At 90, Dr. Donald Brooks still practicing

DOWNEY - Slim and mustachioed Dr. Donald Brooks has been a chiropractic in Downey for 55 years and turned 90 in August, but he hasn't stopped working.

Oh, he has slowed down a bit: he begins his day at 8:30 a.m. and now enjoys the luxury of leaving the clinic at noon.

What happens when he gets home? "Oh, nothing much," he says. He watches some TV, but this is for later in the evening ("Jeopardy, Wheel of Fortune, stuff like that. I like to watch the news, too").

"I enjoy college football, especially USC, as well as UCLA basketball," he says, "and follow track and field."

"I've never been much of a reader, either," he admits. "My brother, he was a big reader. He had lots of books lying around. Me? I always was a slow reader. I had to read every word."

But despite all this, and looking tall, distinguished and smart as a whip even today, Dr. Brooks earned his chiropractic degree in 1947 from the L. A. Chiropractic College in Glendale. The decision to pursue the profession was easy: his father was already a practicing chiropractic; it was he who built the Brooks Chiropractic building on Downey Ave.

Dr. D. Brooks' son, Lance, who has taken over the full-time practice at the clinic, also got his degree from the same college in 1983.

A product of Budlong Grammar School," just down the street" from where he was born (at Normandie and 63d St. in South Central L.A.), Dr. D. Brooks graduated from Manual Arts High School on Vermont and 42nd St. (near USC), in 1942.

Eighteen at the time, he joined the Army Air Force and, for two years as a B-17 tailgunner, flew on missions over Germany (Mannheim, Frankfurt, Leipzig, etc.) targeting oil refineries, aircraft factories, and ammunition dumps.

He was one of the first flyers to fly 35 missions without being injured or shot down, and for this feat he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In a nutshell, Dr. Brooks says, the essence of chiropractic is relieving spinal nerve pressure and thus correcting the spine, and thus helping people who are in pain, especially in their back and neck areas. He adds that the most common cause is "too much heavy lifting."

An info pamphlet provided by the clinic elaborates on this. Chiropractors, it says, "locate and correct subluxations, the small internal distortions that create disconnections in your body that interfere with your nervous system communications. To be fully alive, you need to be fully connected."

Another pamphlet says chiropractors are specially trained to correct the "slight misalignment or distortion of your structural system, including your spine, that affects your discs, nerves, ligaments and ultimately your entire body. Once your chiropractor frees you of these subluxations, your body and mind function better."

In this connection, low back pain is very, very common, it states. Citing a documented research, it says about 85 percent of the population will experience disabling low back pain at least once during their lives."

It further offers reasons why chiropractors have helped millions of people with low back problems, often saving them from pain, disability, drugs and surgery: "Because painkillers, muscle relaxants, Valium, braces, physical therapy and surgery are not designed to correct subluxations. Chiropractic is."

A member of the College of Chiropractic, California Chiropractic Association, and the American Chiropractic Association, semi-retired Dr. Brooks says: "I like the work I do. Besides helping people with their pain, my work keeps me alert mentally and physically active."

He vaguely remembers being a member of Kiwanis "some forty years ago."

The secret to his longevity? "Diet, and keeping my life simple, no complications," he says. About four times a week, he and wife Dolly (who also works part-time at the clinic) go out to dinner. Their favorite destination is The Seafarer's Inn on Whittier Blvd. "They have fresh fish, especially salmon," he says.

His daughter, Melody, is also a part-time staffer at the clinic. So is Lance's wife, Cathy. "We have a full-time assistant, Phyllis," he says. Dr. Brooks' ancestry is English, Welsh and French. He has four grandkids.

********** Published: Jan. 23, 2014 - Volume 12 - Issue 41