat ass were lying in it, I’d be sleeping on the floor.  Every night.  Anyway, these ropes had to be tightened periodically and were done so by using a wooden “key” that looked similar to a clamp.  Once it was clamped down on the rope, it was twisted until the mattress was no longer sagging and then a wooden peg was inserted to prevent it from untwisting.

There ya go, Dear Readers: today’s history lesson!  Don’t you feel smarter?  Now, go amaze your friends and family.

2 thoughts on “Did you know…

  1. jessmittens

    Here in Australia (or are you in this country too, oops) we sang “a tissue a tissue” instead of “ashes ashes”, so it’s a little less disturbing. I think the ‘a tissue’ means people were… sneezing? From the plague?
    Now I will sing this all day, sigh.

    1. GK Adams Post author

      I’m in the United States, but I do find it interesting how other countries adapt these little diddy’s to match their own culture.


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