by Bruce Yasgur
In the mid-1990s, baby DB, Janice and I lived in Spring Garden. The nearest Toys R Us was in South Philly. As they had the best prices on diapers and baby formula, the three of us spent quality family time every few weeks shopping the Italian Market and the Oregon Avenue big boxes, especially the above-mentioned TRU.
On one memorable trip, after loading up on veggies, fruits and DiBruno Brothers’ goodies, we headed farther south for the monthly diaper run. After dropping us at TRU, Janice ran next door to the K-Mart for cleaning supplies or underwear or something, leaving me and DB to do guy stuff. It soon became aromatically apparent, however, that DB was due for a diaper change.
Finding no changing table in the men’s room, I asked a woman exiting the ladies’ room if it housed this convenience. She said that it did. DB and I found the manager’s office nearby and shared our disappointment at the lack of such a feature for those of us of the male persuasion. She expanded our intellectual vistas with an informative gem: “That’s the mother’s job; not the fathers! Where’s she at, anyways?”
I replied that we were on our own, but we still needed an appropriate accommodation. I could use either her desk or the plank in the ladies’ room. If the former, would she please clear us a space? If the latter, would she please see if it was currently occupied and, if so, let us know when it would be safe for us to enter? “And oh, I’d appreciate some soft paper towels. Thanks.”
I guess she figured it’d be better to horn in on the ladies than put her own workplace at risk. She even brought us a roll of paper towels and stood guard outside the door.
Long story short, on our next visit, about a month later, the same female chauvinist was in charge, but this time the men’s room sported a brand new diaper deck: nothing more than a painted plank, but it indicated that, even in Philadelphia’s Deep South, we’d taken a giant step toward total equal opportunity.
Shortly thereafter, I retired from teaching and became a student at Temple Law School. After a year on maternal leave, Janice returned to teaching. We depended on baby sitters. One day, the baby sitter called at the last minute to say that she couldn’t make it. It was too late to line up a sub. I had an 8-o’clock class, and Janice had to be at work at about the same time, so DB went to law school with me.
He was on his best behavior, but about halfway through the lecture he announced without uttering a word that the time had come for a trip to the guys’ room. As often as I’d been there on my own, I never noticed, till that day, its lack of a little-guys’ facility.
So we stood outside the ladies’ right next door waiting for our first distaff visitor. It was a student just leaving.
I asked if there was a changing table and if she knew whether there were any other women inside. She asked us to wait a minute and reemerged to inform us that it was alright with the current occupants if we entered to do our business while they continued to do theirs. There we were doing our best to appear all matter-of-fact at being guys and gals doing their separate things together.
A few minutes later, fresh and clean, having made a bunch of new friends, we returned for the rest of the class. After class we took the elevator up to the top, where we informed the dean of our recent experience. He listened so attentively and actively that within a week the school had installed a beautiful new you-guessed-it in the ground-floor men’s room.
Now, before you get all gushy and congratulate us for daring to go where no man has gone before, just let me say that we couldn’t have done it all without the help and support of the women of Temple Law, the elevator that saved us from having to climb up nine stories, former Dean Bob Reinstein, my wife Janice, who’d rather shop on her own; the South Philly Toys R Us ladies and the baby sitter who wasn’t there. BTW, we enrolled DB in daycare a.s.a.p.
Stay tuned for the true tale of DB’s first day at Juka’s daycare. (It’s a real nail-biter.)
Bruce J. Yasgur, JD, EdD, of Havertown, grew up first in West Oak Lane and later in East Oak Lane. He taught at several high schools, including Central, and at three colleges, including Temple University. His father’s first cousin was Max Yasgur, who gained worldwide publicity when he allowed his huge property in upstate New York to be used as the site of the legendary Woodstock rock music festival in 1969, attended by about 500,000 crazies, some of whom were almost swallowed up by the mud.