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Harris Blackwood: Childhood scrapes, warts called for creative remedies
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

Like many boys who played outdoors in childhood, I had my fair share of scrapes, cuts, splinters and briars that invaded my arms or legs.

Sometimes you might get hurt on your belly or back, but having one on your arm or leg was like a merit badge.

Usually, Mama would coat it with Mercurochrome or Merthiolate; both would leave a nice red coating that made your wound look even more serious. If you’ve never had that experience, it may have to do that they once contained Mercury, which somebody determined might kill you.

Not that I doubt that, but I never knew a kid who died of an over coating of Merthiolate.

Sometimes, a cotton swab coated in rubbing alcohol preceded the treatment. I read somewhere that at one time, rubbing alcohol was used as a liniment for a massage. As a child, I thought they were saying running alcohol, because that’s what I wanted to do when I saw it.

All I know is that it burns like heck.

One year, I added to my list of summer wounds by developing a wart. A wart really isn’t a wound and also isn’t caused by contact with frogs.

I had one that was rather stubborn and Mama took me to the doctor. He told me he was going to burn it off. Suddenly, rubbing alcohol and topical medicine containing mercury didn’t sound so bad.

It didn’t take long and, sure enough, the wart went away.

Move ahead half a century.

I’m old enough now that I make a yearly pilgrimage to the dermatologist to have them make sure that all those childhood years I spent in the sun hasn’t turned into something bad.

Today, they use liquid nitrogen to freeze little abnormalities off of your hide. While it is very efficient, liquid nitrogen is powerful stuff. It freezes stuff off at temperatures that would be cold in Antarctica.

This time, I had a wart that has been rather stubborn. This one was on the tip of my index finger. He held my finger in one hand and the nitrogen can in the other. If you understand singing parts, I am normally a tenor. Liquid nitrogen can make you 

sing soprano.

At this writing, the wart appears to be going away.

Years ago, I remember seeing a woman talk or conjure away a wart. They said she also could talk the heat out of some burns. All I remember is that she muttered some words that could not be understood. Funny, but I think I uttered a few words like that at the dermatologist.

Let me say that he is a very nice man and I am glad to be his patient.

As you get older, it seems that doctor appointments become more frequent. I’ve been checked from stem to stern and the good news is that I’m still alive.

I’ve decided that this is the year that I’m going to turn around those pesky health numbers that keep going up. I have a grand boy that I dearly love and we’re going to crawl around in the backyard and build forts and climb trees.

I’m going to keep a bottle of Mercurochrome in my pocket and 911 on speed dial.

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