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Dynamic Chiropractic – January 4, 1991, Vol. 09, Issue 01

B.J.

By Herbert R. Reaver, DC

In the winter of 1953, B.J. Palmer spoke to our first-quarter class in the "Knife Room." The lecture started at eight o'clock, which meant that at eight o'clock prompt the door was closed and locked.

It was B.J.'s way.

He stood behind the lectern, opened a book and began reading from it. It was hard to stay awake. He read for the entire hour, closed the book and we applauded.

A few days later I was walking up Brady Street hill, past Palmer School before daylight. I was on my way to borrow a friend's car to go duck hunting. B.J. was in front of "Li'l Bit Of Heaven" trimming back some dead ivy vines. He turned and watched me approach. "Good morning, Chappy," he said.

I had met B.J. several times through my mother and father, but it surprised me that he remembered my name. I said, "Good morning."

B.J. said, "I noticed you at the lecture the other day. How do you think it went?"

I said, "It wasn't very good."

"Oh? Why is that, Chappy?"

"Boring," I said. "Kinda dull."

"Is that so?" he said. He handed me a pair of pruning shears. "Could you reach that vine up there and cut it for me?"

B.J. was a short fellow. I cut the vine and tip-toed up to get a couple more. I handed him the shears. "The students would really like to get a chance to know you, but I think you put most of them to sleep, just reading like that."

He raised an eyebrow and smiled. "What would you suggest for my next student lecture?"

I shrugged my shoulders. "I don't know. Just talk, maybe some questions and answers. I think the students would like that."

B.J. nodded. "Perhaps you are right."

I said, "Well, I've got to go."

We shook hands and I began walking. After a few steps I stopped and turned. "Hey, B.J., we're going duck hunting. Would you like to go?"

He was silent for a moment. "Yes, I would. I would like to go with you, much more than you know. I'm afraid I can't, but thanks for asking me."

"Okay, maybe next time."

"And thanks for the advice, Chappy."

"Sure."

I continued my walk -- a cocky, brash eighteen-year-old. "Nice guy," I thought.

It was several months later when another B.J. lecture came up. Once again it was in the "Knife Room" and started promptly at eight.

B.J. said, "I don't have a prepared speech today. Suppose we just chat together. Does anyone have any questions?"

It was a wonderfully exciting hour. It wasn't long before we were all aware that we were in the presence of a first rate mind. B.J. had an incredible intellect and spoke authoritatively on a wide range of subjects. Politics, caves, comparative religion and, of course, his beloved chiropractic.

When he said there was time for one more question, I couldn't believe the hour had passed. B.J. pointed to our class dumb-guy. Every class has one, I suppose. The student lowered his hand and asked, "Are you a straight chiropractor?"

I expected fireworks, but B.J. just smiled and said, "Yes, I suppose you could say so." He turned to me and winked.

That was 37 seven years ago and I am still embarrassed by the memory. What an arrogant thing for me to do, a first-quarter, eighteen-year-old kid presuming to instruct B.J. on how to lecture on chiropractic. My only excuse is youth.

I am also impressed that B.J. listened to a teenager and heeded my advice. There was much "bigness" within that fellow.


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