It was the weekend, midwinter, 1962. Dad was going to drive us down the street to skate on the pond. My older brother Rusty was already down there playing hockey with his friends Ronnie, Wayne and Jay.

My sister Deb and I were in the kitchen. Two and a half years older than my five, she needed to help me with my ice skates. I sat in the kitchen chair, dressed in my thick woolen snowpants, with the elastic stirrups snugged under each foot, and equally thick coat. Deb was almost completely dressed, too. We laced up our ice skates at home so Dad didn’t have to deal with trying to do it in the cold once we got there. Mom was somewhere in the house taking care of baby Lisa. Dad was downstairs getting his hockey stick. Debbie had laced one skate and put the blade of my left skate between her knees and pressed in. I pushed my foot downward. She started pulling on the laces, two eyelets at a time. We were chatting.

The next thing I heard was a “CLINK!” Like metal hitting a plate and everything stopped.

I remember the look in Debbie’s eyes as if it were yesterday. We were both silent as my foot bounced back into her lap.

There was no blood.

She didn’t holler in pain.


We both understood that this was serious. An ice skate to the tooth.

This was the kind of thing that might get us both in trouble. Or it was the kind of thing that might prevent us from going skating. We just looked at one another.

Dad came up from the cellar and said, “You ready to go?”

Still with eyes locked, Debbie put my foot down on the floor and said, “Yup.”

When she opened her mouth to speak, she showed me the damage. Her front, left tooth had a divot where the blade had hit. She rubbed her tongue over the rough space.

We strapped on our blade protectors, slid into our hats and mittens and walked out to the Mercury station wagon.

The chip was never repaired. Deb grew up happy and healthy with her big, warm smile. Every once in a while, she’ll run her tongue over that space and the memory floods back.

Deb recently retold this story to some of her grandchildren and they howled. The image of Auntie Jody kicking Nana in the tooth is a funny one – now.

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