A bit of recollection from my early experiences...
For awhile all along my mid-teens I was dispensed from shopping for lubes because shortly after having fashioned out my first homemade rubber nozzle I found a tube of lubricating jelly stashed inside the living room's cabinet which had two-drawer chest just beneath the top. The uppermost one was my dad's own as he kept there his stamp-collecting paraphernalia along with his fishing licenses, playing cards, and a metal box with our family's accounting notes. Behind it there was a small tin box with several dice and the tube of jelly, blue and white just like K-Y - thinking back it could easily be mistaken for it at a distance. I knew nothing about water based lubricants. However, having already rubbed a dollop of that clear jelly between thumb and forefinger, upon noticing how plain tap water washed it away without leaving stains or traces I decided to use it for my enemas as it wasn't messy and did an excellent job of lubing up both rectal tube and anus. The only writing on the tube read literally «gelatina lubrificante chirurgica» (Italian for 'surgical lubricating jelly') with neither brand name nor list of ingredients, directions, or else. I never got to know its brand name but at least I knew where it came from: Dad ran a barber shop and one of his customers, a most friendly guy who always greeted me loudly upon meeting in the street with «my hairdresser's son», was a registered nurse who worked at the local hospital. The word 'surgical' gave me way to question him about the clear substance in the tube and he bluntly explaned everything, even skimming some references about genital lubrication. All in all enemas were part of his everyday assignments and he was well aware of my keen interest toward medical topics and human body. Too bad he didn't ask back about my find for I would have had the rare chance of talking enemas with someone who was supposed to know the ins and outs of the matter, but that was all I could extract from his professional knowledge in the few minutes I walked away with him from Dad's shop after he had his hair done. What a pity. Truth is, aside from medical and nursing text which I avidly polished at the library, at the time I seldom had any chance to meet people eager to exchange opinions or share thoughts on the subject. Thus my exposure to water based lubricants happened by chance just as I started giving myself enemas regularly so that I never ever considered using Vaseline or related substances.
It turned out that the mysterious no-name jelly had the same feel and slightly pungent odor of K-Y as I later discovered, so such a product could have been licensed K-Y for domestic market or a large batch bulk repackaged into small tubes for hospital use. Such a discovery was a blessing even if it took years before I could find any reliable information about water based lubricants, and again the first one I came across in 1978 was from an ad in Duepiù, a short-lived Italian magazine addressed to couples, marriage, sex life etc. rather that from some medical text.
Aside from my enemas, apparently Dad's jelly saw very little use. I don't know how long the tube had been in our house before I found it. I had since discovered that pharmacies actually sold K-Y and when some years later I was well into my happy routine with my own travel syringe and having tried out different water based lubricants, the old crinkled tube with the last remnants of jelly was still there. After a while Mom insisted on rearranging the entire drawers cabinet and the leftover jelly ended up in the garbage bin after having lubed my rectal tube for many years dollop after dollop. No doubt it served me way beyond expiration date, if ever there was one then!
I went on for nearly thirty years alternating K-Y with Surgilube, German made Condomi, and French made LGI from Laboratoires Vendôme (then sold to J&J) as my late uncle, a nationally acclaimed makeup artist, retailed several categories of cosmetic products with Vendôme and Shiseido among major brands. Its workplace was three times wider than Dad's tiny barber shop and even had a large beautician's mezzanine. Since both shop windows faced the street side by side abutting by the back shop with just a thin plasterboard wall in between, each visit to Dad's shop was also a visit to my uncle's and aunt's luxuriant salon whose counter was laden with beauty care products surmounted by giant pictures of young women in high fashion sporting an astonishing parade of makeups. Ever the caring and loving man he was, he often gave me as a gift tons of cream, makeup, and perfume samples for my Mom, and skin care products for all the family. Among them there was a tube of LGI. (I was given another one about fifteen years ago by a friend from my Yahoo! enema group.)
A single application of J-Lube I had the chance of try out back home after a courtesy visit to that friend felt yucky, so I never changed my mind about my pick - the rest is history.