Monday, August 23, 2010

The Art of Room 13

Friday marked my second trip to the mysterious Room 13 in the OHSU School of Dentistry. Originally designed as the obligatory fallout shelters when the building was constructed in the mid-1950s, the three large cubbyholes off the back of the main cage area are like something out of an archivist's worst nightmare: hot, filthy, cramped, and used for storage of all sorts (and I mean all sorts; I won't go into what all we stumbled upon down there).

Most of the stash of "historical" items was separated out and set aside for a return trip with an additional set of strong arms and a couple of carts. (Since one must climb into the cubbies, carts will really only be useful in getting the materials from the cage to elevators, but that's better than nothing.)

I carried out a small handful of items that I just couldn't abandon to another week in the space. In that group were some original illustrations that just took my breath away; in the full light of the office they are just as stunning as they appeared in the gloom. While investigations continue as to the exact nature of the collection to which these drawings belong, I can tell you a few things about them. (Below the image; mildly squeamish folks beware!)

With the illustrations was a poster board decorated with mounted photographs and a typescript description of the operation shown, titled "So-Called Surgical Treatment of Pyorrhea Alveolaris" on the letterhead of one Wallace C. Shearer, D.M.D., Medical Arts Building, Portland. Dr. Shearer describes a new surgical technique he has developed, an alternative to the "Zentler flap operation" which was "extended yet modified" to overcome the main objection to Zentler, which was that only three or four teeth could be treated at one time. This new technique would allow the work to be done in fewer sittings, with less pain and discomfort to the patient. The oversize drawings seem to illustrate the same procedure as the photographs, and may have been exhibited in conjunction with the poster. Shown here is step 5, sewing the flap back up.

I believe there are more Shearer items in Room 13, but all I can say for certain at present is that Shearer was a 1902 graduate of the North Pacific Dental College, now the OHSU School of Dentistry. And one heck of an artist.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Holy Moly! What an absolutely fantastic find, this is so worth the climbing around in the muck. Please do keep posting. . .