Thursday, May 19, 2016

_The Hancock News_ Column--May 18, 2016

Losing teeth seems to come in waves around here. Last week two boys lost teeth. Luckily the tooth fairy remembered and even came on time. 

Whenever one of my children comes to me with a loose tooth, I wiggle it this way and that, try to twist it some, and give it a weak experimental tug. Almost always I send the boy on his way, telling him to keep wiggling it and hoping it comes out on its own because, quite frankly, I’m not good at pulling teeth.

But my Grandaddy was. 

Once when I was at Grandma and Grandaddy’s farm, I was fussing with a loose tooth, probably whining and too scared to pull it out. 

“Come on over here and let me look at it,” Grandaddy offered.

Now I knew his reputation for being a good tooth-puller, but I didn’t care. “No, I don’t want you to pull it. It’s not ready!”

“Oh, I’m not going to pull it. Just let me see how close to ready it is,” said he.

I was skeptical and, for the first and only time, a little bit scared of Grandaddy. A little jumpy, I stepped closer anyway and opened wide. After a quick, little wiggle, I breathed a sigh of relief.

“See, I told you it wasn’t ready!” said smug me, glad I’d proven I knew a thing or two about such matters.

Except I didn’t really know about such matters. Even as the words tumbled over my teeth, they found the hole left by the tooth now held in Grandaddy’s nimble fingers. I hadn’t felt a single thing.

Let me tell you, he pulled more than one of my teeth, and every time, his execution was just as flawless-- quick, painless, and successful. Who knew that a West Virginia farmer’s fingers could be so gentle?

Grandaddy had six children and 13 grandchildren, and I was the youngest. I believe I probably was the last to benefit from his dental expertise, and I never heard of a single botched tooth job on his part from any of my elders. Every story I’ve heard sounds pretty much the same as mine: one second there’s a tooth, and the next it’s gone (no strings or doorknobs involved).

Even when she’s not late because the winter weather froze her wings, the tooth fairy has nothing on my Grandaddy. She has the ordinary job of pickup and delivery. The real magic rested in the hands of an ordinary farmer with a knack for pulling teeth. 


When I was a kid and had an empty space in my smile, I loved drinking things through a straw because it fit perfectly in the hole left by the lost tooth. Kid or no, sipping this copycat drink through a straw is a pleasure!

Copycat Orange Julius

1 six-ounce can frozen orange juice concentrate
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
12 ice cubes

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until frothy. Pour immediately and enjoy, with or without a straw, with or without teeth.


  1. #3 lost a tooth first thing in the morning yesterday. He had to wait an entire day and night before the tooth fairy came!

    1. I'm sure that was very hard! My 7yo daughter gets so angry when an older brother loses a tooth because she hasn't lost any yet and wants to so badly.