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Logan StoryCorps: An eyewitness account of an elementary school tooth extraction

 Ron Godfrey and his conversation partner Quinn shown in video chat tiles
Ron Godfrey in North Logan Utah and Quinn in Buffalo New York

KIRSTEN SWANSON: It's time again for Utah StoryCorps, everyday people sharing their stories at the StoryCorps recording booth in Logan.

MARY HEERS: This year, recording for StoryCorps in the booth was not the only option. Some interviews came in over the internet. This is how we hear a story of one of the many lessons learned outside the classroom.

QUINN: My name is Quinn. I'm 22 years old. I'm in Buffalo, New York. And I'm here with Ron, who's my conversation partner today.

RON GODFREY: And my name is Ron Godfrey. I'm 74 years old. I'm here in North Logan, Utah.

QUINN: Well, Ron, can you tell me a bit about what your childhood was like?

RON GODFREY: Oh, I grew up in the most bucolic wonderful small town of Murray, Utah. I was in elementary school, probably third grade. And I was sitting at one of those big wooden desks. They got those little caverns in the front and under 'em there are three or four pieces of bubblegum or something. And usually there are initials scratched in them.

And I was just looking around the room and the little boy next to me, his name was Timmy. He was wiggling his tooth, like we all did at school when we had a loose tooth. I saw Timmy do this a few times.

I looked on the other side and there was a kid over there named Michael. And nobody ever called him Michael; they call him Moe. Moe — inside of his desk, it was like a natural history museum. He had everything inside of his desk. He had rabbit's feet and marbles, iron pyrite (which is fool's gold). I mean, he had vials of liquid mercury, knives and all kinds of stuff in those days. And he kept telling Timmy, "I can pull your tooth out." And Timmy's going, "No." And Moe's going, "Yes," Timmy's going, "No, you're not."

And Moe said, "Look, I can do it." And then Moe pulled out this roll of something and I thought it was string but it was fishing line.

The bell rang, and it's time for recess. And so I followed those two. Followed them down to the lavatory. And I could see Moe stringing this around Timmy's tooth and then tying it in a knot. So he's got this fishing line tied around Timmy's tooth. And Moe's leading Timmy down the hall like he's got a dog on a leash. And he takes him down to the janitor's closet. And he ties the other end of the string to the doorknob.

It looked to me like an execution, like they were gonna hang somebody in the public square. Timmy was kind of whimpering and Moe said, "It won't hurt. It's just going to be fine." And so he grabbed the door and he slammed it shut. And Timmy let out this scream. You could hear it all the way down the hall of the school.

QUINN: Oh, no!

RON GODFREY: And there was blood dripping down Timmy's chin. There were a little splotches of blood on my shirt. But the tooth was on the end of the line.

And so Moe untied the string from the doorknob. And he carried the tooth in his hand, the bell rang and we went back to class. And then Moe handed Tim the tooth and he dropped it into his hand and we both looked at it. It was just this beautiful tooth — one of the incisors — that he yanked out with his fishing line. And I said to Moe, I said, "You need to talk to Tim's mother. He should get 50 cents for this. Not a quarter."

MARY HEERS: And this is Utah StoryCorps.

KIRSTEN SWANSON: Thanks for coming along.

MARY HEERS: See you next Friday. Same time,

Support for Logan StoryCorps comes from Cache County and from USU Credit Union, a division of Goldenwest.

Mary got hooked on oral histories while visiting Ellis Island and hearing the recorded voices of immigrants that had passed through. StoryCorps drew her to UPR. After she retired from teaching at Preston High, she walked into the station and said she wanted to help. Kerry put her to work taking the best 3 minutes out of the 30 minute interviews recorded in Vernal. Passion kicked in. Mary went on to collect more and more stories and return them to the community on UPR's radio waves. Major credits to date: Utah Works, One Small Step, and the award winning documentary Ride the Rails.
Kirsten grew up listening to Utah Public Radio in Smithfield, Utah and now resides in Logan. She has three children and is currently producing Utah StoryCorps and working as the Saturday morning host on UPR. Kirsten graduated from Utah State University with a Bachelor's degree History in 2000 and dual minors in Horticulture and German. She enjoys doing voice work, reading, writing, drawing, teaching children, and dancing. Major credits include StoryCorps, Utah Works, One Small Step, and the APTRA award-winning documentary Ride the Rails.
Check out our past StoryCorps episodes.