I would guess that I am like a lot of people who need to see their dentist . . . I tend to put it off until I can't stand the pain any longer. I knew that a tooth needed to be extracted, but I kept hoping that maybe the tooth fairy would sneak in some night while I was sleeping and do it for free . . . and leave a quarter under my pillow. On my last visit, there was very little pain involved; however, counting the X-rays and the "initial examination fee", I ended up writing a check for $362.00 for my one hour visit. That is more than I make in a week.
That got me to thinking about my very first visit to a dentist . . . good old Doc Southworth. I was 7 or 8 years old and was with my Dad at the Darlington pool room. I had a loose baby tooth, and Dad sent me next door to Doc Southworth's office. As he examined my loose tooth, I smelled something strong on his breath . . . yes, Doc Southworth had been drinking . . . something very strong.
“Hold still, little feller," he said as he came toward me with what looked like a pair of pliers. He held me tight in the dentist chair as he grabbed the loose tooth and YANKED it out . . . the tooth flying across the room and landing on the floor below the window. I breathed a sigh of relief as there was very little pain and not much blood. As I started to escape, Doc stated, "Wait just a minute . . . you have another one that is KIND of loose." He pushed me back in the chair, holding my head against the rest, and grabbed another tooth. He then proceeded to YANK that tooth out . . . after some effort . . . and it also went flying across the room and landed on the floor! This time there was PAIN and a LOT of blood. He fumbled around and stuck some gauze in my mouth. "Tell your Dad that will be a dollar and fifty cents . . . you get half-price for the second one!"
I was never too fond of visiting a dentist after that ordeal, even though dentists today are highly trained professionals that use modern, and for the most part, painless methods. When I was older, I mowed Doc Southworth's yard. My grandparents lived across the street, and I used their old reel-type push mower. Doc paid me 50 cents. One time I found about a dozen big sponge mushrooms in his yard. I guess I should have told him . . . and turned the mushrooms over to Doc . . . but I decided to just keep them as a sort of retaliation for his crude dentistry procedures on me . . .
Well, at lease his prices were reasonable!

John "Butch" Dale is a retired teacher and County Sheriff. He has also been the librarian at Darlington the past 30 years, and is a well-known artist and author of local history.