Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sepia Saturday 151 ~ "The Traveling Dentist" at Work

Sepia Saturday provides an opportunity for genealogy bloggers to share their family history through photographs.

Today’s Sepia Saturday photo prompt from the US National Archives (at bottom of post), is titled, "Photograph of Women Working at a Bell System Telephone Switchboard."  There are many directions I could have gone with this photo - women working, phones, switchboards, and more.  Today I decided to go with the general theme of "work.”

The photo below is of my
"Traveling Dentist" Great-Grandpa Watson Emory (Frederick) Webster at work in a dental office.  Those cute little kids with him are my Grandpa Debs (far left), Edna Lillie (far right), and Carlota (in dental chair).

This photo was taken in Brinkley, Arkansas. It is dated January 10 – April 10, 1922.

   
Watson (Fred) Webster with Carlota, Debs, and Edna at Dental Office in Brinkley Arkansas January to April 1922
Frederick, Carlota, Edna Lillie, and Debs Webster
at Dental Office in Brinkley, Arkansas circa 1922
Click to Enlarge


I find the dates interesting.  Why was he there only from January 10 - April 10, 1922?  And why was he in Brinkley, Arkansas?

My regular readers may have seen from my previous posts that I sometimes like to "break down" photos into smaller sections by cropping out certain areas of interest.  This photo has quite a few areas of interest to look at.

First of all, we’ll spotlight the people in the photo:

Here’s Great-Grandpa Frederick with dental instruments in hand ready to go to work! Notice the open window behind him? Nice view, huh?


Watson (Fred) Webster at Dental Office in Brinkley Arkansas January to April 1922
Frederick Webster
Click to Enlarge


This close-up shows my Grandpa Debs and his big sister Carlota. These two were the only children of Frederick and Esther Webster’s five children who lived to adulthood.

Carlota and Debs Webster at Dental Office in Brinkley Arkansas January to April 1922
Carlota and Debs Webster
Click to Enlarge


This is a very special photo of sweet little Edna Lillie, because according to my records, she passed away the next year in 1923. Wasn’t she a pretty little girl?


Edna Lillie Webster at Dental Office in Brinkley Arkansas January to April 1922
Edna Lillie Webster
Click to Enlarge



Next up we’ll spotlight some interesting items in the dental office.

According to the wall clock,  it’s about 10:45.  And from the sunlight shining through the windows, I’d say it’s about 10:45 in the morning.



Wall Clock at Dental Office in Brinkley Arkansas circa 1922
Wall Clock
Click to Enlarge


Let’s take a look at the table by the window.  See all of the dental instruments? 


Table at Dental Office in Brinkley  Arkansas January to April 1922
Table at Dental Office
Click to Enlarge

Could this be a suction bulb on the table?  If so, I wonder if this is an antique version of today’s dental suction tube they stick in your mouth so you don’t drown or embarrass yourself by slobbering all over.  When my kids were little, they went to a Pediatric Dentist.  At that office, they called the suction tube "Mr. Thirsty."  I wonder if this antique suction bulb was a 1922 version of "Mr. Thirsty."


Antique Dental Tool at Dental Office in Brinkley Arkansas January to April 1922
Antique Dental Tool
Click to Enlarge


And here we have the dental chair.  Quite an antique by today’s standards!


Vintage Dental Chair at Dental Office in Brinkley Arkansas January to April 1922
Vintage Dental Chair
Click to Enlarge


After taking a closer look at this chair, I noticed a couple of fascinating features.  First, I noticed the hand crank on the side. Isn’t that interesting? I wonder what it was used for.  Could it have been used to recline the chair?  Any other ideas?

I also see that there are one or two levers, each with a flat top edge on them, extending from the back of the chair. I wonder if they were used by the dentist to lift and lower the chair.


Close-Up View of Hand-Crank and Levers on Dental Chair at Dental Office in Brinkley Arkansas January to April 1922
Close-up View of Hand-Crank and Lever
Click to Enlarge

And no, I’m not trying to give you nightmares with these last two photos.

I believe this is the dreaded dental drill.  (Insert scary music)

Antique Dental Drill at Dental Office in Brinkley Arkansas January to April 1922
Antique Dental Drill
Click to Enlarge

See the small motor, and the drill hanging down to the left?  I wonder if this dental drill from 1922 made the same unnerving high-pitched whirring noise as the drills of today.

Antique Dental Drill at Dental Office in Brinkley Arkansas January to April 1922
Antique Dental Drill
Click to Enlarge


Well, this concludes our tour.  I hope you’ve enjoyed your virtual visit to a 1922 dentist’s office!  And hopefully the last two photos weren’t too distressing.  If they were, and you feel the urge to run screaming from the room, I don’t blame you.

But, before you bolt, take a deep relaxing breath, and check out what the other Sepia Saturday participants have written about this week by clicking HERE.


Sepia Saturday 151 November 10, 2012

Thanks for reading!



Copyright © Jana Last 2012

43 comments:

  1. Nightmares, I tell you Jana, nightmares!!!

    Actually, it's fun to compare notes on these antique dental offices. It's funny, but when I look at the photo of the dental office where my mother-in-law worked in the 1940s, it has that eery horror-movie-intro sense to it, too. Perhaps it's just the ambience of black-and-white photos. Dentists have such a negative PR history to overcome!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Jacqi,

      Yes, I'm afraid dentists do have an uphill battle in the PR arena. And that's sad too since they do provide a much needed service. But, there really is something scary about the sound of that drill isn't there?

      Oh, and did I mention my Grandpa Debs was a dentist too? And ya, I was one of his patients.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  2. Jana ... Love how you used the "work" theme and highlighted sections of the pictures for us to see. Enlightening!

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    Replies
    1. Hi ljhlaura,

      Thank you so very much for your sweet comments! I'm glad you liked how I chose to highlight the different areas of the office.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I really appreciate you reading and commenting.

      Delete
  3. I really enjoy the deconstructed photographs. There is so much to see that would be easily missed. I'm not a fan of going to the dentist, but this visit was painless!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kathy,

      I'm glad you enjoyed the deconstructed photos! The more I looked at this photograph, the more interesting items I found.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  4. I did enjoy this trip to your grandfather's dental office! But I had to shut off the scary music- at the end! Ha! Ha! He probably was asked to come to Brinkley so everyone could catch up with their necessary dental work, and since he was a traveling dentist you say, then he probably made a lot of rounds all over! Edna Kukkue was a pretty little girl- too bad she never saw adulthood- and the same for the other children that had short lives. It was fun once again to see you pick out little things- like his working tools!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Karen,

      I'm glad the scary music didn't scare you away! Haha!

      As far as my Great-Grandpa being a traveling dentist goes, I just call him that because he seemed to travel a lot in his life and appeared to practice dentistry in many different places. I don't really know that he was technically a "traveling dentist."

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  5. I love the way you took this picture apart to examine the details in each segment, Jana. Maybe we should call this "forensic photography"--what do you think? Anyway, it's a great technique. Thanks for the tour of the dental office, even with its scary tools, and for introducing the children. I wish I had a childhood picture of my grandpa with his father!

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    1. Hi Shelley,

      Oooh! Forensic photography...I like it! It is a fun way to disect a photograph, isn't it?

      You know, as I was about to respond to your sweet comments, I had the question come to me about the photographer for this particular photo. Hmm, just who took this photo and why? I wish I knew that piece of informtion too.

      Thanks so much for reading and for your kind comments

      Delete
  6. It is fun to see the various different things that get lost in the detail until we take a closer look. I loved taking the tour of the office. I kept hoping to see a phone in the office somewhere .... It is undoubtedly hiding behind the screen.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Liz,

      Oh, yes, a phone in the office would have been the perfect addition to this photo! Especially with our theme photo this week.

      I'm so glad you enjoyed your tour of the dental office. Thanks so much for stopping by! I really appreciate it!

      Delete
  7. Fantastic photos about dentistry practically in its beginnings.
    Probably this was quite modern dentist's equipment for this time.
    How very sad for little Edna Lilly, such a sweetie; only two children grew up from five,many diseases that could not be cured.
    Very interesting how you dissect the photographs to find out more.
    Detective Jana!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Titania,

      Thanks so much for your kind comments! Yes, it's so sad about sweet little Edna Lillie, as well as the other siblings of my Grandpa Debs who passed away at such young ages.

      Thank you so much for stopping by! I really appreciate it!

      Delete
  8. Yes, I am bolting out of here as I'm shuddering with horror!!!
    Even as a grown man, I still hate going to the dentist,
    what with the smell, the lights, the sounds, and the prick of THAT needle. No amount of anesthetics can dilute my fear!!!

    Nice pic though...
    ;)~
    HUGZ

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ticklebear,

      Oh, I know what you mean about the smell, lights, sounds and that terrible needle! Even though I know it's all for my own good, it still can be quite the unnerving experience.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  9. Photographic archaeology at its very best. I just love this approach to dissecting a picture and sucking every last bit of historical and social detail out of it.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Alan,

      Thank you so much for your kind comments! High praise indeed!

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I really do appreciate it!

      Delete
  10. Dentists! I can't even say I had a love-hate relationship with mine. It was pure hatred! I remember that one day, I was 5 yrs old, he put me out of the window. Fortunately that was on the ground floor. The reason was that I didn't allow him to put that (low revolution) drill in my mouth...
    I also remember a story an uncle of mine told me. He was on a trade fair in Moscow in the 50s when he had to visit a dentist. The drill there was powered by a drive such as those used by potters... Can you imagine?
    In any case I'll side with Jacqi: Thanks for the nightmare! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Peter,

      Your dentist put you out of the window??? Wow! That's just terrible!

      A low revolution drill? I don't blame you for not wanting that thing in your mouth! Now I'm wondering what type of drill it was pictured in the photo above - slow or fast. Yikes! No wonder my grandpa looks kind of scared standing next to his sister.

      Thanks so much for reading and for your comments! I really appreciate it very much!

      Delete
  11. I could not prevent a shudder as the first dentist I ever visited (a school dentist) looked just like your Great-grandpa. And oh that drill!!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Bob,

      Oh my! So my Great-Grandpa had a double somewhere huh? Wow! From the shudder the photo gave you, it sounds like your first dental visit wasn't a very pleasant experience. And yes, that antique drill did look kind of scary didn't it?

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Delete
  12. This is a great photo. Thanks for the tour - I would not have noticed all the little details you shared. As one who still gets nervous going to the dentist, that drill gives me the heebie-jeebies!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Lisa,

      The heebie-jeebies? I love that! What a perfect way to describe your reaction to that scary drill!

      I'm glad you enjoyed the tour. And thanks so much for stopping by! I really appreciate it.

      Delete
  13. A great post - you have such an observant eye for detail with your "virtual tour". The picture of Edna Lillie was so sad knowing of her early death and I enjoyed the touches of humour in your writing.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Sue,

      You are so very sweet! Thank you for your kind comments!

      Yes, it's so sad to think about sweet little Edna Lillie's passing. It must have been so very hard for my Grandpa Debs and his sister and father.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  14. I immediately thought of the Bob Hope movie "The Paleface" which featured the song Buttons and Bows. Your photo with the song running through my head makes me smile.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Tattered and Lost,

      Now that's funny! I'm not sure I've seen the film, but looked it up and saw the movie synopsis and listened to "Buttons and Bows" on Youtube. A dentist named "Painless Potter?" Okay, that movie sounds like a lot of fun to watch.

      Thanks for stopping by and for the movie tip!

      Delete
  15. So funny -- Mr. Thirsty. My kids met Mr. Thirsty too. I have a dental appointment this week, and I'm really glad I won't be seeing any of that 1922 equipment. However, it's interesting how similar the mechanism and capabilities of the chair are to today's chair.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Wendy,

      Oh boy! You have a dental appointment this week? Sounds like fun! I'm glad the equipment has improved since 1922 as well.

      Thanks for stopping by and good luck with your appointment this week. :)

      Delete
  16. I, too, love how you broke down the photo to show us the details. I would have missed all of it!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Debi,

      I've had this photo for many years, and breaking down the photo into smaller areas showed me things I hadn't really noticed or paid attention to before.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  17. I'm getting to know your family, I think, especially your Grandpa Debs whom I remember because I always start to think of "Debs" as a girl's name. Today's high-pitched whirring drills are much nicer than the drills I remember from the 1950s and 1960s which were LOUD . . . clunking and grinding as if they were drilling pavement. Not good! I do really like your breaking down the photos! You are fortunate to have photos with so much detail in them, too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Mariann,

      Yikes! Your description of the dental drills from the 1950s and 60s sounds pretty scary. If they were like that then I can only imagine how terrible they must have been in 1922. So glad they've improved over time!

      I do feel very fortunate to have all of these photos. They really help to give our family a glimpse into our ancestors' lives.

      Thanks so much for stopping by! I really do appreciate it!

      Delete
  18. I love that crank on the chair, no soft whirr like the couches we have today! Seeing old instruments it makes me glad to be living in the 21st century, although on second thoughts they don't look that different. Your dissection of the photo was very interesting, Poor little Edna.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Joy,

      I'm with you on being glad to live in the 21st century with all of the advances in medical technology today.

      Thanks so much for your comments!

      Delete
  19. Oh wonderful way you took that photo bit by bit....this would have been the worst occupation or perhaps the worst place for the customer back then, we have it easier today...

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Hi Pat,

      I very much agree with you! I wouldn't want to be one of the customers back then. And yes, we do have it much easier today. :)

      Thanks so much for your comments! I appreciate it!

      Delete
  20. I like how you broke the photo down, but I am not a fan of the dentist. On the other hand, I've had great checkups over the last few years, and I do have a nice hygienist. Still, I think I would have been quite fearful of ANY dentist in 1922!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Kat,

      I'm with you on being afraid of ANY dentist in 1922. And I'm so glad dental equipment has improved over the years.

      Thanks so much for stopping by!

      Delete
  21. I was transfixed by this post although I have very bad memories of the dentist as a young girl. Although way before my time the photos bring back memories of a week in the middle 60's when I had to go to the dentist every morning for a week to have numerous cavities filled. I walked to the dentist before school and was tortured for an hour before school. I still can't believe my mother trusted me to go there by myself at that age!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Teresa,

      Oh you poor thing! I can't believe you had to start your school day out that way. How terrible!

      I thank you for reading my blog post, especially since it triggered bad memories for you! :)

      Delete
  22. Ostatnimi czasy widziałem taką samą stronę www!
    Mówiła głównie o gabinet dentystyczny.

    ReplyDelete

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