Stubbed Toes and Mercurochrome


I’m not sure how I still have big toes after growing up barefoot in Oklahoma.

But I looked down yesterday, and there they were, two normal big toes.

I can only attribute this miracle to gallons and gallons of Mercurochrome.

Every summer day in the sixties that I can remember was spent running like Banshees, from dawn till dusk, always barefoot, and frequently right down the middle of Nebraska Street.

Now, stubbing your toe on the smooth concrete driveway was nothing, even if you were running flat-out.  But stubbing your toe on Nebraska Street’s super rough “street concrete” could be fatal.

At least it seemed that way. And it probably sounded that way to the neighbors.


I’d limp home in tears and, for the 1,000th time that summer, my Mom would reattach the piece of big toe that was dangling by a thread.

She’d dab on Mercurochrome, which for some reason we called “Monkey’s Blood.”  I’d stop crying long enough to tell her I needed more.  She’d saturate my toe and slap on a big ol’ Bandaid.

Then, after a quick root beer, boom, I was out the door and charging head-long back into Oklahoma summer.

I assumed that Mom knew what she was doing, whenever she was doctoring my skinned toes, knees, elbows and headbones.

But awhile back, I Googled “Mercurochrome”.  I am not thrilled with what I read.

“In 1998, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) became concerned about potential mercury poisoning resulting from the use of Mercurochrome. 

“There was also concern that the reddish-brown stain it left on the skin could mask inflammation which would indicate that the wound had become infected.

“Mercurochrome was removed from the ‘Generally Recognized as Safe’ category and entered in the ‘Untested’ classification.”

So forget Covid-19. Every kid who grew up in the sixties on Nebraska Street, and possibly in the great state of Oklahoma, may be in deep trouble.

But, personally,  if I croak tomorrow because of mercury poisoning, it’s no big thing.  And I’ll be happy to have an open casket, barefoot funeral.

Even though my big toes may still be a bit orangey, they remain attached to my feet, thanks to my Mom and Mercurochrome.

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