Back in the old days dentists did a lot of their own lab work. My Dad was no different. He would sit at the kitchen table with all his dental tools and gadgets and happily work away. I couldn’t have been older than four when I first remember watching him. “That’s what I want to do someday” I would tell myself. And that’s what I did.
He built his dental office with my grandfather in 1956 not more than 6 blocks from our home. And after more than 55 years that is where I practice today! But boy have there been changes.
My Dad was beloved by his patients. He was considered capable, gentle and most of all honest. He also loved to try the latest and greatest dentistry had to offer. He was one of the first dentists on the east side of Portland to have a dental hygienist.
But most of all when patients talk about my Dad it was about his legendary stories. He was a great story teller. His intuitive nature and laid back style seemed to put people at ease. And that’s the way he liked it.
My best memories of my Dad was sharing his great love for the outdoors. It wasn’t unusual for him to be gone from sun up to sun down with only his home made duck jerky and a few flies in his vest. He always knew where the fish were, but didn’t mention it much.
After recently graduating from dental school I remember asking him what made a good dentist. He looked at me and without hesitation said one thing, “tell the truth.” The answer didn’t surprise me, that’s the way he was.
After graduating from my General Practice Residency at the VA Hospital in La Jolla California I set out to look for a job. One of my first interviews was with a very “successful” dentist. He proceeded to show me all his new oak cabinets and fancy equipment. He was quite proud of the new office he had built and all he needed now was a young dentist to help pay the bills. He sat me down in his fancy office decorated with his diplomas and awards of recognition and asked me one important question. “What do you think makes a good dentist?” I knew the answer he was looking for. Some one that’s productive, works hard and generates revenue. Some one who puts on a good show and acts professionally. I looked back at him gleefully and said, “some one that tells the truth.”
He showed me the door. My Dad would have been proud!