Skeletons in Your Closet


Do you have skeletons in your closet? “Probably not. No real ones anyway, [says a writer who obviously hasn’t had many dealings with questionable Witches, desperate medical students, or mad scientists]. This expression, meaning something in your past that you wish to keep hidden away, comes from Old England.

In the Middle Ages, not much was known about human anatomy. Autopsies were occasionally performed after the Black Death plague of 1348, but dissections of human cadavers for purely scientific reason occurred very rarely. Bodies of executed criminal served as the only source of legal cadavers [I read this in Hannibal Rising, who said fiction is not an awesome source of grotesque medical knowledge?]. Women’s bodies, however, were rarely used and usually cadavers were mutilated during executions and also missing various body parts. Lack of refrigeration made for hasty dissections. Even the best universities performed dissections only once or twice a year. To overcome this scarcity of human bodies, medical students had to steal bodies out of the newly dug grave sites for study, or buy them on the black market. The grave-robbing business thrived in eighteenth-century England. Grave robbers become known as ‘resurrection men,’ [and if they got a corpse on the third day, they were called “savior snatchers.” Yes, I made up that last bit *grin*].

British law strictly prohibited surgeons from dissecting cadavers except for those of executed criminals. The ill-gotten skeletons were usually thrown into rivers or fed to dogs [that came equipped with femur-crunching-jaws and other power tools]. Skeletons were sometimes kept for future study, often locked away in closets, for possession of them was a punishable crime [skeletal possession, *teehee*].

New Yorkers rioted for three days in April 1788 when they learned that the doctors at the Hospital of the City of New York were robbing graves [naughty, naughty, body snatchers]. Subsequently, a law was passed in 1789 allowing doctors to legally obtain corpses for dissection,” [and for the totally chic, Bring Your Own Corpse to Dance Halloween Extravaganza, and then party until your date rots!].


I hope you are getting in the All Hallow’s Grim mood, my Wicked Luvs. Say hi to the skeletons in your closet for me. My skeleton came out a few years back. All he does is talk about his fabulous hair ;-)

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43 comments:

  1. So very interesting, those skeletons are. :)

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    1. Sí, sí! That's the reason everyone was trying to get to the heart of marrow. I know, my jokes suck, but they come from a good place ;-)

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  2. I liked this piece of info... and hey, no information is useless!liking your skeleton, look pretty and ready to party at Halloween! I have started decorating my room with some Halloween crochet and paper made stuff:)dunno whether i can pumpkin here at this time of the year, hope I can.

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    1. I hope you can find your pumpkin. I also hope you can figure out the meaning of the hanging women. And you know, if you can't find pumpkins, you can always use gourd or a large turnip. The intent is what matters, and for you to have a blast ;-)

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    2. Yes, you know already that I made the pumpkins :)Thanks for encouraging and wise replies, Magaly. Anna
      I replied on your question, but in my post. about those huge hanging dolls...:)

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  3. cool post...
    i'm in the spirit...of the dead...or the UNdead. been waiting all year for this time of year! i have a few skeletons that come out of the closet this month...and a few that bargain with me to stay out of the closet all year!

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    1. My spies have told me that the skeletons that bargain with you to stay out of the closet all year long have won. I'm sooo glad, too. Because they are some very good looking fellows ;-)

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  4. He does have fabulous hair!! Ha! Quite an entertaining blog today! I thought it was a myth...grave robbing for bodies that is. Very "spooky" story! Middle of the night....digging around in a cemetery!! Eek!
    Hugs
    SueAnn

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    1. I used to think it was a myth, too! Then I went to work at a morgue, and read some history, and was surprised by the criminal minds... I mean the determination to learn of some doctors lol

      I hope the skeletons didn't crawl under the sheets to pull you toes ;-)

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  5. I love finding out facts like this. :)) They are not really a conversation starters but hey, it might come in handy one day. :)) My skeleton is staying hidden. it must be having a bad hair day. :))

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    1. I'm the same way. And you are right, they aren't ice breakers (unless you are having tea with a mortician) but the face of your friends at happy hour when you answer that weird question everybody else couldn't even think of knowing the answer to is priceless.

      Tell your skeleton to pull its hair out. It would look fantabulous ;-)

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  6. Silk and red and see through!! You mean business do n't you?
    I have noticed that the closer we are to All Hallow's Eve the awesomer(not really a word? who cares!) your posts become!
    Human cadavres excavated, studied and fed to dogs(with powertools non the less lol) this really was a great way to start my day. Maybe a shrink would not be such a bad investment?
    Have a beautiful and hot hot hot week!

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    1. Red dress, oil, candles, busy hands, and lots of dancing lol

      You know, another friend just emailed me to say, "Did you notice that your pictures and story start losing flesh and body parts as All Hallow's Eve approached?" That made me laugh.

      If you need a shrink for liking spooky in the morning, I might need about 13. Maybe we can get a group discount ;-)

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  7. I have so many skeletons that I can't hang a dang thing in there. Well, not really "in", since all I have is a rack against a wall. It's when they start staring at you at night that it gets a bit creepy...

    \IiiI

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    1. There is something hauntingly freaky about those empty sockets and those lip-less grins ;-)

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  8. That is some fabulous hair your skeleton has! Have you met the Order of the Good Death channel on YouTube? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SbQTACCNgcg The cauldron in question has a flat side, so all you would need to do is build up your bathroom floor to hold the weight :)

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    1. WoooHooo! How lovely it would be to bubble in warm lavender brew ;-) *off to check out the Order of the Good Death*

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  9. Where I use to work as a printer we kept a skeleton in the dark room so every time a new employee would go back there for the first time I'd tell them to watch out for Fred. It was just an old Halloween decoration because the building had been used as a haunted house one year. But it always freaked everyone out to be locked in the room with a skeleton. lol

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    1. Nothing better than a work environment where coworkers are willing to scare the crap out of each other every once in a while. It would feel like being home with brothers, sisters and sinister cousins ;-)

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  10. I had a neighbor in Vegas who was big on taxidermy. He had what he claimed were the complete skeletons of various desert animals and a pygmy. I liked the pygmy the best. It looked like a tiny grinning midget butler. The neighbor had glued a tray to its head. Out of respect. And because it made an awesome end table.

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    1. I'm picturing the butler uniform and the tray on top of its head and grinning. I'm wondering about the expression on its skeletal face, too. I do love bones quite a bit. I wish I could collect a few specimens.

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  11. Sometimes I hear bones rattling in my closets, but I just turn out the lights and lock the door. Make no bones about it, I prefer them to stay hidden. I threw away the skeleton key.

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    1. I'm pretty sure there have been bone parades around here with quite a bit of drumming. Sometimes we need to pretend the music is not for us. That keeps them away for a while.

      The skeletons in my closet learn how to pick locks.

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  12. All of skeletons have come out of the closet. They live year round in the house. The first month Ry came here to live he walked around expecting them to jump out at him. GK's friends always are a little leary at first as well. I'm so used to them, I dont' notice anymore. But yesterday as we put up the Halloween Tree (a full 6 ft of black beauty, decked out with all manner of spooky and ooky), we had to move skeletons out of the way to put the tree up. Now that's when you know you are a resurrection man (I love the savior squad bit).
    Rattle dem bones, child.....does a body good, Oma Linda

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    1. The idea of having to move skeletons to put up a spooky Halloween tree made me roar. I do love your ways and your vision, Oma. I shall let it rattle indeed, because the body and the mind are enjoying it to no end ;-)

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  13. What a phenomenal post! I love history, so this is right up my alley!!

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    1. I, too, love history, particularly when it comes with bones in it ;-)

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  14. I agree with others before me: No information is useless. :-)If nothing else, it allows you to write creepy, spooky, wonderful posts like this one. We have a plastic skeleton head that we found while beach combing and named him Boney Giggins...Hubby says that's what the watermen of his childhood called the bogeyman on the river. I'm definitely getting geared up for All Hallows Grim. I am also envious of Oma Linda's Halloween Tree! Lucky Lucky Woman!

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    1. Indeed. If anything, learning new things exercises the brain muscle and we can all use a bit of that. And hon, you aren't the only one who wishes she could rock Oma Linda's tree!

      Yay!! All Hallow's Grim!!!

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  15. Great post! Alot of interesting facts! You have me in the Halloween mood ;o) My skeleton is half in and half out! LOL! She is kind of stuck! I will push her to come out for you ;o) Hugs ;o)

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    1. Stacy, I adore you. I just saw the cutest of mental pictures: your skeleton fighting shoes, bags, clothes and some art supplies, of course, as she tries to get out of the closet but cant. Then you come and pulled her by the bony foot she had managed to free. Too awesome!

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  16. My skeletons are hanging from my curtain rail....are they supposed to be in a closet???
    And did you also read that at one point the sewers in London got blocked up by all the corpses being chucked down them after dissections...typical North/South divide...we'd have had a bonfire up here :D
    Oh, and one of my skeletons is in a box, heading your way :D XXX

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    1. My skeletons wear my clothes and go out partying, Gina. I read a bit about that in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel by Michael Scott. He has so much fun with mythology in his fiction. There are so many bones underground that a god is buried under a pile of them.

      WoooHooo! Skeletons for me!

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  17. Well, I suppose I am getting in the mood now that Thanksgiving is over. And I had heard the term ressurection men - not sure where though and certainly didn't remember why they were given that name. Fascinating stuff.

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    1. I heard of them while reading about autopsies a few years back. And to be honest, even though I first read it in a medical text, I was still doubtful... but I guess they did what they had to. Fascinating indeed.

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  18. I tried to join your ALl Hallow's Grimm party, but I misunderstood the link thing and wrote my own name under "name" instead of Ms Misantropia. So now I come up as nr 19: Katarina - which is not what I would prefer! Could you please change it?

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    1. I've fixed the link, dear Misantropia, as I'm sure you've probably noticed. Welcome to the grim fun! I can't wait to see what you (and everybody else comes up with). I'm quite excited about The Darker Side of Faerie ;-)

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  19. My vortex takes the skeletons away.

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    1. Someone probably stole my vortex. My skeletons are running the house!

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  20. I'm gonna have to get that book!

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    1. I think you will like it a lot. There are some things that are ridiculously hilarious, and others that left me nodding.

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  21. Oooo.....the macabre nature of these facts is all the better that they are true! So glad I wasn't born back then, though!

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    1. I second the bit about being thankful for not having been born a century ago. I imagine that I would have been a very, very, very angry Witch in those days. Not to mention that I would have probably been someone's slave. The idea makes me want to hurl... really heave and sharp objects at whoever thought of the idea.

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