How I hated the doctoring that was a part of my childhood. I was never one to flaunt my nicks and bruises; I hid them as much as possible in fear of my mother's administering treatment.

She thought everything needed rubbing alcohol on it. She had heard about those dangerous microscopic germs that were everywhere, and she considered an antiseptic to be the first wall of protection. On chigger or mosquito bites it was okay, but if my problem involved broken skin, I literally jumped up and down from the alcohol application.

If my injury required a bandage, I dreaded the trouble it would cause. We had no comfortable ready-made coverings. First, the spot was smeared with Cloverine brand salve to prevent sticking. Then a soft white rag, cut and folded to size, was laid on. A length of adhesive tape was supposed to hold the bandage in place, but its stickiness left soon after it was cut from the metal spool.

Blisters and injuries to a finger or toe were better covered by a custom-made stall sewn on the treadle sewing machine. It was held on securely by its own long ties wrapped around the wrist or ankle, but any bandage got in the way of my play.

When winter colds came along, I restrained my cough as much as possible. I knew that my mother would head for the Vicks vaporub. She would smear a layer on my chest, lay a square of flannel over it under my pajama top, and tell me to inhale through my nose and mouth. The smell was repulsive to me.

There was no getting around my taking the series of three typhoid fever shots at school. An uncle had died of typhoid long before my time, and my mother had absolutely no sympathy for me, no matter how badly the arm swelled and hurt. Not taking them was not worth the risk. Seeing the health nurses in the hallway struck fear that shook my total being.

Worst of all the doctoring was having to take castor oil. It had the most nauseating taste of anything I have ever encountered. A teaspoonful might as well have been a pint. My mother mixed it with orange juice in an attempt to disguise it enough for swallowing. I associated the tastes with each other so strongly that I was turned against plain orange juice for years.

As soon as I grew up enough to dare to resist my parents' decisions, I stood my ground against taking castor oil. They respected my argument, and I was indescribably grateful. My detesting the stuff was genuine; I could just see the bottle on the medicine shelf and I would become nauseated. After that victory, I did not dare to complain about any other remedy handed me.