We three dental chairs were the pride and joy of our new master Dr. Don Compaan of Seattle. He began his career in dentistry by furnishing his office in south Seattle with these new dental chairs in 1954. He used them until he retired in 2003. We were three Ritter G dental chairs, the most modern and finest of the then available dental equipment. He could not have done his best professional work without us. We were bright and shiny in a dashing coral color, which was quite the rage at the time. A one-touch button sliding panel revealed an air syringe, a water syringe, and a vacuum line. In retrospect, this was the final development in stand-up dentistry before sit-down dentistry ushered in new developments in equipment.
Time, however, took its toll, and Dr. Don passed away leaving an unmatched legacy in our profession, a real credit to his Creator, his family, and his community. Wife Vicky and his three sons were not aware of time's toll on the progress of dental equipment development, so they thought that the chairs still had a useful life to be served in dentistry. They were donated to PFA, where Dr. Don had been a Fellow. So they were polished like new and shipped to Secretary General Richard Kozal.
As fate would have it, the three chairs were separated for their second life go-round.
The first chair was originally slated to go to a dental clinic in Reno at the Nevada Community College to be used in their dental hygiene program. But circumstances arose and the first chair became the centerpiece at the UNLV Dental School Museum as a shining example of 20th century dentistry.
Chairs #2 and #3 were sent to the San Diego area for storage while plans were being drawn for their future. Fate entered, sailing on the grand old aircraft carrier USS Midway to be billeted on the waterfront of San Diego Harbor. It was to take on the new role as museum and the ship needed an example of 1950's dental equipment for its dental dispensary. Chair #2 became a sailor, so to speak, thanks to Dental Captain V. Roger Tibbetts, USN retired.
Chair #2 was loaded to the flight deck with a forklift and then lowered to the dispensary. It was honored to become part of U.S. Naval history. You can come and visit Chair #2 on the USS Midway in San Diego Harbor in service as an educational tool representing what was once state-of-the art dental equipment. In San Diego, come visit our Chair #2!
Chair #3's future was not so glamorous, but it was far more useful to its committed profession. There were many more productive years ahead of Chair #3, the legacy of Dr. Don.
Chair #3 became a part of current affairs in being "smuggled" aboard a huge semi-truck through the San Diego/Tijuana border crossing--the world's largest auto border in the world with over 45,000 cars passing through every day. How Chair #3 made it through the border, no one knows and no one asks. Perhaps, everyone was busy checking traffic going in the other direction.
My next transportation south was fish truck headed for San Ignacio, 700 miles down the Pacific side of Baja California in Mexico. A fish truck (which is the only regular transportation between San Ignacio and Tijuana, Mexico)!
The Mexican government built a clinic in this small fishing village, but local citizens were responsible for furnishing it and getting assistance. So a new chapter in the life of Chair #3 began and promises to be a productive one, still serving patients in the profession hundreds of miles and two countries away from its first life as a shiny new chair for a new dentist's new practice. Chair #3 was starting out in another new dental practice. Dr. Don Compaan would be proud.
Three months later, Drs. Bob Bobbitt and Roger Kingston of San Diego installed the dental equipment in the new clinic and a new history was being written as other humanitarian groups, such as the Flying Samaritans, Doctors without Borders, etc., come to visit, they are welcome to use the facility.
All of this was possible because the Pierre Fauchard Academy and Foundation graciously approved a grant request from "Amigos de Los Californianos" and due to Drs. Bobbitt and Kingston making a dream blossom into reality and serving the underserved people of Mexico.