Yoga in the Sanitarium?

Life is like a box of chocolates from "The San"

Life is NOT like this box of chocolates from the Battle Creek Sanitarium – Empty

50 years ago this month, when I was but a one month old cheesy onion hamburger bun in the oven, before my mother even knew she was with (pixie/devil) child, there were a few other events taking place on the planet. 

On the home front, my parents were busy balancing their check book to account for the following debts they incurred during their December 1963 wedding, honeymoon and setting up house:

  • $168 in cash for their honeymoon – $75 US and $100 Canadian (remember when you used to have to write a check to get cash?),
  • $65 for my Dad’s wedding tuxedo, AND his brother/best man’s tux – I’m guessing he didn’t have to pay extra for the Mad Men slim fit style back then,
  • $55 for their stay at the Hotel Suisse in Quebec
one of mom and dad's honeymoon stops

one of mom and dad’s honeymoon stops

  • $104 for the rent on their crib at the Triangle Trailer Park in Battle Creek, Michigan, and
Triangle Trailer Park, Battle Creek, Michigan

Triangle Trailer Park, Battle Creek, Michigan

  • $59 for the monthly car payment for their pretty light blue Corvair.
Dad keepin' it shiny

Dad keepin’ it shiny

Meanwhile in the world there were also some other minor, hardly groundbreaking, inconsequential happenings:

  • Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty (have we won yet?),
  • the IX Winter Olympic games opened in Innsbruck,
  • plans to build the world trade center were announced,
  • Michelle Obama (1/17/64) was born (and a few weeks later, 2/11/64, Sarah Palin graced the state of Idaho), and
  • Dr. Strangelove debuted in theatres. 

Of all of those trivial events, the most important thing that happened during this first month of my gestation was…wait for it… Bridget Fonda was born (1/27/64).  Sure, she’s known for her famous father Peter, for her auntie Jane and gramps Henry, for crazily turning down the role of Allie McBeal (picked up by Calista Flockhart who was also born in 1964) and for her creepy character in Single White Female.  But she’s most significant to me because of her portrayal of Eleanor Lightbody in the 1994 movie The Road to Wellville, a flick that put my birth city on the loony tunes map.

If you haven’t seen the movie, don’t bother; though there are some brilliant quotes like “Health! The ‘open sesame’ to the sucker’s purse!” and “with friends like you, who needs enemas”?  The movie, based on a book of the same name, is about Dr. John Harvey Kellogg (played by Anthony Hopkins), inventor of Corn Flakes and founder of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, where I was born.  Well, okay, I wasn’t actually born IN the Sanitarium but in Battle Creek, the cereal capital of the world, home to Kellogg’s and Post.  Although right after college I did spend 8 months working for an iteration of “The San” (as the Sanitarium was lovingly dubbed), as a drug and alcohol treatment center technician.

In its glory days, The San was a Seventh Day Adventist health resort with clients such as Mary Todd Lincoln, President Warren G. Harding, Amelia Earhart, Henry Ford, James Cash (JC) Penney, and Sojourner Truth.  Side bar: Sojourner Truth made her home (and later died) on College Street in Battle Creek, where I once lived in a rental house owned by my dad.  The story goes that Dr. Kellogg tried to treat ulcers on Sojourner’s legs by grafting on some of his own skin.  Don’t know if it’s true but it is part of Battle Creek’s legacy along with the immeasurable role the city and its residents played in the Underground Railroad.

I wonder if yoga was part of The San health plan back in the heyday?   Now, fittingly (?), The San is a federal center building. 

In closing, I’ll just say namaste Mariska Hargitay (born 1/23/64).

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3 thoughts on “Yoga in the Sanitarium?

  1. WOW. You’ve done a lot of interesting research for this BLOG! Regarding the Battle Creek San: The Battle Creek Home Economics Association, of which I was a member, had a dinner meeting almost annually at the San. I remember thinking the food tasted a little “unusual”. Come to find out, it was way ahead of its time and very healthy! xoxoxo Mom

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