Medicine Show

Posted: Friday, November 9, 2012 at 3:07 am
By: Doug Lund
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What’s in your medicine cabinet? Do you ever wonder if guests peek in yours when they excuse themselves to the bathroom? Have YOU ever sneaked a peek in someone else’s?

I remember a Seinfeld episode when Jerry couldn’t resist looking in his new girlfriend’s medicine chest and discovered a tube of fungicide there. Even though he really liked the girl, he stopped seeing her fearing she had an STD. It turns out the medicine was for the woman’s cat.

This past week, Linda was going through the medicine chest at her late mother’s house and discovered a couple of old bottles; one containing Witch Hazel and the other Hydrogen Peroxide..

 memories witch hazelmemories peroxide These were apparently staples in most American households. Hydrogen Peroxide was used for everything from mouthwash to a disinfectant for cleaning. Witch Hazel is for treating skin ailments, from acne to razor burn. It’s also supposedly good for bruises, sores and swelling. I just remember the distinct and not totally unpleasant aroma coming from the faces of men after a close shave before church.

Someone this week also brought up how everyone used to have a little bottle of Mercurochrome in their medicine chest. I know we certainly did when I was a child.

memories mercurochrome

It was also a topical antiseptic for use on cuts, scrapes and minor burns. So how was it different from Witch Hazel and Hydrogen Peroxide? Well, it didn’t sting when mom used that little glass wand to daub the reddish liquid on your injury. It turns out that Mercurochrome fell out of favor some years ago after the FDA raised questions about its effectiveness.

I got to thinking about the stuff we had in the medicine cabinet when I was growing up and suddenly, images stored in the back of my memory banks rushed into view. Thanks to Google,  I’m able to give you a glimpse inside the Lund bathroom in the fifties and early sixties.  Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Oh well, I’ll bet lots of these items look familiar to you too. Below is what our cabinet looked like:

It came from the factory with flourecent tubes on each side but they were pretty expensive to replace. So when we had a burnout..mom would just use a regular 60 watt bulb.

It came from the factory with flourecent tubes on each side but they were pretty expensive to replace. So when we had a burnout..mom would just use a regular 60 watt bulb.

 
Dad used this old razor for a time with a shaving mug, brush and soap.

Dad used this old razor for a time with a shaving mug, brush and soap.

 

Dad also used his Sunbeam Shavemaster but it wasn't until he got a Norelco that he went totally electric.

Dad also used his Sunbeam Shavemaster but it wasn't until he got a Norelco that he went totally electric.

Perhaps constant exposure to this Norelco TV commercial during the Christmas season. It showed old St. Nick gliding over the snow atop a Norelco razor with its three "floating heads." Odd that the bearded Santa would be the spokesman for electric shavers.

Perhaps constant exposure to this Norelco TV commercial during the Christmas season was the reason. It showed old St. Nick gliding over the snow atop a Norelco razor with its three "floating heads." Odd that the bearded Santa would be the spokesman for electric shavers.

 

 

This was dad's after shave of choice. I still like the smell. My brothers and I were and are all pretty fair skinned and really didn't require regular shaving until long after we'd left home.

This was dad's after shave of choice. I still like the smell. My brothers and I were and are all pretty fair skinned and really didn't require regular shaving until long after we'd left home.

We all had big piles of hair, though and went through gallons of this stuff.

We all had big piles of hair, though and went through gallons of this stuff.

 

When the wet head look was dead, I switched to this stuff.

When the wet head look was dead, I switched to this stuff.

Once we saw that Crest had "flouristan" our family was sold.

Once we saw that Crest had "flouristan" our family was sold.

We boys also went through plenty of this stuff. I think it was more effective at hiding zits than getting rid of them.

We boys also went through plenty of this stuff. I think it was more effective at hiding zits than getting rid of them.

 

Mom thought gargling this awful tasting stuff was just the ticket for sore throats and bad breath. We eventually talked her into buying Scope.

Mom thought gargling this awful tasting stuff was just the ticket for sore throats and bad breath. We eventually talked her into buying Scope.

Certainly no medicine cabinet then or now would be complete with out the trusty bottle of Vicks Vapo Rub. Magic stuff.

Certainly no medicine cabinet then or now would be complete with out the trusty bottle of Vicks Vapo Rub. Magic stuff.

There was usually just one bottle of shampoo for all of us. Maybe it was best at cleaning all that Brylcreem out of our hair.

There was usually just one bottle of shampoo for all of us. Maybe it was best at cleaning all that Brylcreem out of our hair.

There was also a jar of this in our cabinet. I just assumed it was only used for chapped lips. But I guess it had other applications.

There was also a jar of this in our cabinet. I just assumed it was only used for chapped lips. But I guess it had other applications.

A Sunday morning ritual; swabbing our shoes with this stuff. I don't think it was leather's best friend but did "kote" those scuffs.

A Sunday morning ritual; swabbing our shoes with this stuff. I don't think it was leather's best friend but did "kote" those scuffs.

These probably wern't in our medicine cabinet but there was always a bottle of it in the house and it always required removing that scab of dried glue from the rubber applicator tip before use.

These probably wern't in our medicine cabinet but there was always a bottle of it in the house and it always required removing that scab of dried glue from the rubber applicator tip before use.

Did you ever wonder what became of Absorbine Senior?

Did you ever wonder what became of Absorbine Senior?

We had a bottle of Bayer in the medicine chest but there was always a tin of tablets in there too..I suppose for when we traveled.

We had a bottle of Bayer in the medicine chest but there was always a tin of tablets in there too..I suppose for when we traveled.

These were both in there at times. I remember insisting we get the Curad colored ones.

These were both in there at times. I remember insisting we get the Curad colored ones.

 Well, that’s most of what I remember.

I could have snapped a photo so you could see inside Linda and my medicine cabinet..but she’d kill me if I did. I guess you’ll just have to come over for a visit and sneak a peek for yourself.

18 Comments

  1. Sweeps says:

    I think there were only one or two items I didn’t remember. I do remember that even with mercurochrome, I was ready to “blow the stinging away” just like we had to do with iodine. And the last picture, of the bandaid boxes, reminds me that I still have one of those Bandaid boxes in MY medicine cabinet! Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  2. Larson says:

    Terrific post. I totally forgot about Prell. Also my Mom used Dippidy Do (anyone remember that)? And I still like the plain old Listerine.

  3. Glenn says:

    Speaking of those old razors, my medicine cabinet has a slit to deposit those double-blade blades.

  4. Paula B says:

    Oh my word….those pictures brought back a lot of memories for me. There was only one item I hadn’t seen before – the Curad Battle Ribbons. Thanks for making me smile and think of my late parents.!!

  5. Per Pål P says:

    What medicine cabinet would have been complete without iodine, merthiloate, Watkins Carbolic Salve, and some boric acid with the little glass “cup” to wash the eyes. … My Grandma’s “cabinet” also had goose grease, lard, flax, kerosene, mustard, and other ingredients to put up a poultice. And ja, lots of bedsheets torn into strips and rolled up to be used as a “gauze” to cover “major” cuts etc. Grandma never wasted tape either….these “bandages” were tied after being put around the wound. My Grandma, Hilda Mathilda Knudson Peterson, was our “family doctor”…. Kathleen Stokker, from Luther College at Decorah, Ia has a wonderful book… Remedies and Rituals…Folk Medicine in Norway and the New Land..

  6. Carol S. says:

    WOW! What fun to see all those pictures! Yep–those were exactly what was in our medicine cabinet when I was growing up. Just today, I was trying to find a little jar of Vicks Vaporub or mentholatum in my house to help with my stuffed-up nose–but couldn’t. Guess I’ll have to go out and buy one.

  7. Phyllis M says:

    Remember most of them, thanks for the memories. In addition to Vicks, we had Mentholatum, was also good for anything.

  8. Ann says:

    What, no Balm Barr?

    That brown glue makes me think of my Norwegian Lutheran Sunday School in the 60′s, although I don’t remember actually ever using it, I do remember that scab thing.

  9. Ken says:

    Doug:

    I wait for, and enjoy, your posts each time. Very interesting. Remember most of the contents of the medicine cabinet, especialy iodine. Burned like blazes. Liked your take on vaseline. By the way, in the older days, do you know what newly weds bought vaseline for? Probably 59 cents a jar. Keep em coming. Thanks.

  10. Chris says:

    I can remember it was a good day when shampoo came in plastic bottles. You didn’t have to worry about dropping them in the bathtub.

  11. Bob Jackson says:

    Bought Old Spice recently… The ad on the bottle says: “If your grandfather didn’t wear this, chances are you wouldn’t be here.”

  12. Laurie says:

    Wow…does that ever bring up old memories of my parents and growing up! My Dad used Brylcreem and his hair looked great. My Dad also used Old Spice. My Mom used Prell, Aqua Net. I remember alot of this stuff being in the house . Thanks for the great post!!

  13. Patches says:

    Always love your posts Doug. Thanks for another stroll down memory lane. Yes Larson i remember Dippity Do; do you remember the old hair rollers that poked into your scalp – the more they hurt your scalp the better your curls would be. And the pink tape girls used to hold their curls in place? And a conditioner/detangler all girls used called “Tame”? I was always thankful when Mom could afford to buy the Tame and would massage it through our long tresses because i loved the smell of it, and sure did not hurt as bad when she would help us comb out the tangles!

  14. SHEILA BLOMSTER says:

    YOU DO A GREAT JOB, DOUG, – LOVED YOUR WRITING ON GEORGE MCGOVERN, THE ‘OL MEDICINE CABINET BROUGHT BACK MANY MEMORIES (MANY OF WHICH WE STILL KEEP IN OUR MED CAB.), YOUR TRIP TO IRELAND PICTURES & COMMENTS. ENJOY YOUR TAKE ON THINGS. MY MOTHER’S MAIDEN NAME WAS LUND & HER GRANDPARENTS ON BOTH SIDES CAME OVER FROM NORWAY. MY DAD WAS GERMAN & HIS DAD CAME OVER AT AGE 19 & NEVER WENT BACK. KEEP UP YOUR GOOD WORK ON YOUR SITE.

  15. kim says:

    My mom splurged and bought us one bottle of Prell then replaced it with off brand shampoo, but kept the pearl thinking we would never catch on! Well, we did, the pearl dropped a whole lot faster in the cheap stuff, so we were sure our hair looked great for one bottle’s worth and then it was back to the real world. Kids today have no idea what they missed out on! My favorite memory is Tang, getting to dring the same drink the astronauts drank! Didn’t get any better than that.

  16. Trista says:

    I also remember some of those things, and I am NOT OLD!!! I can remember having to rub Vicks Vapor rub on the babies feet and put their socks back on, and I did the same for my kids who are 17 & 15. A little walk down memory lane make me smile and know that life is good! Thanks for a great blog Doug.

  17. Tom says:

    Your long hair saved you from using Butch Wax. Terrible stuff but it did enhance our “chick magnet” crew cuts. Neither Prell nor any other shampoo would get that stuff out in one try!

  18. MJ says:

    Wow. What a step back in time. I’d forgotten that we had most of this stuff in our medicine cabinet. Prell was the only shampoo that we ever had. Is that stuff still made? We only buy the store brand stuff today so I rarely even look at brand name stuff. We were kings when we got the brightly covered Curad bandages. I think I might have accidently cut myself a time or two just to get one of those band-aids. I just bought a bottle of Listerine because of some dental work and the stuff still tastes like battery acid….not that I know what battery acid tastes like….but I’m sure it tastes like Listerine.

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