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From previous columns, you know my mother juggled better than any circus performer. She cooked, cleaned, kept the books for the family business, did the taxes and was active in our church. I forgot to mention another of her titles:  Resident Physician. That woman treated more scrapes than any emergency room doc. I still have scars on both knees, especially the one she had to pick cinders out of with tweezers before she could bandage it—a gift from my bike skid.

I recently saw a Facebook post saying that if you cut your arm off, your mom would dab some mercurochrome on it and send you back outside. I laughed and typed “So true!” to my former classmate who posted it. Did you hate that stuff and its little glass wand as much as I did? The minute Mom brought it out, I started backing up, dreading the sting. The color and smell were ugly too. After the treatment, she slapped on a band aid and sent me back out to play. I felt like Joe Louis being sent back into the ring.

I contracted a cold? No problem. Mom put me to bed, rubbed Vicks Vaporub on my chest and stuffed some up my nose. For an earache, she used an eye dropper to insert warm oil in my ear, then had my dad blow cigarette smoke in it.  She finished the procedure by plugging the ear with a cotton ball. She probably would have put a band aid on it, too, if she could have made it stick. 

I was prone to warts and my dad had that one covered. He charmed them off. First, with a smile, he’d accuse me of handling too many toads.  Then he’d insist on quiet, rub his hand over the affected area, slap a band aid on it and in days the thing would be gone. I swear it worked.   


Mother was the Splinter Specialist and she had plenty of practice.  Since I was a splinter magnet, she always had a needle and alcohol at the ready. I hated when she’d dig like she was mining for gold. After I screamed dramatically, she’d slap another band aid on it and pronounce it fixed. 

Somehow all three of us Old School kids managed to grow up with no deformities and few scars, but our exhausted parents barely survived.  They should have bought stock in Johnson and Johnson. 


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