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Dynamic Chiropractic – November 6, 1995, Vol. 13, Issue 23

On the Road to Davenport

By John Gentile, DC
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." How does this apply to the greatest single event in chiropractic's history, barring the first adjustment to Harvey Lillard? Well, that's easy if you knew how I got to Davenport. Yes, for some people who traveled to Davenport, Iowa, the site of the Grand Celebration, just one and a half blocks from the spot where D.D. Palmer began this tidal wave of a healing science and art, it was the best of times indeed. It was also the worst of times for those who looked on the city, the river, the school, former schoolmates and teachers, because some viewed the experience, I am sure, with the sadness of what could have been. Their lives were so changed personally by what happened to them in Davenport, Iowa. For those who were jailed for chiropractic, it was also the worst of times as was so wonderfully accentuated by the documentary produced by Dr. Riekeman.

It was also the worst of times for me. But how desperate I was to get to Davenport. How desperate we (chiropractors) are to get to where we are going and thusly deserve to be. Back to the Fountainhead I trekked, looking for some piece that was missing. The journey began in Albany, New York. The airplane took off beautifully, and the weather was nearly perfect. Boy, do I hate flying. Touchdown went without a hitch at Chicago's O'Hare. It was now 6:10 p.m. Wednesday the 13th of September. I was off to the Budget rent-a-car experience so I could drive into Davenport and possibly exercise some autonomy, not relying on a ride here or there -- maybe just to keep the car a day or two, who knew?

Who knew was right. Who knew that they would not accept my wife's credit card; who knew they would not cooperate with me. Nobody knew, and yet there I stood, shunned by corporate America even though I had cash. Desperately I searched for a chiropractor who was driving to Davenport. I was going to make a sign and hold it up by my chest like a limo driver waiting for a client. It did not even enter into my consciousness to find another flight to Moline, Illinois. One reason was that I hate those little puddle jumpers. I was on the Earth, and I was happy. If it meant that I had to walk or hitchhike, I would do it.

It was now 7:15 p.m. Chicago time and the sun was beginning to set. I tried another car company: Ditto, they gave me the same garbage. I turned around and looked up at heaven and said, "Lord, now what? expecting an answer to come, but instead I got a thought: I would just hitchhike! But I ended up taking got a cab, gave the driver $120 and told him to drive west on Route 5 towards Iowa.

"Where is Route 5?," he inquired. I did not know that Route 5 changes into Route 88. I told him Route 88 looked promising, as it was going in the right direction. The driver, a Jordanian Moslem, told me that with Allah's help we would get there. What else was I doing? He dropped me off on Peace Road in DeKalb, Illinois, 110 miles short of my destination. "Peace Road," the driver said, "I could sure use peace in my life." I told him to drop me off at the nearest gas station, thanked him, and told him to read the Bible for peace. I owed him another $20 but he said, "Forget it. It was a pleasure talking to you."

So there I was, 110 miles "East of Eden." Everyone knew I was an out-of-towner: a New Yorker. I asked around for a ride west. No one was cooperating. Finally I called a friend in Davenport and I told him where I was and could he come pick me up? I waited like a vagrant behind the gas station/food mart in the shadows for two and a half hours, ducking traffic and car headlights, praying not to be seen by some country bumpkin looking to act out scenes from the the film "Deliverence." I finally reached Davenport, Iowa at 1:00 a.m. with no room to stay in, just an old couch made up for a house guest by my friend's mother-in-law. My journey was complete. I had made it back to the Fountainhead.

So what else do you want to hear? That the three days in Davenport was the place to be for chiropractors? It was. Do you want to hear that Drs. Strang, Barge, Williams, Gelardi, Riekeman, Parker and others were outstanding and beaming with centennial fever? They were. Do you want to know if the chiropractic documentary was one of the best presentations of the weekend; that we raised over $200,000 towards national air time for our documentary? It was, and we did. Do you want to know if Davenport is still the same old town, and if Palmer now compares with Dr. Sid Williams' Life College? It's not, but yes, Palmer does compare and indeed rivals it. Do you want to know if the statues of D.D., B.J., and Mabel looked proud of the accomplishments of chiropractic and that I had tears in my eyes when I viewed them at dusk? They did, and I sure did, and it wasn't the Royal Jamaican cigar I was puffing on. I genuinely felt the lump in my throat and shed the tears for my homecoming.

Davenport, Iowa in 1983-1987 changed me; chiropractic changed me, and my recent trip back changed me. I'd made my destination: the Fountainhead. And chiropractic is going to make its destination: the number one healing art and science in the world. Yes, these are the best of times and the worst of times for chiropractic. But I am here to tell you that you don't have to be afraid of the giants in the land (HMOs, PPOs, managed care, Medicare, medicine) or the distance to the city. We will make it. Just go down to the brook, pick up your five smooth stones, put them in your sling-shot, and kill the giant Philistine. Take no prisoners and carry the torch of healing. We own it, now let's take possession of it. Let's turn the worst of times into health and prosperity for all.

If you missed the Grand Finale Centennial Celebration in Davenport, shame on you. But you still have a chance to make a difference in chiropractic -- don't blow it!

John Gentile, DC
Guilderland, New York


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