The Story of Dr. Daniel Hally-Smith Part 1 — On the Wings of Generosity 

October 14, 2022 Bill Davis

This is part of a two-part story about L. D. Pankey’s trip to the International Dental Congress in Paris in 1931.

Thanks to the generosity of one of his appreciative patients, Mrs. Blanchard, L. D. was able to go to the International Dental Congress. She had expressed the desire for him to meet with the outstanding dentists of the world, and L. D. was determined to make the most of the trip.

Before he left, another one of his patients, who was a retired dentist from Chicago by the name of Frank Davis, suggested L. D. meet with his old friend Dr. Daniel Hally-Smith who practiced dentistry in Paris.

Before L. D. Left for Europe, Davis provided him with a letter of introduction. Hally-Smith had worked for Frank Davis as his lab clean-up boy when Hally-Smith was going through dental school at Northwestern University. It was following graduation in 1901 that Hally-Smith moved to Paris.

Davis said, “Hally-Smith has the most outstanding dental practice in the world and when you meet him, you will find he’s a real character.” As a senior dental student, Hally-Smith wore a bowler hat, spats, and carried a cane – both when he went to dental school and to work as a laboratory assistant.

On his third day in Paris, L. D. found Dr. Hally-Smith’s office on the top floor of a five-story building. On the street level was the famous Van Cleef and Arpel’s Jewelry Store, a location considered by many to be the best in Paris. When he got off the elevator on the fifth floor, he found himself in a sterile-looking, bright white hallway with high ceilings, no signage, and tall twelve-foot white doors. As he made his way down the hall, he found one door with a small gold plaque engraved with D. H-S. He guessed it was the correct door for Daniel Hally-Smith.

The door was locked. From the ceiling hung a heavy rope with a tassel on it. So, L.D. pulled the tassel. When the door opened, he found standing in front of him, a proper-looking gentleman wearing cut-away coat and striped trousers, holding a silver platter. The gentleman said something to L. D. in French. L. D. said, “I’m looking for Dr. Daniel Hally-Smith.” Then, in perfect English, the gentleman asked L. D. for his card and “Do you have an appointment?” L. D. did not have an appointment or a card, but he did have the letter of introduction from Frank Davis in an envelope with Dr. Halley-Smith’s address written on it. He placed envelope on the tray. The butler invited him in and took me down a hallway lined with fine tapestries. They arrived at a large reception room with a fireplace and original oil paintings on the walls. This was surely the fanciest dental office L.D. had ever seen.

In a short while, Dr. Hally-Smith came in. He took L. D.’s hand and said, “Glad to see you.” Come right in, Dr. Pankey.” That is when L.D. realized that Frank Davis must have written to Hally-Smith to tell him he was going to have a young dentist-friend visit him from Florida.

Hally-Smith was just as gracious as he could be. “We don’t see too many Americans over here these days,” he said. During their first meeting, L. D. learned that Hally-Smith was going to be busy because he was the general chairman of the entire International Dental Congress. L.D. knew right away that Dr. Davis had done him a great favor in sending him to meet Daniel Hally-Smith.

In Part 2, you will read that L. D. soon received Hally-Smith’s best advice and put that advice immediately into practice when he arrived back home.

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About Author

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Bill Davis

William J. Davis DDS, MS is practicing dentist and a Professor at the University of Toledo in the College Of Medicine. He has been directing a hospital based General Practice Residency for past 40 years. Formal education at Marquette, Sloan Kettering Michigan, the Pankey Institute and Northwestern. In 1987 he co-authored a book with Dr. L.D. Pankey, “A Philosophy of the Practice of Dentistry”. Bill has been married to his wife, Pamela, for 50 years. They have three adult sons and four grandchildren. When not practicing dentistry he teaches flying.

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