The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

The Student News Site of Monta Vista High School

El Estoque

Painless Parker rolls into the Cupertino Historical Society

New exhibit on famous Cupertino dentist opens Sept. 15
The+Cupertino+Historical+Society+acquired+two+mannequins+for+the+center+display%3A+one+of+Painless+Parker%2C+and+one+of+a+patient+getting+his+teeth+pulled.
Lillian Wang
The Cupertino Historical Society acquired two mannequins for the center display: one of Painless Parker, and one of a patient getting his teeth pulled.

In 1914, street dentist and showman Painless Parker bought a 300-acre estate in the Santa Clara Valley, now known as Parker Ranch. Before his move to Cupertino, Parker amassed notoriety by performing tooth extractions on the streets of New York. Accompanied by a brass band, dancing women and elephants, Parker once claimed to have pulled 357 teeth in one day

The Cupertino Historical Society opened an exhibit on Parker on Sept. 15, featuring a center platform, several display cases and a gallery timeline. Located in the Quinlan Community Center, “Painless Parker” will run through November. 

According to Collections Specialist Alecia Thomas, the idea for the exhibit originated with Cupertino Historical Society board member Gail Hugger, who used to visit the cemetery where Parker was buried. Starting in early August, Thomas researched and collected items Parker used while also sourcing photographs, flyers and certificates for the gallery.

“I had to read his books [and] figure out what the eras [of his life] were,” Thomas said. “Then I had to figure out what photos I wanted and how to describe them succinctly, so it would be like reading a book and [people] could still follow along with his life, and it took a while. It took five weeks, not working every day on it but working a lot on it.” 

Thomas acknowledges Parker as a “local Cupertino celebrity from the past that has a very interesting story to tell.” However, she also hopes visitors will come to the exhibit because Parker’s story demonstrates how life — as well as dentistry — was different 100 years ago. In particular, Thomas believes his use of radio and film in advertising reflect the evolution of technology. 

“[Parker] grew up with technology, in a way, because when he came to Los Angeles, the silent movies were starting, and then when he got to the Bay Area, it’s when radio started,” Thomas said. “And then later in his glory years, movies were getting more popular. There [was] more communication, and he grew with it, and he really took advantage of it. He was a smart guy.”

About the Contributor
Lillian Wang, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Lillian is a senior and a co-editor-in-chief for El Estoque.
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