CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF SERVICE
Today I celebrate my Golden Anniversary as a Doctor of Chiropractic and holistic healthcare practitioner. I received my Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Bebout College of Chiropractic in Indianapolis, Indiana, on August 15, 1963.
FROM WOULD-BE PRIEST TO HEALTER
It seems only a few years ago that I dropped out of Catholic Seminary in New Orleans – and, shortly thereafter, left home and family in Lake Charles, Louisiana with $25 in my pocket and a car note – to attend Chiropractic college in the dead of winter. It was snowing in Indianapolis when I drove into that metropolis. I don’t remember where I slept that night — probably in my 1958 Mercury Monterey two-tone, two-door hardtop. I reported to school the next morning, signed an agreement to pay my college tuition of $2500 over the course of eighteen months, moved in with a few other students in a large house on Pennsylvania Avenue near the school on Meridian Street, and found a job through another student’s mother as a machinist making rocker arms for diesel engines and hospital bed pulleys, among other automotive and machine parts. I was on my way to becoming a chiropractor, a profession my dad, next to his Catholic faith, thought the world of — which made it easier for me to leave the seminary and let go of the highly cherished and prized idea of becoming a priest. I was called to be a healer.
THINGS WERE DIFFERENT THEN
Back then chiropractic schooling was transitioning from a three-year to a four-year course. I believe I got in on the last of the three-year courses offered anywhere in the USA and Canada. We were taught by a staff of doctors from the “old school” where Palmer full-spine adjusting was taught as the main technique for correcting “subluxations” in the spine and releasing the innate healing power of the body. (A subluxation is a partial dislocation of a spinal vetebra as opposed to a luxation, a full dislocation — or, as we more commonly call it, a “misaligned vertebra.”)
CHIROPRACTIC’S TUMULTUS HISTORY
Dr. Earl R. Bebout was one of several old-timers who broke away from the “Fountainhead,” established by Chiropractic’s founder and developer, Drs. Daniel David Palmer and his son Bartlett Joshua Palmer respectively, in Davenport, Iowa, to start his own school. He was a devout believer in the natural ways of living, good nutrition and yearly fasting, as was my field doctor in New Orleans, Dr. Frederick Doughty Beck, who told me about Bebout College. That was back in the 1930’s. “BJ” — as he was known to the early profession and is still known to this day — had narrowed the spinal adjustment down to one single vertebra, the Atlas, believing and teaching that all subluxations in the spine could be corrected simply by adjusting and realigning the first vertebra at the top of the spinal column called the “Atlas” — named by reason of its role of holding up the head and connecting it with the rest of the body, after the fabled Atlas who held up the world on his shoulders. He called it the “Hole-in-one” (HIO) technique, using a golfing term.
This departure from full-spine adjusting created a riff in the profession that resulted in the departure of several of BJ’s close colleagues from the Fountainhead. Dr. Earl Bebout was a devout believer in the Palmer Full Spine Technique. I was fortunate to get in on the tail end of this tradition and to be taught by this master of full-spine analysis and adjusting. And he was a master in many ways, believing and teaching the old Palmer philosophy of chiropractic based on a new idea whose time had come — what BJ Palmer called the “Big Idea” — that life flows from “Above, Down, Inside and Out” through human beings from Universal Intelligence via Innate Intelligence within; that “dis-ease” in the human body was caused by an interruption to that flow by some interference — be it physical, mental, chemical or spiritual — the “cure” of which could and would be achieved simply by removing such interference. The body would then heal itself from within. Innate Intelligence, God within — not educated intelligence with knowledge and remedies from without — was and is the one and the only Source of healing of mankind’s diseases, be they physical, mental, emotional, social or spiritual. Remove the interference to the flow of life and Innate Intelligence and all dis-ease will vanish from the face of the earth like darkness at the break of day. His was a “vision of things far.” He set out to train chiropractors the world over so that every human being could receive an adjustment and be cured of all manner of disease.
THE HEART AND SOUL OF CHIROPRACTIC — ITS PHILOSOPHY
I bought into DD Palmer’s philosophy wholeheartedly, later on wrote and published a booklet about it entitled Rediscovering the Soul of Chiropractic. DD’s Chiropractic was “Founded On TONE,” as the first words on the title page of his first book The Chiropractor 1914 declares. As I tell the story in my booklet, “In the pages that follow he proclaims, almost charismatically, that life is tone in human beings and that tone is health. In his second book, Daniel confides how initially he leaned toward the theory that nerves conveyed the vibrational “Tone” of life, and that spinal aberrations stretched and otherwise stressed the nerve fibers, thereby distorting the frequency of that vibrational tone.” He may well be considered, then, the Father of Vibrational Medicine. Here’s a excerpt form his first book:
An impulse travels over a nerve by waves known as vibration, similar to a pulse-wave, only more rapid . . . . Nerves, like material substance, are composed of particles, atoms or molecules, which vibrate, oscillate. When nerves are in a normal condition, known as tone — normal tension, normal elasticity and normal renitency [tonicity] — impulses are transmitted by vibration in a normal manner with the usual force . . . . Motor and sensory impulses are transmitted over the nervous system by molecular vibration.
DD saw his mission in life as a spiritual healer. He actually practiced “magnetic healing” through the laying of his “healing hands” upon the body to increase life flow in its ailing parts. He wrote:
Man is a dual entity, composed of intelligence and matter, spirit and material, the immortal and mortal, the everlasting and the transient. The manifestation of such an existence is intelligent action. . . . The universe is composed of spirit and matter. All living material is animated by spirit.
DD wanted to make his new-found healing art a religion, both to preserve its founding spiritual, or vibrational, principles as well as to save it from inevitable confrontation with the medical powers of his day. His son had larger plans for it, as well as the confrontational spirit to face the medical powers that were. BJ took up his father’s torch and blazed a spirited path into the healing field with a passion no one of his day would match. He wrote of his vision with words that burned in the hearts and minds of the early profession . . . and in the hearts of many chiropractors to this day, myself included. It is what compelled me in my pursuit of a healing ministry.
We chiropractors work with the subtle substance of the soul to release the imprisoned impulse, the tiny rivulet of force that emanates from the mind and flows over the nerves to the cells,and stirs them into life. We deal with the magic power that transforms common food into living, loving, thinking clay; that robes the earth with beauty, and hues and scents the flowers with the glory of the air.
This force runs the entire Universe, as BJ poetically acknowledged when he penned these timeless words:
With tireless energy it blows the bubble of each individual life and then silently, relentlessly dissolves the form and absorbs the spirit into itself again. And yet you ask, “Can Chiropractic cure appendicitis or the flu?” Have you more faith in a knife or a spoonful of medicine than in the Innate Power that animates the internal living world?
DAWN OF A NEW DAY AND BIRTH OF ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Chiropractic’s entry into the world through the Palmer’s at the close of the 19th Century — 1895, when it was discovered — and at the dawn of the 20th Century — 1905, when the Palmer’s opened their first school — was the break of a new day, the dawning of a New Age of “Alternative” health care. Orthodox medicine was just getting a foothold in the door of “ownership” of the health care “industry” and held, even in those early years, a monopoly in the health care arena. Medical societies such as the American Medical Association and local organized medical groups fought hard to force all other disciplines to bend a knee to medicine’s monopoly and join its ranks as MD’s under their self-authored and legislated “Medical Practice Act” or be arrested and thrown in jail, as BJ Palmer himself and many early chiropractors were in those days.
But the Palmer’s fought the good fight and Chiropractic became the first independent drug-less healing profession in America. Osteopathy caved in to the political pressure and gave up its independence. It was from Dr. H.T. Still, the founder of Osteopathy, that DD Palmer learned much of his technique for adjusting the spine. I was thrilled to be in on this outworking, a part of history itself.
A DEADLY POLITICAL CLIMATE
I relate all this history in order to provide a sense of the political climate at the time I graduated from Chiropractic college and began my career as an alternative, holistic healthcare practitioner. It was deadly. Chiropractors were still being arrested and sent to jail in the 1960’s when I started up my first practice in Crowley, Louisiana. Some thirty of my colleagues were sent to jail for “practicing medicine without a license.” You see, an antiquated law of 1914, called the “Medical Practice Act,” was pulled off the shelf and dusted off to be used against chiropractors, “quacks,” as we were called. The law included giving a glass of water to a fainting person and charging a fee for the service. The fee part was the clincher. Chiropractic was threatening their financial empire. Medicine was, and still is, bent on eradicating Chiropractic from the face of the earth. I was fortunate somehow to be passed over, but I wasn’t entirely overlooked.
RUN OUT OF TOWN AS SECOND-RATE CITIZENS
We had bought a three-story antebellum house in Crowley that had been used solely as a medical clinic for thirty years prior to the old doctor’s death. My first wife and I lived with her two young daughters in part of the house while the front of the mansion we refurbished and made into a chiropractic office. It was a convenient arrangement and a lovely, solid old house with a modest monthly note of around $130 against a $13,000 mortgage. I was charging back in those days a modest $3 for an office visit, which shortly increased to $5. We were seeing thirty to forty patients a day eventually, so we were surviving amid a relatively stable economy.
My wife worked with me in the office and the girls were attending St. Michael’s Catholic school. We attended Sunday Mass at St. Michael’s Catholic Church, that is up until about the time the pastor started preaching against Chiropractic from the pulpit, telling his flock that we were quacks and should be shunned. When asked one Sunday morning by a shocked parishioner how it was that I was able to be a Catholic and a chiropractor, I began to get the message loud and clear that medicine had control of more than just the health care system and that we were looked down upon a second-rate citizens. That didn’t seem to affect the increasing flow of patients through our clinic doors, however. The people and the results we were getting proved the truth of what we were about and strengthened our resolve.
As fate would have it, a medical doctor on the City Council brought a suit against me for having a business in a residential zone — mind you, in a building that had been a medical clinic for 30 years. Our real estate agent hadn’t apprised us of the change in the zoning for that property and we couldn’t be grandfathered in. Well, I fought the suit for a year with a well-known lawyer and lost out to the City of Crowley and Dr. McNeely, the alderman on the city council who had brought the charge against me. Not being financially able to establish an office elsewhere in town, we folded up and moved to the Baton Rouge area to work for a busy chiropractor in Baker. The mortgage institution in Crowley took our house back with no discredit to our name. I think they were all in cahoots with one another to run me out of town.
LIFE GUIDED ME ALL THE WAY
I said “as fate would have it” because it was through this doctor I worked for in Baker, along with other colleagues who were “listening to a different drummer,” that I met Dr. Bill Bahan from Derry, New Hampshire, who showed us how to put our lives on a “giving basis” and give Chiropractic to the people using the “GPC” (God-Patient-Chiropractor) fee system — or rather “no fee” system. This meeting turned my life and the lives of my family around and upside down — or rather right-side up. The rest is history. All this took place in my life’s journey 50 years ago. Through it all, I felt the hand of God moving me along my chosen path.
There is so much to be thankful for, and so many friends to whom I owe a debt of gratitude and more. So many people played a part in my beginnings as a chiropractor and throughout my career and spiritual journey. I am profoundly thankful to God for each and every one of them, and I celebrate you as well on this Golden Anniversary day. God bless you each one, those who are yet incarnate and those who have moved on from this earthly plane. I am particularly thankful for all who have come to me in their health needs over the years — in Crowley, where we started out, and in Baton Rouge, New Orleans, Belle Chasse, DeRidder, and finally back here in Lake Charles where I returned in 1988 to the place where it all began five decades, half a century, ago. And I’m still counting the days as I continue serving the sick through my wonderful profession of Chiropractic. Much more could be shared, but I am well over the 2000 words maximum I try to limit my blog posts to. So, until my next post,
Here’s to your health and healing.
Anthony Palombo, DC
Visit my Healing Tones blog at HealingTones.org for inspired writings on current global events under the heading “Apocalypse of Light 2013”