When I was fourteen years old I volunteered to ride along with my Mom one evening, to go to the High school and pick up my older sister from GAA volleyball practice. At first this really doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with the dentist, but hang on the story really takes a turn.
We picked up my sister and one of her friends who lived in Ursa, Illinois. It was drizzling rain, and the windshield wipers of our 1961 Olds eighty eight, seemed to be tapping out a beat, and the radio was on WLS, A.M. in Chicago.....we were not aware of the life changing events that were just about to take place.
On our way home we watched the oncoming headlights approaching in the drizzling rain. In an instantaneous moment we saw the approaching headlights suddenly go from straight ahead, to shooting straight up in the air, almost as if the vehicle was doing a wheelie. Then suddenly a car shot out from behind the seemingly “star seeking” headlights, and came directly into our path.
There was a tremendous crash….I heard my Mom cry out in pain….I was hurled forward into the dashboard and then the windshield.....silence.....then groans…..I struggled to adjust and tried to focus on where I was and what had just happened......we had been involved in a terrible four car accident!
I checked on Mom to see if she was alright.......her leg was badly hurt.....my sisters were okay. I struggled to crawl out the window so I could flag down an oncoming car. I then ran back behind our car where I saw a pickup truck......the one who's headlights had shot up into the air just before our crash. To my horror I saw that it was embedded in the front end of a Corvair that contained three girls from our high school. I was to later find out that only one of the girls would survive. One of the girls that died was my sister Linda's best friend. The other was a cheerleader at our school......she and I always flirted with each other.....their necks were broken.
I had flagged down the first car that came upon the scene and blurted out the obvious (that there had been an accident)....it was unknown to me at the time, but I was completely covered with blood, having a broken arm, and my four upper front teeth knocked completely out, and my bottom jaw was broken, and one tooth was sticking out through a hole in my chin. I then ran back from the Corvair and pickup, to our car so I could check on my Mom again.
One of our neighbors recognized our car and called my Dad at home.....he beat the ambulance there.......I was confided in later, when I asked my Dad how fast he was driving his Buick Electra (since he got there so quick).....he said that he wasn’t really sure how fast he was driving, that he hadn’t even looked......he only knew that he was driving the car as fast as it would go.....and that was pretty fast!!
We were taken to Blessing hospital by ambulance, where it was found My Mom had a crushed kneecap. My Older sister Linda had a broken nose, and I of course, was missing my upper four front teeth, and my lower four teeth were laying flat in my mouth, because of my broken jaw. They didn't realize until the next morning, when my arm started swelling and hurting so bad, that I also had a broken arm.
That morning will always stand out in my memory for many reasons......that was the day President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas.....I can still remember the nurses crying when his assassination was announced on the radio. Soooooo, I'll always remember where I was on the day President Kennedy was assassinated.
That was just the beginning of many, many Dentist appointments for me. One dentist I was very thankful for was Dr. Quad, in Quincy, Ill. I was told, many years later, that Dr. Quad had done an outstanding job on my teeth. He made a mold and a partial plate for my missing upper teeth. Of course this all took a long time, because we had to wait for swelling to go down. It was a long time after Christmas before I got my partial plate.
I remember flirting with girls at basketball games and not having any front teeth.....of course I also remember I didn´t have much luck with the girls either! Later, when I played football at Heidelberg college, I would wear my mouthpiece upside down, revealing a large gap where my teeth used to be......I called it my air scoop. My teammates started calling me "Happy Tooth", because as I was always smiling.....toothless or not!
The dentist did root canals on my four bottom teeth, and he inserted silver pins. He told me at that time, that later in life, these four teeth would eventually turn black......and quite a few years ago, they did.
Through the years I’ve had a varity of dentist….even a couple who were a little strange….like the dentist in New Knoxville, Ohio. He would have me all stretched out in the chair, half upside down, and put his knee on my chest, then he would holler, “steady as she goes”! Some time after my appointment with him, I found out that he later underwent some highly supervised clinical counciling……I may have been one of his patients which pushed him over the edge…..I don’t know…..hummm?
Jackie had been doing her research and found Costa Rica doctors to be very educated, and many interned at Baylor...which for Jackie spells “Texas”, which then of course spells, “the best”! Well, anyway the credentials were there, and the price was about one third of what It would cost in Florida…..Hey, Costa Rica, here we come!
So here I am in Escazu, Costa Rica….at the dentist office…. in the waiting room….waiting…….just waiting for Jackie to get her two root canals. I’ve already had five extractions and one root canal, and Im still smiling ---go figure. I’ll leave Costa Rica with my upper and lower teeth replaced permanently---FINANLLY---AFTER ALL THESE YEARS!!!