Two dentists find a common bond in hobbies outside of the dental office

March 22, 2012

Thirty years ago a long-lasting friendship was formed between dentists Michael Chalef and Harold Enoch. Both were sitting in on the Georgia Dental Licensing Board exam when they first met.

Thirty years ago a long-lasting friendship was formed between dentists Michael Chalef and Harold Enoch. Both were sitting in on the Georgia Dental Licensing Board exam when they first met. Their common interests have kept them together and include hobbies golf, cycling, glass blowing, scuba diving, and woodturning.

After taking the exam, Chalef, whose practice is in Sandy Springs, Ga., said the two men and their wives ran into each other at a party.

“I said, ‘Hey. We met at the boards. And we became fast friends,” Chalef said.

They shared, of course, an interest in all things dental and also are members of the same dental fraternity, Alpha Omega.

“We got to know each other through dental stuff,” said Chalef. “But we also got to know each other through community stuff. It was a metamorphosis.”

Golf was the first hobby they did together on their mutual day off.  Both were terrible golfers in the beginning, and now golf is one of Michael's favorite activities, improving over the years from a 30 handicap to a 6 handicap. Harold has decided he likes tennis more, and sometimes plays with Chalef's wife Ellen, who is an excellent tennis player.

Getting certified in scuba diving was the second hobby that the two dove into.

“It was Harold's 40th birthday, and his wife Ina bought him lessons. I said I always wanted to try scuba diving and he said, ‘Let’s do it together.’”

After receiving their certification in scuba, they ventured forward with another new interest, glass blowing. The hobby was a hit with Enoch, but no so much for Chalef.

“I tried it once, but it was way too hot for me,” said Chalef. “Harold is great at it. He’s very talented.”

Enoch, who still is involved in glass blowing with his son Ryan, said they simply follow their interests to see what hobby will have long-lasting appeal, and which will not.

“It’s not like we’d try one hobby and fail and move on to the next one,” Enoch said. “We’d do scuba diving for a while and then we’d do something else.”

“Some things are more to my liking and some aren’t really his thing,” Chalef added.

Woodturning has become a passion for both dentists. Woodturning is a form of woodworking that is used to create wooden objects on a lathe. They took some woodworking and cabinet-making courses and then signed up for some woodturning classes with several specialists. They are members of the American Association of Woodturners and are founding members of the Atlanta Woodturners Guild.

“It’s like dentistry,” said Enoch. “It’s very creative. You take a log and you make something out of it.”

Chalef prefers making larger projects such as bowls or platters. Enoch creates pens with wooden barrels that he gives to friends and patients.

“It’s really a nice little touch to let my dental patients pick out one,” he said.

Chalef said woodturning appeals to him because it reveals the hidden beauty in a natural object. 

“You let the wood speak to you,” he said.

They both keep their eyes and ears open to learn about trees that are coming down that they can turn into decorative objects.

“When someone (in the neighborhood) has a tree that’s chopped down we go over there with a chainsaw,” Chalef said.

The men said that having a day off during the week has enabled them to pursue their hobbies.

“We’ve been fortunate in having a day off in the middle of the week to pal around together,” Chalef said.

Recently, Chalef has taken up flying and is pursuing his private pilot’s license. Enoch has no interest in taking flying lessons.

“Between woodturning and glass blowing and working out –that’s enough to keep me busy,” he said.

Chalef said his various hobbies are an adjunct to the profession he enjoys. He has only one problem with dentistry –the early hours.

“If I didn’t have to get up so early there would be no problems with dentistry,” Chalef said with a laugh. I like to stay up late and watch television, play Gameboy, and just decompress at the end of the day. I just had to get used to early mornings as part of the dental lifestyle, which otherwise has been fantastic."

And both agree their hobbies, too, have been fantastic.