Monday, December 28, 2009

The "Murder House"

I'm in my mid 40s, so I remember the dental nurse's office at Avondale Primary School being called "the murder house". Thankfully, I'm too young to remember treadle-powered drills, they were electric in my day, but damned slow ...


That wooden seat would creak as you got in it. I still have forebodings about such seats, even though they aren't wooden anymore. The metal pick digging and pulling, the squirt with those rubber-bulb things, then the drill which seemed to go on for ever ...

Photos are from a display at the Auckland War Memorial Museum. The murder house equipment I remember looked exactly like this, except in a bright, sunlit room which was supposed to be healthy and cheerful. Yeah, right ... this is still the least-liked memory of my school years. I have the mouth full of amalgam fillings to prove it.


  1. LOL My old childhood dentist had preserved his father's ancient dental equipment in a type of display room similar to that in the photo so if any kid played up we were threatened with the hand drill or foot pedal drill or *shudder* no anesthetic at all.

  2. Good heavens, you lot had anesthetic??? Luxury!

  3. Ohhh Yes indeedy TS .... those chairs bring back a certain horror LOL...photographed one in
    Warkworth Museum a few weeks back too. I dreaded the nurses boobs stuffed in my face too...thought i was gonna suffocate!

    Cheers and HNY!


  4. Same to you, Sandy. Thanks for the link to your photo. I also remember some kind of small bee-thing dangling from part of the drill arm ... don't know why it was there. To cheer us up while they drilled to the centre of our brains?? Augh!

  5. As a young woman who trained in the 70's as a school dental nurse let me assure you there was never any pressure on us to create work "and find cavities". We were told to drill and fill rather than extract though... As I read in another blog yes I am guilty though of standing outside my clinic and smoking a cigarette with a friend (two chair clinic) One day we were sprung by the inspector and chastised, she was an old dragon though. When she finished looking at our records and through the clinic she promptly gets into her car and lights up a ciggie... I found the job very worthwhile and rewarding. Some children were never bothered by drill pain and others, well!

  6. Thanks for your comment, Paula. Our forebears campaigned hard to get dental services in schools -- we shouldn't be too hard on the professional people who had to look at all those kiddies' mouths in varying conditions for a quid.