Ken’s Pearly Whites

Back in the fast and furious years of the 70’s we had contracts with Lakeway to build a bunch of new streets. Kenny put a huge culvert pipe on a trailer behind his pickup that was needed to go in the middle of a big draw. When he got out to the project, no one else was around so he was going to unchain it and let it roll off the trailer.

When he popped the boomer (the levered device below) the end of the handle hit him directly in the mouth with tremendous force.

Over the Motorola 2-way radio we could hear a strange noise. I finally made out that it was Kenny. He couldn’t really speak, only make these horrible sounds. But I knew it was him. I had heard him try to talk after a long night of drinking. This didn’t sound that much different.

I knew he had been involved in an accident, but wasn’t sure where or what had happened. I only knew where he should have been.

In a short while we worked out a system to communicate, by me asking questions and him answering with keying the mic once for yes and twice for no. Yes he was at Lakeway. Yes he thought he could drive. I told him to head out and I’d come that way.

I left the office and headed in his location, but we were at least 30 or 40 minutes apart. He started driving toward me. He would drive a little ways and then pull over, pass out, wake up and start out again, repeating the process each time. By the time he made it to the Johnson’s Trading Post and pulled off, I had driven from far southeast Austin.

He was passed out sitting by the road when I drove up. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when I got there. His mouth was a mangled mess. I got him loaded up and headed to a dentist in South Austin that we knew. I called ahead. Times were different back then. There weren’t minor emergency clinics every few miles.

Dr. Joe Smith and his staff was waiting when we arrived. He went to work on him. After many procedures he completely rebuilt all of Kenny’s front teeth, using implant studs and replacement crowns. Dr. Smith became our hero. He was able to restore a great smile for Kenny.

I often wondered what all the other companies that we shared a radio with back at that time were thinking. It seemed that during that whole time, the otherwise constant chatter over the radio gave way to complete silence as I was in route to rendezvous with my injured brother.

Next time you see Kenny, get him to smile and remember there was a day when he didn’t have such a pretty smile.

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