I’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating: It’s no small wonder that I survived childhood!
I give you MERCUROCHROME, a common home remedy found in 99% of homes in the 1940s. Yes, it contained trace amounts of mercury. Yes, mercury is poisonous. And yes, mercurochrome is not seen around much anymore.
It was mostly used on cuts and scratches… and it also containing alcohol…and it burned like the dickens! But some mothers, mine included, used it for other purposed also.
In addition to having mercurochrome, in the 1940s, most doctors still made ‘house calls.’ This was an amazing thing where the doctor CAME TO YOUR HOUSE, instead of you going TO THEIR OFFICE! Crazy, huh? Well, on this particular day, my mother’s little boy, maybe 3 or 4 at the time, had a sore throat. Since it cured most everything, out came the mercurochrome. Using a ‘Q-Tip’ Mom ‘mopped my throat’ with this foul tasting red stuff. You’d get better in self-defense if nothing else!
I must have gotten better. Mom must have forgotten about my sore throat… and her treatment. But don’t you forget, mercurochrome was red… blood red.
Yes! In front of her, I coughed up some bright red stuff! Racing to the phone, and in sheer panic, Mom called our pediatrician. Come quick! Billy’s coughing up blood! Hurry!
I think that’s why we have ambulances today, otherwise one would have been called. Anyway, the doctor raced from North State Street down south to Doodleville and to 802 Evergreen.
Today I must assume that mercurochrome probably had a distinctive smell, because it didn’t take long for the out-of-breath doc to piece together the true story. ‘You just mopped the kid’s throat, didn’t you?’
I’ve often wondered if the doctor charged Mom double that day. I probably would have!