By Mitchell K. © 1991, 1997
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Index of Chapter 6

6.1 - The Saturday Evening Post Article
6.4 - 1st A.A. Newsletter - Cleveland Central Bulletin
6.2 - Cleveland A.A. Grows by Leaps and Bounds
6.5 - Army Life in Fort Knox
6.3 - Cleveland Central Committee Formed
Chapter 7: Decentralization - Promises and Reality

Chapter 6.5


Army Life In Fort Knox

Every citizen [should] be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and the Romans, and must be that of every free state.

Thomas Jefferson in a Letter to James Monroe, 1813

In the summer of 1942, Clarence decided it was time to join the army. In August, he contacted the Selective Service board to apply for Volunteer Officers Candidate training. On August 8th, his application was approved.

The earliest correspondence concerning Clarence and the army is a letter from Irwin M. wishing Clarence a "victorious return." Then on October 20th Clarence received this response from the Louisville, Kentucky office of Alcoholics Anonymous - a response to one of his letters:

Pvt. Clarence H. Snyder,

U.S. Army, Co. B, 8th Bn. A.F.R.T.C.

Fork Knox, Ky.

Dear Pvt. Snyder:-

We are very glad indeed to have your letter and are looking forward to having you attend our meetings.

We meet at the Kentucky Dairies Auditorium, Third and Kentucky Streets, at 8:00 o'clock, and if you can possibly get away would like to have you with us next Friday. Jim McC. is our leader here.

(Mrs.) Mildred Z.

Clarence kept up with his meetings and, by mail, received news of what was going on with Cleveland A.A., and he received the Cleveland Central Bulletin. There were many Ohio members in the armed forces, and the newsletter was a means for these members to get A.A. news from home.

By this time Clarence had married Selma Kitterer who was living in Cleveland during Clarence's army service. Selma was related to Theodore A. Kitterer, Minister of the First Evangelical and Reformed Church on Arlington Avenue and Thornhill Drive. She was also related to Superintendent Rev. Armin A. Kitterer of Evangelical Deaconess Hospital. Evangelical Deaconess was one of the early hospitals to which A.A. members were taken for "drying out."

A.A. members at Deaconess hospital were paying $8.00 per day for private rooms plus medications and extras. Any A.A. member having a semi-private room could have another A.A. member stay there "without additional charge for room and attendance."

In a letter to Dorothy, his ex-wife, Clarence described a typical night in the army as follows:

Last night I went to Elizabethtown to do a little shopping & relaxing & staying at the U.S.O. all night. I went to a picture show, with lots of blood spilled. A cowboy picture, vintage 1909 & a Sabotage picture without vintage. I ate lunch in E. Town today and had a fine meal. Our grub here at camp is, as a general rule, terrible. Poorly cooked, poorly served & many times not enough. They specialize in grease here, & I shouldn't be surprised to see the ice cream served in grease if we ever get ice cream.

As part of his 14-16 hour daily routine, Clarence was receiving Officers Candidate training. He was made a squad leader, "which," he wrote Dorothy, was "in essence a corporal, with a squad of men to mother, leach, be accountable for and report on."

In his letter to Dorothy, Clarence also asked about the dinner that had been held for Bill Wilson. Clarence said:

I haven't heard much news on the Sunday party for Bill W. Next time you write, I will appreciate a sort of detailed report I do know that they had 450 for dinner & another 300 afterward... what finally happened re: the matter of Bill & Doc's remuneration from the Foundation."

Clarence and Dorothy kept up with their correspondence throughout Clarence's stint at Fort Knox. Dorothy relayed news about their son and about A.A. doings. Selma was not involved in any A.A. matters and knew little about A.A. news.

In the army, Clarence made plans to go into business with Hank P., who was Bill Wilson's partner in the office in Newark. Bill and Hank left had several arguments, over what Hank said was Bill's leaving him out of the "glory" for writing the book. And there was also a lot of talk about Hank's having an affair with someone at the office. Hank left A.A.

Hank was married to Dorothy Snyder's sister. After Clarence's tour in the army, he was classified 1A in the draft on July 17, 1943 and on August 30, 1943 the Selective Service finally responded regarding Clarence's application to be an Officer in the army. They referred it to another department.

Clarence worked with Hank selling porcelain mugs and figurines all throughout the 1940's. After Hank's divorce from Dorothy's sister, the business finally went under and Clarence's association with Hank dissolved. The last correspondence from Dorothy regarding the fiasco with I lank was in 1947. Hank never really stayed sober and died drunk and on pills.

There is some possibility that Hank convinced Clarence to join the army but there has been no documentation to that suggestion.

After Clarence left the army, he returned to Selma and to Cleveland A.A. He continued his work there in helping to carry the message. Clarence always believed in doing his best, whether it was in the army or in business or in his avocation, which was working with alcoholics.

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