Sometime in the 1940s or ’50s, Dr. Joseph Stamp lost his German shepherd, Prince. Like so many people who love their pets, he wanted to create a lasting memorial to his dog. Unlike most, he therefore took thousands of teeth and embedded them in a concrete block he placed outside his office in Elkhart, Indiana.
Dr. Stamp practiced dentistry in Elkhart for 60 years, until he died at the age of 88 in 1978. He pulled thousands of teeth over the course of that time, preserving them with chemicals in a barrel in the basement of his office. Even teeth pulled after the block was created eventually made their way to it. The addition of new teeth became an event neighborhood children would anticipate.
All kinds of teeth are part of the block: incisors, canines, molars, well taken care of, browning from neglect, and so on. Sometimes pieces of teeth, rather than whole ones, were used, like crowns or roots. No gold fillings seem to have become part of the block, though some people have looked, just in case.
Even the dentist’s descendents are not sure why he chose this method of commemorating the life of his dog. One thing his granddaughter suggests is that along with being eccentric, he was resourceful. He may have had concrete on hand leftover from some project, and he always had teeth he had pulled lying around, which could give the finished product more body with less concrete, and so he ended up making a block of concrete and teeth. Maybe?
In any case, the people of Elkhart have fond childhood memories of the tooth brick, including playing on top of it and digging teeth out of it to scare their friends. And they always stood back and watched when it was time for Dr. Stamp to add more teeth.
Know Before You Go
The tooth brick was located on the corner of West Lexington Avenue and South Riverside Drive, but after it was knocked over by youthful vandals it was relocated and is now in the fenced-in exterior of the Time Was Museum in Elkhart, IN just north of the intersection of North Main St. and Jackson Blvd. (directly across the street from the McDonald's).
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