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Blackwood: Scrapes, bruises and bug bats made strong kids
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As a boy who spent a lot of time outside in the summer, I am reminded I had my fair share of assorted scrapes, wounds and bug bites throughout those same summers.

I saw a child the other day whose arm was wrapped with about half a roll of bandage.

“What happened?” I asked.

“He scraped his arm,” the mother replied.

No self-respecting boy would have been seen with such a bandage in my day. If you scraped your arm, you went home, washed it off and coated it with either Merthiolate or Mercurochrome.

Usually, you wanted someone else to paint it on because it burned like fire. If no one was watching, you did a little pain dance, blow it and hoped it quit burning.

Merthiolate and Mercurochrome contained mercury and are not recommended anymore. But one of them left a big red stain and we wore it like a merit badge.

If we played in the woods, we occasionally got scraped by prickly briars. Somehow, I didn’t notice until I got ready to go home and saw a little blood on my legs. I usually washed it off with the water hose.

Again, I did the little pain dance because it burned like fire.

If we went near the creek, we usually came back with a nice collection of mosquito and chigger bites. Mama usually took some rubbing alcohol or mouthwash and had me blot the mosquito bites with cotton balls.

If you had chigger bites, you painted them with clear fingernail polish. Even though your mama brought you into this world, there was something disconcerting about letting her paint those chigger bites, most of which were in places where the sun didn’t shine.

I didn’t do well with hammers. In fact, I still don’t. I had a knack for smashing a finger or scraping my head with the claw. No medical attention needed here or so I thought.

Now folks haul their kids to the doctor every time they get a scratch. If we did that, we would have owed most of our family income to the doctor.

Summer was a time for bumps and bruises and you just took them in stride. Occasionally, when you bumped your head enough to make you see stars, you went home and mama put an ice pack on it. We didn’t own an ice bag. My Mama just took a washrag, put some ice in it and you held it to your head.

Mama also offered you a popsicle to make you feel better. I am thoroughly convinced a popsicle or a cold Coke had some medicinal and therapeutic value.

You also got a Coke, sometimes poured back and forth between glasses to make it flat, when you had an upset stomach. This explains why Coca-Cola was invented in a pharmacy.

I think those summertime cuts and scrapes made us stronger, helped us grow up and were as much a part of those days as warm sunshine.

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on