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The Three and Sixpenny Doctor


Children and Dentists

'Inside the mask was a horrible, sickly smell.'

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‘The school dentist, in Lauriston Place, was terrible. My brother, he got too much gas and his mouth stuck! And he couldn't speak. But when he got home, my mother says, - That sounds like him singing'

Calton Centre Group, memory of the 1930s


‘I remember the dining room table was taken out into my bedroom and I was laid out on it and then the dentist came in with the mask and, oh my face, I was quite young, I was terrified. I didn't know what an earth was going to happen to me. I think I got four teeth out; I was quite young so they were baby teeth.’
Cramond Lunch Club, memory of the 1930s


Mobile Dental Unit, Duddingston School, 1946
(Photo, Lothian Health Services Archive, Edinburgh University Library LHB 16/38/12(1))


Edinburgh Dental Surgery 1945
(Photo, Lothian Health Service Archive,
Edinburgh University Library)

‘I remember it was on Easter Road and I remember the big table. I was about four and the dentist called out my name and I just looked up at him and, something told me to run, and I ran round and round this table and he kept trying to catch me and I went under it. Well he caught me, and I was screaming and I got gassed then and had a tooth out.’
Cramond Lunch Club, memory of the 1930s


‘He was a butcher that man, a rough man, and you know his face was all pitted. My father and mother used to go to him and once they took me, and when I saw him I shot off up the road.’
Calton Centre Group, memory from the 1930s

Sex and Contraception

'The colloquialism was, to jump off at Haymarket.'

‘I learnt about sex from dirty jokes in the school playground. My mother told me to, - Keep away from boys!’

Calton Centre Group, memory of the 1930s


‘My Aunty Mary had this great long bolster to keep her apart from her husband and she had only two children, where her sister, my mother, had seven and my Aunty Annie had about ten!’

Rose Minto, born 1920

‘I was very wee and I didnae understand what was going on but they must have been discussing sexual intercourse, 'cause I heard the woman say,  - I telt him to wrap it up in bandages.’
Audrey Soutar, born 1934

‘I heard of people taking things when they maybe had ten or eleven bairns, and they had a thing called Pennyroyal.’

(The herb Mentha Pulegium still carries a warning not to be taken by pregnant women.)
Rose Minto, born 1920


‘There used to be that shop up the back of Rose Street, where the old Woolworth’s was. That was where you went for Durex.’
Nancy Comber, born 1930s


‘I worked for a herbalist, after the health service came in, and I couldnae understand why people were paying for all these herbal concoctions when they could get medicines free on the health service. But they had a great belief in it, and that was when abortion was still illegal and people used to come in for great quantities of Elm Bark. They seemed to think that would induce an abortion.’

Audrey Soutar, born 1934