Hi Bob, It was so scary for kids and the memory of it never leaves you as we can see from the number of members recalling their stories of school dentists. Its a wonder we ever managed to attend a dentist ever againI attended the School Clinic in Sherborn Road, Balsall Heath in the late 50’s at about the age of 10. This was an old Victorian ex school building not far from home. This clinic delivered all sorts of treatment to the local poor kids, as you entered you were hit by two things, the sound of crying kids and the smell of Dettol. They treated kids with scabies and impetigo identifiable by purple patches all over them, kids with eye problems, with thick lenses and patches over one eye and kids with leg irons and pale skinny kids who went for Sun Ray treatment, there was also the dental clinic, where I was headed
The dental clinic was housed on the second floor of the large old building and was a most uninviting place. The patients would enter the reception area which was staffed by unfriendly “nurses” who took your name and told you to “sit down until your name is called”. The dreaded moment arrived when your name was called you then went alone into the surgery, no parents allowed. What a place this was, tiled floor, all white and chrome with all sorts of equipment and the Boyles machine for gassing you. “Sit here” said the nurse pointed to the chair and put a bib around my neck. Then I saw him, like something from a horror film, an unsmiling large fat man in a tight white overall, bald head and rimless glasses. He approached without a word and peered at me and then at a brown folder. He mumbled some technical instruction to the nurse who rearranged some instruments on a trolley. “open wide” said the ogre, as I did he pushed a cold Dettol smelling spring loaded metal clamp into my mouth, which was very uncomfortable, without a word or ceremony the gas mask was pressed to my face and the last thing I remember was the smell of rubber and throbbing in my head. I came around in another room, which looked like an ex toilet, with a row of sinks, over most of the sinks there were crying, bleeding children spitting blood and vomiting into the basins, I did the same and then after a while, staggered out to re-join my mother, little fuss was made and out we went for the walk home and salt water mouthwashes.