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Tchotchkes

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Location: Connecticut, United States

marybb1@gmail.com

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Diaper Debacle

originally published

Friday, January 13, 2006

When Good Things Happen to Good People


It was Wednesday, June 6th, 1945 – exactly one year to the day after D-day. The war had ended and Grandma and Grandpa were expecting their third child.

Life was going to get back to normal soon, but for now, many items that had been easy to get before the war --were still scarce. Gasoline, tires, sugar, butter, meat, tea, and even diapers were often very hard to come by.

Grandpa and Grandma had saved enough money to buy a cute little house on Keaton Street, USA, and it was a happy time in their lives. The war was over and a baby was growing in Grandma’s belly.


Grandpa drove a black 1939 Chevy he named “Maria,” and this day, June 6, 1945, was just a regular day - and he and Mariah were driving to work like they always did.

He considered his ten minute “commute” -- his “thinking time.” And today he was taking stock of his life. Two more days of work till the weekend, all of his bills paid in full, (except the sideboard he had purchased from Nothnagle’s furniture store, the best furniture store in 60 miles.)

Four more payments and he’d own it outright.


He loved his new job as supervisor and was making good money, for the time. But even making “good money,” he still needed more than he brought in, that’s why he moonlighted as a chimney sweep so he could give his children a better life than he had.

“They have their own front and back door,” Grandpa thought as he smiled. For some reason, unbeknown to his children until their later years, this really put a smile on Grandpa's face.

He was excited about the birth of his third child and knew, at his age, this would be the last. Grandma had endured four miscarriages through the years, but this pregnancy had held. Grandma was due in September and they were prepared for their new little one.

He’d painted the downstairs bedroom a sunny shade of yellow, purchased a second-hand crib, and thoroughly cleaned and repaired the old carriage that had sat in the garage since the last baby seven years ago.

Yes, they were all set, except for one thing: He couldn’t find a single diaper to buy in the whole city – never mind a dozen!

He worried about where they’d ever find any diapers and wondered if they could use some soft, flannel fabric instead.

Diapers were on his mind when his thoughts were interrupted by a white paneled van, driving in front of Grandpa, which suddenly took a sharp left turn and when it did, two packages, wrapped in brown paper, fell out of the back doors which had swung open at the turn.

Grandpa laid on his horn, trying to get the attention of the driver but the driver just kept going.

Grandpa drove around the block and came back to where the packages had fallen. Maybe he could find some label or name on the packages so he could return them, he thought.

He pulled over to the side of the road and picked up the packages and placed them in the back seat of the car. There was nothing on the outside of the brown paper that would identify the owner.

When he returned home, after work, he brought the packages in the kitchen; Grandma was excited wondering what was inside. But the minute Grandpa slit open the brown paper and a familiar odor reached her nose, she knew very well what those packages contained.

Diapers!

Dirty diapers.

Dozens and dozens of dirty diapers had fallen out of a diaper service van right in front of Grandpa’s car!

Grandma says they worked all weekend soaking, washing, rinsing and ringing out diapers until the cotton fabric was as soft and as white as it could be.

When Grandma’s clothesline was filled, Grandpa started asking the neighbors if he could use their clotheslines to dry the diapers.

Grandma says it was a sight to see.

Every clothesline on Keaton Street was filled with clean, white rectangles-- flapping in the breeze.

The widow on the corner, the newly weds in the blue house, the creepy Adamchack family, the maiden lady who lived next door, the crabby German guy who seemed ashamed of being German yet wouldn't speak English -- they all had these white flags of hope, fertility, freedom, continuity and brotherly love...flying from high-tech umbrella clotheslines to pegs and twine, from sturdy rope to string as fine as embroidery floss.

Oh yes, every house on Keaton street, those owned by the barren, to those owned by the Bradey’s who had more kids than they could remember their names; they all came together that day, that moment to dry Grandma’s windfall diapers.

Grandma says it was a sight to see.

I see it.

Can you?