The life of dentist and showman Painless Parker
his adventures in eastern and western Canada and the U.S.
Cliff and I did our lessons right after supper and then went out to play. The air was crisp and the moon was shining brightly which made for a great night to play Red-light. When Mum called for us to come in, we knew there would be hot cocoa waiting.
The cold air combined with the hot drink started my tooth to ache. Mum put a whole cloves in the cavity and suggested I go off to bed with the hot water bottle. I went off to sleep and woke about midnight with not only a jumping toothache but the whole side of my face was throbbing. I think I cried most of the night while Mum held me close.
There was no choice but to go in the morning to go to the Doctor to have the tooth pulled. Mum's hand tightened on mine, as the doctor took a needle that looked to me to be a foot long and stuck it into my gum. He picked up a pair of forceps and with one yank pulled out the tooth. Wow! That sure did hurt and tears rolled down my cheeks.
Once we were back in the car, Dad tried to get my mind off the pain by telling me that a dentist named Painless Parker could pull teeth without any hurting. I rather thought it was one of his tall tales but it wasn't.
George Sancton Parker and Lydia Jane Moran were married on June 21, 1871 by the Rev. James Austin Smith at St. Martins and they eventually had six children. On Friday, Mar. 22, 1872, at five o'clock in the morning, their first child was born in a two-storey house in Tynemouth Creek. Dr. Robert Ruddick, the physician from nearby St. Martins, had come the night before to await the arrival of Edgar Randolph Parker, who grew to be a keen, stocky and hardy baby with bright, snapping blue-eyes and an insatiable curiosity in all things around him.
At the age of nine, he decided to become a chicken farmer with the purchase of a setting Plymouth Rock hen, complete with a coop and thirteen eggs that he purchased from Mrs. Fraser, an elderly lady. His next business adventure was in selling dulse. When he reached ten, he decided he wanted to fly. His attempt at using pigeon power and the barn roof as the launching pad ended in failure with his landing in the manure pile.
In 1890, at age eighteen he set off for the Philadelphia Dental College and his adventure as a dentist began.
In 1892, he hiked the 24 miles from Tynemouth Creek to Hampton. Without a cent in his pocket, he began a career in half dentistry and half medicine show, combining the lately learned dental skills with the knowledge gained from his stint at being a traveling salesman. He set up his temporary dental chair on a borrowed wagon and offered to pull a tooth, the painless way for fifty cents or give a five-dollar bill refund. He elaborated at length on painless dentistry with the use of his new invention called hydrocaine. Here in the village of Hampton, he came up with the idea of calling himself Painless Parker.
He was a dental renegade as he dared to challenge the dental establishment of the early 1900s with his flamboyant self-promotion, traveling from town to town with his dentistry show, proclaiming "painless" dentistry and hiring bands to play as he pulled teeth. He was decked out in a brushed beaver top hat and brilliant waistcoat.
He was genuinely determined to bring dental care to the poor, and equally determined never to be poor himself. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. The chain of American dental clinics he established in the 1920s made him a millionaire and the name Painless Parker became a household word.
The publication "Early Adventures of Painless Parker" by Peter M. Pronych and Arden G. Christen is a true and fascinating story of the start of one man's dental career and how his outrageous antics affected an entire profession. An excellent account of his early days of pulling teeth in small East Coast towns and of his adventures in eastern Canada, western Canada and New York is given.
Much can be learned not only about his shenanigans in circus dentistry but of the personal life of the lad from Tynemouth Creek.
Dryden - Dickie - Asprey: William Wesley Dryden was born in Moncton, New Brunswick about 1866 and died in Montreal, Quebec in 1936. His sister Lillian Dryden married Benjamin Asprey - she too was born in Moncton and died in Montreal. William married Martha Eva Dickie in 1908 in Saint John. They lived in Campbellton and moved to Montreal. He was divorced and may have had children from a previous marriage. He spoke sign language as he had lost his hearing as a child. His second wife Martha Eva Dickie was also deaf and mute. I am trying to locate the names of his parents and any other information.
-Linda Dryden, 182 Dunn Dr., Montgomery, NY., 12549, USA. E-mail to email@example.com. Telephone 914-457-2752.
Breen - McCormick: Maude Breen married Daniel Edwin McCormick, who was born Sep.22, 1877 in Golden Grove, New Brunswick. He died Oct. 22,1939 and is buried in St. Joseph's Cemetery, Saint John, N.B. Maude was alive at the time of his death. They had 10 children: Joseph, William, Helen, Leona Mary, Agnes, Vera, Maude, Jimmy, Frank, and John. I am interested in hearing from anyone who has this family in their research. I have a picture of Maude but not one of Daniel, I would be thrilled to find someone who has one of him.
-Lisa Almon, 108 Acamac Beach Rd., Saint John, N.B., E2M-6A1. E-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Fleming - McDade - Moore - Cody - McKenna: My parents were Francis Redmond Fleming and Sarah Elizabeth McDade of Norton. My grandfather was William Fleming of Codys and his wife was Debbie Moore - her mother was a sister to Rev. H.A. Cody. William was the son of William Fleming who lived at the Fingerboard, (Norton) Kings County and his wife was a McKenna. They attended the Sacred Heart Catholic Church at Norton and are buried there. I am trying to locate the date of entry into New Brunswick as well as their place of origin in Ireland. I am also interested in finding information on the first Catholic Church that was built on Baxter property between Bloomfield and Norton.
-Mary Fleming Hibbert, 524 Parkindale Rd., Elgin, Albert Co., N.B., E4Z-2A9. Email to email@example.com.
Ruby is a genealogy buff. Readers are invited to send their New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. When E-Mailing please put Yesteryear Families in the Subject line. Please include in the query, your name and postal address as someone reading the newspaper, may have information to share with you but not have access to E-mail. Queries should be no more than 45 words in length.