Not long ago I discovered Write Your Life, written by Seniorwriter, aka Marlys Marshall Styne. (I just added her site to my Links list.) The post I landed on, Teddy Turns Fifty, was about a teddy bear she bought as a gift for her newborn niece, Cynthia. Cynthia and Teddy just passed the half-century mark.
The post is delightful, and so are the comments. One comment mentioned what appeared to be a pile of diapers behind a shoulder. Seniorwriter replied, “Yes, Karen, I imagine that is, indeed, a stack of cloth diapers. I don't suppose that any other kind existed back then.”
My monkey mind hopped from that comment to a personal memory about disposable diapers. I had extensive experience with cloth diapers at an early age. I was eleven years old when my baby brother was born, so I was thoroughly familiar with every aspect of changing, rinsing the messes in the toilet, washing, hanging the wet rags on the clothesline to dry, then folding them. Changing diapers can’t be avoided, but the rest of that routine was a nasty drag to be avoided whenever possible! Not long before our first child was born, I heard of disposable diapers, and found the idea tantalizingly attractive.
Our first son was born in Boston in 1966, and the day he turned four weeks old, he and I boarded a plane to fly to Philadelphia as the first leg of an adventurous trip we would undertake as we relocated from Boston to Richland, Washington. Using cloth diapers his first four weeks were easy, thanks to a generous gift of diaper service from a compassionate grandmother. The fifth week was also easy, with Grandmother’s washing machine and dryer at hand.
Realizing that cloth diapers would be a problem during the drive across the country, Hubby and I searched stores around South Jersey for disposable diapers. Both selection and stock were meager, but we found enough to serve the purpose. The day he was five weeks old, we hit the road, with Baby happily ensconced in a folding canvas car bed/bassinet in the back seat. He was no problem at all on the long drive. When he was hungry, he joined Mommy in the front seat for a soothing swig of milk while Daddy drove. How simple! (How do parents manage to get anywhere today when children must be anchored firmly in the back seat at all times when the car is moving?)
Diapers weren’t a problem on the road. I could easily change them while kneeling backward on my seat. They became a problem the evening we spent in Omaha. Fortunately, we had nearly finished eating our dinner in a family restaurant near our motel when our wee tyke answered an exceedingly urgent call from Nature. I’ll spare you the details, other than to mention that the disposable diaper he was wearing might as well not have been there. Suffice it to say that I grabbed him, Infantseat and all, and ran to the car while Daddy paid the bill. We went straight back to the motel where Baby had a bath. When he was asleep in his car bed, I hand-washed all his clothing and blanket, and scrubbed the plastic Infantseat shell and liner. (That infant seat, baby carrier of choice in the 1960s and 70s for cars and everywhere else, appears in the photo.)
Even if cost hadn’t been a factor, this single experience was sufficient to allay any temptation to bypass the washing machine. My rinsing, soaking, washing and folding expertise came into play. Thank goodness, my dryer was a welcome change, and I didn't have to deal with a clothesline.
Isn’t it funny how reading one little thing like that comment, or seeing one seemingly insignificant detail in a photo can bring back a gush of memories? I could go on for pages with other diaper stories. I share this snip of one in hopes it will trigger similar memories for you — that one memory link will lead to another.
Write now: memories of diaper-related experiences, whether they be with your own children, children of friends or relatives, children you babysat for, or anyone else. Let the memories go where they will — potty training, washing clothes, hanging them on the clothes line, types of diapers, diaper-changing avoidance, etc.
Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal