By Mitchell K. © 1991, 1997
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Index of Chapter 5

Chapter 5:   HOW IT WORKED 5.4 - Other Publicity
5.1 - The First A.A. Meeting in the World 5.5 - Personal Contact - "Attraction Rather Than Promotion"
5.2 - Summer of '39 5.6 - The Rockefeller Dinner
5.3 - Cleveland Continues to Grow 5.7 - Trials and Tribulations of 1940

Chapter 5.4


Other Publicity

Tradition 11: Our public relations policy is based on attraction rather than promotion.

A.A. Grapevine, Vol. 2:11, April 1946

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

During 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.

Dorothy 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.

When 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.

Lupton 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.

After 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.

Lupton 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 date.

Lupton 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.

Dorothy 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.

Clarence 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.

Clarence 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.

Lupton 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 them.

On 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 Appendix C]

Dorothy, 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 the sermon.

On 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.

The 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.

Mr. 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.

The 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.

Rollie 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.

This 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 30, 1939.

The 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.

According 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.

Sue 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 game.

When 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.

There 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.

Carl 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:

Would 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.

We 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 here.

We 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!

It 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.

This gives you a slight insight on the local situation as we find it, in launching our first efforts here in Sunny Southland of tropical wonders.

The 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.

On 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.

Publicity 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.

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