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Merry Xmas from Doctor Bert

Hi. I’m Bert. You might not recognize me yet, but you will — if you’ve lived in Burlington a long time.

When I was 14, my family moved from tiny Pittsford, Vermont to Charlestown, Massachusetts. I hated Charlestown. I hated it so much, one day I snuck away from my parents and hopped on a bus out of there. I went all the way back to Pittsford and knocked on the door of our old friends, the Hasbrouks. They called my parents and asked what to do. My parents told them they could keep me. So they did. I lived there for six years until I went to the University of Vermont and graduated in 1951, science and literature.

And then I went to Korea. I was a spy during the war.

I met lots of interesting characters and saw interesting things in Korea.

Back from Korea, I started teaching at the Murdock Middle School in Winchendon. I had fans.

Meanwhile, I was quietly dating a high school student named Constance Mullen. I’d seen her cheerleading and then met her on a double date. We ended up marrying! I decided I wanted to be a doctor, not a teacher. Too bad medical school was so expensive. Ah, but Constance’s mother mentioned dental school as a cheaper alternative. I liked her idea, so I went to Tufts and got my DMD (doctorate of medicine in dentistry) degree. Here’s me, graduating.

And there’s Constance next to me in cap and gown. She had just graduated Simmonds the previous day.

Then a lot of things happened quickly. We had babies. Here’s Bert Junior.

I was a big classical music collector. I had little Bert listening to Beethoven, Brahms and Tchaikovsky before he was in kindergarten.

Then I saw an ad in the paper in 1957. A guy named Guy Reed was selling his house at 338 Cambridge Street in Burlington. His family business was Reed Ham Works and it was closing for good. I bought the house and moved my family there, and opened a dental practice there.

Here’s Bert Jr. playing on the swing in the back yard.

Got to meet some good folks in Burlington. Here are Constance and I hanging around with Tony and Phyllis Petruzziello from Nelson Road. They owned the Red Robin restaurant.

You probably recognize me by now! Here’s my business. Rumor has it I never caused anyone any pain when I was working on their teeth, and that’s why all the kids came to me. Or maybe it was my name. It makes people happy.


Dr. Bertram Christmas retired in 1986 at age 59 mostly because of occupational repetitive stress injuries to his back and shoulder. He sold his practice to Dr. Kin Cho Wong of Burlington Center Dental Associates, on Chestnut Street near LaCascia’s. Dr. Wong has since retired, and Dr. Christmas died August 30, 2005 at age 79. The house at 338 Cambridge Street is now “under the knife,” undergoing an extreme makeover to become condominiums.

Bert Jr. took piano lessons from Bob Tyler when he was in the first and second grades. He became the classical music buyer for the Coop in Harvard Square in 1983 and held that post until 1995, when the department closed. Here he is at work in 1993.

Bertram Christmas Jr.

11 thoughts on “Merry Xmas from Doctor Bert Leave a comment

  1. Wow! I remember having my teeth cleaned in a dentists chair, at the side of that house will the full length windows!

  2. I remember Dr. Christmas. He didn’t use Novocaine when drilling into your teeth. It was painful

  3. Great to have this story and preserve a little history. I personally never met Dr. Christmas, but certainly passed his historical home many times. Happy that house is still standing.

  4. What a wonderful story! I had no idea about the background of Bert (Jr).
    Thank you, Bert, for sharing.

  5. Hey Bert – wonderful story I recognize many parts and all the people – really enjoyed reading it

  6. Our family went to him when I was very young. I have some memories of him and the house on Cambridge St. Eventually we moved to Dr. Guttell who used Novocain! .

  7. Believe it or not, I am your cousin. Ask Walter and Paddy. I did a Noel-Christmas family history with a lot of information about my Uncle Bert.

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