Sunday, June 14, 2009

Fessie and Beck and their "adjustments"

Fessie was a firm believer in chiropractic medicine. He and Beck headed to town every week for their 'adjustment' at the chiropractor's office. Fessie suffered from emphysema while Beck had bad headaches, and they both felt that the adjustments they received were beneficial to their health.

Fessie's father, Hugh Pennington, was also a big fan of 'adjustments.' There was an elderly black man by the name of Shumpert in the Carolina community who was known as a kind of local doctor, and Hugh would take his wife Dee in their wagon to see him. Hugh watched as Dee received her chiropractic massage, or adjustment, and after several sessions, learned how to give Dee an adjustment himself. Hugh also gave adjustments to Dee's brother, Gainey, after Gainey suffered a stroke. Every evening after working in the fields, and after supper, Hugh would walk to Uncle Gainey's house to give him an adjustment.

No wonder, then, that Fessie was a believer in chiropractic adjustments. After a chiropractor opened an office in Amory, Fessie would drive Beck and his elderly father there for occasional adjustments. It wasn't until the 1970s however that Fessie and Beck began their regular visits to the chiropractor, visiting Dr. Herbert Brewer and later Dr. Tom Morgan inVerona. Fessie even participated in a testimonial advertisement for Dr. Brewer, below, in which he testified as to the benefits of spinal adjustments for his shortness of breath. He provided a similar newspaper testimonial for Dr. Morgan regarding the improvement in his sinusitis after regular chiropractic adjustments, an embarrassment for his daughter who was a nurse for the local ear, nose and throat clinic!

It was with Dr. Morgan that Fessie and Beck developed a relationship that exceeded the normal doctor-patient bond. There was rarely a visit to Dr. Morgan's office that didn't include gifts of tomatoes, watermelons or corn, or perhaps a coconut cake - not just for Dr. Morgan but for his staff as well. The weekly visits were social events as much as anything, although Dr. Morgan saw Fessie through a bad case of shingles and as well as some significant back problems. When Fessie was diagnosed with lung cancer in late 1984, Dr. Morgan had by then moved to Georgia although he continued to keep in touch with the Pennington couple. In a letter to Fessie and Beck following Fessie's cancer diagnosis, Dr. Morgan wrote, "There are no finer people or patients I have ever known, than you all. I always thought I could keep you healthy forever."

There is one final story to be told about Fessie and Beck's weekly visits to receive their adjustments. In 1979, on their way from Peaceful Valley to see Dr. Morgan in their red pick-up truck, they were hit by a train at the track crossing in Verona. The train pushed or dragged the pick-up about a mile down the track before the train could come to a full stop. Thankfully, Fessie and Beck suffered only minor bruising and injury (nothing a good chiropractic adjustment couldn't cure), but their pick-up was a total loss. Although it was a scary event at the time, later there was some good-natured laughter about it. Below is a picture of the site of the train wreck taken not long after the occurence of the crash.


amyrebba said...

I saw the name Pennington and quit reading. I also have a Pennington, my gggg grandmother Ann Pennington Beeson. 1771-1823. I'm sure she lived in AL as that is where her husband Edward Beeson died in 1837. there is a lot of history about Edward Beeson, war hero and govenor of AL I believe, but nearly nothing of Ann. Have you come across an Ann Pennington that fit this one in your research?

Mona Robinson Mills said...

There is a Beeson-Pennington connection, but I thought it was much earlier - in North Carolina or Virginia. One of Levi Pennington's daughters married a Beeson/Beason I believe. I'm not sure about the later connection in Alabama, but I wouldn't be surprised.

LPM said...

I'm catching up on your blog and am just reading this. Fessie and Beck were quite a couple weren't they? A car/train wreck and survived virtually unscathed! I don't think I've heard that story before. I also didn't know they were such "Chiropractitionists"!