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"From Farm to City"
M., Akron, Ohio.
in 2nd and 3rd editions.)
tells how A.A. works when the
going is rough. A pioneer woman
member of A.A.'s first Group."
date of sobriety was May 8, 1941.
She was the first woman to get
sober in Akron.
came from a very poor family,
the oldest in a family of seven.
Her father was an alcoholic. They
moved from the country to the
city when she was at an age where
girls want nice things and to
be like the other girls at school.
She felt the others were making
fun of her, and feared that she
wasn't dressed as well as the
the age of sixteen she was invited
to spend the summer with an aunt
in Liberty, Indiana. Her aunt
told her she could have boy friends
visit, but that she must stay
away from one boy, Russ M., (his
name was Roscoe, but he was called
Rollo or Russ), who came from
a fine family but drank too much.
Four months later, she married
him, even though he drank and
he was seven years her senior.
She was sure his family disapproved
of her because she was from the
wrong side of the tracks.
had two daughters, but about seven
or eight years after they were
married his drinking became so
bad that she took her children
and went home. She didn't see
Russ or hear from him for a year.
She was about twenty-five at the
time and had never touched a drop
the end of a year the children
received a card from their father,
which she kept and cherished.
It said "Tell Mommy I still love
her." Soon Russ himself arrived.
She welcomed him with open arms,
though he had little but the clothes
on his back. He told her he would
never drink again and she believed
got a job and went back to work,
and stayed "dry" for thirteen
years. By the end of the thirteen
years their older daughter was
married and she and her husband
were living with them and the
other daughter was in her last
year of high school.
one night their son-in-law and
Russ went to a prizefight. Russ
came home drunk. She told him
"The children are raised, and
if this is the way you want it,
this is the way we'll have it.
Where you go I'll go, and what
you drink I'll drink." And thus
Ethyl started drinking.
went on vacations in the car,
drinking all the way. Ethyl did
the driving. One Sunday afternoon
she got picked up for drunk driving
and they both were thrown in jail.
On another occasion she got drunk
and set the house on fire.
1940 they read something about
A.A. in the newspaper. They talked
about it and thought there might
come a time when they needed it.
was having a drink in a barroom
one day, and told the woman behind
the bar she wished she never had
to take another drink. She was
told to talk to Jack, the owner
of the place, whom they had always
tried to buy a drink, but who
always refused saying he couldn't
handle alcohol. (This may have
been John M., one of the early
one morning Ethel got in the car
and cried all the way to that
bar and told them she was licked
and wanted help. But Jack was
out and his wife said she would
send him as soon as he returned.
He soon arrived with two cans
of beer one for Ethel and one
for Russ. That was their last
drink. Men from A.A. started coming
to the house the next day, telling
their stories, and Jack brought
them the Saturday Evening Post
story about A.A., and told them
the whole thing was based on the
Sermon on the Mount. Paul S. visited
and stressed that they read the
many nicely dressed people were
coming in nice cars that Ethyl
told Russ: "I suppose the neighbors
say, 'Now those old fools must
have up and died, but where's
took them to a meeting at the
King School on Wednesday night
and introduced Ethyl to some of
the wives. Annabelle G., the wife
of Wally G. ("Fired Again" in
the 1st edition), was told to
take her under her wing. Ethyl
never forgot how she "sort of
curled up her nose and said, 'They
tell me you drink too.'" Ethyl
often thought how that would turn
some people away, but she replied:
"Why sure, that's what I'm here
had a harder time being accepted
in Akron than they did in New
York. Perhaps the reason Ethel
was accepted is that Russ joined
at the same time. Also Ethel weighed
300 pounds, and the wives probably
did not consider her a threat.
(Her husband was about half her
weight and only about 5'2".)
gave a lot of credit to Dr. Bob
and Anne for their recovery. Dr.
Bob and Anne S. spent at least
an evening a week at Russ and
Ethel M.'s home, and Russ thought
Dr. Bob thoroughly enjoyed these
and Russ worked as a team and
were very active from the beginning.
Ethel started what may have been
the first women's A.A. group.
husband died on September 4, 1944.
After his death, A.A. became Ethel's
whole life and she sponsored many
women. She died on April 9, 1963.