Manteca’s first dental practice that was established 93 years ago is now under the ownership of its fifth dentist — Dr. Mas’ood Cajee.
The dental lineage started in 1925 when Dr. A.J. Donogh opened a practice in an upstairs office on the northeast corner of Yosemite Avenue and Main Street where Askland Real Estate and German Glas Werks are now located on the ground floor.
The practice was sold to Dr. Lloyd Henry in 1933. He remained in that location until 1950 before he and his wife Winnie purchased land on Sycamore Avenue and built a new building that would see Henry and his son “Chip” also becoming a dentist to serve their patients for many years.
The Sycamore Avenue practice was built across the street from the two-story brick Manteca City Hall that had been constructed in 1924. For years, it housed all the city’s departments including the fire department with two fire engines, the police department and a courtroom. The decade the City Hall initially opened it also housed the post office and rental space
The senior Dr. Henry died in 1950 and Dr. Lloyd Henry, Jr., “Chip Henry” died in 1994. At that time his mother Winnie sold the practice to Dr. Ricardo Cuevas and his wife Richa. They both became very involved in the Manteca community with Dr. Cuevas joining the Manteca Rotary Club and becoming its president.
The Henrys had been very instrumental in starting a library in Manteca and Mrs. Henry was also the founder of the Manteca Garden Club. She would be known for tending to her prize rose garden next to the Sycamore Avenue dental practice for years with many beautiful blooms for the downtown community to enjoy.
The first of the Henrys’ library endeavors was upstairs over Leo’s Market on the northeast corner of the downtown intersection at Yosemite Avenue and Main Street, with the second near the corner of Yosemite Avenue and Maple Avenue. The third was in the 500 block of Yosemite Avenue west of Maple Avenue where the street jogs prior to Library Park.
The current library — across the street from the practice Henry built — opened in 1962
The newest dentist at Henry’s old location is Dr. Mas’ood Cajee. He restored the Sycamore dental office after it had already been upgraded by Dr. Cuevas. Cajee, like the senior Henry, is a strong advocate of public libraries and worked tireless to secure voter approval on Stockton for library funding in that city. He is the chairman of Strong Libraries = Strong Communities Through the Library & Literacy Foundation.
Cajee grew up in South Africa and moved with his family to the U.S. when he was 6 years old.
He has created a small dental history museum in the rear portion of his practice including volumes of dental books from Dr. Lloyd Henry’s practice. There is also a complete office representative of earlier days of dentistry.
The museum area contains a number of historic dental instruments in an empty exam room that includes a “turbine” hand piece used for early dental work, an old dental chair first used in the office, a Bunson Burner used to melt wax to form false teeth and a T-Rex tooth found in Montana 15 years ago.
The tooth is said to be 200 million years old with intact enamel that he humorously credits for the lack of sodas back then.
Cuevas was the first dentist Cajee met when he came to California. Cuevas was the chair or the membership committee of the San Joaquin Dental Society. Cajee said they have continued to remain friends to this day.
Cajee graduated from dental school in 2000 and with his wife Mahveen moved to Manteca locating in the former South San Joaquin Federal Savings and Loan building (where Studio 133 was located for years) at the southeast corner of Yosemite and Maple Avenues until a list of non-compliant Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) requirements forced them to look for new quarters.
Cajee said when he was checking out his current lcoation one Saturday morning and heard the birds singing in the nearby Wilson Park. That’s when he knew he had made the right decision. He added that he felt that he had inherited the love of community from Cuevas and from the Henrys to keep dental patients smiling.
To contact Glenn Kahl, email firstname.lastname@example.org.