The Beatles, the Pope, and more trivia

My father's hygienist in Houston can drive him nuts, if she desires to do so. All she has to do is open up her copy of RDH to the article about our anniversary and ask, "What does this mean?" The headlines are references to the Beatles, and he loathes trivia questions about the Beatles. Whenever he plays a trivia game, he's a magnet for questions about the Beatles. The main headline (It was 20 years ago today...) is a play on words from the opening verse of the Sgt. Pepper's album, and the secondary headline alludes to the 1980 death of singer John Lennon.

By the way, I'm a magnet for Pope questions. Even though I married a Catholic and watched all three of my children be raised as Catholics, my response to Pope questions is always the same: "I don't have a clue. It must have been, I guess, Pope Julio Lombardo the Thirtieth." My fathers grins broadly whenever I draw a Pope question. It's his idea of revenge. So if his hygienist shares this issue with him, my guess is that he'll contact the family priest, Father Tom, and suggest that I get a couple of trivia questions laid on me when I next attend Mass with my family.

It was 20 years ago today when some of you presumably got the very first copy of RDH in the mail. I missed the first four years of the RDH experience, joining the cast in early 1985. Craig Stevens, a magazine publisher who launched RDH in 1981, leased space in a strip shopping center while awaiting construction of a new building for his company. To say I could spit on the RDH editor's desk from where I sat is an understatement. It was an unobstructed view of dental hygiene, and I was paid to proofread RDH articles.

I remember only two things about applying for a job there. Since I didn't really expect to get the job, I remember making glib jokes in the cover letter about a buddy of mine, who was an oral surgeon. Regardless, Stevens called me in, and, during the interview, he asked me if I would prepare a marketing report on how to "beat" Dental Economics magazine with a superior editorial package. Whatever pleases him, I thought, and I took the copies of Dental Economics that he gave me home, studied them, and wrote the report.

To say I could spit on Dental Economics' editorial department from where I now sit is an understatement. The owners of Dental Economics, PennWell Publishing, acquired RDH in 1995.

Stevens hired me primarily to establish a network of dentists. For reasons I can't remember, RDH editors did not attend the ADA's Annual Session back then. So, in addition to other objectives at these meetings for dentists, I was also a messenger boy for the RDH editor. That's how I met Irene Woodall and Regina Dreyer Thomas very early in my career as a dental editor. Without question, Irene and Regina were the two main editorial engines driving RDH during the first 10 years or so. My memory of Regina was thinking to myself, "Man, she sure peppers you with questions." One day, I'll have to ask her about why she did not become a journalist. She would have been good at it. Irene, of course, will go down in history as the profession's most profound thinker. Her philosophical queries into what makes dental hygiene tick are still valid today.

I think the connection between the past and the present is greater than just merely Trisha O'Hehir, the Periodontics columnist who has been involved since the beginning. Many of my memories are of people who deeply cared about the dental hygiene profession - authors, editors, publishers, ad salesmen, graphic artists, photographers, etc. As I flipped through 20 years of magazines to write the "anniversary" article, the efforts of so many of the people that I have known is what humbled me. I know they thought they had the best seat in the house when they were invited to participate with RDH magazine. How do I know? One, because I was there. Two, because I feel the same way.

With that in mind, I hope we're still enjoying each other's company after another 20 years. Here's another one for you, Dad; it's from the same Beatles album: "When I get older, losing my hair, many years from now..." What's the name of the song?

Editor Mark Hartley can be contacted at markh@pennwell.com.

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