At T. Henry and Clarace Williams'
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,
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.
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.
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.
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").
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.
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.
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
Dr. Bob's last drink would have probably
been on, or around June 17, 1935.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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 …
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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."
began to cry. He really felt that the old indeed had just passed
away, and that all things had become as new.