The Wedding Gift That Kept On Giving

Bride and Groom: Aug. 7,1965

Bride and Groom: Aug. 7, 1965

When Cathy and I were married fifty-six years ago in Fort Lauderdale, Florida I was overwhelmed. I had just completed an internship at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia when we married and was in the first month of training as a general surgeon at Charity Hospital in New Orleans I had met and married the most beautiful woman I had ever known and was amazed she had even consented to an initial date with me. Her family was prominent and well-known in south Florida. They had been pioneer settlers in Fort Lauderdale, and her grandfather and father were builders who had built hotels, office buildings and homes throughout the county. My family was well-known in south Arkansas, primarily because my grandfather and father had provided medical care in the area for the previous sixth years. When our wedding was announced in the newspapers of our respective towns the wedding gifts began pouring in. Because the volume was so high it took Cathy almost a year to respond with a thank you note to everyone who gave. Our apartment in New Orleans was so small, we had to store many of the gifts in each of our parent’s home for several years. All of the gifts were beautiful, thoughtful and useful, and we loved and needed all but one. This particular gift was not on the bride’s wish list, but was given none the less. It became a source a great irritation, but more about this later.

When Cathy and I began dating she had the nicest car she had purchased just before moving to Atlanta. It was a 1964 white Oldsmobile Cutlass with a red interior. She kept it spotless on the outside and clean on the inside, and it was tight and fun to drive. I owned a

1963 White Cutlass

The Car

1964 Chevy Corvair Monza convertible which was red with a white interior so we were a pretty sporty couple, at least car-wise even before we met!

For our honeymoon trip we chose Cathy’s car because it was a little roomier with more luggage space and had a bit more comfortable ride. I had a month’s vacation from Charity Hospital so we could take our time driving from Fort Lauderdale back to Arkansas for me to introduce my new bride to the Land of Opportunity. She had not been introduced to the majority of my family and none of my friends in El Dorado, and I was anxious for all of them to meet and know my beautiful wife. In addition to our time in El Dorado, we drove into north Arkansas for her to see the beauty of the Ozarks and see my alma mater, The University of Arkansas at Fayetteville. We had no idea then that exactly 35 years later we would move there.

After establishing our residence in New Orleans, we lived in 2 locations; an apartment in Kenner in which we lived the first year, and a duplex apartment in Algiers on the west bank of the Mississippi where we lived for the final 3 years. We kept both cars because Cathy had to drive to the 2 different elementary schools in which she taught, and for me it was at least a 15 minute drive one-way to the hospital.

Cathy and I began noticing an irritating rattle in her Cutlass shortly after moving to New Orleans. It was not a constant noise, and we could only hear it when we hit a moderate sized bump in the road. It seemed to be coming from the passenger side, and I checked her right door multiple times and frequently looked under both passenger side fenders. Occasionally when we thought of it, we would ask the local Oldsmobile dealer service department to check the tires and axles for rattles on the right side, but nothing was found. The one constant rattle occurred when we drove onto our driveway in Algiers because there was an irregular bump in the concrete there.

After nearly 2 years of our 4 year stay in New Orleans, we took the car to a service station for an oil change, and they put the car on a rack to drain the oil and check the under surface thoroughly. The technician said to me, “Do you want to leave this cowbell under here?” Thinking he was telling some kind of joke I  said, “What are you talking about?” He said, “Look here,” and there it was. A cowbell attached tightly by a chain to the drive shaft. Everything suddenly came to light. Prior to our wedding Cathy’s brother, George had said he would watch our car and make certain no pranksters would write on it or pull any tricks on us. Right! He had carefully engineered the attachment of that cowbell so it would not draw too much attention, but would be an inconstant irritation like a tiny rock in your shoe. It worked for almost 2 years! When we called him to tell him we finally found it, he had almost forgotten about it and couldn’t believe we had put up with it for so long. His wedding “gift” had been giving to us far more than any other gift we received, because it was almost daily and showing no signs of deterioration with age when the giver was discovered.Thanks Brother George for your well thought-out gift!

The Gift

The Gift

Dr. John

PS: I just now thought about our return gift to George. You may read about it on this blog entitled, “The Visiting Doctor Has A Bad Day”


The Most Delicious Apple (Onion?) I Ever Ate

Onion or Apple?

Onion or Apple?

As a young person I developed a passing interest in the field of hypnosis. I don’t recall much about the circumstances nor even the name of the performer, but a magician and hypnotist performed in El Dorado at the high school auditorium when I was a pre-teen, and I had a front row seat. I was fascinated by the many card tricks, the appearance and disappearance of birds and bunnies, but was especially captivated by the hypnotic feats he performed with a volunteer from the audience. I never discovered if the volunteer was randomly chosen, or if he was a performer who worked for the magician. Like most in the audience I assumed the former. While he was in a hypnotic state he was given certain commands to do unusual things he might not have otherwise done especially in front of a crowd. A few things I remember were his walking on all fours, barking like a dog and then begging for a bone. Before he was hypnotized the man did not appear to be an extrovert, and it didn’t seem like he was acting while barking and begging. The hypnotist said a person could not be given a hypnotic suggestion to perform a lethal act or do something which would be personally harmful. Who knows what calamities that might lead to? In the following months I read a few articles about the hypnotic state, but because I wasn’t challenged by any friends to continue I lost interest.

It was about a year later my brother, Berry Lee (Bubba) and wife LaNell were in El Dorado for a brief visit during Bubba’s Christmas break from medical school. He began talking about a course he was taking on medical hypnosis offered as an elective by the Psychiatry Department. My sister Marilyn and I had lots of questions, particularly on the medical indications and the long-term effects a hypnotized person might have. Not surprisingly Bubba was well read on the subject and it seemed he had enough knowledge to be considered an expert on the subject. One of us asked the question, “What type of person is the best candidate to be put into a hypnotic state?” His answer was something like this, “The person must have lots of trust in the hypnotist and believe in his ability to hypnotize them. Now which one of you wants to try it?” Because he was looking at me I quickly said, “I’ll go first.” In reality I was so competitive I didn’t want Marilyn to beat me out on something good.

I don’t have a clear recollection of what occurred, but this I do remember; the doors to our large living room were closed, the curtains drawn and the room lights dimmed and the room became very quiet. The only ones present were the four of us; Bubba, LaNell, Marilyn and me. Bubba’s voice was the only sound I heard and he spoke in a very hushed tone. I remember him telling me I must allow every muscle and joint to relax so I had no sensation of any impulse coming to me except the sound of his voice. I can recall the complete relaxation I was experiencing in that distraction-free environment, and that is all I remember. What occurred from this point on I was told later by Bubba and LaNell, and it was confirmed by Marilyn.

While Bubba was inducing the hypnotic state in me, either LaNell or Marilyn had gone to the kitchen and retrieved a large white onion. When he believed  I was ready to proceed Bubba told me he had the most delicious red apple he had ever seen and wanted me to eat as much of it as I wanted. When he handed me the onion he said I quickly took a huge bite out of it and seemed to savor each crunch as I chewed and swallowed the juicy apple (onion). I believe he allowed me to take another large bite, and I was in the process of chewing and swallowing the bite when he took the onion away from me. I suppose he couldn’t bear watching me eat the entire onion, while I was apparently enjoying it. When he awakened me from the hypnotic state, he showed me the onion and told me what I had done. I remember thinking I don’t remember taking two bites from the onion, but the taste in my mouth confirmed it.

I don’t think Bubba had any other experiences with inducing a hypnotic state in an individual and certainly not in me. Perhaps he saw the ability one could have in affecting another’s behavior even to the extent of doing something they would not choose to do. Medical hypnosis has been used for years for many varied things such as smoking cessation, weight loss, dealing with the pains of labor and delivery and treatment of all forms of phobia.

When I worked for a short time in an industrial surgical clinic in New Orleans, one of the surgeons in the clinic was certified in medical hypnosis, and he treated patients with severe warts with hypnosis. He said his cure rate success was about 80-90%. I never saw him treat a patient in that manner during the two months I worked there. I personally prefer Huckleberry Finn’s treatment for warts. (You’ll have to look it up).

Over the last forty plus years I have not enjoyed raw onions on any food, thus I always ask the server to leave them off. Cathy knows I don’t care for onions and doesn’t prepare a dish with raw onions for me. I can’t say with certainty, but it may have something to do with that delicious red apple I was devouring many years ago when Bubba made me stop!

Dr. John