By Mitchell K. © 1991, 1997
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Index of Chapter 3

3.1 - Home...for just a brief moment 3.6 - On Our Knees
3.2 - The Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run 3.7 - At T. Henry and C. Williams' Home
3.3 - Meeting the Doctor 3.8 - The Meeting at T. Henry's
3.4 - Back to Cleveland 3.9 - The Message is Brought to Cleveland
3.5 - In the Hospital 3.10 - Cleveland Begins to Come of Age

Chapter 3.7

At T. Henry and Clarace Williams' Home

You cannot belong to the Oxford Group. It has no membership list, subscriptions, badge, rules, or definite location. It is a name for a group of people who, from every rank, profession, and trade, in many countries, have surrendered their lives to God and who are endeavoring to lead a spiritual quality of life under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

The Layman With A Notebook, What Is The Oxford Group? (London; Oxford University Press, 1933) p.3

That same evening, Doc took Clarence out of the hospital. Clarence was a new man, dressed in old clothing. All the clothing he owned was the clothing he wore on his back, his old mission clothes. No overcoat to protect him from the elements. A mismatched suit that was way too large for him and that had patches on it of different colored material where it had worn out. A shirt with a frayed collar and ripped pocket, with a tie that Doc had given him that didn't seem to match anything except the loudness of its colors. He wore one black shoe and one brown one with socks that had no toes or heels.

He felt, at the very least, self-conscious. Doc said it really didn't matter because where they were going, no one was going to look upon the outside of him. They wouldn't be interested in his worldly appearance. All they would be interested in, Doc continued, was what was on the inside, in his spirit.

They walked outside, not as doctor and patient, but as two drunks. They got into Doc's car for the short ride to what Doc had promised him would be a rewarding evening. Clarence had, through experience, learned not to question Doc. But just to go along.

They drove to 676 Palisades Drive, in Akron. It looked like a millionaire's home to Clarence. It was, in fact, the home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams. T. Henry and Clarace were prominent members of the Oxford Group in Akron, (see appendix A, "What was the Oxford Group").

T. Henry's home, photo taken in August 1998
    T. Henry's home, old photo

When the Oxford Group people had been required, by the high rent, to move from the Mayflower Hotel in Akron, T. Henry and Clarace Williams opened up their home to the group.

It was, in fact the home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams

The first regular Oxford Group meetings in Akron had been held at the same Mayflower Hotel in which Bill Wilson was staying and from which he supposedly made his phone calls, seeking to help himself by helping another "drunk." One of those calls was to the Reverend Dr. Walter Tunks, an Oxford Group adherent who put him in touch with Henrietta Seiberling, another Oxford Group adherent. Wilson's conversations with Henrietta had led him to an introduction to Dr. Robert H. Smith. The ensuing meeting of the two - Bill and Dr. Bob - at Henrietta's home at the Gate House of the Seiberling Estate was to lead to the founding of was, four years later, to become known as Alcoholics Anonymous.

The date of Dr. Bob's last drink is also in question. Officially, it has been June 10, 1935. Recent discoveries have shown that the Convention of
the American Medical Association held in Atlantic City didn't start until June 10, 1935. It would have been difficult for Dr. Bob to be at the Convention

on Monday, June 10th and also have gotten his last drink from Bill on that same date. Though the June 10 date might be only symbolic, the actual date of

Dr. Bob's last drink would have probably been on, or around June 17, 1935.

   American Medical Association June10, 1935

Clarence was still very self-conscious. But with Doc's gentle guidance and insistence, he walked inside. He had not been inside a home like this in many years.

There were oriental rugs on the parquet, wood floors. Beautiful oil paintings from both European masters and contemporary American artists adorned the walls. There were shelves on the walls which were lined with miniature figurines and bric-a-brac.

The expensive porcelain figurines and bric-a-brac caught Clarence's rapt attention. Still relying on his survival mode thinking patterns, Clarence thought, that if things got too uncomfortable, he could pocket a "few of these trinkets," and sell them for bottles of alcohol. He stored the location of the most expensive looking figurines in his mind for future reference. He continued walking further into the house, directly behind Doc. The further he went into the house, he noticed and stored the location of many more valuables in his mind. These included, for some unknown reason, a Grand Piano in the corner. It probably wasn't the piano that he was after, but the silver picture frames and more expensive bric-a-brac that were on it.

He then started noticing something else. He noticed all of the women sitting around the house in comfortable chairs. These, he surmised, were "high class" women. All were dressed in fancy, expensive Haute Couture. At least, that is what it looked like to Clarence, who had been on the "bum" and used to mission clothing.

These women were sitting and chatting among themselves and with the other well dressed gentlemen who also abounded. These men, he surmised, were definitely not "rummies." They were "Earth people, civilians."

His mind was reeling. He felt, for a moment, that Doc had taken him to a fancy brothel, a rich people's house of prostitution. But, there, sitting in one of those large, overstuffed, Victorian, wing-backed chairs, apart from all the others, talking to a woman that he later found out was Doc's wife, Anne Smith, was Dorothy. His own wife! His heart almost stopped there and then in shock. He had to hold on to something to steady himself. What he held on to was Doc.

It seemed that Doc had telephoned Dorothy to come to Akron for this meeting. Doc later told Clarence that she was reluctant at first, and had refused to come. Doc also told him later that he had then invited her to come to his home so that Doc and his wife could talk with her about this new "cure," a cure that Doc himself had taken. This new way of life that was so successful with him and the others to whom he had passed it on. Men just like Clarence.

Dorothy had still not been convinced. Not until Doc put Anne on the telephone to talk with her. Clarence remembered that Anne Smith had a way about her that could charm a troubled spirit like nothing else could. Later on, after the alcoholics' membership began to flourish, Anne Smith would meet with the wives at her home and they would have their own sort of fellowship. Dorothy gave in to Anne and stated that the only reason that she was coming to visit was because of Anne. Not Clarence.

Dorothy drove down to Akron to meet with Doc and Anne. She found them to be two of the nicest, down-to-earth people she had ever met. They instilled in her a hope that this new "cure" would work on her husband. Though she still held on to numerous reservations as far as Clarence was concerned, Dorothy had listened. She told Anne and Doc about Clarence's drinking history, about his promises to stop, and about all the fruitless "cures" he had tried over the years.

Doc promised Dorothy he would bring Clarence to a meeting attended by Dorothy only when he felt that Clarence was ready. She agreed to come when, and if, this event actually occurred. Doc told her that Clarence would probably be ready the following Wednesday evening. Dorothy didn't believe that this would happen but she was curious and wanted to "check out" these other people. She was also curious to see with her own eyes this "new Clarence" that Doc had told her about.


Dorothy was neither asked to, nor did she make any guarantees that she would take Clarence home with her. She did, however, agree to be there at the meeting the next Wednesday night. Dorothy and Anne had hit it off quite well; and, in spite of her reservations about Clarence, Dorothy knew that she did want to continue the dialogue with Anne.

Doc had arranged for one of the other "rummies'" mothers to drive Dorothy to Akron the next week. This woman was Mrs. T., and she was a lot like Anne Smith. Friendly and with a spirit of serenity and genuine goodness that Dorothy hadn't seen for years.

Lloyd T. was an early member who had gotten sober in 1937 with Doc's help and was himself, a frequent visitor to the meetings in Akron. When the book Alcoholics Anonymous was being written, Lloyd was asked to submit his story for inclusion in the book. His story, The Rolling Stone, appeared in all sixteen printings of the First Edition.

On the appointed Wednesday night meeting at the Williams' home, Clarence just stood there. Dorothy just sat in her chair. Both of them with their mouths dropped open. They were staring at each other in complete shock and disbelief.

Dorothy had been told that Clarence would be there, but he was the last person she ever expected to see. She thought that Doc would never feel Clarence was ready for this meeting. But there Clarence was, and Dorothy did see something very different in Clarence.

Despite Clarence's obviously disheveled appearance, there seemed to be a newness about him. He stood straight. His blue eyes were clear and sparkling. True, he looked quite emaciated; but at the same time he also looked healthier than Dorothy had seen him in many years. He seemed as healthy as he had been, when he first swept Dorothy off of her feet at that dance, that now seemed so many years ago. Not so much healthy on the outside as he appeared to be healthy on the inside.

Clarence still felt self-conscious. His clothing, his physical demeanor. What would Dorothy think? Now that he really felt he was on the road to recovery, would Dorothy be willing, after all that they had been through, to travel it with him? Would it be travel or just travail?

Clarence was about as prepared for this encounter as he had been prepared to get down off of that hospital bed on to the cold concrete floor dressed in his shorty night shirt. About as prepared for this as he had to ask God to manage his life. He had trusted Doc before. Why not again? But still

Just at that moment, Doc grabbed Clarence's hand and began to introduce him to the other people in the room. "Doc saved me again," Clarence recalled. Clarence met Anne Smith, Henrietta Seiberling (who had been instrumental in bringing Bill and Doc together), Henrietta D. (the wife of Bill D., whose story, Alcoholics Anonymous Number 3, is in the second and third editions of the A.A. Big Book), and T. Henry and Clarace Williams, whose magnificent house this was.

Bill D., Alcoholics Anonymous Number 3

Clarence then began to notice some of the men who had visited him in the hospital, who had given so freely of their time, and who had shared their lives with a complete stranger. There was Jim S. (whose story, Traveler, Editor, Scholar, was in the First Edition of the Big Book), Bill V.H., (whose story, A Ward of the Probate Court, was in the First Edition), the S. brothers, Paul, (whose story, Truth Freed Me, was in the First Edition), and Dick, (whose story, The Car Smasher was in the First Edition), Lloyd T. (whose mother had driven Dorothy to Akron), Bill D. himself, and quite a few others.

All welcomed him, shaking his hand, and saying that they all genuinely meant what they said. Clarence rapidly began to feel less ill at ease. Even Dorothy came up to him, took his hand in hers, and smiled. It was a smile that Clarence had not seen in years and had thought, prior to this night, he would never see again.

Bill V.H. wanted to speak with Clarence privately. Clarence reluctantly excused himself, exacting a promise from Dorothy that she would be there when he returned. He followed Bill in to a side room.

Bill took out his wallet, a worn, leather billfold, stuffed to overflowing with papers and cards. All of this was held together with a rubber band. Clarence thanked Bill in advance for what he thought was to be money, and waited for a couple of dollars to pass in to his hands. Instead, to Clarence's dismay, Bill dumped the billfold's contents on to a small marble table, atop which was a Tiffany lamp. Bill began laboriously to sift through all of these papers, stopping once and a while to take a closer look, and examine what was written on them.

At last he found what he was looking for. He held it up to Clarence as if it were made of a precious material. He slowly placed the item into Clarence's outstretched palm. He placed his other hand over Clarence's and looked seriously in to his eyes.

He then uttered only three words. Clarence always remembered that scene as if it had happened just the day before. The three words were, "Read and remember." Bill turned, picked up the contents of his billfold, and slowly walked away. Leaving Clarence with this piece of paper in his hand.

Clarence held the card up to read this very important message. The message contained on this small piece of paper had a great impact on the rest of Clarence's recovered life. A recovered life that lasted over forty-six years.

Clarence learned the message. He memorized it. He believed in it. He taught it to everyone who would listen to him. And, most important of all to Clarence, he lived it. It was a quote from the King James Version of the Bible. It was quoted from the Book, Second Corinthians, Chapter Five, Verse seventeen: "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: Old things are passed away; behold, all things are become as new."

Clarence began to cry. He really felt that the old indeed had just passed away, and that all things had become as new.

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