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Turkey Hill woman survives drunk dentist
Saturday, May 4, 2013
By Annie Lynn Staff Writer
OLANTA - Viola Rowles, who resides in Turkey Hill with her best friend Millie, her dog, was born on a farm in Berwinsdale in 1923. Her parents were Nelson V. and Ruby M. Hunter. She said she attended the Johnson School, located between Ansonville and Glen Hope, through eighth grade. In 1937, the family moved to Knox Township where her father worked for Mr. Forsythe, who owned and operated the Maple Farms in Kellytown. When she attended high school in Clearfield, she said she had to walk out from what is now Clark Road, where they lived, to catch the bus at Maple Farm on the top of the hill.
Rowles shared a story from her years on the farm in Berwinsdale. She was just 7 years old when she developed a toothache. Her father took her to a dentist, whom she described as being drunk. The dentist gave her ether to numb the pain while pulling the tooth with forceps, and in the process, he broke her front teeth off. She developed an infection from the procedure and her other teeth fell out.
The infection settled in the left side of her face, and her uncle took her to the hospital in Clearfield for treatment. There, she noted, three of the doctors would not help her. But, Dr. Woolridge said he would try. Rowles described what he did, saying he made incisions along the left side of her neck and in the back of her neck and ran a tube from the first incision out the back. She said they removed a pint of fluid from the area. Afterward, she was in a coma for three days; she turned 8 years old while in the hospital.
When she was able to leave the hospital, she stayed with an aunt, who lived on Nichols Street in Clearfield, to recuperate. It was difficult to get the wound at the back of her neck to heal. She said, "It was a long, long time."
She added that when she was mature enough, her cousin took her to Spangler for her first partial plate.
According to Rowles, when the family lived on the farm, they attended the Presbyterian churches in Fruit Hill and Berwinsdale. "We had to walk," she said.
In Knox Township, they attended the Mount Zion Methodist Church (now United Methodist). There she met her future husband, David. They were married in July 1939 and lived in Olanta, where their first son, Forrest, was born.
When World War II broke out, Rowles said they moved to Niagara, N.Y., where David worked for the DuPont Co. and where sons Roger and Leif were born. When the war ended, they moved back to Pennsylvania and lived for a while near the crossroads at Turkey Hill. Then they purchased her current home, which they remodeled, with David digging out the basement by hand, she added. Clifford joined the family during this time.
Rowles was a stay-at-home mom until Clifford started school. Then, she worked at Sylvania Electronics in Houtzdale for six years. Following her employment there, she worked at Superior Pets in Curwensville for 19 years, retiring in 1985. She said, though, that her sons were never left alone during her working years, saying either she or her husband was there when they were home.
In the 1930s, it was sometimes difficult for "country" students to graduate from high school, so a proud event for Rowles was when she earned her GED in 1980.
During her growing up years, Rowles said she spent a lot of time with her aunts, noting the families would all get together to play musical instruments, often playing for "barn" and square dances. Her instruments of choice were the violin and guitar. At Mount Zion United Methodist, she said she has helped in the music ministry since moving to the area as a child. Currently, she plays the piano for services and formerly played the organ.
She said she keeps busy trying to stay healthy. She added that she also likes to help others. She keeps her hands flexible by crocheting and knitting such things as toboggans (hats) and dish cloths. She also makes Raggedy Ann dolls, necklaces and puts jigsaw puzzles together. Rowles said her faith has been the whole part of her life since she was a child. "Who do you go to when there is trouble but to the Lord?" she questioned.
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