Oct 26, 2009

If it's not too late for your next post on dental stories, I do have this one….I visited the dentist just once while in Gander from '58-'60. I didn't remember his name but accounts that have come in to Faye from others suggest it was Dr. Maguire.Office in town, office in his house, beside the new Anglican church etc.
The main thing I remember about the visit was his gentle, somewhat gleeful and shocking announcement that I had one cavity. I'd been cavity free up to that point and in retrospect, it could not have been much of one. I do remember him explaining the operation of his new high speed air drill, which he claimed was so fast I would not need freezing. He was right.

I was in a dentists chair here in London, Ont.  on Sept. 23, 2009 to get a cracked filling replaced. While the flat screen digital radiograph was up in front of me, I asked the dentist if she could identify which filling was the oldest. She could not. I then asked if we could identify which filling was the shallowest. That would have been Dr. Maguire's. We found it. It's still intact 50 years later.

Dave Naish, GA Class of 1960


Just a little story, sort of hospital-related.  AND I remember it so well, even 50+ years later.  When I was about 10 years old, I had a terrible toothache so my mother arranged for me to go to the hospital to see Dr. Paton, the GP in town - there were no dentists in Gander at that time (early fifties).  Off I went by myself.  Dr. Patton gave me the needle, it was horrible, the taste was awful, he pulled and yanked, and crunched till one of my back teeth came out in pieces.  I cried and cried and for years could not understand why everyone thought he was a wonderful doctor - I thought of him as a 'monster'.  It was a dreadful experience - even writing this brings it all back. HOWEVER, a few years later, we had a dentist in town, Dr. Mike Maguire.  My father, an accountant, 'did his books' and as Dr. McGuire's nurse-receptionist was going to be away for 2 months one summer, Dr. McGuire asked if I would come and help him out during that period.  I was 15 at the time and with great trepidation I started work there.  Sometime over the summer I related my first dental experience to Dr. McGuire and he laughed and said Dr. Paton was a fellow Irishman and was a great doctor.  It was a busy office but occasionally there would be a lull, at which time, Dr. McGuire would say to me 'hop in the chair' and lets have a look.   He worked on my teeth several times that summer and he, not only gave me beautiful white teeth, but had pretty well gotten me over my visit to Dr. Paton As a side note, one of my duties was to order dental supplies for Dr. McGuire's office - he would write the items down, all abbreviated, and I would call a company in St. John's to place the order.  I would spell everything out because of the medical terminology.  One item would always get a pause or chuckle at the other end of the phone  - it was "2 bottles of cap morg".   That got cleared up once I mentioned it to dad!

Geraldine (Fitzgerald) Nimmo, SJ Class of 1959


He (Dr. Maguire)  had an office on the American Side when he first started in Gander and I was having trouble with a tooth. I was very young at the time and do not remember everything exactly as happened. I do remember that one winter Saturday morning my oldest sister took me to the dentist to have it checked. The waiting room was crowded and when my turn came to go in the dentist had a quick look and decided the tooth had to go. He deadened the area around the tooth and sent me back into the waiting room. About 10 to 15 minutes later he called me in and, without much ado, removed a tooth on the opposite side of my mouth, one which had not been deadened. While walking home I asked my sister why he had taken out the tooth on the other side. She was shocked to hear it, and I'm not sure if she believed me, but I know my fingerprints were imbedded in the armrests of that chair!

Thank God for "baby" teeth!

Jim Butler, GA Class of 1959


I never got closer than his driveway. Appointments were made, and I was so terrified, I couldn't make myself go in. So my Gander dentist stories are short. I was probably the worst patient a dentist could have, at least when I lived in New Glasgow.When the dentist would haul out a tooth and the nurse would give me green liquid to rinse out my mouth, I figured it was poison, and wouldn't take it.I just cried a lot in that chair.  So finally I got married in 1965, figured now...no doubt babies are next, so... let’s try a dentist first and get over that fear.  One was recommended to me in Halifax, and he was the nicest dentist, got me over my fear, and the rest is history.

 Audrey Mingo Grantham, GA Class of 1959


Hi Gerri: I really enjoyed your dental stories, I too remember when there were no dentists in Gander, however at some time when I was between 8 and 10 years old I had to have rotten molars removed and someone, maybe Dr. Paton, sent me to the dentist in Grand Falls. I can remember to this day that the physical pain of the extractions was nothing compared to the personal humiliation I felt as I was whisked into the dental surgery with no one to be with me and left to decide where I should sit. I had never seen a dental chair before and discovered to my chagrin that the lower part that I thought was for little people like me was actually for the feet of the sensible people who knew how to sit in a dental chair. Oh well... maybe the laughing gas got me through it...

I well remember that Gander finally got its own dentist, in the person of Dr. Mike Maguire. He had his first office in a converted building on the American Side and he lived in that area also. I believe he returned to Ireland and brought back a lovely Irish colleen whose name I found so fascinating, Oula.

When the new town was coming together, Dr. Maguire built a large 2-storey house across from and quite near the property of the Anglican church and Rectory. Dr Maguire's new house included a new office/surgery and waiting room, shiny new instruments and a not-so-noisy drill. I had the chance to buzz it a few times, just to get the feel of it.

 I was the first dental assistant in that new office, I guess I was also 15 years old if it was the summer of 1955 but it may have been the summer of '56 since I went on to MUN in September. Dr. Maguire and his wife, Oula had started to fill that house with sons and I babysat just a few times; I always remember my impressions of a lovely large living room where there were bookcases, all turned back on to the walls but I think I have better understanding of the necessity now!

There is one valuable habit that I learned from Dr. Mike Maguire which I have tried to pass on to others because I have found it so useful and time-saving. When handling small items like a gold or silver amalgam filling or a crown and you have the misfortune to drop it, do not move and especially do not move your feet. Try to visually establish the location of the fallen item. Secondly, when you do have to move to look for the item that you cannot so far see, do not lift anything up until you have checked all around the perimeters....

Dr. Maguire was very kind and jovial and an excellent practitioner. He did dental crowns for me that lasted for years and years and when at the age of 18 I had to have my two lower impacted  wisdom teeth out under anesthesia, he did it in his office and I knew where to sit on the chair.

 "Those were the days......" (It sure beats tying a string on your tooth and attaching the other end to a doorknob)

 Doris (Moss) Cowley, GA, Class of 1956  now of Houston, Texas.


Nice to hear your comments about Dr. Maguire. I remember you well from Girl Guides - I used to go to the Guides with Marion Pardy.

Yes, I agree with you - Dr. Maguire was kind and jovial and I enjoyed my summer at his office.When I worked in his office, it was at his brand new house in the new town and his dental office/waiting room was attached. It must have been a couple of years after you were there - I believe he and his wife just had their first baby, Connor. His wife's name Oula means strong-willed or determined - I asked Dr. Maguire about her name at one time. From his dental office, there was an entrance into his house, and as part of the routine, I would knock on this door every morning to get his housekeeper to pass out a fresh supply of towels for the day. I found it difficult at times juggling the patients in the waiting room - there was always a number of patients who had set appointments, and others, especially from surrounding areas outside Gander, who just showed up - walk-ins I guess - but this was accepted. If it was close to a 2:00 p.m. scheduled appointment, I'd call the scheduled person's name, otherwise I'd just call next. Don't think that system would work too well today!!

I understand that Dr. Maguire is also a gifted Newfoundland artist - I have seen some of his paintings on the internet.

Geraldine (Fitzgerald) Nimmo, SJ Class of 1959  


I remember those dental visits.  Dr. Mike was brutal Or was it just a child’s fear? I was so scared, his wife, Oula was his nurse/assistant and she would have to hold my hand to keep me in the chair.

I do remember him as a friendly, good humored man, always a laugh and a smile.

Jane (Dempsey) Donnelly, GA Class of 1960


Two years ago (or was it four?) I was in the waiting room of my favorite (?) ophthalmologist  Waiting to be seen. Dr Maguire was there. Although I had never seen him, at least not professionally, I knew all about him because he told everyone there who he was and his involvement with Gander. Did he not have a surgery on Lindberg after his move to town site?


Clarence Dewling, GA teacher


Thanks a bunch everyone. Not my favorite topic, because I have that fear of dentists as well. However, Dr. Maguire sounded like a real pro and a nice man. Nice to remember the folks who helped make up the fabric of Gander that we all remember.


Faye Lewis Raynard, GA Glass of 1959