HOW IT WORKED
Tradition 11: Our public relations
policy is based on attraction rather than promotion.
A.A. Grapevine, Vol. 2:11, April
Who ever was attracted to a
bunch of drunks? We had to sell this thing, permanent recovery.
We sold it in bars, in the alleys, in the jails and in the newspapers.
Clarence H. Snyder
the period Clarence was still drinking, his wife, Dorothy, had
gone to Reverend Dr. Dilworth Lupton. Lupton was, at that time,
pastor of the First Unitarian Church, located on Euclid Avenue
and East 82nd Street in Cleveland.
had often implored Reverend Lupton to intervene with, and speak
to, Clarence. And this Lupton did, on several occasions. But Clarence,
at that time, was unable and unwilling to quit drinking. Eventually,
Reverend gave up and told Dorothy to turn her husband's drinking
problem over to God. She told Lupton that that was exactly what
she was doing when she had asked Lupton for help. But Lupton explained
to Dorothy that he could do nothing further than what he had done,
and that the only thing left was prayer. Lots of prayer.
Clarence had left the hospital and begun attending meetings of
the Oxford Group in Akron, Dorothy once again went to the Reverend
Lupton. This time it was to interest him in coming to observe
the miraculous "new cure" in action.
had explained to Dorothy, that, as far as he was concerned, as
long as this "cure" was a part of the Oxford Group movement, it
didn't stand a chance and that he couldn't become a party to it.
"Nothing good could come out of the Oxford Group," Clarence remembered
Lupton's saying to Dorothy.
Clarence and the Cleveland contingent had broken off all ties
with the Oxford Group, Dorothy once again approached Reverend
Lupton. This time she brought with her the A.A.'s Big Book and
the names of a few Roman Catholic members. One name was that of
Joe D., whose story "The European Drinker" was in the Big Book.
The fact of Joe D.'s association with this new Cleveland group
was to be proof to Reverend Lupton that the alcoholic fellowship
had indeed broken with the Oxford Group.
thanked Dorothy for her continued interest in his meeting with
her husband and for her desire for him to see this new "cure"
in action. Lupton promised Dorothy that he would look into and
investigate this new movement and get back with her at a later
read the Big Book and seeing its potential, called her asking
her, meet with him at her convenience. Her convenience as it turned
out, was right there and then. The two - Lupton and Dorothy -
continued to meet, discussing the possibilities and they began
formulating a plan of action. Lupton offered to assist Dorothy
in any way he could with this new movement.
Snyder was an instrumental part of the beginnings of A.A. in Cleveland.
She was close with Anne Smith, Dr. Bob's wife, in Akron; and she
was intensely proud of her "new" husband. Sue Smith-Windows of
Akron, Doc's daughter, recalled for the author that her "mom (Anne
Smith) really liked both of 'em." She was referring to the closeness
that her mother had held with both Clarence and Dorothy.
made an appointment to meet with Reverend Lupton. When he arrived,
Reverend Lupton did not at first recognize him at all. There had,
of course, been a profound change in Clarence. After speaking
for several minutes, Clarence was able to convince Lupton that,
indeed, he was the very same man who had visited with Lupton a
couple of years earlier.
told Lupton the story of A.A. and of the trials and tribulations
that preceded its formation. He told Lupton of his drinking years,
of his meeting Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson, and of the split from
the Oxford Group. Lupton listened intently and was almost sold
on the idea. But he wanted to know more.
was invited to and did in fact attend several meetings of the
Cleveland group. He even invited nine of the alcoholic members
to his home to be "interviewed" by himself and a "prominent physician
and a psychiatrist." Apparently all the members passed this "interview"
with flying colors. These men and the stories of their changed
lives, were proof enough to Reverend Lupton of God's work amongst
November 26, 1939, the Reverend Dr. Dilworth Lupton preached to
his congregation a sermon concerning this new "cure." The sermon
was entitled "Mr. X. and Alcoholics Anonymous." [See
in her zeal to promote this new movement had informed a reporter
friend from the Cleveland Plain Dealer about Lupton's upcoming
sermon; and she asked the reporter to attend and possibly write
a review. The reporter accepted Dorothy's invitation and did attend
November 27, 1939, the Cleveland Plain Dealer printed the
sermon and it was met with a positive reaction by the readership.
It also brought about some inquiries about the new movement and
cries for help by both alcoholics and their families.
sermon was later printed in pamphlet form by Lupton's church.
It was pamphlet Number Forty-six, and was priced at ten cents.
It was titled "Mr. X and Alcoholics Anonymous," the same
title that was given to the sermon.
X was Clarence Snyder and in a letter from the Reverend Dilworth
Lupton to Clarence dated June 24, 1942, Lupton wrote, "I am very
happy that I was able to have something to do with the beginnings
of the Alcoholics Anonymous in Cleveland." This was in response
to Clarence's thanking Lupton for the important role he had played
in the beginnings of the movement.
Lupton sermon in the Cleveland Plain Dealer brought in
over one hundred inquiries. These inquiries continued through
April 16, 1939. This was the day that Rollie H., star catcher
for the Cleveland Indians baseball team, held a news conference.
H. announced to the world that his past erratic behavior was due
to excess booze and that he was, in fact, an alcoholic. Rollie
also announced that he had been dry for one year "with the help
of, and through, Alcoholics Anonymous." This statement was printed
in the April 17, 1939 edition of the Cleveland Plain Dealer
and in newspapers throughout the nation.
startling announcement, and the resulting publicity, brought in
over one thousand inquiries from around the country. This deluge
was followed by approximately eight hundred inquiries when an
article was published in Liberty Magazine on September
Liberty article was entitled, "Alcoholics and God," and
was written by Morris Markey. The Markey article was the first
piece of national publicity A.A. had ever received. Many of the
inquiries from the Markey article, as Clarence remembered, were
from "the over religious in the southern states." The Rollie H.
articles had brought in inquiries from around the United States.
They were from people coming from all walks of life.
to Sue Smith-Windows of Akron, Rollie was "a better catcher drunk,
than most were sober." She related to the author a story about
the way Rollie happened to get into the Oxford Group. She said
that the team manager offered a large sum of money to the Oxford
Group to "fix" his star catcher. The Oxford Group refused the
offer of money, but did agree to help. They explained to the baseball
manager that Rollie had to be hospitalized in order to get that
help. He did go into the hospital. However, he was definitely
not a volunteer.
related how other team members conspired to have Rollie hit by
a ball that was to be thrown specifically for the purpose of injuring
him. Not seriously, but enough for him to be taken out of the
the pitch came, Rollie was hit. Despite his protestations, he
was advised by the team doctor to go to the hospital and get "checked
out." When he arrived there, he was placed under the immediate
care of Dr. Bob. Within a very short period of time, Rollie began
his indoctrination into the Oxford Group and eventually into A.A.
were several other pieces of publicity that originated from the
Cleveland area in those days. Some in the form of pamphlets that
the members were having printed on their own and would hand out
to anyone who would read them. Sometimes they convinced the local
papers to print reviews of the meetings or the pamphlets.
S., who was sponsored by Larry J. from Houston, Texas, had moved
to and started meetings in the Miami, Florida area, and Carl requested
some of this early publicity in a letter he wrote to Clarence
on December 18, 1940. The letter said:
be glad to see samples of the printing the boys are having done,
if any is available. We are all ready to pounce on the prospects
these articles will develop.
had our first meeting last night, for the Flowing Orange Juice
Annual Bowl Session, or whatever you want to call it, there were
five of us there. Ruth Hock sent me some names, and we have one
guy from the New York Lodge, Charley C., an actor now at liberty.
Joe T., a Miami Beach resident, and a good sound self-instructed
A.A., is going to be a great force in working up an active gang
called on a man whose wife had sent into Ruth, and found he had
been released from jail, but he was now at work on a construction
job. He is to be our first convert, and tho he has a colorful
history of exploits here, and is well celebrated as a 'hard man
to handle when he gets his skin-full' as the police say, he is
a fine fellow if sober!
seems Sunday night, he and his dog went out for a stroll, to replenish
his supply after the police had taken it from him owing to a disturbance
during the afternoon he figured in, at the Beach. Due to his keen
appreciation of religious worship, he and his dog decided to 'take
over' a negro church gathering and Prayer, and when they arrived,
he was in the middle of an extemporaneous sermon on the evils
of Law Enforcement, and also on the middle of the deposed preacher's
stomach. He and the dog were removed to his regular cell at the
local Ice-house, for some quiet meditation and recovery.
gives you a slight insight on the local situation as we find it,
in launching our first efforts here in Sunny Southland of tropical
beginnings of A.A. were filled with pathos and with dissention.
There were trials and tribulations as the message of hope was
carried to the still sick and suffering alcoholic.
the other hand, as the previous quoted letter exemplifies, A.A.
was made as much fun as possible. Clarence had a great laugh over
this story. So did all of the others at the meetings to which
he brought it.
brought new members as well as new tales. Some were funny and
some, more often than not, were sad. Publicity was not the only
way to which A.A. was enabled to grow by leaps and bounds in Cleveland.
It grew due to the personal contact of one drunk with another.
One in recovery to one who was still suffering. This was Cleveland's,
and Clarence's personal mission.