352-245-6169 mdthomasdc@gmail.com

MDT: Let me tie up a couple loose ends. When did Clear View close down?

WHQ: In 1963.

MDT: And were the primary reasons that insurance was starting to come in,
that medications were starting to come in?

WHQ: No. They’d already come in. That brings up an interesting discussion regarding our friend at Parsons, Dr. Roberts. Dr. Roberts called one day and wanted to come out and look over the institution, which he did. He didn’t ask me ahead of time and he didn’t say anything when he left, he just did it. But I don’t think he knew very much about it. So it must have been a week or so later, I was still teaching classes, psychology one trimester and then I’d teach psychiatry the other.

Anyway, Dave called me into his office and told me that Clear View was being closed down. I was dumbfounded. “What do you mean?” I said to him. It was like the last thing in the world I would have suspected. We had 18 interns, 9 on the morning shift and 9 on the afternoon shift and they were really happy people. We were taking care of 9 students that otherwise would have to be taken care of at Palmer during their last year. Almost no one had an intern program in our profession, and we had one.

I think the most telling thing of it all, the day before…I’ll have to go back a second, ah…I’d worked from 1954 until that time, going to Des Moines almost always once a month and meeting with the Head of the Department of Health, and working out a way in which Clear View would become a hospital. We worked on that and he had me work with some of the people from the hospital division. I met with the board of hospitals twice and I received a letter from this Dr. Forrest, who said in effect that we’re set. We’ve accepted the criteria you’ve set up for chiropractic mental hospitals. He said, “I think it will be just a short time until you will be receiving the accreditation.” So I was really delighted, in fact this was a dream come true.

MDT: Sure.

WHQ: Finally getting it. We could even get funds to build more rooms, because we needed it badly. So anyway, Dave told me the news. I told him all about the impending accreditation. “Oh,” he said. “No, Dr. Roberts says if we convert this into a nursing home we’ll make a lot more money”. And I said, “ David you missed the point.” He said, “Well I don’t want to argue about it”. And I said, Okay”. And that was that. So that’s what closed it.

And I don’t think I finished one tale. I had been working on this research to determine how we were doing, comparing the amount of people who were admitted and the amount of people that were released, and the different types that were being released at that time. I told Bill, the comptroller, that I wanted those records. I told him that I had to have those records because of research. He said, “Oh don’t worry about them.” I must have gone in there six times and always got, “Don’t worry about them”. Well eventually, they were thrown into the dump. Workmen didn’t know any different and Bill didn’t do his job. He didn’t set up a caution for that, so we lost all of those records.

MDT: All those years of research that you had been doing?

WHQ: Yeah…yeah…all my records. Because first of all, we’d set up a form: the diagnosis, when the patient was admitted, when the first disorder came, and then every year, after the patient was released, we’d send out the questionnaire to the guardian…parent and/or attorney or whoever. Then we’d ask them questions such as, has this patient ever been hospitalized for a mental illness since he was released from Clear View? And we’d ask how long was it between the release and any readmission. A number of questions like that. One critical question was, is the patient able to sustain himself in society? In short, is he holding a job? These are things which, of course, define mental illness. When you attempt to define it, it’s not very easy. It sounds like it should be but it isn’t.

MDT: Right.

WHQ: So we had been doing that for many years. We had made it very easy to respond, and we had some, I’d say fairly reliable evidence. There were many others that were starting to get interested in our work. Then to have that go out the door into the dump. We had probably only 50, 60 files left that were somehow saved. I don’t know how, but there wasn’t any continuity. There wasn’t anything you could do with it.

MDT: I’ll be darned. So you never were able to obtain those results?

WHQ: No. I could never go back and get all that information. Seven, eight, nine years of information all lost. That was a disappointment, besides of course closing it down.

MDT: So then you became a faculty member at Palmer after that?

WHQ: Yeah, I just did the same thing. What I did do is maintain a private practice at home. The way I got started is that at the sanitarium, we would have a patient we felt was about ready to go home. I’d talk to the parents about it and explain that he would be released. Then they would often want him released in Davenport so we could keep an eye on him. Then I would tell him I would see him. Pretty soon other people would call. They all knew I was associated with the sanitarium and I’d end up working from about 7 until 11 about 4 nights a week.

So, that’s what happened after the sanitarium closed down. I continued to teach the two classes. Outside of Palmer however, that was the other thing I was doing. I didn’t do anything more at the school, until the end when Dave was really incapacitated. But he was terrified of the NCA. He felt they were out to get him. Of course that paranoia was partly B.J., which was still a voice inside him. You can’t blame them, that’s how it was.

MDT: Right.

WHQ: So to get back to the accreditation process at LACC…they had nobody that understood and could handle the problems of the economics. It’s was their weakest point. That’s also the one that was going to cause them to lose their business. I tried to get somebody good to come in. The only thing was that the board set the salaries at $20,000. You’re not going to get a man knowledgeable in that area for $20.000. We found one that talked good, but he also was drinking too much. He came to a meeting one time and he was pretty well intoxicated. That kind of washed that one out for good. That was intolerable, we couldn’t have that. But there were these three men that thought that they knew everything that needed to be done. They didn’t, and they clearly didn’t. So it got to be stressful. I was glad to get out of there.

MDT: What year did you get married?

WKQ: In ‘51.

MDT: In 1951. Same year you took on the sanitarium. So how’d you meet her?

WHQ: Well I met her through Hank Thompson. Hank Thompson was an entertainer who played in the clubs in that general area, very well known. He brought in a lot of people. They still say that he’s a terrible organist, but he was great in public relations…irresponsible though, in many respects, but a very likeable man. And I was doing a lot of fishing and he was a fisherman too. During this one summer we saw him quite a bit and I met his wife’s sister. She later became my wife. We didn’t go together at the time because she was married, and I never thought about her that way you know, just a nice person. But I thought she was certainly above anybody else I’d ever met. And then, later on, some years later, her husband died. And so about a month later I said, “I’m gonna call”, and I did. From then on my life changed, for the better I’d say.

MDT: What is your impression of DD Palmer. I realize you couldn’t have known him, but you must have heard family stories.

WHQ: Yeah I heard family stories. I’d say he and B.J. shared some things. Their
unshakable prejudices are among them. I think that D.D. had tremendous imagination and he willed himself to be a student. But he wasn’t really the student that he thought he was. He did have a schooling by a school master, and it took them up to the levels of Greek. I guess that was at one time figured to be where you should be in education. I felt that DD was a very, very ego-centered man. He really couldn’t see much beyond his own needs and his own concepts and ideas. He felt people were really wrong to disagree with him. He knew, and I don’t think he ever forgave the world for that.

MDT: He believed in the placebo effect, I mean he believed in that life force and he was a magnetic healer prior to this early work.

WHQ: Yes. He seemed to always have a fair success with whatever he attempted. When he married Mary, the woman who was his second wife, she had managed a hotel one time and she had a good business head. D.D. had no head at all for business. She took over the business aspect and saw that the clinic was run right. They opened the ‘hospice’, and people would come there and stay over night and be treated as hospital patients. They started off with about eight beds and then they eventually got up to something like 22.

MDT: Was this still downtown in the old Ryan Building?
WHQ: Yes. They just took up more and more room. They had quite a few people there
eventually. So all of that was pretty well blown when D.D. took off. But B.J. did a good job of getting everybody back together again and the reputation wasn’t ruined. But I felt that D.D. was extremely impulsive.

MDT: Even DD’s earliest students were in contention with him. I mean the contention
between the idea of ‘bone out of place’ versus ‘approximation of segments’.

WHQ: A lot of the early students went out to establish schools. And then they taught their brand. Oh, D.D. hated that. His judgment about people was very poor. He got associated with this Alva Gregory. And that didn’t last very long. He lost whatever he had in that. He had the money that came from what BJ had given him. After D.D. had walked out and B.J. had gotten itback on a sound footing, he told DD not to come back, that he wasn’t welcome. B.J. had people come in and evaluate the school and determine it’s value. He then gave D.D. a check for half that amount. D.D. didn’t like that, but he took it and then he went and lost it. I don’t know how he made out during those years. In fact, nobody really knows what happened to him in any detail during that long period. So I guess it’s still a mystery.

MDT: So D.D. came back before his death?

WHQ: No, he came back …it wasn’t very long, but it was after he went to jail. But they said to him, “We have to get rid of you, don’t want you ever back here”. He lived a fair number of years after that…the exact number I’d have to look up too.

MDT: Well, there’s the apocryphal story about B.J. running into him at a parade in Davenport and that it may have been a causative factor in his death. But then I’ve heard other things say no it wasn’t.

WHQ: Ah it couldn’t have been. He died of typhoid fever. So there was no chance of that. In fact, the doctor, more than once, signed a statement that it was not a case of injury. It was a case of typhoid. But it was an opportunity. It was like our democrats and republicans. If there’s any kind of a wound, we’re gonna stir it up until it becomes a raw, fatal lesion.

MDT: Sure.

WHQ: I’ve never known B.J. to ever show any physical aggression against anybody. And with all of his anger and so forth, at Dave, never once did he raise a hand or anything like that. So it doesn’t sound consistent at all.

MDT: So during the years that you were at Palmer, there was obviously an upper cervical approach, ostensibly using the NCM to define whether or not to adjust. Were many doctors adjusting other segments too, or was it very strict then?

WHQ: Let’s see, it was ‘33 when the neurocalograph came out and HIO was coming out with it. One worked with the other, BJ said. I think without the NCG, he would not have introduced this. But he was a firm believer, and again he relied on what might be called similes, rather than on facts.

For example, this idea that the nerve would be hot, was associated with a live wire.
That it would be cold was associated with the physiological reaction to that sort of problem. Of course, if he wanted to change, it wouldn’t be too difficult. Because you just simply say because this nerve is the one that’s hot instead of this one. He was caught up in that kind of thinking. He considered it logical thinking.

MDT: You are speaking of the meric system and the nerve tracing?

WHQ: Yes.

MDT: So were people adjusting in a full spine fashion out of his sight?

WHQ: I would say that the number of people that practiced the HIO work were not anywhere near as great as the number of people that practiced full spine techniques. And, not anywhere near as great as the number of people that said they practiced HIO.

MDT: Okay.

WHQ: It was like, to belong to this elite fraternity, you had to be pure upper cervical…

MDT: I understand.

WHQ: People at the school, they didn’t have much choice.

MDT: Right.

WHQ: One of the first ones to break that was Price. Price did what he wanted. He had a practice and he just went on.

MDT: Galen Price?

WHQ: Yes. B.J. would bring him in and give him a hell of a dressing down and then they’d be going on just as they always did. He didn’t pay any attention and just kept going. He didn’t feel anything was going to happen and it didn’t. I know that BJ wanted everybody to do HIO. A lot of people said this was crazy. I’ve had too much success otherwise.

If you start off that way, it’s not difficult to change to something less, but I know that in my own experience that …I was adjusting some people during those periods of time. I had a small practice. I didn’t have any time, but I did what I could…and I learned that when people came in with a very severe low back, you could palpate and detect that the difficulty was very much centered there.

MDT: Sure.

WHQ: And we all heard of cases about people who came in with low back problems, and after adjusting them upper cervically they wouldn’t respond, but then when they were adjusted in the low back, they would be astounded to found that they felt better. I think I broke away from HIO fairly early. But I wasn’t doing that, I wasn’t really in practice.

MDT: Marshal Himes gave a speech in ‘58 or ‘59 that came to be called the “Green Light Speech”. The speech said that Palmer was going to move away from strict interpretation of upper cervical back to a more segmental approach.

WHQ: Well, there were a couple of good reasons. We were getting nasty letters from the State Boards that said these students don’t know how to adjust the spinal column. And you’re going to have to start teaching the adjustment of the whole spine. Well, they knew if they started teaching, then students were going start using it. And that’s just what happened.

MDT: Sure. Well they were already going down to the Blackhawk Hotel, or into students apartments and they had been doing that for many years.

WHQ: Yes. To prohibit something that is so open, you know you’re going to fail…

MDT: If you prohibit anything, people are going want to do it, aren’t they?

WHQ: That’s right. They sure are. That’s the first thing…

MDT: You must have met a lot of the clinicians that have become well known names in chiropractic. Do any of them stand out? You know, Thompson and DeJarnette, and Gonstead and there’s many more.

WKQ: Thompson…Clyde and I were very close, good friends for a long time. In fact, his brother was married to my wife’s sister. She married Hank Thompson.

MDT: Ah. So you were friends with Clay also.

WHQ: Oh yeah…yeah. We had a lot of things that we use to laugh about so much. We’d get together and Clay was funny. I mean he couldn’t help it. He’d do things that everybody would laugh about. An example… on this one occasion, he had been lecturing in Europe. One of the European contractors knew Clay pretty well and got to work with him a little bit when he was here in the States. He took Clay on a tour down through southern Europe. They went to the Alpha Romeo factory and talked to the manager. It turned out that Argentina had ordered 12 Rolls Royces. Beautiful cars at the time. There had been changes in government down there and they had to cancel the order. So here they sat with these 12 automobiles. Clay talked to the manager and the manager told him, among other things, that he might be able to arrange a deal. He could get a pretty good price on this. So Clay was real anxious when he got back home and he told me about this. He told me the manager was going to be calling him any night now. The manager had told him that he’d call and let Clay know how much. So I got word that Clay said he had definite word that the manager would be calling. His brother said, “Why don’t you call him and pretend you’re calling from Italy?” I said, “Aw, I just gave a talk about that to the boys at the sanitarium today. No practical jokes, they don’t work out, you know?”

We just couldn’t afford it in that kind of environment. Well, somehow I decided to do it. I got my wife to get on the phone and call the office where he was. She said, “Ah, Dr. Thompson?” He said, Yes, yes!” She told him that this is the overseas operator. “Oh yes, yes, yes!” he said. “Where’s the call from?” My wife said, “I’m calling from Milan, Italy.” “Oh!”, he said. “That’s what I’ve been waiting for!” She said, “Can you hear me?” He said, “Just like you’re in the room!”

So we went from there. I could hear all of this on the other phone and so then he came on the phone and I said, “Senhor Thompson, I’m calling you from Milan.” He said, “Yes…yes I’ve been waiting for your call!” And I said, “ I’ve been talking to my employees and I’ve been talking to the boss and he says we can do something for you…”. At that point, I was beginning to feel we’re getting a little deep here you know. Clay would say, “Well, tell me…how much would it cost to change it from a right hand drive to a left hand drive?” And I don’t have any idea, but I told him “20, 000 lira”, and he says, “Well, that isn’t so bad. How much is that?” I had to make up a figure. So, finally I thought that this was too much, so I pretended that I was gonna just click the telephone and call him right back. I clicked it and tried to call him back…busy…Tried to call him back…busy…an hour and a half I tried to get back…I really was feeling bad by this time. As it turned out he had called practically every overseas operator in Europe to find out who made that call. I finally got through to him and told him that it had been me on the phone. I said, “Clay did you hear me?” He said, “What do you mean?” I repeated that it had been me on the phone. “Oh,” he said. “Well I enjoyed it anyhow!”. So anyhow we laughed about that many times, but I was very embarrassed at first.

MDT: That’s funny.

WKQ: Yeah. But ah…there were a lot of things that happened like that. One time we were up in Wisconsin at Hank’s cottage where he was staying. Clay came up with us, and we were going out fishing. He said, “I’m too tired I cannot go out in the morning”. I said, “Well, Hank will get you out”. He said, “No…no I’m not going I’m going to tell him no”. So we woke up about 3 in the morning and Hank had just come in from playing at the night club. He said to Clay, “Come on, get going. We’re going to go out and fish”. He said, “Oh, I’m too tired”. “Clay,” Hank said, “I went by that place, and the fish are jumping all over”. Clay said, “Where was it?” Hank told him and out they went. Before he left, I surreptitiously put a little note in his fishing tackle box that said, “I won’t go out fishing today”. Every time he turned around, we’d have that note someplace. Oh boy….what a time!

MDT: What would you say is the state of chiropractic these days?

WHQ: I would say that chiropractic is trying to make up its mind how and where it’s going to go. I think that the chiropractic profession is absolutely going have to base their practice on science based findings. They have no choice. Anecdotal evidence is not enough.

MDT: Right.

WHQ: This needs to be done under very close control. Now Palmer was in the position to do that, but they haven’t. They haven’t done it and what now they feel the way to practice is to wave a flag and stir people to do something. And that doesn’t work. That isn’t going to work here.
Somehow they have got to make a transition to a science based practice.

MDT: In reading the chiropractic newspapers I’m seeing about 99% of the chiropractic researchers now think that subluxation is an outmoded concept that should be done away with.

WHQ: Could be, could be. yeah. I don’t think there is any question that subluxation happens, but I don’t think it always happens with either the force or the complications that are said to follow. But I do think that it does happen.

MDT: I guess we should define subluxation from your point of view.

WHQ: That’s true, but basically what a subluxation was supposed to be was a misaligned vertebra putting pressure on a nerve.

MDT: Okay.

WHQ: There is irritation of a nerve. I don’t question that happens because I’ve seen certain, pretty good evidence on MRI’s, that it does exist. But I also was somewhat shocked and disappointed that many things you see on an MRI are not necessarily what you think they are.

MDT: There’s a synthetic quality and a computerized synthesis that occurs with the images. It is not quite as black and white as they’d like to think…

WHQ: I took the course leading to an orthopedic diplomate at LACC. This was long after I left my position there. I took it because, in California the time we had a lot of problems in the injury business, not only for the personal injury, but also for the employment problems. And at that time, we were spending over 2 billion dollars a year on back problems alone. There was one kind of trap that often happened. The insurance company would send the patient to their doctor, who would in effect say that there was nothing wrong with this man, or that what ever it was, was very minor. Then he goes back and get another doctor to examine him and this doctor says he is incapable of work. This would go back and forth, sometimes this can go on for a couple of years. The cost becomes incredible. So what they did to overcome this, and I don’t know how successful they ultimately were, they appointed people who were called qualified medical examiners. There were qualified medical examiners in each field. We were classed in the orthopedic field. There were also cardiovascular examiners, and so forth down the line…all different systems.

MDT: Sure.

WHQ: So the idea was for patients to eventually be referred to the QME, and that’s the end of it. He has the final decision. So they had to be sure these people were pretty well qualified. I took this course in orthopedics in order to qualify for that.

A Ph.D. in anatomy from Sweden taught the class. He had images of cadaver which had been sectioned transversely. Se we could see slices of the spine, just a graphic slice, an MRI slice and CT slice. So we’d be taught in a class where we would see what the x-rays showed, and then see the same thing on cat scan, and then you see the same thing that the MRI showed. It was very enlightening. It gave us some insights. He also had a network of people taking MRI’s and so forth at various radiology laboratories that he had set up. He would read the report rather than just write a report. He read the report on videotape. And the pointer would go up on the screen and he would say, “Here is where there is evidently pressure. About a two plus at this point on L-5, S-1 and so forth. The pointer would move around and, my God, it was just so clear.

Before, I would look at the images and I couldn’t see it. He was a man that I felt did a great service. He had a great interest and I think this business of doing the comparison of the logical slices between x-ray, CT and MRI really capped it. You’d look at it either way. And each one of them added to the understanding.

MDT: Do you think chiropractic is heading toward becoming a sub-specialty in orthopedics?

WHQ: I would say it’s a very great possibility, yes. I don’t think that the chiropractor can compete in what is happening in health care today if it isn’t administering medications. I don’t think there’s any way he can. That’s not necessarily his fault, it’s just the way things are. So, in some respects if you’re not practicing, you can look at this very objectively.

MDT: That part of why I am asking you these questions, because you have a perspective that’s unique, really.

WHQ: Well I guess it is, yes. My brother was a chiropractor, my grandfather was, and my dad, my uncle, my aunt it’s almost like the osteopathy families.

MDT: You said you wrote a text on chiropractic and mental health, is that what you told me?

WHQ: No, I didn’t ever write a text on it. If I said anything, I wrote a book which I’ve called ‘The Palmer Saga’.

MDT: Oh, okay, that may be what you were speaking of.

WHQ: Yes, and the Palmer Saga is just what it says it is.

MDT: Sure.

WHQ: It’s got D.D. and the rest, but it’s written more in a novel style.

MDT: Is it in print? I don’t think I’ve seen it.

WHQ: No, nobody is interested.

MDT: Oh, has it not been published?

WHQ: No, it hasn’t. The situation is that I’ve submitted it to some agents and so forth, but there wasn’t any interest. They have said it is very interesting in some respects, but they don’t think we have the audience that will read it. And after all, that’s what counts for them.

MDT: I understand.

WHQ: And I’m not going to ever do any self publishing. I don’t think that’s a very good idea. But if I could get it into the right hands, I think it would be interesting. Because it is interesting. Hell, it’s a lot better than just reading history because it’s history with a lilt.

MDT: Yes.

WHQ: For example, I begin with D.D. dying. He is in the bed hallucinating. He hallucinates his early life. His dearest wife seems to come along and sit down by his bed. It turns out to actually be the nurse. Then of course it eventually develops into the lawsuit and the problems and what happened, through the Davenport chiropractic school. Then of course we go through his other early periods. His struggle to somehow find something that would make him feel he had contributed to human beings. That’s what he wanted, he wanted to be recognized. His travels and of going to Iowa and going back to little towns where he taught school. Things of that nature. Then of course we work through that up until B.J. and his birth, and the conflicts that happen between the two of them, and the anger that developed there. All of this taking place in that Ryan Building in Davenport. Then, ultimately BJ at about the age of 18 or 19 graduating and making his life; ultimately moving to the hill and buying a big mansion, and the way it went for them. There were some pretty bad, tough times for the Palmers. There were also some very good times. The thing that really saved B.J. more than any other thing, was the fact that he intuitively guessed that radio would be big. And it was.

MDT: Boy, that was a good idea.

WKQ: Oh, without it, they’d never have beat it. But with that particular support and structure, I guess it was worth the effort. So anyhow, the book does all those things and even takes up the rest of D.D.’s life and carries it through until he dies.

MDT: Are you associated with Palmer at all anymore?

WHQ: No.

MDT: You’d think they would want to publish it, if no one else.

WKQ: I didn’t ask them. Even if they published it, the audience is very limited. I really wrote this with a larger audience in mind.

MDT: Oh, I see.

WHQ: I didn’t want to write just for chiropractors. I wanted to write this for a wider audience. I wrote those articles you said you’d read in Dynamic Chiropractic, and in a sense, that was sort of the beginning of some of those stories.

We have talked about some of those periods. … where he had that episode with his stomach, and the blockade that developed. I don’t know… it should be interesting. But I guess I just think to myself sometimes, well maybe I, and a few other people, are the only ones really interested. And yet people like to read biographies…

MDT: I don’t think potential publishers realize what it is.

WHQ: Well I guess I put it back on the shelf because I’ve got others that I’m pressing at the
same time.

MDT: So you’re still writing?

WHQ: Oh yeah, everyday.

MDT: That’s great. You’ve got a great set up here for it.

WHQ: Yeah, I sure do.

MDT: I’ve taken up more time than I should have.

WHQ: Oh, well I’m awfully glad you came along. I’m glad to have met you.

MDT: I’m very pleased to have been able to talk with you. Thank You.