02 03 John Brown Kin: Some Things Never Change 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Some Things Never Change

I had to have a molar pulled a few days ago. I broke my tooth on my breakfast cereal last Monday. On cereal!?! Really?!?!

While I was sitting at Baylor Dental School awaiting my turn to see the dentist, I remembered a letter that Annie wrote in 1887. One hundred twenty years ago she was writing about the poor state of Americans' teeth. Some things never change..........

Letter from Annie Brown Adams to Dr Ross, December 28, 1887
Held by Gilder Lehrman Museum in New York index # GL3007.18 
"The American of this great state do not “dig their graves with their teeth[i]”. They part with their teeth before they get out of their “teens”.  It is not uncommon now to find persons between fifteen and twenty, with false teeth, in this vicinity.  One man I know, paid fifty dollars to get his young daughter’s teeth filled.  Now what is the cause of this early decay?  I think it must be the consumption of so much sweets, candy, etc.  We Americans consume more sugar than any other nation, and take more and better care of our teeth (while we have them) than any other people do.  Indians, Negros, and nearly all Foreigners have good teeth.  Some say that it is caused by the use of too much fine, white flour bread stuffs.  We use several preparations of wheat to make mushes, rice, cornstarch, sego[ii], tapioca, cornmeal instead of the nationalpie”.  I make puddings, and brown bread, and corn bread, for a change from the white."

[i] Greedy eaters dig their graves with their teeth.  French Proverb
[ii] Sego Lily, Calochortus nuttallii, is a bulbous perennial which is endemic to the Western United States. It is the state flower of Utah.


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