It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt. Jumping on the bed, jumping off the roof, doing a cartwheel straight into a wood rail fence, pounding a strip of "caps" (remember those little gunpowder filled strips?) - with a hammer, all seemingly great ideas until I lost layers of skin or split something open. Then came the quick calculation of whether it was worth going home for treatment. Was it oozing blood, or streaming? Was it something that I could hide? Did anyone see and run off to report it to the adults? Could I come up with a plausible excuse (I tripped on my shoelace) as opposed to revealing that I was trying to see if I could fit my entire head into the mailbox?
I'd been warned many times about the dangers of infection. You could have your whole arm turn black and fall off. You could contract lockjaw and die a terrible death - starving, raving and foaming at the mouth. (In my mind I had created a horrifying amalgamation of tetanus and rabies.) The alternative was to be doctored with something from the medicine cabinet.
The current crop of kiddies are soft little crybabies. They get a scratch and are slathered with a soothing antibiotic ointment and a bandage with an adorable cartoon character. We older folks walked 10 miles to school, uphill (both ways) in the snow, barefoot; and when we bled, we were painted with iodine, merthiolate, or mercurochrome.
Merthiolate burned like hell. Ever get hot sauce on a hangnail or paper cut? Yeah. Now imagine someone liberally daubing that finger from a bottle of ghost pepper sauce for a minute. Then telling you to "stop crying and blow on it". So you stood there, frantically blowing on whatever unfortunate body part you'd traumatized, spraying spit everywhere and getting dizzy from the effort. After about - oh, ten minutes - you were able to function as a normal human being again. Of course, both merthiolate and mercurochrome dyed your skin a reddish-brown color, which lasted for days. One summer I walked around with so many red splats I looked like I'd been blown out of a foxhole during the war.
Mercurochrome, evil cousin of merthiolate, supposedly didn't hurt as much. Poppycock. It also left telltale red stains. The only good thing was that a healthy application could make an injury look a lot worse than it was, which could be used to garner pity from grandparents and an excuse from gym.
At some point iodine appeared in our bathroom. Satan must have dropped it off. It was wicked, wicked stuff; it felt like liquid fire being poured into the wound, and dyed your skin the color of pee. Apparently a watered down version of iodine is not so bad, but the product sold in the 1960s had an alcohol base which gave the tincture its bite.
Finally, when I was around ten years old, a miracle appeared. Bactine. Actually, Bactine was developed by Bayer in 1947 and first used in 1950. It is an antiseptic. It also contains Lidocaine, a PAIN RELIEVER! Why did so many children have to suffer with iodine and the tortuous M twins?
I can only think of two reasons: the "pain build character" philosophy, or the "if it hurts, it must be doing you some good" idea. I could offer a third possibility from my parents: "Maybe if it hurts enough, you won't be stupid enough to __fill in the blank_____ again". The flaw in that line of reasoning is that I never repeated a single stupid act. There were hundreds of others to choose from.
The FDA banned and stopped the sale of both Merthiolate and Mercurochrome in the 1990s. Seems they contain stuff called thimerosal and merbromin, also known as mercury. Perhaps members of the older generation are brain damaged as a result of childhood first aid practices- the current political scene certainly makes a case for it. Hospitals still use iodine; my brother-in-law recently had foot surgery, and they painted him with it. He had a reaction and developed a horrible, itchy rash under his boot.
Evil stuff, I tell you. Evil stuff.