Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Growing UpToothless . . .

. . . For Just a Little While 'Tho

It was either late 1947 or 1948 - it really doesn't make a difference 'cause most of you reading this are too young to remember anyway.

I'd been having trouble with a couple of teeth, wobbling and rotting, said each of two dentists. One suggested that the Veterans Administration might do something about it FREE, since I had work done by a dentist named Dr. Mussari (forgot his first name) during my army days in England.

Hey - it just came to me - the dentist's name, Dr. Anthony C. Mussari and he came from Hazleton, Pennsylvania. But that's beside the point. What he did was apparently a bit faulty and now I was having trouble.

So I went to the VA and just as promised in the government's recruiting of soldiers, the VA dentists DID do something about the problem. I was sent to the VA hospital in Brockton, Massachusetts, where a dentist, after looking over the choppers, said they weren't worth saving - none of them, because they were too soft.

The VA decided to foot the bill for new ones and sent me to Dr. Fernand B. Hamel, who just happened to be a neighbor on Jackson Street in my hometown, telling him to yank out all my teeth so I could have new plates made and inserted.

The thought of extracting some 20 or so teeth was disturbing but I resolved to not be afraid but brave and get the job done. Dr. Hamel got me into his comfy leather chair one afternoon, stuck me with Novacaine, and went to work.

I might have been diagnosed with wobbly and rotting teeth but they were not about to depart my mouth without a fight. Took quite a while but they came out. Lots of blood, too. An appointment was made for a second yanking a few weeks laer.

That was just as hard. Dr. Hamel was a bit frusrated . He gamely made a third appointment but this time with my medical cousin Dr. Charles E. Hoye Jr. in attenndance because a new type of drug (sodium pentathol) was to be used and needed monitoring by a medical doctor.

That appointment went pretty well . I'm told that the doctors and their nurses did a lot of laughing during that operation because of that new drug, sodium pentathol, which is TRUTH SERUM - my lord, what did I say?

But during the ensuing night, with a heavy snowstorm blowing, I started to hemmorhage. Dr. Hamel rushed to the house about midnight, called Dr. Hoye and then both called an ambulance and transported me to the hospital.

I lost a lot of blood that night and the next morning which happened to be Friday the thirteenth. I was pretty much out of it when I heard them say they would get blood from Boston's blood bank since it turned out my blood type was rare and there was none of my kind in the local hospial.

In and out all day as a blizzard howled, the two doctors waited for the blood that did not show up. It did in the evening and I later found out that the Red Cross lady who had gone for it early in the day had been escorted back to the hospital behind a snowplow 40 miles, the only way she could get back because of the snow depth.

Meanwhile a couple hours before the blood arrived, I heard the doctors and a nurse conversing with my still-almost-new wife saying in whispers "he's going to die if that blood doesn't get here soon."

"DIE?" I shouted. "No, call some of those GIs I used to write about from England, maybe one has the right type."

I guess nobody had thought of doing just that earlier in the day but one ex-GI was found and he came to donate a pint or so (of blood).

However, the Red Cross lady had arrived with six pints which were quickly started into my arteries. Next morning I felt very good. The guy who was going to give me blood was put on hold and also on a list of rare blood donors for the next patient who might need his type.

And then - both doctors refused any more work in my mouth and left it up to the VA to handle. The VA sent me off to Davis Park Veterans Administration Hospital in Providence, R. I., to have the rest of the extractions done.

Over there it was decided I needed to bring my health back up to VA standards before any more teeth extractions. One of the dietary recommendations was egg custard, plenty of it and as much as I wanted.

I'd alway liked egg custard from the time as a babe when my mother, bless her dear departed soul, fed it to me daily.

It took the dieticians at Davis Park five weeks to get me up to strength with their recommendations and up to 12 cups of egg custard each day. I still like egg custard.

Once out of the hospital, the VA sent me back to Dr. Hamel to get a full mouthful of teeth - upper and lower plates. He spent a lot of time making those teeth and getting the job done right.

I wish Dr. Hamel was still alive so that I could tell him what a fine job he had done with those teeth, BECAUSE -


Yes, I was toothless for about a year and subsisted on a lot of soup (AND EGG CUSTARD) but it was worth it. I never have toothaches!

"What, Lady B?"

Oh, yeah, there was another time I was toothless. That was between the time I was born and the time I cut my first chopper, back in the early 20s.

Old Newsie

- 30 -


  1. Well Old Newsie, you've done it again. Managed to put a smile on my face and see your story in my mind at 2am( eastern time) So far I still have all my teeth, but who knows what tomorrow or next week or next year will bring.. One can always hope.... If it ever does happen I'm keeping my fingers crossed there isn't a snow storm that night. lol


  2. You have the most amazing---and entertaining stories. I kept feeling in my mouth while reading this one today, making sure all my teeth were still there. LOL

  3. More and more I see the benifit, and feel the joy of having a first rate historian in the family. (now if only I had inharited your spelling ability)

  4. I of course inherited your teeth! Thanks, Dad.