Chiro-Picker’s Fresh Pick — BJ and Mabel “Listen In” to Station WOC

Antique Collector, Todd Waters, is "The Chiro-Picker"

by  Todd Waters, aka “The Chiro-Picker” – SpinalColumnRadio featured blogger

Tribute Song Brought Back to Life!

[A couple months back, our Chiro-Picker posted an article that showcased some of his coolest chiropractic radio finds from the days of old.  One such find was the sheet music to a song written and composed for BJ Palmer’s radio station, WOC, by vaudeville singer-dancer Nat Ozmon.  It was a tribute to both BJ and his wife, Mabel.  It’s been some time since the notes of this 1923 piece have made their way to the keys of a piano — as such the Picker issued an invitation for someone to step up and bring it back to life.  …Well, I just couldn’t resist.  With my love for chiropractic history — especially its radio history — the sheet music beckoned me.  And so, with the help of three willing participants from my church (Russ and Ardis Swank on vocals and Mary Stewart on piano), Nat’s song to the old W-O-C sprung back to life.  And from that not only was an audio podcast, by yours truly, inspired (SCR episode 105), but another installment of BJ TV.  What would BJ think??…. Well, you’ll just have to watch the video below to find out.  And then, of course tune into the audio podcast to squeeze the nectar out of this one.  My wife assures me that this is my best one yet!  (She always says that).  Below the video is an article from the Chiro-Picker which gives you some more of his thoughts on the song and some behind the scenes information related to this particular offering of BJ TV.  Oh… and I’ll be back with some extra info in the DC Angle at the bottom. dr. tom]

Station WOC of Davenport: “Where the West Begins!”

I was amazed to find an original copy of the sheet music “Station WOC of Davenport, Where the West Begins” from 1923. 

I just thought it was so cool that BJ and Mabel Palmer had their face and name on sheet music. This music was intended for the local area of Davenport, Iowa and would have been a limited run.  Paper items are prone to much wear and tear and are exposed to all the elements. So, understandably, I was extremely lucky to find my copy in pristine shape. Someone had really cared for it.

I was very impressed with the front graphic of BJ, Mabel, and the P.S.C. It was a work of art that begged to be framed and displayed. 

I made copies of the sheet music so others could also display the art and browse through the lyrics.

At first glance I wasn’t very taken with the lyrics. I thought they would be sung to a campy melody, and I had already decided the tune was mediocre. I didn’t have much interest in hearing it performed. I guess I am a lot like my BJ character from the videos clips I do for Spinal Column Radio. I play a very judgmental and shrewd BJ who confronts all things chiropractic for his inspection.  All subjects must prove their chiropractic muster to BJ — only to be rewarded with his exclamation, “I Approve!”  as he storms out the door.

With regards to the unheard tune, we were not sold on it yet.  However, our friend (and BJ’s sometimes enemy) Dr. Thomas Lamar was curious about the tune.   Well, it just so happens the cinders of this old fire were not fully extinguished. And it wasn’t long before its flame was roaring once again.

Dr Lamar assembled a trio of seasoned septuagenarian musicians to perform the song. He sent me the audio and wanted me to make a BJ video of it.

Once I heard the pretty piano lines, I was putty in the performers’ hands. 

They got my soft spot. Okay, Okay… I admit it…  I was wrong…  I did like the song! The couple did a very commendable job with the heartful longing emotion and challenging vocal lines.  I listened to the voices and was impressed how smoothly the lyrics flowed with the music.  This was a very nice, tender melody and had a nice hook.  And Dr Lamar did an exceptional job recording the song in true 1920’s mono.  The only thing missing was the bee hive radio that this song would  have been heard on…..

…It just so happened that I had “picked” such a radio last summer. (And it still worked!)  I wanted the radio to be the star, and central focus, of my video with BJ appearing in the background merely listening to it. The song was just too pretty for my BJ slapstick routine and deserved more.

Dr Lamar wanted to present this production as a Christmas morning gift for Chiropractors worldwide to open in their emails and Facebook pages. He suggested having BJ sitting by his Christmas tree.  Luckily my mother had just put up her tree, so I had that angle covered.

In thinking about the video and the mood I wanted to create though, it just didn’t seem right for BJ to be alone on Christmas.  So, I felt it was time to introduce Mabel to my viewers.  While her name has been mentioned in most of my BJ videos, she has never appeared — primarily because I don’t have a Mabel.

In thinking who I could use as a Mabel, it occurred to me that the perfect Mabel has been with me all along, reluctantly filming my videos and tolerating my ridiculous clips.  She’s the person who is always laughing off camera, and she just so happens to be my mom.

My mom, Bonnie, was a picker long before I became one, and she learned from her folks who were the original pickers of the family.  It didn’t take long for her to pull together some 1920’s period clothing — everything she needed she had procured from her own past treasure hunts.

While we weren’t trying to reconstruct a totally accurate “Mabel,” I think the flapper hat, big round glasses, dress, shawl and shoes she wore got us pretty close.

Click on the Palmer Christmas Card to open it!

She asked me what Mabel should do in the clip, and I said that she should just help BJ decorate the tree.  From there we started adding little things like our gift exchange, BJ hanging an ornament and Mabel changing its spot, and us doting over a Christmas card of the Palmer grandchildren: Jenny, Bonnie, and Vickie.  Then we concluded with a twirl and waltzed off screen.

As mentioned earlier, the beehive radio took center stage in the video — with the tubes glowing in all their warm, orange, nostalgic glory.  I wanted the song to be the focus of this production with BJ and Mabel in the background having a quiet Christmas evening at home — as though you were observing them through a window.   I guess the radio became that window in time.

By the way, you may have noticed a red pennant hanging down the wall. It’s a vintage Davenport, Iowa pennant I just picked up. I like to add little pieces like that to my clips whenever I can.

Dr Lamar, THANK YOU for dreaming up this project and bringing back a piece of chiropractic history to the community in a fun and festive way.  BJ and I Approve! But he is still unsure about you….. 😉

‘Til next time.  — CP

The DC Angle:

Thomas Lamar, DC

What a Find for Chiropractic Radio History!

 I’ve done a fair amount of research on BJ Palmer’s radio stations.  So when I read that a song was actually written about his radio station WOC… I was very interested.

It’s not everyday (let me rephrase that)…. you never hear of a song written about a radio station!  The fact that someone would even contemplate writing a song about a radio station is very significant and underscores just how much of an impact this newest of technologies was having on this generation.

Unfortunately all of my Google searches (on multiple occasions) turned up blank.  I couldn’t find anything on this song or its composer, Nat Ozmon.  …Leave it to the Chiro-Picker, though, to casually mention that he found the sheet music to it!  And now with this article, our podcast, and video…. Google has something to say about this incredible 1923 Tribute Song to a Radio Station — a radio station that not only entertained and informed… but changed lives.

Regarding the video that Todd produced, you’ll notice in the first part, we see BJ “tuning up” station WOC.  And in doing so, he tunes through multiple radio stations.  The keen listener will recognize that all of the snippets of “stations” you hear are the many podcast and broadcast chiropractors that have graced our microphones on Spinal Column Radio over the past two years.  See how many you can pick out.

Vaudeville's Little Jack Little performing on a much larger stage: Station WOC in Davenport.

[Answer key:  (in order of appearance) Dr. Thomas Lamar, Spinal Column Radio; Dr. Jason Black, Attaining Your Maximal Health Potential; Dr. Dwayne Hoskins, Rock Radio; Drs. Joe Ferrantelli, Deed Harrsion, Fred DiDomenico, Chiropractic United Podcast; Dr. David Moore, Thirty Minutes to Living Longer; Dr. Dennis Perman, Master Talk; Dr. Paul Hambrick, Upper Cervical Interviews; Dr. Patrick Gentempo, On Purpose; Dr. Jason Deitch, Discover Wellness; Dr. David Jackson, Practice Pros; Dr. Billy DeMoss, Weekly Buzz; Dr. Jason Ulsrud, Rockstar Chiropractic Interviews].

Finally, before I sign off… I wanted to share the Christmas gift that the Chiro-Picker sent my way:  A photograph of vaudeville performer Little Jack Little entertaining the unseen million over the WOC airwaves from the days of old.  Just but one of the many “Nat Ozmon’s” that prompted BJ to write in 1924, “Radio is home vaudeville.”  Thanks Todd!  This one’s going in the SCR studio! – TL

Dr. Thomas Lamar  loves chiropracTIC and its involvement with radio.  He podcasts, with the assistance of his audio-engineer son, Logan, on SpinalColumnRadio.com from his home studio in Kingston, WA.  Lamar also practices chiropractic in Kingston with an emphasis on family wellness.

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3 Comments so far
Leave a comment

I was just playing this piece of sheet music when, for some unknown reason, I thought I’d check the internet to see what I could find out about it. Imagine my surprise when I came across your video. I have the exact same piece of sheet music. I found it 7 or 8 years ago in a box of old sheet music that belonged to my grandmother. Being a chiropractor who plays the piano, not well but I play, I had to give it a try. I have been playing it off and on ever since. What a blast to hear it performed by someone other than myself.
Thanks for the information.
Scott A. Gralheer D.C.

Comment by verchiro

How awesome Scott! I’d be curious to find out if you know the story of how your grandmother came across it. Also… in case you didn’t catch it, listen to the podcast that I did on this song in episode 105: http://wp.me/pEUo5-13Z


Comment by drlamar

I just love this stuff!

From Scott:

Hi Tom,

I am from northeast Nebraska so my feeling is that my grandmother probably heard the music on the radio – possibly WOC and then purchased the sheet music. I do not remember her playing it but then again she was always playing something. I found it when after a visit back to Nebraska, i brought back 3 banana boxes of old sheet music. I proceeded to work my way through the music playing each piece as I took them out of the boxes. I was totally amazed when I lifted this piece from the box. I could hardly believe my eyes. Here I was years after my grandmother had passed, a chiropractor myself, finding this piece with BJ & Mabel on the cover. The only reason that I ended up with the music is because none of my siblings or cousins have continued to play the piano. They all said that these boxes of music should go to me, if I wanted them. Well, little did they know that perhaps it was meant for me to find this piece of music. Had any of the others found it, they wouldn’t have known anything about it I am sure.

The original I have is in excellent condition if you ever need another copy or whatever.

Thanks for your episode 105, it just confirms what I already thought I knew about the lyrics and such.



Comment by drlamar

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