A What Canal???

Pain sent me to the dentist a week before my last out-of-town book talk. I resolved not to miss talking about Grandma Leora’s stories in the town where many of them happened. And I was determined to enjoy it.

Wait and see, he said. Call me if it worsens.

I got through the weekend. It worsened. Root canal, he says.

Yikes, but what did they do before root canals were common? Grandma Leora kept a sort of diary on a Seasons Greetings calendar pad in 1945, which was the year Danny Wilson was Missing in Action that February and Junior Wilson was killed in training in August. Those were short but difficult notes. Dale Wilson was still Missing in Action after two years.

Leora also recorded the weather and other happenings–“Dad to dentist” October 16.

November 8 – Outhouse delivered

November 21 – Granddaughter Donna born in Perry. After Junior was killed in August, Wilsons’ oldest son Delbert moved his little family back to Iowa, and in with his folks at the Perry acreage. Little Leora Darlene was just over a year old and his wife Evelyn was expecting this one. Delbert visited his wife and new baby in the hospital every day until they came home December 1.

November 26 – Dad got a tooth pulled.

December 16 – Delbert and Clabe started wiring the house. Both Clabe and Leora had toothaches. Clabe had a tooth pulled on the 18th.

Leora’s jaw swelled on the 20th. The next day, “dentist opened my tooth, pull next week.” Sleet and snow.

This was the year they had bacon and eggs for Christmas dinner.

Leora had two teeth pulled on the 28th, the same day Clabe purchased a young Guernsey bull. It was delivered the next day.

Leora eventually needed a full set of dentures, something you rarely hear of anymore. I’m thankful for dentists who can save my aching tooth, instead of just pulling it.


  1. So sorry about your dental woes, Joy…but golly, I love these glimpses into daily life in the past and all the little reveals you find and share. New outhouse deliveries? That must’ve been big news once upon a time! 😉

  2. It’s hard to believe that, “back in the day,” people used to have dental work done without any anesthetic! Ouch! Never had a root canal–and don’t care to, even with painkillers!

  3. That’s not fun, but like you say better than getting it pulled. These days they do a lot of implants so even if you have to have a tooth pulled they can give you a new one. Better than dentures.

  4. It’s one thing to make notes on a calendar, but it’s another thing to save the calendars. Leora was apparently very organized and meticulous about chronicling the daily lives of her and her family. Good luck with your tooth, Joy! 🙂

  5. Ouch! I do feel your pain. I’ve had a couple abscesses and three root canals. Yes, when you asked the question, I immediately thought, “they pulled them.” My grandfather had full dentures. A grandmother had a metal plate with several false teeth attached. My husband had to have a tooth pulled recently. After several consultations, it was clear there was no alternative. The process of getting an implant took about a year including two bone grafts). I hope yours is resolved more easily and that you make your book event!

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