Depression-Era First Aid: Egg Skin

Colorado woman recalls her father patching her cuts with egg skin "stitches" during the depression era.

| Good Old Days

The playground of our one-room country school was alive with boys and girls, ages six through thirteen. It was recess and we stood in clusters watching the bigger boys who were teasing a billy goat that had strayed from the farmyard across the road. The boys got a thrill out of holding the goat by his horns while he wrestled and tried his best to get away from them. When at last he freed himself, he took after the closest one in sight.

"Look out, Juanita!" someone shouted, but the warning came too late. Before I knew what was happening, the billy hit me and I went sprawling to the ground. I was helped up, but I must have been a gruesome sight. The goat's horn had ripped the skin under my chin and left it hanging loose, dripping blood onto my clean dress.

The teacher came, took one look and sent for the lady across the road. They attempted to clean me up but were overwhelmed at the sight of the gaping wound. Not knowing what more to do, they folded a clean flour sack into a triangular sling, placed the wide part under my chin and knotted the ends on top of my head. "She'll have to have stitches," the neighbor lady said. And the teacher agreed.

My Uncle Ed, who was still going to school, was instructed to take me home on his horse. On the way we discussed doctors. I couldn't remember ever going to one and the thought of doing so was frightening. Stitches sounded like needles. I was afraid.

Mama was nearly hysterical when she saw me. I'm sure she thought her darling would never be the same.

Dad was more calm. He had grown up in a family of ten children and had seen similar sights. Drawing on old memories of how his mother dealt with emergencies, he came up with a solution.

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