For Montclair Local

Robin Woods is a Montclair girl-about-town, writing about activities, stores, restaurants and interesting people that catch her eye. She’s written memoir and personal essay as well as


music and fashion columns for various NYC newspapers.

Got something you think should be in Robin’s Nest? Write to us at

Are you humming “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” while putting together your Christmas wish list? The novelty song was written by music teacher Donald Yetter Gardner in 1944, after he noticed that most of his second-grade students were missing at least one front tooth. This might be adorable in children, but it can be a horror story for adults.

So, I went off to Ferguson Dental Associates to visit with Dr. David Ferguson, the third dentist in his family. The first Ferguson hometown office opened in 1946 where Williams-Sonoma is now located.

I wondered about the type of person who wants to be a dentist when they grow up. Dr. David’s family connections didn't play a large part in his future choice, he said: “I was never in the office when I was a kid. I knew my dad was a dentist, but didn't know what he did.”

With a degree in philosophy, he decided to go on to dental school and practice full range dentistry. He loves the tools and technology, along with performing complex oral surgery. Patients come in with emergencies that must be addressed quickly: like me, after I knocked out my two front teeth last February. He takes care of patients for their whole life. Third- and fourth-generation clients come into the office, from 1-year-olds learning how to brush their teeth to Dr. David’s oldest patient, who passed away at 104. She was originally his grandfather's patient. Dr. David said that her impression of him was, “He's very good. He's kind of slow. But he's new.”

Regular dental exams and teeth cleaning by a hygienist three times a year are ways to retain a full set of your own teeth for life, along with learning how to floss correctly and doing it religiously. No one is in love with flossing, but it will enable you to nibble on those delicious candy canes, tempting toffee and crispy holiday cookies.

It's important that you find a dentist you can trust and have a good relationship with. Being comfortable with your dentist helps Dr. David to “meet you where you are and fulfill our goal,” whether you've never had a dental problem in your life or need a root canal, tooth extraction, replacement and remediation. He's known for working with more difficult cases of full mouth rehabilitation. and anxious or phobic patients, with a gentle touch and what I call “soft hands.”

I turned the tables on him and put him into his own dental exam chair while geared up with some of his instruments, but I'm no competition for him. I got a bit too giddy while learning how to operate the Panoramic X-ray machine, and making the chair go up and down.

Robin shakes a tambourine in the window of Cool Cats Music.

Full of smiles, I next visited Cool Cat Music and chatted with Montclair resident Ken DePoto and his father Joe, who are co-owners of the store. Ken's in charge of day-to-day operations, while dad keeps the books and writes the checks. It's another Montclair family affair, opened in August 2018 because there wasn't a music store on downtown Bloomfield Avenue. With a good reception from Montclair residents, Ken is gratified that “this type of business is really needed and not just wanted.”

Ken decided to keep his stock tight, unlike big box stores, and just sell guitars, drums and small percussion instruments. He meets people from all walks of life who come in to try out the instruments, whether they are professional musicians or hobbyists. Children over the age of 4 and adults take drum, guitar and voice lessons in the shop, and learn something new or improve their skills.





If you can't decide which instrument is going to make you a member of a famous rock or R&B band, you can rent one if necessary. Ken suggest that you “find an instrument that speaks to you.” He hands you a guitar and lets you get a feel for it. As an acoustic guitar player, I was surprised at how heavy some electric ones were. Joe gives nicknames to some guitars, such as his favorite yellow and red “New Jersey Diner” guitar, or the aqua and brown “Creme de Menthe.” Ken's artist friend hand painted a special guitar for him in shades of blue designs. It is displayed on the wall to the right of the register.

Cold weather affects instruments as well as people, and dry air can cause guitars to warp and crack. You can add a humidifier to a hard or soft case, but soft cases get banged around and “beaten up.” He suggests that you always store a guitar in a case, or hang it on the wall on a stud and pick it up when the mood hits you or it's time to practice for your next gig.

Ken is also a gifted guitar player who performs solo and with bands all over the country. If you're searching for a popular holiday musical gift, Cool Cat is stocked up with ukuleles. You can pick out drumsticks, guitar picks, guitar straps or a tambourine. That's my favorite instrument of all. On this visit, I sat in the front window playing the display drums as my very own one woman band while shaking a tambourine on my arm.

Just remember not to hit yourself in the teeth with a tambourine, or no figgy pudding for you. Good tidings to all and wishes for a gentle end to 2018.


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