In 1961 ...
John F. Kennedy became the 35th president of the United States;
The Beatles performed for their first time at the Cavern Club;
The Peace Corps was established;
The Twenty-third Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, allowing residents of Washington, DC to vote in presidential elections;
The Bay of Pigs Invasion of Cuba begins AND fails in two days;
A Freedom Riders bus was fire-bombed near Anniston, Alabama and the civil rights protestors were beaten by an angry mob;
The British protectorate ends in Kuwait and it becomes an emirate;
Ernest Hemingway commits suicide by gunshot in Ketchum, Idaho;
Construction of the Berlin Wall begins;
Amnesty International is founded;
Digital photography is presented in a technical paper at the American Rocket Society's Space Flight Report to the Nation in New York;
The Fantastic Four #1 debuted, revolutionizing the American comic book industry;
Rudolf Nureyev defects at Le Bourget airport in Paris;
Catch-22 is first published by Joseph Heller;
"Barbie" gets a boyfriend when the "Ken" doll is introduced;
Ann Coulter, American author, political commentator and attorney was born.
Not all of those things were bad. Some of the developments of that year were downright wonderful.
Let’s not forget George Clooney was born that year, too.
Perhaps the most important development for mothers, however, also happened in 1961:
Proctor and Gamble introduced the disposable diaper.
Of course the Pamper — now a slender, soft, chemical laden, cloth-esque, urine soaking titan of its former self — has the unique distinction of being loved AND hated by many. Beloved because it freed women from the drudgery of piles of poopy laundry, and yet reviled because its padded puffs have added to our use-and-toss economy and tipped the balance inside our beleaguered landfills.
Over the years the lowly Pamper has gone from looking and feeling like a pile of paper towels wrapped in a plastic bag to a thin piece of padding "that gently gathers at the legs" and holds a literal shit load of liquid. It has confounded upstanding grannies of all ilk (the BIG cartoon character goes in the front, right?) with its easy tab closures and amazing moisture wicking properties. Even our moms did use disposables, they looked and worked nothing like the brands of today. Today’s Pampers, dear friends, ARE NOT your mother’s disposables.
The bubble-butts of yesteryear’s child are greatly diminished, leaks are less prevalent and diaper rash can usually be traced back to food sensitivities or teething, not moisture next to the skin.
So in honor of 1961, the environment and a recent announcement by Proctor and Gamble noting a 20 percent across the board hike in prices, I've made some small changes that will likely result in many, many, many more changes and at least one extra load of laundry a day: I've invested in cloth diapers.
For $150, I've purchased six fitted cloth diapers, two pocket diapers, two diaper covers, four additional absorbent inserts, four cloth wipes and something called an ICKYBAG (self explanatory, yes?). I’ve watched videos, asked friends for advice, researched brands and decided to buy a few different kinds of bum wraps to see which work best.
I'm starting slow (weekends and vacations at first) I don't want to scare the babysitter. But hopefully - at home at least - we'll see a little less of Ernie and a little more of our earnings. I doubt we’ll really do much to save the Earth, after all, what we keep from the landfill will we’ll be taking in additional water and energy to launder. But who knows? It’s possible.
I mean, truly. If I'm excited at the prospect of washing poopy diapers ANYTHING is possible.