Saturday, September 12, 2009

What's In A Name ? . . .

. . . A Sixty Year Old Memory

Searching a couple of days ago for the name of someone he once knew, a friend rattled off a bunch of them , trying to make one jog his memory.

Hutchins, Hamilton, Hunter, Hammond, Hamlin, Hamel, Hampton - that's it HAMPTON, he shouted as he then went along about his business and out of my earshot.

HAMEL ? I know that name I shouted out loud to myself, and then memory kicked in.
He was a doctor, wasn t he? YEAH! Dr. Fernand B. Hamel! He was my dentist back in the hometown of Taunton in the Bay State.

Dr. Hamel worked me over a few times trying to fix a couple of crooked teeth that I think an army dentist in England in World War II, Anthony S. Mussari of Pennsylvania , brought about inadvertantly while yanking a diseased molar.

As memory unfolds, Dr. Hamel discovered most of my 26 year-old teeth were soft and tending to decay and he recommended they all come out and a full set of falsies be constructed and inserted.

Since I'd been an army guy, treated by an army dentist, he recommended I check in with the Veterans Administration for some aid. Army dental work made me eligible for VA help.

The VA came through, financing the outage and the new construction, and atop that appointing Drl Hamel to do the job. He started by doping me up one afternoon and yanking four teeth and did it a s econd week, too.

But that second week turned sour about midnight on a very snowy night,- real snowy - like two feet deep. This was in New England, remember. Loretta, my wife at the time, now deceased, called Dr. Hamel, who lived on Jackson Stteet, the same as me.

He came to the house at once, took a look and called Dr. Charles E. Hoye Jr., my medical physician and cousin.

When he arrived and found me bleeding badly, they called the police department and had the paddy wagon sent up to my house on the corner of Bay and Jackson Streets. In those days the paddy wagon, in which the town drunks were taken to the hoosegow, was also the city ambulance, just so you know.

In long order (as opposed to short order because the snow was so deep) I arrived at Morton Hospial, hemmoraging from my mouth and desperately needing a blood transfusion.

There was no O-Negative blood in the hospital. When the local radio station went on the air that morning, there was a plea for that same blood type, a relaatively rare type. Some former soldiers and sailors who knew me quickly volunteered blood but for various reasons most were not eligible donors.

A Red Cross nurse set out to Boston to get O-Negative blood but the going was tough and the distance was about 50 miles, one way. Various police departments and snowplows helped get her to Boston and back but the whole trip took nearly 13 hours. Meanwhile, more army buddies ccame in one by one during all that ime and some were able to feed me blood.

But Dr. Hoye, standing at the foot of my hospital bed sometime during the morning, said to my
anxious wife, "he's going to die if she doesn't get here soon with more blood" at which point I, only half there, yelled at him "oh, no, that's not going to happen." (and now at 86 you know it didn't!)

I recovered rapidly when that Red Cross lady showed up just after my shouting match with the doctor. As I came around he said to Dr. Hamel, "while he's here in the hospital, let's finish getting the rest of the teeth out."

NOT ON YOUR LIFE, CHARLIE, came the rejoinder from Dr. Hamel - "send him over to the VA hospital." That they did . After five weeks in Davis Park Veterans Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, where likewise leery dentists labored to build up my strength, the teeth extraction was finished.

How did they build up my strength? The way they did it was to me marvelous. Besides a regular meal three times a day, I was fed SIX to TEN egg custards for dessert every day. I still love egg custards .

Now to wind up the story about the Sixty Year Memory, Dr. Hamel was again assigned by the VA to fix me up with new teeth. It took a few months of fitting, correcting and adjusting but finally I had a full set of solid choppers.

I can't pin down an exact date but I first wore that new set in September and just about now.

The gist of this whole yarn is that I still have,wear and use that SAME SET of teeth and as of right now in 2009, they are celebrating a SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY as part of me. The grand opening was in 1949.

- 30 -


  1. Charlie... brought back some memories... I recall the Taunton references:
    Bay Street... one of our favorite restaurants run by Italian family ... out by a lake & not far from Dever School & the old WWII conentration camp fo Italian POW's.

    Dr. Charles Hoye was our family physician and did "housecalls" to our home in North Dighton.

    My late wife Patricia was a pt nurse (med/surg) in Morton Hospital.. where I too was a patient for several days. Pat was also "O Neg." blood type.

    I still have my teet ... at least some of them!

    Best wishes

    BOB Hoye

  2. Happy Anniversary! Thanks for all the smiles you gave us; but, that is so fitting coming from the "laughing hyena"! That's a great story, and we are very thankful for the happy ending:).

  3. Well, I inherited your original teeth and said good bye to most of them years ago too. But I was only in the hospital for 5 days and 4 of those were because the dentist didn't realize he was the one who was supposed to discharge me! Worked for me. Never felt a thing thanks to all the pain relief they gave me and somebody else dealt with my kids during the "slight discomfort" days!