Twenty five years ago Chris Crawford visited Shepherdstown for the first time only to discover it was the place where he wanted to spend his life. True to the adage, Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans - it took him 18 years to get here.
Firmly ensconced at home on So. Princess with his long-time love, and newest member of the Shepherdstown Town Council, Lori Robertson, and the irrepressible tween, Rachel Robertson, Chris is living the life of a man in the right place. "Shepherdstown is a little oasis of artists and musicians - a mecca of creativity and I love it. It's a place where you're allowed to be different. You're expected to be different." He said with his familiar humor and straight forwardness.
Harry Birch "Chris" Crawford was born in Highpoint, North Carolina, the youngest of Bud and Betty Crawford's two children - Chris and Candy. Nine years later Bud moved his family to Annapolis and him into high management at National Plastics. The years went by and Chris went off to the University of Maryland for a degree in Radio and TV. After graduation he decided to forego broadcasting in favor of playing drums with "Sudden Rush" in Georgetown. One night while the restaurant in which he was performing was held up at gunpoint, Chris decided to chuck the nightlife career and get outdoors.
There was lots of work to do in the Virginia horse country and he loved horses and working outdoors and this combination led him to enroll in the Martinsville Veterinary School. Soon he was a certified farrier for some of the most prestigious and picturesque horse farms in Middleburg. By that time he had married to Mary Kelly and the father of two little boys, Kelly and Issac. The family settled in a log cabin on a horse farm near Goose Creek.
The horseshoe is said to be a talisman of good luck. For Chris Crawford the farrier business, though brisk, had an interesting way of proving it. If you have ever tried to get a horse to raise a hoof you know how hard that can be. Especially if the horse isn't inclined. Now imagine doing that all day, everyday for years and what a toll it can take on your body.
Because of multiple injuries and the physical strain of the work, Chris' back finally gave out. The pain was frequent and excruciating. He sought medical help and found that no chiropractor, no massage, no pill was anything more than a temporary fix. His condition continued to worsen and recur. Chris knew he had to find a solution. He couldn't live with a "bad back" and was definitely not cut out for a desk job, so he started down another career path: the study of therapeutic bodywork. According to Chris "There's nobody who can fix a back problem like someone who's had one."
He enrolled in the Virginia School of Massage in Winchester. Though Chris had no intention of doing massage, the school offered extensive studies in the osteopathic tradition and certification and that's what he was seeking.
While participating in an extensive regimen of therapeutic bodywork training an inexplicably great thing happened. Quite by accident, while undergoing a technique that was never intended for the problem, Chris' chronic back pain was suddenly gone. This mysterious occurrence was the catalyst that drove him to find an answer. Why had the pain disappeared? He started to study with renowned experts in manual therapy and this inspired him to create his own system. Unlike Chris, I don't know about structural integration or cerebrospinal fluid technique or neuromuscular reprogramming, soft tissue manipulation, or even muscle energy. But I do know that a bad back (or knee, shoulder, neck, hip, head) is often cured by "unlocking" something structural that results in the muscles surrounding the cite calming down and immediately stop hurting. You just have to find what's locked. This is a non-medical explanation.
"Years ago you could fix something traditionally." Chris said. "Now we're so locked-up these methods don't always work and to find solutions you have to keep modifying techniques. No two bodies are the same. What works on one doesn't work on another." He loves finding solutions to pain problems. Did I mention he extended this structural integration expertise to the wellness of his horses and to teaching? He did.
Well into his new career, Chris became a single father living on a horse farm in Winchester. With his new back he could also maintain his old career. In 2000 he left the farm and moved to Shepherdstown at last.
Chris Crawford and Lori Robertson's paths had been crossing for years before they finally met. Teachers knowing teachers, family members acquainted, friends of friends - they just kept missing each other until they began working together as manual therapists in Winchester. Both were now single, older and wiser, and they recognized what they'd found. Lori and Chris still work together in Winchester and have recently opened a home office.
In 2005 Lori and Chris bought said home. "It was a real find." Chris admitted. "The sellers had bought it for their son who rented out all the rooms to college kids and they proceeded to trash the place. It had sat empty for a year and a half." He proceeded to say with great affection. "Some would say it was a real dump but Lori and I saw a diamond in the rough." According to both parties, "Everything we did, the house responded. It smiled, you could feel it." Then Chris added, "If you can remodel a house and are still speaking to each other you know you've really got something." The place needed a total overhaul and transplant and they did 99% of the work themselves. Today, with its open spaces and inner, flower and herb-filled, courtyard, the house is warm and welcoming.
It was at about the same time that Chris, and his drums, teamed up with his old Terp buddy Tom Borum and his band. Rudy and the Bluefish performs most weekends around the tri-state area and in town at the Mech and Blue Moon. "If you bring it to Shepherdstown they'll come." Chris said. "Shepherdstown loves to dance. It's the best crowd anywhere."
Chris Crawford is a complicated man with a simple explanation for the happiness he's found. "I'm grateful everyday for what we have. We live in a special place where there's "music on the wall. "This is as good as it gets."
- Sue Kennedy is a former public relations executive and Emmy Award winning screenplay writer.