I strongly believe that chiropractors, perhaps more than any other profession, and irrespective of preferred epistemology, theory, technique or scope-of-practice, have a great need to understand their history.
There is utility to recognizing the forces that have shaped the discipline, no matter what direction you feel chiropractic should take. Chirohistory is a truly powerful lens through which to view current events, and is not rationally dispensable when planning future courses of action.
But after roaming the chiroliterature for some years, my impression is that this body of writing is much more than just a template for contemporary strategists. Stretching from 1896 to date, "the chiropractic literature" is a rich tapestry of ideas, modes of presentation and motives. It serves as a window on America in the 20th century, and on alternative healing in many places around the globe where it has taken root. The written product of DCs is voluminous, indigestible in its entirety, highly variable in its sophistication, sometimes tedious in its redundancy, and often charming in its simple logic. The chiroliterature, with all its warts and wonders, merits greater attention by chiropractors.
One area of delight is the legacy of prose, poetry and wit bequeathed by generations of doctors. Those poetic efforts range from the obvious misemphasis on rhyme and rhythm to profound insights on a wide range of topics. We cannot do justice with the following unsystematic and unrepresentative sample, but perhaps a few whistles will be wetted. (Some of it is just plain fun):
Seven Deadly Sins
Wealth without work
Science without humanity
Business without morality
Worship without sacrifice
Politics without principle
Pleasure without conscience
Knowledge without character
- Anonymous. The Chiropractic Journal[NCA] 1938 (Nov); 7(11): 21
He Did His Best
When I am dead if men can say, I helped the world upon its way; With all my faults of word and deed Mankind did have some little need For what I've done - then in my grave No greater honor shall I crave. If they can say - if they but can - "He did his best, he played the man, His ways were straight; his soul was clean; His failings not unkind nor mean. He loved his fellow man and tried To help him" - I'll be satisfied. But when I'm gone, if only one Will weep because my life is gone And feel the world is somewhat bare Because I am no longer there - Call me a knave, my life misspent - No matter. I shall be content.
Palmer DD. The Chiropractor's Adjuster: The Science, Art and Philosophy of Chiropractic. 1910, Portland Printing House, Portland OR, p. 985.
One Liners from Old Dad Chiro
A waste of money - a ten-dollar hat on ten cents' worth of brains. (p. 984)
Truth is stranger than fiction because it is less frequently told. (p. 982)
Growing is inverse proportion to blowing. (p. 608)
"Your body is sick," is like having a bad taste in your mouth; where else would you have it? (p. 894)
Brain power is estimated by the way you use it. (p. 976)
Recent graduates are the ones who know most - in their estimation (p. 826)
Learn chiropractic - do less work and more good. (p. 690)
In animal life we have two forms of action, the voluntary and the involuntary, as they have been and are known today to all, except a few chiropractors (p. 519)
Reprinted from Palmer DD. The Chiropractor's Adjuster: The Science, Art and Philosophy of Chiropractic. 1910, Portland Printing House, Portland OR.
"For every DC there is an equal and opposite DC."
- the late Stanley Martin, DC
They say sometimes, "It's cold as Hell!" Sometimes they say, "It's hot as Hell." When it rains hard, "It's Hell," they cry; It's also Hell when it is dry. They hate like Hell to see it snow; It's a Hell of a wind when it starts to blow. Now How in the Hell can anyone tell What in the Hell they mean by hell?
This married life is Hell, they say; When they come late, there's Hell to pay; It's Hell when the kid you have to tote, When he starts to bawl, it's a Hell of a note. It's Hell when the doctor sends in his bills For a Hell of a lot of his trips and pills; When you get this you will know real well Just what is meant by this word Hell.
Hell, yes! Hell, no! And, Oh, Hell! too; The Hell you don't! The Hell you do! And what in the Hell! And the Hell it is! The Hell with yours! And the Hell with his! Now who in the Hell! And O, Hell, where? And what in the Hell do you think I care? But the Hell of it is - it sure is Hell, We don't know what in the Hell is "Hell!"
Fountain Head News 1917 (June 23)[A.C. 22]; 6(41): 5.
I'd like to meet a vitamin, There's so much said about him. For what I hear It's very clear We cannot do without him. He lurks around in lima beans And prowls around in cheeses. And man may know His count is low
If he so much as sneezes. I've searched the oyster and the shrimp And steak (when I could get one) But for my pains It yet remains That I have never met one. The creature is so very smooth, He slips right in the butter, And though I'd swear He's hidden there, I've never caught a flutter. I've forked right through the spinach dish And would have caught and belled him, But he is sly And so my eye Has never yet beheld him. I and the vitamin are bound with ties no knife can sever, But I with he And he with me, Are strangers here forever.
Gretchen Van Rumble. The Scientific Chiropractor (National-Affiliated Chiropractors of California) 1939 (Oct); 5(5):2.
Our Grandma had a dizzy spell. Black spots came floating by - Her knees gave way, and down she fell, And bunged a jaundiced eye. With tender hands we lifted her So gently into bed; And sent for Doc who shifted her And learned she wasn't dead. He felt her pulse, and found it strong, Took soundings on a lung. "So far," he said, "there's nothing wrong, Now let me see your tongue. "Ah ha," he cried. "You love your meat. You keep it much too long. That's why you totter on your feet And black spots sail along. "This ancient cargo which you hoard Becomes a menace grave; So now we'll wash it overboard With an enematic wave." Said Grandma, "Sailors of the main Toss overboard their freight To save their ships to sail again Upon another date, "So do your worst, you doctor man, The hatch will open be. Jar loose this cargo if you can. We'll float it out to sea." Now Grandma's tongue is smooth and pink. Black spots have ceased to be. The good old knees refuse to sink - Her cargo's in the sea.
Paul Sorensen,DC. The Scientific Chiropractor 1937 (July); 3(2): 22.
To the Guy that Delivers the Goods
Here's to the guy that delivers the goods - Gent from the city or geek from the woods; Hillside or valley - mountain or plain, Sunshine or shadows or starlight or rain - Any old time or condition or place, Taking it easy or rough-house to face, But putting it over and calling the bluff - Here's looking - the guy who delivers the stuff. Here's to the guy who is there in a pinch - There with the wallop which makes it a cinch; Batting four hundred and seventy-eight Only so long as he sticks to the plate, Picks out a good one, swings good and true, Showing us something when something is due - Worth a good bet for an everyday hunch, There at the crisis and there with the punch. Here's to the guy that delivers-and say, Chop out that dope on the luck of the day - Fate took a wallop and slipped you the quid? Well what do we care if it did? That's not the tip we are looking for here - Bend down a minute and lend us an ear, Geek from the bushes or guy from the town, Did you deliver? or did you fall down?
Fountain Head News 1917 (June 23)[A.C. 22]; 6(41): 2.
Go draw the curtains, sister, and stop up all the chinks, For Microbes and Bacilli are kicking up high jinks. Go sterilize the water, and disinfect the cook, The germs grimly stalking like some pursuing spook. Be careful of the mutton - Oh! guard ye well the meat, It's full of varied microbes we would not care to eat; And trace the antecedents of that seductive stew, We know not how much danger may be lurking in the brew. And while you are doing these things, You'd better do them twice, And when you've got 'em finished, Go down and sterilize the ice. Go, vaccinate the oat meal, And sulphurize the rice! And, once again, dear sister, Don't fail to boil the ice!
Chas. Ostberg, DC. Chanute, Kansas; reprinted from The Chiropractor 1910 (Mar); 6(3): 70.
The School-Child up to Date
By Elsie Duncan Yale
Make haste to school, my little child, Or else you will be late; Your books are all aseptic now, And here's your sterile slate.
Your pencil has been boiled an hour - "Tis germless, now, I hope; And don't forget to wash your desk With this carbolic soap.
And lest about the schoolroom floor Some unseen microbes lurk, Just sprinkle formaline around
Before you set to work. You'd better put, for safety's sake, Bichloride in the ink; And water that has not been boiled You must not dare to drink.
Of course, when recess comes around, Some food you'll want to munch; So in this disinfected box Is predigested lunch.
And since 'tis said that in a kiss Bacteria may dwell, I may not give you, as I'd like, A mother's fond farewell.
Reprinted from Palmer DD. The chiropractor's adjuster: the science, art and philosophy of chiropractic. 1910, Portland Printing House, Portland OR, p. 285.
There are three words, the sweetest words In all of human speech - More sweet than are all songs of birds, Or pages poets preach. This life may be a vale of tears, A sad and dreary thing - Three words, and trouble disappears And birds begin to sing. Three words and all the roses bloom, The sun begins to shine. Three words will dissipate the gloom And water turn to wine. Three words will cheer the saddest days; "I love you?" Wrong by heck - It is another, sweeter phrase, "Enclosed find check."
Anonymous. Chirogram 1924; December:2.
Olaf Gets an Adjustment
Olaf Hanson, a son of the Swedes hurt his back while pulling weeds "By yinks," said Olaf, "ban tank I cracked 'er. I ban go see a Shiro-practor."
So Olaf to the chiro went all stooped and twisted, sagged and bent. He met the doctor at the door and said, "By crips, my back ban sore." "Now", said the doctor, "If you're able, you must get upon the table." The Chiro found the bone in question, asked Olaf 'bout his indigestion.
Poor Olaf hadn't heard his line. He answered "It ban feeling fine. And doctor, I ban getting fat -- Yumping Yesus, vat vas dat???"
Reprinted from the Montana Chirolite, January 20, 1932.
O Lord! i pray, deliver me from berds who think that they were ment to do the grate big things in life, to be the doller, not the cent. the fellows who are apt to feel that jobs that they're suppoze to do are far beneath their mitey class & pass the buck, to me & you. but give me, Lord, the gi who thinks he aint too good to do his part, who bukkels into evry job, & does his best, with all his hart. the praktiss that this berd will get, in doing jobs that may be small will make him reddy for the job the uther berds cant tutch at all.
Reprinted from the Bulletin of the American Chiropractic Association 1924 (Aug); 1(3): cover.
The Ford Worker's Prayer
Our Father, who art in Dearborn, Henry is thy name, Let pay day come Thy will be done at River Rouge, As it is in Highland Park. Give us this day our daily bucks, And forgive us for taking it,
As we forgive them that take from us. Lead us not into intelligence, Thought or action, But deliver us from poverty and starvation, For thine is the power of production Forever and ever. AMEN
Reprinted from Journal of Chiropractic (Ross College of Chiropractic) 1925 (Dec); 1(4):6.
The Patient's Psalmody
The Chiropractor is my friend; I needeth no other.
He leadeth me safely past the shadow of the valley of death.
I fear no disease, for he removeth the cause; he adjusteth my spinal subluxations.
My body worketh one part in harmony with another.
He visiteth me daily, yet my purse is not drained, for I continue my work faithfully.
My mouth burneth not; neither am I a slave to medicine, for he giveth me none.
Surely, health shall be my staff and my stay, and when I reach safely yonder shore, these words shall I hear:
"Faithful art thou, good servant. Thou hast not submitted thyself to be butchered; therefore thou hast kept my commandment. That which I have made, let no man cut asunder."
Surely, I shall dwell in the house of health forever and forever.
Reprinted from the Fountain Head News, Saturday, November 29, A.C. 25 (1919), Number 11.
The Wonderful Horse
O horse, you are a wonderful thing; no buttons to push, no horns to honk; you start yourself, no clutch to slip; no spark to miss, no gears to strip; no license buying every year, with plates to screw on front and rear; no gas bills climbing up each day, stealing the joy of life away; no speed cops chugging in your rear, yelling summons in your ear. Your inner tubes are all OK and, thank the Lord, they stay that way; your spark plugs never miss and fuss; your motor never makes us cuss. Your frame is good for many a mile; your body never changes style. Your wants are few and easy met; you've something on the auto yet.
Reprinted from the Chirogram 1925; March: 4.
The King of Chiropractic Quacks
By Stanley Hayes, DC, editor, West Virginia Bulletin
We ought to turn ten times a day to Davenport and humbly pray to him who is only it
His head just crammed chuck full of brains- at whose mere nod the universe turns upside down or maybe worse.
A shake of whose redundant mane relieves the world of all it s pains.
Whose touch restores to life the dead; puts hair on any old bald head.
Whose fiat makes the truth a lie, and lies the truth-and don't ask why.
Makes straight hair curly, curly straight; and straightens bow legs while you wait.
A wave of whose thrice magic hands more potent than a fairy's wand, makes corns and bunions take the air regardless of the shoes you wear or how you pinch your tender toes - adjust your spine and end your woes. Or if a finger you have lost - this super-man at little cost - will grow another one for you (or if you wish will make it two). And if your stomach, brain or heart, or any other vital part, is ruined, don't you give a damn.
This one and only I AM, with greatest ease and highest pleasure will make you new ones to your measure.
Cancer, birthmarks, every ill, melts away before his skill, like the snow before the sun - this great and onliest only One.
None need to fear the shroud and pall, because the great I AM cures all.
All other men on earth have not one-half the brains he has got.
Reprinted from the Montana Chirolite, August 26, 1931.
It is to be regretted that God Almighty did not have the advantages of a medical training! He would have known better than to have put tonsils, appendices and ovaries, etc., in the fair bodies of those He made in His image!
The Chirogram (Eclectic College of Chiropractic) 1922 (June 1); 1(1):4.
Joseph Keating Jr., Messages at LACC: (562) 947-8755, ext. 633
Click here for previous articles by Joseph Keating Jr., PhD.
Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreement
Keep it civil and stay on topic. No profanity, vulgar, racist or hateful comments or personal attacks. Anyone who chooses to exercise poor judgement will be blocked. By posting your comment, you agree to allow MPA Media the right to republish your name and comment in additional MPA Media publications without any notification or payment.