With another grandchild added to the fold, I can’t help recalling the first infant with whom I became closely attached. She was born on July 28, 1966 and her name was Jackie – named after Jackie Kennedy. Jackie was the daughter of my brother. At the time, my brother and his wife were living with my father and I was completing two courses at summer school in Edinboro and completing my B.S. degree.

Those who know me well, know the B.S. degree is most fitting.

I graduated on August 5th and returned home. I continued living there until my wedding on October 22nd. For the first month, I spent most of my time at home – sending out resumes and hoping to find a job. Thus, I became intimately involved in sterilizing bottles, mixing baby formula, feeding Jackie, and taking care of the diaper situation.

In those days, cloth diapers were still the ‘in’ thing. In fact, I believe they were the ‘only’ thing. Disposable diapers – if invented – had not yet caught on. As a result, many new parents of the time were given ‘x’ number of weeks of diaper service as a baby shower gift.

Diaper service was quite simple. A guy in a truck came once or twice a week to deliver freshly laundered cloth diapers. In exchange, he was given a large container of smelly wet diapers. (The poo was supposed to be dumped and flushed, but I’m sure there were some remnants.)

The soiled diapers were returned to the plant where they were laundered, disinfected, and packaged to be returned to the new parents. This cycle was repeated for as long as the parents could afford it…. or until the little tyke was potty trained.

Then, along came the disposable variety of diapers. I recall a proud new papa who once proclaimed, “The package says sixteen to twenty pounds – the kid should be good to go with one diaper for at least a couple of days.”

Some parents weren’t as hep as others.

Soon the environmentalists were claiming the diapers were destroying the earth. They believed that the plastic and other materials were not as biodegradable as the materials contributed by the infants. In addition, the diapers were quickly buried, which meant some archeologist would be able to dig them up – intact – a thousand years from now.

Kimberly-Clark and the other manufacturers went back to the drawing board in an attempt to correct the perceived problems. I’m not sure how successful they were, but the young mothers and fathers quickly forgot about the environment. The convenience of the disposable diapers and the absence of a smelly diaper pail had won them over.

And there is the contradiction. Many of today’s young parents weren’t paying attention to the news reports when we had all the hubbub about the disposable diapers causing problems with the environment. Many of these folks are very outspoken about the methane released by cows and totally unaware of the problems caused by the discarded poop-catchers of their children. Then again, maybe the problems aren’t as severe as they once were.

So, where are we today? Some parents have switched back to cloth diapers using more permanent ‘plastic’ pants, while others stick to the throw-aways.

All the furor has died down. Yet I find myself wondering if the makeup of the disposables has dramatically changed and no longer has any affect on global warming… of if the environmentalists have simply written the argument off as a lost cause.

In the meantime, I’d love to see the return of the diaper service. Aren’t we trying to create more jobs?

By the way, that little infant girl who was named after Jackie Kennedy is now old enough to be a grandma. And I haven’t aged a bit. Talk about your contradictions!

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