by Woody Koher, Times-Union Feature Writer
In the early 1880's a young Lake township boy sat in a dentist's chair having some teeth filled, keenly watching the moves the dentist made as he went about his work and the tools he used.
Today, after 65 years of serving the dental needs of the "good people" of Silver Lake and surrounding area, Dr. Jacob C. Hay at the age of 87 years, Indiana's oldest practicing dentist, is closing his office to "just rest."
Dr. Hay expressed regret in leaving the same dental chair over which he has worked for the past 65 years saying -- "so many persons want and need dental work done."
Many Silver lake persons who have been patients of Doctor Hay over the years also expressed regret in seeing him close his office but at the same time said: "He sure deserves a rest."
Dr. Hay said the secret of serving the people for so many years is in the fact that it wasn't work to me -- because "I enjoyed doing it."
He recounted as a boy --sitting in a dental chair having some teeth filled and liking and appreciating the tools being used. Said Dr. Hay, "I thought I would like to be a dentist and have instruments like that."
After attending Vance school number seven in Lake township and Manchester college for two years (he is a charter member of the college) he finally decided to add to his finances by doing a stint of teaching. He taught for two years in Lake township rural school north of Silver Lake. "The name of the school just slips my mind." said Dr. Hay.
Never losing sight of the fact that he wanted to become a dentist, he married in 1893 and graduated from Dental college at Northwestern University in 1896.
Immediately following graduation from dental school he located in Silver Lake, sharing a building in which Dr. Percy Terry had an office.
Dr. Hay said: "I later got fancy and moved my office upstairs in what is now the Alexander building."
He added, "People didn't want to walk upstairs so in 1914 I moved my office into what is now the Post Office building. I purchased the building and rented the post office area. Just the other day I sold the building to the postmaster in order that the post office facilities may be expanded."
Works While Moving
During the past few days "Doc" has been busy sorting and moving his many years accumulation of tools, equipment, and books to his home but not too busy to extract a tooth for a patient.
Dr. Hay recalled the early days of his practice --his first patient --how he purchased the best dental chair that money could buy at the time and how he has used it for 65 years. He also told of the first polishing machine he used which was a converted sewing machine, and how dentists some years ago made "home calls" which is practically unnecessary today.
Over the years "Doc" kept up with new methods and advanced techniques in dentistry. In 1953 when the Indiana State Dental Association began issuing a "Dentist of the Year Award," who was the recipient? --Dr. Hay.
While talking to this alert gentleman --he pulled a curved pipe from his pocket, filled it and proudly displayed a cigarette lighter presented to him by the Kosciusko County Dental Association on which was engraved --Dentist of the Year --1953."
Some of the desire to be a dentist "rubbed off" too. A son, Edward L. Hay, and a grandson, Stanley Carr, son of Mr. and Mrs. Orville Carr, of Syracuse, are both Goshen dentists.
Likes to Fish
Says Dr. Hay: "I stayed pretty close to Silver Lake most of my life, but I've always liked to fish and on several occasions I ventured on camping and fishing trips.
He and Mrs. Hay have resided in the same house in Silver Lake since 1897.
"Doc's" office hours were always 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. until just recently when he began going home a "little early" --4 p.m.
In showing me his accumulation of books, magazines and dental journals he recalled how not so very long ago the American Dental Association put out a call to dentists for copies of back journals to replace a part of the Association Library destroyed by fire.
"Doc" said, "I had the copies they wanted and I turned them over to the Association." He had saved every copy of the dental journal publication he received during his 65 years of practice.
To the man who owned the second automobile in Silver Lake and to the felicitations of his many well-wishers in Silver Lake we add these best wishes --"Doc, have a good rest and good luck on your fishing!"
Warsaw Times-Union Wed. August 5, 1959
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