Story of B.J. Palmer

27 Feb

PROLOGUE to the book “The Bigness of the Fellow Within”  By HERBERT C. HENDER, D.C.,Dean, The Palmer School of Chiropractic BEFORE STUDYING the preface and The Bigness of the Fellow Within which follows, it is proper you should know three men—the father of him who writes this prologue, the writer of the prologue, and the man about whom he writes in the preface. All this should be read as preliminary to the body of the book. To know me and my background is to know how well I know the one about whom I write. To know B.J. as I know him, is to better appreciate what he writes in his article. My father, A. B. Hender, M.D., D.C., was a close, intimate and personal friend of D. D. Palmer, in his early struggling years, having associated with him at the time of his discovery of Chiropractic.When D. D. Palmer left Davenport, my father linked interests with the son about whom I write. My father became an instructor in The Palmer School of Chiropractic until his death—48 years of service to Chiropractic. He was Dean when he passed away in 1943. I was born “to the faith.” I grew, surrounded with Chiropractic atmosphere; I breathed it, lived it, heard it talked about, pro and con, on all sides at all times. I grew up saturated with discussions of the trials, troubles, and tribulations of D. D. Palmer’s son, B.J. For twenty-seven rich and happy years, I’ve worked at B.J.’s side—first, as a student in his school: later as a member of his faculty family; finally, now, as Dean of his beloved P.S.C. I am therefore competent to discuss and tell about him and say what I please. As a member of his official family, I’ve held almost daily conferences with him. I’ve participated in numberless faculty and staff meetings with him. Hours beyond number, I’ve listened to him lecture, dictate, or make recordings. And, no matter how often all this has been, he has always held my devout attention. I’ve sat with him in fishing boats, on the side of trailers when we traveled on vacations. His every waking moment was always thinking, studying, reading, or discussing multitudinous phases of our Chiropractic, radio, or what-have-you problems—too many times giving up restful trips to stay and work. He almost always carries his faithful Corona with him. When in a train bedroom or drawing room, out comes the note pad, jotting down notes. Later,out comes his typewriter, when he fills in the notes.When he begins to look out a window or grows quiet, he wants to be let alone until he has studied what he is going to say and write. I have known him to write and rewrite a particular sentence or paragraph as many as twenty times, until it was whipped into language which expressed his idea. I have heard him say: “Give us thirty days and we’ll write a book. Give us three months, and we’ll write a paragraph. Give us a year, and we’ll write an epigram. “Once finished, he would read it to me or some other critic, get reactions to see if we grasped what he was trying to say. If we did, he was finished. If we did not, he started over again. I once asked B.J. how he wrote his lectures. His answer was characteristic. “We don’t write them, we build them.”

I asked him to describe the process from time he began a lecture until finished, thinking that might be of interest and help others to duplicate his method. Here is his description:“We deliberate and mentally carve out our fundamental theme around which we desire to build the talk. It might be a new thought, or it could be a symposium of preceding ideas. We then mentally test it for logic and reason to see if it will stand up under the test of time. If it does, we goahead. If it does not, we whip it until it does. Having given an idea birth, we then begin to shape our approach. Conception of a theme is the hardest part we have to go through.” (Let me here interject a description of his typewriter which, like most other things this man works with, is radically different. Years ago, he became disgusted with constantly taking out and putting in ordinary sheets of paper, because it broke his continuity of thought when writing. He suggested to the Remington Company that they build him a special typewriter with a continuous roll of paper five hundred feet long, on a spool on top, automatically fed. He also asked for an electric automatic shift of the carriage, by pressing one key on the keyboard which, at the same time, would shift the paper so he could write by the yard on paper eighteen inches wide. I have seen a continuous writing twelve feet long, eighteen inches wide, single spaced, when he was writing. To his knowledge, this was the first electrically-operated typewriter built, and that was at least twenty years ago. He uses the “hunt and peck” system of two fingers and can type as fast or faster than many stenographers using ten fingers. This unusual and different typewriter is an object of curiosity to visitors and is usually demonstrated by the guide who conducts the daily noon tours through The B. J. Palmer Chiropractic Clinic.)“We then write whatever comes, as it comes, be it good or bad. We keep writing as long as thoughts flow, and they always flow without effort. We may knock out some, much, or all of it later. Much of this may be out of sequence. We keep on until the present line of thinking is exhausted. Then we let it simmer and settle for an hour, hours, days, or weeks. Usually, when building a lecture, it is more or less steadily on our minds, and we are constantly harassed by Innate to keep on keeping on whipping it into shape. Usually, in a few days or a week or two, it is finished for the time being.“Soon a new line of thinking may begin to flow and away goes the typewriter again. We frequently rewrite our copy the second or third time before we get it to say exactly what we mean, before turning it over to our lecture secretary. When the subject has seemingly been completed, we turn it over to the secretary who types it on regular size sheets, double spaced, each paragraph on aseparate sheet, each page numbered separately. We then take these and rearrange them for sequence of thought. Page 1 may be moved to page 6; or page 9 may be page 1, etc. “We continue the study of our subject from time to time, adding copy, marking it ‘Insert 1,page?’  Our secretary then rewrites those pages with inserts. We then go over the copy once more, transpose one sentence from here to there, constantly briefing, cutting out superfluous words or duplicate thoughts, possibly eliminating entire sentences or paragraphs foreign to the central theme. “From time to time, during intervals between working on a certain lecture, we might be found reading, or checking on gold fish in pools of Clinic Gardens or aquaria in Clinic, or doing any one of a hundred other things here, there, or everywhere, during which one or a series of new ideas may flash. We hesitate, then and there, and make notes. This is kept up for days or weeks, at times getting so many inserts that it looks like a crazy-quilt patch job. We then have the lecture completely rewritten, inserting at proper places all late inserts; then by reading it entire we can see how it sounds or listens. Additional inserts continue until we feel the subject has been fully covered.We then lay it away to settle.“When it is finished, we have the secretary copy it once more, double-spaced, on loose leaf form for filing in one of the 150 volumes of lecture outlines, each of which is numbered. This lecture, under its title, is indexed in the Index Volume for quick selection at any time. Every lecturewe have ever given, from away back when, is builded around an outline and is filed as mentioned for future reference. This makes it possible to repeat most any lecture on most every subject on short notice Instead of beginning a new outline, we have one ready built. “Even then, days or weeks later, a new train of contributory thought may come. When it does, we write them in notes, be it at night in bed or at some other activity, then fill them in on typewriter, revise and rewrite until they represent new thoughts, rewriting pages into which they fit or overlap. If these inserts are of sufficient number to justify, we have all pages of the lecture outline renumbered so they follow each other. This prevents any getting out of order or misplaced. Often this process of renumbering pages may be done three or four times.“Keeping in mind the various topics we have lectured on and have outlines for, we often goback to one of years ago and add something. The listener hears in one hour the labor of possiblyhundreds of hours.“Often the comment has been made, ‘What a brilliant man. His talks are marvelous. I could listen to him all day.’ Little does the listener realize that the talk he listens to is not the product of the hour during its deliverance, it is the product of weeks, months, years in advance, even though he hears it all within one hour. “Every time a lecture is delivered, we see a part or parts which can be strengthened, others may be deleted. No lecture is ever finished. One talk (Selling Yourself ) has been delivered more than 5,000 times over the world before all kinds of audiences, cutting and fitting it to suit. It isn’t finished yet!

“We have funeral orations, sermons from pulpits of churches. We have conducted schools on radio, Chiropractic, legislation, salesmanship, caves, migrations of races, national andinternational conventions in many foreign countries. In fact, the list is endless.“Criticism has been directed to the voluminousness of our talks. In writing, we endeavor to present a complete presentation, leaving no loop-holes. By presenting every fact, it cannot successfully be attacked.“Altogether, one lecture may represent scores or hundreds of hours from time of conception to laying it away to rest. That’s the process we use in building a lecture.” I’ve traveled planes, ships and sleepers with him, to and from endless conventions of various kinds when he was to speak. I’ve read, corrected proof, or discussed most every book,magazine article, or lecture to come from his prolific and versatile mind. He has written on most every subject one can conceive. He has 150 big volumes of lecture outlines—a lifetime’s work if nothing else were ever done—yet it was but one item amongst many in his life. He has written and printed an entire library and thousands of booklets and pamphlets. One wonders where he gets time for it all. He asks for criticism. He wants truth, and I always give it. He is not adverse to people who disagree with him. But he wants those differences to be based on logic and reason and to be sincere. I know the reasons “why he does what he does in the way he does it.

B.J. is an early riser. Outside of the night shift around The P.S.C., he is always the first on the job. He has his breakfast at 6:00 A.M., lunch at 10:30, dinner at 4:30 P.M. And he goes to bed at 9:00P.M., regardless. If there is company at home, he will often say, “Let’s go to bed, our company wants to go home. He gets his first mail at 6:00 A.M., and it is answered at once. He then usually makes the rounds of inspection of his buildings, checking, seeing if all is right. He makes notes on what needs to be corrected or changed. As soon as the department head arrives, he calls him and reports what is to be done, and how. He knows his buildings, their equipment, their uses, intimately; and astounds his people with his understanding of what it is, what it does, and how. It has been frequently said:“If everything is running according to Hoyle, he is never around or makes comment; but let anything go wrong, he is on the job instantly.” He is called “Eagle Eye” by many because he sees details which frequently escape the eyes of the head of the department. I’ve seen this man completely reverse himself several times, evolutionize and revolutionize his processes of thinking, speaking, writing, and printing, as well as teaching, as he has climbed in the development of himself. Often this has been costly in friends and finances. He is always fearless, never afraid of consequences in so doing. He has often said, “The only excuse for any person to live is the development of self.” I have seen him change from a dogmatist, teaching a dogma in a dogmatic manner, in the days when such was necessary, to that of a scientist, teaching a science in a scientific manner. Such changes were brought about by the logic and reason of his indefatigable researches for better ways of doing better things, to accomplish more, with less effort, to save time, that he might take worse cases and get them well quicker at cheaper cost to patient.

I’ve heard this man cussed and discussed, damned and praised, by friends and enemies. Hehas often said, “We have no lukewarm friends. They are either red-hot for us or ice-cold against us, depending upon whether or not they know what we are trying to accomplish. His mind does not deal with fol-de-rols or knick-knacks, fringes or useless details. He has a very analytical mind, what he calls “straight-line-thinking.” I know his faults—and he has them—as well as his virtues. He is a very human being, common, easy to approach if you have something worth while to say. He is sensitive to unjust, untrue, injustices. He does not deliberately hurt anyone, although often his pungent and terse answers are so construed. He will quickly brush aside anybody who pesters him with nonsense.

B.J. is kind, thoughtful, considerate, never deliberately hurting feelings, trying to avoid doing so. He is constructive, building for tomorrow. His early and comparatively recent life has been one of battling his home town, many of his own profession, legislatures, to save his heritage. He has had to fight for the preservation, development, and defense of Chiropractic to preserve it in its purity for posterity; often against some in his profession who would drag Chiropractic in the mud for selfish purposes of mercenary greed, regardless of how it ruined Chiropractic and was of no value in getting sick people well. All this has made him callused, tough, bitter towards many and much. He has been deceived so often by so many that he places trust in few. In last ten years, much of this has changed. Being elastic and plastic, he has mellowed, softened, forgiven many ofthe heartaches and sufferings forced upon him. His work is now coming into its own. The City of Davenport is now his friend. The Chiropractic profession is divided into two camps—those strongly for, and those bitterly against. He ties fast to the group for, and now ignores the group against. Many students of The P.S.C., upon graduating, tell him how they are going to carry on his principles and practices. His answer is born of his struggles. “Tell me that ten years from now, after you have been tried and not found wanting, and I’ll believe you. It has been vicariously bruited around by some near and dear to B.J., and through them to others not so close, and the talk has been kicked about like a football, that he is in business and,being in business, his opinions and actions are unduly influenced by his business advisors of the necessity of yielding to financial income rather than meeting the ends of scientific progress and thedevelopment of his profession. As one writer put it:“Being the head of a business, you are more or less the victim of your customer’s wants and desires if you wish to keep his business. You cannot promote a radical idea any more because it will affect your business. Those who receive the salaries who run the business and who advise you in such matters must always be cautious to protect the business and their salaries. After reading this preface and studying the ways and means used by this man and what he has gone through, the reader must come to the unalterable conclusion that nothing and nobody has stopped or can stop B.J. from doing what he interprets as the right thing to do, when the right time comes to do it. That has been his history and that is still his straight-line thinking and acting. He has an organization and as such is an organization man. He is not a one-man rule or ruin director of his enterprises. No organization can long run without successful team work. He counsels with his counselors, he listens to their suggestions and weighs them carefully; but when he feels he is right and the time has arrived for any new innovation, he is fearless in taking the step regardless of how it effects his income. He long ago realized that permanent growth comes from growth that is permanent and that always follows the pioneer who moves into newer and better fields who keeps up with progress. “Go West young man and grow up with the country” is still true in fields ofphilosophies, sciences, and arts.He knows no expediency nor does he appease anybody on a step forward and upward when necessary. When his Innate directs him an issue is right, he moves regardless of any and all educated sophistries to the contrary. I always end up saying, “If you knew this man as I do, you would be the friend to him that I am.”

Herbert C. Hender, D.C  Dean of the Palmer School of Chiropractic

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Posted by on February 27, 2011 in B.J. Palmer, Chiropractic


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