Tag Archives: dentist

Fighting War on A Different Front…Army Dentists WWII.

While it was all very well for our Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies to follow Britain’s lead and declare war on Germany on the 3rd September, 1939, the reality was that our troops were far from ready to go.

Indeed, it appears that our young men had stuck their tooth brushes where the sun don’t shine, and their teeth were just as black. Just to give you some idea of the full scale of the problem, in September 1939 in regional Victoria of 2,477 men examined, only 301 were classed as dentally fit and many of those had upper and lower dentures.That’s not a lot of pearly whites!

With the army struggling to treat almost universal dental annihilation, the NSW branch of the Australian Dental Association set up a clinic at the showgrounds where a team of 80 volunteer dentists worked in relays of twelve. These volunteers included my grandfather, Bob Curtin, who had a dental practice in Macquarie Street and you can see him hard at work in the photo above.

By the time the clinic closed in September 1941, 66,991 teeth had pulled out along with giving 97,763 fillings and supplying 19,318 dentures. I can’t help wondering what happened to all those teeth and whether they’ve all been stashed somewhere in one of these construction holes you see in the ground. I’ve never thought of teeth as landfill before but given those numbers, disposing of all those teeth must’ve been a consideration. Or, perhaps the tooth fairy took off with the lot. In that case, leaving a penny under all those bottles of beer, must’ve cost her a pretty penny.

Army dentists cartoon 1940

Not unsurprisingly, the soldiers themselves were less than enthusiastic about fronting up to the dentist. Indeed, one soldier we’ll just call “Jack” spilled the beans on what was known as the “Dental Clinic Racket”. This was not only a way of avoiding the dentist. It had the added bonus of getting them out of all sorts of duties so they could head off to their “bung-hole” (bed) instead:

“To secure, immunity from distasteful tasks by this means a soldier would first make an appointment with the clinic. He would show the appointment slip to the sergeant and be sent away from the kitchen, or some other fatigue to keep the appointment. At the clinic he would plead some excuse for delay, and the dentists, always willing to oblige, almost invariably agreed, to make an appointment for another day, The soldier was then free to go to his”bung-hole” and rest. But we have a checking system from today which will kill that dodge. Of course, in a day or so, the boys will think up a new one.”

Jack then goes on to say that the dental clinic made a raid on his unit that morning:

“All the boys were examined for dental defects, and if extractions were required, hustled straight over to get the works. I’ve seen some of those boys rush up a hill with fixed bayonets, yelling like madmen. The enemy was only imaginary, but I know that they would, and-will, do tho same when shot and shell are flying. But when these men were told to face the Dental Corps they paled, and almost had to be driven to the clinic. If the Dental Corps, had the same effect on an enemy, they would make ideal front line troops.”

Eunice & Robert Wedding

The marriage of Eunice Gardiner & Robert Vincent Curtin at St Mary’s Cathedral 1940.

As it turned out, 1940 was a busy year for my grandfather. That photo appeared in the Daily Telegraph on Tuesday 2nd July, 1940. While my grandfather was flat out trying to maintain his dental practice while volunteering out at the showground, a young concert pianist had returned from London to tour Australia with the ABC under famous English conductor, Sir Thomas Beecham. While I’m not exactly sure of when they arrived in Australia it would appear they arrived in March, 1940. At some point along the way, my grandmother was in Sydney and had a toothache. Her brother Les had gone through school with my grandfather and I’m not too sure if that’s how she ended up there with that toothache. However, that was the beginning of a new chapter in our history. They were engaged n the 23rd August, 1940 and married in December.

Well, wrapping this up has been a bit of a rush job as I’m off to a concert at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music tonight and I want to potter around for a bit while I’m down there.

Best wishes,



More Caffeine Required!

If we were having coffee, I’d begin by introducing you to my new friend and additional blogging mascot. Name yet to be finalised, but “Bluey” seems appropriate. That’s what you call a red headed bloke in Australia. Or , at least that was in back the good old days. Its grey fur seems to have a bluish tinge, which being Australian, would make him “Red” not “Blue” but Bluey suited him better.

I adopted Bluey from a fancy shop in Kirribilli in Sydney. The shop is right next door to my dentist and so I always go in there for a bit of yin and yang. A bit of pain upstairs, a bit of pleasure downstairs. Makes perfect sense to me!

Absolute pain when the credit card comes in!

Just to put you in the picture, I should point out that Kirribilli is on the Northern end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and my dentist is in a very similar location to the dentist in Finding Nemo. It’s a stunning location with magnificent harbour views, quaint 19th Century terrace houses and cafes, gift shops etc. Indeed, both the Prime Minister’s and the Governor General’s Sydney residences are just around the corner. Moreover, if you were in a really bad mood, you could throw a rock across Sydney Harbour and straight though a window at the Sydney Opera House. Well, only in your dreams but it would make for an exciting game of front yard cricket.

We are all slowly settling into the new school year and Geoff went back to work…all a rude shock to the system! Our daughter has taken up the violin again given the prospect of playing at the Sydney Opera House with the school. She also joined the school band and has taken up the  Baritone Horn, which is a small euphonium. This is in addition to her usual thing of doing dance and choir at school. Oh, she also does jazz, ballet and modern dance out of school. Not sure how all of this will go. Meanwhile, our son is settling into high school. Even though we live near the beach in a non-rural setting, the school has quite an accomplished agriculture farm and course and my son and many of the kids are spending breaks down there. They have done well showing their animals at the Royal Sydney Easter Show, which is a big achievement.

masked intruder

In terms of blogging this week, my train trip to the dentist produced a poem about living with adversity: The Masked Intruder. For me, that’s a rare auto-immune disease…Dermatomyositis. As you would expect, I’ve written a lot about living with this pretty intrusive disease but this really encapsulated where I’m at now. Things are going pretty well with a few residual symptoms but I’m in remission. I also wrote an accompanying post: Wrestling With Adversity.


Wrestling with Adversity.

If you are living with adversity, I encourage you to read it and perhaps you’ll feel less alone. Some times the road can seem so long and you become so exhausted that it’s hard to go on but I encourage you to keep putting one foot after the other. Persevere.


I actually read and finished a book this week. It was Max Porter’s: Grief Is The Thing With Feathers. This is a beautifully poetic book, which looks at how a father and two sons “move forward” following the death of his wife/their mother. Crow, inspired by the poem by Ted Hughes, moves into their house to help them through the worst of the grieving process. Anyway, I do intend to write more about it but I highly recommend it.


Indeed, I read two books this week. However, I kind of cheated on the second book. Rewinding back to the shop in Kirribilli, while I was buying Bluey the Koala, I also found an incredible picture book: What Do You Do With An Idea? written by Kobi Yamada and Illustrated by Mae Besom. If you have ever had a great idea which has sparked great mirth whenever you’ve shared it, this is the book for you. Just because it was written for kids, there’s no reason why us bigger people can’t benefit from it as well.


Tomorrow, my daughter and I are finally off to see Matilda The Musical together. I’m really looking forward to it.

Hope you’ve all had a great week and thanks for popping by for coffee.

I hope you’ve had a great week and thank you for popping round for coffee. It’s been great to catch up. This has been part of the #WeekendCoffeeShare is a weekly linkup hosted by Diana at Part-Time Monster, and here is the link.

xx Rowena


Boarding the Coffee Express.

Perhaps, if I had another coffee, I’d find it easier to rewind through the last week and actually remember what happened instead of feeling like I’ve been run over by by a huge truck with Christmas painted on the side. Actually, to be fair, I can’t really blame Christmas. It’s more the eminent end to yet another year when the end of the school year collides with dance, violin and school concerts and the Scout Christmas camp has been thrown in the mix as well. However, don’t let my rant deceive you. I love it all. I just wish I had more petrol in the tank or perhaps I just need the really good stuff instead of the budget variety. It’s not the time of year to skimp and use cheap fuel.

Rewinding to Wednesday, I caught the train down to Sydney to go to the Dentist at Kirribilli, which is just across the road from the pedestrian walkway over the Sydney Harbour Bridge. After more than 2 hours in the chair where I swear he drilled deep into the foundations of The Bridge deep beneath the earth, I decided to spoil myself and caught a ferry across the Harbour to Circular Quay. It was an absolutely glorious Summer day and every time I take this trip, I love it just as much as the first time. More than simply being an architectural wonder, the Bridge feels like a part of me and has somehow woven its way through my memories and tunneled its way into my heart.

Speaking of The Bridge, on the train to Sydney I was reading a book on the history of The Bridge:

My Australian Story: Sydney Harbour Bridge by Vashti Ferrer
Published February 2012 Scholastic. I am loving all the detailed anecdotes throughout. I’ll be disappointed when it’s finished.

Arriving in Circular Quay with my mouth still paralyzed from the unaesthetic, I sought out soup and coffee and found myself in an authentic French cafe in The Rocks, which is located in the former Police Station. I sat outside but you can actually dine inside the cells. I am definitely heading back with the kids. They’ll love it. What an adventure!

As you’ll probably appreciate, this time of year isn’t just about Christmas or the Summer holidays, especially if it’s Winter at your place. It is also the end of the Australian school year and reports have just come home and speech day has been and gone. Both kids had great reports and received quite a few “highs”.

As we all know, it’s often hard to navigate your way through school report lingo which while intended to inform parents, inevitably requires translation in itself. I liked it back in the good old days when you had varying degrees of A B C D. We all knew what that meant. Our reports are Outstanding which apparently means you’re ahead of stage, High, Sound which is where most students will fit and thankfully I haven’t had to worry about the rest.

Anyway, Mister received a surprise award. Not from the powers that be but from last week’s Year 6 Fete. He won the award for “Being able to Stretch a Jelly Snake the Longest”. In fact, he told me through all his triumphant laughter and excitement that he was indeed the reigning champion because he’d also won last year. While I initially failed to appreciate the significance of his achievement, once he started explaining the science, thought and planning which had gone into his efforts, I was actually rather impressed. Apparently, you have to pull it fast to 25cm and then move slowly and if it starts to tear to go back to 25cm and start over. I actually wonder if there isn’t some complex scientific equation at work here. Sure, it might not be a cure for cancer but it made us both smile and that has to be worth something!

While we’re on the subject of awards, my heart goes out to all the BPs or “Quiet Achievers” out there: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vo9nWNxtAMo. So many of us conquer all sorts of incredible hurdles just to pull off the mundane pedestrian and yet these achievements go unsung and unrewarded but as far as I’m concerned, are a much bigger achievements than simply winging success through raw talent alone. I remember when I went to my 20 year school reunion after being diagnosed with my auto-immune disease and my big achievement was being able to sit on the floor and get up again. That simple movement had taken months of physio and incredible determination to pull off. No awards there.

I guess that’s why I love Mariah Carey’s hit: Hero: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgXw9YHpk1M


Coffee at the Wyong Milk Factory, December, 2015.

Yesterday, my daughter and I traveled up to Wyong about 45 minutes drive North to enroll her in her new school and pick up her uniform. Miss has been selected to attend “Opportunity School”. These classes run for the last two years of Primary school and you have to sit an entry test. Miss was initially on a waiting list but quickly got through and we found ourselves saying goodbye to the kids’ primary school, which has been our second home for 7 years and we’re moving on.


A rather reluctant chocolate tester at Luka Chocolates.

After picking up her uniform and having another look around the school, we headed out to the Wyong Milk Factory, which is home to the Little Creek Cheese Factory and Luka Chocolates. I’ve been to the cheese factory before and you can read about my Adventures of a Cheesy here: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2012/07/12/adventures-of-a-cheesy/


Well, you can just imagine we were happy little mice!

Anyway, as I’ve mentioned before our son starts high school next year and his last days of primary school are running out.  I still remember when he first saw “Big School” and he said it was “too big” and absolutely refused to go through the gate, despite the lovely encouragement of the Year 6 student on the gate. He now tells me that Primary School is “too small” and I guess I’m pleased that he feels he’s outgrown it and is ready for the next challenge.  Tuesday, they have the Year 6 Farewell and then Wednesday…It’s all over red rover. The rest of the school forms a tunnel and Year 6 is gone.

Mister doing News at school in kindergarten, aged 5. He was talking about his Great-Grandmother’s funeral.


For those of you with an interest in education, I thought I’d mention that our son has been selected for the AVID class next year. I do intend to write more about it down the track but it really does sound like an exciting way of learning. AVID stands for Advancement Via Individual Determination.  It’s focus is preparing students for university and they have uni students come  and work with them in the classroom. Apparently, it has achieved excellent results.

Meanwhile, while there’s a general preoccupation elsewhere with the number of sleeps before Christmas, we still have next weekend ahead. Saturday is the annual dance concert and today we had a rehearsal and tomorrow is photo  call. So, after dropping Miss off at rehearsal, I was off to stockpile bobby pins, hairnets, makeup and nail polish remover. Thank goodness all these hair dramas only come round once or twice a year and she can go back to looking like the Little Matchgirl afterwards. After the concert, she’s off to join her brother at the annual Christmas Scout Camp at the hall and Mum and Dad might even be sleeping over. That could be fun. It’s on the waterfront and we do have stretcher beds. All the same, I am concerned about how much sleep we may or, more likely, won’t get. Not that I’m one to stay up talking all night myself!

Did I mention the school carol service tomorrow night? Nativity Church service Friday night? We also have a dog walkers’ Christmas party at the beach. Oh yes…2 medical appointments in Sydney this week as well. I don’t know why I’m still out of bed!


By the way, if you’re wanting to get into the Christmas spirit, you can visit Solveig Werner at http://solveigwerner.com/who has been running an Advent Calender on her blog featuring guest bloggers. I will be coming up on the 17th writing a comic piece about Christmas in the Australian heat. I have also reblogged this post about Virginia’s famous letter to the newspaper asking whether Santa is real. I also posted the words of a modern Australian Christmas Carol, Aussie Jingle Bells, which is incredibly cringe-worthy but I love it regardless.


Speaking of Christmas, we buy a fresh Christmas tree every year and as yet, I have absolutely no idea how we’re going to fit it in and how I’m going to find the time to make room. Is it still Christmas without your own Christmas tree? The home made Christmas cake seems to be succumbing to a similar fate. Although I have bought the ingredients, I haven’t even boiled the fruit yet and it’s really been too hot. Ice cream anyone?

Golly, my Christmas guilt list is getting longer and longer!


How has your week been? Hope you’re going well and I’m looking forward to catching up on your news.

This has been part of the Weekend Coffee Share hosted by Part Time Monster and please check us out at the linky: http://www.inlinkz.com/new/view.php?id=590391

xx Rowena

The featured image was taken in a French cafe in The Rocks, Sydney. That cappuccino was huge…almost a  goldfish bowl. Indeed, aren’t there days you wouldn’t mind being a goldfish swimming round in a bowl of coffee when you need that extra buzz!