Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Recently a certain young lady who shall remain nameless was discussing the problem of a ring in her bathroom stool that refused to be cleaned off.  I told her how I discovered the wonders of a pumice stone, which easily and quickly gets rid of rust stains, hard-water rings, and so forth.  

Horrified, she said, "You mean you put your hands down in the water in the stool?!?!"

I had to collect my thoughts a bit before I told her, "Well, I guess you don't have to; you can just use the end of the pumice stone to scrape, and you'd be holding onto the other end."  

What I was thinking was, "What's the big deal about that?"

I raised two babies who only ever wore cloth diapers; disposables were just being invented when my daughter came along.  Wet diapers went straight into a diaper pail half-filled with water and detergent.  A poopie diaper was baptized in the bathroom stool and sloshed up and down.  Not only did my hands dip down into water in the commode, by the time I was finished they were flailing about in a genuine poop soup.  I'd hold onto the diaper and flush and, if it didn't need further rinsing, I'd wring it out with both hands and place it in the diaper pail.  Then I would flush again, and of course, thoroughly wash my hands.  

Now I'm thinking about the time some people who shall remain nameless had a grandchild visiting at their house and, when she needed changing, found they were out of wipes, which they seemed to think was a disaster.  Finally they resorted to using a couple of washcloths for the cleanup; They threw them in the garbage when they were through.

We didn't have wipes when my kids were babies.  We had washcloths, and nary a one got tossed.

Now, I tend to feel "holier-than-thou" on matters like this, but I realize it's just a different time, and we all follow the customs of the society in which we live.  For instance, if I explain to younger folks that all I had for a rest room when I was a kid (until I was twelve) was an out-door toilet, they cringe.  Especially when I tell them that you could look down in the holes and see a pile of everybody's poop down below.  In summer there were always spiders, and sometimes a snake lurking.  In winter?  You haven't felt a genuine draft until you are sitting in the outhouse when your bottom bared to the frigid winter air; and what a nuisance to have to put your coat on just to go relieve yourself.  Thank goodness for the covered chamber pot under my bed in winter!  Kudos to my mother, who took the pot to the toilet to dump it, and then scrubbed it clean.  

As I was pondering these things this morning, it made me wonder how my grandmothers rinsed the poop out of diapers, or even my mother when I was a kid.  With no indoor water, all water was brought into the house in buckets.  I suppose they had a certain dishpan or something for diaper-rinsing, but then they'd have to toss the stinky water outside or in the slop bucket on the back porch, and then clean out the pan so it wouldn't stink up the house.  

Now that I think about it, what did the Native Americans use for diapers two hundred years ago?

It's a wonderful time we live in.  

However, if someone dropped a baby on my doorstep to raise, that child would wear cloth diapers.    


Lee Stoll said...

I have a book in my collection that tells how things were done way back when, before modern conveniences. As for the diapers of Native Americans...well, softened leather was used as swaddling cloth around the loins, They would take the bark of juniper trees and peel off the loose bark. They would then grind the bark between rocks. This would basically turn the bark into a fine fibrous material that was quite absorbent. They would then stuff the leather "diaper" with the ground juniper bark...and there ya go!

I'm mostly known as 'MA' said...

It's amazing how times have changed. What we accepted as the norm, no longer is acceptable. Yes, I used cloth diapers and would do the same again too.

Carlene Noggle said...


Sister--Three said...

Early Indians used moss in the cradles boards changing the moss occasionally.
I used cloth diapers and the sitter put them in a plastic sack for me and l
Rinsed in toilet too!! Momma hung the peeie diapers over something and
used them twice before washing them! I had several dozen diapers. Momma
probably only had one dozen! Times have changed for sure!

Paula said...

Love this entry, been there done that. Makes us appreciative for what we have now. Didn't even think anything of going out in the middle of the night to the outhouse. I didn't love the job of empting the chamber. Thanks for the memories Mosie.

Margaret said...

My girls wore cloth diapers too and I had no issues cleaning them out in the toilet. I also have no problem using a pumice stone, which reminds me that I need to do that soon. :)

Leonora said...

This reminds me of an interesting movie titled "Babies" that came out in 2010. It followed four babies from four corners of the world for a year. The African babies wore no diapers. The mothers wiped their little bottoms with a corn cob after they pooed. I remember thinking how neat and efficient they were about it.

Lori said...

Great post! I used cloth diapers for Andrew and rinsed them as you describe. I used a few cloth diapers for Eler Beth and then gave up and used disposable. I was older with more health issues and nerve issues when she was a baby, and I had to make compromises somewhere. I don't have a problem with putting my hand in the toilet if it's necessary -- like if, say, someone drops something important in there! If I can fish it out with something else, fine, but needs must and all that. I never had to use an out door toilet except when I visited my grandmother or when I needed to go at the first church I ever went to because that's all they had -- a two-seater! But I do remember a time one winter when our one and only toilet was out of order, and there was no way to get into town to get the parts to fix it because of a winter storm. My mother had an old chamber pot with a lid, and we used that. Again, needs must. It's great that we live in the time we do, but I am glad to know that if because of some circumstance beyond our control we had to do without water, a toilet, kitchen faucets, bathtubs, or whatever, we could, and we'd still survive. Over the years with temporary plumbing emergencies here and there, storms that knocked out electricity, clothes washers that quit when something HAD to be washed quickly and no laundromat nearby open, along with other "emergencies," our kids have seen us make do, and they've had to make do a few times too. It might not be pleasant, but sometimes you just have to stick your hand in the toilet. :)