Dad liked to find a bargain. He bought tropical fish from a man named Bert who ran the business form his house. And we got our haircut from Buzz, a mild mannered barber who saved money by using the same old clippers for years. Their life was apparently extended by forgoing the sharpening process. Buzz did not so much cut hair as thin it by yanking it with those old dull shears. Buzz also was economical with words. His repartee consisted of the phrase, “Getting nice out isn’t it? This was used every spring as the snow melted off. It was also used on the hottest day of summer and during any blizzard that might occur in March. We eventually prevailed upon my dad to let us go elsewhere after he gave my dad an exceptionally bad haircut. “You made me look like Martin Van Buren”, Dad complained. Buzz had a million mile stare as he searched for a defense. “I don’t think he comes here for his haircuts.”
But only the overdue retirement of our bargain dentist, Doc Miller, saved us from an open ended date with pain in his shop on the fourth floor of the tallest building in town, the Union Bank building.
Doc Miller was old and he did not seem inclined towards modern dentistry. His equipment was even older than he. I imagine he taught Casey Stengel when he went through dental school back at the dawn of time. His drill was powered by his foot… his foot! At one time, for example in the days of Doc Holiday, this was acceptable dentistry but man did it hurt! My buddies went to dentists the age of our dads not the age of great grandpa. They told me about Novocain. I never got that at Doc Miller’s – no sir! I had to have my character strengthened.
Doc Miller’s legacy lives on to this day. Every time I hear the word dentist I cringe and see his face. Surprisingly, it is a kindly face and he was otherwise a kindly man. I would have preferred he looked like a demon – It would have been so much more honest.