My acne was troublesome. For my mother too, that is, when she was young. Her back was pitted and cratered. I asked about them. She said she had acne. Imagine 1928, an adolescent girl, living a farm life, infected pustules, and no antibiotics. Her mother took hot water, lye soap, and a scrub brush to her. I imagine a palmyra scrub brush. The scars were the result. My mother was nonchalant and unembarrassed to me about her scars. It was her story, maybe partially told.
Around 11 or 12 my mother sought out blackheads on my cheeks, on and around my nose, and in my ears. She used a hairpin to clean out pores, prevent infections. She placed the hairpin's loop around the clogged pore and pressed down hard. The plug popped out. It was painful. I learned to do it myself.
I spent time in the mirror popping pimples and pustules and daubing them with alcohol. I used prescription soaps with grit to wash my face. I sunned it by lamp. I controlled my diet. All was to soak oil from my skin and dry out my acne.
Success came. I'd peel flakes off the infected mounds. I was fascinated. I'd watch my pores flame up, dry off, peel, open and drain. They drained for hours. I showed success to mother. They were a triumph.
Acne, its pimples and flaming blotchy pustules, enraged my father. Mother and her brood journeyed to distant cities to consult dermatological experts. Father’s rage was not bound by reasonable and scientific expertise and prescriptions. He'd lash out, verbally degrade us, abuse my sister and assault our mother.
Later I accepted ivory soap and alcohol swabbing as successful. I‘d dry out the top, peel off the flake, and explode the little infection into the mirror; bull’s-eye. My brother preferred leaning back in his chair, targeting the ceiling. We all thought we were hilarious.
My memories all returned as I used a refreshing apricot scrub that softly exfoliates to reveal smooth, healthy and beautiful skin. I still have oily skin and pimples.