The careers of Captain Bond, Captain Cousteau and Edwin Link have an odd fact in common: in their younger years not one of the three had any intention of diving deeper than a mallard duck. Captain Cousteau discovered the new sport of goggle-fishing after his hopes of becoming an aviator were dashed by an automobile accident in 1936. He has had little time since to look back into the sky. Edwin Link spent 20 successful years in aviation as a flyer, inventor (the Link Trainer) and industrialist. He did not dive seriously until his late 40s, an age when an affluent executive often thinks of nothing more strenuous than weekend golf.
Captain Bond's approach to the water was even more circuitous. He attended fine private schools in Switzerland and the U.S. and, after his family's fortune vanished in the Depression, he went to the University of Florida at a cost of $37 a year. He wanted to be a doctor, but first he earned a master's degree in philology so that he could teach languages while getting his medical degree at McGill University. Because it gave him free food, he also taught butchery at Florida, and the ire rises in him when he sees a supermarket hack abusing the butcher's art today.
After internship Bond went into the old mountains of North Carolina to practice among 6,000 people who lived 50 years behind the times in hamlets, coves and hollows. The 500 square miles that Dr. Bond covered included Chimney Rock (pop. 300), Bat Cave (pop. 76), Bearwallow (pop. 50) and World's Edge (pop. 20) and stretched southward to Drunkard's Flats and Pumpkin Center (pops, uncounted). He charged $1.50 for an office visit, $2 for a cabin call and $35 for delivery and postnatal care of a baby. He was paid in cash or in apples, honey, canned huckleberries, peaches, chickens and pigs. He soon was master of the world's worst hog farm, since the local folks customarily paid him with the runt of the litter.
Medically speaking, it was fertile ground; as Bond now recalls, "You name it, they had it." When he first went into the hills many there did not think a doctor was necessary—they had been living and dying for years without one. When a mountain lady brought out the family shotgun to protest an injection Bond wanted to give her daughter, Bond took a .38 pistol out of his doctor's bag. No shots were fired; one was administered. Bond's work as a country doctor became widely known. His medical years in the hills were reported in several magazines, in a documentary film and on radio. Today in Bat Cave there is something of a monument to Dr. Bond: a small hospital and clinic constructed largely by volunteer labor.
The Army called Bond down out of his hills during the Korean war. The Army then found it had too many doctors and bucked him over to the other services. He went through the Navy's deep-sea diving school and submarine school and ended up as medical officer of a submarine squadron, where he began having ideas. When his tour of duty was over, Bond went back to the hills, but they were no longer the challenge they had been. The problems of the sea kept nagging. He applied for permanent duty in the Navy and was accepted, and the entire course of undersea exploration was immeasurably enriched.
Still, lovers of the sea who yearn for a little place below that they can call their own should, for the present, keep their enthusiasm in check. The undersea development slickers most probably will be offering choice sites of breathtaking beauty in Coral Heights, Angelfish Hollow and other shallows just a few dozen feet down where breathing natural air is cheap and safe. The buyer should beware. He who buys a shallow house lives in a bright and cheery world, but on weekends he will have the nutty powerboat crowd of the land world roaring around right over the roof, tangling anchors in the shark fence and popping down with mask and flippers to gawk through the picture window.
The man who cannot stand such lingering pressures of the land world must keep in mind that, in the stormless world still farther down, pressures of a different kind will also complicate his life. The man who takes a woman to live with him at 200 feet should know that the necessary helium in their atmosphere will bleed off body heat rapidly. The woman who complains about 68� in her living room on land will complain if the thermostat is set below 90� at 200 feet. And at that depth a shrill woman is very, very shrill, for in a helium atmosphere at increased pressure the normal resonance of the human voice goes to pot. The best Shakespeare spoken by Burton or Gielgud sounds like an LP phonograph record played at 78 rpm. In helium homes, undersea children who are taught the best English will sound as if they are speaking bad French. (In Bond's undersea house there is a separate telephone compartment with a nitrogen-oxygen mixture. The occupants can go there briefly for voice contact with support craft above them.)
In the undersea home of the future the man who goes back to the land world to sell the rubies he has been digging or to complain about the helium bill will undoubtedly, on his return, be accused by his wife of living it up on the road. In the way women have, she will know that he has been eating fried foods and eggs up there, luxuries She cannot have at home because of the acrolein and hydrogen sulfide that they add to the recirculating gas mixture. The 200-foot family that plans a picnic up on the top of the coral reef must remember not to take half a jar of peanut butter. Before they get there it may explode. The wife will have to remember that, no matter what color tunic she is wearing, her blue scuba tanks contain the correct breathing mixture for going up to visit the Joneses and the yellow tanks have the correct mixture for going down to the Smiths. Social outings must be planned carefully. The 200-foot family can go up to cocktails at the Joneses, then down to dinner at the Smiths. But they cannot go down for cocktails at the Smiths, then up to eat with the Joneses, or they might get the bends.
As Captain George Bond insists, it is a world that needs some thought and careful work.