Herbert “The Chief” Price 1916

Herbert Glen Price “The Chief,” pictured above holding his daughter Sarah Price (Reed).

Willis’ father-in-law was a dentist.  The stories from his kids and grandkids were legendary about the cleanings and “dental work.”  They sound more like a horror story.  I’ve always wondered how he got the name “The Chief,” as Willis calls him.  A military name for a dentist. As I’ve been searching through my grandfathers pictures and other items, I came upon The Chief’s correspondence from several of his patrons. One in particular client stands out. You’ll see why in these two letters:

Letter from June, 1916.

Dear Sir:-

Am returning bill received to day as evidently there is some error.

Your original price quoted to me, was, as you remember $35.00 including cleaning. It was with this understanding I let you proceed with the work. When it came to cleaning you asked me if I wanted the special cleaning which you do and which I understood to be at a far higher price than the usual cleaning. I told you that I would wait till fall perhaps and have it done. You then asked me, “Do you want the cheap dollar cleaning, then?” I told you that I wanted a good cleaning and you proceeded.

Now, I don’t know whether your bill has been made out in error, not given credit for amounts paid in, or whether you are charging excess for the cleaning. If the latter, I feel that I must take exception.

Very Truly yours,

C. S. Olberg

The next letter, dated over 16 months later was carefully folded in the same envelope.

Letter from October 1917.

10/22/17

Dear Sir:-

Believing that your arrogant avarice and undue greediness has had ample time to cool down, I am now enclosing my check for $19, payment in full for alleged dental services.

In doing so I do it knowing that I am paying you, not for services or value received, nor as per your price set on the work, prior to being engaged to perform it which was nine dollars and twenty cents, and which I promptly paid upon receipt of bill, but doing an act of supererogation merely to silence an affair in which your conduct has been nauseously detestable and professionally unethical.

Your puerility in sending your last threat would be laughable did it not display such deplorable ignorance of common, ordinary business law.

Regretting the pain that the contemplation fo your disgusting and non-recommendable behavior has caused me, I am,

C. S. Olberg


The incident (or maybe more than one) had obviously lasted over a year and their relationship had grown quite toxic.  While The Chief must have softened after having children, this gives you an idea of the kind of man of whom legends are spoken. It also shows the elegance of correspondence from days gone by, even in relationships that had soured.

I love it…  especially since I had to pull out a thesaurus…

2 thoughts on “Herbert “The Chief” Price 1916

  • John Reed
    January 4, 2018, 3:19 am

    The Chief was lucky that social media wasn’t around in 1916!

  • Wayne Price
    January 4, 2018, 7:40 am

    I remember my grandfather a.k.a. The Chief” drilling in one of my teeth. When I complained, mostly out of fear, he replied “ahhh that doesnt hurt”. It did nothing to alleviate my concern or to cool the warm feeling of his drill pounding in my tooth.

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