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Let Me Tell You About The Time A Broken Tooth Got Me A Scholarship

dental instruments
Tetiana Ryshchenko

I don’t know what it is lately, but I’ve been doing a lot of reminiscing this week!Anyway, on to the story. I went to Smith Cotton High School right here in Sedalia, back when it was in the older building. I had gone to school in Sedalia my whole academic career, and I was getting ready to head off to college.

As it was for a lot of you guys out there, money was a little tight. So if I wanted to go to college, I needed scholarships. And lots of ’em. So I was in Kathy Kempton Loveland’s (our guidance counselor at the time) office just about every week to drop off some form or another. I had okay grades, but I was no valedictorian, so I knew I’d need a little something extra.

I joined every extracurricular club I could and tried to be as active in officer positions as I could, because I knew that would look good on a resume. I joined the drama club (became the treasurer of the Thespian Society), the art club (Vice President), the science club (Vice President), the French Club, the FTA, anything.

I went to every teacher I had volunteered with and asked them for recommendation letters. I think all told I had something like twenty, just because I asked for them. I applied for every two hundred or five hundred dollar scholarship I could. I knew it would add up!

One scholarship, and I’m sorry but I can’t remember what it was from, but I remember it was a pretty popular one, and a lot of kids smarter than me were applying. The application asked for a paragraph to explain to the committee how you had overcome adversity in your life. I grew up in Sedalia in the 80s. Yeah, our lives weren’t perfect, but I hadn’t experienced any kind of profound trauma or adversity. I thought for sure, there was no way I was going to win this scholarship without one. I went with what I had. So, I told them the tooth story.

When I was about eight, my parents took us on a little vacation to go visit our “aunt” Dee Dee. Really, she was a cousin, but a lot of the ladies in our family were called “aunts” by us. She lived in the suburbs of St Louis and she had a REAL POOL. I thought Aunt Dee Dee must have been so rich. She lived in the city, she had all the Family Circus comic books, and when she drove………. she rolled down the windows when the air conditioning was on. She didn’t even worry about wasting gas!

So this being the summer of either 86 or 87, all we wanted to do was live in that pool. It  had it’s own diving board, and it had a sloping shallow end. That seemed super fancy to me, because I had only known the Big Pool vs the Kiddie Pool at Liberty Pool. This had both the shallow and the deep end in one. Super fancy.

Well, one day, my mom was hollering at me to get out of the pool. It was the end of the day, and being a kid, I was taking as much time as I could. I finally got her to let me have one more jump off the diving board. Then, I proceeded to swim as slowly as I could from the board to the ladder.

That was a mistake.

I had never swam slowly like that before. My Mom freaked out. She thought I was drowning! So being Mom, she moved to save me. She reached into the pool, and grabbed me to get me out.

She tried to grab my arm, but she got my hair. She pulled me out in such a panic that I hit my head on the ladder.

And broke my front tooth. In Half.

She felt so bad! I got to have as much ice cream and pool time as I wanted for the rest of that vacation after that. I didn’t want to make her feel TOO bad, but bad enough to let her know that I was “being brave”. After we got home, we went to Dr Cable and he fixed it right away by putting a cap on it. We never did find the tooth, even though my sister and I tried our darndest.

So flash forward, here I am in 1997, writing down this story, thinking, “They are never going to read this. This is just filler, they’ll look at my grades and my recommendations give it to someone else.”  Well, as you can probably tell from the title of this post, I was surprised to get it on awards night. I was so surprised! I thought it must have been a mistake.Then I remembered, “Wait. Maybe it was the recommendation from Mr. Esser. Maybe it was all the officer stuff in the clubs. That must have done it!”  I walked up to get the certificate from Mrs Kempton Loveland, and as she shook my hand, she leaned in to whisper in my ear:

“It was because of the tooth story.”

So there you have it, another moment out of my strange Sedalia life, for your enjoyment.

Toothily yours,

Behka

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