A Texan claiming to be able to see with his fingers wowed Pendleton audiences in December 1935 when he donned an elaborate blindfold and drove a brand-new Studebaker through city streets.
Herbert Cade, a self-proclaimed “par-optic wizard,” became world-famous for his stunts performed while blindfolded. Cade explained that he developed his remarkable powers after a head injury robbed him of his sight completely. A brain surgeon told him that, instead of the usual three layers of skin, he had only two, and he was thus able to “see” through his hyper-sensitive fingertips. His vision eventually was restored to him, but he discovered that by fasting for 24 to 36 hours he could “observe” the world without his eyes any time he chose.
After several days of anticipation of Cade’s daring feats, Pendleton residents lined Main Street to watch a demonstration of his powers. Onlookers were invited to inspect the special blindfold, made from 14 layers of black silk, that was then wrapped around his head from hairline to chin and secured tightly above and below his nose with tight rubber bands. He then maneuvered out of a parking space and traveled down Main Street with his fingertips plastered to the windshield, thrilling the crowd by almost — but not quite — hitting another car head-on, and then proceeded to make several turns and weave between double-parked cars.
He made several stops around town, picking himself out a bottle of milk from a local dairy truck, pouring himself coffee at a diner, discerning different colors with only his fingertips and giving a talk on par-optic vision. He also talked up local businesses at every stop, serving as a mobile advertisement for chiropractic medicine (which helped restore his eyesight), Foster Motor Company (who supplied the Studebaker for his demonstration), Doherty Auto Service (where he demonstrated their brake testing equipment) and Troy Laundry (where he demonstrated laundry machines). He then retired to the Hotel Pendleton for a well-earned rest. Pendletonians were amazed at his abilities.
More than likely, Herbert Cade was an accomplished magician. A search for par-optic vision on the Internet found several claims of similar feats in the 1920s by Cade and others. The first Western reports of par-optic vision were from the 1700s, but scientists didn’t get interested in studying the alleged phenomenon until the 20th century. “Eyeless vision” has long been used by magicians and circus entertainers in their acts, using either trickery or cheating (peeking down the nose), but no scientific studies have been able to prove that par-optic vision is a paranormal phenomenon.