(An alternative title for pun-lovers could be: A Quack Dentist in Blaine Ducks From the Web of the Law Without Paying the Bill. Patients and Creditors are Down in the Mouth)
Con artists always make good news stories, no matter what the era. There seem to be no shortage of articles about swindlers in these old newspapers. This particular tale is more amusing than most– found at random in The Blaine Journal, March 14, 1902, page 1:
FLEW THE TOWN
Our “Dentist” Gets up and leaves Without Giving any Notice to His patrons and Creditors. Warrant Out For Him.
“A fellow signing himself Dr. S.J. Clifford blew into this city a short time ago and opened up a dental office. There was a splendid opening for a dentist here and while this fellow didn’t look just right yet he found some patrons, mostly because they were too busy to get away to Whatcom to have the work done. The doctor was long on collections but generally short on the cash. The result of this was that he was soon in debt for board and had a lot of work on hand partly paid for but not yet finished. Since the ‘doctor’ left many amusing things have come to light. It is said that at one time he was secretary of a local lodge and that the boys found him ‘short on the cash’ and made him ‘dig up’ forthwith. Rumor has it that one of our prominent citizens is mourning the loss of a set of teeth. Several complain of having paid him money for the work that he has not yet finished. He was practicing dentistry without a license and the state board was hot on his trail. The man was not without a little love affair and it is said that he has written to his fair one to come and see him as he is very sick with the spinal meningetis in the hospital at Seattle. A warrant was issued out of the county attorney’s office for him and a hunt was made in Whatcom for the much wanted tooth carpenter but he had left there a few hours before and was in Seattle. The dentists down in the county seat know him, for he had one of them buy a dinner and another loaned him a dollar on the strength of professional courtesy. He is probably out of the state and looking for pastures new and the warrant is about two days too old to catch him.”
The Blaine Journal is the earliest ancestor of the present-day Ferndale Record. All of these newspapers on microfilm are available via inter-library loan.
To read more about medical frauds, look in any library catalog under one of my all-time favorite Library of Congress subject headings: Quacks and quackery.
[accompanying material: An ad for a rival dental office, Whatcom Dental Parlors, and, a notice for a fraternal meeting with "Doctor" Clifford's name as secretary]