Apparently there is custom or a game spreading through the web called blog-tagging. The rules of this noxious pursuit are that someone ‘tags’ you, you tell 5 little known things about yourself, then you ‘tag’ 5 others to do the same. It’s like an evil chain letter. A few days ago Regina Wilshire tagged me. I was going to let the spread of all this stop at me, but then I thought about it a little and decided that I could reveal 5 fairly innocuous things about myself without divulging any of my many perversions.
Unfortunately, since graduating from medical school and immersing myself in the practice of medicine and child rearing, my life has taken a turn for the dull, dull as dishwater in fact. Before medical school, however, I was a little different. I had a lot of bizarre interests that I pursued with a vengeance, most of which even my good friends don’t know about.
So, speak we now of the young pre-medicine Mike Eades and the 5 things few know about him.
1)In my last year of high school I was riding home on the bus from a baseball game (I played outfield, first base and catcher), sitting next to one of the student trainers. The guy was kind of a nerd and he was babbling on about searching for buried treasure. Being the well-raised Southern boy that I was, I about halfway listened but I did so politely. The guy really thought I was interested, so he brought me some books to read and gave them to me at school the next day. I did like most people do when given unsolicited books to read, I put them in my room and forgot about them.
For some reason that I can’t now remember I decided to thumb through one of the books. I started reading a little closer, and in no time, I was hooked. I became a treasure hunting freak.
Throughout the next summer and all my years of college I roamed through all the ghost towns in California, Arizona, and Nevada that I could find, metal detector in hand, hunting for coins, guns, artifacts, whatever I could find. I panned and sluiced for gold in all kinds of mountain streams in the gold country of California. I began collecting books on treasure, lost gold mines, old maps, and any and all related subjects.
I’m sure my parents had huge misgivings about my social development because instead of going to college functions, chasing women, and drinking beer, I took off most weekends for some dusty desert ghost town that I had not yet visited. No one my own age was willing to go with me on all these jaunts, so I recruited a guy who was my boss in my regular job, which was pumping gas at a Shell station.
This guy was from Switzerland and was about 15 years older than I. He viewed all these trips as major adventures unlike any he could have had in the old country. He and I made a great combo: I had all the knowledge, he had the money to underwrite the trips, a VW bus we could sleep in during bad weather, and the mechanical ability to keep it running.
He is still a friend of mine. He now lives in Reno, and MD and I spent a day with him driving through the Sierra Nevada mountains a couple of months ago.
My parents probably never realized how much all this kept me out of trouble. During my college years–and we’re talking the 60s here–(except for one forgettable occasion involving oranges injected with vodka on a field trip) I probably drank the equivalent of a six-pack of beer. I didn’t not drink because I was a goody two shoes, I didn’t drink because I hated the taste of anything alcoholic. (I’ve long since made up for that youthful indiscretion, however.) And, I didn’t use dope–I never even tried marijuana, not even once. (I made up for that in medical school.)
Did I find any treasure?
Not any treasure in the sense of chests full of gold, but I did find a lot of old coins and artifacts. The most money I made was when I entered a metal detecting contest at a Treasure Hunter’s Rendezvous (there really are such things, or at least there were) and won the grand prize, which was a valuable gold coin and a bunch of other prizes. But I had a blast and I wouldn’t trade the memories for anything. I can say that I definitely had a different college experience than did most of my contemporaries. Still, even now, when I see a picture of a ghost town or hear a tale of buried treasure, my blood gets up.
2)As an outgrowth of my lust for hunting for gold I got interested in sunken treasure. I took SCUBA lessons and soon got eaten up with that. I got so involved in the whole diving scene that I decided to become an instructor to help support my habit. My Swiss friend didn’t follow me into the ocean depths, so I had to find other funds for that. I ended up getting my L.A. County Underwater Instructor, PADI instructor, and NAUI instructor certifications in 1971, and over the next few years taught SCUBA classes along the coast of California from Santa Barbara to San Diego, in the cold waters of Lake Michigan in northern Michigan, in the lakes of Arkansas, in Florida’s Crystal River and along the Gulf Coast, and under the oil platforms off of Grand Isle, Louisiana.
During this time I had started to think seriously about going to medical school but at the same time I was trying to figure out how to finagle a commercial dive boat I had my eye on. In one of those great Jethro Bodine moments (one of my favorite episodes on the Beverly Hillbillies was the one in which Jethro was trying to decide whether he should become a brain surgeon or a soda jerk) I sat on the beach and contemplated my future. I chose medicine, probably because I could never get my finances together for the dive boat.
3) I spent a couple of years off and on during all this trying to worm my way into the movies. I had my portfolio made (which is a great source of amusement for my children today) and pounded the pavement going to casting calls for various TV shows, commercials, and movies. Since you’ve never seen me on the silver screen, you’ve probably realized that I never made it. I came close, though. My agent at the time (I actually had an agent) was Joey Vieira, Porky from the ancient Lassie show (long before Timmy and Lassie and June Lockhart and all), and he sent me on a call for a made-for-TV movie called Tribes, which ended up being an Emmy winning show starring Darin McGavin and Jan-Michael Vincent. I went to the call, talked to the casting director who told me that he would give me a role. He told me to go back and tell Joey to send over an agreement. In one of those inexplicable twists of fate, I never took the message back to Joey. I had something else I needed to do, so I left to do it, then never went back. That was my last attempt to get in the movies and probably the one that would have worked.
4)I am a huge bullfight fan and aficionado. I developed my interest when one summer during college I spent a couple of months in Europe under a bizarre set of circumstances. While there, I went to Pamplona, Spain for the San Fermin festival aka the running of the bulls. I had been up all night because I got there too late to find a cheap place to stay, and I ended up accidentally mixed in with the crowd running with/from the bulls the next morning. It was the first time I ever saw a fighting bull up close and personal, and I was stunned at how enormous they are. At the time all I wanted to do was get away, so I didn’t really appreciate the pageantry of the situation. Later on, when I was out of harm’s way, I reflected on my experience, and started reading about all the history and tradition of bullfighting. I told the tale of my running to all our kids, and when our youngest graduated, he wanted to go to Pamplona and run with the bulls. MD and I took him for a graduation present, and all three of us ran with the bulls in the summer of 2000.
A big deal at this festival is made of whomever the first person is to get seriously gored. On the first day (the festival runs for 8 days), that unfortunate honor fell to a guy from Denver named Montgomery Doyle. He took a horn up his rear end and had to undergo fairly major surgery to repair the wound. The local papers were full of the tale and crawling with pictures of poor Monty getting it up the you know where. We all began to refer to such a goring as getting the Full Monty. We watched for a couple of days, scoped out the situation, figured the best place to get to minimize the chances of experiencing the Full Monty ourselves (the bulls run way too fast to try to run with them for the entire course), and took our positions on the fated day.
All of us–MD, our son Scott, and Yours Truly.
I ran the probabilities of two people from the Denver area getting nailed (we lived in Boulder, CO at the time), and calculated that the odds against our being gored were astronomical (it was a ridiculous, meaningless calculation, but it made us feel safer). We waited and soon enough, here came the bulls thundering down the cobblestones, about 8 of them. It was a fearsome sight. Once the bulls ran past us, one of them gored someone, and I mean gored the bejesus out of whomever it was, and somehow the whole pack of them got turned around and started running against the crowd. It was a heartstopping moment as the crowd screamed as if one and tried to turn. Somehow the bulls got turned back the correct way and headed off, mercifully leaving us untouched.
One of my bullfighting heroes is (was) Manolete, who was mortally gored in 1947. I was delighted to learn that a movie is being made about Manolete, starring Adrien Brody, who looks a lot like the real Manolete. Before you dis bullfighting, go to the movie, and or read about it. It’s a great spectacle that’s hundreds of years old, and I hope it never dies out.
5)I am an artist of sorts. Since I can remember I have always drawn pictures and fooled with oil paints and water colors, but I’ve never really done anything with the ability I was born with. I’ve never had any formal training or spent a whole lot of time at it. I would just see it and draw (or paint) it. When I was about 25 I decided that I would try my hand at sculpture, so I made a bust of Nathan Bedford Forrest, a civil war general famous among military historians as a great battlefield tactician. I ended up making reproductions and sold a ton of them to help–along with teaching SCUBA and student loans–put me through med school.
While I was in medical school there was a big annual juried art exhibit at the Arkansas Art Center. For whatever reason (I can’t recall now what motivated me to do this) I decided that I wanted to enter something. A zillion people from all over the South submitted their work, but only about 50 or 60 were accepted in the exhibition. I decided to try my hand at a ‘real’ pencil drawing instead of simply the quick sketches I usually did. I found a picture of some old guy’s face that I thought had a lot of character (it was on the cover of a gerontology journal that I found during my Internal Medicine rotation at the Little Rock VA hospital), so I decided to give it a whirl. I was fortunate enough to be accepted as an exhibitor.
The next year the contest came around again, so I decided to try once more. At that time I was on my General Surgery rotation at the VA, so I checked out the same gerontology journal and found another face with a lot of character and drew it. The drawing below was accepted into the exhibition that year.
I made a few more pencil drawings, but never submitted another into competition. In fact, since about 1980 I’ve never made another pencil drawing other than the sketches and doodles I do when I’m on the phone or otherwise occupied. Despite having the ability, I just don’t have the fire in the belly to be a full-time artist.
So, there you have it. Treasure hunter, SCUBA diver/instructor, actor wannabe, bullfight aficionado, and artist–five things most people don’t know about me.
I don’t know enough other bloggers who haven’t already been tagged to tag myself, so I guess I’m the end of this chain. MD threatened me mightily should I even think of tagging her, so I guess I won’t. But I will tell you something about her most people don’t know. In her youth, she was a beauty queen. Yep, she was in the Miss Arkansas pageant. I scored with a real babe for a wife. Smart, too.