A Student in Dental School
In 1919 I entered the Dental School at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. I had a nice room just one block from the school. I never ate breakfast. At noon I had a bite to eat in my room, and at night I would have my one meal of the day. I found a restaurant that made good hash for 35 cents. I was asked to join fraternities, but I had no money for things like that. I could attend all the sports events because that was included in my tuition. I was always glad when it was time to go home. Mother was a good cook.
I always went back to Hayes Wheel during vacations. I earned enough money to keep me in school until my senior year. Grandma Salway lent me $600.00 for expenses that year, and I graduated in 1921. That graduation was the high point of my life.
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Opening Up a Practice
Now I had my license and diploma but no place to practice. First I went to Coldwater, Michigan because Roy Shattuck the undertaker was located there and I thought he could help me. I called on the oldest dentist in town, and he said I could help him but he had no plans to retire. So I took a bus to Sturgis, Michigan. I had met a girl in college that lived in Sturgis and her father was a lawyer there. However, the only place I could find for an office was over a meat market, and the odor was terrible. I had a stroke of luck when I met a salesman from a dental supply company in Toledo. He told me to go to Kalamazoo, Michigan because Dr. Howson was giving up his practice and I could buy it.
On August 21, 1921 I ended up in Kalamazoo on the seventh floor of the Hanselman Building down town. I’d never been in Kalamazoo before, but Dr. Howson told me he roomed at the Lewis House when he came to Kalamazoo from Canada. I went to their house, but they were full and they sent me across the street to Mrs. Berry, 416 South West Street. That was the best thing that ever happened to me. I stayed with them for 17 years, and they were like a father and mother to me.
Dr. Nibblelink a Dutch M.D. and I shared the same waiting room. In those days you were not allowed to advertise, but Dr. Nibblelink told me to put an ad in a Dutch newspaper. He said the other dentists don’t read that paper.
My office hours were from 7 A.M. to 9 P.M. and it included noon hours also. I did all my own lab work which saved me a lot of money. I lived on one meal a day like I did in college and was able to pay off Dr. Howson.
The Great Depression
My landlord, Art Berry, advised me to buy some Parchment Company stock. Art told me to go to the bank and borrow $1,000.00. I went to my bank to get the money, but when they gave me the check they had already taken out the years interest. I told the lending officer I would pay the interest when it was due, but not before. I gave him back the check and withdrew my account. I went home that night and told Art my story. He took me across the street to the First National Bank to talk to Charlie Campbell, the president. I opened my account there and he said that every time I make a payment on the loan they would charge interest on the balance, and not on the $1000. I bought the Parchment Company stock and I also told Charlie I would like to buy stock in his bank. He loaned me the money to do so. When a group of investors and I started the L.V. White Oil Company, a loan company, and an oil drilling company, I always borrowed the money from the First National Bank.
After 17 years, Mrs. Berry died of cancer, and Art remarried and moved to Traverse City, Michigan. I moved on to other rooming houses. I took life a lot easier and added an office girl that was with me for 26 years. During the depression I set up a bridge table in my private office and a group of doctors, lawyers and dentists played bridge and ate lunch there. We always had something to eat that we caught, like fish, rabbit, squirrel or venison.
.After the depression was over business started to boom. I had two young dentists who were getting started in my office. Many of my patients asked if I could loan them money. Loan companies charged 18% and I would give a loan for 6%. I never lost a penny on those folks.
In my forties I married Elizabeth Moore of Kalamazoo, built a home on Gull Lake and retired from dentistry so I could have more time to study the stock market and travel. As we got older, we were able financially to start giving money away. I gave stock to all the grand-children on both sides of the family, I gave money to my brother-in-law to finish medical school, I gave stock to my niece and nephew, a new kitchen for St. Timothy’s Church and stock to purchase a parish home for the minister. (He later left the church and also his wife.) I also gave an elevator for the handicapped in Richland, Michigan library. I gave stock to Albion College, a million dollars of First of America Bank stock to Western Michigan College in Kalamazoo that my wife graduated from. They renamed their health center on campus after us. Also a million dollars to my alma mater Michigan University to build the Gordon H. Sindecuse Dental Museum.