Home » childhood reflections » The Black Sage Toothbrush

The Black Sage Toothbrush

While speaking with a childhood friend yesterday and reminiscing about school days, I realized that I couldn’t remember all of the details that surrounded some of the activities we did in school. This got me thinking of experiences that I’d like to share with my children and grandchildren (I hope to be gifted with some grand-kids later in life). Since I haven’t limited my blog to any particular theme, this is a good vehicle for documenting stories and experiences.

Here in the USA, the basic tool for brushing your teeth is the toothbrush and so my children find it “crazy” that we often used the stem of a plant to clean our teeth in rural Guyana. Yes, we had toothbrushes, but when they were not available, we broke off a stem from the Black Sage shrub, pounded or chewed on one of the ends until it got some bristles, applied some toothpaste, and brushed our teeth. If there was no toothpaste, we simply put some salt on that homemade toothbrush and carried on.

When was a toothbrush not available?  If I spent the night at my aunt’s home or if my toothbrush broke, I won’t have had one. Generally, folks did not have extra toothbrushes in their cupboards – simply a matter of not being able to afford such luxuries. Some families, because of the pressures of poverty, did not have toothbrushes at all.

What is this Black Sage? The scientific name for this shrub is Cordia Curassavica. It has small white flowers and tiny red berries that grow in a cluster at the end of the branches.

Below is a photo of the Black Sage. Credit goes to: https://www.inaturalist.org

Black Sage

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11 thoughts on “The Black Sage Toothbrush

  1. Although I’ve never been without a toothbrush at home, I have been in situations where I didn’t have one. I wish I had had the Black Saga plant available. What I did in those incidences is ask for baking soda. I used my index finger rubbing some moistened baking soda on to it and rubbing it all over my teeth.

  2. It’s so important to share these stories Elaine. So many folk these days have no understanding of anything outside their own immediate culture – sharing breaks down barriers and encourages empathy and understanding. All so needed in today’s world. I’d love to hear more!

    • You’re right on the button about understanding and empathy, Pauline.
      I like learning about other cultures – global awareness is important.
      Perhaps we can all share some childhood stories on our blogs:-) I’ll definitely share more.

  3. Sometimes we forget that “modern” conveniences are not the only way to go. We take things, like running safe-to-drink water for granted. I think sharing information like this is important, Elaine.

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