Last week’s kindergarten recollections got me thinking- -what other memorable things happened in grade school? Fortunately, Mom is cleaning out some boxes from her attic and gave me a treasure from Mrs. Campbell’s fifth grade. An essay, some hand-drawn illustrations and a test that I didn’t do very well on, stapled together under cover of my typically accurate but uninspired artwork (see above). The subject was teeth.
I admit that science was a weak topic for me academically and that I learned as little as possible about the human body as I could manage without detonating my report card. Teeth, however, were not to be avoided. Someone, most likely a dentist or a dental hygienist, visited our class to teach us about dental care. What most of my classmates are likely to remember are those chewable red tablets, the ones that stained your teeth where your brushing was inadequate.
The red tablets were cool (and possibly toxic?) but red tablets don’t last forever. My “Teeth” report probably shouldn’t have lasted forever, either, but you know how moms are, especially when they have attics. There is one other artifact from the fifth grade study of teeth, equally deserving of oblivion but it lingers in memory almost 50 years later. Why? Because it is catchy as heck. You guessed it, a song, the first one I ever remember writing, sung to the tune of “Little Brown Jug”:
Brush your teeth every day
That’s the secret of no decay
If you don’t follow this plan
Soon your teeth will be made in Japan
Therein lies the danger of having a shockingly good memory. What surprises me is, one of my classmates remembers it, too. That’s right, it’s Steve Owsley. I don’t remember if the subject came up on Facebook or at our 40th high school reunion but one thing’s for certain, Steve Owsley has not only a great memory but a great ear for music.
There’s a second verse (I’ll spare you). I suppose today’s false teeth would more likely be made in China, at least the kind of false teeth I’d pictured while penning this jingle. In fifth grade I had no idea what dentures looked like, or how or where they were made. The image I had in mind was wind-up chattering teeth, like you’d find in a joke shop, or, in modern times, in a YouTube video (warning: may induce headache):
Life leads to Art leads to Joke Shop. Remember that. Always.