Fasting Expert Dr. Henry S. Tanner
Dr. Tanner was so popular that people flocked to Long Beach from all over the country to take his treatment. Even Mark Twain in his 1897 book Following the Equator mentioned Dr. Tanner in passing: "I think that the Dr. Tanners and those others who go forty days without eating do it by resolutely keeping out the desire to eat, in the beginning, and that after a few hours the desire is discouraged and comes no more."
In March 1908, Miss Etta Priscilla Grove traveled all the way from
to fast under the guidance of Dr. Tanner.
Tanner believed fasting rid the body of toxins that caused disease and
sapped a person’s energy. Miss Grove had
been experiencing a lack of stamina and came to Long Beach to seek Dr. Tanner’s cure. She maintained her fast for the entire forty
days, dropping from 123 to 104 pounds, and claimed she had never felt better.
Not all were up to doing the entire forty days. Mr. and Mrs. E.W. Elder of
Pasadena fasted only
fourteen and ten days respectively, under the direction of Dr. Tanner. Both sought relief from stomach trouble. Mrs. Elder stated the fast had an entirely
different effect upon each of them. She
experienced sleeplessness and nausea,
had little desire for food, however the headaches which plagued her
disappeared entirely. Mr. Elder had no
problem sleeping and felt his lumbago and rheumatism had lessened. He told the
Press about his experience in the Long Beach September 25, 1908 issue:
“The story that some people tell of losing all desire for food after a fast of a few days is entirely contrary to what I feel. I could eat a generous portion of a chicken right now. It takes will power to fast, but I am thoroughly convinced that it has done good in my case and I believe and hope I will be able to keep it up long enough to cure my ailments.”
In May 1909, the famous Dr. Tanner had ten people fasting under his direction at his Long Beach clinic. Among them was E.P. Smith, of
, who had gained fame by writing 19,000 words
on the back of a government post card.
Guy H. Parkinson of Los
Pacific Avenue in Long Beach, was also under Tanner’s care. On May 18, 1909, Parkinson broke the world’s fasting record
set by Tanner, by abstaining from food for 43 days. What was remarkable was that Parkinson, a
house mover, worked at his strenuous job almost every day of the fast without
suffering loss of stamina or energy.
Parkinson had been having trouble with his stomach, and felt “out of
whack.” He tried a great many things,
but found no relief. He went to Dr.
Tanner and took his advice on fasting and along the way vowed he would break
the world’s record. Tanner, however,
claimed his fasting record of 41 days in 1880 still stood. He had also abstained from water (making it a
pure fast), while Parkinson drank water
three times a day. By July 1909, Tanner's notoriety had spread to such an extent that he opened a fasting hospital in Los Angeles, though he continued to make his headquarters in Long Beach at 416 Pine Avenue.
Dr. Tanner & Premature Burial
Dr. Tanner was interested in other things besides fasting—such as premature burial. Others in
were concerned about being buried
alive and wrote Tanner for guidance. In
the Long Beach Press of Long Beach March 31, 1908, Tanner
responded. He said he was considering
forming a premature burial society that would be mainly educational, teaching
people not to be too hasty in burying people.
He told of an undertaker from embalming a man who noticed the body
beginning to perspire. His embalming had
progress too far for him to stop, and the more he embalmed, the more the body
perspired. He finally finished his work
but confessed to Tanner that the man had been buried alive. San
Dr. Tanner used the story of Rip Van Winkle to stress that in present society Van Winkle would have been prematurely buried. In
, Dr. Tanner told the
newspaper, a body was kept six days before being buried, and this prevented, in
many instances premature burial. Tanner
felt this was a good idea which England
should adopt. America
Tanner, born in England in 1831, died in San Diego on December 28,1918. He was buried six days after his death, no sign of perspiration noted.