Magic of Mercurochrome
were no boo-boo bunnies or character Band-Aids when I was a little
girl, but there was the magic of Mercurochrome. Iodine burned.
Mercurochrome did not. Mercurochrome was like a little pharmacy
in a bottle. An antiseptic as well as a psychological healer,
Mercurochrome was good for cuts, scratches, scrapes, bumps, bruises,
abrasions, gashes or more serious wounds. It did not have to be
injected no pain. There were no doses or pills to swallow
no bad taste. It was not a messy ointment.
Application was easy. Paint it on. Blow on it. It dried instantly.
Anything that my mama put Mercurochrome on immediately became
better and the bright red color was a badge of courage.
I didnt even cry, I would boast for several
days until the red finally wore off.
My brothers, my sister and I tested and proved the restorative
powers of Mercurochrome many years ago. Gary, Donna, Ronnie, Dana
and I were small. We ranged in age from nine down to three. It
was summer and hot. The windows were up and the doors were open.
Mama was not feeling well and had become extremely tired. She
latched the screen doors and told us that she was going to lie
down across her bed. We were to play together quietly, no fussing,
no arguing, no pestering, no annoying. She was not going to sleep
but was just going to close her eyes and rest.
Only a few minutes had passed when Ronnie, four years old, noticed
a scratch on his knee that needed immediate attention. We tiptoed
into Mamas room and asked her if we could put Mercurochrome
on Ronnies scratch. Mama, flat on her back with one arm
flung over her head, had fallen into a deep sleep. We reasoned
that since she did not say no, her answer was yes.
We scooted a stool into the bathroom, climbed up and retrieved
the Mercurochrome from the medicine cabinet. We painted Ronnies
knee, and he immediately began to feel better.
We were being so good and so very quiet. Since the Mercurochrome
was already down and already open, each of us started noticing
scratches that needed doctoring with our magic cure-all. Soon
we five kids all had Mercurochrome in several different places.
Quietly we tiptoed into mamas room to show her that we had
taken care of our scratches without bothering her. We knew that
she would be so proud of us. She was in an exhausted sleep. We
whispered that since mama didnt feel well, perhaps Mercurochrome
would make her better. We had to look very carefully to find a
scratch but after the first one, the rest were easy to locate.
Twenty minutes later we were back in the living room playing Cooties
in the floor. We had painted every scratch, every freckle, every
mole, every discoloration of our mamas skin that we could
see. She had Mercurochrome on her toes, her feet, her legs, her
hands, her arms, her neck and her face. At Donnas urging
we had even tried to paint her fingernails and toenails.
When mama shrieked in horror we knew she was awake. Proud of ourselves,
we ran to her room and asked, Are you feeling better?
We expected her to tell us what good kids we had been while she
With all the yelling it didnt seem at first that she was
feeling much better. But her disbelief and shock soon turned to
humor as she stared at her polka-dotted image in the mirror of
the bedroom vanity.
We laughed a lot the next few days as the Mercurochrome slowly
wore away. If anyone had asked us kids, we would have insisted
that the Mercurochrome had made our mama feel better. Hadnt
she lain down feeling bad and woke up laughing after a
while anyway? And hadnt everyone who saw her laughed and
laughed at our red polka-dotted mama? Yes, we were sure. Mama
had been cured by the magic of Mercurochrome.
Lee Green, Tennessee-bred and cornbread-fed, is compiling
a collection of stories about growing up in a family of seven
in the rural South in the 1950s. Inspired by Lois Lane at the
age of nine to become a writer, she has been published numerous
times over many years in print and on the World Wide Web. A writer
of fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry and essay, she presents
various Life Stories programs and workshops and challenges
others to write their memoirs.
Judy Lee Green