Birth Control in Two Pan: 1871

We’re looking at change. Every other week we give a sideways glance to the newfangled ideas cropping up in the 1870s.  This week, we’re in Two Pan, and even though we hate change, we’ll grudgingly admit…some improvements are long overdue..

Part 1: Often, pioneers learned the hard way.

“Why do you have six children?”

Violet Spinrad nailed the young woman with a look. She hoped her stare would shut up the amply-endowed, nosy little bar nymph. She was only at the Salt Lick Saloon to see if any of the women would hire her to make a fine dress for them.Violet needed the money, so she kept her pride-filled words to herself.

We're not supposed to talk about those body parts, much less have accessories for them!!!

“Haven’t you ever heard of rubbers?” Amanda Lou dug through a chest and tossed a wax-paper packet on the dresser in front of Violet. “They used to make ’em from pig colon, but when Goodyear vulcanized rubber in [18]44, we were freed from all that ‘with-child’ crap.”

Violet wanted to examine the packet, but she was a decent woman.  She stared straight ahead.

“Course, you got to wash them real good,” Amanda Lou sighed. “Then anoint them with petroleum jelly and put them away to use later.” She gave a wink as she tapped a narrow wooden box on her night table.

Violet wanted to ask if it worked, but she was a decent woman. She stared straight ahead.

Bricker didn’t tell you about any of this did he?”

Violet looked at the woman.  She couldn’t help herself. What did this bar-strumpett know of her husband.

Amanda Lou gave a sad shake of her head. “I hear the gals over at Opal’s Palace use vaginal sponges and womb veils…a little cap that fits up in there.” She gave a jab to her corset- covered abdomen.” Whichever you use…it’ll keep you from having another kid.”

Where there are kids, there's always a dog you have to take care of too.

Violet couldn’t help herself.  It wasn’t decent to talk in the open about such things…but….but…. …She picked up the packet. “I’ll make you a smocked blouse in trade for this.”

Amanda Lou, nabbed the packet from Violet’s hand .  “Sorry. These things are worth more than gold out here. I’ll pay you to sew a crinoline skirt for me. Besides…” she smiled and gave Violet a light pat on the shoulder. “You don’t have to worry about Bricker. He’s never coming back.”

Part 2: In three weeks.

 (NOTE: In 1873 The U.S. Congress passed the Comstock laws. Written by dry goods merchant and anti-obscenity crusader Anthony Comstock, the law made all forms of contraception illegal. The contraceptive industry continued to flourish — but the devices were now sold to promote “feminine hygiene.”)Smiley
Advertisements

About Barb

I escaped from a hardscrabble farm in Oklahoma. I'm not sure why people think I have an accent. I miss the sunshine, but not the fried foods.
This entry was posted in Choices, Humor, Pioneer Friday in Two Pan and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

46 Responses to Birth Control in Two Pan: 1871

  1. Silva Gang says:

    Nice short story! Looking forward to part 2!

    Like

  2. Red says:

    I absolutely appreciate the adage Those who refuse to learn history are doomed to repeat it. This is just another poignant example. Can you imagine a baby boom in this day and age? Ugh.
    Red.
    PS You should be set to get email now!

    Like

  3. dan says:

    hey! I awarded you a sunshine award. I’m not sure if I told you already. There’s some instructions on my blog, download and paste the flower pic.

    Like

  4. pegoleg says:

    Interesting and humerous history lesson. I don’t know of any politicians seeking to outlaw birth control today, contrary to the impression many seem to have, but we’ve certainly come a long way! Just the thought of pig or sheep intestines used for this…shudder.

    Like

  5. Interesting note, there, at the end. I believe that the prohibition of alcohol was associated with a sharp uptick in medicinals, too…

    Like

  6. Helen says:

    A timely blog with great history! Really loved this info. I didn’t know about all these methods. How interesting that we had radical ideologs even in the “good ol’ days!” I’m thinking we’d better leave the modern contraception in place, because there are 7, yes 7 billion people on earth as we speak, and that’s a huge pressure on this little blue planet. Just a note, there were 1.5 billion people living on earth when my father was born in 1903.

    Like

    • Spectra says:

      Wow! I didn’t realize how fast the population had exponentially multilpied. My parents ( 9 kids) still brag about not using birth controll…catholic egocentric dogma.

      Like

      • Barb says:

        Nine kids? Wow! Your parents were REALLY Roman Catholic. No wonder Christmas gift-giving is stressful.

        Like

        • Spectra says:

          Too true. I usually end up wrapping about 45 gifts just for family. I make enemies of my friends and conveniently break up with boyfriends no fewer than 6 weeks before Christmas, to lighten the load.

          Like

  7. Nisha says:

    Absolutely loved this! You taught me something about the history of contraception, thanks Barb.
    Pigs’ colon and wax packets though…jeez like, how fun was sex back then?

    Like

  8. digipicsphotography says:

    Contraceptives haven’t changed much. However, I think a tubal ligation is much better. :-).

    And where did Bricker go?

    Like

  9. Rose L says:

    I had no idea they had any birth control back then other than the rhythm method.

    Like

  10. From 1871 to 2012 – the fight for women’s rights continues. I’d like to think we could put this one to rest for good, but sadly, it seems to keep coming up. Yikes.

    Like

  11. This is a very interesting tale. I’m going to print and file it for my granddaughters who may need this information if certain male politicians get their way.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Oh…Myra….these didn’t work too well, and the upcoming part 2 preventatives are even worse. I hope your granddaughters never need to resort to these slapwhack methods. It seems strange that what we’re discussing for 1870, we’re still belaboring today.

      Like

  12. souldipper says:

    Oh-oh…I have an idea of where Bricker has gone. Let’s just say, there was no RSVP option on the invite?! 😀

    Like

  13. Margie says:

    This is great Barb and so current if you get my drift! I love your little guy at the end with his knickers in a twist!

    Like

  14. dan says:

    The more things change the more they stay the same. Egyptian girls used halves of lemons, but I’m already over my TMI qota today.

    Like

  15. Elyse says:

    So glad we’re all about to be living in Two Pan in 1871.

    You might want to consider re-running this in late October, early November!

    Like

  16. Alice Lynn says:

    No fair to leave your loyal readers hanging. What or where did Bricker go? But thanks for a peek at early contraceptive methods. 🙂 There’s something to be said for menopause, providing you lived that long way back then.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      Well, that posed an interesting question, which I found the research. It’s documented (D.J.Frommer, British Medical Journal, 1964) that in Ancient times (dates not noted) menopause occurred at the average age of 40. From 1500-1800s, the average menopausal age remained steady at 45. By 1964, it had reached 50 years of age. (I didn’t find research later than that, though I’m sure it’s out there). So according to this trend, if we continue in good health and live longer, we’ll need birth control into our 70s….bleargh!

      Like

      • Spectra says:

        I think the average age now is 52. At least that’s what the exert doctors keep saying on TV. And TV is a reliable source of medical self-dignosis, so I will stick with that and never have to see a dr. again. Seems like going into the condom-making bizness in Two Pan would make Violet a millionaire.

        Sorry I haven’t been around lately. I’m glad you picked the Counting Sheep as your prize – I was hoping you would pick the most valuable prize. I’ll be shipping the rewards out tomorrow 😉

        Like

        • Barb says:

          I was just thinking about Lambie this morning and wondering if I was busting up a collection of Bo and her sheep. I hope not. Don’t want to make any extra work for you. Can’t wait. Thanks again.

          Like

        • Spectra says:

          Not at all. I made that sheep first and turned the doll I was already working on into a Bo Peep because I loved my little Counting Sheep. The one in the pic is a sample, and since I am using it on Etsy for promotional purposes, I’ll just make another, so it will be a bit different. But seriously, I was hoping the winner (YOU) would pick the Mystery Box prize, as it is the most hand-worked thing I offered. The Jewelry is nice but the beads, pearls and crystals are store-bought and less personal. Did you email me your mailing address? I haven’t checked yet. These may all go out tomorrow.

          Like

  17. momaescriva says:

    Now, what did Bricker go and do?

    Like

  18. It would seem that some of today’s politicians would like to make contraception illicit again, too. (It also seems to me that we need some more female politicians!) Interesting post, as always. And we’ll forgive you for making us wait so long for the next installment.

    Like

  19. Roxie Matthews says:

    If a woman can’t get her husband to leave her alone, how can she expect to get him to use a, “French Letter” and yet, childbirth was terrifically dangerous. Women died all the time, leaving their children to be raised by relatives or step moms.

    Back in the fifties, I remember overhearing Mom and her cronies talking about different things a woman could do to induce miscarriage. A large dose of castor oil if your period was late was one option. Taking the horse out for a long, rough trot was another. The idea was to either half-poison yourself, or to physically assault yourself somehow. I’m SO glad to live in the modern age.

    Like

    • Barb says:

      You’re right, Roxie. While we’re in the midst of change, we rant about it (at least I do), but often when we look back, we see that some changes were vast improvements. Can you imagine the discussion about condoms back then and the rampant sex they would allow?

      Like

  20. magsx2 says:

    Hi,
    Wow, very intriguing indeed, I want to know to more about the husband, I also want to know why Violet all of a sudden changed her mind and wanted the packet, but instead you are going to leave us hanging for 3 weeks, doesn’t seem right to me. 😀

    Like

  21. jmgoyder says:

    I really enjoy the intelligence of your posts – so fascinating!

    Like

    • Barb says:

      You’re kind, but this is what happens when you only get the public broadcasting channel on television because you refuse to pay the cable company. Oh…and Sponge Bob Square Pants. I haven’t figured out how to work him into Two Pan.

      Like

  22. xtremeenglish says:

    Among all other things about this post, I love the ranting smiley!!

    Like

  23. Elephant's Child says:

    I suspect no more children would be worth a lot more than a smocked blouse. And what does Amanda Lou know about Bricker’s absence. And despite the proverb I would be very surprised if his abscense has made Violet (or the children) any fonder of him.
    I am really looking forward to the next installment.

    Like

Tell Me All About It.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s