Not a Small Matter!

Grandma young adult0007dentures by mail 1gum diseasefamily6Grandma was born in 1896. Very progressive, she employed higher standards of hygiene I do today, possibly because she’d barely survived typhoid in her mid-forties. Like me, washed her hands frequently as she cooked, but she scalded instead of merely rinsing her dishes, and boiled her whites, linens, and towels when doing her laundry with home-made lye soap in a huge cast-iron washpot outdoors until she got a washing machine.

Despite her excellent hygiene, Grandma developed gum disease, loosing most of her teeth before she was sixty. Her doctor prescribed snuff dipping as a curative, but she couldn’t stand it. On her own, she gargled salt-water, feeling that helped. It had to be better than the snuff. She endured loosing her teeth as they fell out one by one, a humiliation for a proud woman.

Sometime in 1953, Grandma received a Godsend, a three-hundred dollar inheritance. She immediately decided to get “false teeth” a luxury she’d never have been able to afford, otherwise. My older sister, Phyllis, was enthusiastic at six, just at the age to understand tooth loss. She brought Grandma a pulp magazine, which surprisingly featured an advertisement offering dentures by mail. Grandma wrote away for those dentures, received impressions by return mail, and within weeks, had her proud smile back. She was so thrilled to be herself again, proud of her beautiful smile

29 thoughts on “Not a Small Matter!

  1. I think your grandma had some great ideas , only yesterday discussing the awful bugs that sometimes one can get whilst in hospital a friend asked the question , why did I think this was the case , I replied cleanliness was not really adhered to like it was in times past, they replied that it was the missing matron in the wards that was the cause too many people answering to no one really so that often a sterile environment is not provided, they also added that in past times the doctors were often reprimanded by the matrons for not washing hands etc. It was nice to hear your grand mother got her teeth bless her and imagine getting it all done by post makes one wonder why these things take so many trips to the dentist today ,are they any better fit than the way your grandmother got hers by sending her impressions and then receiving her teeth. Sometimes today simple things seem to take on a life of their own so much red tape in order to get anything done , so much sitting in waiting rooms and costing so much for every visit. Lovely story and great that you got that advertisement from the paper , we forget that many of the things we have today were there years ago also , I love looking at old magazines and papers finding similar advertisements. Thanks for sharing , happy days Kathy.

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  2. Love your stories. they make me smile. ❤
    My grandmother had a suitor with crooked teeth. To put him off she said she couldn't stand them. The poor man had them all pulled out and paid for dentures. Wooden ones. Penny-pinching didn't impress her either. 😀

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  3. What a story. I’ve heard so many people of that era lost their teeth due to poor nutrition in childhood. Just was at the VA state capitol building where there is a wonderful statue of George Washington and they informed that he did not have wooden teeth. They were made from a combo of human, horse, and rhino. Imagine.

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