It’s Out!

How I lost my first tooth.

Me, six years old. 1976.

My father was in the USAF. In 1970 something we were stationed at a now decommissioned Royal Air Force Chicksands or more simply RAF Chicksands, a former Royal Air Force station located 7.7 miles (12.4 km) south east of Bedford, Bedfordshire and 11.6 miles (18.7 km) north east of Luton, Bedfordshire, England.

When my father was working my mother and I traveled all over the English country side. She would fill the tank of our little car, with the steering wheel on the other side, and we would ride. With a map and a lunch basket, we would find the hidden places and absorb beauty of England. My mother wanted me to learn all I could about whatever place we lived. To her the best way to do that was to meet people and see as much of the area as possible. Not just the landmarks and guided tours, though we did that too. As family we did the tourist thing, went to castles and other cool places.

One day we went to the home of Shakespeare in Stafford, Avon. Excuse me, it is properly called Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England. Shakespeare’s Birthplace is a restored 16th-century half-timbered house situated in Henley Street. It was and still is a museum. The entire town is a mecca for literary lovers. At the age of six I was a literary lover and a book obsessed child. My mother read Shakespeare to me and I was super excited to go see his home.

We did the entire tour thing of the famous town and house. We made it to this room. The room where Shakespeare was born.

When we were there in 1970 something there was no rope to keep people back. Well, maybe there was, I am not certain. In any case that cradle was pulled out closer to where we stood. Being a fidgety kid that I was, I began to rock the cradle with one hand and wiggle my loose tooth with the other. My mother told me to stop touching everything, as mom’s often do under her breath with a growl. I did stop for a second, but just a second. When she turned her attention to the docent, I resumed my rocking wiggling and added humming to the set.

Rock a bye baby on the tree top.

Everyone around me was focused on listening to the docent explain the life that was 1564. No one was looking at me. I continued to rock the cradle and move my loosening tooth. The tune repeating over and over in my throat. Suddenly, my mom heard me scream, “It’s out! It’s out!”

She turned a round and to her horror saw a stream of bright red blood pouring down my chin as I proudly held my tooth up for all to see. My other hand still rocking Shakespeare’s cradle. My mother was mortified. She told me much later that all she could think about was having to explain to the authorities that she, an american house wife, could not afford to pay for restoration of a 16th century cradle or floor to remove the blood stains. Luckily she snatched me up so fast and ran out of the room before a drop fell off me.

My claim to fame when I went back to school on the base with a bunch of military brats like me, I lost my very first tooth not only in in the home of William Shakespeare’s birth in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire,England but in the very room he slept, with my hand on his cradle.

True story.

~Lori O’Gara

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