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Giant Hands of Dr. SidHands.

Giant Hands of Dr. Sid

Field review by the editors.

Marietta, Georgia

Sidney "Dr. Sid" Williams (1928-2012) was controversial in life, even among his fellow chiropractors. Some praised him as a visionary and charismatic leader of the chiropractic field. Others condemned him as "Big $id," a flamboyant scalawag, and said his Life University -- the largest chiropractic college in the world -- flooded the U.S. with undertrained chiropractors while he and his family lined their pockets with its tuition money (The university forced them all out in 2002).

Giant bling of Dr. Sid

Dr. Sid was a fan of televangelist Oral Roberts and patterned his university after the immersive enclave of Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma (Sid's zealous teaching style was dubbed "chirovangelism"). The Oral Roberts campus contains a pair of giant bronze "healing hands," so it was inevitable that Dr. Sid would outfit his campus with its own pair, modeled, of course, on his own.

The hands, by sculptor Stephen Smith, were unveiled in front of the university's bell tower at homecoming on November 19, 1999. They are 18 feet high and 12 feet wide, the "largest bronzed statue in the Southeast" at the time, according to the university. Ropelike tendons bulge against skin, and Dr. Sid's obnoxious bling, a pair of Georgia Tech football rings, are as big as boulders. While one hand appears to be forcibly restraining the other, they are in fact poised to deliver a "toggle adjustment" to the neck of a giant, invisible patient. As we were admiring the hands, a campus tour guide stopped and said that they show one of Dr. Sid's favorite chiropractic techniques.

A view of the hands from the cell-like shrine of chiropractic martyrs.

Plaque of the persecuted.
The most jailed chiropractor in the world, surrounded by the names of fellow inmates.

Behind the hands, and dedicated on the same day, is the university's 46-foot-tall bell tower, faced with Stone Mountain granite (Its clock, instead of using numbers, spells out C-H-I-R-O-P-R-A-C-T-O-R).

Inside the base of the tower is Dr. Sid's shrine to persecuted chiropractors, with the names of several hundred of them engraved on its inner walls. According to the university, the names are a list of every chiropractor who was ever imprisoned in the U.S. for practicing his or her craft. The tour guide told us that the sheltered chamber, a deliberately claustrophobic memorial, is the size of a typical jail cell.

A bronze plaque inside the chamber offers special praise for Herbert Ross Reaver, "the most jailed chiropractor in the world," who was arrested 13 times for practicing in Ohio. "Let us never forget," the plaque continues, "that the men and women acknowledged here chose self-denial over avarice, honor over expediency, and courage over cowardice." To continue the theme of heroic sacrifice, a 9/11 memorial stands behind the bell tower, its miniature World Trade Center towers lit by an eternal flame.

With the exit of Dr. Sid, Life University also put aside its autocracy and extravagance. Only the most vital part of its founder remains, supersize. Dr. Sid's mighty hands send a message: modern-day spinal adjusters need no longer live in fear. Society has embraced them with a powerful grip. With the promise of an aching, aging populace (and a long career of follow-up adjustments), America's chiropractors are going to do just fine.

Giant Hands of Dr. Sid

Life University

1365 Barclay Circle, Marietta, GA
I-75 exit 263. Drive west on Hwy 120/South Marietta Parkway SE. Turn left (south) onto Cobb Pkwy. Turn right (west) onto Barclay Circle. The second entrance on the right has the giant hands sculpture.
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Nearby Offbeat Places

The Big ChickenThe Big Chicken, Marietta, GA - 1 mi.
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In the region:
Worlds of Puppetry Museum, Atlanta, GA - 12 mi.

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