Friday, October 06, 2006


I had an interesting conversation with a couple of coworkers the other day. We started talking about the joy of skinned knees in childhood. Remember how messed up your knees (and palms and elbows) could get from falling on the cement? How often did we run home yelling, dripping blood all the way?

Our moms were staunch believers in iodine (applied after washing the area thoroughly with a soapy washcloth) as the first line of defense against infection. I wonder, was it really sanitary to use the stick in the bottle (attached to the lid) over and over again on our wounds? They didn't wash it before putting it back into the solution, did they?

My mom had an especially brutal tool in her arsenal: a big red spray bottle of merthiolate. This stuff was bright red in color, went on cold, and, no lie, hurt more than iodine. I remember seeing commercials for Bactine, which was supposed to be painless. I begged Mom to buy it, but she insisted we had to use up all of the merthiolate first. I don't think we ever did, and I'll bet she still has that red bottle somewhere, ready to torment me at the first opportunity.

Turns out that merthiolate is actually one and the same product as thimerosal. Thimerosal is the antibacterial, anti-fungal preservative that is being eliminated from vaccines and other products because of safety concerns. Apparently, it's almost 50% mercury. Thanks mom.

As for the skinned knees, I am told that today's kids mostly miss out on that bit of fun. Seems they play inside more than out, and are less active in general. Pity. Nothing quite beats the glory of skinned knees, wounds earned on the field of childhood play.


PaxRomano said...

How did we survive?

Frank said...

Merci, when I saw that word it gave me a chill. My dad was the king of that red fire. Any cut or scrape, and he'd take boiling hot water and scrub the wound...then he'd pour merthiolate (I thought it was called mathiolate when I was a kid) on the wound. That burned like a bastard. How cruel. And now to find out it's poisonous. Ugh. That's right up with them getting me to eat a little Vicks when I had a cold and they would smear it on my chest. Lump? What lump?

Virginia Gal said...

That's a shame, skinned knees are a rite of passage, kids should have to get at least one.

Of course when I see them on adults, I get a little creeped out...wonder why that is?

Zelda Parker said...

My dad used something called drawing salve to remove deeple imbeded splinter and the like? Wonder what toxins that held, as it looked like tar.
Shame that there are so many obese children today! go out and play, simple, not so. Ironically I wrote a post earler today about childhood memories.

MissMagnoliaThunderpussy said...

In my day, darling, we would just amputate.

Joe Tornatore said...

no skinned knees on my kids. blistered thumbs from Playstation though.

pissed off patricia said...

Ah gosh, your post brought back some memories. We had that same bottle with the little glass wand. Seems we always had the same one too.

Yep, this little girl had her share of skinned body parts too. And you know we all did it. Picked those scabs off just as soon as we could without the bleeding beginning again.

joey b said...

Not today, even the swing set is ruberized. The best you can hope for is a rug burn.

Merci said...

joey b-
Well, at least some kids are still getting onto the swingset! Guess there's hope!