Chiro-Picker’s Fresh Pick — Finding the Three-Story Scrapbook

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

As I wrote in a recent Fresh Pick installment, I enjoy collecting stories and treasured memories from people who have a connection with Chiropractic’s early years — tales, which I often find escape our chiro-history texts. While these stories can sometimes be difficult, if not impossible, to fact-check, I still find that they allow me to be a better ChiroPicker.  For they often provide missing clues — acting as that needed breadcrumb — to bring me (and I’m sure other chiro-historians) closer to unearthing other great discoveries.

Here’s another one of my favorites:

Dr. Gary Street joined up with the now late Dr. Merwyn Zarbuck to assist him in his twenty-five year quest for BJ Palmer’s scrapbook.

BJ, as you may know, wrote about his scrapbook in the Green Book series and stated it was not actually a book per se, but files upon files of anything and everything documenting chiropractic’s history from its conception.

Old FilesThe scrapbook contained notebooks, journals, newspaper clippings, publications, and letters.

And while BJ wrote about this compilation, he did not state where it was kept — which would have been a big deal, because the files were rumored to have occupied three floors! 

Surely, a collection this large would be easy to find after a cursory search about the campus.  But then again, the references to BJ as “The Little Builder” were not made in vain. He was constantly constructing additions at the Palmer School — acquiring neighboring properties for expansion to allow him to interconnect his buildings. Perhaps during these structural revisions the three-floor-scrapbook got “misplaced.”

Deductively, the Palmer Mansion seemed a likely place to hold the scrapbook.  The mansion was BJ’s sanctuary and reflected his eccentric tastes.  The cellar was known to have housed alligators, his ceilings mechanically opened to acoustically act as an echo chamber for pipe organ performances, and a room was arranged under Oriental instruction to properly display an imported Buddha statue he acquired. Palmer’s bookshelves were even lined with folders filled with correspondence between him and other socialites of the time.  Certainly, the scrapbook had to be near.

Zarbuck and Street scoured every inch of the stately home, with an eye out for secret rooms and chambers, but to no avail.  They conducted other campus building searches as well, but each time returned with no sign of the scrapbook.

However, persistence and tenacity eventually gained the upper hand, and the good doctors finally struck gold in the Palmer Clinic building.  They had discovered an old elevator shaft boarded up and full of files. The elusive Palmer Scrapbook had finally been found in a sealed elevator shaft, and Drs. Zarbuck and Street were the first to sift through its historic contents of photos and other materials which had been unseen by virtually our entire profession.

Now that’s a great story!

‘Til next time.  — CP

Learn more about this elevator shaft discovery and what was inside in Dr. Street’s book entitled: DD Palmer’s Early Years — His Path to the Discovery of Chiropractic.

The DC Angle:

Thomas Lamar, DC

“Raiders of the Lost Scrapbook”

I can only imagine what it must it have felt like for the chiro-expedition duo as they discovered the hidden, sealed elevator shaft! I can almost envision Zarbuck and Street outfittedadventure hat with Indian Jones-like adventure hats, vests, and whips as they began to pull back the boards of the sealed tomb.

Knowing that their search of 25 years was just steps away, had to have been exhilarating …and yet I’m sure in the back of their minds they feared a possible disappointment, parallel to when Geraldo Rivera opened the infamous Al Capone’s vault.

Fortunately for them, and the profession, the outcome was quite different, and anything but empty.  Ironically, while finding the scrapbook of this size and significance proved to be an incredible undertaking, figuring out what to do with it now that it was found would prove to be quite another.  – TL

Be sure to tune into SCR episode 170 to hear firsthand from Dr. Gary Street about this amazing find.

Dr. Thomas Lamar  loves chiropracTIC and its associated history.  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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2 Comments so far
Leave a comment

Looking forward to that Scrapbook broadcast! Thank you Tom and team for the many interesting things you come up with. I love our professions heritage!

Comment by Dr Tom Potisk

Thanks Dr. Tom for dropping by! I too am looking forward interviewing Dr. Street about this incredible find. ChiropracTIC history is so fascinating. I can’t see growing tired of it.

Comment by drlamar

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