SpinalColumnRadio


Chiro-Picker’s Fresh Pick — Finding Frank Palmer

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


Documenting the life of DD Palmer, the founder of Chiropractic, has become an exciting endeavor for me.

I knew very little of the man before I began researching him. Actually, if anything, I knew more about the mysteries and myths surrounding his life then that of the truth.

Oakdale Cemeter Frank PalmerAnd to find that truth, I found myself searching beyond the perspective of other Chiropractic historians — beyond what we “already knew”… or thought we knew.

While their writings were often a good starting point in which to become familiar with the general biography of Old Dad Chiro, many inconsistencies existed between them. Instead, I found old newspaper articles to be the narrative I needed, unveiling the life of Palmer as a healer. We are fortunate the papers covered Palmer as much as they did, because now we are privy to some of the missing pieces his biography has been lacking.

One of my discoveries that nearly had me jumping out of my seat was an obituary of Frank Palmer.

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Chiro-Picker’s Fresh Pick — Composing the BJ Palmer Mansion

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


From the moment you walk in, you are overcome by a feeling of heaviness. For the Second Empire structure recognizes no other time than the period it housed its master, Dr. BJ Palmer.

Those that have had the opportunity to visit the BJ Palmer Mansion — which sits on the south end of the block of buildings on Brady Street that make up the Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport, Iowa — quickly recognize the richness to our past that this piece of chiropractic history affords.

BJ Palmer Mansion 1920 framed

I’ve been to the mansion twice myself and have attempted to photograph every nook and cranny — an impossible and overwhelming task, because there are just too many fascinating items. Continue reading



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.” Continue reading



Chiro-Picker’s Fresh Pick — Another Look at BJ’s Epigrams: the writing behind the writing

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


As we were wrapping up production on our “Epigram Show” (Spinal Column Radio 169) the Chiropicker filed this article with some additional information to share regarding BJ’s Epigrams.  It’s funny how things work out, because much of what he found was information that I was finding out as the show was coming together.  The great thing is that not only do his findings further strengthen my own, but we both bring to the table additional information that supplement one another’s. — TL

Elbert Hubbard

BJ Palmer’s mentor and friend, Elbert Hubbard — American writer, publisher, artist, and philosopher

If “Nothing succeeds like Success” then Elbert Hubbard was the ideal candidate for BJ’s imitation. 

Hubbard owned Roycrofters, a fine maker of furniture and books. Each creation was a work of art. Roycrofter books were made of hand-cut paper and were renown for their wonderful artwork. Hubbard was a philosopher and authored many of the books himself. One in particular “A Message to Garcia” was a favorite of BJ’s who made it required reading of all his employees.

Another book published by Hubbard was entitled “Mottos: Being a Collection of Epigrams.” This book was a collection of cleaver quotations selected and penned by Hubbard.  A quick thumbing of the book reveals some oft-quoted BJ sayings such as “I love you because you love the things I love.” BJ changed the wording of this to reflect him and his Innate:

“We love you because you love the things we love.” Continue reading



Chiro-Picker’s Fresh Pick — Saving the Writing on the Wall: BJ’s Epigrams Gain New Life

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


You can imagine that as the ChiroPicker, my eyes are always open looking for cool vintage items that represent the history of chiropractic. Sometimes these items are not the dusty, old antiques you’d expect. Sometimes they are not even something you can hold — like stories.  For this particular Fresh Pick installment, and the couple that follow, I want to share some of these finds.

I love the story of Dr. Robert Borer’s search for BJ’s original epigrams.  Epigrams, of course, are pithy sayings or remarks that express an idea or concept in a cleaver and amusing way. To say that BJ had an affinity for them would be an understatement for sure.

Palmer Epigram wallUp to the year of BJ’s death the Palmer School of Chiropractic was covered with these thought-provoking quotes — from the bathroom walls to the sides of the buildings.

All free wall space was fair game.  “Get the Big Idea. All Else Follows” and “The Power that Made the Body, Heals the Body” are just two examples (more here).

However after BJ’s passing, his son David assumed the presidency of the school and had the epigrams painted over in favor of a fresh coat of paint. Most did not survive the Palmer College of Chiropractic’s facelift, but a few did.  One area where the “writing on the wall” still can be seen is on top of the D.D. Palmer Memorial Building (Up’E’nuf).  It was here that the epigrams were actually etched into the roof ledge walls — a technique that was certainly safe from the brush of paint.

BJPalmer-epigram-upenuf-ledge

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Chiro-Picker’s Fresh Pick — WHO Radio

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


My latest pick is a treasure trove of information about the early days of W-H-O Radio, Des Moines, Iowa.  

WHO Radio BuildingW-H-O was the second radio station purchased by the Developer of Chiropractic, BJ Palmer.  It is also where Dutch Reagan got his start in show business as a radio sports announcer.  After some motion pictures and a governorship, Ronald Reagan landed the gig as the 40th president of the United States. 

I found a compilation of newsletters bound in a book entitled “Our Home Office.”  The newsletters originated from Bankers Life Insurance company, the original owners of Station W-H-O. The book contained the very first issue of Our Home Office, published April 1, 1927, and then continued biweekly, through November 15, 1930.

Bankers Life president, Gerard Nollen, stated that the purpose of the newsletter was to “promote loyalty and enthusiasm” among his employees. I got the sense while reading through these newsletters that Nollen would have been a good person to work for and that he encouraged his team to use their talents. Continue reading



Chiro-Picker’s Fresh Pick — BJ Looking Back at Me in the Mirror
September 26, 2013, 12:30 am
Filed under: Chiro-Picker, chiropractic history | Tags: , ,

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


“You Never Know How Far Reaching….”

BJ Palmer 1I never EVER imagined that BECAUSE of this podcast, I’d meet “BJ Palmer.”  …Then again, I bet Todd Waters thought the same.

(By the way, this is Dr. Lamar stealing Todd’s corner of the website again… only because it’s the best place to share this).

Several some-odd-years-ago, when antique collector Todd Waters set his hands on the rare, 1931, recordings of the Developer broadcasting on the radio,

there was no way he could have possibly known that with a wig, a cigar, some period clothing, and the discovery of a hidden alter-ego: he was to become, in a way, the man whose voice was etched on the acetate records now in his possession. For staring back at him in the mirror was the very likeness of BJ.

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