Every day, dozens of people drive or walk to the Tichenor Clinic on the east side of Long Beach and admire the building’s remarkable Modern Art architecture, inspired by 1920s Art Deco.
But few stop to see the inspiring and sometimes miraculous events within.
One of those passers-by was journalist and writer Karen Robes Meeks, who lived near the clinic on Termino Avenue and walked there often but had never ventured inside.
At least not until Dr Charles Durnin, chairman of the board of the Tichenor Support Foundation, approaches Meeks and asks him to write a book on the history of this nearly century-old institution – the one of Long Beach’s best kept secrets and quiet treasures. .
After nearly two years of research combing through Tichenor’s newspaper and archive articles and conducting dozens of interviews, Meeks has produced a compelling, soon-to-be-published book, “Adelaide’s Legacy: Tichenor Orthopedic Clinic for Children.” .
The book is a comprehensive overview of how the Tichenor Clinic, 1660 Termino Ave., went from treating less than a dozen children when it opened in 1926, in the basement of the Long Community Hospital. Beach, to an average of 800 children a year today. in a 1938 building designed by renowned Long Beach architect W. Horace Austin.
Over the next three weeks, the Press-Telegram will air excerpts from the book, which will detail Adelaide Tichenor’s life, the clinic’s battles against various illnesses, and where she will go from here.
One of the book’s many highlights is a biographical look at the life and times of Adelaide Tichenor, the founder of the clinic, an amazing woman and pioneer from Ohio who created a new life for herself in Long Beach. She earned the nickname “Mother of the Long Beach Clubs” by helping to establish the Long Beach Day Care Center, the Long Beach Public Library, the Ebell Club and, of course, the Tichenor Clinic.
She was also deeply involved in supporting the suffrage movement in Long Beach in the early part of the 20th century.
Meeks, a former Press-Telegram reporter, explains how Tichenor’s greatest achievement, creating a clinic-school for children with special needs, was inspired, in part, by her own disability, a clubfoot that she endured her entire life, preventing her from walking since birth.
Sadly, Tichenor died in her home in 1924 after battling an illness that kept her bedridden for seven months. She was 78 years old and she never got to see the opening of what was to be her greatest legacy.
But Meeks’ book explains how Tichenor left behind detailed plans for the clinic-school, even appointing five friends to run the clinic before his death.
The friends – Benjamin Tucker, Florence Bixby, Charles Windham, William Graef and Clyde Doyle – were among the most influential people in Long Beach at the time. Tichenor also bequeathed most of his money to a support trust of over $ 300,000, the equivalent of around $ 4.5 million today.
When she began to delve into the rich history of the Tichenor Clinic, Meeks said, she discovered “some amazing things that are happening within the clinic: Children with disabilities take their first steps, say their first words and seize their first victories in the face of challenges that at times seemed impossible to overcome.
Meeks writes heartwarming stories about a girl who first communicated with her mother through encouragement from speech-language pathologists and a boy who overcame the crippling effects of polio through the clinic’s swim therapy program after d other doctors told him he would never walk again. .
There is also a story about Victor Perez, a 5 year old boy who had pain in his legs so persistent he couldn’t sleep. A pediatrician called his pains growing pains, but the boy’s mother took him to the Tichenor Clinic for a second opinion.
Durnin, then one of the doctors at the clinic, discovered a bone tumor on Victor’s thigh and removed it, saving the boy from more severe leg pain that would have affected his walking. Victor returned to the Tichenor Clinic 30 years later – to serve as a board member and medical director.
These stories were the favorite part of the book by Lori DeLaney, who served as Executive Director of Tichenor for 27 years before retiring in October and handing over the reins of clinic management to Kathryn Miles.
“Karen Robes Meeks weaves stories into the book that bring Adelaide’s vision to life, beautifully capturing her caring for children and her commitment to excellence,” DeLaney said in a foreword to the book. “Tichenor’s mission is a commitment to children.
We believe that every child should have access to early intervention and rehabilitation services, ”she added. “Every parent should be offered support and resources to mitigate the effects of a disability on their child’s health, education and quality of life. “
Meeks also writes about how the Tichenor Clinic has responded to many unmet community needs, from the early years of polio and scoliosis to cerebral palsy and autism. The book discusses how the clinic has created programs focused on orthopedics, early intervention development, speech therapy, physiotherapy and occupational therapy, swimming, and parent support.
In its evolution, the clinic has been the place of orthopedic surgery and avant-garde therapeutic approaches.
Doctors at the clinic pioneered bone grafting, leading them to secure California’s first bone bank in 1948, Meeks writes.
Durnin – a Long Beach native who followed in his father’s footsteps, William, who was also a doctor and a clinic volunteer – organized a scoliosis clinic where doctors performed screenings and taught school nurses how to do them. .
The book contains stories from other talented doctors and administrators who have strengthened Tichenor’s mission in the community.
Doctors like Dr. Ross Sutherland, the clinic’s first medical director; Dr H. Milton Van Dyke, Dr Roy Terry and the legendary Dr John Rowe, who served at the clinic for over 40 years as medical director and member of the board of directors.
The directors included longtime executive directors Gladdes Neff, Nancy Mahan Hegelheimer and Lori DeLaney.
Dr. Emory Chang, Medical Director of Tichenor, explains in his introduction how the book details Tichenor’s collaboration with MemorialCare Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach to provide world-class care for all musculoskeletal conditions that affect children.
Orthopedic treatment, Chang said, has evolved into advanced metals, fiber optics, robots and computer programs, resulting in “dramatically improved results for some conditions and promising new approaches for those previously incurable.”
Despite all the technical advancements and surgical innovation, Chang said, the staff at Tichenor are very proud to be able to pursue the dream that Adelaide Tichenor started almost a century ago.
“I believe we have been true to our founding principles,” he said, “and have been honored with thousands of children playing and smiling faces.”
The idea behind the book, said Durnin, was to record the history of an important institution in Long Beach. He thanked Peter Ridder, Tamara Achauer and Terry Hodel for their support in funding the book.
“Karen and the book describe the history of the clinic very well, the role Adelaide Tichenor played in starting the clinic and her legacy that continues today in helping thousands of children lead better lives. healthy, ”Durnin said. “The future is very bright and I hope the clinic will last another 100 years.”
Get a copy
The soon to be published book, “Adelaide’s Legacy: Tichenor Orthopedic Clinic for Children”, will be available for donation at the clinic.
All proceeds will go towards low-cost therapy services and programs for children and families.
If you are interested in a copy of the book, please contact Executive Director Kathy Miles, 562-597-3696 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Director of Development Stelet Kim, 562-597-3696 or email@example.com. Donations can also be made at tichenorclinic.org/donate with a note in the comment box indicating your interest in the book.
Excerpts to come
December 20: Who was Adelaide Tincher? The life and times of an extraordinary woman and pioneer at the beginning of the 20th century in Long Beach.
December 27: How the Tichenor Clinic responded to the unmet needs of Long Beach, from polio and scoliosis to cerebral palsy and autism.
January 3: How does the Tichenor Parent Support Group help families and what is the future of the Tichenor Clinic? And what would Adelaide Tichenor say about the future of her dream, which has become an iconic institution in Long Beach?