Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 83

[July 8, 2024]  Good teeth, good health.  My first dentist appointment was when I was 14.  I was lucky; many kids I’d grown up with were adults before they had their first dentist checkup.  My dentist was as old as the dinosaurs and kinda weird in his own way.  Dad called him a “guild barber,” whatever that meant was lost on me.  I had no clue that Dad was being funny by using a name from centuries ago.  That tidbit of trivia was nothing compared to the scuttlebutt among us kids that dentists would pull all our teeth out of our mouths without asking.  That is not true, of course, but it is no wonder we were scared.

Twelve cavities.  That was a record, according to the lady sitting at a small desk who had a big smile for me.  But I kept my teeth that day, and I also walked out with a bunch of silver fillings, a toothbrush, and a small tube of toothpaste.  That old-man dentist gave me instructions on how to brush correctly, which was my first lesson.  While he was showing me how to care for my teeth, his upper dentures fell out and hit me in the chest, then fell to the floor.  To say the least, I was a tad shocked.  Nothing stirs pride in my heart like not jumping out of my seat and taking those shiny dental tools with me.

My Bigmama had dentures, too.  She kept them in a glass of water on her nightstand beside her bed.  I saw them in a glass, just sitting there and smiling back at me.  To me, the sight of her dentures in water was creepy, weird, and somehow unnatural.  I would just stand there momentarily to wonder how she could keep them in her mouth.  She told me to brush my teeth every day, or I’d have dentures too and take them out at night, presumably so as not to choke on them while asleep.  That was powerful advice since no kid would want their dentures falling out at school.  That would be the ultimate in kid embarrassment.  I shuddered at the thought.

And the dentist told me to eat less candy.  Well, that was a bummer.  I tried and failed to heed his advice.  I liked PayDay Peanut Bars way too much to quit eating them.  Candy was at the top of the food group pyramid.  The nuts and gooey caramel insides stuck in my teeth.  My friends used to half eat the candy bar and open their mouths to show the uneaten part to girls.  Such bad manners we had, but we all laughed anyway.  It is terrible for the teeth.  I’m privileged that the railroad unions covered dental work, a big step toward comprehensive, quality health care.

Back then, we kids didn’t have cell phones or even the old rotary dial phones in our rooms.  House rules said you had to ask Mom to use the one house phone.  I had Mom call Bigmama to tell her about the dentist who had the dentures and how they’d fallen out and whacked me before they clattered to the tile floor.  My Mom, such an incredible soul, allowed me that day to make a long-distance call that cost real money, but it was worth hearing my Bigmama laugh.  And I had a beautiful smile to show for the trouble.

A couple of days after my dental appointment, David – my motorcycle friend – didn’t appreciate me bragging about my teeth, so he slugged me a good one in the mouth.  Then we were both on the ground kicking and hitting (above the waist only) and yelling (but no cuss words) and doing those rough things boys do when they disagree.  I’m lucky I didn’t chip a tooth.

Our mothers could barely tell us apart with all the grass stains and dirt covering every inch of our bodies.  Fighting was what we did, eliminating those frustrating, lingering disagreements.  After fighting, we forgot why the fight started in the first place: this time, it was my newly fixed teeth.  And that is how boys properly settled their misunderstandings.

We were living in Harlingen, Texas, at the time, almost at the southernmost border of Texas with Mexico and the U.S.  I never did like that place; it was way too hot, too sunny, too humid, too buggy, too many snakes and scorpions, and enormous tarantulas – a large furry spider – this side of Dallas.  Many more critters could put a hurt on you or kill you, and there was nothing for a teenager to do except watch the cactus grow and get into trouble with the law.

In school, nearly every student had a Tex-Mex background; today, they call it Hispanic.  Everyone spoke a dialect of Spanish except the few black and white kids.  We formed our own pseudo-gangs for protection.  I preferred carrying a shotgun – just kidding – the school principal would have frowned on that idea, and besides, it was hard to hide it under my t-shirt.  That was the point of carrying something useful; no one would ever mess with me.  Without a gun, I settled on an old set of brass knuckles that my uncle had given me.

I knew a black kid who had his front teeth knocked out by the school bully one day and was gone from school for a few days.  He returned with “new” teeth.  I was amazed.  Dentists can do the most incredible things.  Another kid in school had braces and headgear to keep his teeth aligned.  Everyone made fun of him.  We called him “Bad Luck Billy.”  I could die before I wore such a contraption on my head.  Years later, he must have still had mental scars from all our teasing.

Laughing gas, technically called nitrous oxide, became popular with dentists in the 1960s, but I didn’t have a dentist use that technique until I was about twenty.  Wow, gas was a big hoot.  And you could get a little tipsy on it.  I rarely see it used anymore.  Dentists will help you keep your good teeth, and they won’t pull out all your teeth, no matter what the scuttlebutt says.


NOTE: See all my letters here: https://www.theleadermaker.com/granddaughter-letters/


Please read my books:

  1. “55 Rules for a Good Life,” on Amazon (link here).
  2. “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” on Amazon (link here).
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

25 thoughts on “Letters to My Granddaughter, No. 83

  1. Jerome Smith

    Nice! Two letters in a row for Gen. S’s granddaughter. We are now at No. 83 and plugging along at a pretty good pace. Like many here, I do hope that these letters continue beyond 100 (the goal stated by Gen. S. in one of his first letters). I’d like to read more, partly because I just like them, as they remind me of myself and my friends growing up, but more importantly, these letters carry a deep meaning and each has a brilliant lesson built into it. You just have to think on the letters to find those hidden gems.

  2. KRause

    Improve yourself, get a regular dental checkup. Ouch. Did I actually write that? I read these letters more for their insight into Gen. S., than for advice for life, although they are clearly connected.

  3. Willie Strumburger

    Vising the dentist when you are young can be very very scary and I applaud Gen. Doug Satterfield – as a 14-year-old teenager – for not being scared away. I’ve known people who had a phobia of dentists, they were just too scared to go and have their teeth examined. I’m glad that was not a problem for me or my family. My old dentist Dr. Layton Smithers was a good man and I was sad to see him retire but happy for him. I had to find another dentist with his skills, impossible, but dental care can never be overlooked or put off to another day. Thankyou, Gen. Satterfield for sharing these wonderful letters with us. Keep them coming our way, and keep them entertaining and educational. 😁

    1. Billy Kenningston

      😁 SMILE …. your teeth are showing. We judge each other often on our looks and our teeth are part of that look. So, SMILE 😁

  4. Gibbbie

    …. Gen. Satterfield has done it again with another letter to his granddaughter, and one that encourages us all to get to the dentist to ensure our teeth are in good shape (which affects our health in other ways).

  5. Emma Archambeau

    Gen. Satterfield, I wish that my parents had written me letters like this because I would like to have known more about them when they were young, and also their parents. But, here we are. I’m doing the same and started writing letters to my kids using your letters as an example. 👍

    1. Lady Hawk

      These letters are an inspiration, that is true. And I started writing them on paper with my old fountain pen that my dad gave me. I keep the letters in an old chest in the basement. One day, they will discover them long after I am gone from this earth and I do wish they read them with the love that I wrote them with. And I hope they pass those letters down thru the generations so that my children’s children will get an idea of the love I have for them.

      1. Lynn Pitts

        “Inspiration” YES ——- my wish is that these letters keep on going, Lady Hawk and I too have started writing to my future children and grandchildren.

        1. Doug Smith

          I think we all do, Lynn. The more letters, the better. These are like waiting on your favorite television show which comes on once per week. I am anticipating each letter and read it over several times. 😜

  6. North of Austin

    “Twelve cavities. That was a record, according to the lady sitting at a small desk who had a big smile for me. But I kept my teeth that day, and I also walked out with a bunch of silver fillings, a toothbrush, and a small tube of toothpaste. That old-man dentist gave me instructions on how to brush correctly, which was my first lesson. While he was showing me how to care for my teeth, his upper dentures fell out and hit me in the chest, then fell to the floor. To say the least, I was a tad shocked. Nothing stirs pride in my heart like not jumping out of my seat and taking those shiny dental tools with me.” – Gen. Doug Satterfield is educating us here on dental hygiene but also on having the right attitude about having your teeth checked for the first time even if you are scared.

  7. Xerces II

    Like I wrote yesterday, 💖 Don’t ya just love this blog? 😁 I do! 👀 I see many folks who are simply adrift in life and yet they fail to get their sh## together long enough to get on the right and good path. 🤦‍♀️ If you want to hop on the righteous path, it is there waiting for you. 🐾 God Bless all that are here reading Gen. Satterfield’s blog and his advice to live a better life. 🤣 Laugh and be open to others.

    1. DaveV

      You da man, Xerces II ….. no! Gen. Satterfield is da man!

  8. American Girl

    ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤ Loved your letter ❤❤❤❤❤❤❤

  9. Silly Man

    Wow, another letter and now at Letter #83. Others have said so, and I will say also that I hope you go beyond #100 that you wrote about originally. Maybe #200? ha ha ha ha ha ….. the more letters about your childhood, the better for us all.

  10. Ursala J. Simpson

    I appreciate you saying your mom was a wonderful woman, and that you never forgot her and all the things she did for you. I can see now that you appreciated what she did. As a mom, myself, I hope my young kids are also appreciative. At least they say ‘thankyou’ on occasion.

    1. Paulette Johnson

      I’m sure your children appreciate what you do for them. They just don’t realize it much until they are older.

  11. Melissa Jackson

    Funny how Gen. Satterfield had a lot of issues and stories around his teeth and his friends’ teeth. I personally never gave teeth much thought except when my parents took me to the dentist. But I’m much younger and have the luck to have parents who knew what to do and that preventative care mattered.

  12. Emily Baker

    💖 Loving and kind letter to your granddaughter 💖

  13. Joe Omerrod

    Gen. Satterfield, you’ve done it once again, a double hitter with yesterday’s “Church and Baptism” – which was my favorite as I noted – and now about your first dentist visit. I would say you were poor growing up. In America today, most citizens see a dentist well before they enter kindergarten. But then, that was not the case. You were ‘rich’ becuase you saw one before you were an adult. Good thing our health system has improved.

    1. LuLu

      Got to agree with you Joe. I’m a fan of these letters, as many others show by their comments. A loving letter and shared with us. An opportunity for us to know also more about Gen. Satterfield as a little boy. Altho now, we are seeing more of the letters as a teenager, and those are the ones I really want to read because they will show more aobut his mental development.

      1. JT Patterson

        Let us not forget, LuLu, that there is more to these letters than appear on the surface. We also can see into the mind of a small boy as he grows up in the Deep South. If you want to learn more about how Gen. Satterfield thinks, then I recommend his two books, in particular “55 Rules for a Good Life.” In that book, he lays out in simple chapters the rules to follow if you want to have a good life. And despite visiting the dentist not being one of them, he does write about maintaining your health through exercise and not taking undue chances. His book can be found on Amazon and other book sites: https://www.amazon.com/55-Rules-Good-Life-Responsibility/dp/1737915529/


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