At the street corner created by the intersection of Riverside Drive and Lexington Avenue in the city of Elkhart, in Indiana, United States, stands an odd memorial: a concrete block with countless teeth encased in it. From a distance the block looks pretty ordinary, but take a closer look into the cracks that run along its face, and you’ll find dozens of them – molars, canines and incisors, some intact from the roots to the crowns, others broken, sticking out through the chipped concrete.
The man behind the strange monument was local dentist Dr. Joseph Stamp, who worked for 60 years before his death in 1978 at the age of 88. Dr Stamp was heartbroken when his dog, a German Shepherd named Prince, died. Instead of a normal plaque or gravestone, the eccentric doctor chose to prepare a concrete block embedded with thousands of teeth that he had pulled out as a dentist. As it turned out, the good doctor was saving all his patient’s teeth, keeping them in a barrel in his office’s basement and preserving them with chemicals.
A top view of a cement block filled with teeth as seen Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. Photo credit: The Elkhart Truth
“He was a very resourceful person,” his granddaughter, Susan Howard, told to The Elkhart Truth. “If he had something on hand and he was building something, he would try to find a way to use it.”
Neither Howard nor her three older brothers could say why Stamp filled the monument with teeth, but Susan suspects it probably saved him on concrete.
Stamp first laid the block in the ’40s or ’50s. He would them periodically enlarge it whenever a fresh batch of teeth became available. Soon the block became a part of the town. Kids played on it, sometimes pulling teeth out of the concrete and scaring other children with them. There have been people who chipped through the stone block in search of gold teeth, but none have been ever found.
A cement block filled with teeth is surrounded by snow as seen Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015. Photo credit: The Elkhart Truth
Dr. Joseph Stamp is pictured in an Elkhart High School class graduation photo in 1909.
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