Got a boo boo?

When I was a kid and I got a scraped knee or a minor cut, out came the mercurochrome. Part of the application included blowing on the wound, to cool off the burn once the mercurochrome was dabbed on. Oucheewawa!

NOTE TO JEANNE:::::  Mercurochrome didn’t sting nearly as much as Iodine!!!!!  that was a real ouchee!!!!!   Love, Curt

Bactine was another item in the medicine cabinet used mainly for sunburn and minor scrapes that didn’t bleed a lot. There was Vicks VapoRub that went on my chest when I had a congested cold and finally a shot of whiskey in some hot tea was the soothing drink I was given when the cramps from my period sent me into the fetal position. (it put me to sleep, the best medicine of all).

But when we had a burn, out came Gramma’s Salve. Well it probably really was Uncle Henry’s Salve. He was Gram’s brother and when my Mom’s Dad died (Grampa), she and her brother and Gram moved into his house. This was their magic cure-all but nobody ever knew what was in it. This past Christmas my Mother (she’s 88) brought over the jar she still has to show my son. Brownish in color, in a Wyler’s Beef Bullion jar, with a hand written label that said,


It looked nasty. We opened and took a whiff. Sort of medicinal, sort of industrial greasy, sort of animal fatty but not rancid, sort of what?????  Hard to identify.

Gramma's Salve

Gramma’s Salve

My Mother said when the salve got low Uncle Henry would go down to the butcher shop to get it refilled. That might explain the animal fat smell, maybe. But whatever the butcher added is lost in the past. This jar she brought at Christmas must have been over fifty years old because Uncle Henry is long gone and my Mom is no spring chicken. But she swears by it, says it has taken the sting out of burns and healed them quickly. Cuts and scrapes too. I do remember, far in the back of my brain, situations where I was the recipient of its healing powers but I am not able to give you any details.

After the holidays Curt went off on one of his junking days. That’s where he and his friend Carol, spend the day hitting up flea markets and antique stores. He came home with this.

Dream Salve

Dream Salve

The printed can said:

Prepared only by
Wonderful Dream Salve Co.
Detroit, Mich. U.S.A.

Price 30 Cts.
An effective remedy if used as directed
The Great Healer

For Burns, Scalds, Cuts, Bruises, Fever Sores, Chronic Sores, Chilblains, Felons, Ivy Poison, Bites, Scald Head Barber’s Itch, Etc,

Directions: – Always spread the salve on oiled silk or wax paper and apply.  Cleanse the sore and renew every 12 hours – See special directions on circular for various uses.

Wow! Chilblains and felons (those little tears at the edge of your fingernail) and that pesky scald head barber’s itch! And we can only guess at the ‘various uses’ since the circular was no longer in the box. We opened it up and there were tiny traces of something brown, it smelled medicinal, industrial greasy, animal fatty, maybe. Interesting.

So my questions are, did Hannah know the butcher, did they go into business together, or did she seduce him and then run off to Detroit with the miracle formula for salve? Was Uncle Henry really visiting the butcher or was he going to Hannah’s house? Was Uncle Henry and Hannah an item? We will never know but we still have the salve. Lucky us.


18 thoughts on “Got a boo boo?

  1. Great post and I predict that many readers will add their own old-timey medicine memories. (I really hope so!) Yes to both Vicks and mercurochrome and let me add PineEx (or PineX) to that list. It was for coughs, very thick and nearly black, stunk terribly and tasted like pine tar.

  2. Another great post! I love great finds like “Dream Salve”. When I was a girl I found a half buried metal can at Toft Point. It’s about the size and shape of a tobacco container. I’ve been shaking it and wondering what’s inside for 25 years. I don’t know what it was for and I can’t open it with destroying it, but I love thinking about what could be inside!

  3. Great story. Wanted to send it to Hank, then changed my mind. I’ll just ask him what he remembers and we may get some other info. OR — he may just go ballistic and say he’s been looking for this for 40 years and I had hidden it from him! Mercurochrome I hadn’t thought about in many moons. Also, had goose grease and turpentine….don’t know specifics any more. Will check with Hank. ha ha ha

  4. I’m just finding this post now. My grandfather worked on Eastern Market in Detroit for local meatcutters. He had a jar of “black salve” that was kept like a prized possession. That stuff could heal anything overnight. One of the relatives has the dark brown glass jar somewhere now, held in secrecy. My grandpa only ever told us “you can’t get this anymore.” I’ve been researching so I can try to make my own. This has to be the same stuff. Was it amber brown, with a gritty wax/petroleum jelly texture and would numb pain? Best stuff ever.

  5. Well, I was just talking about Wonderful Dream Salve two days ago. When I was live no at home we used this all the time. Along with Methiolate sting like heck & turned your skin pink. I stepped on a sewing needle on our stairway. It went all the way in my arch of my foot. My mom didn’t believe it went all the way in. She put a blob of the black stinky tar substance on my foot with a bandaid over night. The next morning there was about an 1/8th of the needle sticking big out. She pulled it out with pliers. OMG that stuff is a miracle. I wish I had that little can. It would be like jaws if life trying to open it. It works & if still use it today 4/18/17 if i could buy it in Michigan.

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