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Author unknown, "Unto the Second Generation"
unknown, Chicago, Illinois.
355 in 2nd edition, p. 422 in 3rd edition.)
Stopped in Time
"A young veteran
tells how a few rough experiences pushed him into
A.A. - and how he was therefore spared years of
This man's date of sobriety is believed
to be February 1950.
He began drinking
at about fifteen. In high school all the students
had lockers in which they kept books, pencils, paper,
gym equipment, etc. He did too, but he also kept beer
in his locker. At sixteen he graduated to the "hard
stuff." When the other kids went out to hamburger
huts or ice cream parlors, pizza joints or bowling
alleys after football games and dances, he headed
for saloons where he could get drinks.
He worked after school
pumping gas until ten or eleven at night. He tried
to imitate the men he worked with by talking out of
the side of his mouth as they did. He smoked as much,
tried to drink as much, and do everything they did,
only more so. He boosted his income by filching money
from the Coke machine, short-sticking customers on
oil, and selling oil he'd drained out of other cars.
He quit school when
he was just past sixteen, already with a drinking
problem. His parents both drank excessively and were
getting progressively worse. He wanted love and affection
from his parents but didn't get it so did what he
pleased most of the time.
He and another boy
ran away to Omaha from his home in Chicago. They broke
into a church to find a place to sleep and accidentally
set the church on fire. He spent the next three days
in jail. His father, a newspaperman, had meanwhile
filed a missing person report on him. He was identified
and put on a train back to Chicago. He went to work
for the newspaper that employed his father, and began
dating a girl he worked with.
Nearly eighteen he
enlisted in the Navy to escape the Army draft. The
night before he left for active duty he had planned
to stay home, but his parents were drunk so he spent
the night with his girlfriend and got very drunk himself.
He was drunk when he was sworn in next morning, and
drunk when he was discharged three years later.
At Great Lakes Boot
Camp he landed a soft job which exempted him from
ordinary recruit training activities. Although he
wasn't allowed visitors for the first eight weeks,
his dad pulled some strings and his parents managed
to visit him after three weeks. They smuggled in a
couple of pints for him, but he'd already made connections
to get a regular supply of alcohol.
When stationed at
Pearl Harbor he managed to be allowed to live in the
photo lab where he worked, and to get a constant supply
of alcohol. The result was that he woke up one day
in a hospital. The doctor told him he had been brought
into the hospital "like a madman, crying, raving,
ranting, swearing, completely in the throes of delirium
tremens. The diagnosis was acute alcoholism.
At the court martial
that followed he received only thirty days confinement,
fifteen in solitary.
Two months later he
was sent back to the States to be discharged. When
the plane landed in San Diego he headed for Tijuana
where he landed in jail for being drunk and causing
a brawl. He was escorted back to San Diego the next
morning by the Shore Patrol, but was discharged on
His parents in the
meantime had joined A.A. and he found them quite different
from the parents he had known. "They had color in
their faces, sparkle in their eyes and love in their
hearts. It was a glorious homecoming." His Dad poured
him welcome home drinks, not knowing how serious his
drinking problem had become.
His drinking continued
and when he had a second experience with D.T.'s he
knew he was licked. He had packed more drinking into
seven years than most people do in a lifetime.
The doctor in Hawaii
had told him if he didn't stop drinking he wouldn't
live five years. He knew he had to stop. He didn't
want to break his parents' hearts and maybe jeopardize
their own carefully built up and hard-fought-for sobriety.
Though the red carpet
had been rolled out for him, it wasn't easy. His new
girlfriend called it quits a week after his decision
to join A.A. Three days later he lost his job. The
combination nearly threw him, but he attended meetings,
talked to his folks and the younger people they had
put him in contact with, and he stayed sober.
He joined A.A. at
the age of twenty-two. He wrote his story when he
was twenty-six. He said even if he were to revert
to drinking he still wouldn't give anything for the
four years in A.A. They had been the happiest of his
life. He had been helped morally, spiritually, mentally
and materially through A.A. He used to think "Why
live without whiskey?" Now he knew he couldn't live
Four years earlier
he had "nothing but a jumbled, mad existence." When
he wrote his story he had all anyone could ask. He
had a lovely wife who understood his problems and
tried to help him; two wonderful little boys; a good
job; and kind and sympathetic parents. He was buying
his house and owed no one - except A.A.