Also for ABC Wednesday: "P" is for "Potable")
News item: The past few years have been California's driest on record. Forecasters predict that punishing droughts like the current one could become the new norm.
Which got me to thinking. What would we do without drinking water?
A question you may never have asked yourself; generally speaking, water is available for us to drink.
I came up with this question while studying Shakespeare because in his day the water was not to be trusted, it was usually too polluted to drink.
But they had to have something. Little kids getting up in the morning, wandering into the kitchen for their breakfast, the sixteenth-century equivalent of Cheerios, had to have something to wash it all down with. It wasn’t milk, wine or cider; they were too expensive for daily imbibing.
Tea and coffee were not introduced into England until about fifty years after Shakespeare’s death, so that he would have had no experience and probably no knowledge of those two beverages. Imagine an England with no tea…
Well, there was a beverage that was cheap and plentiful; kids drank it regularly as did everyone else.
And just because everyone drank it, Shakespeare’s town, Stratford-Upon-Avon, appointed a special officer to oversee it. Maybe they couldn’t make the water clean but they could make this stuff potable and not too dangerous.
Will Shakespeare’s dad held this office for a while; it was one of the many town offices he held during his rise from semi-literate farm hand to – ta-da! – mayor of Stratford.
You can have the same stuff for breakfast today, though not many do.
What was it?
(The answer will be posted Saturday)