The Pliers

My dad would tell us stories about how he would ice skate to school every day in the winter as the creek that runs through the farm would take him straight to it. “Straight” being relative for a meandering creek with a minimum width of little more than a skate’s breadth. My brother and oldest sister would ride their horses to that same school, which certainly had to be an improvement over ice-skating since you could do that year ‘round, right? They weren’t very old when the one-room school house closed and they bused us all to the school in town.

Don’t you love quaint stories from days of antiquity?

Here’s another for you, but I don’t know if I’d call it quaint.

My dad was/is a cheap SOB. Growing up a child of the Depression will do that even though his dad (grandpa) did quite well farming. As a frugal farmer, you don’t just learn how to be an agriculturist and a meteorologist; you learn to be a veterinarian, too, if there were any livestock. As my dad, his skills as a vet were impressive when you’re six year old, but in reality he wasn’t very good at it.

A farmer doesn’t need many tools to provide medical care to animals: pliers, pocketknife, chains and maybe a handful of magnets.

…don’t ask…

Eventually, I’ll tell all, but for now I’m going to tell you about the pliers.

My dad was never without his pliers. I mean NEVER. The leather pliers-holder he wore on his belt kept them with him always. They gouged a groove in his chair at the supper table. It created scuffs on the toilet seat. If the pliers weren’t in its holder, they were in his grease-blackened hands, turning, tapping, prying, and pulling something.


Dad would pull our loose teeth with pliers. Not just any pliers, but the same pliers that were covered in grease, grit and most likely the blood from a tick he pulled from the dog’s ear and squished that morning. If mom was taking pity on us, she would wipe them down with a paper towel. If the tooth was particularly slippery, she would wrap the paper towel around the tooth which provided dad the leverage he needed to get a good hold with the pliers and then I would pray to god that he had the right tooth when he yanked. That is, I would have in the right frame of mind as I was usually whimpering and crying and promising through snot and tears to wriggle the tooth out myself even though I might have said it this way, “I pwomith to wiggle ith outh mythelf!”

Mom would also provide the nursing care. Pffffft. That meant while I was lying on the couch, and dad was sitting on my chest to pin me down, mom would hold my head still and provide a wet washcloth to stuff in my mouth to staunch the bleeding post-extraction.

Ahhhh, the good ole’days, amiright?!!

Now my son already firmly believes I grew up living in a cave because no, I didn’t have Pokémon cards, a DVD player, or Nickelodeon. And I wore pork rinds on my feet for shoes and I LIKED it!! *shaking raised fist*

My dad still wears the pliers on his belt. Doodicus still has baby teeth. I need to coincide a trip to the farm with a loose tooth. Just for fun. Just so HE can have a quaint story to share with HIS kids.