Articles by JCS

Juice Man Cometh

Juice Man Cometh



There’s a knock at the door and everyone freezes with fear. Like the runaway slaves on the Underground Railroad to the North during the Civil War, chiropractors felt the same terror before state laws legalized chiropractic care.

From New York to Louisiana to California during the 1920s to 1970s, chiropractors were routinely arrested, extorted, and sometimes beaten by the local police. Their crime was nothing more than helping sick people get well without the use of drugs and surgery. Their only weapons in this crime were the helping hands.
Imagine living in fear of the next beating or the next time you would be thrown into jail. You are treated like a bookie or operating a speak-easy during Prohibition, but patients come to your door and knock to be let in, but only after you make sure they are not the police.

When the Juice Man finally comes knocking, he brings a couple of thugs, his enforcers to squeeze you for protection money. Sometimes you can pay, but when you can’t, the Juice Man is troubled: if he throws you in jail, you won’t be able to pay him in the future.

Just like the speakeasy, he loses if you don’t pay. So he has his thugs give you a good beating, leaving you with a few sore ribs and a black eye and a few days in the hospital—a clear warning to pay or else.

Some chiropractors were forced to leave town, many more were arrested, and some spent prison time. All lived in constant fear that they might be the next victim of the Juice Man.
Evon Barvinchack, DC, of Greencastle, Pennsylvania spoke of his childhood experience with the local police department in Binghamton, New York, in the late 1940s when he first experienced the “Juice Man.”

In 1945 my Dad graduated from Palmer Chiropractic College and opened his first practice at 38 Baxter Street, Binghamton, New York. This is where the “Juice Man” roamed. He was usually accompanied by two other enforcers. Chiropractic was not licensed in New York State at this time. Therefore, my Dad was guilty of practicing medicine without a license. Thus the Juice Man.

It is my understanding that in order to not go to jail DCs paid the Juice Man to “look the other way” (equivalent to a modern day protection racket). As with all “protection” scams, the price kept going up and it became harder and harder for the DCs to come up with the money.

So now the “Juice Man” had a quandary: if he jailed the chiropractors he lost his cash stream. Thus, the beatings began; I remember my mother crying and screaming and my Dad being knocked around his office. Once he was dragged out into the front yard and publicly beaten.

I still have a picture in my mind of his severely swollen face and a black eye. Very grotesque picture to a young boy. This was the first black eye I had ever seen. My mother said I had nightmares about it for several months. Another local DC was hospitalized after one of his beatings.

My Dad soon closed his office in Binghamton and moved to Marathon, New York. No “Juice Man” there. Evidently, the “Juice Man” was someone of authority or had connections to someone of authority, because he scared my parents and other Chiropractors. How much did he collect I don’t know and I don’t think my parents ever said. But I remember my mother telling me that “He” stole our Christmas.

It is difficult for Americans to conceive such beatings would occur simply because chiropractors chose to help people get well without drugs or surgery. Dr. Barvinchack’s experience was not the only example of this medical protection. Until 1975 when the last state passed the final scope law protecting chiropractors from medical persecution, over 12,000 chiropractors were arrested over 15,000 times for allegedly practicing medicine without a license.

This remains the untold story of chiropractors from persecution to vindication that the American public has yet to hear.

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