April 7th…“WHO WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD DENTIST AND WHAT WAS HE LIKE?”
Perched on the second floor, above the 1902 building that held the Kiester Food Market, was the office of our village Cavitary Caped Crusader, the honorable Doctor E. F. Pirsig. When it came to being successful in dentulous delights, this dear man was the very essence of a professional that was sought after by farm families for miles around.
Even though Mom dutifully implored me to brush my teeth on a regular basis, it was just a matter of time when an errant tooth would give way to that dastardly, dilemmatic conclusion that I either needed to live with the pain of that tooth, or visit dear Doctor Pirsig. So, wanting to get relief from the agony, Mom and I would climb into our 1956 Chevy and it would soon pull up in front of the Kiester Food Market building. Mom and I then entered a stairway door that led up to the doctor’s office.
Our echoing footsteps, up the creaking stairs of that cavernous stairwell, eventually led us into the doctor’s large waiting room. In between reading comic books, I found myself gazing at the quaint, tin-embossed ceiling high above me that likely had been in existence from when the building was originally constructed back in 1902.
As he took a step or two into the waiting room, Dr. Pirsig summoned me into his treatment parlor that overlooked our village’s Main Street. I remember being fascinated with all of the medical equipment that he had and especially the massive dentist’s chair with its rope-driven drill that hung over me as I climbed up and settled into this dental “throne”.
As gently as he could, Doc Pirsig’s syringe needle invaded my little boy mouth to administer the anesthetic to put my feelings to “sleep” while he worked on my cavities. As the drug began to take hold, it was a strange realization of having NO sensation in that part of my mouth……no hot, no cold, no pain of any sort….WOW!! What an intriguing and mysterious experience that was for me. In the early to mid 1960’s, our dentist’s drilling apparatus was powered by an electric motor that spun pulley wheels linked together at articulated joints on long metal arms. Along those pulley wheels ran a strong fiber cord that then powered the drill that was used inside a patient’s mouth for removing tooth decay. Funny and freaky, at the same moment, were the times that Doc Pirsig’s drill bit would “bite off more than it could chew” and became stuck in one of my teeth. The main drill motor was still supplying full power to the pulley wheels, so they kept on spinning at high speed. Problem was, the pulley drive cords were not moving, due to the stuck drill bit. That’s when I’d see smoke start to emanate from those cords and wondered if they’d burst into flame? 😉 The good doctor took it all in stride, though, and just released the power, wiggled the bit loose and resumed his work on my dental behalf.
In between grindings in my mouth, I was given a small cup of water and the doctor asked me to swish a mouthful in my mouth to dislodge material that he had created. I was then instructed to bend over a small, round sink that was immediately to my left side and spit the remnants down the drain. That tiny, porcelain sink had a constant, small jet of water shooting in a clockwise whirlpool, of sorts, along the upper rim and eventually down the little drain in its center. Being the midget comedian, I was amused how that rinse sink resembled a small toilet as it flushed my drool, blood and dental chunks away into the unknown from my kid-sized candy cavern.
Without the dedicated, dental delicacies of Dr. Pirsig, and others over the years, there would be one more totally toothless twerp in this world…….ME! Thankful for the few teeth I have remaining is this Norwegian Farmer’s Son.