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From: "Nancee Seifert" <>
Subject: [IADECATU] PULLING TEETH - !@#$%^&*
Date: Tue, 10 Sep 2002 19:28:26 -0500


Leon Reporter, Leon, Iowa
Thursday, May 22, l924

The dentists held a meeting the other day bringing a noted lecturer and clinical expert for the day. And thereby hangs a tale of old and new times.

Away back then, when you and I were young and so forth, dentists' signs didn't hang thick in every block and office building. The dentist of those days was scarce and a sort of tooth carpenter. He had usually gained his knowledge in another dentist's office, where he learned to "pull" teeth and make plates. You see we didn't bother much with dentists then. When a tooth ached we just dropped into old Doc's office and had it pulled. Sometimes Doc carried a pair of "forceps" with him and yanked out baby teeth which had escaped the string method of extraction. Old Doc had three or four forceps, pretty rusty affairs, with which he "pulled teeth." Nobody "extracted" teeth in those days.

What old Doc did was to set the sufferer down in the old wooden chair, take hold and heave. If it was a hard one with three prongs someone assisted by holding your head down against the chair back while Doc writhed and twisted. That time when Old Bill Quest, who had teeth like a horse, was the patient, they put Bill against one of the porch pillars, the assistant put an arm about the pillar and Old Bill's forehead, and Doc, who was a little man, braced one foot against the porch post and heaved away. He swayed from side to side as he pulled. Bill bellowed and drummed with his feet on the floor. Doc hung on like a puppy to a root and finally the tusk let loose and old Doc fell backward, grasping in victorious "forceps" a hunk of ivory that might have belonged to a mastodon.

Pulling a tooth in those days when folks had teeth to crack hickory nuts with, was some operation. Anaesthetics? About all the anaesthesia those old squirrels would demand was four fingers of red liquor in a glass graduate that tasted of quassia and Colombo, with a trace perhaps of asafetida. When four or five ounces of that got to working he glared and said he was ready. We boys used to consider it a gala day when one of the early fathers came holding his whiskers on one side, and we quickly gathered about to enjoy his suffering.

Among old Doc's paraphernalia was a turnkey. It was made on the principle of an old-fashioned stump puller, or perhaps the stump puller was suggested by the turnkey. It had a hook and a handle. The operator hooked the hook about the tooth and proceeded precisely as horses proceed about a horse-power or a windlass in house-moving. Something gave, either jaw or tooth, or both, gave way. The patient gave a wild and gurgling shriek, and the job was done.

Fill a tooth? Not much, we had it pulled for fifty cents or even two bits. Bridges? Huh! The only bridges we knew about were the ones over the bad places where the creek couldn't be forded. All this bridging and local anaesthetics and cleaning teeth and so on, came in with the luxury and feminization of later years. When a tooth ached we got rid of it. Old Barnhart once tied one end of a wire about an aching molar and the other end to a bullet and shot the tooth out. They, the spectators -- there were always spectators -- said that as Old Barnhart stood aiming with his mouth stretched wide, that it was a sight worth going miles on foot to see. He pulled the tooth but never found it, though he had aimed it at the leanto, hoping to preserve it as a trophy. Ah, them were the good old days.

--Marshalltown Times-Republican

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Copied by Nancee (for fun)
"With permission from the Leon Journal Reporter"
September l0, 2002

*Note: Jack E. Scott -- is this true??? I'm sure this was long before your father's time... No wonder I always feared the dentist when I was a kid. Oh, I can still cry and faint, if need be.. Nancee


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