Hal Crossley casts his magic spell and makes cavities 0...


October 20, 1991|By Mary Corey

Hal Crossley casts his magic spell and makes cavities 0) disappear

When Dr. Hal Crossley takes out the dental floss, his patients never know what to expect. Will the Baltimore dentist slide it through the crannies between their teeth? Or will he use sleight of hand to cut and reconnect a strand?

Dr. Crossley, you see, has found a novel way of getting patients to open wide: magic.

"It helps break the ice," he explains. "The perception is if you're fun-loving, you're not going to hurt anybody."

Each year, he shares his tricks of the trade with other dentists in a course he teaches at the University of Maryland Dental School in Baltimore. As an associate professor of pharmacology there, he also incorporates abracadabra into lectures. He's been known to don a red ball nose and teach from a "flaming" book.

Although he first became interested in magic at 18, it wasn't until his final year in dental school that he saw the potential for mixing his profession and pastime.

Dr. Crossley is aware that not everyone appreciates his drillside manner. "You can have some real phobics. No matter how many balloon animals you make, they're going to be afraid," says the 50-year-old father of two, who lives in Cockeysville.

And he never uses magic to distract them.

"You don't show them a balloon," he says, "and then jab them with a needle." If you're living in Edmondson Village and having problems with your school principal, your trash collector, your postman, there's only one person to call: Betty Jean Martin.

For the last decade, Ms. Martin -- or Mother Martin as neighbors call her -- has been the local trouble-shooter, lobbying the school board to help a frustrated parent or helping organize a block watch to prevent crime.

"I can't conquer the world," says the 56-year-old grandmother who lives in Lyndhurst. "I just want to get something positive done. That's what I'm trying to do: Spread a little cheer."

In addition to founding the Lyndhurst Community Association and being affiliated with nearly 20 different neighborhood groups, Ms. Martin formed a non-profit organization six years ago to help city youngsters.

Through Martin Resources, she has sponsored a drug awareness program, readathon, charm course and scholarship contest for graduating high school students.

A retired nurse who's been married for 33 years, she became active in the community after being president of the parent-teacher organization at Lyndhurst Elementary School. While attending meetings can be exhausting, she finds that they are integral to promoting the positive aspects of city life.

"My neighbors have pride," she says. "People give Edmondson Village a bad name, but there are a lot of nice things happening here."

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