Growing up in Canton
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Many adults across America have stories to tell about how, as kids, they broke their arms, leg, fingers—you name it. Many of us Baby Boomers have our own stories ready to tell our kids, the moment they fall and break something. They’re just circle-of-life stories.
Well, my story has a little different spin on it. It started on the PS 320 Canton schoolyard; I was in the fifth grade, playing outside after lunch, when tragedy struck.
My classmate Judy McCune was spinning around with her hands out, and I walked right into her. Her hand hit my front teeth—I guess due to the velocity of her hand colliding with my open mouth, one of my front teeth was sheared off, just below the gum line.
Some of my tooth was still showing, but—horror—my nerve was hanging out for all to see.
Upon the impact, I saw stars and then felt the sharpest, knife-like pain I had ever experienced in all my 10 years on the planet. And then I ran home!
My house was just across the street from the school. I got home and called my mother at work. I was screaming over the phone in agony; of course, she quickly dropped whatever she was doing and came home.
“Back in the day,” as they say, schools offered something called Pilot Insurance for students. It only cost about $5 per school year, and covered all kinds of accidents. Luckily for me, my mother bought it every year for my brother and me.
So there I was, in 1958, with Mom, headed up to the dentist’s office, the place where torture never stopped. I didn’t realize then that I would still be dealing with this “minor schoolyard accident” in 2009.
The day of the accident, the nerve that had been dangling out was removed. They put in a pin and and made preparations for my first crown. I had two more crowns since then, and in 2009, it was time for implants. The adjacent tooth had also suffered over the years, so twin implants were in store.
My dental coverage didn’t cover implants but my pocket money had to, or else I would be walking around looking like Gabby Hayes—there’s a name from the past!
(Editor’s note: George “Gabby” Hayes was a western movie actor who usually played sidekick to leading men such as Roy Rogers and John Wayne during the 1930s and 1940s. Prior to his movie career, Hayes was a young success who retired in his early 40s, but he lost everything in the the Stock Market Crash of 1929.)
A broken arm heals—for the most part, you don’t see any scars or think much about it after the fact. Dental accidents, however, must be taken care of properly, or be prepared to face a life of quiet scorn, in all your personal interactions.
The insurance offered at Canton and a mother with foresight were the saving grace of a 10-year-old kid. I know they don’t offer that low-cost insurance at the schools anymore, but our president will have coverage for us all anyway.
Roland would love to hear from anyone else with memories of the old neighborhoods. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
by ROLAND MOSKAL
SPECIAL TO THE BALTIMORE GUIDE