Friday, March 21, 2008

Fond Dental Memories

I had a definite lump in my throat when I read the obituaries this morning in the Macon Telegraph. I have a ton of memories of this dentist. He was most definitely one of the good guys.

Dr. Clifford Ray, DDS died on Thursday in Decatur Alabama. According to what I read he died in a nursing home there after a lengthy decline in health. I strongly suspect the good folks at the nursing home in Decatur have no idea of the impact this man had on a lot of young folks for many years.

He was a rather short man physically but he stood very tall in the eyes of the children who were privileged to be is patients. I was one of them.

He was a dentist who practiced Pedodontics. In other words he was a dentist who specialized in treating children. I never saw a needle the twenty something years I was his patient although he stuck me plenty of times. He would always tell me he was going to pinch my lip. And he would grab it and shake it so I would not know I was getting a needle. I remember years later when I went to a regular dentist as an adult and I saw the needle they were about to use on me. I almost fainted. I had no idea they were that big because Dr. Ray always hid it.

I’m not sure how we began going to Dr. Ray. I think the Whatley’s next door started going and told us about him so we joined them. His office was in one of the tall buildings in downtown Macon. Although he later moved to a new office on Georgia Avenue, I remember well the elevator operator who took us up to the floor where his office was located. I haven’t even thought of an elevator operator in years. But for you younger folks, there were always elevator operators to take you from floor to floor in all the high rise buildings. You never had to make the trip alone. When you walked on the elevator they would always ask, “Floor please?” And she would take the elevator to the floor of your choice.

I always wanted to be a elevator operator when I grew up.

My dad hated going to the dentist. When we found this children’s dentist, daddy liked his no pain practice so much that he became his patient too. I remember the first day Daddy sat in his dentist chair in that old office building. Daddy was about 6’4” and Dr. Ray was about 5’5”. Daddy asked him what floor they were on. When Dr. Ray told him, Daddy said, “I just want you to know how many stories you will fall when I throw you out the window if you hurt me.”

Dr. Ray always laughed at that but was obviously not intimidated because he continued to be Daddy’s dentist until Dr. Ray retired. I think my Daddy had the distinction of being the biggest child he ever worked on.

I also have a ton of memories of going to the dentist after Dr. Ray moved to his new office. He treated many kids from Reynolds and many times several of us had appointments at the same time. A couple of mothers would take us over to Macon to the dentist and afterwards we would go to a movie or maybe out to eat. And we would have a lot of fun and a lot of laughs coming and going.

Not many folks have fond memories of going to the dentist as a child. But I do. And I have a feeling many folks who were patients of Dr. Ray will have the same fond dental memories.


tcrmd said...

Bruce, Many thanks for your kind testimony about my dad. He took care of my dental needs for over 35 years, and I too remember his "pinch technique" when he administered the anesthetic. Numerous others have bragged on him to me about it being almost painless. I remember him being so appreciative for Dr. Whatley sending him so many patients from the Reynolds area. I think that all started after his son had a good experience in my dad's dental chair. Daddy would ride the little ones up & down several times before stanting to examine them. Again, thank you for you kind words & memories. Tom Ray

Anonymous said...

even though this blog was written for the memory of Dr. Ray, i really enjoyed the part about papa...haha.


Anonymous said...

Bruce, I was so sad to learn of Dr. Ray's passing. He was truly a special man, and will be missed by many. But you forgot to mention that after every appointment, every good little patient was allowed a special treat from a huge drawer that the nurse would open. I always chose a ring, and I think that may be where I developed my great love for jewelry! Even after I moved to Chicago, I would fly down to keep my appointments with Dr. Ray. I think he always got a kick out out of that. I too was shocked when I later went to another dentist and say that huge needle! He was a treasure!