Life in U.S.A.

First Visit to the Dentist

This morning I saw a post on Facebook about school dentists. It took me back to the first time I ever went to a dentist.
It was the summer of 1958 and I’d just turned eight years old. We had just arrived in the US to spend a year here so Dad could go to seminary. The process of entering the US as an immigrant or short-term student/visitor were horrific and demeaning. But for me the worst of the worst was the visit to the dentist – my first ever, as there weren’t any in the Sudan.
The x-rays showed I had eleven cavities. Most were in the baby teeth that had yet to come out, but the dentist decided to fill them all at one sitting. As he started on the first tooth, I began crying, even screaming. Mum tried to stop him, but he had her forcibly removed from the room and had me strapped down so that I could move nothing. He proceeded to fill all eleven teeth – without Novocain or a sedative. I wet and messed myself, but he ignored it and continued on, chatting happily with his assistant.
Needless to say, I still am terrified of dentists!

And so it Began

1963. American boarding school in Egypt.

Word was that Sudan was in revolt again and all white people were being turned out – for their safety, it was said. One by one, kids from Sudan got the notice their families were leaving, and they would be returning to the USA.
Two months ago, one of the Senior boys had thrown himself down a dry well – committing suicide rather than go to the States. What was so terrible about the States that one would kill themselves rather than go there?
But we didn’t need to worry. Dad was close with the President and very involved in the University. I was cheered by this thought and mentioned it when one of my few friends got their telegram. But the principal’s daughter had been eavesdropping on her dad and with relish informed me that we were the next to go. The principle didn’t like us because we were British. He often referred to us as dimwitted or stupid with the added comment “They’re British, what can you expect?”
It was no wonder that his daughter expressed his opinions as her own.
We were heartbroken, dazed, and terrified. Nellie had been shipped back during the summer so she could represent the family at Jessie’s wedding. That left just Robin and me. We didn’t know each other very well as he was in high school, and I was in grade school. Our paths seldom crossed.
I only knew two things about America. Everyone lived on farms, and it was such a terrible place to live that one might kill themselves before having to do just that.
I was excited about living on a farm as I had spent several months at Uncle Derek’s and knew the chores and hard work. But to my horror, we weren’t going to live on a farm! We would live in town – a small town. It didn’t take long to find out that if you weren’t born in town, you were a foreigner and you did not belong!
Then President Kennedy was assassinated. Almost in tears Dad asked “What have I done? We escaped one terrible country and have entered another!”