Most everyone has a fantasy dream during his/her lifetime, but few actually accomplish that burning desire. Dee Gaines, Denison High class of 1952, did and he would do it again – if his wife would let him.

Enough said about fantasies.

It’s been a few years since Dee Gaines got deeply involved in bull fighting, but age aside, he’d love to step into the ring with a rootin’, scootin’, bellowing bull most any time the opportunity should arise. He keeps his mulueta and capote (that’s what bullfighters use to antagonize the bulls in case you’re not a bull fighting linguists) close at hand just in case the invitation to do a little bullfighting might arrive in the mail.

Being run over twice in his 15 or so fights during a four-year period, was no deterrent. In fact, he was proud of his tangle with the bull. It proved he had the courage to pick up the capote or mulueta and dangle it in front of the snorting animal.

Not having been seriously injured might play a role in those feeling of pride, even though the smallest bull he ever fought hit him the hardest and he remembers the pain in his backside to this day.

Dee’s always been fascinated by the "sport" and loves the music. He probably has the largest collection of bull fighting music in Texas.

Pursuit of the hobby probably began after he saw the movie, "Blood & Sand" starring Tyrone Power. At least that’s what an old girlfriend told him. Then in about 1969 after he was out of college and moved to Fort Worth to work for a drug distribution company, he went down to buy a television. To demonstrate the clearness of the TV, the salesman played a bull fighting promotional tape. Dee bought the TV on the condition that the tape went with it.

In the meantime, his parents, Harry and Gladys Gaines, had been transferred to El Paso where his dad managed a movie theater after many years in Denison theaters. On a visit with the folks and a trip to a bullfight on Sunday afternoon in Juarez, Dee and his brother, Gary, who was attending TCU and now lives in Prosper, started dreaming about bullfighting. They read a lot of books.

Several months later they heard about a bullfight club in Dallas and met Adolph Gonzales who told them he could fix them up with a bull and a place to fight it.

We never killed, stuck or maimed a bull," Dee said as he showed action shots in which he was controlling the capote.

Dee and Gary made arrangements to take whatever bull they could get at Hector Pena’s ranch in Northern Mexico, south of Nuevo Laredo. The first trip down was memorable in that they were accompanied to the farm by Gonzales, fought the bulls then were dropped off back up at the road and had to hitchhike to the border to come home.

Gary only fought that one time and did okay, but was so nervous he threw up after it was over. Dee was "hooked" after that first fight and made 14 more trips to Mexico. His wife, Marie accompanied him after that first trip and watched even though she was scared to death, especially after he was tossed the first time. Although he didn’t accept, he did get an offer from a manager in Mexico City to do a border fight. He said his mother wouldn’t speak to him for two months after she learned about that first fight.

Then, to Dee’s dismay, he was transferred in medical sales to Tulsa and that was a little too far to drive for a weekend. He later became a Registered Nurse and worked for many years in that profession.

Toro Bravo Bulls are color blind, Dee said, and will charge anything that moves, no matter what color it is. Dee’s capote is fuscia with gold lining and is something to behold when it is starched as stiff as a board and wrapped around him in one of his practice passes.

"It’s very important not to shake or wave that capote in front of you to entice the bull," Dee said. If it moves, he will charge it and if you’re behind it, you’ve had it. A one day old Toro Bravo Bull will butt you, a six month old one will knock a man down and a year old bull can kill, he said. They’ve been raised to fight for centuries.

The person that Dee probably admires most in the bullfighting world is Barnaby Conrad, 81, who lives in Carpenteria, CA, had a restaurant in San Francisco, and has not only been a bullfighter, but an author of several books on the subject. One, "How to Fight a Bull" has been Dee’s Bible on the sport.

One day about 10 years ago, on a whim, Dee called Barnaby and to his delight found that he was a gracious person. They’ve become friends across the miles and not long ago after seeing photos of Dee bull fighting, Barnaby sent Dee a note containing words that had him walking pretty tall for at least a while. Barnaby wrote that Dee was a "natural, worthy of Manolete. Maybe you should have gone professional." Manolete was a famous Spanish bullfighter who died in 1947.

On the front of his photo album, Dee has pasted the word, "It’s not the same to talk of bulls or to be in the bull ring." Those words could never be truer, according to Dee who added "You’re totally lonely with the cape when you step into that ring."

He should know, because he’s been there. – Donna Hunt


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