Friday, February 5, 2010

Warsh Up

Dirt. See the dirt, wash your hands. The men came in from the field and went to the outside faucet to 'warsh up'.

The conversation between my sister and I began with concern about this trend for a germ free environment. “I don’t remember washing my hands much as a child.”

“We didn’t,” she replied. "If we could see the dirt, we washed our hands.”

The conversation went on. “I don't remember ever washing my hands after a trip to the outhouse.”

“We didn’t,” she chuckled. “Probably why we are so healthy now. Do you remember the faucet outside of Grandmother’s house? A tin cup hung from it.” Vaguely I recalled the faucet by the garage. “Everyone used it. I don’t remember it ever being washed. Aunt Esther and I would take the cup to the barn when Grandad milked the cows. We drank the fresh milk from the tin cup then let the kitties finish it off. Then back the cup went to its place by the faucet.”

No wonder we were sick often on the farm. Of course, we didn’t have all of the vaccinations that are available now. We worked in the fields and ate with dirty hands. Neither my sister of I can remember being sent to wash our hands before meals.

This might be disgusting to many people, but this was the way of life when I was a child. The kitchens were not sterile. Clean but not sterile. Food was kept in the garage in the winter when the refrigerator was full, much as it must have been with a summer kitchen when my parents were young.
I have been rarely ill since becoming an adult. I cringe when someone uses the bathroom then leaves without hand washing. I insist that the girls wash hands before eating, especially when they come home from school. I find myself using hand sanitizers when I go out. Yet, I do not believe in a germ free existence. I envision germs waiting for sterile people to make one mistake then they go in for the kill.

No wonder children died so often when my parents were young. We’ve come a long way. But I wonder if maybe we aren’t just a little healthier today, because we built up resistance as children. I wonder what happens when a child leaves a sterile house into a world of germs. Does it sterilize the child too with germ phobia?

Hm. I think I’ll go wash my hands.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I tell all my lady friends at the bar to warsh up after making their toilet.

Pamela Loxley Drake said...

I love it. I know for me that I want to chase down people who don't 'warsh' their hands. Good for you! You made my day.