If you know nothing else about me, you must know this — I enjoy travelling. I think it's fun to be able to see a new place on the map or eat at a restaurant we don't have back home. I could sit on the beach all day and watch the ocean roll or revel in the fact that I am sitting at Wrigley Field watching a Cubs game. I can do these things and enjoy them so much because it's something I can't do in Oklahoma. Oceanfront property isn't exactly a commodity here in the Sooner State, and it's a four-and-a-half-hour drive to Kansas City or Dallas to see a major-league baseball game.
By the way, before we go any further, let me put in a plug for the Oklahoma Tourism Department here. I know a lot of you read the word, "Oklahoma" in the last paragraph, and immediately thought of tumbleweeds and a scene from a 1950s Saturday morning Western. If you've never been to Oklahoma, it's not exactly like Curly and Laurie describe it in the Broadway musical. It's a good place to call home.
Despite all of the things Oklahoma may not have, it has one thing that nowhere else does — my home. I have a great time in Chicago, New York, or Anaheim, but I'm always ready to get back on the plane, return to my car, and drive around without needing a map or directions. Hotel beds are OK, but I'll take mine any day of the week. And there isn't anything that can replace a hug from my wife or 5-year-old daughter.
That being said, I think you'll probably understand why I enjoyed interviewing Dr. Michael Spreng of Ashland, Ohio, for our Office Spotlight feature which begins on page 10. Dr. Spreng's roots are in this small Midwestern town, and it really wasn't much of a decision for him whether he was going to move back to Ohio after completing dental school at the University of North Carolina.
When I was interviewing Dr. Spreng for the article, he was telling me how the construction of his new office in an old turkey farm field generated a lot of excitement in the town. Located across from the high school football field, plenty of people could keep an eye on the building's progress as they made their way to the Friday night football game.
Dr. Spreng told me that he would rather practice in Ashland than any bigger city you can name. Why? The people. They are people who knew his dad (who practiced dentistry in the same town for 48 years) and they are people he has grown up around. Everyone knows everyone, and there's a sense of trust that comes from that.
Dr. Spreng shares a belief with the majority of dentists who are out there. Most of you work in small towns or in rural areas, and you're never going to be on the speaking circuit at major dental meetings around the country. You may not be a household name when the Chicago.Midwinter or Greater New York meetings roll out their speaker line-ups, but you have a more important job — you're a household name in your hometown. You'll put your practice's name on the back of a Little League baseball team's jerseys and you'll help out with any activities at the local church or community center. You're a part of the town just as much as the barber shop or the post office. You're also a part of America that often gets overlooked in the big picture.
There is something to be said for small-town values. There is also something to be said for relationships and friendships that transfer over from the office to the Sunday School classroom or Saturday morning softball game.
I hope you enjoy a look at Dr. Spreng's office. I also hope you'll agree with me when I say it's nice to see that the roots of America — small towns throughout the country — are in good hands because of professionals like you who care about the community and your patients.
Read on, this is your magazine...
Kevin Henry, Editor