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CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 1 CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 1 3/30/2002 2:03:00 AM The Elrick B. Davis Articles

From The Cleveland Plain Dealer

October - November 1939



These articles appeared in the main Cleveland newspaper, the Plain Dealer, just five months after the first A.A. group was formed in Cleveland. The articles resulted in hundreds of calls for help from suffering alcoholics who reached out for the hope that the fledgling Alcoholics Anonymous offered.



The thirteen reliable members of the Cleveland group handled as many as 500 calls (ref 1) in the first month following the appearance of Davis' articles.  The following year Cleveland could boast 20 to 30 groups with hundreds of members

(ref 2).



1. Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, New York, A.A. World Services, Inc., 1980, pp 206-207.



2. 'Pass It On,' New York, A.A. World Services, Inc., 1984, pp 224-225.



Reprinted from the October 21, 1939, Cleveland Plain Dealer with permission.



Alcoholics Anonymous Makes Its Stand Here

By ELRICK B. DAVIS



Much has been written about Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization doing major work in reclaiming the habitual drinker. This is the first of a series describing the work the group is doing in Cleveland.



Success



By now it is a rare Clevelander who does not know, or know of, at least one man or woman of high talent whose drinking had become a public scandal, and who suddenly has straightened out "over night," as the saying goes, the liquor habit licked. Men who have lost $15,000 a year jobs have them back again. Drunks who have taken every "cure" available to the most lavish purse, only to take

them over again with equally spectacular lack of success, suddenly have become total abstainers, apparently without anything to account for their reform. Yet something must account for the seeming miracle. Something does.



Alcoholics Anonymous has reached the town.



Fellowship



Every Thursday evening at the home of some ex-drunk in Cleveland, 40 or 50 former hopeless rummies meet for a social evening during which they buck each other up. Nearly every Saturday evening they and their families have a party -- just as gay as any other party held that evening despite the fact that there is nothing alcoholic to drink. From time to time they have a picnic, where everyone has a roaring good time without the aid of even one bottle of beer. Yet these are

men and women who, until recently, had scarcely been sober a day for years, and members of their families who all that time had been emotionally distraught, social and economic victims of another's addiction.



These ex-rummies, as they call themselves, suddenly salvaged from the most socially noisome of fates, are the members of the Cleveland Fellowship of an informal society called "Alcoholics Anonymous." Who they are cannot be told, because the name means exactly what it says. But any incurable alcoholic who

really wants to be cured will find the members of the Cleveland chapter eager to help.



The society maintains a "blind" address: The Alcoholic Foundation, Box 657, Church Street Annex Postoffice, New York City. Inquiries made there are forwarded to a Cleveland banker, who is head of the local Fellowship, or to a former big league ball player who is recruiting officer of the Akron fellowship, which meets Wednesday evenings in a mansion loaned for the purpose by a non-alcoholic supporter of the movement.



Cured



The basic point about Alcoholics Anonymous is that it is a fellowship of "cured" alcoholics. And that both old-line medicine and modern psychiatry had agreed on the one point that no alcoholic could be cured. Repeat the astounding fact: These are cured.



They have cured each other.



They have done it by adopting, with each other's aid, what they call "a spiritual way of life."



"Incurable" alcoholism is not a moral vice. It is a disease. No dipsomaniac drinks because he wants to. He drinks because he can't help drinking.



He will drink when he had rather die than take a drink. That is why so many alcoholics die as suicides. He will get drunk on the way home from the hospital or sanitarium that has just discharged him as "cured." He will get drunk at the wake of a friend who died of drink. He will swear off for a year, and suddenly find himself half-seas over, well into another "bust." He will get drunk at the gates of

an insane asylum where he has just visited an old friend, hopeless victim of "wet brain."



Prayer



These are the alcoholics that "Alcoholics Anonymous" cures. Cure is impossible until the victim is convinced that nothing that he or a "cure" hospital can do, can help. He must know that his disease is fatal. He must be convinced that he is hopelessly sick of body, and of mind, and of soul. He must be eager to accept help from any source -- even God.



Alcoholics Anonymous has a simple explanation for an alcoholic's physical disease. It was provided them by the head of one of New York City's oldest and most famous "cure" sanitariums. The alcoholic is allergic to alcohol. One drink sets up a poisonous craving that only more of the poison can assuage. That is

why after the first drink the alcoholic cannot stop.



They have a psychiatric theory equally simple and convincing. Only an alcoholic can understand another alcoholic's mental processes and state. And they have an equally simple, if unorthodox, conception of God.









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CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 2 CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 2 3/30/2002 6:56:00 AM Reprinted from the October 23, 1939, Cleveland Plain Dealer with permission.



Alcoholics Anonymous Makes Its Stand Here

By ELRICK B. DAVIS



In a previous installment, Mr. Davis outlined the plan of Alcoholics

Anonymous, an organization of former drinkers who have found a solution to liquor in association for mutual aid. This is the second of a series.



Religion



There is no blinking the fact that Alcoholics Anonymous, the amazing society of ex-drunks who have cured each other of an incurable disease, is religious.  Its members have cured each other frankly with the help of God. Every cured member of the Cleveland Fellowship of the society, like every cured member of the other chapters now established in Akron, New York, and elsewhere in the

country, is cured with the admission that he submitted his plight

wholeheartedly to a Power Greater than Himself.



He has admitted his conviction that science cannot cure him, that he cannot control his pathological craving for alcohol himself, and that he cannot be cured by the prayers, threats, or pleas of his family, employers, or friends. His cure is a religious experience. He had to have God's aid. He had to submit to a spiritual housecleaning.



Alcoholics Anonymous is a completely informal society, wholly latitudinarian in every respect but one. It prescribes a simple spiritual discipline, which must be followed rigidly every day. The discipline is fully explained in a book published by the society.



Discipline



That is what makes the notion of the cure hard for the usual alcoholic to take, at first glance, no matter how complete his despair. He wants to join no cult. He has lost faith, if he ever had it, in the power of religion to help him. But each of the cures accomplished by Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritual awakening. The ex-drunk has adopted what the society calls "a spiritual way of life."



How, then, does Alcoholics Anonymous differ from the other great religious movements which have changed social history in America? Wherein does the yielding to God that saves a member of this society from his fatal disease, differ from that which brought the Great Awakening that Jonathan Edwards preached, or the New Light revival of a century ago, or the flowering of Christian

Science, or the campmeeting evangelism of the old Kentucky-Ohio frontier, or the Oxford Group successes nowadays?



Every member of Alcoholics Anonymous may define God to suit himself. God to him may be the Christian God defined by the Thomism of the Roman Catholic Church. Or the stern Father of the Calvinist. Or the Great Manitou of the American Indian. Or the Implicit Good assumed in the logical morality of Confucius. Or Allah, or Buddha, or the Jehovah of the Jews. Or Christ the Scientist. Or no more than the Kindly Spirit implicitly assumed in the "atheism"

of a Col. Robert Ingersoll.



Aid



If the alcoholic who comes to the fellowship for help believes in God, in the specific way of any religion or sect, the job of cure is easier. But if all that the pathological drunk can do is to say, with honesty, in his heart: "Supreme Something, I am done for without more-than-human help," that is enough for Alcoholics Anonymous to work on. The noble prayers, the great literatures, and the time-proved disciplines of the established religions are a great help.  But as far as the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous is concerned, a pathological drunk can call God "It" if he wants to, and is willing to accept Its aid. If he'll do that, he can be cured.



Poll of "incurable" alcoholics who now, cured, are members of the Cleveland Fellowship of the society, shows that this has made literally life-saving religious experience possible to men and women who, otherwise, could not have accepted spiritual help. Poll shows also that collectively their religious experience has covered every variety known to religious psychology. Some have had an experience as blindingly bright as that which struck down Saul on the road to Damascus. Some are not even yet intellectually convinced except to the degree that they see that living their lives on a spiritual basis has cured them of a fatal disease. Drunk for years because they couldn't help it, now it never occurs to them to want a drink. Whatever accounts for that, they are willing to call

"God." Some find more help in formal religion than do others. A good many of the Akron chapter find help in the practices of the Oxford Group. The Cleveland chapter includes a number of Catholics and several Jews, and at least one man to whom "God" is "Nature." Some practice family devotions. Some simply cogitate

about "It" in the silence of their minds. But that the Great Healer cured them with only the help of their fellow ex-drunks, they all admit.





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CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 3 CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 3 3/30/2002 9:54:00 AM Reprinted from the October 24, 1939, Cleveland Plain Dealer with permission.



Alcoholics Anonymous Makes Its Stand Here

By ELRICK B. DAVIS



In two previous articles, Mr. Davis told of Alcoholics Anonymous, an

organization of former drinkers, banded to overcome their craving for liquor and to help others to forego the habit. This is the third of a series.



Help



The ex-drunks cured of their medically incurable alcoholism by membership in Alcoholic Anonymous, know that the way to keep themselves from backsliding is to find another pathological alcoholic to help. Or to start a new man toward cure.  That is the way that the Akron chapter of the society, and from that, the Cleveland

fellowship was begun.



One of the earliest of the cured rummies had talked a New York securities analyst into taking a chance that he was really through with liquor. He was commissioned to do a stock promotion chore in Akron. If he should succeed, his economic troubles also would be cured. Years of alcoholism had left him bankrupt as well as a physical and social wreck before Alcoholics Anonymous had saved him.



His Akron project failed. Here he was on a Saturday afternoon in a strange hotel in a town where he did not know a soul, business hopes blasted, and with scarcely money enough to get him back to New York with a report that would leave him without the last job he knew of for him in the world. If ever disappointment deserved drowning, that seemed the time. A bunch of happy folk were being gay at the bar.



At the other end of the lobby the Akron church directory was framed in glass.  He looked up the name of a clergyman. The cleric told him of a woman who was worried about a physician who was a nightly solitary drunk. The doctor had been trying to break himself of alcoholism for twenty years. He had tried all of the dodges: Never anything but light wines or beer; never a drink alone; never a

drink before his work was done; a certain few number of drinks and then stop; never drink in a strange place; never drink in a familiar place; never mix the drinks; always mix the drinks; never drink before eating; drink only while eating; drink and then eat heavily to stop the craving - and all of the rest.



Every alcoholic knows all of the dodges. Every alcoholic has tried them all.  That is why an uncured alcoholic thinks someone must have been following him around to learn his private self-invented devices, when a member of Alcoholics Anonymous talks to him. Time comes when any alcoholic has tried them all, and found that none of them work.



Support



The doctor had just taken his first evening drink when the rubber baron's wife telephoned to ask him to come to her house to meet a friend from New York. He dared not, his wife would not, offend her by refusing. He agreed to go on his wife's promise that they would leave after 15 minutes. His evening jitters were pretty bad.



He met the New Yorker at 5 o'clock. They talked until 11:15. After that he stayed "dry" for three weeks. Then he went to a convention in Atlantic City. That was a bender. The cured New Yorker was at his bedside when he came to. That was June 10, 1935. The doctor hasn't had a drink since. Every Akron and Cleveland cure by Alcoholics Anonymous is a result.



The point the society illustrates by that bit of history is that only an

alcoholic can talk turkey to an alcoholic. The doctor knew all of the "medicine" of his disease. He knew all of the psychiatry. One of his patients had "taken the cure" 72 times. Now he is cured, by fellowship in Alcoholics Anonymous.  Orthodox science left the physician licked. He also knew all of the excuses, as well as the

dodges, and the deep and fatal shame that makes a true alcoholic sure at last that he can't win.  Alcoholic death or the bughouse will get him in time.



The cured member of Alcoholics Anonymous likes to catch a prospective member when he is at the bottom of the depths. When he wakes up of a morning with his first clear thought regret that he is not dead before he hears where he has been and what he has done. When he whispers to himself: "Am I crazy?" and the only answer he can think of is: "Yes." Even when the bright-eyed green

snakes are crawling up his arms.



Then the pathological drinker is willing to talk. Even eager to talk to

someone who really understands, from experience, what he means when he says: "I can't understand myself."















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CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 4 CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 4 3/30/2002 11:14:00 AM Reprinted from the October 25, 1939, Cleveland Plain Dealer with permission.



Alcoholics Anonymous Makes Its Stand Here



By ELRICK B. DAVIS



In three previous articles, Mr. Davis has told of Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization of former drinkers banded to break the liquor habit and to save others from over drinking. This is the fourth of a series.



Understanding



What gets the pathological drinker who finally has reached such state that he is willing to listen to a cured rummy member of Alcoholics Anonymous, is that the retrieved alcoholic not only understands what only another alcoholic can understand, but a great deal that the unreformed drunk thinks no one else could

know because he has never told anyone, and his difficulties or escapades must be private to his own history.



Fact is the history of all alcoholics is the same; some have been addicts longer than others, and some have painted brighter red patches around the town -- that is all. What they have heard in the "cure" hospitals they have frequented, or from the psychoanalysts they have consulted, or the physicians who have tapered them

off one bender or another at home, has convinced them that alcoholism is a disease. But they are sure (a) that their version of the disease differs from everyone else's and (b) that in them it hasn't reached the incurable stage anyway.



Head of the "cure" told them: "If you ever take another drink, you'll be back." Psychoanalyst said "Psychologically, you have never been weaned. Your subconscious is still trying to get even with your mother for some forgotten slight." Family or hotel physician said "If you don't quit drinking, you'll die."



Reproof



Lawyers, ministers, business partners and employers, parents and wives, also are professionally dedicated to listening to confidences and accepting confessions without undue complaint. But the clergyman may say: "Your drinking is a sin."  And partner or employer: "You'll have to quit this monkey business or get

out."  And wife or parent: "This drinking is breaking my heart." And everyone: "Why don't you exercise some will power and straighten up and be a man."



"But," the alcoholic whispers in his heart. "No one but I can know that I must drink to kill suffering too great to stand."



He presents his excuses to the retrieved alcoholic who has come to talk. Can't sleep without liquor. Worry. Business troubles. Debt. Alimentary pains. Overwork. Nerves too high strung. Grief. Disappointment. Deep dark phobic fears. Fatigue. Family difficulties. Loneliness.



The catalog has got no farther than that when the member of Alcoholics Anonymous begins rattling off an additional list.



"Hogwash," he says. "Don't try those alibis on me. I have used them all myself."



Understanding



And then he tells his own alcoholic history, certainly as bad, perhaps far worse than the uncured rummy's. They match experiences. Before he knows it the prospect for cure has told his new friend things he had never admitted even to himself. A rough and ready psychiatry, that, but it works, as the cured members of the Cleveland Chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous all are restored to

society to testify. And that is the reason for the fellowship's weekly gatherings. They are testimonial meetings. The members meet to find new victims to cure, and to buck each other up. For years their social and emotional life has all been elbow-bending. Now they provide each other a richer society to replace the old.  Hence, the fellowship's family parties and picnics.



Never for a moment do they forget that a practicing alcoholic is a very sick person. Never for a moment can they forget that even medical men who know the nature of the disease are apt to feel that failure to recover is a proof of moral perversity in the patient. If a man is dying of cancer, no one says: "Why doesn't he exercise some will power and kill that cancer off." If he is  coughing his lungs out with tuberculosis, no one says: "Buck up and quit coughing; be a man." They may say to the first: "Submit to surgery before it is too late;" to the second: "Take a cure before you are dead."



Religion



Retrieved alcoholics talk in that fashion to their uncured fellows. They say: "You are a very sick man. Physically sick -- you have an allergy to alcohol. We can put you in a hospital that will sweat that poison out. Mentally sick. We know how to cure that. And spiritually sick.



"To cure your spiritual illness you will have to admit God. Name your own God, or define Him to suit yourself. But if you are really willing to 'do anything' to get well, and if it is really true -- and we know it is -- that you drink when you don't want to and that you don't know why you get drunk, you'll have to quit lying to yourself

and adopt a spiritual way of life. Are you ready to accept help?"



And the miracle is that, for alcoholics brought to agreement by pure

desperation, so simple a scheme works.



Cleveland alone has 50 alcoholics, all former notorious drunks, now members of Alcoholics Anonymous to prove it. None is a fanatic prohibitionist. None has a quarrel with liquor legitimately used by people physically, nervously, and spiritually equipped to use it. They simply know that alcoholics can't drink and live, and that their "incurable" disease has been conquered.









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CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 5 CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 5 3/30/2002 11:29:00 AM Reprinted from the October 26, 1939, Cleveland Plain Dealer with permission.



Alcoholics Anonymous Makes Its Stand Here

By ELRICK B. DAVIS



In previous installments, Mr. Davis has told of Alcoholics Anonymous, an informal society of drinking men who have joined together to beat the liquor habit This is the last of five articles.



No Graft



It is hard for the skeptical to believe that no one yet has found a way to muscle into Alcoholics Anonymous, the informal society of ex-drunks that exists only to cure each other, and make a money-making scheme of it. Or that someone will not. The complete informality of the society seems to be what has saved it from

that. Members pay no dues. The society has no paid staff. Parties are "Dutch." Meetings are held at the homes of members who have houses large enough for such gatherings, or in homes of persons who may not be alcoholics but are sympathetic with the movement.



Usually a drunk needs hospitalization at the time that he is caught to cure. He is required to pay for that himself. Doubtless he hasn't the money. But probably his family has. Or his employer will advance the money to save him, against his future pay. Or cured members of the society will help him arrange credit, if he has a glimmer of credit left. Or old friends will help.



At the moment members of the Cleveland Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous are searching the slum lodging houses to find a man, once eminent in the city's professional life. A medical friend of his better days called them in to find him. This friend will pay the hospital bill necessary to return this victim of an "incurable" craving for drink to physical health, if the society will take him on.



The society has published a book, called "Alcoholics Anonymous," which it sells at $3.50. It may be ordered from an anonymous address, Works Publishing Co., Box 657, Church Street Annex Postoffice, New York City; or bought from the Cleveland Fellowship of the society. There is no money profit for anyone in that book.



It recites the history of the society and lays down its principles in its

first half.



Last half is case histories of representative cures out of the first hundred alcoholics cured by membership in the society. It was written and compiled by the New York member who brought the society to Ohio. He raised the money on his personal credit to have the book published. He would like to see those creditors repaid. It is a 400-page book, for which any regular publisher would charge the same price.



Copies bought from local Fellowships net the local chapters a dollar each.



The Rev. Dr. Dilworth Lupton, pastor of the First Unitarian Church of Cleveland, found in a religious journal an enthusiastic review of the book by the Rev. Harry Emerson Fosdick, and sent it to the president of the local Fellowship. It has been similarly noted in some medical journals.



The Foundation



To handle the money that comes in for the book, and occasional gifts from persons interested in helping ex-drunks to cure other "incurable" drunks, the Alcoholics Foundation has been established, with a board of seven directors.



Three of these are members of Alcoholics Anonymous. Four are not alcoholics, but New Yorkers of standing interested in humane movements. Two of them happen also to be associated with the Rockefeller Foundation, but that does not associate the two foundations in any way.



First problem of the Cleveland Fellowship was to find a hospital willing to take a drunk in and give him the medical attention first necessary to any cure. Two reasons made that hard. Hospitals do not like to have alcoholics as patients; they are nuisances. And the society requires that as soon as a drunk has been medicated into such shape that he can see visitors, members of the society

must be permitted to see him at any time. That has been arranged. The local society would like to have a kitty of $100 to post with the hospital as evidence of good faith. But if it gets it, it will only be from voluntary contributions of members.



Meantime the members, having financed their own cures, spend enormous amounts of time and not a little money in helping new members. Psychiatrists say that if an alcoholic is to be cured, he needs a hobby. His old hobby had been only alcohol. Hobby of Alcoholics Anonymous is curing each other. Telephone calls,

postage and stationery, gasoline bills, mount up for each individual. And hospitality to new members. A rule of the society is that each member's latch string is always out to any other member who needs talk or quiet, which may include a bed or a meal, at any time.









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CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 6 CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 6 3/30/2002 12:04:00 PM Reprinted from the November 2, 1939, Cleveland Plain Dealer with permission.



A NOTED DIVINE REVIEWS "ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS"

By ELRICK B. DAVIS



In a recent series, Mr. Davis told of Alcoholics Anonymous, an organization of former drinkers banded together to beat the liquor habit. This is the first of two final articles on the subject.



The Book



When 100 members of Alcoholics Anonymous, the extraordinary fellowship of men and women who have cured themselves of "incurable" alcoholism by curing each other and adopting a "spiritual way of life," had established their cures to the satisfaction of their physicians, families, employers and psychotherapists, they

published a book.



It is a 400-page volume of which half is a history of the movement and a description of its methods, and the other half a collection of 30 case histories designed to show what a wide variety of persons the fellowship has cured. It is called "Alcoholics Anonymous," and may be bought for $3.50 from the Works Publishing Co., Box 657, Church Street Annex Postoffice, New York.



The name of the publisher is that adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous for its only publishing venture. The address is "blind" because the name "Alcoholics Anonymous" means exactly what it says. ..



Among the first reviews of the book to see print was that written by the Rev. Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick for the Religious Digest. That review so attracted at least one well-known Cleveland minister that he obtained a copy of the book, got in touch with the Cleveland chapter of the society, and plans to preach a sermon about the movement.



Dr. Fosdick is himself the author of seventeen books. His review of

"Alcoholics Anonymous" follows:



"This extraordinary book deserves the careful attention of anyone interested in the problem of alcoholism. Whether as victims, friends of victims, physicians, clergymen, psychiatrists or social workers there are many such, and this book will give them, as no other treatise known to this reviewer will, an inside view of the problem which the alcoholic faces. Gothic cathedral windows are not the sole things which can be truly seen only from within. Alcoholism is another. All outside views are clouded and unsure. Only one who has been an alcoholic and has escaped the thraldom can interpret the experience.



Truth



"This book represents the pooled experience of 100 men and women who have been victims of alcoholism-and who have won their freedom and recovered their sanity and self-control. Their stories are detailed and circumstantial, packed with human interest. In America today the disease of alcoholism is increasing. Liquor

has been an easy escape from depression. As an English officer in India, reproved for his excessive drinking, lifted his glass and said, "This is the swiftest road out of India," so many Americans have been using hard liquor as a means of flight from their troubles until to their dismay they discover that, free to begin, they are not free to stop. One hundred men and women, in this volume, report their experience of enslavement and then of liberation.



"The book is not in the least sensational. It is notable for its sanity, restraint and freedom from over-emphasis and fanaticism.



"The group sponsoring this book began with two or three ex-alcoholics, who discovered one another through kindred experience. From this a movement started; ex-alcoholics working for alcoholics, without fanfare or advertisement, and the movement has spread from one city to another.



"The core of their whole procedure is religious. They are convinced that for the helpless alcoholic there is only one way out-the expulsion of his obsession by a Power Greater Than Himself. Let it be said at once that there is nothing partisan or sectarian about this religious experience. Agnostics and atheists, along with Catholics, Jews and Protestants, tell their story of discovering the Power

Greater than themselves. 'Who are you to say that there is no God,' one atheist in the group heard a voice say when, hospitalized for alcoholism, he faced the utter hopelessness of his condition. Nowhere is the tolerance and open-mindedness of the book more evident than in its treatment of this central matter on which the

cure of all these men and women has depended. They are not partisans of any particular form of organized religion, although they strongly recommend that some religious fellowship be found by their participants. By religion they mean an experience which they personally know and which has saved them from their slavery, when psychiatry and medicine had failed. They agree that each man must have his own way of conceiving God, but of God Himself they are utterly sure, and their stories of victory in consequence are a notable addition to William James' 'Varieties of Religious Experience.'"

















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CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 7 CLEVELAND PLAIN DEALER, 1939 - Article 7 3/30/2002 12:21:00 PM Reprinted from the November 4, 1939, Cleveland Plain Dealer with permission.



A PHYSICIAN LOOKS UPON ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

By ELRICK B. DAVIS



Dr. Silkworth



The first appraisal in a scientific journal of Alcoholics Anonymous, former drunkards who cure themselves by curing each other with the help of religious experience, was published in the July issue of the journal Lancet. It was "A New Approach to Psychotherapy [in] Chronic Alcoholism" by W. D. Silkworth, M.D. physician in charge, Charles B. Town's Hospital, New York City. A drunkard during

a moment of [deep] depression had the spontaneous "religious experience" which started his cure. This was the seed from which came Alcoholics Anonymous.  Dr. Silkworth was at first skeptical. He is no longer. Excerpts from his paper follow:



"The beginning and subsequent development of a new approach to the problem of permanent recovery for the chronic alcoholic has already produced remarkable results and promises much for the future. This statement is based upon four years of close observation. The principal answer is: Each ex-alcoholic has had and is able to maintain, a vital spiritual or 'religious' experience, accompanied by marked changes of personality. There is a radical change in outlook, attitude and habits of thought. In nearly all cases, these are evident within a few months, often less.



"The conscious search of these ex-alcoholics for the right answer has enabled them to find an approach effectual in something more than half of all cases. This is truly remarkable when it is remembered that most of them were undoubtedly beyond the reach of other remedial measures.



Religion



"Considering the presence of the religious factor, one might expect to find unhealthy emotionalism and prejudice. On the contrary, there is an instant readiness to discard old methods for new which produce better results. It was early found that usually the weakest approach to an alcoholic is directly through his family or friends, especially if the patient is drinking heavily. Ex-alcoholics

frequently insist a physician take the patient in hand, placing him in a hospital when possible. If proper hospitalization and medical care is not carried out, this patient faces the danger of delirium tremens, 'wet brain' or other complications. After a few days' stay, the physician brings up the question of permanent sobriety. If the patient is interested, he tactfully introduces a member of the group.  By this time the prospect has self-control, can think straight, and the approach can be made casually. More than half the fellowship have been so treated. The group is unanimous in its belief that hospitalization is desirable, even imperative, in most cases...



"An effort is made for frank discussion with the patient, leading to self-understanding. He must make the necessary readjustment to his environment. Cooperation and confidence must be secured. The objectives are to bring about extroversion and provide someone to whom he can transfer his dilemma. This group is now attaining this because of the following reasons:



Reasons



"1 -- Because of their alcoholic experiences and successful recoveries they secure a high degree of confidence from their prospects.



"2 -- Because of this initial confidence, identical experiences, and the fact that the discussion is pitched on moral and religious grounds, the patient tells his story and makes his self-appraisal with extreme thoroughness and honesty. He stops living alone and finds himself within reach of a fellowship with whom he can discuss his problems as they arise.



"3 -- Because of the ex-alcoholic brotherhood, the patient too, is able to save other alcoholics from destruction. At one and the same time, the patient acquires an ideal, a hobby, a strenuous avocation, and a social life which he enjoys among other ex-alcoholics and their families. These factors make powerfully for his extroversion.



"4-- Because of objects aplenty in whom he can vest his confidence, the patient can turn to the individuals to whom he first gave his confidence, the ex-alcoholic group as a whole, or to the Deity."











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LIBERTY MAGAZINE, September 1939 LIBERTY MAGAZINE, September 1939 4/1/2002 11:47:00 AM Charles Towns, owner of Towns' Hospital where Bill Wilson had sobered up,

tried to get publicity for A.A. and finally succeeded. He had known Morris

Markey, a well-known feature writer, for years. Markey was intrigued by what

Towns told him of A.A., and approached Fulton Oursler, then editor of

LIBERTY a popular magazine which had a religious orientation. Oursler saw the possibilities at once and said "Morris, you've got an assignment.  Bring that story in here, and we will print it in September."



(Oursler later wrote a number of successful books on religion.  He became a

good friend of Bill Wilson's and served as a trustee of the Alcoholic Foundation.)



In September, when the LIBERTY piece hit the newsstands, Bill thought it was a bit lurid, and that the title, "Alcoholics and God," would scare off some prospects. Perhaps it did, but LIBERTY received 800 urgent pleas for help, which were promptly turned over to Bill Wilson who turned them over to his secretary, Ruth Hock, for a response. "She wrote fine personal letters to every one of them," wrote Bill, "enclosing a leaflet which described the A.A. book. The response was wonderful. Several hundred books sold at once at full retail price of $3.50. Even more importantly, we struck up a correspondence with alcoholics, their friends, and their families all over the country."



When Dr. Bob read the story he was elated. "You never saw such an elated

person in your life," said Ernie G. the second (there were two Ernie G's) "We all were," said Ernie's wife, Ruth.  Anne Smith said "You know, it looks like we might be getting a little bit respectable."



It was A.A.'s first successful piece of national publicity. The stories in the Cleveland Plain Dealer followed shortly hereafter.  (See posts 1 through 7.)



One result of the article was that A.A. was started in Philadelphia. George S. of

Philadelphia, one of the first "loners" had sobered up after reading the

article. "When the issue of LIBERTY first arrived, George was in bed drinking whiskey for his depression and taking laudanum for his colitis. The Markey piece hit George so hard that he went ex-grog and ex-laudanum instantly." He wrote to New York, his name was given to Jim Burwell (see "The Vicious Cycle" in the Big Book), who was a traveling salesman, "and that's how A.A. started in the City of Brotherly Love," wrote Bill.



Jim and George gathered others to them, and the first A.A. meeting in

Philadelphia was held in George's home.



Chicago also reported getting several new prospects as a result of the

LIBERTY article.



Bill wrote to Dr. Bob "We are growing at an alarming rate, although I have no

further fear of large numbers."  A few weeks later he wrote Dr. Bob that "the press of newcomers and inquiries was so great that we have to swing more

to the take-it-or-leave-it attitude, which, curiously enough, produces better results than trying to be all things at all times at all places to all men."

__________



Sources:



Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age.

Bill W., by Francis Hartigan.

Bill W., by Robert Thomsen.

The Language of the Heart, Bill W.'s Grapevine Writings.

Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers.



  

Here is the text of a Liberty Magazine article which appeared in the

September 1939 issue.



Alcoholics and God

Is there hope for habitual drunkards?



A cure that borders on the miraculous -- and it works!



For twenty-five or thirty cents we buy a glass of fluid which is pleasant to the taste, and which contains within its small measure a store of warmth and good-fellowship and stimulation, of release from momentary cares and anxieties. That would be a drink of whisky, of course -- whisky, which is one of Nature's most generous gifts to man, and at the same time one of his most elusive problems. It is a problem because, like many of his greatest benefits, man does not quite know how to control it. Many experiments have been made, the most spectacular being the queer nightmare of prohibition, which left such deep scars upon the morals and the manners of our nation.  Millions of dollars have been spent by philanthropists and crusaders to spread the doctrine of temperance. In our time the most responsible of the distillers are urging us to use their wares sensibly, without excess.



But to a certain limited number of our countrymen neither prohibition nor wise admonishments have any meaning, because they are helpless when it comes

to obeying them. I speak of the true alcoholics, and before going any further I had best explain what that term means.



For a medical definition of the term, I quote an eminent doctor who, has spent twenty-five years treating such people in a highly regarded private hospital: "We believe . . . that the action of alcohol in chronic alcoholics is a manifestation of an allergy-that the phenomenon of craving is limited to this class and never occurs in the average temperate drinker. These allergic types can never safely use alcohol in any form at all."



They are, he goes on, touched with physical and mental quirks which prevent

them from controlling their own actions. They suffer from what some doctors call a "compulsion neurosis." They know liquor is bad for them but periodically, they are driven by a violent and totally uncontrollable desire for a drink. And after that first drink, the deluge.



Now these people are genuinely sick. The liquor habit with them is not a vice. It is a specific illness of body and mind, and should be treated as such.



By far the most successful cure is that used by the hospital whose head doctor I have quoted. There is nothing secret about it. It has the endorsement of the medical profession. It is, fundamentally, a process of dehydration: of removing harmful toxins from all parts of the body faster than Nature could accomplish it. Within five or six days -- two weeks at the maximum -- the patient's body is utterly free from alcoholic poisons. Which means that the physical craving is completely cured, because the body cries out for alcohol only when alcohol is already there. The patient has no feeling of revulsion toward whisky. He simply is not interested in it. He has recovered. But wait. How permanent is his recovery?



Our doctor says this: "Though the aggregate of full recoveries through physical and psychiatric effort its considerable, we doctors must admit that we have made little impression upon the problem as a whole. For there are many types which do not respond to the psychological approach.



"I do not believe that true alcoholism is entirely a matter of individual mental control. I have had many men who had, for example, worked for a period of months on some business deal which was to be settled on a certain date.  For reasons they could not afterward explain, they took a drink a day or two prior to the date . . . and the important engagement was not even kept. These men were not drinking to escape. They were drinking to overcome a craving beyond their mental control.



"The classification of alcoholics is most difficult. There are, of course, the psychopaths who are emotionally unstable.... They are overremorseful and

make many resolutions -- but never a decision.



"There is the type who is unwilling to admit that he cannot take a drink just like the rest of the boys. He does tricks with his drinking -- changing his brand, or drinking only after meals or changing his companions. None of this helps him strengthen his control and be like other people. Then there are types entirely normal in every respect except in the effect which alcohol has upon them . . .



"All these, and many others, have one symptom in common: They cannot start

drinking without developing the phenomenon of craving.... The only relief we

have to suggest is complete abstinence from alcohol.



"But are these unfortunate people really capable, mentally, of abstaining completely? Their bodies may be cured of craving. Can their minds be cured?

Can they be rid of the deadly compulsion neurosis?"



Among physicians the general opinion seems to be that chronic alcoholics are

doomed. But wait!



Within the last four years, evidence has appeared which has startled hard-boiled medical men by proving that the compulsion neurosis can be entirely eliminated. Perhaps you are one of those cynical people who will turn away when I say that the root of this new discovery is religion. But be patient for a moment. About three years ago a man appeared at the hospital in New York of which our doctor is head physician. It was his third "cure."



Since his first visit he had lost his job, his friends, his health, and his self-respect. He was now living on the earnings of his wife.



He had tried every method he could find to cure his disease: had read all the great philosophers and psychologists. He had tried religion but he simply could not accept it. It would not seem real and personal to him.



He went through the cure as usual and came out of it in very low spirits. He was lying in bed, emptied of vitality and thought, when suddenly, a strange and totally unexpected thrill went through his body and mind. He called out for the doctor. When the doctor came in, the man looked up at him and grinned.



"Well, doc," he said, "my troubles are all over. I've got religion."



"Why, you're the last man . . ."



"Sure, I know all that. But I've got it. And I know I'm cured of this drinking business for good." He talked with great intensity for a while and then said, "Listen, doc. I've got to see some other patient -- one that is about to be dismissed."



The doctor demurred. It all sounded a trifle fanatical. But finally he consented. And thus was born the movement which is now flourishing with almost sensational success as Alcoholics Anonymous.



Here is how it works:



Every member of the group -- which is to say every person who has been saved

-- is under obligation to carry on the work, to save other men.



That, indeed, is a fundamental part of his own mental cure. He gains strength and confidence by active work with other victims.



He finds his subject among acquaintances, at a "cure" institution or perhaps

by making inquiry of a preacher, a priest, or a doctor. He begins his talk

with his new acquaintance by telling him the true nature of his disease and

how remote are his chances for permanent cure.



When he has convinced the man that he is a true alcoholic and must never

drink again, he continues:



"You had better admit that this thing is beyond your own control. You've tried to solve it by yourself, and you have failed. All right. Why not put the whole thing into the hands of Somebody Else?"



Even though the man might be an atheist or agnostic, he will almost always admit that there is some sort of force operating in the world-some cosmic power weaving a design. And his new friend will say:



"I don't care what you call this Somebody Else. We call it God. But whatever you want to call it, you had better put yourself into its hands.  Just admit you're licked, and say, 'Here I am, Somebody Else. Take care of this thing for me.'"



The new subject will generally consent to attend one of the weekly meetings

of the movement.



He will find twenty-five or thirty ex-drunks gathered in somebody's home for a pleasant evening. There are no sermons. The talk is gay or serious as the

mood strikes. The new candidate cannot avoid saying to himself, "These birds

are ex-drunks. And look at them! They must have something. It sounds kind

of screwy, but whatever it is I wish to heaven I could get it too."



One or another of the members keeps working on him from day to day. And

presently the miracle. But let me give you an example: I sat down in a quiet

room with Mr. B., a stockily built man of fifty with a rather stern, intelligent face.



"I'll tell you what happened a year ago." He said, "I was completely washed

up. Financially I was all right, because my money is in a trust fund. But I

was a drunken bum of the worst sort. My family was almost crazy with my

incessant sprees."



"I took the cure in New York." (At the hospital we have mentioned.)



"When I came out of it, the doctor suggested I go to one of these meetings the boys were holding. I just laughed. My father was an atheist and had taught me to be one. But the doctor kept saying it wouldn't do me any harm, and I went.



"I sat around listening to the jabber. It didn't register with me at all. I went home. But the next week I found myself drawn to the meeting. And again they worked on me while I shook my head. I said, 'It seems O.K. with you, boys, but I don't even know your language. Count me out.'



"Somebody said the Lord's Prayer, and the meeting broke up. I walked three

blocks to the subway station. Just as I was about to go down the stairs-bang!" He snapped fingers hard. "It happened! I don't like that word miracle, but that's all I can call it. The lights in the street seemed to flare up. My feet seemed to leave the pavement. A kind of shiver went over me, and I burst out crying.



"I went back to the house where we had met, and rang the bell, and Bill let me in. We talked until two o'clock in the morning. I haven't touched a drop since, and I've set four other fellows on the same road."



The doctor, a nonreligious man himself, was at first utterly astonished at the results that began to appear among his patients. But then he put his knowledge of psychiatry and psychology to work. These men were experiencing a psychic change. Their so-called "compulsion neurosis" was being altered -- transferred from liquor to something else. Their psychological necessity to drink was being changed to a psychological necessity to rescue their fellow victims from the plight that made themselves so miserable. It is not a new idea. It is a powerful and effective working out of an old idea. We all know that the alcoholic has an urge to share his troubles. Psychoanalysts use this urge. They say to the alcoholic, in basic terms: "You can't lick this problem yourself. Give me the problem -- transfer the whole thing to me and let me take the whole responsibility."



But the psychoanalyst, being of human clay, is not often a big enough man for

that job. The patient simply cannot generate enough confidence in him. But the patient can have enough confidence in God -- once he has gone through the mystical experience of recognizing God. And upon that principle the Alcoholic Foundation rests. The medical profession, in general, accepts the principle as sound.



"Alcoholics Anonymous" have consolidated their activities in an organization called the Alcoholic Foundation. It is a nonprofit-making enterprise.

Nobody connected with it is paid a penny. It is not a crusading movement.

It condemns neither liquor nor the liquor industry. Its whole concern is with the rescue of allergic alcoholics, the small proportion of the population who must be cured or perish. It preaches no particular religion and has no dogma, no rules. Every man conceives God according to his own lights.



Groups have grown up in other cities. The affairs of the Foundation are

managed by three members of the movement and four prominent business and

professional men, not alcoholics, who volunteered their services.



The Foundation has lately published a book, called Alcoholics Anonymous. And

if alcoholism is a problem in your family or among your friends, I heartily recommend that you get hold of a copy. It may very well help you to guide a

sick man -- an allergic alcoholic -- on the way to health and contentment.



THE END





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Saturday Evening Post Article March 1941, How It Came About Saturday Evening Post Article March 1941, How It Came About 4/2/2002 6:00:00 AM In March 1941, a feature article entitled "Alcoholics Anonymous" appeared in the "Saturday Evening Post."  This is how it came about.



Jim Burwell ("The Vicious Cycle" in the Big Book) had just moved to Philadelphia and was trying to get a local bookstore to carry the Big Book.  The bookstore's manager was uninterested, but the conversation was overheard by a woman named Helen Hammer.



She spoke up and said she had sent the book to her alcoholic nephew in Los Angeles, who had sobered up instantly and had stayed that way for some three months. But the store manager remained unimpressed.



When Mrs. Hammer heard of Jim's attempt to start a group in Philadelphia, she introduced him to her husband, Dr. A. Weise Hammer.



Dr. Hammer was a friend of Judge Curtis Bok, the owner of the Saturday

Evening Post. He persuaded Bok to do a story on A.A.  Bok urged his editors to assigned Jack Alexander, an experienced, even cynical reporter, to do a feature story.



Alexander was chosen because he had a reputation for being "hard nosed." 

He had just completed a major story exposing the New jersey rackets and prided himself on his cynicism.



Alexander had many doubts about doing a story on a bunch of ex-drunks.  In a story he wrote for the A.A. Grapevine in May 1945 ("Was My Leg Being Pulled?") he said: "All I knew of alcoholism at the time was that, like most other nonalcoholics, I had had my hand bitten (and my nose punched) on numerous occasions by alcoholic pals to whom I had extended a hand -- unwisely, it always seemed afterward.  Anyway, I had an understandable skepticism about the whole business."



But he spent a week with Bill Wilson and other AA members in New York.  "We

gave him the most exhaustive briefing on Alcoholics Anonymous any writer has

ever had," according to Bill. "First he met our Trustees and New York people,

and then we towed him all over the country."



One of the people he interviewed in New York was Marty Mann, the first woman

to achieve lasting sobriety in AA. (See "Women Suffer Too" in the Big Book.) She is called "Sara Martin" in the story, and she is disguised further by changing her time in London to time in Paris. But Sarah Martin is without doubt, Marty Mann. When the story came out Marty said "it was the most exciting thing that had ever happened, because we wanted publicity so badly. We wanted somebody to know about us."



Alexander felt the week was a success from one standpoint. "I knew I had the

makings of a readable report," he wrote, "but, unfortunately, I didn't quite

believe in it and told Bill so."  But Bill convinced him that he should visit other cities to visit groups, and interview and get to know other members.



Bill, Dr. Bob and elders of the groups at Akron, New York, Cleveland, Philadelphia, and Chicago spent uncounted hours with him.  But when he reached his own home town of St. Louis, he met a number of his own friends who were now A.A. members, and the last remnants of skepticism vanished.  "Once rollicking rumpots, they were now sober. It didn't seem possible, but there it was," he wrote.



When Alexander "could feel A.A. in the very marrow of his bones," he proceeded

to write the story that rocked drunks and their families all over the world.



"Came then the deluge," Bill wrote. Six thousand frantic appeals from alcoholics and their families hit the New York office, PO Box 658.  Bill and Ruth Hock, AA's first secretary, pawed at random through the mass of letters, laughing and crying by turns. But it was clear they couldn't handle the mail by themselves, and form letters wouldn't be enough.  Each letter had to have an understanding personal reply.



Fortunately, they had anticipated this problem and Lois Wilson, in anticipation of the story bringing a strong response, had been organizing anyone who could type into squads, and scheduling those who could not type to answer the telephones in preparation for the expected deluge.



But even so, the response exceeded anyone's wildest expectations. Within

days, meeting attendance doubled. Within weeks, newcomers were being sent

out on Twelve Step calls to other alcoholics. Ruth Hock and Bobbie Berger,

along with Lois and her volunteers, worked day and night for five or six

weeks to answer all the mail.



The chain reaction Bill had envisioned when he was still a patient at Towns

Hospital had become a fact, and nothing would stop it. A.A. was now

established as an American institution.



Bill realized that he must, for the first time, ask the groups for assistance. It was determined that if each group gave $1 a year per member, they would eventually have enough money to pay the New York office's expenses and rely no further upon outside charity or insufficient book sales.  Most groups were happy to contribute to pay the expense of the New York office, and most continue to do so today.



Thus the tradition of self-support had a firm beginning.



The magazine's decision to do a feature story on A.A. would have been enough

for editors all across the country to find A.A. newsworthy, but the story didn't stop with merely reporting on AA. It endorsed its effectiveness.  It is hard for us today to imagine the enormous excitement that this article generated among A.A. members.  By 1950, AA membership was approaching a hundred thousand and there were thirty-five hundred groups worldwide.



In April of that year the Saturday Evening Post featured another article by

Alexander entitled the "Drunkards Best Friend."



In 1953 Alexander became a member of the Alcoholic Foundation's board of

trustees. He wrote articles for the A.A. Grapevine and helped Bill edit "Twelve

Steps and Twelve Traditions."  He was truly a great friend of Bill's and of A.A.



AA has World Services has reprinted the article regularly in pamphlet form,

at first under its original title, and now as "The Jack Alexander Article."



"How well we love that Jack" wrote Bill in 1951.  "We should all be grateful to Jack Alexander, one of AA's earliest friends from the press."



The Jack Alexander articles follow in the net posts.



______



Sources:

"Bill W." by Robert Thomsen

"Bill W." by Francis Hartigan.

"Pass It On."

"The Language of the Heart, Bill W.'s Grapevine Writings."

"Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers."

"Best of the Grapevine, Volume II."







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The Saturday Evening Post, March 1941 -- Part 1 The Saturday Evening Post, March 1941 -- Part 1 4/2/2002 6:28:00 AM This is the Jack Alexander article from the March 1941 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.



THREE MEN sat around the bed of an alcoholic patient in the psychopathic ward

of Philadelphia General Hospital one afternoon a few weeks ago. The man in

the bed, who was a complete stranger to them, had the drawn and slightly stupid look the inebriates get while being defogged after a bender. The only thing that was noteworthy about the callers, except for the obvious contrast between their well-groomed appearances and that of the patient, was the fact that each had been through the defogging process many times himself. They were members of Alcoholics Anonymous, a band of ex-problem drinkers who make an avocation of helping other alcoholics to beat the liquor habit.



The man in the bed was a mechanic.  His visitors had been educated at Princeton, Yale and Pennsylvania and were, by occupation, a salesman, a

lawyer and a publicity man. Less than a year before, one had been in shackles in the same ward. One of his companions had been what is known among alcoholics as a sanitarium commuter. He had moved from place to place, bedeviling the staffs of the country's leading institutions for the treatment of alcoholics. The other had spent twenty years of life, all outside institution walls, making life miserable for himself, and his family and his employers, as well as sundry well-meaning relatives who had had the temerity to intervene.



The air of the ward was thick with the aroma of paraldehyde, an unpleasant

cocktail smelling like a mixture of alcohol and ether which hospitals sometimes use to taper off the paralyzed drinker and soothe his squirming nerves. The visitors seemed oblivious of this and of the depressing atmosphere of psychopathic wards. They smoked and talked with the patient for twenty minutes or so, then left their personal cards and departed. If the man in the bed felt that he would like to see one of them again, they told him, he had only to put in a telephone call.



THEY MADE it plain that if he actually wanted to stop drinking, they would

leave their work or get up in the middle of the night to hurry to where he was. If he did not choose to call, that would be the end of it. The members of Alcoholics Anonymous do not pursue or coddle a malingering prospect, and they know the strange tricks of the alcoholic as a reformed swindler knows the art of bamboozling.



Herein lies much of the unique strength of a movement, which in the past six

years, has brought recovery to around 2,000 men and women, a large percentage of whom had been considered medically hopeless. Doctors and clergymen, working separately or together, have always managed to salvage a few cases. In isolated instances, drinkers have found their own methods of quitting. But the inroads into alcoholism have been negligible, and it remains one of the great, unsolved public-health enigmas.



By nature touchy and suspicious, the alcoholic likes to be left alone to work

out his puzzle, and he has a convenient way of ignoring the tragedy which he

inflicts meanwhile upon those who are close to him. He holds desperately to

a conviction that, although he has not been able to handle alcohol in the past, he will ultimately succeed in becoming a controlled drinker. One of medicine's queerest animals, he is, as often as not, an acutely intelligent person. He fences with professional men and relatives who attempt to aid him and he gets a perverse satisfaction out of tripping them up in argument.



THERE IS no specious excuse for drinking which the troubleshooters of Alcoholics Anonymous have not heard or used themselves. When one of their

prospects hands them a rationalization for getting soused, they match it with

a half a dozen out of their own experience. This upsets him a little, and he gets defensive. He looks at their neat clothing and smoothly shaved faces and charges them with being goody-goodies who don't know what it is to struggle with drink. They reply by relating their own stories: the double Scotches and brandies before breakfast; the vague feeling of discomfort which precedes a drinking bout; the awakening from a spree without being able to account for the actions of several days and the haunting fear that possibly they had run down someone with their automobiles.



They tell of the eight-ounce bottles of gin hidden behind pictures and in

caches from cellar to attic; of spending whole days in motion-picture houses to stave off the temptation to drink; of sneaking out of the office for quickies during the day. They talk of losing jobs and stealing money from their wives' purses; of putting pepper into whiskey to give it a tang; of tippling on bitters and sedative tablets, or on mouthwash or hair tonic; of getting into the habit of camping outside the neighborhood tavern ten minutes before opening time. They describe a hand so jittery that it could not lift a pony to the lips without spilling the contents; drinking liquor from a beer stein because it can be steadied with two hands, although at the risk of chipping a front tooth; tying an end of a towel about a glass, looping the towel around the back of the neck, and drawing the free end with the other hand; hands so shaky they feel as if they were about to snap off and fly into space; sitting on hands for hours to keep them from doing this.



These and other bits of drinking lore usually manage to convince the alcoholic that he is talking to blood brothers. A bridge of confidence is thereby erected, spanning a gap, which has baffled the physician, the minister, the priest, or the hapless relatives. Over this connection, the troubleshooters convey, bit by bit, the details of a program for living which has worked for them and which, they feel, can work for any other alcoholic. They concede as out of their orbit only those who are psychotic or who are already suffering from the physical impairment known as wet brain. At the same time, they see to it that the prospect gets whatever medical attention is needed.



MANY DOCTORS and staffs of institutions throughout the country now suggest

Alcoholics Anonymous to their drinking patients. In some towns, the courts

and probation officers cooperate with the local group. In a few city psychopathic divisions, the workers of Alcoholics Anonymous are accorded the same visiting privileges as staff members. Philadelphia General is one of these. Dr. John F. Stouffer, the chief psychiatrist, says: "the alcoholics we get here are mostly those who cannot afford private treatment, and this is by far the greatest thing we have ever been able to offer them. Even among those who occasionally land back in here again, we observe a profound change in personality. You would hardly recognize them."



The Illinois Medical Journal, in an editorial last December, went further than D. Stouffer, in stating: "It is indeed a miracle when a person who for years has been more of less constantly under the influence of alcohol and in whom his friends have lost all confidence, will sit up all night with a drunk and at stated intervals administer a small amount of liquor in accordance with a doctor's order without taking a drop himself."



This is a reference to a common aspect of the Arabian Nights adventures to

which Alcoholics Anonymous workers dedicate themselves. Often it involves

sitting upon, as well as up with, the intoxicated person, as the impulse to

jump out a window seems to be an attractive one to many alcoholics when in

their cups. Only an alcoholic can squat on another alcoholic's chest for hours with the proper combination of discipline and sympathy.



During a recent trip around the East and Middle West, I met and talked with

scores of A.A.s, as they call themselves, and found them to be unusually calm

tolerant people. Somehow, they seemed better integrated than the average

group of nonalcoholic individuals. Their transformation from cop fighters, canned-heat drinkers, and, in some instances, wife beaters, was startling.  On one of the most influential newspapers in the country, I found that the city editor, the assistant city editor, and a nationally known reporter were A.A.s, and strong in the confidence of their publisher.



IN ANOTHER city, I heard a judge parole a drunken driver to an A.A. member.

The latter, during his drinking days, had smashed several cars and had had

his own operator's license suspended. The judge knew him and was glad to

trust him. A brilliant executive of an advertising firm disclosed that two years ago he had been panhandling and sleeping in a doorway under an elevated

structure. He had a favorite doorway, which he shared with other vagrants, and every few weeks he goes back and pays them a visit just to assure himself he isn't dreaming.



In Akron, as in other manufacturing centers, the groups include a heavy

element of manual workers. In the Cleveland Athletic Club, I had luncheon

with five lawyers, an accountant, an engineer, three salesmen, an insurance man, a buyer, a bartender, a chain-store manager, a manager of an independent store, and a manufacturer's representative. They were members of a central committee, which coordinates the work of nine neighborhood groups. Cleveland, with more than 450 members, is the biggest of the A.A. centers. The next largest are located in Chicago, Akron, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Washington and New

York. All told, there are groups in about fifty cities and towns.



IN DISCUSSING their work, the A.A.s spoke of their drunk rescuing as "insurance" for themselves.  Experience within the group has shown, they

said, that once a recovered drinker slows up in this work he is likely to go back to drinking himself. There is, they agreed, no such thing as an ex-alcoholic. If one is an alcoholic -- that is, a person who is unable to drink normally -- one remains an alcoholic until he dies, just as a diabetic remains a diabetic. The best he can hope for is to become an arrested case, with drunk saving as his insulin. At least, the A.A.s say so, and medical opinion tends to support them. All but a few said that they had lost all desire for alcohol. Most serve liquor in their homes when friends drop in, and they still go to bars with companions who drink. A.A.s tipple on soft drinks and coffee.



One, a sales manager, acts as bartender at his company's annual jamboree in

Atlantic City and spends his nights tucking the celebrators into their beds. 

Only a few of those who recover fail to lose the felling that at any minute they may thoughtlessly take one drink and skyrocket off on a disastrous binge. An A.A. who is a clerk in an Eastern city hasn't had a snifter in three and a half years, but says that he still has to walk fast past saloons to circumvent the old impulse; but he is an exception. The only hangover from the wild days that plagues the A.A. is a recurrent nightmare. In the dream, he finds himself off on a rousing whooper-dooper, frantically trying to conceal his condition from the community. Even this symptom disappears shortly, in most cases. Surprisingly, the rate of employment among these people, who formerly drank themselves out of job after job, is said to be around ninety percent.



One-hundred-percent effectiveness with non-psychotic drinkers who sincerely

want to quit is claimed by the workers of Alcoholics Anonymous. The program

will not work, they add, with those who only "want to want to quit," or who

want to quit because they are afraid of losing their families or their jobs.  The effective desire, the state, must be based upon enlightened self-interest; the applicant must want to get away from liquor to head off incarceration or premature death. He must be fed up with the stark social loneliness, which engulfs the uncontrolled drinker, and he must want to put some order into his bungled life.



As it is impossible to disqualify all borderline applicants, the working percentage of recovery falls below the 100-percent mark. According to A.A.'s estimation, fifty percent of the alcoholics taken in hand recover immediately; twenty-five percent get well after suffering a relapse or two; and the rest remain doubtful. This rate of success is exceptionally high.  Statistics on traditional medical and religious cures are lacking, but it has been informally estimated that they are no more than two or three percent effective on run-of-the-mill cases.



Although it is too early to state that Alcoholics Anonymous is the definitive

answer to alcoholism, its brief record is impressive, and it is receiving hopeful support. John D. Rockefeller, Jr. helped defray the expense of getting it started and has gone out of his way to get other prominent men interested.





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The Saturday Evening Post, March 1941 -- Part 2 The Saturday Evening Post, March 1941 -- Part 2 4/2/2002 7:05:00 AM ROCKEFELLER'S GIFT was a small one, in deference to the insistence of the

originators that the movement be kept on a voluntary, non paid basis. There are no salaried organizers, no dues, no officers, and no central control. Locally, the rents of assemble halls are met by passing the hat at meetings. In small communities, no collections are taken, as the gatherings are held in private homes. A small office in downtown New York acts merely as a clearinghouse for information. There is no name on the door, and mail is received anonymously through a post-office box. The only income, which is money received from the sale of a book describing the work, is handled by the Alcoholic Foundation, a board composed of three alcoholics and four non-alcoholics.



In Chicago, twenty-five doctors work hand in hand with Alcoholics Anonymous,

contributing their services and referring their own alcoholic patients to the

group, which now numbers around 200. The same cooperation exists in Cleveland and to a lesser degree in other centers. A physician, Dr. W. D. Silkworth, of New York City, gave the movement its first encouragement.  However, many doctors remain skeptical. Dr. Foster Kennedy, an eminent New York neurologist, probably had these in mind when he stated at a meeting a year ago: "The aim of those concerned in this effort against alcoholism is high; their success has been considerable; and I believe medical men of goodwill should aid."



The active help of two medical men of goodwill, Drs. A. Wiese Hammer and C.

Dudley Saul, has assisted greatly in making the Philadelphia unit one of the more effective of the younger groups. The movement there had its beginning

in an offhand way in February 1940, when a businessman who was an A.A.

convert was transferred to Philadelphia from New York.  Fearful of backsliding for lack of rescue work, the newcomer rounded up three local barflies and started to work on them. He got them dry, and the quartet began ferreting out other cases. By last December fifteenth, ninety-nine alcoholics had joined up. Of these, eighty-six were now total abstainers -- thirty-nine from one to three months, seventeen from three to six months, and twenty-five from six to ten months. Five who had joined the unit after having belonged in other cities had been nondrinkers from one to three years.



At the end of the time scale, Akron, which cradled the movement, holds the

intramural record for sustained abstinence. According to a recent checkup,

two members have been riding the A.A. wagon for five and a half years, one

for five years, three for four and a half years, one for the same period with one skid, three for three and a half year, seven for three years, three for three years with one skid each, one for two and a half years, and thirteen for two years. Previously, most of the Akronites and Philadephians had been unable to stay away from liquor for longer than a few weeks.



In the Middle West, the work has been almost exclusively among persons who

have not arrived at the institutional stage. The New York group, which has a

similar nucleus, takes a sideline specialty of committed cases and has

achieved striking results. In the summer of 1939, the group began working on the alcoholics confined in Rockland State Hospital, at Orangeburg, a vast mental sanitarium, which get the hopeless alcoholic backwash of the big population centers. With the encouragement of Dr. R. E. Baisdell, the medical superintendent, a unit was formed within the wall, and meetings were held in the recreation hall. New York A.A.s went to Orangeburg to give talks, and on Sunday evenings, the patients were brought in state-owned buses to a clubhouse which the Manhattan group rents on the West Side.



Last July first, eleven months later, records kept at the hospital showed that of fifty-four patients released to Alcoholics Anonymous, seventeen had had no relapse and fourteen others had had only one. Of the rest, nine had gone back to drinking in their home communities, twelve had returned to the hospital and two had not been traced. Dr. Baisdell has written favorably about the work to the State Department of Mental Hygiene, and he praised it officially in his last annual report.



Even better results were obtained in two public institutions in New Jersey,

Greystone Park and Overbrook, which attract patients of better economic and

social background, than Rockland, because of their nearness to prosperous

suburban villages. Of seven patients released from the Greystone Park

institution in two years, five have abstained for periods of one to two years, according to A.A. records. Eight of ten released from Overbrook have abstained for about the same length of time. The others have had from one to several relapses.



WHY SOME people become alcoholics is a question on which authorities

disagree. Few think that anyone is "born an alcoholic." One may be born,

they say, with a hereditary predisposition to alcoholism, just as one may be

born with a vulnerability to tuberculosis. The rest seems to depend upon environment and experience, although one theory has it that some people are

allergic to alcohol, as hay fever sufferers are to pollens. Only one note is found to be common to all alcoholics - emotional immaturity. Closely related to this is an observation that an unusually large number of alcoholics start out in life as an only child, as a younger child, as the only boy in a family of girls or the only girl in a family of boys. Many have records of childhood precocity and were what are known as spoiled children.



Frequently, the situation is complicated by an off-center home atmosphere in

which one parent is unduly cruel, the other overindulgent. Any combination of these factors, plus a divorce or two, tends to produce neurotic children who are poorly equipped emotionally to face the ordinary realities of adult life. In seeking escapes, one may immerse himself in his business, working twelve to fifteen hours a day, or in what he thinks is a pleasant escape in drink. It bolsters his opinion of himself and temporarily wipes away any feeling of social inferiority, which he may have. Light drinking leads to heavy drinking. Friend and family are alienated and employers become disgusted. The drinker smolders with resentment and wallows in self-pity.  He indulges in childish rationalizations to justify his drinking: He has been working hard and he deserves to relax; his throat hurts from an old tonsillectomy and a drink would ease the pain: he has a headache; his wife does not understand him; his nerves are jumpy; everybody is against him; and so on and on. He unconsciously becomes a chronic excuse-maker for himself.



All the time he is drinking, he tells himself and those who butt into his affairs that he can really become a controlled drinker if he wants to. To demonstrate his strength of will, he goes for weeks without taking a drop. He makes a point of calling at his favorite bar at a certain time each day and ostentatiously sipping milk or a carbonated beverage, not realizing that he is indulging in juvenile exhibitionism. Falsely encouraged, he shifts to a routine of one beer a day and that is the beginning of the end once more.  Beer leads inevitably to more beer and then to hard liquor. Hard liquor leads to another first-rate bender. Oddly, the trigger, which sets off the explosion, is as apt to be a stroke of business success as it is to be a run of bad luck. An alcoholic can stand neither prosperity nor adversity. 



THE VICTIM is puzzled on coming out of the alcoholic fog. Without his being

aware of any change, a habit has gradually become an obsession. After a while, he no longer needs rationalization to justify the fatal first drink.  All he knows is that he feels swamped by uneasiness or elation, and before he realizes what is happening, he is standing at a bar with an empty whisky pony in front of him and a stimulating sensation in his throat. By some peculiar quirk of his mind, he has been able to draw a curtain over the memory of the intense pain and remorse caused by preceding stem-winders.  After many experiences of this kind, the alcoholic begins to realize that he does not understand himself; he wonders whether his power of will, though strong in other fields, isn't defenseless against alcohol. He may go on trying to defeat his obsession and wind up in a sanitarium. He may give up the fight as hopeless and try to kill himself. Or he may seek outside help.



If he applies to Alcoholics Anonymous, he is first brought around to admit

that alcohol has him whipped and that his life has become unmanageable. 

Having achieved this state of intellectual humility he is given a dose of religion in the broadest sense. He is asked to believe in a Power that is greater than himself, or at least to keep an open mind on that subject while he goes on with the rest the rest of the program. Any concept of the Higher Power is acceptable. A skeptic or agnostic may choose to think of his Inner Self, the miracle of growth, a tree, man's wonderment at the physical universe, the structure of the atom, or mere mathematical infinity. Whatever form is visualized, the neophyte is taught that he must rely upon it and, in his own way, to pray to the Power for strength.



He next makes a short moral inventory of himself with the private aid of

another person -- one of his A.A. sponsors, a priest, a minister a psychiatrist, or anyone else he fancies. If it gives him any relief, he may get up at a meeting and recite his misdeed, but he is not required to do so. He restores what he may have stolen while intoxicated and arranges to pay off old debts and to make good on rubber checks; he makes amends to persons he has abused and in general, cleans up his past as well as he is able to. It is not uncommon for his sponsors to lend him money to help out in the early stages.



This catharsis is regarded as important because of the compulsion, which a

feeling of guilt exerts in the alcoholic obsession. As nothing tends to push an alcoholic toward the bottle more than personal resentments, the pupil also makes out a list of his grudges and resolves not to be stirred by them. At this point, he is ready to start working on other, active alcoholics. By the process of extroversion, which the work entails, he is able to think less of his own troubles.



The more drinkers he succeeds in swinging into Alcoholics Anonymous, the

greater his responsibility to the group becomes. He can't get drunk now

without injuring the people who have proved themselves his best friends. He is beginning to grow up emotionally and to quit being a leaner. If raised in an Orthodox Church, he usually, but not always, becomes a regular communicant

again.



SIMULTANEOUSLY WITH the making over of the alcoholic goes the process of

adjusting his family to his new way of living. The wife or husband of an alcoholic, and the children, too, frequently become neurotics from being exposed to drinking excesses over a period of years. Reeducation of the family is an essential part of a follow-up program, which has been devised.



Alcoholics Anonymous, which is synthesis of old ideas rather than a new discovery, owes its existence to the collaboration of a New York stockbroker

and an Akron physician. Both alcoholics, they met for the first time a little less than six years ago. In thirty-five years of periodic drinking, Dr. Armstrong, to give the physician a fictitious name, had drunk himself out of most of his practice. Armstrong had tried everything, including the Oxford Group, and had shown no improvement. On Mother's Day 1935, he staggered home, in typical drunk fashion, lugging an expensive potted plant, which he placed in his wife's lap. The he went upstairs and passed out.



At that moment, nervously pacing the lobby of an Akron hotel, was the broker

from New York, whom we shall arbitrarily call Griffith. Griffith was in a

jam. In an attempt to obtain control of a company and rebuild his financial

fences, he had come out to Akron and engaged in a fight for proxies. He had

lost the fight. His hotel bill was unpaid. He was almost flat broke.  Griffith wanted a drink.



During his career in Wall Street, Griffith had turned some sizable deals and

had prospered, but, through ill-timed drinking bouts, had lost out on his main chances. Five months before coming to Akron, he had gone on the water

wagon through the ministration of the Oxford Group in New York. Fascinated by the problem of alcoholism, he had many times gone back as a visitor to a Central Park West detoxicating hospital, where he had been a patient, and talked to the inmates. He effected no recoveries, but found that by working on other alcoholics he could stave off his own craving.



A stranger in Akron, Griffith knew no alcoholics with whom he could wrestle.  A church directory, which hung in the lobby opposite the bar, gave him an idea. He telephoned one of the clergymen listed and through him got in touch with a member of the local Oxford Group. This person was a friend of Dr. Armstrong's and was able to introduce the physician and the broker at dinner. In this manner, Dr. Armstrong became Griffith's first real disciple. He was a shaky one at first. After a few weeks of abstinence, he went east to a medical convention and came home in a liquid state. Griffith, who had stayed in Akron to iron out some legal tangles arising from the proxy battle, talked him back to sobriety. That was on June 10, 1935. The nips the physician took from a bottle proffered by Griffith on that day were the last drinks he ever took.



GRIFFITH'S lawsuits dragged on, holding him over in Akron for six months. He

moved his baggage to the Armstrong home, and together the pair struggled with

other alcoholics. Before Griffith went back to New York, two more Akron converts had been obtained. Meanwhile, both Griffith and Dr. Armstrong had withdrawn from the Oxford Group, because they felt that its aggressive evangelism and some of its other methods were hindrances in working with alcoholics. They put their own technique on a strict take-it-or-leave-it basis and kept it there.



Progress was slow. After Griffith had returned East, Dr. Armstrong and his

wife, a Wellesley graduate, converted their home into a free refuge for alcoholics and an experimental laboratory for the study of the guest's behavior. One of the guest, who unknown to his hosts, was a manic-depressive as well as an alcoholic, ran wild one night with a kitchen knife. He was overcome before he stabbed anyone. After a year and a half, a total of ten persons had responded to the program and were abstaining. What was left of the family savings had gone into the work. The physician's new sobriety caused a revival in his practice, but not enough of one to carry the extra expense. The Armstrongs, nevertheless, carried on, on borrowed money. 



Griffith, who had a Spartan wife, too, turned his Brooklyn home into a duplicate of Akron ménage. Mrs. Griffith, a member of an old Brooklyn family, took a job in a department store and in her spare time played nurse to inebriates. The Griffiths also borrowed, and Griffith managed to make odd bits of money around the brokerage houses. By the spring of 1939, the Armstrongs and the Griffiths had between them cozened about one hundred alcoholics into sobriety.



IN A BOOK, which they published at that time, the recovered drinkers described the cure program and related their personal stories. The title was Alcoholics Anonymous. It was adopted as a name for the movement itself, which up to then had none. As the book got into circulation, the movement spread rapidly. Today, Dr. Armstrong is still struggling to patch up his practice. The going is hard. He is in debt because of his contributions to the movement and the time he devotes gratis to alcoholics. Being a pivotal man in the group, he is unable to turn down the requests for help, which flood his office.



Griffith is even deeper in the hole. For the past two years, he and his wife

have had no home in the ordinary sense of the word. In a manner reminiscent

of the primitive Christians, they have moved about, finding shelter in the home of A.A. colleagues and sometimes wearing borrowed clothing.



Having got something started, both the prime movers want to retire to the fringe of their movement and spend more time getting back on their feet financially. They feel that the way the thing is set up, it is virtually self-operating and self-multiplying. Because of the absence of figureheads and the fact that there is no formal body of belief to promote, they have no fears that Alcoholics Anonymous will degenerate into a cult.



The self-starting nature of the movement is apparent from letters in the files of the New York office. Many persons have written in saying that they stopped drinking as soon as they read the book, and made their homes meeting places for small local chapters. Even a fairly large unit, in Little Rock, got started in this way. An Akron civil engineer and his wife, in gratitude for his cure four years ago, have been steadily taking alcoholics into their home. Out of thirty-five such wards, thirty-one have recovered.



TWENTY PILGRIMS from Cleveland caught the idea in Akron and returned home to start a group of their own. From Cleveland, by various means, the movement

has spread to Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Atlanta, San Francisco, Evansville, and other cities. An alcoholic Cleveland newspaperman with a surgically collapsed lung moved to Houston for his health. He got a job on a Houston paper, and through a series of articles, which he wrote for it, started an A.A. unit, which now has thirty-five members. One Houston member has moved to Miami and is now laboring to snare some of the more eminent winter-colony lushes. A Cleveland traveling salesman is responsible for starting small units in many different parts of the county. Fewer than half of the A.A. members has ever seen Griffith or Dr. Armstrong.



To an outsider who is mystified, as most of us are, by the antics of problem-drinking friends, the results, which have been achieved, are amazing. This is especially true of the more virulent cases, a few of which are herewith sketched under names that are not their own.



Sara Martin was a product of the F. Scott Fitzgerald era. Born of wealthy parents in a Western City, she went to Eastern boarding schools and "finished" in France. After making her debut, she married. Sara spent her nights drinking and dancing until daylight. She was known as a girl who could carry a lot of liquor. Her husband had a weak stomach, and she became disgusted with him. They were quickly divorced. After her father's fortune had been erased in 1929, Sara got a job in New York and supported herself. In 1932, seeking adventure, she went to Paris to live and set up a business of her own, which was successful. She continued to drink heavily and stayed drunk longer than usual. After a spree in 1933, she was informed that she had tried to throw herself out a window. During another bout, she did jump or fall -- she doesn't remember which -- out of a

first-floor window. She landed face first on the sidewalk and was laid up for six months of bone setting, dental work, and plastic surgery.



In 1936, Sara Martin decided that if she changed her environment by returning

to the United States, she would be able to drink normally. This childish faith in geographical change is a classic delusion, which all alcoholics get at one time, or another. She was drunk all the way home on the boat. New York frightened her and she drank to escape it. Her money ran out and she borrowed from friends. When the friends cut her, she hung around Third Avenue bars, cadging drinks from strangers. Up to this point she had diagnosed her trouble as a nervous breakdown. Not until she had committed herself to several sanitariums did she realize, through reading, that she was an alcoholic. On advice of a staff doctor, she got in touch with an Alcoholics Anonymous group. Today, she has another good job and spends many of her nights sitting on hysterical women drinkers to prevent them from diving out of windows. In her late thirties, Sarah Martin is an

attractively serene woman. The Paris surgeons did handsomely by her.



Watkins is a shipping clerk in a factory. Injured in an elevator mishap in 1927, he was furloughed with pay by a company, which was thankful that he did not sue for damages. Having nothing to do during a long convalescence, Watkins loafed in speakeasies. Formerly a moderate drinker, he started to go on drunks lasting several months. His furniture went for debt, and his wife fled, taking their three children. In eleven years, Watkins was arrested twelve times and served eight workhouse sentences. Once, in an attack of delirium tremens, he circulated a rumor among the prisoners that the county was poisoning the food in order to reduce the workhouse population and save expenses. A mess-hall riot resulted. In

another fit of D.T.'s, during which he thought the man in the cell above was trying to pour hot lead on him, Watkins slashed his own wrists and throat with a razor blade. While recuperating in an outside hospital, with eighty-six stitches, he swore never to drink again. He was drunk before the final bandages were removed. Two years ago, a former drinking companion got him to Alcoholics Anonymous, and he hasn't touched liquor since. His wife and children have returned, and the home has new furniture. Back at work, Watkins has paid off the major part of $2,000 in debts and petty alcoholic thefts and has his eye on a new automobile.



AT TWENTY-TWO, Tracy, a precocious son of well-to-do parents, was credit

manager for an investment-banking firm whose name has become a symbol of the money-mad twenties. After the firm's collapse during the stock market crash,

he went into advertising and worked up to a post, which paid him $23,000 a year. On the day his son was born, Tracy was fired. Instead of appearing in Boston to close a big advertising contract, he had gone on a spree and had wound up in Chicago, losing out on the contract. Always a heavy drinker, Tracy became a bum. He tippled on Canned Heat and hair tonic and begged from cops, who are always easy touches for amounts up to a dime. On one sleety night, Tracy sold his shoes to buy a drink, putting on a pair of rubbers he had found in a doorway and stuffing them with paper to keep his feet warm.



He started committing himself to sanitariums, more to get in out of the cold

than anything else. In one institution, a physician got him interested in the A.A. program. As part of it, Tracy, a Catholic made a general confession and returned to the church, which he had long since abandoned. He skidded back to alcohol a few times, but after a relapse in February 1939, Tracy took no more drinks. He has since then beat his way up again to $18,000 a year in advertising.



Victor Hugo would have delighted in Brewster, a heavy-thewed adventurer who

took life the hard way. Brewster was a lumberjack; cowhand, and wartime aviator. During the postwar era, he took up flask toting and was soon doing a Cook's tour of the sanitariums. In one of them, after hearing about shock cures, he bribed the Negro attendant in the morgue, with gifts of cigarettes, to permit him to drop in each afternoon and meditate over a cadaver. The plan worked well until one day he came upon a dead man who, by a freak facial contortion, wore what looked like a grin. Brewster met up with the A.A.s in December 1938, and after achieving abstinence, got a sales job, which involved much walking. Meanwhile, he had got cataracts on both eyes. One was removed, giving him distance sight with the aid of thick-lens spectacles. He used the other eye for close-up vision, keeping it dilated with an eye-drop solution in order to avoid being run down in traffic. The he developed a swollen, or milk, leg. With these disabilities, Brewster tramped the streets for six months before he caught up with his drawing account. Today, at fifty, still hampered by his physical handicaps, he is making his calls and earning around $400 a month.



FOR THE Brewsters, the Martins, the Watkinses, the Tracys, and the other reformed alcoholics, congenial company is now available wherever they happen

to be. In the larger cities, A.A.s meet one another daily at lunch in favored restaurants. The Cleveland groups give big parties on New Year's and other holidays, at which gallons of coffee and soft drinks are consumed. Chicago holds open house on Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- alternating, on the North, West, and South Sides -- so that no lonesome A.A. need revert to liquor over the weekend for lack of companionship. Some play cribbage or bridge, the winner of each hand contributing to a kitty for paying of entertainment expenses. The others listen to the radio, dance, eat, or just talk. All alcoholics, drunk or sober, like to gab. They are among the most society-loving people in the world, which may help to explain why they got to be alcoholics in the first place.



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The Saturday Evening Post, April 1950 -- Part 1 The Saturday Evening Post, April 1950 -- Part 1 4/2/2002 7:41:00 AM This is Jack Alexander's second story.  It was published in April of 1950, when A.A. was just shy of 15 years old.



The Drunkard's Best Friend

By Jack Alexander



Nine years ago the Post reported on the then-obscure group known as Alcoholics Anonymous.



Since that time these self-rehabilitated men -- and women -- have sobered up

an astonishing number of America's heaviest drinkers.



This is how they do it.



When a farmer in Aroostook County, Maine, announces that he is going to bake

a cake, he is speaking figuratively. What he means is that he is bored with

the loneliness of Aroostook's vast reaches, with the county's most famous product, potatoes, and with life in general; and that, to relieve his boredom, he is going on a vanilla-extract bender. In order to buy liquor he might have to drive as much as a hundred miles over drifted or rutted roads, to reach a town uninhibited by local option. He tipples on vanilla, which is rich in alcohol, because it is easily and legally obtainable, in quantity, at the nearest grocery store. Grocers in local-option towns ordinarily do a thriving vanilla business with alcoholically inclined agrarians, but of late the strange society known as Alcoholics Anonymous has taken root in Aroostook and a disturbing effect on the vanilla turnover has been observed.  "You wouldn't believe it, Ned," one storekeeper lamented to a drummer on a gray day last November, " but my vanilla sales is almost down to normal."



The impact of Alcoholics Anonymous upon a community is not always that

striking, but it is doing quite well at its self-appointed task, which, as almost everyone knows by now, is that of helping confirmed drunks to quit drinking. The help is provided solely by alcoholics who, through adhering to a specified program of living, have managed to arrest their own disastrous drinking habits. (A. A. members never call themselves ex-alcoholics, regardless of the length of their sobriety, the theory being that they are ineradicably alcoholics by temperament, and are therefore always vulnerable to a relapse.)



During the past few years Alcoholics Anonymous has extended its influence

overseas, and one of its more dedicated workers is the honorable secretary of

the Dublin group. A Sandhurst graduate and a veteran of twenty-six years in

the British Army, he is still remembered in some portions of the Middle East

for his inspired work with the bottle. Now an abstainer, he lives off his major's pension and the profits of a small retail business. Like all faithful members of A.A., he spends much of his spare time in shepherding other lushes toward total abstinence, lest he revert to the pot himself.



The honorable secretary is a man of few spoken words, but he carries on a

large correspondence within the fraternity. His letters, which are notable for

their eloquent understatement, are prized by fellow A.A.'s in this country and are passed around a meetings. One of his more fascinating communiques, received here in October, described a missionary trip to Cork, in company with another A.A. gentleman. The purpose of the trip was to bring the glad tidings of freedom to any Corkonians who might happen to be besotted and unshriven, and to stimulate the local group, which was showing small promise.



This was the honorable secretary's chronological report:

8 P.M. The chairman and myself sat alone.

8:05 One lady arrived, a nonalcoholic.

8:15 One man arrived.

8:20 A County Cork member arrived to say he couldn't stay, as his children had

just developed measles.

8:25 The lone lady departed.

8:30 Two more men arrived.

8:40 One more man arrived, and I decided to make a start.

8:45 The first man arrival stated that he had to go out and have a drink.

8:50 He came back.

8:55 Three more arrived.

9:10 Another lady, propped up by a companion, arrived, gazed glassily around,

collected some literature and departed unsteadily.

9:30 The chairman and I had finished speaking.

9:45 We reluctantly said good night to the new members, who seemed very

interested.



In summing up, the secretary said: "A night of horror at first, developing quite well. I think they have good prospects, once the thing is launched."



To a skeptic, the honorable secretary's happy prognosis in the face of initial

discouragement may sound foolishly hopeful. To those already within the

fraternity and familiar with the sluggardly and chaotic character of A.A. Iocal-group growth in its early stages, he was merely voicing justifiable optimism. For some years after its inception, in 1935, the Alcoholics Anonymous movement itself made slow progress. As the work of salvaging other drunks is essential to maintaining the sobriety of the already-salvaged brethren, the earnest handful of early salvagees spent some worrisome months. Hundreds of thousands of topers were prowling about in full alcoholic cry, but few would pause long enough to listen.



Six years after it all began, when this magazine first examined the small but

encouraging phenomenon (Post, March 1, 1941), the band could count 2000

members, by scraping hard, and some of these were still giving off residual fumes. In the nine years which have intervened since that report, the small

phenomenon has become a relatively large one.



Today its listed membership exceeds 90,000. Just how many of these have

substantial sobriety records is a matter of conjecture, as the movement,

which has no control at the top and is constantly ridden by maverick tendencies, operates in a four-alarm-fire atmosphere, and no one has the time to check up. A reasonable guess would be that about two-thirds have been sober for anywhere from six months to fifteen years, and that the rest have stretched out their periods of sobriety between twisters to the point where they are at least able to keep their jobs.



The intake of shaky-fingered newcomers, now at its highest in A.A. history, is running at the rate of around 20,000 a year. The number that will stick is, again, a matter of conjecture. If experience repeats, according to A.A. old-timers, about one half will stay sober from the start, and one-fourth will achieve sobriety after a few skids; the other one-fourth will remain problem drinkers. A problem drinker, by definition, is one who takes a drink for some compulsive reason he cannot identify and, having taken it, is unable to stop until he is drunk and acting like a lunatic.  How Many of the Four Million Will Join?



IT is tempting to become oversanguine about the success of Alcoholics

Anonymous to date. Ninety-thousand persons, roaring drunk or roaring sober,

are but a drop in the human puddle, and they represent only a generous dip out of the human alcoholic puddle.



According to varying estimates, between 750,000 and 1,000,000 problem drinkers are still on the loose in the United States alone. Their numbers will inevitably be swelled in future years by recruits from the ranks of between 3,000,000 and 4,000,000 Americans who, by medical standards, drink too much for their own good. Some of these millions will taper off or quit when they reach the age at which the miseries of a hang-over seem too great a price to pay for an evening of artificially induced elation; but some will slosh over into the compulsive-drinker class.



The origins of alcoholism, which is now being widely treated as a major public-health problem, are as mysterious as those of cancer. They are perhaps even harder to pin down, because they involve psychic as well as physical elements. Currently, the physical aspect is being investigated by universities and hospitals, and by publicly and privately financed foundations. Some large business and industrial firms, concerned about educed productivity and absenteeism, are providing medical and psychiatric aid to alcoholic employees. The firms' physicians are also digging into the alcoholic puzzle.



The most plausible tentative explanation that any of these investigative efforts has come up with is that alcoholism is a sickness resembling that caused by various allergies.



Psychiatry has its own approach to the problem; it is successful in only a

small percentage of cases. Clergymen, using a spiritual appeal, and the beset

relatives of alcoholics, using everything from moral suasion to a simple bat

in the jaw, manage to persuade a few chronics to become unchronic. So does

one school of institutional treatment, which insists that alcoholism is solely the result of "twisted thinking" and aims at unraveling the mental quirks.  But the Alcoholics Anonymous approach -- which leans on medicine, uses a few

elementary principles of psychiatry and employs a strong spiritual weapon --

is the only one which has done anything resembling a mop-up job. Whatever

one's attitude toward A.A. may be, and a lot of people are annoyed by its sometimes ludicrous strivings and its dead-pan thumping of the sobriety tub,

one can scarcely ignore its palpable results. To anyone who has ever been a

drunk or who has had to endure the alcoholic cruelties of a drunk -- and that

would embrace a large portion of the human family -- 90,000 alcoholics

reconverted into working citizens represent a massive dose of pure gain. In

human terms, the achievements of Alcoholics Anonymous stand out as one of the

few encouraging developments of a rather grim and destructive half century.



Drunks are prolific of excuses for their excessive drinking, and the most frequent alibi is that no one really understands what a struggle they have. With more than 3000 A.A. groups at work in the United States, and every member a veteran of the struggle, this excuse is beginning to lose its validity, if it ever had any validity. In most cities of any size the fraternity has a telephone listed in its own name. A nickel call will bring a volunteer worker who won't talk down to a drunk, as the average nonalcoholic has a way of doing but will talk convincingly in the jargon of

the drunk. The worker won't do any urging; he will describe the Alcoholics

Anonymous program in abbreviated form and depart. The drunk is invited to

telephone again if he is serious about wanting to become sober. Or a drunk,

on his own initiative or in tow of a relative, may drop in at the A.A office, where he will receive the same nonevangelistic treatment. In the larger cities the offices do a rushing trade, especially after week ends or legal holidays. Many small-town

and village groups maintain clubrooms over the bank or feed store; in one

Canadian town the A.A.'s share quarters with a handbook operator, using it by

night after the bookie has gone home. Some of these groups carry a standing

classified advertisement in the daily or weekly newspaper. If they don't, a

small amount of inquiry will disclose the meeting place of the nearest group;

a local doctor, or clergyman, or policeman will know.



To some extent, the same easy availability obtains in the twenty-six foreign

countries where A.A. has gained a foothold. This is especially true of the

nations of the British Commonwealth, particularly Canada, Australia and New

Zealand, which together list more A.A. members than the whole movement could

boast nine years ago; and of the Scandinavian countries, where membership is

fairly strong.



At a recent A.A. banquet in Oslo, Norway, 400 members celebrated their

deliverance, drinking nothing stronger than water. Throughout Scandinavia the members bolster the program by using Antibuse, the new European aversion

drug. This practice is deplored by some A.A. members as showing a lack of faith in the standard A.A. program, but, of course, nothing is done, or can be done, about it, since the program is free to anyone who thinks he needs it and he may adapt it in any way that suits him.



More often than not, though, disregard of the standard admonitions backfires.  A bibulous Scottish baronet found this out when, returning from London, where he caught the spark from a local group, he set out ambitiously to dry up Edinburgh, a hard-drinking town.



But he tried it by remote control, so to speak, hiring a visiting American A.A. to do the heavy work. This violated the principle that the arrested drunk must do drunk-rescuing work himself in order to remain sober. Besides, the Scottish drunks wouldn't listen to a hired foreign pleader. In no time at all, and without getting a convert, the baronet and his hireling were swacked to the eyeballs and crying on each other's shoulders. After the American had gone home, the baronet stiffened up, abandoned the traditions of his class and started all over again, cruising the gutters himself, visiting drunks in their homes and in hospitals and prisons. Edinburgh is now in the win column, and there are also groups in Glasgow, Dundee, Perth and Campbeltown, all offshoots of Edinburgh.



Alcoholism on a large scale seems to be most common in highly complex civilizations.



These tend to breed the basic neuroses of which uncontrolled drinking is just

one outward expression. A man in a more primitive setting, bound closely to earthy tasks and the constant battle with Nature, is apt to treat his frustrations by ignoring them or by working them off.



Alcoholics Anonymous has nevertheless caught on in some out-of-the-way

places. A liquor salesman for a British firm, who was seduced by his own merchandise, started a group in Cape Town, South Africa, which now has ninety

members. There are also groups in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Bloemfontein,

Durban and East London, and in Salisbury and Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia.

The group at Anchorage, Alaska, which started in a blizzard, has a dozen members, including one slightly puzzled Eskimo, and there are small groups in Palmer and Ketchikan. There is a small group in the leper colony at Molokai, nurtured by A.A.'s from Honolulu, who fly there occasionally and conduct meetings.



The figures perhaps give too rosy a picture of the turbulent little world of Alcoholics Anonymous. Most of the members of any standing seem to be

exceptionally happy people, with more serenity of manner than most nonalcoholics are able to muster these jittery days; it is difficult to believe that they ever lived in the drunk's bewitched world.



But some are still vaguely unhappy, though sober, and feel as if they were

walking a tight wire. Treasurers occasionally disappear with a group's funds

and wind up, boiled, in another town. After this had happened a few times,

groups were advised to keep the kitty low, and the practice now is to spend

any appreciable surplus on a cake-and-coffee festival or a picnic. This advice does not always work out; last year the members of a fresh and vigorous French-Canadian unit in Northern Maine, taking the advice to heart, debated so violently about how to spend their fifty-four dollars that all hands were drunk within twenty-four hours. It is difficult at first for the recruit to achieve serenity.



As most groups are mixtures of men and women, a certain number of unconventional love affairs occur. More than one group has been thrown into

a maelstrom of gossip and disorder by a determined lady whose alcoholism was

complicated by an aggressive romantic instinct. Such complications are no

more frequent than they are at the average country club; they merely stand out more baldly, and do more harm, in an emotionally explosive society.



Special A.A. groups in sixty-six prisons around the nation are constantly

trickling out graduates into the civilian groups. The ex-convicts are welcomed and are, for some reason, usually models of good behavior. A sanitarium or mental-hospital background causes no more stir in an A.A. group than a string of college degrees would at the University Club; the majority of A.A.'s are alumni of anywhere from one to fifty such institutions. Thus Alcoholics Anonymous is something of a Grand Hotel.



The ability of the arrested drunk to talk the active drunk's language convincingly is the one revolutionary aspect of the A.A. technique, and it does much to explain why the approach so often succeeds after others have failed. The rest of the technique is a synthesis of already existing ideas, some of which are centuries old. Once a community of language and experience has been established, it acts as a bridge over which the rest of the A.A. message can be conveyed, provided the subject is receptive.



Across the bridge and inside the active alcoholic's mind lies an exquisitely

tortured microcosm, and a steady member of Alcoholics Anonymous gets a

shudder every time he looks into it again. It is a rat-cage world, kept hot

by an alcohol flame, and within it lives, or dances, a peculiarly touchy, defiant and grandiose personality.



There is a sage saying in A.A. that "an alcoholic is just like a normal person, only more so." He is egotistical, childish, resentful and intolerant to an exaggerated degree. How he gets that way is endlessly debated, but a certain rough pattern is discernible in most cases. Many of those who ultimately become alcoholics start off as an only child, or as the youngest child in a family, or as a child with too solicitous a mother, or a father with an oversevere concept of discipline. When such a child begins getting his lumps from society, his ego begins to swell disproportionately -- either from too easy triumphs or, as a compensation, from being rebuffed in his attempts to win the approval of his contemporaries.



He develops an intense power drive, a feverish struggle to gain acceptance of

himself at his own evaluation. A few of the power-drive boys meet with enough frustrations to send them into problem drinking while still in college or even while in high school. More often, on entering adult life, the prospective alcoholic is outwardly just about like anyone else his age, except that he is probably a little more cocky and aggressive, a little more hipped on the exhibitionistic charm routine, a little more plausible. He becomes a social drinker -- that is, one who can stop after a few cocktails and enjoy the experience.















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The Saturday Evening Post, April 1950 -- Part 2 The Saturday Evening Post, April 1950 -- Part 2 4/2/2002 8:21:00 AM Part 2 of Jack Alexander's story in the Saturday Evening Post, April 1950:



But at some place along the line his power drive meets up with an obstacle it

cannot surmount -- someone he loves refuses to love him, someone whose admiration he covets rejects him, some business or professional ambition is

thwarted. Or he may encounter a whole series of rebuffs. The turning point may come quickly or it may be delayed for as long as forty or fifty years. He begins to take his drinks in gulps, and before he realizes it he is off on a reeler. He loses jobs through drunkenness, embarrasses his family and alienates his friends. His world begins to shrink. He encounters the horrors of the "black-out," the dawn experience of being unable to remember what he did the night before -- how many checks he wrote and how large they were, whom he insulted, where he parked his car, whether or not he ran down someone on the way home. In the alcoholic world a nice distinction is made between the "black-out" and the simple "pass-out," the latter being the relatively innocuous act of falling asleep from taking too much liquor. He jumps nervously whenever the doorbell or telephone rings, fearing that it may be a saloonkeeper with a rubber check, or a damage-suit lawyer, or the police.



He is frustrated and fearful, but is only vaguely conscious that his will, which is strong in most crises, fails him where liquor is concerned, although this is apparent to anyone who knows him. He nurses a vision of sobriety and

tries all kind of self-rationing systems, none of which works for long. The great paradox of his personality is that in the midst of his troubles, his already oversize ego tends to expand; failure goes to his head. He continues, as the old saying has it, to rage through life calling for the headwaiter. In his dreams he is likely to see himself alone on a high mountain, masterfully surveying the world below. This dream, or some variant of it, will come to him whether he is sleeping in his own bed, or in a twenty-five-dollar-a-day hotel suite, or on a park bench, or in a

psychopathic ward.



If he applies to Alcoholics Anonymous for help, he has taken an important

step toward arresting his drink habit; he has at least admitted that alcohol has whipped him. This in itself is an act of humility, and his life thereafter must be a continuing effort to acquire more of this ancient virtue. Should he need hospitalization, his new friends will see that he gets it, if a local hospital will take him. Understandably, many hospitals are reluctant to accept alcoholic patients, because so many of them are disorderly. With this sad fact in mind, the society has persuaded several hospitals to set up separate alcoholic corridors and is helping to supervise the patients through supplying volunteer workers.



To the satisfaction of all concerned including the hospital managements,

which find the supervised corridors peaceful, more than 10,000 patients have

gone through five-day rebuilding courses. The hospitals involved in this successful experiment are: St. Thomas' (Catholic) in Akron, St. John's

(Episcopal) in Brooklyn and Knickerbocker (nonsectarian) In Manhattan.



They have set a pattern which the society would like to see adopted by the

numerous hospitals which now accept alcoholics on a more restricted basis.  Early in the game the newcomer is subjected to a merciful but thorough deflating of his ego. It is brought home to him forcefully that if he continues his uncontrolled drinking -- the only kind he is capable of -- he will die prematurely, or go insane from brain impairment, or both. He is encouraged to apologize to persons he has injured through his drunken behavior; this is a further step in the ego-deflation process and is often as painful to the recipient of the apology as it is to the neophyte A.A. He is further instructed that unless he will acknowledge the existence of a power greater than himself and continually ask this power for help, his campaign for sobriety will probably fail. This is the much-discussed spiritual

element in Alcoholics Anonymous. Most members refer to this power as God;

some agnostic members prefer to call it Nature, or the Cosmic Power, or by

some other label.  In any case, it is the key of the A.A. program, and it must be taken not on a basis of mere acceptance or acknowledgment, but of complete

surrender.



This surrender is described by a psychiatrist, Dr. Harry M. Tiebout, of Greenwich, Connecticut, as a "conversion" experience, "a psychological event

in which there is a major shift in personality manifestation." He adds: "The changes which take place in the conversion process may be summed up by

saying that the person who has achieved the positive frame of mind has lost

his tense, aggressive, demanding, conscience-ridden self which feels isolated

and at odds with the world, and has become, instead, a relaxed, natural, more

realistic individual who can dwell in the world on a live-and-let-live basis."



The personality change wrought surrender is far from complete, at first.   Elated by a few weeks of sobriety, the new member often enters what is known as the "Chautauqua phase" -- he is always making speeches at business meetings on what is wrong with the society and how these defects can be remedied. Senior members let him talk himself out of this stage of behavior; if that doesn't work, he may break away and form a group of his own. If he does this, he gradually becomes a quiet veteran himself and other Chautauqua-phase boys either oust him from leadership of his own group or break away themselves and form a new group. By this and other processes of fission the movement spreads. It can stand a lot of outstanding foolishness and still grow.




Drunks, as such, are too individualistic to be organized, and there is no top

command in Alcoholics Anonymous to excommunicate, fine or otherwise penalize

irrational behavior.



However, services -- such as publishing meeting bulletins, distributing literature, arranging for hospitalization, and so on -- are organized in the larger centers. The local offices, which are operated and financed by the groups thereabouts, are autonomous.



They are governed by representatives elected by the neighborhood groups to a

rotating body called the Inter-group. There are no dues; all local expenses are met by a simple passing of the hat at group meetings.  A certain body of operational traditions has grown up over the years, and charged with maintaining them -- by exhortation only -- is something called the Alcoholic Foundation, which has offices at 415 Lexington Avenue New York City. For a foundation it acts queerly about money; much of its time is consumed in turning down proffered donations and bequests. One tradition is that A.A. must be kept poor, as money represents power and the society prefers to avoid the temptations which power brings. As a check on the foundation itself, the list of trustees is weighted against the alcoholics by eight to seven.



The nonalcoholic members are two doctors, a sociologist, a magazine editor, a

newspaper editor, a penologist, an international lawyer and a retired businessman.



Preserving the principle of anonymity is one of the more touchy tasks of the

foundation.



Members are not supposed to be anonymous among their friends or business

acquaintances, but they are when appearing before the public -- in print or

on radio or television, for example -- as members of Alcoholics Anonymous.

This limited anonymity is considered important to the welfare of the movement, primarily because it encourages members to subordinate their personalities to the principles of A.A. There is also the danger that if a member becomes publicized as a salvaged alcoholic he may stage a spectacular skid and injure the prestige of the society. Actually, anonymity has been breached only a few dozen times since the movement began, which isn't a bad showing, considering the exhibitionistic nature of the average alcoholic.



By one of the many paradoxes which have characterized its growth, Alcoholics

Anonymous absorbed the "keep it poor" principle from one of the world's wealthiest men, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. The society was formed in 1935 after a fortuitous meeting in Akron between a Wall Street broker and an Akron surgeon, both alcoholics of long standing. The broker, who was in Akron on a business mission, had kept sober for several months by jawing drunks -- unsuccessfully -- but his business mission had fallen through and he was aching for a drink. The surgeon, at the time they got together, was quite blotto. Together, over a period of a few weeks, they kept sober and worked out the basic A.A. technique. By 1937, when they had about fifty converts, they began thinking, as all new A.A.'s will, of tremendous plans -- for vast new alcoholic hospitals, squadrons of paid field workers and the literature of mercy pouring off immense presses. Being completely broke themselves, and being promoters at heart, as most alcoholics are, they set their sights on the Rockefeller jack pot.



Rockefeller sent an emissary to Akron to look into the phenomenon at work

there, and, receiving a favorable report, granted an audience to a committee

of eager-eyed alcoholics. He listened to their personal sagas of resurrection from the gutter and was deeply moved; in fact, he was ready to agree that the A.A.'s had John Barleycorn by the throat. The visitors relaxed and visualized millions dropping into the till. Then the man with the big money bags punctured the vision. He said that too much money might be the ruination of any great moral movement and that he didn't want to be a party to ruining this one. However, he did make a small contribution -- small for Rockefeller -- to tide it over for a few years, and he got some of his friends to contribute a few thousand more.



When the Rockefeller money ran out, A.A. was self-supporting, and it has

remained so ever since.



Although A.A. remains in essence what it has always been, many changes have

come along in late years. For one thing, the average age of members has dropped from about forty-seven to thirty-five. The society is no longer, as it was originally, merely a haven for the "last gaspers." Because of widespread publicity about alcoholism, alcoholics are discovering earlier what their trouble is.



As A.A. has achieved wider social acceptance, more women are coming in than

ever before. Around the country they average 15 per cent of total membership;

in New York, where social considerations never did count for much, the A.A.'s

are 30 per cent women.



The unmarried woman alcoholic is slow to join, as she generally gets more coddling and protection from her family than a man does; she is what is known

in alcoholic circles as a "bedroom drinker." The married-woman alcoholic has

a tougher row to hoe. The wife of an alcoholic, for temperamental and economic reasons, will ordinarily stick by her erring husband to the bitter end. The husband of an alcoholic wife, on the other hand, is usually less tolerant; a few years of suffering are enough to drive him to the divorce court, with the children in tow. Thus the divorced-woman A.A. is a special problem, and her progress in sobriety depends heavily upon the kindliness shown her by the other A.A. women. For divorcees, and for other women who may be timid about speaking out in mixed meetings, special female auxiliary groups have been formed in some communities. They work out better than a cynic might think.



Another development is the growth of the sponsor system. A new member gets a

sponsor immediately, and it is the function of the sponsor to accompany him to meetings, to see that he gets all the help he needs and to be on call at any time for emergencies. As an emergency usually amounts only to an onset of that old feeling for a bottle, it is customarily resolved by a telephone conversation, although it may involve an after-midnight trip to Ernie's gin mill, whither the neophyte has been shanghaied by a couple of unregenerate old drinking companions. As the membership of A.A. cuts through all social, occupational and economic classes, it is possible to match the sponsor with the sponsored, and this seems to speed up the arrestive process.



During the past decade or so, the society, whose original growth was in large

cities, has strongly infiltrated the grass-roots country. Its arrival in this sector was delayed largely because of the greater stigma which attaches to alcoholism in the small town. Because of this stigma and the effect it has on his business, professional or social standing, the small-town alcoholic, reveling in his delusion that nobody knows about his drinking -- when actually it is the gossip of Main Street -- takes frequent "vacations" or "business trips" if he can afford it. He or she -- the banker, the storekeeper, the lawyer, the madam president of the garden club, sometimes even the clergyman -- is actually headed for a receptive hospital or clinic in the nearest large city, where no one will recognize him.



The pattern of small-town growth begins when the questing small-towner seeks

out the big-city A.A. outfit and its message catches on with him. To his surprise, he finds that half a dozen drinkers in towns near his own have also been to the fount. On returning to his home, he gets in touch with them and they form an intertown group; or there may be enough drinkers in his own town to begin a group. Though there is a stigma even to getting sober in small towns, it is less virulent than the souse stigma, and word of the movement spreads throughout the county and into adjoining counties. The churches and newspapers take it up and beat the drum for it; relatives of drunks, and doctors who find themselves unable to help their alcoholic patients, gladly unload the problem cases on A.A., and A.A. is glad to get them. The usual intrafellowship quarrel over who is going to run the

thing inevitably develops and there are factional splits, but the splits help to

spread the movement, too, and all the big quarrels soon become little ones,

and then disappear.



Nowhere is Alcoholics Anonymous carried on with more enthusiasm than in Los

Angeles. Unlike most localities, which try to keep separate group membership, for easier handling, Los Angeles likes the theatrical mass-meeting setting, with 1000 or more present. The Los Angeles A.A.'s carry their membership as if it were a social cachet and go strongly for square dances of their own. Jewelry bearing the A.A. monogram, though frowned upon elsewhere, is popular on the Coast. After three months of certified sobriety a member receives a bronze pin, after one year he is entitled to have a ruby chip inserted in the pin and, after three years, a diamond chip. Rings bearing the A.A. letters are widely worn, as well as similarly

embellished compacts, watch fobs and pocket pieces.



Texas takes A.A. with enthusiasm too. In the ranch sector, members drive or

fly hundreds of miles to attend A.A. square dances and barbecues, bringing their families. In metropolitan areas such as Dallas-Fort Worth -- there are upwards of a dozen oil-millionaire members here -- fancy club quarters have been established in old mansions and the brethren and their families rejoice, dance and drink coffee and soda pop amid expensive furnishings. One Southwestern group recently got its governor to release a life-termer from the state penitentiary for a week end, so that he could be the guest of honor of the group. "We had a large open meeting," a local member wrote a friend elsewhere in the country, "and many state and county officials attended in order to hear what Herman (the lifer) had to tell about A.A. within the walls. They were deeply impressed and very interested. The next night I gave a lawn party and buffet supper in Herman's honor, with about fifty A.A.'s present. This was the first occasion of this kind in the state and to our knowledge the first in the United States."



Some A.A.'s believe that this group carried the joy business too far. Others

think that each section of the country ought to manifest spirit in its own way; anyway, that is the way it usually works out.



The Midwest is businesslike and serious. In the Deep South the A.A.'s do a

certain amount of Bible reading and hymn singing. The Northwest and the upper Pacific Coast help support their gathering places with the proceeds from slot machines. New York, a catchall for screwballs and semiscrewballs from all over, is pious about gambling, and won't have it around the place.



New England is temperate in its approach, and its spirit is characterized by

the remark of one Yankee who, writing a fellow A.A. about a lake cottage he

had just bought, said, "The serenity hangs in great gobs from the trees."



The serene mind is what A.A.'s the world over are driving toward, and an epigrammatic expression of their goal is embodied in a quotation which

members carry on cards in their wallets and plaster up on the walls of their

meeting rooms: "God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change,

courage to change things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."



Originally thought in Alcoholics Anonymous to have been written by St. Francis of Assisi, it turned out, on recent research, to have been the work of another eminent nonalcoholic, Dr. Reinhold Niebuhr, of Union Theological Seminary. Doctor Niebuhr was amused on being told of the use to which his prayer was being put. Asked if it was original with him, he said he thought it was, but added, "Of course it may have been spooking around for centuries."



Alcoholics Anonymous seized upon it in 1940, after it had been used as a

quotation in the New York Herald Tribune. The fellowship was late in catching up with it; and it will probably spook around a good deal longer before the rest of the world catches up with it.



Jack Alexander

The Saturday Evening Post



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Rollie Hemsley Rollie Hemsley 4/3/2002 9:53:00 AM The first case of an anonymity break at the national level occurred in May 1940.



Ralston Burdett "Rollie" Hemsley was born June 24, 1907, in Syracuse, Ohio.  His debut as a catcher was April 13, 1928.  He was the catcher for the Cleveland Indians, and had just caught a no-hit game pitched by Bob Feller when publicity about his alcoholism hit the papers.  Rollie had been sober for about a year at that time.  It was big news, not only in Cleveland and Ohio, but in the sports sections of newspapers throughout the country.



Rollie had once been called "Rollicking Rollie," during his drinking days.  He had set fire to a car, raised hell on trains, caught a ball dropped from Cleveland's Terminal Tower when drunk (and did it again sober), and was on the way out of the big leagues when he finally received help.



Dr. Bob called John R. in April 1939 and said: You're the only one around here who knows anything about baseball.  Do you know a player named Rollie Hemsley?



John replied: "Yes, sure I do.  He's a catcher for the Cleveland team."



Dr. Bob said: "Well, someone brought  him down  here, and we've got him over at the hospital.  You come up and talk to him." 



They had put him in the hospital under a false name which reportedly made a sportswriter at the Beacon-Journal very angry that Dr. Bob wouldn't reveal it.  When Rollie was released from the hospital he joined the Oxford Group in Akron.  When the Akron A.A.s left the Oxford Group, Rollie stayed with the Oxford Group for a time, but then joined the A.A. group in Cleveland.



So when the story of his alcoholism broke in 1940, credit for his recovery was given to the Oxford Group.  Then Rollie broke his silence for the first time, and gave the credit for his sobriety to Alcoholics Anonymous.  This caused some concern among AA's, but Rollie could hardly be blamed, and the story of his recovery in A.A. brought many new recruits.



The first story about A.A. that appeared in the Cleveland Plain Dealer (see Message 1) spoke "a former big league ball player who is recruiting officer ..."



Rollie explained the difference between the Oxford Group and A.A. like this: "You know, if someone gave me tips about baseball and I found out he never played, I wouldn't pay much attention to him.  It's the same thing with alcohol."



In the Dr. Bob collection at Brown University is a 1948 Cleveland Indians World Series baseball, signed by player and A.A. member Rollie Hemsley and his teammates.



Rollie died July 31, 1972, in Washington, DC.



Sources:



Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers.

A.A. Comes of Age.


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A LETTER FROM BILL RE THE LORD''S PRAYER A LETTER FROM BILL RE THE LORD''S PRAYER 4/3/2002 12:23:00 PM April 14, 1959



Dear Russ,



Am right sorry for my delay in answering.  Lois and I were a long time out of the country and this was followed by an attack of the marathon type of flu that has been around here in New York.  We are okay now, however, but I did want to explain my delay.



Now about the business of adding the Lord's Prayer to each A.A. meeting.



This practice probably came from the Oxford Groups who were influential in the early days of A.A. You have probably noted in AA. Comes of Age what the connection of these people in A.A. really was. I think saying the Lord's Prayer was a custom of theirs following the close of each meeting. Therefore it quite easily got shifted into a general custom among us.



Of course there will always be those who seem to be offended by the introduction of any prayer whatever into an ordinary A.A. gathering. Also, it is sometimes complained that the Lord's Prayer is a Christian document.



Nevertheless this Prayer is of such widespread use and recognition that the arguments of its Christian origin seems to be a little farfetched. It is also true that most A.A.s believe in some kind of God and that communication and strength is obtainable through His grace. Since this is the general consensus it seems only right that at least the Serenity Prayer and the Lord's Prayer be used in connection with our meetings. It does not seem necessary to defer to the feelings of our agnostic and atheist newcomers to the extent of completely hiding our light under a bushel.



However, around here, the leader of the meeting usually asks those to join him in the Lord's Prayer who feel that they would care to do so. The worst that happens to the objectors is that they have to listen to it.  This is doubtless a salutary exercise in tolerance at their stage of progress.



So that's the sum of the Lord's Prayer business as I recall it. Your letter made me wonder in just what connection you raise the question.



Meanwhile, please know just how much Lois and I treasure the friendship of you both.  May Providence let our paths presently cross one of these days.



Devotedly yours,



Bill Wilson



WGW/ni

Mr. Russ



From the A.A. Archives in New York









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SERENITY PRAYER, ITS ORIGIN. SERENITY PRAYER, ITS ORIGIN. 4/4/2002 1:36:00 AM My thanks to Charles and Doug of AA History & Trivia for permission to copy this from their website.



The Origin of our Serenity Prayer



As published in August/September 1992 BOX-459

(Reprinted with permission)




For many years, long after the Serenity Prayer became attached to the very fabric of the Fellowship's life and thought, its exact origin, its actual author, have played a tantalizing game of hide and seek with researchers, both in and out of A.A. The facts of how it came to be used by A.A. a half century ago are much easier to pinpoint.



Early in 1942, writes Bill W., in A.A. Comes of Age, a New York member, Jack, brought to everyone's attention a caption in a routine New York Herald Tribune obituary that read:



"God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courage to change the things we can,

And wisdom to know the difference."




Everyone in A.A.'s burgeoning office on Manhattan's Vesey Street was struck by the power and wisdom contained in the prayer's thoughts. "Never had we seen so much A.A. in so few words," Bill writes. Someone suggested that the prayer be printed on a small, wallet-sized card, to be included in every piece of outgoing mail. Ruth Hock, the Fellowship's first (and nonalcoholic) secretary, contacted Henry S., a Washington D.C. member, and a professional printer, asking him what it would cost to order a bulk printing.



Henry's enthusiastic response was to print 500 copies of the prayer, with the remark: "Incidentally, I am only a heel when I'm drunk .. . so naturally, there could be no charge for anything of this nature."



"With amazing speed," writes Bill, "the Serenity Prayer came into general use and took its place alongside our two other favorites, the Lord's Prayer and the Prayer of St. Francis."



Thus did the "accidental" noticing of an unattributed prayer, printed alongside a simple obituary of an unknown individual, open the way toward the prayer's daily use by thousands upon thousands of A.A.s worldwide.



But despite years of research by numerous individuals, the exact origin of the prayer is shrouded in overlays of history, even mystery. Moreover, every time a researcher appears to uncover the definitive source, another one crops up to refute the former's claim, at the same time that it raises new, intriguing facts. What is undisputed is the claim of authorship by the theologian Dr. Rheinhold Niebuhr, who recounted to interviewers on several occasions that he had written the prayer as a "tag line" to a sermon he had delivered on Practical Christianity. Yet even Dr. Niebuhr added at least a touch of doubt to his claim, when he told one interviewer, "Of course, it may have been spooking around for years, even centuries, but I don't think so. I honestly do believe that I wrote it myself."



Early in World War II, with Dr. Niebuhr's permission, the prayer was printed on cards and distributed to the troops by the U.S.O. By then it had also been reprinted by the National Council of Churches, as well as Alcoholics Anonymous.



Niebuhr was quite accurate in suggesting that the prayer may have been "spooking around" for centuries. "No one can tell for sure who first wrote the Serenity Prayer," writes Bill in A.A. Comes of Age. "Some say it came from the early Greeks; others think it was from the pen of an anonymous English poet; still others claim it was written by an American Naval officer... ." Other attributions have gone as far afield as ancient Sanskrit texts, Aristotle, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and Spinoza. One A.A. member came across the Roman philosopher Cicero's Six Mistakes of Man, one of which reads: "The tendency to worry about things that cannot be changed or corrected."



No one has actually found the prayer's text among the writings of these alleged, original sources. What are probably truly ancient, as with the above quote from Cicero, are the prayer's themes of acceptance, courage to change what can be changed and the free letting go of what is out of one's ability to change.



The search for pinpointing origins of the prayer has been like the peeling of an onion. For example, in July 1964, the A.A. Grapevine received a clipping of an article that had appeared in the Paris Herald Tribune, by the paper's correspondent in Koblenz, then in West Germany. "In a rather dreary hall of a converted hotel, overlooking the Rhine at Koblenz," the correspondent wrote, is a tablet inscribed with the following words:



"God give me the detachment to accept those things I cannot alter;

the courage to alter those things I can alter;

and the wisdom to distinguish the one thing from the other."



These words were attributed, the correspondent wrote, to an 18th century pietist, Friedrich Oetinger (1702-1782). Moreover, the plaque was affixed to a wall in a hall where modern day troops and company commanders of the new German army were trained "in the principles of management and . . . behavior of the soldier citizen in a democratic state."



Here, at last, thought A.A. researchers, was concrete evidence -- quote, author, date -- of the Serenity Prayer's original source. That conviction went unchallenged for fifteen years. Then in 1979 came material, shared with G.S.O.'s Beth K., by Peter T., of Berlin. Peter's research threw the authenticity of 18th century authorship out the window. But it also added more tantalizing facts about the plaque's origin.



"The first form of the prayer," Beth wrote back, originated with Boethius, the Roman philosopher (480-524 A.D.), and author of the book, Consolations of Philosophy. The prayer's thoughts were used from then on by "religious-like people who had to suffer first by the English, later the Prussian puritans . . . then the Pietists from southwest Germany . . . then A.A.s . . . and through them, the West Germans after the Second World War."



Moreover, Beth continued, after the war, a north German University professor, Dr. Theodor Wilhelm, who had started a revival of spiritual life in West Germany, had acquired the "little prayer" from Canadian soldiers. He had written a book in which he had included the prayer, without attribution, but which resulted in the prayer's appearance in many different places, such as army officer's halls, schools and other institutions. The professor's nom de plume? Friedrich Oetinger, the 18th century pietist! Wilhelm had apparently selected the pseudonym Oetinger out of admiration of his south German forebears.



Back in 1957, another G.S.O. staff member, Anita R., browsing in a New York bookstore, came upon a beautifully bordered card, on which was printed:



"Almighty God, our Heavenly Father, give us Serenity to accept what cannot be changed, Courage to change what should be changed, and Wisdom to know the one from the other; through Jesus Christ, our Lord."



The card, which came from a bookshop in England, called it the "General's Prayer," dating it back to the fourteenth century! There are still other claims, and no doubt more unearthings will continue for years to come. In any event, Mrs. Reinhold Niebuhr told an interviewer that her husband was definitely the prayer's author, that she had seen the piece of paper on which he had written it, and that her husband -now that there were numerous variations of wording - "used and preferred" the following form:



"God give us grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed,

and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other."



While all of these searchings are intriguing, challenging, even mysterious, they pale in significance when compared to the fact that, for fifty years, the prayer has become so deeply imbedded into the heart and soul of A.A. thinking, living, as well as its philosophy, that one could almost believe that the prayer originated in the A.A. experience itself.



Bill made this very point years ago, in thanking an A.A. friend for the plaque upon which the prayer was inscribed: "In creating A.A., the Serenity Prayer has been a most valuable building block-indeed a corner-stone."



And speaking of cornerstones, and mysteries and "coincidences"-the building where G.S.O. is now located borders on a stretch of New York City's 120th St., between Riverside Drive and Broadway (where the Union Theological Seminary is situated). It's called Reinhold Niebuhr Place.



(A long version of the Prayer)



God grant me the SERENITY to accept the things I cannot change;

COURAGE to change the things I can; and WISDOM to know the difference.



Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time;

accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it: Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen



(Another long version of the Prayer from Ireland)



God take and receive my liberty, my memory, my understanding and will, All that I am and have He has given me.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time,

Enjoying one moment at a time,

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace,

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,

Not as I would have it.

Trusting that He will make all things right

If I surrender to his will

That I may be reasonably happy in this life

and supremely happy in the next. AMEN



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SERENITY PRAYER, MORE ON ITS POSSIBLE HISTORY SERENITY PRAYER, MORE ON ITS POSSIBLE HISTORY 4/4/2002 2:08:00 AM (Original source of this piece unknown.)



SERENITY PRAYER HISTORY



A note from the correspondence of the Washington D.C. Group on the mystery that

surrounds the origins of our little prayer



The Serenity Prayer is one of the bits of our A.A. heritage that is truly

anonymous.



Probably no one knows the true origin of the prayer, although it has periodically been attributed to any number of "authors." We may never discover the origin of the prayer, but it is of interest to know how it became a part of the A.A. way of life. An authoritative account of this has been provided in the correspondence files of the Washington Group.



In the spring of 1948 Henry S., a member of the Chevy Chase Group, set forth

to write a history of the Washington Group. Whether he did or did not produce

a history of the group is unknown. As a part of this project he contacted

Margaret B., [Bobbie Burger] secretary for the Alcoholic Foundation, for any information she might have concerning the origins of the Washington Group. He also asked her if she had any information on the history of the Serenity Prayer.



Margaret replied:



"... I think the true story of the little serenity prayer would be interesting to everyone. I can only tell that, too, from my standpoint, but we've heard some very interesting data from all over the world. We first saw those few potent lines in the obit column of the Herald Tribune in June of 1941. It was addressed "To Mother," and signed, "Good bye, Your Son." We tried to dream of the story in back of it and came up with one which made a little sense. We thought perhaps it was put in the paper by a boy who was leaving home suddenly and wanted to get a message to his mother on some difference of opinion they had had. One of the members, Horace C., took the clipping from the papers and had 100 cards made up. Those of us who were there the night we first saw it, each got a card and I have my original one.



The balance Horace gave to Ruth Hock to send out to the A.A.'s with whom she was corresponding. Not long ago, one of those original cards came in the mail to me here from a man in Japan, who said someone gave it to him while he was in the Army and he thought that Alcoholics Anonymous might be interested in the saying. Quite a few of these little cards have been returned to us from time to time, as "originating" elsewhere. Only last week, one of our members wrote and said that his young daughter had found this little prayer in her Catholic Sunday School book. We've also heard that it appears in an early Episcopal prayer book.



One of our members in New York says that he can trace it back to Aristotle.

Someday, it might be fun to really find the background of this prayer, but I

can give you its introduction into A.A. in the spring of 1941.



The Washington Group was instrumental in a number of A.A. practices and the

development of traditions. The 100 little cards mentioned in Margaret's

letter were made possible by Henry S., whose family owned a printing business. This was the same Henry who in 1948 started to write the Washington Group history. There is also reason to believe that the Twelve Steps as we know them and the little cards that they are printed on were, in part, the product of Fitz M. and Henry S. of the Washington Group.

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"Let''s Ask Bill," #1 -- Is alcohol an illness, or a moral responsibility? "Let''s Ask Bill," #1 -- Is alcohol an illness, or a moral responsibility? 4/5/2002 3:34:00 AM This series was originally posted to AA History Buffs by Jim Blair.  These excerpts from various talks and articles by and on Bill W. reveal a wealth of the thinking and insight of the co-founder of A.A.



Q - How do you justify calling alcoholism an illness, and not a moral

responsibility?




A - Early in A.A.'s history, very natural questions arose among theologians.  There was a Mr. Henry Link who had written "The Return to Religion (Macmillan Co., 1937). One day I received a call from him. He stated that he strongly objected to the A.A. position that alcoholism was an illness. This concept, he felt, removed moral responsibility from alcoholics. He had been voicing this complaint about psychiatrists in the American Mercury. And now, he stated, he was about to lambaste A.A. too.



Of course, I made haste to point out that we A.A.'s did not use the concept of sickness to absolve our members from moral responsibility. On the contrary, we used the fact of fatal illness to clamp the heaviest kind of moral responsibility on to the sufferer. The further point was made that in his early days of drinking the alcoholic often was no doubt guilty of irresponsibility and gluttony. But once the time of compulsive drinking, veritable lunacy had arrived and he couldn't very well be held accountable for his conduct. He then had a lunacy which condemned him to drink, in spite of all he could do; he had developed a bodily sensitivity to alcohol that guaranteed his final madness and death. When this state of affairs was pointed out to him, he was placed immediately under the heaviest kind of pressure to accept A.A.'s moral and spiritual program of regeneration -- namely, our Twelve Steps. Fortunately, Mr. Link was satisfied with this view of the use that we were making of the alcoholic's illness. I am glad to report that nearly all theologians who have since thought about this matter have also agreed with that early position. 



While it is most obvious that free will in the matter of alcohol has virtually disappeared in most cases, we A.A.'s do point out that plenty of free will is left in other areas, It certainly takes a large amount of willingness, and a great exertion of the will to accept and practice the A.A. program. It is by this very exertion of the will that the alcoholic corresponds with the grace by which his drinking obsession can be expelled.

(N.C.C.A. 'Blue Book', Vol.12, 1960)



















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"Let''s Ask Bill," #2 -- Do alcoholics as a class differ from other people? "Let''s Ask Bill," #2 -- Do alcoholics as a class differ from other people? 4/5/2002 3:43:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Do alcoholics as a class differ from other people?



A - Some years ago the doctors began to look at Alcoholics Anonymous and they got about thirty of us together and they said to themselves "Well, now that these fellows are in A.A., and they won't lie so badly, and maybe for the first time we'll get a good look at what the interior of a drunk is like." So a number of us were examined at great length by psychiatrists, and all sorts of tests taken, and the object of this particular inquiry was to see whether alcoholics as a class differed from other people, and if they did, just why and how much.



A number of us were invited to attend the conclave, and a number of learned papers were read, and finally one of these physicians (a very noted one -- the meeting took place at the New York Academy of Medicine) began to sum up what he thought the conclusion which they had arrived at was this: that the alcoholic is emotionally on the childish side. That the alcoholic is a person who is more sensitive emotionally than the average person. And then, they ascribed another quality to us -- they used the word "grandiosity," they were grandiose (meaning by that that as a type we were what you might call "All of nothing people.") Someone once described it by saying all alcoholics hanker for the moon when perhaps the stars would have done just as well. As a class, we're like that, said the doctors. (Memphis, Tenn., Sept. 18-20, 1947)



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"Let''s Ask Bill," #3 -- Are Alcoholics neurotic? "Let''s Ask Bill," #3 -- Are Alcoholics neurotic? 4/5/2002 3:49:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Are alcoholics neurotic?



A - It is possible that about half our members, had they not been drinkers, would have appeared in ordinary life to be normal people. The other half would have appeared as more or less pronounced neurotics (N.Y. State J. Med., Vol.44, Aug. 1944)



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"Let''s Ask Bill," #4 -- What is alcoholism? "Let''s Ask Bill," #4 -- What is alcoholism? 4/5/2002 3:52:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What is alcoholism?



A - Alcoholism is a malady; that something is dead wrong with us physically; that our reaction to alcohol has changed; that something has been very wrong with us emotionally; that our alcoholic habit has become an obsession, an obsession which can no longer reckon even with death itself. Once firmly set, one is not able to turn it aside. In other words, a sort of allergy of the body which guarantees that we shall die if we drink, an obsession of the mind which guarantees that we shall go on drinking. Such has been the alcoholic dilemma time out of mind, and it is altogether probable that even those alcoholics who did not wish to go on drinking, not more than five out of one hundred have ever been able to stop before A.A. (Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies, June 1945).












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"Let''s Ask Bill," #5 -- What is meant by mental obsession? "Let''s Ask Bill," #5 -- What is meant by mental obsession? 4/5/2002 4:07:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What is meant by mental obsession and the obsessional character of

alcoholism?



A - Well, as I understand it, we are all born with the freedom of choice.  The degree of this varies from person to person, and from area to area in our lives. In the case of neurotic people, our instincts take on certain patterns and directions, sometimes so compulsive they cannot be broken by any ordinary effort of the will. The alcoholic's compulsion to drink is like that. As a smoker, for example, I have a deeply ingrained habit - I'm almost an addict. But I do not think that this habit is an actual obsession.



Doubtless it could be broken by an act of my own will. If badly enough hurt, I could in all probability give up tobacco. Should smoking repeatedly land me in Bellevue Hospital, I doubt that I would make the trip many times before quitting. But with my alcoholism, well, that was something else again. No amount of desire to stop, no amount of punishment, could enable me to quit. What was once a habit of drinking became an obsession of drinking -- genuine lunacy.



Perhaps a little more should be said about the obsessional character of alcoholism. When our fellowship was about three years old some of us called on Dr. Lawrence Kolb, then Assistant Surgeon General of the United States.  He said that our report of progress had given him his first hope for alcoholics in general. Not long before, the U.S. Public Health Department had thought of trying to do something about the alcoholic situation. After a careful survey of the obsessional character of our malady, this had been given up. Indeed, Dr. Koib felt that dope addicts had a far better chance.



Accordingly, the government had built a hospital for their treatment at Lexington, Kentucky. But for alcoholics -- well, there simply wasn't any use at all, so he thought.



Nevertheless, many people still go on insisting that the alcoholic is not a sick man -- that he is simply weak or willful, and sinful. Even today we often hear the remark "That drunk could get well if he wanted to."



There is no doubt, too, that the deeply obsessional character of the alcoholic's drinking is obscured by the fact that drinking is a socially acceptable custom. By contrast, stealing, or let us say shop-lifting, is not. Practically everybody has heard of that form of lunacy known as kleptomania. Oftentimes kleptomaniacs are splendid people in all other respects. Yet they are under an absolute compulsion to steal -- just for the kick. A kleptomaniac enters a store a pockets a piece of merchandise. He is arrested and lands in the police station. The judge gives him a jail term. He is stigmatized and humiliated. Just like the alcoholic, he swears that

never, never will he do this again.



On his release from the jail, he wanders down the street past a department store. Unaccountably he is drawn inside. He sees, for example, a red tin fire truck, a child's toy. He instantly forgets all about his misery in the jail. He begins to rationalize. He says, "Well, this little fire engine is of no real value. The store won't miss it." So he pockets the toy, the store detective collars him, he is right back in the clink. Everybody recognizes this type of stealing as sheer lunacy.



Now, let's compare this behavior with that of an alcoholic. He, too, has landed in jail. He has already lost family and friends. He suffers heavy stigma and guilt. He has been physically tortured by his hangover. Like the kleptomaniac he swears that he will never get into this fix again. Perhaps he actually knows that he is an alcoholic. He may understand just what that means and may be fully aware of what the fearful risk of that first drink is.



Upon his release from jail, the alcoholic behaves just like the kleptomaniac. He passes a bar and at the first temptation may say, "No, I must not go inside there; liquor is not for me." But when lie arrives at the next drinking place, he is gripped by a rationalization. Perhaps he says, "Well, one beer won't hurt me. After all, beer isn't liquor." Completely unmindful of his recent miseries, he steps inside. He takes that fatal first drink. The following day, the police have him again. His fellow citizens continue to say that he is weak or willful. Actually he is just as crazy as

the kleptomaniac ever was. At this stage, his free will in regard to alcoholism has evaporated. He cannot very well be held accountable for his behavior. (The N.C.C.A. 'Blue Book', Vol. 12, 1960)













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"Let''s Ask Bill," #6 -- Is A.A. based totally on your own experiences? "Let''s Ask Bill," #6 -- Is A.A. based totally on your own experiences? 4/5/2002 4:24:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Is A.A. based totally on your own experiences?



A - Let's look. Dr. Bob recovered. Then we two set to work on alcoholics in Akron. Well, again came this tendency to preach, again this feeling that it has to be done in some particular way, again discouragement, so our progress was slow. But little by little we were forced to analyze our experiences and say, "This approach didn't work very well with that fellow. Why not? Let's try to put ourselves in his shoes and stop this preaching and see how he might be approached if we were he." That began to lead us to the idea that A.A. should be no set of fixed ideas, but should be a growing thing, growing out of experience. After a while we began to reflect: "This wonderful blessing that has come to us, from what does it get its origin?" It was a spiritual awakening growing out of adversity. So then we began to look harder for our mistakes, to correct them, to capitalize on our errors.



Little by little we began to grow so that there were 5 of us at the end of that first year; at the end of the second year 15; at the end of the third 40; and at the end of the fourth year, 100.



During those first four years most of us had another bad form of intolerance. As we commenced to have a little success, I am afraid our pride got the better of us and it was our tendency to forget about our friends. We were very likely to say, "Well, those doctors didn't do anything for us, and as for these sky pilots, well, they just don't know the score." And we became snobbish and patronizing.



Then we read a book by Dr. Carrell (Man, The Unknown). From that book came

an argument which is now a part of our system. Dr. Carrel wrote, in effect; The world is full of analysts. We have tons of ore in the mines and we have all kinds of building materials above ground. Here is a man specializing in this, there is a man specializing in that, and another one in something else. The modern world is full of wonderful analysts and diggers, but there are very few who deliberately synthesize, who bring together different materials, who assemble new things. We are much too shy on synthetic thinking -- the kind of thinking that's willing to reach out now here and now there to see if something new cannot be evolved.



On reading that book some of us realized that was just what we had been groping toward. We had been trying to build out of our own experiences. At this point we thought, "Let's reach into other people's experiences. Let's go back to our friends the doctors, let's go back to our friends the preachers, the social workers, all those who have been concerned with us, and again review what they have got above ground and bring that into the synthesis. And let us, where we can, bring them in where they will fit." So our process of trial and error began and at the end of four years, the material was cast in the form of a book known as Alcoholics Anonymous. (Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies, June 1945)









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"Let''s Ask Bill," #7 -- Is A.A. a new religion? A competitor of the Church? "Let''s Ask Bill," #7 -- Is A.A. a new religion? A competitor of the Church? 4/5/2002 4:32:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Here is another installment from the "Let's Ask Bill" series. This one has two responses to the question.





Q - Is Alcoholics Anonymous a new religion? A competitor of the Church?



A - If these misgivings had real substance, they would be serious indeed.  But, Alcoholics Anonymous cannot in the least be regarded as a new religion.  Our Twelve Steps have no theological content, except that which speaks of "God as we understand Him." This means that each individual AA member may define God according to whatever faith or creed he may have. Therefore there isn't the slightest interference with the religious views of any of our membership. The rest of the Twelve Steps define moral attitudes and helpful practices, all of them precisely Christian in character. Therefore, as far as the steps go, the steps are good Christianity, indeed they are good Catholicism, something which Catholic writers have affirmed more than once.



Neither does AA exert the slightest religious authority over its members. No one is compelled to believe anything. No one is compelled to meet membership conditions. No one is obliged to pay anything. Therefore we have no system of authority, spiritual or temporal, that is comparable to or in the least competitive with the Church. At the center of our society we have a Board of Trustees. This body is accountable yearly to a Conference of elected Delegates. These Delegates represent the conscience and desire of AA as regards functional or service matters. Our Tradition contains an emphatic injunction that these Trustees may never constitute themselves as a government -- they are to merely provide certain services that enable AA as a whole to function. The same principles apply at our group and area level.



Dr. Bob, my co-partner, had his own religious views. For whatever they may be worth, I have my own. But both of us have gone heavily on the record to the effect that these personal views and preferences can never under any conditions be injected into the AA program as a working part of it. AA is a sort of spiritual kindergarten, but that is all. Never should it be called a religion. (The 'Blue Book', Vol.12, 1960)



A - Alcoholics Anonymous is not a religious organization; there is no dogma.  The one theological proposition is a "Power greater than one's self." Even this concept is forced on no one. The new corner merely immerses himself in our society and tries the program as best he can. Left alone, he will surely report the onset of a transforming experience, call it what he may.



Observers once thought A.A. could only appeal to the religiously susceptible. Yet our membership includes a former member of the American Atheist Society and about 20,000 others almost as tough. The dying can become remarkably open-minded. Of course we speak little of conversion nowadays because so many people really dread being God-bitten. But conversion, as broadly described by James, does seem to be our basic process; all other devices are but the foundation. When one alcoholic works with another, he but consolidates and sustains that essential experience.

(Amer. J. Psych., Vol. 106, 1949)











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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 8 -- Just how does A.A. work? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 8 -- Just how does A.A. work? 4/5/2002 4:45:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Just how does A.A. work?



A - I cannot fully answer that question. Many A.A. techniques have been adopted after a ten-year period of trial and error, which has led to some interesting results. But, as laymen, we doubt our own ability to explain them. We can only tell you what we do, and what seems, from our point of view, to happen to us.



At the very outset we should like it made ever so clear that A.A. is a synthetic gadget, as it were, drawing upon the resources of medicine, psychiatry, religion, and our own experience of drinking and recovery. You will search in vain for a single new fundamental. We have merely streamlined old and proven principles of psychiatry and religion into such forms that the alcoholic will accept them. And then we have created a society of his own kind where he can enthusiastically put these very principles to work on himself and other sufferers.



Then too, we have tried hard to capitalize on our one great natural advantage.  That advantage is, of course, our personal experience as drinkers who have recovered. How often the doctors and clergymen throw up their hands when, after exhaustive treatment or exhortation, the alcoholic still insists, "But you don't understand me. You never did any serious drinking yourself, so how can you? Neither can you show me many who have recovered."



Now, when one alcoholic who has got well talks to another who hasn't, such

objections seldom arise, for the new man sees in a few minutes that he is talking to a kindred spirit, one who understands. Neither can the recovered A.A. member be deceived, for he knows every trick, every rationalization of the drinking game. So the usual barriers go down with a crash. Mutual confidence, that indispensable of all therapy, follows as surely as day does night. And if this absolutely necessary rapport is not forthcoming at once it is almost certain to develop when the new man has met other A.A.s. Someone will, as we say, "click with him."



As soon as that happens we have a good chance of selling our prospect those

very essentials which you doctors have so long advocated, and the problem

drinker finds our society a congenial place to work them out for himself and his fellow alcoholic. For the first time in years he thinks himself understood and he feels useful; uniquely useful, indeed, as he takes his own turn promoting the recovery of others. No matter what the outer world thinks of him, he knows he can get well, for he stands in the midst of scores of cases worse than his own who have attained the goal. And there are other cases precisely like his own -- a pressure of testimony which usually overwhelms him. If he doesn't succumb at once, he will almost surely do so later when Barleycorn builds a still hotter fire under him, thus blocking off all his other carefully planned exits from dilemma.



The speaker recalls seventy-five failures during the first three years of A.A. -- people we utterly gave up on. During the past seven years sixty-two of these people have returned to us, most of them making good. They tell us they returned

because they knew they would die or go mad if they didn't. Having tried everything else within their means and having exhausted their pet rationalizations, they came back and took their medicine. That is why we never need to evangelize alcoholics. If still in their right minds they come back, once they have been well exposed to A.A.



Now to recapitulate, Alcoholics Anonymous has made two major contributions to the programs of psychiatry and religion. These are, it seems to us, the long missing links in the chain of recovery:



1. Our ability, as ex-drinkers, to secure the confidence of the new man -- to "build a transmission line into him."



2. The provision of an understanding society of ex-drinkers in which the newcomer can successfully apply the principles of medicine and religion to himself and others.



So far as we A.A.s are concerned, these principles, now used by us every day, seem to be in surprising agreement. (N.Y. State J. Med.,Vol.44, Aug. 15, 1944).



A - On the surface A.A. is a thing of great simplicity, yet at its core a profound mystery. Great forces surely must have been marshaled to expel obsessions from all these thousands, an obsession which lies at the root of our fourth largest medical problem and which, time out of mind, has claimed

its hapless millions. (N.Y. State J. Med., Vol. 50, July 1950.)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No.9 -- What is the success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous? "Let''s Ask Bill" No.9 -- What is the success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous? 4/5/2002 5:01:00 AM From Jim Blair. 



This question has 5 responses from various documents.



Q - What is the success rate of Alcoholics Anonymous?



A - Of those sincerely willing to stop drinking about 50 per cent have done

so at once, 25 per cent after a few relapses and most of the remainder have

improved. (N.Y. State J. Med., Vol. 44, Aug., 1944)



A - As of 1949 our quantity results are these. The 14 year old society of Alcoholics Anonymous has 80,000 members in about 3,000 groups. We have

entered into about 30 foreign countries and U.S. possessions; translations are going forward. By occupation we are an accurate cross section of America. By religious affiliation we are about 40% Catholic; nominal and active Protestants, also many former agnostics, and a sprinkling of Jews comprise the remainder. Ten to 15% are women. Some negroes are recovering without undue difficulty. Top medical and religious endorsements are almost universal. A.A. membership is pyramiding, chain style, at the rate of 30% a year. During 1949 we expect 20,000 permanent recoveries, at least. Half of them will be medium or mild cases with an average age of 36 - a fairly recent development.



Of alcoholics who stay with us and really try, 50% get sober at once and stay that way, 25% do so after some relapses and the remainder show some improvement. But many problem drinkers do quit A.A. after a brief contact, many, three or four out of five. Some are too psychopathic or damaged. But the majority have powerful rationalizations yet to be broken down. Exactly this does happen, providing they get what A.A. calls a "good exposure," on first contact. Alcohol then burns such a hot fire under them that they are driven back to us, often years later. They tell us that they had to return; it was A.A. or else. Such cases leave us the agreeable impression that half of our original exposures will eventually return, most of them to recover. (Amer. J. Psychiatry Vol. 106, 1949)



A - About two thousand recoveries now take place each month. Of those alcoholics who wish to get well and are emotionally capable of trying our method, 50 per cent recover immediately, 25 per cent after a few backslides. The remainder are improved if they continue active in A.A. Of the total who approach us, it is probable that only 25 per cent become A.A. members on the first contact. A list of seventy-five of our early failures today discloses that 70 returned to A.A. after one to ten years. We did not bring them back; they came of their own accord. (N.Y. State J. Med., Vol.50, July 1950)



A - As we gained in size, we also gained in effectiveness. The recovery rate went up. Of all those who really tried A.A., 50 per cent made it at once, 25 per cent finally made it; and the rest, if they stayed with us, were definitely improved. That percentage has since held, even with those who first wrote their stories in the original edition of "Alcoholics Anonymous."



In fact, 75 per cent of these finally achieved sobriety. Only 25 per cent died or went mad. Most of those still alive have been sober for an average of twenty years.



In our early days and since, we have found that great numbers of alcoholics

approach us and then turn away -- maybe three out of five, today. But we have

happily found out that the majority of them later return, provided they are not too psychopathic or too brain damaged. Once they have learned from the lips of other alcoholics that they are beset by an often fatal malady, their further drinking only turns up the screw. Eventually they are forced back into A.A., they must or die. Sometimes this happens years after the first exposure. The ultimate recovery rate in A.A. is therefore a lot higher than we at first thought it could be.



Yet we must humbly reflect that Alcoholics Anonymous has so far made only a

scratch upon the total problem of alcoholism. Here in the United States, we have helped to sober up scarcely five per cent of the total alcoholic population of 4,500,000. (N.Y. Med. Society on Alcoholism, 1958)



A- A.A. members can soberly ask themselves what became of the 600,000

alcoholics who approached the Fellowship during the past thirty years but who did not stay.



How much and how often did we fail all these? When we remember that in the 30 years of A.A. existence we have reached less than 10 per cent of all those who might be willing to approach us, we begin to get an idea of the immensity of our task, and of the responsibilities with which we will always be confronted. (G.S.C. 1958.)



A - I took note of the fact that in the generation which has seen A.A. come alive, this period of twenty-five years, a vast procession of the world's drunks have passed in front of us and have gone over the precipice. Based on figures I was careful to get, it looks like, worldwide, there was something like 25 million of them and out of that stream of despair, illness, misery and death -- we fished out just one in a hundred in the last 25 years. I think we're fishing somewhat bigger and better.



Our numbers are considerable. We have size. There is great security in numbers. You can't imagine how it was in the very first two or three years of this thing when nobody was sure that anybody could stay sober...Then we were like the people on Eddie Rickenbacker's raft. Boy, anybody rock that raft, even a little, and he was sure to be clobbered, that's all, and then thrown overboard. But today it's a different story.



Along with greater security in numbers, there has come a certain amount of

liability. The more people there are to do a job, it often turns out, the less there are. In other words, what is everybody's business is nobody's business. So size is bound to bring complacency unless we get increasingly aware of what's going on. (Transcribed from tape. GSC, 1960)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No.10 -- Wouldn''t too rapid growth be bad ...? "Let''s Ask Bill" No.10 -- Wouldn''t too rapid growth be bad ...? 4/5/2002 5:06:00 AM From Jim Blair.





Q - Wouldn't too rapid growth be bad, both for the new alcoholics and for Alcoholics Anonymous itself?



A - Some of us used to think so, but several experiences of quick expansion have largely dissipated that fear. We had a striking example at Cleveland, Ohio. In the fall of 1939 Cleveland had, perhaps, 30 members. Most of them had become Alcoholics Anonymous by traveling to the nearby city of Akron where our first group had taken root in the summer of 1935.  At this juncture the Cleveland Plain Dealer published a striking and forceful series of articles about us. Placed on the editorial page, these pieces told the people of Cleveland that Alcoholics Anonymous worked; that it cost nothing; that it stood ready to help any alcoholic in town who really wanted to get well. Cleveland quickly became Alcoholics Anonymous conscious. Hundreds of inquiries by phone and mail descended upon the Plain Dealer and the expectant but nervous members of Alcoholics Anonymous. The rush was so great that new members sober themselves but a week or two, had to be used to instruct the still newer arrivals. Several private hospitals threw open their doors to cope with the emergency and were so please with the result that they have cooperated with us ever since. To the great surprise of everyone, this rapid growth, hectic though it was, did prove very successful. Within 90 days the original group of 30 had expanded to 300; in six months we had about 500; and within two years we had mushroomed to 1200 members distributed among a score of groups in the Cleveland area. Although we have no precise figures, it is probably fair to say that 3 out of 4 who came during that period, and who have since remained with the groups, have recovered from their alcoholism. (Quart. 3. Stud. Alc., Vol.6(2), September 1945)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 11 -- How can A.A. best assure its continued existence? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 11 -- How can A.A. best assure its continued existence? 4/5/2002 5:16:00 AM From Jim Blair.



This installment in the series is a very powerful response by Bill W.



Q - How can A.A. best assure its continued existence?



A - Since the beginning of recorded time, many societies and nations of civilizations have passed in review. In those great ones that have left their mark for good, in contrast with those who have left their mark for evil, there has always been a sense of history, a true and high constant purpose, and there has always been a sense of destiny.



In the societies which failed to leave a bright mark in the annals of the world, there was always a false or boastful sense of history, always a mistaken or inadequate purpose and always the presumption of an infinite, a glorious and an exclusive destiny.



In the societies that left their mark of goodness on time, the sense of history was not a matter for pride or for glory; it was the substance of the learning of the experience of the past. In the purpose of such a society there was always truth and constancy, but never a supposition that the society had apprehended all of the truth -- or the superior truth. And in the sense of destiny there was no conceit, no supposition that a society or nation or culture would last forever and go on to greater glories. But there was always a sense of duty to be fulfilled, whatever destiny the society might be assigned by providence for the betterment of the world.



This is the crossroads at which we in A.A. stand. This is a good time to re-examine how well we have looked upon our A.A. history and how much we

have profited by it, what false insights or false glories we may have been extracting from history -- to our future detriment. It is a moment to examine the purpose of this Society. Indeed, we are very lucky to be able to state as the nucleus of that purpose a single word: sobriety.



Quite early we saw, however, that sobriety in abstinence from alcohol could never be attained unless there was sobriety and more quietude in the false motivation that underlay our drinking.



When the Twelve Steps were cast up -- without any real experience and therefore under some Guidance, surely -- we were given keys to sobriety in its wider implications. We have been blessed with a concrete definition of purpose but, for all its concreteness, we could still abuse it and misuse it in a very natural way.



Some times we begin to think that perhaps, according to Scriptural promise, the first shall be last and the last -- meaning us -- shall really be first.  That would indeed be a very dangerous presumption and never should we indulge it. If we do, we shall compete in history with other societies who have been ill-advised enough to suppose that they had a monopoly on truth or were in some way superior to other attempts of men to think and to associate in love and in harmony.



We may look out upon our destiny with no violation of our principle that we are to live one day at a time. We mean that, emotionally, each in his personal life is never to repine upon the past glory too much, in the present, or presume upon the future. We shall attend to the day's business but we shall try to apprehend ever more truth from the lessons of our history, not the lessons of our successes but the lessons of our defections, failures and the awful emotions that can set us loose upon us. For these, indeed, are the raw materials that God has used to forge this still rather little instrument called Alcoholics Anonymous. So we may look at destiny and we may ask ourselves about it and speculate upon it a little -- if we do not presume to play God. (G.S.C., 1961)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No.12 -- What contribution did Dr. Carl Jung make to A.A.? "Let''s Ask Bill" No.12 -- What contribution did Dr. Carl Jung make to A.A.? 4/5/2002 5:28:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What contribution did Dr. Carl Jung make to A.A.?



A - Few people know that the first taproot of A.A. hit paydirt some thirty years ago in a physicians office. Dr. Carl Jung, that great pioneer in psychiatry was taking to an alcoholic patient. This is in effect what happened:



The patient, a prominent American businessman, had gone the typical alcoholic route. He had exhausted the possibilities of medicine and psychiatry in the United States and had then come to Dr. Jung as to a court of last resort. Carl Jung had treated him for a year and the patient, whom we shall call Mr. R., felt confident that the hidden springs underneath his compulsion to drink had been discovered and removed. Nevertheless, he found himself intoxicated within a short time after leaving Dr. Jung's care.



Now he was back, in a state of black despair. He asked Dr. Jung what the score was, and he got it. In substance, Dr. Jung said, "For some time after you came here, I continued to believe that you might be one of those rare cases who could make a recovery. But I must now frankly admit that I have never seen a single case recover through the psychiatric art where the neurosis is so severe as yours. Medicine has done all that it can for you, and that's where you stand."



Mr. R.'s depression deepened. He asked, "Is there no exception, is this really the end of the line for me?"



"Well," replied the doctor, "there are some exceptions, a very few. Here and there, once in a while, alcoholics have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. They appear to be in the nature of huge emotional displacements

and rearrangements. Ideas, emotions and attitudes which were once the guiding forces of these men are suddenly cast to one side, and a completely new set of conceptions and motives begin to dominate them. In fact, I have been trying to produce some emotional rearrangement within you. With many types of neurotics, the methods which I employ are successful, but I have never been successful with an alcoholic of your description."



"But," protested the patient, "I'm a religious man, and I still have faith."



To this Dr. Jung replied, "Ordinary religious faith isn't enough. What I'm talking about is a transforming experience, a conversion experience, if you like. I can only recommend that you place yourself in the religious atmosphere of your own choice, that you recognize your own hopelessness, and that you cast yourself upon whatever God you think there is. The lightening of the transforming experience may then strike you. This you must try -- it is your only way out." So spoke the great and humble physician.



For the A. A -to-be, this was a ten strike. Science had pronounced Mr. R. virtually hopeless. Dr. Jung's words had struck him at great depth, producing an immense deflation of his ego. Deflation at depth is today a cornerstone principle of A.A. There in Dr. Jung's office it was first employed on our behalf.



The patient, Mr. R., chose the Oxford Groups of that day as his religious

association and atmosphere. Terribly chastened and almost helpless, he began

to be active with them. To his intense joy and astonishment, the obsession to drink presently left him.



Returning to America, Mr. R. came upon an old school friend of mine, a chronic alcoholic. This friend -- whom we shall call Ebby -- was about to be committed to a State Hospital. At this juncture another vital ingredient was added to the synthesis. Mr. R., the alcoholic, began talking to Ebby, also an alcoholic and a kindred sufferer. This made for identification at depth, a second cardinal principle. Over this bridge of identification, Mr. R. passed Dr. Jung's verdict of how hopeless, medically and psychiatrically, most alcoholics were. He then introduced Ebby to the Oxford Groups where my friend promptly sobered up. (N.Y. City Med. Soc. Alcsm., April 28, 1958)



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Let''s Ask Bill" No.13 -- What effect did Ebby''s message have on you? Let''s Ask Bill" No.13 -- What effect did Ebby''s message have on you? 4/5/2002 5:38:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Here is installment No. 13 in the series. It has multiple responses.



Q - What effect did Ebby's message have on you?



A - Well, by this time I knew how hopeless my alcoholism was, and yet I still rebelled -- the idea of a dependency on some intangible God who might not even be there. Oh, if I could swallow it, but could I! I went on drinking for a number of days and gradually I got jittery enough to think about the hospital and then it came to me "Of a sudden" one day -- "Fool! -- why should you question how you're going to get well, why should beggars be choosers? If you had a cancer and you were sure of it and your physician said "This is so malignant that we can't touch it with our art and even if your physician came along with the improbable story that there were many who got over cancer by standing on their head in the public square crying 'Amen' and if he could really make a case that it was so, yes Bill Wilson, if you had cancer, you too would be out in the public square ignominiously standing on your head and crying 'Amen'- anything to stop the growth of those cells and that would be the first priority, and your pride would have to go."



And then I asked myself "Is my case different now? Have I not an allergy of the body; have I not a cancer of the emotions -- yes, and maybe I have a cancer of the soul which has resulted in an obsession which condemns me to drink and an increasing tolerance of liquor which condemns me to go mad or die? Yes, I'm going to try this. And then there was one more flicker of obstinacy when I said to myself, "But I don't want any of these evangelical experiences, I mean it will have to be a kind of intellectual religion that I'll get, so just to be sure that I don't go into my emotional tizzy, I believe I'll go up to see dear old Dr. Silkworth and have him dry me out.

(Memphis, Tenn., Sept. 18-20, 1947)



A - What then did happen at that kitchen table? Perhaps this speculation were better left to medicine and religion. I confess I do not know. Possibly conversion will never be fully understood.



My friend's story had generated mixed emotions; I was drawn and revolted by turns. My solitary drinking went on, but I could not forget his visit.  Several themes coursed in my mind: First, that his evident state of release was strangely and immensely convincing. Second, that he had been pronounced hopeless by competent medicos. Third, that those old-age precepts, when transmitted by him, had struck me with great power. Fourth, I could not, and would not, go along with any God concept. No conversion nonsense for me. Thus did I ponder. Trying to divert my thoughts, I found it no use. By cords of understanding, suffering, and simple verity, another alcoholic had bound me to him. I shall not break away. (Amer J. Psychiat., Vol.106, 1949)



A - He first told me his drinking experience, accent on its more recent horrors, Of course his identification with me was immediate, and as it proved, deep and vital indeed. One alcoholic was taking with another as no one except an alcoholic can. Then he offered me his naively simple recovery formula. Not one syllable was new, but somehow it affected me profoundly.



There he sat, recovered. An example of what he preached. You will note that his only dogma was God, which for my benefit he stretched into an accommodating phrase, a Power greater than myself. That was his story. I could take it or leave it. I need feel no obligation to him. Indeed, he observed, I was doing him a favor by listening. Besides it was obvious that he had something more than ordinary "water wagon" sobriety. He looked and acted "released"; repression had not been his answer. Such was the impact of an alcoholic who really knew the score. (N.Y. State J. Med., Vol.50, July 1950)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 14 --What happened to your sponsor, Ebby? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 14 --What happened to your sponsor, Ebby? 4/5/2002 5:44:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What happened to your sponsor, Ebby?



A - It was Ebby who brought me the message that saved my life and uncounted

thousands of others.



Because of gratitude and old friendship, my wife Lois and I invited Ebby to live at our home shortly after I sobered up. The son of a well-to-do family in Albany, he had never learned any profession so he was broke and had to begin all over. These were difficult circumstances, naturally. Ebby stayed with us something like a year and a half. Being intent on getting re-established in life, he took little interest in helping other alcoholics.



Little by little, he commenced the rationalization we have seen so often. He began to say that if he had the right romance and the right job then things would be okay. At length, he fell by the wayside. He would not mind if I tell this -- it is a part of his story today.



For many years, my old friend Ebby was on the wagon and off. Sometimes he

could stay sober for a year or more. He tried living with Lois and me for another considerable period but apparently this was of no help. Maybe we actually hindered him. As A.A. began to grow his position became difficult.  For a long time things went from bad to worse.



About six years ago the groups down in Texas decided to try their hand. Ebby

was shipped non-stop to Dallas and placed in an A.A. drying out place. In these new surroundings in Texas, far from his old failures, he has made a splendid recovery. Excepting for one slip which occurred about a year after his arrival down there he has been bone dry ever since. This is one of the deepest satisfactions that has ever come to me since A.A. started and many another A.A. can say the same. (N.C.C.A. 'Blue Book,' Vol.12, 1960)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 15 -- Could you describe your spiritual experience? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 15 -- Could you describe your spiritual experience? 4/5/2002 5:55:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Could you describe your spiritual experience for us and your understanding of what happened?



A - In December 1934, I appeared at Towns Hospital, New York. My old friend,

Dr. William Silkworth shook his head. Soon free of my sedation and alcohol I

felt horribly depressed. My friend Ebby turned up and although glad to see him, I shrank a little as I feared evangelism, but nothing of the sort happened. After some small talk, I again asked him for his neat little formula for recovery. Quietly and sanely and without the slightest pressure he told me and then he left.



Lying there in conflict, I dropped into the blackest depression I had ever known. Momentarily my prideful depression was crushed. I cried out, "Now I am ready to do anything -- anything to receive what my friend Ebby has."  Though I certainly didn't expect anything, I did make this frantic appeal, "If there be a God, will He show Himself!" The result was instant, electric, beyond description. The place seemed to light up, blinding white. I knew only ecstasy and seemed on a mountain. A great wind blew, enveloping and penetrating me. To me, it was not of air but of Spirit. Blazing, there came the tremendous thought, "you are a free man." Then the ecstasy subsided. Still on the bed, I now found myself in a new world of consciousness which was suffused by a Presence. One with the Universe, a great peace came over me. I thought, "So this is the God of the preachers, this is the great Reality." But soon my so-called reason returned, my modern education took over and I thought I must be crazy and I became terribly frightened.



Dr. Silkworth, a medical saint if ever there was one, came in to hear my

trembling account of this phenomenon. After questioning me carefully, he

assured me that I was not mad and that perhaps I had undergone a psychic

experience which might solve my problem. Skeptical man of science though he

then was, this was most kind and astute. If he had of said, "hallucination," I might now be dead. To him I shall ever be eternally grateful.



Good fortune pursued me. Ebby brought me a book entitled "Varieties of Religious Experience" and I devoured it. Written by William James, the

psychologist, it suggests that the conversion experience can have objective

reality. Conversion does alter motivation and it does semi-automatically enable a person to be and to do the formerly impossible. Significant it was, that marked conversion experience came mostly to individuals who knew complete defeat in a controlling area of life. The book certainly showed variety but whether these experiences were bright or dim, cataclysmic or gradual, theological or intellectual in bearing, such conversions did have a common denominator -- they did change utterly defeated people. So declared William James, the father of modern psychology. The shoe fitted and I have tried to wear it ever since.



For drunks, the obvious answer was deflation at depth, and more of it. That

seemed plain as a pikestaff. I had been trained as an engineer, so the news of this authoritative psychologist meant everything to me. This eminent scientist of the mind had confirmed everything that Dr. Jung had said, and had extensively documented all he claimed. Thus William James firmed up the foundation on which I and many others had stood all these years. I haven't had a drink of alcohol since 1934. (N.Y. Med. Soc. Alcsm., April 28,1958)



Q - Could you describe your spiritual experience for us and your

understanding of what happened?



A - In December 1934, I appeared at Towns Hospital, New York. My old friend,

Dr. William Silkworth shook his head. Soon free of my sedation and alcohol I

felt horribly depressed. My friend Ebby turned up and although glad to see

him, I shrank a little as I feared evangelism, but nothing of the sort

happened. After some small talk, I again asked him for his neat little

formula for recovery. Quietly and sanely and without the slightest pressure

he told me and then he left.



Lying there in conflict, I dropped into the blackest depression I had ever

known. Momentarily my prideful depression was crushed. I cried out, "Now I

am ready to do anything -- anything to receive what my friend Ebby has."

Though I certainly didn't expect anything, I did make this frantic appeal,

"If there be a God, will He show Himself!" The result was instant, electric,

beyond description. The place seemed to light up, blinding white. I knew

only ecstasy and seemed on a mountain. A great wind blew, enveloping and

penetrating me. To me, it was not of air but of Spirit. Blazing, there came

the tremendous thought, "you are a free man." Then the ecstasy subsided.

Still on the bed, I now found myself in a new world of consciousness which

was suffused by a Presence. One with the Universe, a great peace came over

me. I thought, "So this is the God of the preachers, this is the great

Reality." But soon my so-called reason returned, my modern education took

over and I thought I must be crazy and I became terribly frightened.



Dr. Silkworth, a medical saint if ever there was one, came in to hear my

trembling account of this phenomenon. After questioning me carefully, he

assured me that I was not mad and that perhaps I had undergone a psychic

experience which might solve my problem. Skeptical man of science though he

then was, this was most kind and astute. If he had of said, "hallucination,"

I might now be dead. To him I shall ever be eternally grateful.



Good fortune pursued me. Ebby brought me a book entitled "Varieties of

Religious Experience" and I devoured it. Written by William James, the

psychologist, it suggests that the conversion experience can have objective

reality. Conversion does alter motivation and it does semi-automatically

enable a person to be and to do the formerly impossible. Significant it was,

that marked conversion experience came mostly to individuals who knew

complete defeat in a controlling area of life. The book certainly showed

variety but whether these experiences were bright or dim, cataclysmic or

gradual, theological or intellectual in bearing, such conversions did have a

common denominator -- they did change utterly defeated people. So declared

William James, the father of modern psychology. The shoe fitted and I have

tried to wear it ever since.



For drunks, the obvious answer was deflation at depth, and more of it. That

seemed plain as a pikestaff. I had been trained as an engineer, so the news

of this authoritative psychologist meant everything to me. This eminent

scientist of the mind had confirmed everything that Dr. Jung had said, and

had extensively documented

all he claimed. Thus William James firmed up the foundation on which I and

many others had stood all these years. I haven't had a drink of alcohol

since 1934. (N.Y. Med. Soc. Alcsm., April 28,1958)













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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 16 -- How did you approach alcoholics ...? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 16 -- How did you approach alcoholics ...? 4/5/2002 8:22:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - When you first sobered up how did you approach alcoholics and did you change that approach?



A - I took off to cure alcoholics wholesale. It was twinjet propulsion; difficulties meant nothing. The vast conceit of my project never occurred to me. I pressed my assault for six months; my home was filled with alcoholics.  Harangues with scores produced not the slightest result. None of them got it. Disappointingly, my friend of the kitchen table, who was sicker than I realized, took little interest in other alcoholics. This fact may have caused his endless backslides later on. For I had found that working with alcoholics had a huge bearing on my own sobriety.  But why wouldn't any of my new prospects sober up?



Slowly the bugs came to light. Like a religious crank, I was obsessed with the idea that everybody must have a "spiritual experience" just like mine. I'd forgotten that there were many varieties. So my brother alcoholics just stared incredulously or kidded me about my "hot flash." This had spoiled the potent identification so easy to get with them. I had turned evangelist.



Clearly the deal had to be streamlined. What came to me in six minutes might

require six months in others. It was to be learned that words are things, that one must be prudent. It was also certain that something ailed the deflationary technique. It definitely lacked wallop. Reasoning that the alcoholic's "hex" or compulsion, must issue from some deep level, it followed that ego deflation must also go deep or else there couldn't be any fundamental release. Apparently religious practice would not touch the alcoholic until his underlying situation was made ready. Fortunately, all the tools were right at hand. You doctors supplied them.



The emphasis was shifted from "sin" to "sickness" -- the "fatal malady," alcoholism. We quoted doctors that alcoholism was more lethal than cancer; that it consisted of an obsession of the mind coupled to increasing body sensitivity. These were our twin ogres of madness and death. We leaned heavily on Dr. Jung's statement of how hopeless the condition could be and then poured that devastating dose into every drunk within range. To modern man science is omnipotent; it is a God. Hence if science could pass a death sentence on a drunk, and we placed that verdict on our alcoholic transmission, it might shatter him completely. Perhaps he would then turn to the God of the theologian, there being no place else to go. Whatever the truth in this device, it certainly had practical merit. Immediately our

whole atmosphere changed. Things began to look up. (Amer. J. Psychiat., Vol.

106, 1949)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 17 -- Could you tell us about the early days ...? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 17 -- Could you tell us about the early days ...? 4/5/2002 8:34:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Could you tell us about the early days and the meetings in your home on

Clinton Street?



A - In those days we were associated with the Oxford Group and one of its

founders was Sam Shoemaker and the Group was meeting in Calvary Church. Our debt to the Oxford Group is simply immense. We might have found these

principles elsewhere, but they did give them to us, and I want to again record our underlying gratitude. We also learned from them, so far as alcoholics are concerned, what not to do -- something equally important.



Father Edward Dowling, a great Jesuit friend of ours, once said to me, "Bill, it isn't what you people put into A.A. that makes it good -- it's what you left out." We got both sets of notions from our Oxford Group friends, and it was through them that Ebby had sobered up and became my sponsor, the carrier of this message to me.



We began to go to Oxford Group meetings over in Calvary House, and it was

there, fresh out of Towns Hospital, that I made my first pitch, telling about my strange experience, which did not impress the alcoholics who were listening. But something else did impress one of them. When I began to talk about the nature of this sickness, this malady, he pricked up his ears. He was a professor of chemistry, an agnostic, and he came up and talked afterward.



Soon, he was invited over to Clinton Street -- our very first customer. We worked very hard with Freddy for three years, but alas, he remained drunk for eleven years afterward.



Other people came to us out of those Oxford Group audiences. We began to go

down to Calvary Mission, an adjunct of the church in those days, and there we found a bountiful supply of real tough nuts to crack. We began to invite them to Clinton Street, and at this point the Groupers felt that we were over doing the drunk business. It seemed that they had the idea of saving the world and besides they'd had a bad time with us. Sam and his associates, he now laughingly tells me, were very much put out that they gathered a big batch of drunks in Calvary House, hoping for a miracle. They put them upstairs in those nice apartments and had them completely surrounded with sweetness and light but the drunks imported a flock of bottles and one of them pitched a shoe out of the apartment window and it went through a stained-glass window of the church. So the drunks were not exactly popular when the Wilsons showed up.



At any rate, we began to be with alcoholic all the time, but nothing happened for six months. Like the Groupers, we nursed them. In fact, over in Clinton Street, we developed in the next two or three years something like a boiler factory, a sort of clinic, a hospital, and a free boarding house, from which practically no one issued sober, but we had a pile of experience.



We began to learn the game, and after our withdrawal from the Oxford Group -- a year and a half from the time I sobered in 1934 -- we began to hold meetings of the few who had sobered up. I suppose that was really the first A.A. meeting. The book had not yet been written. We did not even call it Alcoholics Anonymous; people asked who we were and we said, "Well, we're a nameless bunch of alcoholics." I suppose that use of the word "nameless" sort of led us to the idea of anonymity, which was later clapped on the book at the time it was titled.



There were great doings in Clinton Street. I remember those meetings down in the parlor so well. Our eager discussion, our hopes, our fears -- and our fears were very great. When anyone in those days had been sober a few months and slipped, it was a terrific calamity. I'll never forget the day, a year-and-a-half after he came to stay with us, that Ebby fell over, and we all said, "Perhaps this is going to happen to all of us." Then, we began to ask ourselves why it was, and some of us pushed on.



At Clinton Street, I did most of the talking, but Lois did most of the work, and the cooking, and the loving of those early folks.  Oh my! The episodes we had there! I was away once on a business trip (I'd briefly got back into business), one of the drunks was sleeping on the lounge in the parlor. Lois woke up in the middle of the night, hearing a great commotion. One of the drunks had gotten a bottle and was drunk; he had also gotten into the kitchen and had drunk a bottle of maple syrup and he had fallen into the coal hod. When Lois opened the door, he asked for a

towel to cover up his nakedness. She once led this same gentleman through the streets late at night looking for a doctor, and not finding a doctor, then looking for a drink, because, as he said, he could not fly on one wing!



On one occasion, a pair of them were drunk. We had five, and on another

occasion, they were all drunk at the same time! Then there was the time when two of them began to beat each other with two-by-fours down in the basement. Then one night, poor Ebby, after repeated trials and failures, was finally locked out one night, but lo and behold, he appeared anyway. He had come through the coal chute and up the stairs, very much begrimed.



So you see, Clinton Street was a kind of blacksmith shop, in which we were

hammering away at these principles. For Lois and me, all roads lead back to Clinton Street. (Manhattan Group, 1955)

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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 18 -- Could you tell us more about Dr. Bob? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 18 -- Could you tell us more about Dr. Bob? 4/5/2002 9:06:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Could you tell us more about Dr. Bob?



A - In A.A. we always deal in personalities, really, this thing is transmitted from one to another and it isn't so much what we read about it that counts, it's what we uniquely know about ourselves and those just around us who help us and who we would help. Therefore, I take it that you would like it better than anything else if I just spin a few yarns about Dr. Bob and that very early part of A.A. which we often call the period of flying blind.



Of course you'll remember my little story about how a friend comes to me with the idea of getting more honest, more tolerant, making amends, helping others without demand for reward, praying as best I knew and that was my friend Ebby.



Dr. Bob had heard those things too, from the same source, namely the Oxford

Groups, which have since as such, passed off the scene and have left us with a rich heritage of both what and what not to do. Anyway, a friend comes to me and I go to other alcoholics and try to make them my friends and some did become my friends but not a damn one got sober.



Then came that little man that we who live in this area saw so much, him with the kind blue eyes and white hair, Doc Silkworth. You'll remember that Doc said to me, "Look Bill, you're preaching at these people too much. You've got the cart before the horse. This 'white flash' experience of yours scares those drunks to death. Why don't you put the fear of God into them first? You're always talking about James and The Varieties of Religious Experiences and how you have to deflate people before they can know God, how they must have humility. So, why don't you use the tool of the medical hopelessness of alcoholism for practically all those involved. Why don't you talk to the drunk about that allergy they've got and that obsession that makes them keep on drinking and guarantees that they will die? Maybe when you punch it into them hard it will deflate them enough so that they will find what you found."



So, another indispensable ingredient was added to what is now this successful synthesis and that was just about the time I set out for Akron on a business trip. It had been suggested by the family that it was about time that I went back to work. I went out there on this venture which fortunately fell through. I was in the hotel and was tempted to drink and needed to look up another alcoholic, not to save him but to save myself, for I had found that working with others had a vast bearing on my own sobriety.



Then we were brought together by a woman who was the last person on a long list of people I had been referred to. The only one who had time enough and who cared enough was a woman in Akron, herself no alcoholic. Her name was Henrietta Seiberling. She invited me out to her house and became interested at once. She called the Smiths and we learned that Smithy had come home with a potted plant for dear old Annie and he put it on the dining room table, but as Annie said that, just then, he was on the floor and they could not come over at that moment.



You remember how he put in an appearance the next day. Haggard, worn, not

wishing to stay and how we then talked for three hours. Now I have often heard Dr. Bob say "it was not so much my spirituality that affected him," he was a student of those things and I certainly know that he was never affected by any superior morality on my part. So, what did affect him? Well, it was this ammunition that dear old Doc Silkworth had given me, the allergy plus the obsession. The God of science declaring that the malady for most of us is hopeless so far as our personal power is concerned. As Dr. Bob put it in his story in the book "here came the first man into my life that seemed to know what this thing alcoholism was all about."



Well, if it wasn't the dose of spirituality I poured into Dr. Bob, it was that dose of indispensable medicine to this movement, the dose of hopelessness so far as one doing this alone is concerned. The bottle of medicine that Dr. Silkworth had given me that I poured down the old grizzly bear's throat. That's what I used to call him.



Well, he gagged on it a little, got drunk once more and that was the end.  Then he and I set out looking for drunks, we had to look some up. There is a little remembered part of the story. The story usually goes that we immediately called up the local city hospital and asked the nurse for a case but that isn't quite true. There was a preacher who lived down the street and he was beset at this time by a drunk and his name was Eddie and we talked to Eddie and it turned out that Eddie was not only a drunk but something which in that high faluting language is now called a manic-depressive, not very manic either, mostly depressed. Eddie was married with two or three kids, worked down at the Goodrich Company and his depression caused him to drink and the only thing that would stop the depression was apparently baking soda. When he got a sour stomach, he got depressed so he was not only drinking alcohol but we estimated that in the past few years he had taken a ton of baking soda. Well, we tried for a while, of course, we thought we had to be good Samaritans so we got up some dough to try to keep the family going, we got Eddie back on the job but Eddie kept right on with the alcohol and baking soda both. Finally, Dr. Bob and Annie took Eddie

along with me into their house, a pattern which my dear Lois followed out to the nth degree later, and we tried to treat Eddie and my mind goes back so vividly to that evening when Eddie really blew his top. I don't know whether it was the manic side or the depressive side but boy did he blow it. Annie and I were sitting at the kitchen table and Eddie seized the butcher knife and was about to do us in when Annie said very quietly," Well Eddie, I don't think your going to do this." He didn't. Thereafter, Eddie was in the State Asylum for a period of a dozen or more years but believe it or not he showed up at the funeral of Dr. Bob in the fall of 1950 as sober as a judge and he had been that way for three years.



So even that obscure little talk about Eddie made the grade. So then Dr. Bob and I talked to the man on the bed, Bill Dotson, who some of you have heard.  A.A. No.3. Here was another man who said he couldn't get well, his case was too tough, much tougher than ours besides he knew all about religion. Well, here it was, one drunk talking with another, in fact, two drunks talking to one. The very next day the man on the bed got out of his bed and he picked it up and walked and he has stayed sober ever since. A.A. No.3, the man on the bed.



So the spark that was to become Alcoholics Anonymous was struck. I came back

to New York after having taken away a great deal from Akron. I never can

forget those mornings and the nights at the Smiths. I can never forget Annie

reading to us two or three drunks who were hanging on, out of the bible. I

couldn't possibly say how many times we read Corinthians on love, how many

times we read the entire book of James with loving emphasis on that line "Faith without works is dead." It did make a very deep impression on me, so from the very beginning there was reciprocity, everyone was a teacher and everyone was a pupil and nobody need look up or down to the other because as Jack Alexander put it years later "We are all brothers and sisters under the skin."



Smithy, unlike me and the man on the bed, was bothered very badly by the temptation to drink. Smithy was one of those continuous drinkers. He wasn't what you would call one of those panty waist periodics. He guzzled all the time and apparently by the time he got to be sixty odd which was when he got to A.A., he was so rum soaked that he just had a terrible urge to drink.  Long after, he told me that he had that urge for six or seven years and that it was constant and that his basic release from it was doing what we now call the Twelfth Step. So Smitty, greatly out of love and partly being driven began to frantically work on those cases, first in City Hospital in Akron and then as they got tired of drunks in the place, finally over at St. Thomas where there is now a plaque which bears an inscription dedicated to all those who labored there in our pioneering time and describing St. Thomas in Akron as the first religious institution ever to open it's doors to Alcoholics Anonymous.



Ah, how much of a drama, how much of a struggle, how much misery, how much

joy lies in the era before the plaque was put there. No one can say. There was a Sister in the hospital, a veritable Saint, if you ever saw one. Our beloved Sister Ignatia. Dr. Bob often mentioned her. He told how she would deny beds to people with broken legs in order to stick drunks in them. She loved drunks. She was a sort of female Silkworth, if you know what I mean.



So finally a ward was provided and you remember that Dr. Bob was an M.D. and

a mighty good one. Now you know that quite within the A.A. Tradition, Dr. Bob might have charged all those drunks who went through that place for his medical services. He treated 5,000 drunks medically and never charged a dime, even in that long period when he was very poor. For unlike most of us to whom it is a credit to belong to Alcoholics Anonymous, it was no credit to a surgeon at that time. "It was lovely that the old boy got sober," his patients said, "but how the hell do I know he'll be sober when he cuts me open in the morning." And so that frantic effort went on in Akron and New York and we got back and forth a bit. You have no conception these days of how much failure we had. You had to cull over hundreds of these drunks to get a handful to take the bait. Yes, the discouragement's were very great but some did stay sober and some very tough ones at that.



The next great memory I have is that of the day I shared with him in his living room in the fall of 1937. I, you remember had sobered up in late '34 and Bob in June 1935. Well, we began to count noses, we asked ourselves "how many were dry and for how long," Not how many failures, but how many successes were there in Akron, New York and the trickle to Cleveland and in the other little trickles to Philadelphia and Washington. How much time elapsed on how many cases? We added up the score and I guess we may have had forty folks sober and with real time elapsed. For the first time Dr. Bob and I knew that God had made a great gift to us children of the night and that the long procession coming down through the ages need no longer all go over into the left hand path and plunge over the cliff. We knew that something great had come into the world.



Then it was a question of how we would spread this and that was answered by the publication of the book and the opening of the service office. There were friends in medicine, friends in religion, friends in the press and just plain but great friends. They all came to our aid and spread the good news.



Meanwhile, drunks from all over Ohio, all over the Mid-West flocked into the Akron hospital where Dr. Bob and Sister Ignatia ministered to them. I have no doubt that two out of three of those drunks are sober, well, and happy today. So that achievement certainly entitles Dr. Bob to be named as the prince of all twelve steppers.



That was the end of the flying blind period, next we needed to discover whether we could hold together as groups. We had learned that we might survive as individuals but could this movement hold together and grow. On a thousand anvils and after a million heartbreaks the Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous was also forged out of our experience and what had been a tiny chip, launched in the flying blind time on a sea of alcoholism now became a mighty armada spreading over the world, touching foreign beach heads. Of all that, this meeting here in this historic place in commemoration of Dr. Bob is a great and moving symbol. I know that he looks down on us. I know that he smiles and we know that he is glad. (Memorial service for Dr. Bob, Nov. 15, 1952)

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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 19 -- What did A.A. learn from the Oxford Group ...? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 19 -- What did A.A. learn from the Oxford Group ...? 4/5/2002 9:19:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What did A.A. learn from the Oxford Group and why did they leave them?



A - AA's first step was derived largely from my own physician, Dr. Silkworth, and my sponsor Ebby and his friend, from Dr, Jung of Zurich. I refer to the medical hopelessness of alcoholism -- our "powerlessness" over alcohol.



The rest of the Twelve Steps stem directly from those Oxford Group teachings that applied specifically to us. Of course these teachings were nothing new; we might have obtained them from your own Church. They were, in effect, an examination of conscience, confession, restitution, helpfulness to others, and prayer.



I should acknowledge our great debt to the Oxford Group people. It was fortunate that they laid particular emphasis on spiritual principles that we needed. But in fairness it should also be said that many of their attitudes and practices did not work well at all for us alcoholics. These were rejected one by one and they caused our later withdrawal from this society to a fellowship of our own -- today's Alcoholics Anonymous.



Perhaps I should specifically outline why we felt it necessary to part company with them. To begin with, the climate of their undertaking was not well suited to us alcoholics. They were aggressively evangelical, they sought to revitalize the Christian message in such a way as to "change the world."  Most of us alcoholics had been subjected to pressure of evangelism and we never liked it. The object of saving the world -- when it was still very much in doubt if we could save ourselves -- seemed better left to other people. By reason of some of its terminology and by exertion of huge pressure, the Oxford Group set a moral stride that was too fast,

particularly for our newer alcoholics. They constantly talked of Absolute Purity, Absolute Unselfishness, Absolute Honesty, and Absolute Love. While sound theology must always have its absolute values, the Oxford Groups created the feeling that one should arrive at these destinations in short order, maybe be next Thursday!  Perhaps they didn't mean to create such an impression but that was the effect. Sometimes their public "witnessing" was of such a character to cause us to be shy. They also believed that by "converting" prominent people to their beliefs, they would hasten the salvation of many who were less prominent. This attitude could scarcely appeal to the average drunk since he was anything but distinguished.



The Oxford Group also had attitudes and practices which added up to a highly

coercive authority. This was exercised by "teams" of older members. They would gather in meditation and receive specific guidance for the life conduct of newcomers. This guidance could cover all possible situations from the most trivial to the most serious. If the directions so obtained were not followed, the enforcement machinery began to operate. It consisted of a sort of coldness and aloofness which made recalcitrants feel they weren't wanted.  At one time, for example, a "team" got guidance for me to the effect that I was no longer to work with alcoholics. This I could not accept.



Another example: When I first contacted the Oxford Groups, Catholics were

permitted to attend their meetings because they were strictly non-denominational. But after a time the Catholic Church forbade its members to attend and the reason for this seemed a good one. Through the Oxford Group "teams," Catholic Church members were actually receiving specific guidance for their lives; they were often infused with the idea that their Church had become rather horse-and-buggy, and needed to be "changed."  Guidance was frequently given that contributions should be made to the Oxford Groups. In a way this amounted to putting Catholics under a separate ecclesiastical jurisdiction. At this time there were few Catholics in our alcoholic groups. Obviously we could not approach any more Catholics under Oxford Group auspices. Therefore this was another, and the basic reason for the withdrawal of our alcoholic crowd from the Oxford Groups notwithstanding our great debt to them. (N.C.C.A. 'Blue Book', Vol. 12, 1960)

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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 20 -- How did you meet A.A. No.3, Bill Dotson? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 20 -- How did you meet A.A. No.3, Bill Dotson? 4/5/2002 9:31:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - How did you meet A.A. No. 3, Bill Dotson?



A - I was living at Dr. Bob's place and one day he said to me "don't you think that for self-protection that we had better be working with more drunks." I thought it was a good idea and the upshot was that he called City Hospital where he was in some discredit because of his drinking and he got hold of the Head Nurse down there and said to her "a fellow from New York and I have a new cure for alcoholism." Quite kindly the nurse observed, "Well doctor, I think that you should try it on yourself." Then she told us that they had a dandy prospect who was strapped down for blackening the eyes of one of the nurses. So Doc said, "Put him to bed and we'll be down when you get him cleared up a bit and put him in a private room."



So a little while after Dr. Bob and I saw a sight that tens of thousands of us have since beheld and God willing, hundreds of thousands shall see. It was the sight of the man on the bed who did not yet know that he could get well.



Well, as it turned out, the man on the bed was no optimist, like many a drunk since he said, "I'm different, my case is too tough and don't talk to me about religion, I'm already a man of faith. I used to be a Deacon in the Church and I've got faith in God still, but quite obviously He has none in me. Anyhow, come back tomorrow and see me as you fellows interest me as you've been through the mill." Of course we had related our simple formula. Of course we had told him of our release although he was not impressed that mine was only of months and Bob's only of days. He said, "I was sober once that long myself."



We came once more and as we entered his room the man's wife sat at the foot of the bed and she was saying to her husband, "what has got into you, you seem so different." He said, "Here they are, these are the ones who understand, they've been through the mill." He made great haste in explaining how during the night hope had come to him and he had taken the resolve to follow our simple formula. Something else had happened, there was a sense of lightness, a sense of feeling in one piece, a feeling of relief, he said.



The next thing we knew No. 3 said to his wife "Fetch my clothes dear, we're going to get up and get out of here." So A.A. No. 3 rose from his bed and walked out of that place never to drink again. Well, at that time there was no realization on the part of us what had begun to happen. Of course, that was the beginning of A.A. as we understand it today. The essential process was the same and the grace of God just as everlasting. (Chicago, Ill., February 1951)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 21 -- What led to the decision to write the book? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 21 -- What led to the decision to write the book? 4/5/2002 9:47:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What led up to the decision to write the book Alcoholics Anonymous?



A - The first A.A. group had come into being but we still had no name. Those were the years of flying blind, those ensuing two or three years. A slip in those days was a dreadful calamity. We would look at each other and wonder who might be next. Failure! Failure! Failure was our constant companion.



I returned home from Akron now endowed with a more becoming humility and

less preaching and a few people began to come to us, a few in Cleveland and

Akron. I had got back into business briefly and again Wall Street collapsed and took me with it as usual. So I set out West to see if there was something I could do in that country. Dr. Bob and I of course had been corresponding but it wasn't until one late fall afternoon in 1937 that I reached his house and sat in his living room. I can recall the scene as though it were yesterday and we got out a pencil and paper and we began to put down the names of those people in Akron, New York and that little sprinkling in Cleveland who had been dry a while and despite the large number of failures it finally burst upon us that forty people had got a real

release and had significant dry time behind them. I shall never forget that great and humbling hour of realization. Bob and I saw for the first time that a new light had begun to shine down upon us alcoholics, had begun to shine upon the children of the night.



That realization brought an immense responsibility. Naturally, we thought at once, how shall what we forty know be carried to the millions who don't know?  Within gunshot of this house there must be others like us who are thoroughly bothered by this obsession. How shall they know? How is this going to be transmitted?



Up to this time as you must be aware, A.A. was utterly simple. It filled the full measure of simplicity as is since demanded by a lot of people. I guess we old timers all have a nostalgia about those halcyon days of simplicity when thank God there were no founders and no money and there were no meeting places, just parlors. Annie and Lois baking cakes and making coffee for those drunks in the living room. We didn't even have a name! We just called ourselves a bunch of drunks trying to get sober. We were more anonymous than we are now. Yes, it was all very simple. But, here was a new realization, what was the responsibility of the forty men to those who did not know?



Well, I have been in the world of business, a rather hectic world of business, the world of Wall Street. I suspect that I was a good deal of a promoter and a bit of a salesman, rather better than I am here today. So I began to think in business man's terms. We had discovered that the hospitals did not want us drinkers because, we were poor payers and never got well.  So, why shouldn't we have our own hospitals and I envisioned a great chain of drunk tanks and hospitals spreading across the land. Probably, I could sell stocks in those and we could damn well eat as well as save drunks. 



Then too, Dr. Bob and I recalled that it had been a very tedious and slow business to sober up forty people, it had taken about three years and in those days we old timers had the vainglory to suppose that nobody else could really do this job but us. So we naturally thought in terms of having alcoholic missionaries, no disparagement to missionaries to be sure. In other words, people would be grubstaked for a year or two, moved to Chicago, St. Louis, Frisco and so on and start little centers and meanwhile we would be financing this string of drunk tanks and began to suck them into these places. Yes, we would need missionaries and hospitals! Then came one reflection that did make some sense.



It seemed very clear that what we had already found out should be put on paper. We needed a book, so Dr. Bob called a meeting for the very next night and in that little meeting of a dozen and a half, a historic decision was taken which deeply affected our destiny. It was in the living room of a nonalcoholic friend who let us come there because his living room was bigger than the Smith's parlor and he loved us. I too, remember that day as if it were yesterday.



So, Smithy and I explained this new obligation which depended on us forty.  How are we to carry this message to the ones who do not know? I began to wind up my promotion talk about the hospitals and the missionaries and the book and I saw their faces fall and straight away that meeting divided into three significant parts. There was the promoter section of which I was definitely one. There was the section that was indifferent and there was what you might call the orthodox section.



The orthodox section was very vocal and it said with good reason, "Look!  Put us into business and we are lost. This works because it is simple, because everybody works at it, because nobody makes anything out of it and because no one has any axe to grind except his sobriety and the other guy's. If you publish a book we will have infinite quarrels about the damn thing. It will get us into business and the clinker of the orthodox section was that our Lord, Himself, had no book.



Well, it was impressive and events proved that the orthodox people were practically right, but, thank God, not fully right. Then there were the indifferent ones who thought, well, if Smitty and Bill think we ought to do these things well its all right with us. So the indifferent ones, plus the promoters out voted the orthodoxy and said "If you want to do these things Bill, you go back to New York where there is a lot of dough and you get the money and then we'll see."



Well, by this time I'm higher than a kite you know. Promoters can stay high on something besides alcohol. I was already taking about the greatest medical development, greatest spiritual development, greatest social development of all time. Think of it, forty drunks. (Chicago, Ill., February 1951)



A - That evening Bob and I told them that we were within sight of success and that we thought that this thing might go on and on, that a new light indeed was shining in our dark world. But how could this light be reflected and transmitted without being distorted and garbled? At this point, they turned the meeting over to me and being a salesman, I sat right to work on the drunk tanks and subsidies for missionaries, I was pretty poor then.



We touched on the book. The group conscience consisted of eighteen men good and true. . . and the good and true men, you could see right away, were dammed skeptical about it all. Almost with one voice they chorused "let's keep it simple, this is going to bring money into this thing, this is going to create a professional class. We'll all be ruined."



"Well," I countered, "That's a pretty good argument. Lots to what you say, but even within gunshot of this house, alcoholics are dying like flies.  And if this thing doesn't move any faster than it has in the last three years, it may be another ten before it gets to the outskirts of Akron. How in god's name are we going to carry this message to others? We've got to take some kind of chance. We can't keep it so simple that it becomes an anarchy and gets complicated. We can't keep it so simple that it won't propagate itself, and we've got to have a lot of money to do these things."



So, exerting myself to the utmost, which was considerable in those days, we finally got a vote in that little meeting and it was a mighty close vote by just a majority of maybe 2 or 3. The meeting said, with some reluctance, "Well Bill," if we need a lot of dough then you had better go back to New York where there's plenty of it and you raise it." Well, boy, that was the word I had been waiting for. (Fort Worth, Tx., 1954)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 22 -- Was the writing of the Big Book a difficult job? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 22 -- Was the writing of the Big Book a difficult job? 4/5/2002 10:03:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Was the writing of the Big Book a difficult job?



A - As the chapters were done, we went to A.A. meetings in New York with the

chapters in the rough. It wasn't like chicken-in-the-rough, the boys didn't eat those chapters up at all. I suddenly discovered that I was in a terrific whirlpool of arguments. I was just the umpire. I finally had to stipulate, "Well boys, over here we have the holy rollers who say we need all the good old-fashioned stuff in the book, and over here you tell me we've got to have a psychological book, and that never cured anybody, and they didn't do very much with us in the missions, so I guess you will have to leave me just to be the umpire. I'll scribble out some roughs here and show them to you and let's get the comments in." So we fought, bled and died our way through one chapter after another. We sent copies out to Akron and they were peddled around and there were terrific hassles about what should go in this book and what should not.



Meanwhile, we set drunks up to write their stories or we had newspaper people to write the stories for them to go in the back of the book. We had an idea that we'd have a text and then we'd have stories all about the drunks who were staying sober. (Transcribed from tape, Fort Worth, Tx., 1954)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 23 -- How did the Twelve Steps get written? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 23 -- How did the Twelve Steps get written? 4/5/2002 10:13:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - How did the Twelve Steps get written?



A - We were up around Chapter 5. As you know I'd gone on about myself which

was natural after all. Then we had the introductory chapter and we dealt with the agnostic and we described alcoholism. Well, we finally got to the point where we really had to say what this book was all about and how this deal works. As I told you this had been a six-step program then.



On this particular evening, I was lying in bed on Clinton Street wondering what the deuce this next chapter would be about. The idea came to me, well, we need a definite statement of concrete principles that these drunks can't wiggle out of. There can't be any wiggling out of this deal at all and this six-step program had two big gaps which people wiggled out of. Moreover, if this book went out to distant readers, they have to have got an absolutely explicit program by which to go. This was while I was thinking these thoughts, while my imaginary ulcer was paining me and while I was mad as hell at these drunks because the money was coming in too slow. Some had the stock and were not paying up. A couple of guys came in and they gave me a big argument and we yelled and shouted at each other and I finally went and laid on the bed with my ulcer and said, "Poor me."



There was a pad of paper by the bed and I reached for it and said, "You've got to break this program up into small pieces so they can't wiggle out." So I started writing, trying to bust it up into little pieces and when I got the pieces set down on that piece of yellow paper, I put numbers on them and was rather agreeably surprised when it came out to twelve. I said, "That's a good significant number in Christianity and mystic lore." Then I noticed that instead of leaving the God idea to the last, I'd got it up front but I didn't pay too much attention to that, it looked pretty good. Well, the next meeting comes along; I'd gone on beyond the steps trying to amplify them in the rest of that chapter and I presented it at the meeting. Well, pandemonium broke loose. "What do you by mean changing the program, what about this, what about that, this thing is overloaded with God. We don't like this, you've got these guys on their knees...stand them up because a lot of these drunks are scared to death of being Godly . . . let's take God out of it entirely." Such were the arguments that we had. Out of that terrific hassle came the Twelve Steps.



Those arguments caused the introduction of a phrase which has been the lifesaver to thousands. It was certainly none of my doing. I was on the pious side then, you see, still suffering from the big hot flash of mine. The idea of "God as you understand Him" came out of that perfectly ferocious argument and we put it in the book. (Transcribed from tape, Fort Worth, 1954)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 24 -- How did you meet Father Ed Dowling? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 24 -- How did you meet Father Ed Dowling? 4/5/2002 10:27:00 AM From Jim Blair



Q - How did you meet Father Ed Dowling?



A - My first unforgettable contact with Father Ed came about in this way. It was early 1940, though late in the winter. Save for old Tom, the fireman we had lately rescued from Rockland Asylum, the club was empty (24th St. clubhouse in N.Y. City where Bill and Lois were living as they had been evicted from their Clinton St. home.)  My wife Lois was out somewhere. It had been a hectic day, full of disappointments. I lay upstairs in our room, consumed with self-pity. This had been brought on by one of my characteristic imaginary ulcer attacks. It was a bitter night, frightfully windy. Hail and sleet beat on the tin roof over my head.



Then the front doorbell rang and I heard old Tom toddle off to answer it. A minute later he looked into the doorway of my room, obviously much annoyed. Then he said, "Bill, there is some old damn bum down there from St. Louis, and he wants to see you."



"Great heavens, I thought, this can't be still another one" Wearily and even resentfully, I said to Tom, "Oh well, bring him up, bring him up."  Then a strange figure appeared in my bedroom door. He wore a shapeless black hat that somehow reminded me of a cabbage leaf. His coat collar was drawn around his neck, and he leaned heavily on a cane. He was plastered with sleet. Thinking him to be just another drunk, I didn't even get off the bed. Then he unbuttoned his coat and I saw that he was a clergyman.



A moment later I realized with great joy that he was the clergyman who had put that wonderful plug for A.A. into The Queen's Work. My weariness and annoyance instantly evaporated. We talked of many things, not always about serious matters either. Then I began to be aware of one of the most remarkable pair of eyes I have ever seen. And, as we talked on, the room increasingly filled with what seemed to me to be the presence of God which flowed through my new friend. It was one of the most extraordinary experiences that I have ever had.  Such was his rare ability to transmit grace. Nor was my experience at all unique. Hundreds of AA's have reported having exactly this experience when in his presence. This was the beginning of one of the deepest and most inspiring friendships that I shall ever know.



This was the first meaningful contact that I have ever had with the clergymen of the Catholic faith. (The 'Blue Book', Vol. 12, 1960)





A - Father Edward Dowling, a great Jesuit friend of ours, once said to me, "Bill, it isn't what you people put into Alcoholics Anonymous that makes it so good -- it's what you left out." (Transcribed from tape, Manhatten Group, 1955)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 25 --Are the 12 Steps similar to the Spiritual Exercises? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 25 --Are the 12 Steps similar to the Spiritual Exercises? 4/5/2002 10:35:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Can the Twelve Steps be compared to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius?



A - In 1941, I visited St. Louis and Father Ed Dowling met me at the field.  This was a blistering day and he had come to bring me to the (Jesuit) Sodality Headquarters. I was struck by the delightful informality. Of course I had never been to such a place before. I had been raised in a small Vermont village, Yankee style. Happily there was no bigotry in my grandfather who raised me but neither was there much religious contact or understanding. So here I was in some kind of a monastery. Even then, believe it or not, I still toyed with the notion that Catholicism was somehow a superstition of the Irish!



Then Father Ed and his Jesuit partners commenced to ask me questions. They

wanted to know about the recently published A.A. book and especially about

AA's Twelve Steps. To my surprise they had supposed that I must have had a

Catholic education. They seemed doubly surprised when I informed them that

at the age of eleven I had quit the Congregational Sunday School because my

teacher had asked me to sign a temperance pledge. This had been the extent

of my religious education.



More questions were asked about AA's Twelve Steps. I explained how a few

years earlier some of us had been associated with the Oxford Groups; that we

had picked up from these good people the ideas of self-survey, confession,

restitution, helpfulness to others and prayer, ideas that we might have got

in many other quarters as well.  After our withdrawal from the Oxford Groups,

these principles and attitudes had been formed into a word-of-mouth program,

to which we had added a step of our own to the effect "that we were powerless over alcohol." Our Twelve Steps were the result of my effort to define more sharply and elaborate upon these word-of-mouth principles so that the alcoholic readers would have a more specific program: that there could be no escape from what we deemed to be the essential principles and attitudes. This had been my sole idea in their composition. This enlarged version of our program had been set down rather quickly -- perhaps in twenty or thirty minutes -- on a night when I had been very badly out of sorts. Why the Steps were written down in the order in which they appear today and just why they were worded as they are, I have no idea.



Following this explanation of mine, my new Jesuit friends pointed to a chart that hung on the wall. They explained that this was a comparison between the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius and the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, that, in principle, this correspondence was amazingly exact. I believe they also made the somewhat startling statement that spiritual principles set forth in our Twelve Steps appear in the same order that they do in the Ignatian Exercises.



In my abysmal ignorance, I actually inquired, "Please tell me -- who is this fellow Ignatius?"



While of course the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous contain nothing new, there seems no doubt that this singular and exact identification with the Ignatian Exercises has done much to make the close and fruitful relation that we now enjoy with the Church. (The 'Blue Book', Vol.12, 1960)

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"Let''s Ask Bill," No. 26 -- How do medicine and religion differ ...? "Let''s Ask Bill," No. 26 -- How do medicine and religion differ ...? 4/6/2002 3:15:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - How do medicine and religion differ in their approach to the alcoholic?



A - They differ in one respect. When the doctor has shown the alcoholic the

underlying difficulties and has prescribed a program of readjustment, he says to him, "Now that you understand what is required for recovery, you should no longer depend on me. You must depend on yourself. You go do it."



Clearly, then, the objective of the doctor is to make the patient self-sufficient and largely, if not wholly, dependent upon himself.



Religion does not attempt this. It says that faith in self is not enough, even for a non-alcoholic. The clergyman says that we shall have to find and depend upon a Higher Power - God. He advises prayer and frankly recommends an attitude of unwavering reliance upon Him who presides over all. By this means we discover strength much beyond our own resources.



So, the main difference seems to add up to this: Medicine says, know yourself, be strong and you will be able to face life. Religion says, know thyself, ask God for power, and you will become truly free.



In Alcoholics Anonymous the new person may try either method. He sometimes

eliminates "the spiritual angle" from the Twelve Steps to recovery and wholly relies upon honesty, tolerance and working with others. But it is interesting to note that faith always comes to those who try this simple approach with an open mind -- and in the meantime they stay sober.



If, however, the spiritual content of the Twelve Steps is actively denied, they can seldom remain dry. That is our A.A. experience. We stress the spiritual simply because thousands of us have found we can't do without it.

(N.Y. State 3. Med., Vol. 44, Aug. 15, 1944)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 27 -- What about those who cannot possibly believe in God? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 27 -- What about those who cannot possibly believe in God? 4/6/2002 3:32:00 AM From Jim Blair



Q - What about the alcoholic who says that he cannot possibly believe in God?



A - A great many of them come to A.A. and they say that they are trapped. By

this they mean that we have convinced them that they are fatally ill, yet they cannot accept a belief in God and His grace as a means of recovery.



Happily this does not prove to be an impossible dilemma at all. We simply suggest that the newcomers take an easy stance and an open mind; that he proceeds to practice those parts of the Twelve Steps that anyone's common sense would readily recommend. He can certainly admit that he is an alcoholic; that he ought to make a moral inventory; that he ought to discuss his defects with another person; that he should make restitution for harms done; and that he can be helpful to other alcoholics.



We emphasize the 'open mind,' that at least he should admit that there might be a 'Higher Power.' He can certainly admit that he is not God, nor is mankind in general. If he wishes he could place his own dependence upon his own A.A. group. That group is certainly a "Higher Power," so far as recovery from alcoholism is concerned. If these reasonable conditions are met, he then finds himself released from the compulsion to drink; he discovers that his motivations have been changed far out of proportion to anything that could have been achieved by a simple association with us or by any practice of a little more honesty, humility, tolerance, and helpfulness. Little by little he becomes aware that a "Higher Power" is indeed at work. In a matter of months, or at least in a year or two, he is talking freely about God as he understands Him. He has received the gift of God's grace -- and he knows it. (N.C.C.A., Blue Book, Vol.12, 1960)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 28 -- Why do clergymen so often fail with alcoholics? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 28 -- Why do clergymen so often fail with alcoholics? 4/6/2002 3:39:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Why do clergymen so often fail with alcoholics, when A.A. so often succeeds? Is it possible that the grace of A.A. is superior to that of the Church?



A - No clergyman, because he does not happen to be a channel of grace to

alcoholics, should ever feel that his Church is lacking in grace. No real question of grace is involved at all -- it is just a question of who can best transmit God's abundance. It so happens that we who have suffered alcoholism, we, who can identify so deeply with other sufferers, are the ones usually best suited for this particular work. Certainly no clergyman ought to feel any inferiority just because he himself is not an alcoholic.

(N.C.C.A., 'Blue Book,' Vol.12, 1960)





A - I thought the answer to be very simple. The Church has the spirituality,

but in the case of drunks, it didn't have the communication to pave the way,

one alcoholic to the next, for the Grace to descend. So you have the

spirituality, of which we have borrowed, and we have the communication.

Therefore we are in no competition at all; we can do together that which we

cannot do in separation. (Transcribed from tape. G.S.C. 1960)















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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 29 -- What can ministers do to cooperate with A.A.? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 29 -- What can ministers do to cooperate with A.A.? 4/6/2002 3:46:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What can ministers do to cooperate with A.A.?



A - The approach to the alcoholic is everything. I think the preacher could do well if he does as we do. First find out all you can about the case, how the man reacts, whether he wants to get over his drinking or not. You see, it is very difficult to make an impression on a man who still wants to drink. At some point in their drinking career; most alcoholics get punished enough so that they want to stop, but then it's far too late to do it alone.



Sometimes, if the alcoholic can be impressed with the fact that he is a sick man, or a potentially sick man, then, in effect; you raise the bottom up to him instead of allowing him to drop down those extra hard years to reach it.  I don't know of any substitute for sympathy and understanding, as much as the outsider can have. No preaching, no moralizing, but the emphasis on the idea that the alcoholic is a sick man.



In other words, the minister might first say to the alcoholic, "Well, all my life I've misunderstood you people, I've taken you people to be immoral by choice and perverse and weak, but now I realize that even if there had been such factors, they really no longer count, now you're a sick man." You might win over the patient by not placing yourself up on a hilltop and looking down on him, but by getting down to some level of understanding that he gets, or partially gets. Then if you can present this thing as a fatal and progressive malady and you can present our group as a group of people who are not seeking to do anything against his will -- we merely want to help if he wants to be helped -- then sometimes you've laid the groundwork.



I think that clergymen can often do a great deal with the family. You see, we alcoholics are prone to talk too much about ourselves without sufficiently considering the collateral effects. For example, any family, wife and children, who have had to live with an alcoholic 10 or 15 years, are bound to be rather neurotic and distorted themselves. They just can't help it. After all when you expect the old gent to come home on a shutter every night, it's wearing. Children get a distorted point of view; so does the wife. Well, if they constantly hear it emphasized that this fellow is a terrible sinner, that he's a rotter, that he's in disgrace, and all that sort of thing, you're not improving the condition of the family at all because, as they become persuaded of it, they get highly intolerant of the alcoholic and that merely generates more intolerance in him. Therefore, the gulf which must be bridged is widened, and that is why moralizing pushes people, who might have something to offer, further away from the alcoholic.  You may say that it shouldn't be so, but it's one of those things that is so. (Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies, June 1945.)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 30 -- What is AA''s relationship with the community? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 30 -- What is AA''s relationship with the community? 4/6/2002 3:59:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What is AA's relationship with the community?



A - Now that our methods and results are better known we are receiving splendid cooperation everywhere from clergymen, doctors, employers, editors -- in fact, from whole communities. While there is still a well-understood reluctance on the part of city and private hospitals to admit alcoholic patients, we are pleased to report a great improvement in this direction. But we are still very far, in most places, from having anything like adequate hospital accommodations.



Over and above this traditional activity, we may give some counsel to those who work upon various aspects of the total problem. It may be possible that our experience fits us for a special task. Writing of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick once said: "Gothic Cathedral windows are not the sole thing which can be seen from within. Alcoholism is another. All outside views are clouded and unsure." Thus, with our inside view-one best seen by those drinkers who have suffered from alcoholism -- we would help those working on alcohol problems who have not had our first hand experience.



While we members of Alcoholics Anonymous are not scientists, our special insight may help science; while we are of all religions and sometimes none, we can assist clergymen; although not educators, we shall, perhaps, aid in clearing away unsure views; not penologists, we do help in prison work; not a business or organization, we nevertheless advise employers; not sociologists, we constantly serve families, friends and communities; not prosecutors or judges, we try to promote understanding and justice; emphatically not doctors, we do minister to the sick. Taking no side on controversial questions, we may sometimes mediate fruitless antagonism, which have so often blocked effective cooperation among those who would solve the riddle of the alcoholic.



These are the activities and aspirations of thousands of the members of Alcoholics Anonymous. While our organization as a whole has but one aim -- to

help the alcoholic who wishes to recover -- there are a few of us, indeed, who as individuals do not wish to meet some of the broader responsibilities for which we may be especially fitted. (Quart. J. Stud. Alc., Vol.6, Sept.,

1945.)



A - Many an alcoholic is now sent to A.A. by his own psychiatrist. Relieved of his drinking, he returns to the doctor a far easier subject. Practically every alcoholic's wife has become, to a degree, his possessive mother. Most alcoholic women, if they still have a husband, live with a baffled father.  This sometimes spells trouble aplenty. We AA's certainly ought to know! So, gentlemen, here is a big problem right up your alley.



We of A.A. try to be aware that we may never touch but a segment of the total alcohol problem. We try to remember that our growing success may prove to be a heady wine; will you men and women of medicine be our partners; physicians wielding well your invisible scalpels; workers all, in our common cause? We like to think Alcoholics Anonymous a middle ground between medicine and religion, the missing catalyst of a new synthesis. This to the end that millions who still suffer may presently issue from their darkness into the light of day! (Amer. J. Psychiat., Vol. 106, 1949)



A - Alcoholics Anonymous once stood in no-mans land between medicine and

religion. Religionists thought we were unorthodox; medicine thought we were totally unscientific. The last decade brought a great change in this respect. Clerics of every denomination declare that, while A.A. contains no shred of dogma, it has an impeccable spiritual basis, quite acceptable to men of all creeds, even the agnostic himself. You gentlemen of medicine also observe that AA is psychiatrically sound so far as it goes and that A.A. refers all bodily ills of its membership to your profession. Therefore, it is now clear that Alcoholics Anonymous is a synthetic construct which draws upon three sources, namely, medical science, religion and its own particular experience. Withdraw one of these supports and its platform of stability falls to earth as a farmer's three-legged milk stool with one leg chopped off. That you have invited me, an A.A. member, to sit in your councils today is a happy token of that fact, for which our society is deeply grateful.



What, then, has Alcoholics Anonymous contributed as third partner of the recovery synthesis which promises so much to sufferers everywhere? Does

Alcoholics Anonymous contain any new principles? Strictly speaking it does not. A.A. merely relates the alcoholic to the tested truths in a brand new way. He is now able to accept them where he couldn't before. Now he has a concrete program of action and the understanding support of a successful society of his fellows in which he carries that out. In all probability, these are the long-missing links in the recovery chain. (N.Y. State J. Med., Vol. 50, July 1950)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 31 -- How did the connection with the Rockefellers develop? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 31 -- How did the connection with the Rockefellers develop? 4/6/2002 4:11:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - How did the connection between the Rockefeller's and Alcoholics

Anonymous develop?



A - After the meeting in Akron in the Fall of 1937, I went back to New York as we say, all steamed up. I then made the dismal discovery that the very rich who had the money that we needed had not the slightest interest in drunks, they just didn't give a damn. I solicited and I solicited and I became very worried. I even approached the Rockefeller Foundation, you know, I figured John D. would have an interest in alcoholism, sociology, medicine and religion and this should just fit the bill. But no, we didn't fit into any category with the Rockefeller Foundation and they felt a little poor at the time what with the depression.



One day I'm in my brother-in-law's office, he a doctor. I was moaning about the stinginess of the rich, our need for money and how it looked like this thing wasn't going to go anywhere. He said, "Have you tried the Rockefeller Foundation." And I told him that I had. "Well," he said, "it might help if you saw Mr. Rockefeller personally." I said, "I don't want to seem facetious, but could you recommend me to the Prince of Wales, he might help out too." And then came one of those strange turns of fate, if you like, or providence, if you prefer and the slender thread was this, My brother-in-law the doctor sat there scratching his head and he said, "When I was a young fellow I used to go to school with a girl and I think the girl had an uncle and it seemed to me that his name was Willard Richardson and it seems he was a pretty old guy and he might be dead now but it does seem to me that he had something to do with the Rockefeller charities. Supposing I call the Rockefeller offices and see if he is around and if he would remember me. He

called this dear old gentleman on the phone, one of the greatest nonalcoholic friends that A.A. ever had. Immediately he remembered my brother-in-law and said, "Leonard where have you been all these years. I'd love to see you."



Unlike me, my brother-in-law is a man of very few words and he rather tensely explained that he had a relative who was trying to help alcoholics and was making some headway and could we come over to Mr. Rockefeller's offices and talk about it. "Why certainly," said the old man, and soon we were in the presence of this wonderful Christian gentleman who was incredibly one of John D's closest friends. When I saw that I thought that now we are really getting close to the bankroll and the old man asked me a few shrewd questions and I told the yarn so far as it had been spun. Then he said, "Mr. Wilson, would you like to come to lunch with me early next week."



Oh boy, would I. Now we were really getting warm. So we had lunch and at the

lunch he said, "I know of three or four fellows who would be real interested in this. I'll get a meeting together with them as they are friends or are associated with Mr. Rockefeller and some were recently on a committee, which recently recommended the discontinuance of the prohibition experiment.



So presently, several of us alcoholics, Smitty and a couple from Akron, some of the boys from New York, found ourselves sitting in the company of these friends of Mr. Rockefeller in Mr. Rockefeller's private boardroom. In fact, In fact I was told that I was sitting in a chair that Mr. Rockefeller had sat in only a half-hour

before. I thought, now we are really getting hot.



Well, we were nonplussed, a little lost for words, so each of us alkies just started telling his story. Our new friends listened with rapt attention and then with reluctance and modesty I brought up the subject of money and at once you see that God has worked through many people to shape our destiny.



At once, Mr. Scott who had sat at the head of the table said, "I am deeply

impressed and moved by what has been said here but aren't you boys afraid that if you had money you might create a professional class, aren't you afraid that the management of plants, properties and hospitals would distract you from your purely good will aims."



Well, we admitted, we had certainly thought of those difficulties. They had been urged upon us by some of our own members, but we felt that the risk of not doing these things was greater than the risk of doing at least some of them. "At least," we said, "Mr. Scott, this society needs a book in which we can record our experience so that the alcoholics at a distance can know what has happened."



One of the gentlemen said that he would go out to Akron and we kind of steered him that way as the mortgage on the Smith's house was bigger than mine and he went out to Akron and came back with a glowing report which Mr. Richardson placed in front of Mr. Rockefeller. This marked another turning point. After hearing the story and reading the report on Akron Group No. 1, Mr. Rockefeller expressed his deep interest and feelings about us. "But Dick," he said, "if we give these fellows real money its going to spoil them and it will change the whole complexion. Maybe you fellows think it needs money and if you do go ahead and get them up some." He said, "I'll tell you what I'll do, I'll put a small sum in the Riverside Church treasury and you can draw it out and at least try to help these two men for a while but this thing should be self sustaining. Money, Dick, will spoil it."



What a profound realization. God did not work through us but through Mr.

Rockefeller whose every interest we had actually claimed from that moment.  This man who had devoted his life to giving away money said "not this time." And he never did give us real money, praise God. (Chicago, Ill., February 1951)

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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 32 -- What led to the Twelve Traditions? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 32 -- What led to the Twelve Traditions? 4/6/2002 4:25:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What were the conditions that led to the Twelve Traditions?



A - After the Jack Alexander article was published in 1941 it brought down a deluge on our little New York office of thousands upon thousands of inquiries from frantic alcoholics, their wives, their employers and at that moment we passed out of our infancy and embarked upon our next phase -- the phase of adolescence.



Well, adolescence by definition is a troubled time of young life and we were no exception as groups began to take shape all over the land and these groups immediately had trouble. We made the very sad discovery that just because you sobered up a drunk you haven't made a saint out of him by a long shot. We found that we could be bitterly resentful and we discovered that we had a much better booze cure than we thought possible. A lot of us found that we could gripe like thunder and still stay sober. We found that we were in all sorts of petty struggles for leadership and prestige. A lot of us were very suspicious of the Book enterprise in the hands of that fellow Wilson who has a truck backed up to Mr. Rockefeller who has all the dough.  And we began to have all sorts of troubles.



Money had entered the picture -- it had to. We had to hire halls that didn't come for nothing, the book cost something, we had dinners once in a while.  Yes, money came into it.



Then we found little by little that the groups had to have chores done. Who was going to be the Chairman, would we hand pick him or elect him or what?  You know what those troubles were and they became so fearsome that we went

through another period of flying blind. The first period of flying blind you remember had to do with whether the individual could be restored into one piece, whether the forces of destruction in him could be contained and subdued. Now, we were beginning to wonder in the early part of our adolescence, whether the destructive forces in our groups would rend us apart and destroy the society. Ah, those were fearsome days.



Our little New York office began to be deluged with mail from these groups, growing up at distances and not in contact with our old centers and they were having these troubles: There were people coming out of the insane asylums. Lord, what would these lunatics do to us? There were prisoners, would we be sandbagged? There were queer people. There were people, believe it or not whose morals were bad and the respectable alcoholics of that time shook their heads and said, "Surely these immoral people are going to render us asunder." Little Red Riding Hood and the bad wolves began to abound. Ah, yes, could our society last?



It kept growing, more groups, more members. Sometimes the groups divided

because the leaders were mad at each other and sometimes they divided

because they were just too big. But by a process of fission and subdivision this movement grew and grew and grew. Ten years later it had spread into thirty countries.



Out of that vast welter of experience in our adolescence it began to be evident that we were going to take very different attitudes towards many things than our fellow Americans. We were deeply convinced for example, that the survival of the whole was far more important than the survival of any individual or group of individuals. This was a thing far bigger than any one of us. We began to suspect that once a mass of alcoholics were adhering even halfway to the Twelve Steps, that God could speak in their Group conscience and up out of that Group conscience could come a wisdom greater than any inspired leadership.



In the early days we all had membership rules. Where have they gone now?  We're not afraid anymore. We open our arms wide, we say we don't care who you are, what your difficulties are You just need say, "I'm an alcoholic and I'm interested." You declare yourself in. Our membership idea is put exactly in reverse.



Years ago we thought this society should go into research and education, to do everything for drunks all the time. We know better now. We have one sole object in this society, we shoemakers are going to stick to our last and we will carry that message to other alcoholics and leave these other matters to the more competent. We will do one thing supremely well rather than many things badly.



And so our Tradition grew. Our Tradition is not American tradition. Take our public relations policy. Why, in America everything runs on big names, advertising people. We are a country devoted to heroism, it is a beloved tradition and yet this movement in the wisdom of it's Group's soul, knew that this was not for us. So our public relations policy is anonymity at the public level. No advertising of people, principles before personalities. Anonymity has a deep spiritual significance -- the greatest protection this movement has.



As our society has grown up it has developed its way of life, it's a way of relating ourselves together, it's way of relating ourselves to these troublesome questions of property, money and prestige and authority and the world at large. The A.A. Tradition developed not because I dictated it but because you people, your experience formed it and I merely set it on paper and tried beginning four years ago (1946) to reflect it back to you. Such were our years of adolescence and before we leave them I must say that a powerful impetus was given the Traditions by the Gentleman who introduced me. (Earl Treat.) 



One day he came down to Bedford Hills after the long form of the Traditions were written out at some length because in the office we were forever having to answer questions about Group troubles so the original Traditions were longer and covered more possibilities of trouble. Earl looked at me rather quizzically and he said "Bill, don't you get it through your thick head that these drunks do not like to read. They will listen for a while but they will not read anything. Now, you want to capsule these Traditions as simply as are the Twelve Steps to Recovery."



So he and I stared the capsulizing process, which lasted a day or two and that put the Traditions into their present form. Well, by this time we had a lot of experience on these principles, which we began to think might bind us together in unity for so long as God might need us. And at Cleveland (1950), seven thousand of us did declare "Yes, these are the traditional principles upon which we are willing to stand, upon which we can safely commit ourselves to the future and so we emerged from adolescence.



Again, last year we took destiny by the hand.  (Transcribed from tape. Chicago, IL, February 1951).



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 34 -- Have the Traditions been widely accepted? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 34 -- Have the Traditions been widely accepted? 4/6/2002 4:37:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Have the Traditions been widely accepted?



A - When they were first written in early 1946 as tentative guides to help us hang together and function, nobody paid any attention except a few "againers" who wrote me and asked what the hell they were about.



Nobody paid the slightest attention but little by little as these Traditions got around we had our clubhouse squabbles, our little rifts, this difficulty and that and it was found that the Traditions indeed did reflect experience and were guiding principles. So they took hold a little more and a little more so that today the average A.A. coming in the door learns at once what they're about, about what kind of an outfit he has really landed in and by what principles his group and A.A. as a whole are governed. (Transcribed from tape, Fort Worth, TX, 1954)













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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 33 -- What are the ideas embodied in the Twelve Traditions? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 33 -- What are the ideas embodied in the Twelve Traditions? 4/6/2002 4:33:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What are the ideas embodied in the Twelve Traditions?



A - That, touching all matters affecting A.A. unity, our common welfare should come first; that A.A. has no human authority -only God as He may speak in our Group conscience; that our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern; that any alcoholic may become an A.A. member if he says so -- we exclude no one; that every A.A. Group may manage its own affairs as it likes, provided surrounding groups are not harmed thereby; that we A.A.'s have but a single aim, the carrying of our message to the alcoholic who still suffers; that in consequence we can not finance, endorse or otherwise lend the name "Alcoholics Anonymous" to any other enterprise, however worthy; that A .A., as such, ought to remain poor, lest problems of property, management and money divert us from our sole aim; that we ought to be self-supporting, gladly paying our small expenses ourselves; that A.A. should forever remain non-professional, ordinary 12th step work never to be paid for; that, as a Fellowship, we should never be organized but may nevertheless create responsible Service Boards or Committees to insure us

better propagation and sponsorship and that these agencies may engage full-time workers for special tasks; that our public relations ought to proceed upon the principle of attraction rather than promotion, it being better to let our friends recommend us; that personal anonymity at the level of press, radio and pictures out to be strictly maintained as our best protection against the temptations of power or personal ambition; and finally, that anonymity before the general public is the spiritual key to all our traditions, ever reminding us to place principles before personalities, that we are actually to practice a genuine humility. This to the end that our great blessings may never spoil us; that we shall forever live in thankful contemplation of Him who presides over us all. (Tape - Twelve Traditions, Cleveland, July 1950)



A - We sometimes congratulate ourselves on the Traditions as though they were a list of virtues singular to us. Actually, they are a codification of the lessons of our past experience during the early days of A.A.



These Traditions are not fixed absolutely. There may be room for improvement. However, they should not be lightly cast aside, since they bear on our unity, survival and growth under Gods grace.



We are entering a new era of growth with vast forces tearing at the world.  The problems and difficulties of the future may be greater than those we have already survived. Still, there is a love among us that passeth all understanding and that will sustain us through all the trials that lie ahead, no matter how formidable." (Transcribed from tape, GSC, 1968)

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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 35 -- Why the General Service Conference? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 35 -- Why the General Service Conference? 4/6/2002 4:54:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Why the General Service Conference?



A - Alcoholics Anonymous, we think, will always need a world center -- some point of reference on the globe where our few but important universal services can focus and then radiate to all who wish to be informed or helped. Such a place will ever be needed to look after our over-all public relations, answer inquiries, foster new Groups and distribute our standard books and publications. We shall also want a place of advice and mediation touching important questions of general policy or A.A. Tradition. We shall require, too, a safe repository for the modest funds we shall use to carry out these simple, but universal purposes.



Of course we must take care that our universal center of service never attempts to discipline or govern. Conversely, we ought to protect our good servants working there from unreasonable demands or political demands of any kind. No personal power, no officials or resounding titles, no politics, no accumulation of money or property, none but vital universal services to Alcoholics Anonymous -- that is our ideal. To do without such a Center would be to invite confusion and disunity; to install there a centralized authority would be to encourage political strife and cleavage. Some little organization of our services, securely bound by tradition, we shall surely need -- just enough, and of such a character as to permanently forestall any more.



At the center of A.A. we now have the excellent body of custody and service.  Our Trustees have gradually come to symbolize the collective conscience of

AA, our general office acts in the manner of the heart which receives problems through its veins and pumps out assistance through its myriad arteries, and The Grapevine tries to record the true voice of Alcoholics Anonymous. Such is the happy state of our central affairs that we surely must take pains to preserve and protect, we trust, into a long and useful future.



Therefore, our headquarters problem of the future will, in all probability, consist in guarding and preserving, in its main outlines, what we already have. How then, shall we best keep intact our ideal of service; how shall we avoid national or international politics; how can we best devise against any possible breakdown of the present A.A. Service Headquarters and how shall we give each A.A. in the world a continual assurance that all is well with it; that it continues to perform its tasks effectively, so meriting his warm support, moral and financial?



To these problems of tomorrow many are giving prayerful reflection. A.A. s are commencing to say what, or who, is going to guarantee the operation of our General Headquarters when the old-timers who inaugurated it have passed off the scene, especially very early ones like Dr. Bob and Bill. Known so well to us from the pioneering period of A.A., these early ones still occupy a unique position. They command a wider confidence and still wield more personal influence than anyone else could again, or for that matter, ever should. Having helped set up our universal Service Center they asked the rest of us to have confidence in it. And we do have that confidence, not that we much know the present Trustees, but because we know Bob and Bill and the other oldsters, in the long future, when these oldsters can no longer assure us, who is going to take their place? Does it not seem clear that the A.A. movement and its Service Center must soon be drawn closer together?



Though we know our General Office and our Grapevine fairly well, shouldn't we somehow draw closer to our Trustees? Shouldn't we take steps to allay our feelings of remoteness while the older ones are still around, and there is still time to experiment? Such are the questions now being asked, and they are good ones.



Perhaps the best suggestion for closing the gap between our Alcoholic

Foundation and the A.A. Groups is the idea of creating what we might call the General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous. (Proposal by Bill W.

and Dr. Bob to the Alcoholic Foundation, April 1947)



A - Let's face these facts (October 1950). 



First. Dr. Bob and I are perishable, we can't last forever.



Second. The Trustees are almost unknown to the A.A. membership.



Third. In future years our Trustees couldn't possibly function without direct guidance from A.A. itself. Somebody must advise them. Somebody, or something must take the place of Dr. Bob and me.



Fourth. Alcoholics Anonymous is out of its infancy.  Grown up, adult now, it has full right and plain duty to take direct responsibility for its own Headquarters.



Fifth. Clearly then, unless the Foundation is firmly anchored, through State and Provincial representatives, to the movement it serves, a Headquarters breakdown will someday be inevitable. When its old timers vanish, an isolated Foundation couldn't survive one grave mistake or serious controversy. Any storm could blow it down. Its revival wouldn't be simple. Possibly it could never be revived.  Still isolated, there would be no means of doing that. Like a fine car without gasoline it would be helpless.



Sixth. Another serious flaw; as a whole, the A.A. movement has never faced a grave crisis. But someday it will have to. Human affairs being what they are, we can't expect to remain untouched by the hour of serious trouble. With direct support unavailable, with no reliable cross-section of A.A. opinion, how could our remote Trustees handle a hazardous emergency? This gaping "open end" in our present setup could positively guarantee a debacle. Confidence in the Foundation would be lost. A .A. 's everywhere would say: "By whose authority do the Trustees speak for us? And how do they know they are right? " With A.A.

Service life-lines tangled and severed, what then might happen to the million who don't know. Thousands would continue to suffer or die because we had taken no fore thought, because we had forgotten the virtue of prudence.  This must not come to pass.



That is why the Trustees, Dr. Bob and I now propose the General Service

Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous. That is why we urgently need your direct

help. Our principle services must go on living. We think the General Service

Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous can be the agency to make that certain.



(Third Legacy Pamphlet, October 1950)

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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 36 -- What will the General Service Conference do? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 36 -- What will the General Service Conference do? 4/6/2002 5:06:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What will the General Service Conference do?



A - It will hear the annual reports of the Alcoholic Foundation, the General Office, Grapevine, and Works Publishing and also the report of our certified public accountant. The Conference will fully discuss these reports, offering needed suggestions or resolutions respecting them.



The Trustees will present to the Conference all serious problems of policy or finance confronting A.A. Headquarters, or A.A. as a whole. Following discussions of these, the Conference will offer the Trustees appropriate advice and resolutions.



Special attention will be given to all violations of our Tradition liable to seriously affect A.A. as a whole. The Conference will, if it be deemed wise, publish suitable resolutions deploring such deviations.



Because Conference activities will extend over a three-day weekend, Delegates will be able to exchange views on every conceivable problem. They will become closely acquainted with each other and with our Headquarters people. They will visit the premises of the Foundation, Grapevine and General Office. This should engender mutual confidence. Guesswork and rumor are to be replaced by first-hand knowledge.



Before the conclusion of each year's Conference, a Committee will be named to render all A.A. members a written report upon the condition of their Headquarters and the state of A.A. generally.



On a Conference Delegates return home, his State or Provincial Committee will, if practical, call a meeting of Group representatives and any others who wish to hear his personal report. The Delegate will get these meetings reaction to his report, and its suggestions respecting problems to be considered at future Conference sessions. The Delegate ought to visit as many of his constituent Groups as possible. They should have direct knowledge of their A.A. Headquarters. (Third Legacy Pamphlet, October 1950).



A - Through the General Service Conference, A.A. as a whole is now brought into the picture. The Conference is a "huge rotating committee" in whose hands has been placed the responsibility for AA's worldwide services -- assistance to the Groups, public relations, preparation and distribution of literature, foreign propagation and other activities. (Bill W. 1st GSC, 1951)



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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 37 --How will the General Service Conference be financed? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 37 --How will the General Service Conference be financed? 4/6/2002 5:12:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - How will the proposed General Service Conference be financed?



A - How best to finance our Conference is a moot question. The General Service Conference will function for the benefit of A.A. as a whole. Its entire cost ought to be a charge against those "Group contributions" now sent to New York for the support of the General Office. But this method is quite impossible now. Group contributions are not meeting General Office expenses. Nor can the "reserve" or the Foundations A.A. "book income" carry the Conference.



We therefore propose that all A.A. Groups be asked for a gift of $5 each, yearly, at Christmas. The Foundation Trustees would deposit these sums in a special account marked "Conference Funds."



If even one-half of the A.A. Groups made this annual $5 gift to the Foundation "for the benefit of the million who don't yet know," we estimate that the resulting income would absorb the total yearly Conference overhead, plus all Delegates' transportation to New York in excess of $100 each.

(Third Legacy Pamphlet, October 1950.)

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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 38 -- Why shouldn''t the GSC be a government for A.A.? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 38 -- Why shouldn''t the GSC be a government for A.A.? 4/6/2002 5:19:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Why shouldn't the General Service Conference be a government for

Alcoholics Anonymous?



A - Each A.A. Group is autonomous; our only "authority" is a Higher Power.

Practically speaking, no A.A. Group will stand for a personal government anyhow; we're built that way. Though the Conference will guide A.A.  Headquarters, it must never assume to govern A.A. as a whole. While it can publicly deplore misuse of the A.A. name or departures from Tradition, it ought never attempt punishment or legal restraint of non-conformists -- in A.A. or out. That is the road to public controversy and internal disruption.



The Conference will give us an example and a guide, but not government. A

personal government is something, God willing, that Alcoholics Anonymous will never have. We shall authorize servants to act for us, but not rulers.  (Third Legacy Pamphlet, October 1950.)











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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 39 -- Could you explain A.A''s tradition re other agencies? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 39 -- Could you explain A.A''s tradition re other agencies? 4/6/2002 9:16:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - Could you explain A.A's tradition concerning other agencies in the field of alcoholism.



A - I remember very well when this committee started (January 1944) It brought me in contact with our great friends at Yale, the courageous Dr. Haggard, the incredible Dr. Jellinek or "Bunky" as we affectionately know him and Seldon [Bacon] and all those dedicated people.



The question arose, could an AA member get into education or research or what not? Then ensued a fresh and great controversy in AA which was not surprising because you must remember that in this period we were like people on Rickenbacker's raft. Who would dare ever rock us ever so little and precipitate us back in the alcohol sea.



So, frankly, we were afraid and as usual we had the radicals and we had the

conservatives and we had moderates on this question of whether A.A. members could go into other enterprises in this field. The conservatives said, "No, let's keep it simple, let's mind our own business." The radicals said, "let 's endorse anything that looks like it will do any good, let the A.A. name be used to raise money and to do whatever it can for the whole field," and the growing body of moderates took the position, "let any A.A. member who feels the call go into these related fields for if we are to do less it would be a very antisocial outlook." So that is where the Tradition finally sat and many were called and many were chosen since that day to go into these related fields which has now got to be so large in their promise that

we of Alcoholics Anonymous are getting down to our right size and we are

only now realizing that we are only a small part of a great big picture. We are realizing again, afresh that without our friends, not only could we not have existed in the first place but we could not have grown. We are getting a fresh concept of what our relations with the world and all of these related enterprises should be. In other words, we are growing up. In fact last year at St. Louis we were bold enough to say that we had come of age and that within Alcoholics Anonymous the main outlines of the basis for recovery, of the basis for unity and of the basis for service or function

were already evident.



At St. Louis I made talks upon each of those subjects which largely concerned themselves about what A.A. had done about these things but here we are in a much wider field and I think that the sky is the limit. I think that I can say without any reservation that what this Committee has done with the aid of it's great friends who are now legion as anyone here can see. I think that this Committee has been responsible for making more friends for Alcoholics Anonymous and of doing a wider service in educating the world on the gravity of this malady and what can be done about it than any other single agency.



I'm awfully partial and maybe I'm a little bias because here sits the dean of all our ladies (Marty Mann), my close, dear friend. So speaking out of turn as a founder, I want to convey to her in the presence of all of you the best I can say of my great love and affection is thanks.



At the close of things in St. Louis, I remember that I likened A.A. to a cathedral style edifice whose corners now rested on the earth. I remember saying that we can see on its great floor the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and there assembled 150,000 sufferers and their families. We have seen side walls go up, buttressed with the A.A. Tradition and at St. Louis, when the elected Conference took over from the Board of Trustees, the spire of service was put into effect and its beacon light, the beacon light of A.A. shone there beckoning to all the world.



I realized that as I sat here today that that was not a big enough concept, for on the floor of the cathedral of the spirit there should always be written the formula from whatever source for release from alcoholism, whether it be a drug, whether it be the psychiatric art, whether it be the ministrations of this Committee. In other words, we who deal with this problem are all in the same boat, all standing upon the same floor. So let's bring to this floor the total resources that can be brought to bear upon

this problem and let us not think of unity just in terms of A.A. Tradition but let us think of unity among all those who work in the field as the kind of unity that befits brotherhood and sisterhood and a kinship in the common suffering. Let us stand together in the spirit of service. If we do these things, only then can we declare ourselves really come of age. And only then, and I think that this is a time not far off. I think we can say that the future, our future, the future of the Committee, of A.A. and of the things that people of good will are trying to do in this field will be

completely assured. (Transcribed from tape. Address to The National Committee for Education on Alcoholism. March 30, 1956).

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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 40 -- What do the Three Legacies of AA represent? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 40 -- What do the Three Legacies of AA represent? 4/6/2002 9:32:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What do the Three Legacies of AA represent?



A - The three legacies of AA - recovery, unity and service in a sense represent three impossibilities, impossibilities that we know became possible, and possibilities that have now borne this unbelievable fruit. Old Fitz Mayo, one of the early AAs and I visited the Surgeon General of the United States in the third year of this society and told him of our beginnings. He was a gentle man, Dr. Lawrence Kolb and has since become a great friend of AA. He said, "I wish you well. Even the sobriety of a few is almost a miracle. The government knows that this is one of the greatest health problems but we have considered the recovery of alcoholics so impossible that we have given up and have instead concluded that

rehabilitation of narcotic addicts would be the easier lob to tackle."



Such was the devastating impossibility of our situation. Now, what has been

brought to bear upon this impossibility that it has become possible? First, the grace of Him who presides over all of us. Next, the cruel lash of John Barleycorn who said. "this you must do, or die." Next, the intervention of God through friends, at first a few and now legion, who opened to us, who in the early days were uncommitted, the whole field of human ideas, morality and religion, from which we could choose.



These have been the wellsprings of the forces and ideas and emotions and spirit which were first fused into our Twelve Steps for recovery. Some of us act well, but no sooner had a few got sober than the old forces began to come into play in us rather frail people. They were fearsome, the old forces, the drive for money, acclaim, prestige.



Would these forces tear us apart? Besides, we came from every walk of life.  Early, we had begun to be a cross-section of all men and women, all differently conditioned, all so different and yet happily so alike in our kinship of suffering. Could we hold in unity? To those few who remain who lived in those earlier times when the Traditions were being forged in the school of hard experience on its thousands of anvils, we had our very, very dark moments.



It was sure recovery was in sight, but how could there be recovery for many?

Or how could recovery endure if we were to fall into controversy and so into

dissolution and decay?



Well, the spirit of the Twelve Steps which have brought us release from one of the grimmest obsessions known -- obviously, this spirit and these principles of retaining grace had to be the fundamentals of our unity. But in order to become fundamental to our unity, these principles had to be spelled out as they applied to the most prominent and the most grievous of our problems.



So, out of experience came the need to apply the spirit of our steps to our lives of working and living together. These were the forces that generated the Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous.



But, we had to have more than cohesion. Even for survival, we had to carry the message and we had to function. In fact, that had become evident in the Twelve Steps themselves for the last one enjoins us to carry the message.  But just how would we carry this message? How would we communicate, we few, with those myriad's who still don't know? And how would this communication be handled? How could we do these things. how could we authorize these things in such a way that in this new, hot focus of effort and ego that we would not again be shattered by the forces that had once ruined our lives?



This was the problem of the Third Legacy. From the vital Twelfth Step call right up through our society to its culmination today. And, again, many of us said: "This can't be done. It's all very well for Bill and Bob and a few friends to set up a Board of Trustees and to provide us with some literature, and look after our public relations and do all of those chores for us that we can't do for ourselves. This is fine, but we can't go any further than that. This is a job for our elders, for our parents. In this direction only, can there be simplicity and security.



And then came the day when it was seen that the parents were both fallible and perishable and Dr. Bob's hour struck and we suddenly realized that this ganglion, this vital nerve center of World Service, would lose its sensation the day the communication between an increasingly unknown Board of Trustees and you was broken. Fresh links would have to be forged. And at that time many of us said: This is impossible, this is too hard. Even in transacting the simplest business, providing the simplest of services, raising the minimum amounts of money, these excitements to us, in this society so bent on survival have been almost too much locally. Look at our club brawls. My God, if we have elections countrywide and Delegates come down here and look at the complexity - thousands of group representatives, hundreds of committeemen, scores of Delegates - my God, when these descend on our parents, the Trustees, what is going to happen then? It won't be simplicity: it can't be. Our experience has spelled it out.



But there was the imperative, the must, and why was there an imperative?

Because we had better have some confusion, some politicking, than to have utter collapse of this center. 



That was the alternative and that was the uncertain and tenuous ground on which the General Service Conference was called into being.



I venture, in the minds of many and sometimes in mine that the Conference could be symbolized by a great prayer and a faint hope. This was the state of affairs in 1945 to 1950. Then came the day when some of us went up to Boston to watch an assembly elect by two-thirds vote or lot a Delegate. Prior to assembly, I consulted all the local politicos and those very wise Irishmen in Boston said, "We're going to make your prediction Bill, you know us temperamentally, but we're going to say that this thing is going to work." That was the biggest piece of news and one of the mightiest assurances that I had up to this time that there could be any survival for these services.



Well, work it has and we have survived another impossibility. Not only have we survived the impossibility, we have so far transcended it that there can be no return in future years to the old uncertainties, come what perils there may.



Now, as we have seen in this quick review, the spirit of the Twelve Steps was applied in specific terms to our problems of living and working together. This developed the Twelve Traditions. In turn, the Twelve Traditions were applied to this problem of functioning at world levels in harmony and unity. (10th GSC, April 1960)

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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 41 -- How many drug addicts are there in A.A.? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 41 -- How many drug addicts are there in A.A.? 4/6/2002 9:39:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - How many drug addicts are there in A.A. and in the organization similar

to A.A. which operates among drug addicts?



A - We have quite a number of drug addicts who were once alcoholics. So far,

I don't know of any case of pure drug addiction that we have been able to

approach. In other words, we can no more approach a simon-pure addict than

the outsider can usually approach us. We are in exactly the same position with then that the doctor and the clergyman have been in respect to the alcoholic. We just don't talk that fellow's language. He always looks at us and says, "Well, those alcoholics are the scum of the earth and besides, what do they know about addiction?"



Now, however, since we have a good number of addicts who were once alcoholics, those addicts in their turn are making an effort, here and there, to transfer the thing over to the straight addict. In that way we hope the bridge is going to be crossed. There may be a case here and there that has been helped. But in all, I suppose, there may be about 50 cases of real morphine addiction in former alcoholics who have been helped by A.A. Of course we have a great many barbital users, but we don't consider those people particularly difficult if they really want to do something about it; and particularly if it's associated with liquor. They seem to get out of it after a while. But where you have morphine, or some of those other derivatives, then it gets very tough. Then you have to have a "dope" talk to a "dope," and I hope that we can someday find a bridge to the addict. (Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies, June 1945)

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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 42 -- If an alcoholic comes drunk, what do you do? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 42 -- If an alcoholic comes drunk, what do you do? 4/6/2002 9:45:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - If an alcoholic comes to an A.A. meeting under the influence of alcohol, how do you treat him or handle him during the meeting?



A - Groups will usually rum amuck on that sort of question. At first we are likely to say that we are going to be supermen and save every drunk in town.  The fact is that a great many of them just don't want to stop. They come, but they interfere very greatly with the meeting. Then, being still rather intolerant, the group will swing way over in the other direction and say, "No drunks around these meetings." We get forcible and put them out of the meeting, saying, "You're welcome here if your sober." But the general rule in most places is that if a person comes for the first or second time and can sit quietly in the meeting, without creating an uproar, nobody bothers him. On the other hand, if he's a chronic "slipper" and interferes with the meetings, we lead him out gently, or maybe not so gently, on the theory that one man cannot be permitted to hold up the recovery of others. The theory is "the greatest good for the greatest number." (Yale Summer School of Alcohol Studies, June 1945)

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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 43 -- What purposes do the Twelve Concepts serve? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 43 -- What purposes do the Twelve Concepts serve? 4/6/2002 9:55:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What purposes do the Twelve Concepts for World Services serve?



A -The Concepts to be discussed in the following pages are primarily an interpretation of AA's world service structure. They spell out the traditional practices and the Conference charter principles that relate the component parts of our world structure into a working whole. Our Third Legacy manual is largely a document of procedure. Up to now the Manual tells us how to operate our service structure. But there is considerable lack of detailed information, which would tell us why the structure has developed as it has and why its working parts are related together in the fashion that our Conference and General Service Board charters provide.



These Twelve Concepts therefore represent an attempt to put on paper the why of our service structure in such a fashion that the highly valuable experience of the past and the conclusions that we have drawn from it cannot be lost.



These Concepts are no attempt to freeze our operation against needed change. They only describe the present situation, the forces and principles that have molded it. It is to be remembered that in most respects the Conference charter can be readily amended. This interpretation of the past and present can, however, have a high value for the future. Every oncoming generation of service workers will be eager to change and improve our structure and operations. This is good. No doubt change will be needed.  Perhaps unforeseen flaws will emerge. These will have to be remedied. But along with this very constructive outlook, there will be bound to be still another, a destructive one. We shall always be tempted to throw out the baby with the bathwater. We shall suffer the illusion that change, any plausible change, will necessarily represent progress. When so animated, we may carelessly cast aside the hard won lessons of early experience and so fall back into many of the great errors of the past.



Hence, a prime purpose of these Twelve Concepts is to hold the experience and lessons of the early days constantly before us. This should reduce the chance of hasty and unnecessary change. And if alterations are made that happen to work out badly, then it is hoped that these Twelve Concepts will make a point of safe return. (GSC, 1960)











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"Let''s Ask Bill" No. 44 -- What purpose does the right of appeal serve? "Let''s Ask Bill" No. 44 -- What purpose does the right of appeal serve? 4/6/2002 10:08:00 AM From Jim Blair.



Q - What purpose does the right of appeal serve?



A - There came to this country some hundred years ago a French Baron whose

family and himself had been wracked by the French revolution, De Toqueville, and he was a worshipful admirer of democracy. And in those day's democracy

seemed to be mostly expressed in people's minds by votes of simple majorities. And he was a worshipful admirer of the spirit of democracy as expressed by the power of a majority to govern. But, said de Toqueville, a majority can be ignorant, it can be brutal, it can be tyrannous - and we have seen it. Therefore, unless you most carefully protect a minority, large or small, make sure that minority opinions are voiced, make sure that minorities have unusual rights, you're democracy is never going to work and its spirit will die. This was de Toqueville's prediction and, considering today's times, is it strange that he is not widely read now?



So that is why in this Conference we try to get a unanimous consent while we can; this is why we say the Conference can mandate the Board of Trustees on a two - thirds vote. But we have said more here. We have said that any Delegate, any Trustee, any staff member, any service director - any board, committee or whatever - that wherever there is a minority, it shall always be the right of this minority to file a minority report so that their views are held up clearly. And if in the opinion of any such minority, even a minority of one, if the majority is about to hastily or angrily do something which could be to the detriment of Alcoholics Anonymous, the serious detriment, it is not only their right to file a minority appeal, it is their duty.



So, like de Toqueville, neither you nor I want either the tyranny or the majority, nor the tyranny of the small minority. And steps have been taken here to balance up these relations.

(GSC, 1960)



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BB Authors -- Author unknown, Akron, OH. "Ace Full-Seven-Eleven." BB Authors -- Author unknown, Akron, OH. "Ace Full-Seven-Eleven." 4/6/2002 10:38:00 AM Buffs, I have been preparing short biographies of authors of the stories in

the Big Book, including all three editions, plus one story which appeared

only in the Original Manuscript (OM).



I have reviewed all the books published by A.A. World Services and the A.A.

Grapevine, plus all the books I could locate written about A.A. or by any of

its members.  A few I acknowledge at the end of individual stories.



In this endeavor I have been helped enormously by other members of the Buffs.

Some of these supplied information about only about one or two of the authors.  In those cases I will acknowledge them when I post the individual biographies on which they helped.



But there are a few people who have been of such help in providing information that I must acknowledge them here:  Lee C. in California, who first got me interested in A.A. history; Jim B. in Canada who has sent me large files full of information on A.A.'s history; Barefoot Bill in Pennsylvania, who has sent both information and a video of one of the authors' talks; Ron L. and Ted H. in California who have sent me tapes of some of the authors' talks.  (Ron also sent me information on Jim Burwell which I had not known.)



But there is one man who does not want to be acknowledge.  "I don't like to

take credit for anything I do for A.A.," is I think how he put it.  But this man not only proofread and offered editorial suggestions on the nearly 150 pages, but also researched the net to find information for me.  So I will risk his friendship by saying THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, to Tony C. of Texas.



To me the amazing thing about all this is that I have never met any of these

benefactors in person.



I've done my level best to be sure the stories are accurate.  Nonetheless, I am sure there are mistakes.  Please send any corrections or additional information to me personally rather than to the whole list, giving me your sources for the information (no guess work please).  If it seems appropriate I will then post a corrected biography, giving credit where due for the new information.



Here is the first, the only story in the original manuscript which was not

included in the first edition.



Nancy  



Ace Full-Seven-Eleven -- Author unknown, Akron, Ohio.

(Original Manuscript (OM), p. 62.)



There are different theories as to why the story was not included in the first edition.  Some have suggested that the author became suspicious of Bill

Wilson and Hank Parkhurst ("The Unbeliever" in the first edition) when Hank

set up Works Publishing to raise money to publish the book, with himself as the self appointed president, and Bill began talking of listing himself as author of the Big Book.  Bill would then be entitled to royalties.  Others claim that the author wanted to be paid for his story, or to receive a share of the royalties on the book.  None of these theories can be verified.



According to his story, he was the son of a pharmacist and studied pharmacy,

but before he could take the state board examination he was drafted.  In the Army he began gambling, and learning to manipulate the dice and cards to his own advantage.  



After the war he became a professional gambler.  He spent some time in jail,

perhaps for gambling or drinking.  One source claims it was for bootlegging.



He was hospitalized many times, and eventually his wife had him committed to

an insane asylum. He was in and out of the asylum several times.  During one of his confinements he met another alcoholic who had lost nearly all.  This man had been a hobo, and may have been Charlie Simonson ("Riding the Rods" in

the first edition).  During his last confinement his friend was not there, but soon he came to visit and to carry the message of A.A.



An agnostic or atheist when he entered, he eventually came to believe in a

Divine Father, and that His will was the best bet.



No further information is available.




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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Florence Rankin, NYC "A Feminine Victory" BB Authors, 1st edition -- Florence Rankin, NYC "A Feminine Victory" 4/6/2002 10:43:00 AM A Feminine Victory -- Florence Rankin, New York City.  

(OM, p. 217 in 1st edition.)



Florence was the first woman to get sober in A.A., even for a short time. She came to A.A. in New York in March of 1937.  She had several slips, but was sober over a year when she wrote her story for the Big Book.  



It must have been difficult for Florence being the only woman.  She prayed

for inspiration to tell her story in a manner that would give other women courage to seek the help that she had been given.  



She was the ex-wife of a man Bill Wilson had known on Wall Street.  She thought the cause of her drinking would be removed when she and her husband were divorced.  But it was her ex-husband who took Lois Wilson to visit her at Bellevue.  Bill and Lois got her out of Bellevue and she stayed in their home for a time.  After she left their home she stayed with other members of the fellowship.  



In part, due to Florence having been sober more than a year, "One Hundred Men" was discarded as the name for the Big Book.    



She moved to Washington, D.C. and tried to help Fitz Mayo ("Our Southern Friend"), who after sobering up in New York started A.A. in Washington, D.C.

She married an alcoholic she met there, who unfortunately did not get sober.  

Eventually Florence started drinking again and disappeared.  Fitz Mayo found

her in the morgue.  She had committed suicide.

  

Despite her relapse and death from alcoholism, Florence helped pave the way

for the many women who followed.  She was in Washington by the time Marty Mann ("Women Suffer Too"), the next woman to arrive in A.A. in New York,

entered the program.  Marty only met her once or twice, but her story in the

Big Book no doubt encouraged Marty.



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- William Ruddell, NJ. "A Business Man''s Recovery" BB Authors, 1st edition -- William Ruddell, NJ. "A Business Man''s Recovery" 4/6/2002 10:51:00 AM A Business Man's Recovery -- William Ruddell, New Jersey.

(OM, p. 242 in 1st edition.)



Bill Ruddell was born in 1900.  According to his story in the Big Book, he first got sober in February 1937.



When the Alcoholic Foundation was established in the spring of 1938, he was

appointed as a trustee.  He almost immediately got drunk and was replaced by

Harry Brick ("A Different Slant").



He was underage to join the Army in WW I, but ran away from home and lied

about his age to join up.  It was in the Army that he started to drink. He tried many geographic cures.  Instead of coming home from Germany after the war he stayed, then took jobs in Russia, England, and back to Germany. 



He came home in 1924 hoping Prohibition could help him stop drinking.  There

he discovered the speakeasies.  So he shipped off to the Venezuela for a job

in the oil fields.  They soon poured him on a ship and sent him home.  



He had tried doctors, hospitals, psychiatrists, rest cures, changes of scenery, etc., to try to stop drinking.  He got married to a woman named Kathleen, hoping marriage would solve his problem.  But even Kathleen couldn't help.  



Finally he consulted a doctor who referred him to A.A.  Bill Wilson talked to

him and told him his own story, then told him to think about it for a few days.  He was back to see Bill again the next day.



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Harry Brick, NY. "A Different Slant." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Harry Brick, NY. "A Different Slant." 4/6/2002 10:57:00 AM A Different Slant -- Harry Brick, New York.

(OM, p. 252 in 1st edition.)



His date of sobriety was probably June 1938.  It is said that he sued to get

the money he had loaned A.A. to get the Big Book published refunded.



Harry was probably an accountant.  He is believed by some to be "Fred, a partner in a well known accounting firm" whose story is told on pages 39 through 43 of the Big Book.  



He was happily married with fine children, sufficient income to indulge his

whims and future financial security.  He was known as a conservative, sound

businessman.  To all appearances he was a stable, well-balanced individual,

with an attractive personality who made friends easily.



However, he missed going to his office several times because of drinking, and

when he failed in efforts to stop on his own, had to be hospitalized -- a blow to his ego.  At the hospital a doctor told him about a group of men staying sober, and he reluctantly consented to have one of them call on him, only to be polite to the doctor.  He refused help from the man who called on him, but within sixty days, after leaving the hospital the second time, he was pounding at his door, willing to do anything to conquer the vicious thing that had conquered him.



He soon learned that not only had his drinking problem been relieved, but quite as important was the discovery that spiritual principles would solve all his problems.



While his old way of living was by no means a bad one, he would not go back to it he would not go back to it even if he could.  His worst days in the fellowship were better than his best days when he was drinking.



His story is the shortest in the 1st edition.  He had only one point he wanted to make.  Even a man with everything money can buy, a man with tremendous pride and will power to function in all ordinary circumstances, could become an alcoholic and find himself as hopeless and helpless as the man who has a multitude of worries and troubles.  Doctor Earl M. ("Physician Heal Thyself") described this as "the skid row of success," p. 345, 3rd edition.



Harry served on the first board of trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation, replacing Bill Ruddell, who got drunk.  Soon Harry was drunk, too.  



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Walter Bray, Cleveland, OH. "The Back-Slider" BB Authors, 1st edition -- Walter Bray, Cleveland, OH. "The Back-Slider" 4/6/2002 11:14:00 AM The Back-Slider - Walter Bray, Cleveland, Ohio.

(OM, p. 265 in 1st edition.)



Walter first joined A.A. in September 1935.



He was known as a notorious alcoholic and a regular consumer of paregoric, an

over-the-counter opiate then easily available to the general public.



Too young to enlist in World War I, he earned high wages as a machinist, and did very well at his work.  He confined his drinking to weekends or occasional parties after work.  But he was unsettled and dissatisfied.   



He got married, and in 1924 moved to Akron, where he got a job in the largest

industrial plant.  Things were going well until the stock market crashed and

work slowed down.  Finally he was laid off.



He found another job that required him to travel.  Away from home his drinking increased, and he finally lost that job.  A series of jobs followed, but things continued to go down hill.  



He was hospitalized several times.  During one of his hospitalizations, the

chief resident physician, during his rounds, asked him if he would like to stop drinking, and suggested that he send another doctor to see him.  The other doctor he sent was Dr. Bob.



For two years he stayed sober and his life was greatly improved.  Then he

started to miss meetings, and stopped working the program.  He soon started

drinking again.



On either August 16 or 18, 1939, he was the first alcoholic admitted by Dr. Bob and Sister Ignatia for the purpose of detoxification.  Sister Ignatia labeled his problem as "acute gastritis" in order to admit him.  She first put him in a double room.  Dr. Bob asked her to move him to a private room so that he could have visitors. No private room being available she moved him to the "flower room," where the nurses watered the flowers that patients had received.  The room was also used as a temporary holding room for corpses awaiting transfer to the morgue.



He had probably been in this hospital before under various diagnoses.  He talks in his story about many hospitalizations and mentions that in one Catholic hospital, a Sister had talked religion to him and had brought a priest in to see him.  They were sorry for him, he said, and assured him he would find relief in Mother Church.  He wanted none of it.



When he wrote his story he had been sober about a year, and intended to stay

close to what he had proven was good for him.  Every day he asked God to keep

him sober for twenty-four hours.  "He has never let me down yet."



His wife, Marie, wrote the story "An Alcoholic's Wife," which also appears in

the 1st edition.

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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Ernie Galbraith, Akron, OH. "The Seven Month Slip." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Ernie Galbraith, Akron, OH. "The Seven Month Slip." 4/6/2002 11:21:00 AM The Seven Month Slip -- Ernie Galbraith, Akron, Ohio.

(OM, p. 282 in 1st edition.)



Ernie first got sober in August 1935, probably the first after Bill Dotson ("A.A. Number 3"), while Bill Wilson was still staying with the Smiths in Akron.  He married Dr. Bob's daughter, Sue.



Sue, about 17 at the time, said that the first time she saw Ernie he stopped her on the street to ask her how to get to their house.  She pointed out the house, but did not tell him that she was Sue Smith.



She described him as stout, blue eyed, with reddish hair and a round face. He had a good sense of humor and was a good storyteller, who could make her mother and father laugh, "like nobody I had ever seen, just sitting around the kitchen table, telling stories, and drinking coffee."



He was a wild, devil-may-care young fellow, who had enlisted for a one-year

term in the Army when he was only 14 (but could pass for 18). After getting out of the Army he went to Mexico where he worked for an oil company, then rode the range in Texas.  He had been married twice and had a son. After returning to Akron he had trouble holding a job because of his drinking.



His parents were very religious and belonged to the same church as T. Henry

and Clarace Williams of the Oxford Group.  It was probably they who told his parents about how Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson had found a way to quit drinking.  



They urged Ernie to see Dr. Bob and eventually he did.  He agreed to be taken

to City Hospital where he was tapered off.  It took several days, he wrote, for his head to clear and his nerves to settle.

 

After about six days in the hospital, Dr. Bob, Bill Wilson, and Bill Dotson visited him and explained their program to him, and he agreed to give it a try.  And it worked, he wrote, as long as he allowed it to do so.  He stayed sober for about a year and then slipped for seven months.



Finally he went back unshaven, unkempt, looking ill, and bleary-eyed, and asked for help again.  He wrote that he was never lectured about his seven-month failure.



Beginning shortly after she finished grade school, Sue had been seeing a boy

named Ray Windows.  She claims that her parents disapproved of Ray and tried

to break them up.  Sue believes her father deliberately tried to get her interested in Ernie in order to keep her away from Ray.  But it is doubtful that Dr. Bob ever meant for her to become romantically involved with Ernie.  



Eventually she broke it off with Ray and married Ernie.  He was drunk when he

married Sue in September of 1941.  Her parents were not aware of the marriage

until they heard about it or read it in the papers.  They were dismayed.



Dr. Bob said Ernie "never really jelled."  Sue Smith remembered that they did not know what to do with him.  He even got to where he wanted to get paid for speaking at meetings.  He had periodic relapses, which got worse and worse until the time he died.



Sue and Ernie had two children, a son (Mickey) and a daughter (Bonna).  They

divorced about 1965 and she married Ray Windows.  On June 11, 1969, their daughter, Bonna, shot herself, after first killing her six-year old daughter.  She was 23 at the time of her death.  According to Sue, Ernie never got over it.  Bonna died June 11, 1969, and he died two years later to the day, June 11, 1971.



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Tom Lucas, Akron, OH. "My Wife and I." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Tom Lucas, Akron, OH. "My Wife and I." 4/6/2002 11:27:00 AM My Wife and I -- Tom Lucas, Akron, Ohio.

(OM, p. 287 in 1st edition.)



Tom's first date of sobriety probably was November 1935.  (He slipped in December 1937.)  His wife, Maybelle, approached Dr. Bob for help.



Tom grew up on a farm and had little education.  During and after World War

I, he worked in factories for high wages.  He married Maybelle, an "able, well-educated woman who had an unusual gift of common sense and far more than

the average business vision, a true helpmate in every way."



Together they started a neighborhood grocery store, which prospered, then they bought another.  But when the Great Depression hit they lost it.  Tom took factory jobs when he could get them, and eventually opened a restaurant.  His wife worked with him.



But Tom soon developed a serious drinking problem which eventually caused his

wife to confront him and they separated -- but for only a week.



They sold their restaurant and Tom took what jobs he could get, but these were hard times.  He stayed sober for periods of time because he could not afford the money to drink.



When things improved financially, Tom's drinking got worse.  Tom was doing roof repairs and spouting installations, but his wife often had to start the men to work in the morning, do shop jobs, keep the books, and look after the house and family.



Tom became increasingly difficult at home, and Maybelle would quietly ask friends and business associates to drop in casually to talk to him.  But they ended up by mildly upbraiding him.  When things got truly bad Maybelle left him again, but after a time she returned to try to salvage what she could.  



Finally Tom admitted to his wife that he wanted to stop drinking but could not.  He asked her for help, and she was eventually referred to Dr. Bob.  Dr. Bob asked if her husband wanted to stop drinking, or was merely temporarily uncomfortable?  Had he come to the end of the road?  He visited them the following morning, and hospitalized Tom.



After a relapse, he and his wife talked it over, and knew it had happened because he had stopped following the program.  He acknowledged his fault to God and asked His help to keep to the course he had to follow.

    

Dr. Bob often called Maybelle for help with the wives of other alcoholics.  On one occasion he told her to get hold of Annabelle Gillam, the wife of Wally Gillam ("Fired Again" in the 1st edition), or her husband would be drunk before he was out of the hospital two hours.     



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Bill Van Horn, "A Ward of the Probate Court." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Bill Van Horn, "A Ward of the Probate Court." 4/6/2002 11:54:00 AM A Ward of the Probate Court - William (Bill or Billy) Van Horn (Van Horne?)  

Akron or Kent, Ohio.

(OM, p. 296 in 1st edition.)



Bill's sobriety date is uncertain.  He joined the Fellowship in 1937, and slipped, but was known to be active in the program by September 1937. Just out of high school Bill landed a job with a local university as an office assistant.  He advanced in his work and took a year off to attend an engineering college.



He enlisted in World War I and served on five fronts, from Alsace to the North Sea.  When back in the rest area he began drinking red wine and cognac.

 

When he returned from the war he tried to hide his drinking from his mother and the girl he was to marry, but he got drunk the day their engagement was announced, and missed the party.  The engagement was off.



He was again working in the President's office at the University, but he also was active in many civic activities. He tried to control his drinking and his sprees were only in private clubs or away from home.   



He lost his job at the University although probably not because of his drinking, then held a variety of jobs, and got married, but his marriage failed because of his drinking.



Soon he could not hold a job and began getting arrested for drunk driving and

disorderly conduct.  Eventually he became a ward of the Probate Court, and

was admitted to a State hospital at least twice.



Finally, a friend he had known in his drinking days, who was now sober, sought him out and persuaded him to enter the hospital under the care of Dr. Bob.



He was one of the five men Sister Ignatia remembered coming to the hospital after being in terrible accidents because of drinking, who had later come into A.A.



Dr. Bob made a favorable impression on him immediately by spending much time

with him telling him of his own drinking experiences.   



At the meetings, however, he was not happy with some of the Oxford Group practices.  He thought it was throwing the spiritual right at the new person.  It was too hard for the alcoholics.  



He must have had a friendly, outgoing personality.  Dorothy Snyder, then wife

of Clarence Snyder ("The Home Brewmeister") recalled how he had welcomed her when she attended her first meeting the day Clarence got out of the hospital.

He told her that he wanted to meet her because they thought Clarence was a

pretty wonderful person, and they wanted to see if she was good enough for

him.



Bill tried to emulate the humility he saw in Dr. Bob and Anne Smith.  He had 12th stepped Lavelle K., who with his wife took care of Dr. Bob and Anne in their last years.  Lavelle was devastated when Bill slipped, as he had tried to pattern himself on him.



After Dr. Bob and Anne died, Bill hated to go to the meeting at King School (to which the A.A. group had moved).  It broke his heart not to see Dr. Bob there, because he had meant so much to him.  He said he would go a hell of a long way to hear Dr. Bob.

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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Charlie Simonson, Akron, OH. "Riding the Rods." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Charlie Simonson, Akron, OH. "Riding the Rods." 4/6/2002 12:00:00 PM Riding the Rods - Charlie Simonson (Simondsord? Simpson?), Akron, Ohio.

(OM, p. 303 in 1st edition.)



Charlie probably came to A.A. in May of 1937.



According to his story, when he was fourteen years old, he ran away from the

farm where he lived, befriended some hobos, and hoped on a train with two of

them headed for Detroit.  When they arrived one of them, Tom Casey, took

Charlie under his wing, got them both a room with a kindly Irish landlady.  Tom looked after Charlie for the next two years, taught him what not to do, made him start a bank account and keep it growing.  



When Tom heard the call of the road again two years later, Charlie was city-wise, but uncontaminated, thanks to Tom.  



Charlie quickly found a job, but missed Tom.  Soon he started to drink, lost jobs, his bank account dwindled, and disappeared entirely.  He was broke and homeless.  Soon he was hopping freights again. He found and lost one job after another.



When he tired of city life, he found a job on a farm.  Soon he married a young schoolteacher, and needing more money, he moved to an industrial city in Ohio [Akron].  He made up his mind to leave liquor behind and get ahead.  Soon he had a job, a nice home, and an understanding wife.  They had a small circle of friends. He began to try social drinking.  But soon he became the bootlegger's first morning customer.  



When he finally decided he was just no good and his wife and children would be better off without him he hopped a train for Pittsburgh.  After a while he took another back home.  He went back to work, but continued to have trouble.  He tried suicide several times.  When he became dangerous, his wife had him

placed in a hospital, where he was placed under restraint.



One day he fell into casual conversation with another patient -- another alcoholic.  They began to compare notes.  This man told him of a group of about thirty men who had found a way to stay sober.  He had tried and had stayed sober for a year.  He planned to go back to it when he was released from the hospital.



Charlie asked his wife to try to find this group.  She was skeptical, but the next day Charlie had a visit from Dr. Bob.  When he was released from the hospital, his friend, who had been released a few days earlier, introduced him to several of the other members.     



Two years later, when Charlie wrote his story, he said that the way had not been easy, but helping others had strengthened him and helped him to grow.  He had obtained a measure of happiness and contentment he had never known before.  He knew he would have difficulties every day of his life, but now there was a difference.  Now he had a new and tried foundation for every new day.



Charlie may have been the first -- but probably not the last -- to be 12th stepped by a relapsed A.A. member.



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Bob Oviatt, Richfield, OH. "The Salesman." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Bob Oviatt, Richfield, OH. "The Salesman." 4/6/2002 12:06:00 PM The Salesman -- Bob Oviatt, Richfield, Ohio.

(OM, p. 317 in 1st edition.)



Bob entered the program in December of 1936, but after six months had a slip.  He stopped drinking again in May 1937.  



His teenage years were uneventful.  He was raised on a farm but wanted to be a businessman, so he took a business college course.  His first business was buying produce from the family farm and selling it to customers in the city.  The business theory he had learned in college helped him to become successful

and he soon expanded his business.  But in 1921, during an economic slump, he

was wiped out.  With more time on his hands, his drinking increased.



He worked at a variety of jobs from then on, but most often as a salesman -- a career at which he was very good.



He started drinking during Prohibition, and it soon became a habit.  Bob at one time brewed beer at home.  He tells how, when a fire threatened to destroy his home, he rushed to the cellar and rescued a keg of wine and all the beer he could carry.  He became indignant when his wife suggested that he had better get some of the needed effects out of the house before it burned down.



He lost jobs and his home, and car accident once put him in the hospital.  When he got out of the hospital he stayed sober for six weeks and had made up his mind to quit, but returned to the same pattern.



His marriage deteriorated and his wife divorced him.  He had no friends left.  His mother tried to help and sent clergymen to talk to him.  When his mother heard about Dr. Bob she persuaded him to go with her to see him. Dr. Bob suggested he be hospitalized for a short time, but he refused. He did agree, however, to go to a meeting.  He was as good as his word, and met the small group.  He liked the informality of the meeting, but the meeting did not impress him.  However, he saw men he had known as drinkers apparently staying sober.



It was another six months, after a binge, before, in a maudlin and helpless state, he made his way back to see Dr. Bob.



There was no over night change, in Bob, but he began to enjoy the meetings, and to exchange the drinking habit for something that has helped him in every way.  Every morning he read a part of the Bible and asked God to carry him through the day safely.  It also helped that Dr. Bob immediately put him to work helping another alcoholic who was hospitalized. All he had to do was tell his story to the new man.



He reunited with his wife, began making good in business and paying off his debts.  His former friends and employers were amazed.  



He was sober several years when he wrote his story, kept that way, he explained, by submitting his natural will to a Higher Power.  He did that on a daily basis.

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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Wally Gillam, Akron, OH. "Fired Again." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Wally Gillam, Akron, OH. "Fired Again." 4/6/2002 12:13:00 PM Fired Again - Wallace (Wally) Gillam, Akron, Ohio.  

(OM, p. 325 in 1st edition.)



Probably Wally first entered A.A. in May of 1937, but one source says October

1938.  But after several years he slipped and had a hard time getting back.



He was an engineer. He must have been handsome, one Akron member described him as having iron-gray hair and looking like President Warren Harding.     



He described himself as a man of extremes.  When he learned to dance, he had

to go dancing every night; when he worked or studied he wanted no interruptions; and of course when he drank he could never stop until he was drunk.  He started getting drunk before he was sixteen.



Wally must have been a good worker because he rarely had a problem finding a

job, and often was rehired by the same company and given another chance.  But

he was fired again and again.  He was once fired from the WPA (Works Progress Administration, a Federal job program instituted during the Depression of the 1930s.)



He was irritated by efforts to help him.  His family once persuaded him to enter a sanitarium for thirty days.  He left with the firm resolve never to drink again.  Before he left the sanitarium he answered an advertisement for an engineer in

Akron and after an interview, got the job.  In about three months he was out

of a job again.



Finally, a neighbor, who had heard of Dr. Bob's work, told his wife, Annabelle, about it and she went to see Dr. Bob.  Soon Wally was hospitalized by Dr. Bob and began his recovery.  About twenty men called on him while he was still in the hospital.  He knew five of them, three of whom he had never before seen completely sober.



Annabelle was at first was hard to convince that the program would work, because Wally once brought home an A.A. member he had met in a bar.  This was Paul Stanley ("Truth Freed Me!") during his slip in early 1936.  Then her own doctor urged her to see Dr. Bob.  Finally, her clergyman, J.C. Wright, got a woman to talk to Annabelle and then made an appointment for her with Dr. Bob.  This was probably the neighbor Wally talks about in his story.



Dr. Bob called Maybelle Lucas, wife of Tom Lucas ("My Wife and I") and told

her to get hold of Annabelle or her husband would be drunk before he was out

of the hospital two hours.  Finally Annabelle took Maybelle's advice and let go and let God. Anne Smith also took her under her wing.



After his recovery, Wally and Annabelle took many alcoholics into their home.  According to Bill Wilson, they had more success with people they took into

their home than did Dr. Bob and Anne or Bill and Lois.



Wally was Dr. Bob's right hand man for many years, and when he eventually

slipped everyone was shocked.  He had seemed to be doing everything right and

working very hard.



Wally had been very hard on those who slipped and wanted to kick them out,

which may explain why it took him a long time to get back, but Annabelle dragged him to meetings.  He finally got sober again and stayed sober until his death. His attitude toward those who slip, however, changed.



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Paul Stanley, Akron, OH. "Truth Freed Me." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Paul Stanley, Akron, OH. "Truth Freed Me." 4/6/2002 12:18:00 PM Truth Freed Me!  -- Paul Stanley, Akron, Ohio.

(OM, p. 336 in 1st edition.)



Paul took his last drink on July 2, 1936.



He had first me Dr. Bob much earlier.  Dr. Bob formed the habit of stopping at his house for coffee after office hours on Tuesday and Thursdays.  At first, his topic was honesty, and after several trips he suggested Paul stop kidding himself.  Then the topic changed to faith -- faith in God.



Though he had stopped drinking, he was unable at first to grasp the spiritual

program.  He was doubtful, fearful, full of self-pity, afraid to humiliate himself.  This lasted until December 11th, when he was faced with the absolute necessity of raising a sum of money.  He approached a banker and told him the whole story.  He believed his need was money, but the banker told him he knew something of what he was trying to do, and believed he was on the right track.  He told Paul that if he were right with God, he would do all he could to help him secure the loan.



Paul had found reality.  His needs were met from another entirely unexpected

source. He was profoundly grateful for the opportunities he had had of seeing and knowing TRUTH.



In February of 1937 he brought his brother Dick ("The Car Smasher") into the

program.



Paul did a lot of 12th step work.  He told one prospect, who complained that he had no job, that he indeed had a job -- it was to stay sober and work at this program.  That is a full-time job by itself.  And he is known to have visited Clarence Snyder ("The Home Brewmeister") often during his hospital stay.   



Paul was close to Dr. Bob and went with him to New York for the Rockefeller

dinner on February 8, 1940.  And it was Paul who convinced Frank Amos (who

was sent to Akron by John D. Rockefeller, Jr., investigate A.A.) that Dr. Bob needed financial help or would have to give up his work with alcoholics.  Mr.

Amos reported that Paul said it would be criminal to lose Dr. Bob as their leader, and suggested that Mr. Rockefeller confidentially arrange for a monthly remuneration for Dr. Bob for a period of at least two years.  Paul also got Dr. Bob's son, "Smitty," a job in Cleveland working as a service manager for a tire dealer, after he returned from military service in WW II.



It was Dick Stanley who was known as The Car Smasher.  But, sadly, it was

Paul who died from a car accident on September 19, 1953.  Both brothers remained sober until their deaths.



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Henry G. (Hank) Parkhurst, NJ. "The Unbeliever." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Henry G. (Hank) Parkhurst, NJ. "The Unbeliever." 4/6/2002 12:47:00 PM This piece was written by Mike O. of "The Just Do It Big Book Study Group of Alcoholics Anonymous," DeBary, Florida.  Mike's work is so superior to the biography I had written, that I took mine down and am replacing it with this.



Nancy Olson, Moderator



The Unbeliever -- Henry ("Hank") Parkhurst, NJ.

(OM and 1st edition, p. 194.)



Hank Parkhurst was a business dynamo who was the first alcoholic to recover in New York, following Bill Wilson. Thus, Hank was New York's AA#2. His was a vital contribution to AA: without Hank Parkhurst the Big Book might never have been published.



Hank was born March 13, 1895, in Marion, Iowa into a family that had lived in that area for several generations. He was so gifted an entrepreneur that an associate once described him as being able to produce a good idea a minute for business. He had been a Standard Oil of New Jersey executive who was fired because of his drinking. Hank sought treatment at Charles B. Towns Hospital in Manhattan. He met Bill Wilson there during the autumn of 1935.



Parkhurst was the first New York alcoholic other than Bill to stay sober for any substantial amount of time. Hank was sober approximately four years, before he drank again.



He is mentioned in "The Doctor's Opinion" (page XXIX of the Big Book). Doctor Silkworth describes him as "a case of pathological mental deterioration."  But, Silkworth added, "He adopted the plan outlined in this book." And, the doctor admitted he hardly recognized Hank when he saw him a year later.



But, perhaps more importantly, Hank is credited with contributing the major interview around which Bill wrote the chapter, "To Employers." (Some historians believe that Hank himself actually wrote this entire chapter except the first two paragraphs.)



After Bill and Lois Wilson lost their home at 182 Clinton Street, Brooklyn Heights, they moved to Montclair, New Jersey on April 26, 1939, and lived with Hank and his wife, Kathleen Nixon Parkhurst. Hank and Kathleen had moved to Montclair from Teaneck, after Hank got sober. (He's noted, again, in the Big Book, on page 163, as "a man who was living in a large community."  That reference is to Montclair.)



Parkhurst could be quite personable and was considered a handsome man. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and red-haired and had been a good athlete in school. He and Kathleen had two sons: Henry G. Parkhurst, Jr. (Hank Jr., and Robert Stewart Parkhurst (Bob) and at least one grandson.



Hank was an agnostic when he came to AA. But, he evolved spiritually into a belief in a "universal power." He and Jim Burwell led the fight against any mention of God in the Big Book. Parkhurst and Burwell wanted to leave God out of the book altogether, to make it a psychological book and refer only to the spiritual nature of recovery, produced by the practice of the principles of the Twelve Steps. The verbal war over the mention of God produced the compromise "as we understood Him" which became part of the Big Book.



Parkhurst was renting an office at that time at 11 Hill Street, Newark. This office housed Hank's company, Honor Dealers. It was a cooperative firm. Through it, gas station owners could buy gasoline, oil and automotive parts at lower prices through joint purchasing. Some thought it was Hank's way of getting back at Standard Oil for firing him. But, the business went nowhere.  It is considered likely that Bill authored the first two chapters of the Big Book in this Hill Street office.



Hank then moved to another office at 17 William Street in Newark, one block north of the Hill Street address. The new office, #601, faced east, the preferred exposure. But, Hank's money ran out, he didn't pay the rent and the county sheriff evicted him. He then moved to a smaller office on the same floor of the same building, #604, which faced west. Bill dictated much of the remainder of the Big Book to Ruth Hock in this building.  Ruth was a secretary for Honor Dealers and served in a similar capacity to the energetic effort, which would produce AA.

It was Hank who was the driving force behind the idea of forming a private company to publish the Big Book. The Trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation had opposed the idea of self-publishing. There were rewards, to be sure. Self-publishing could produce a financial return six times greater than author's royalties. But, among the Trustees, the common feeling was that self-publishing was risky, that most such enterprises failed out of ignorance of the publishing business and that neither Bill nor Hank knew anything about publishing. That opinion was expressed by a majority of the Trustees at the Foundation's first meeting, April 11, 1938. (The Foundation was established on that date as a charitable, tax-exempt entity to provide the movement with a legally formed, New York-based center.)



Hank told Bill that since the Board of Trustees had not and would not raise a cent for the publishing project, he and Bill should not wait but should publish the book by themselves. They had little or no money, so: Hank convinced Bill that they should form a stock company and sell shares to their fellow alcoholics. Not only did Hank guarantee Bill that this approach would succeed, he insisted it was the only way to get the Book published. Bill felt somewhat reassured because a widely respected publishing executive, Eugene Exman of Harper Brothers, had told him that drafts of the first two chapters looked good and that a society like theirs really should own, control and publish its own literature.



So: Hank and Bill formed Works Publishing Company, Incorporated, on September 21, 1938. (Some historians say that the company never was legally incorporated.) They issued six hundred shares of stock with a par value of $25.00 per share. Bill and Hank each received one-third of the shares. The remaining two hundred shares were to be sold to their fellow alcoholics. Money from the sale of stock would be used to pay expenses of the Newark office and to enable Bill and Hank to continue their work full time on the publishing project. The Alcoholic Foundation would receive author's royalties from the book sales. Hank signed the certificates as "President." Sales were slow.  



Parkhurst, the self-appointed "President," had handled all the finances for Works Publishing. But, later, when he was asked to account for the money, he had no records. It appeared he had mixed the funds for Works, Honor and the fledgling fellowship together, along with his personal money and had no idea how to separate them.



The publication date of the Big Book was April 1, 1939. It was printed by Cornwall Press, in Cornwall, New York. The US Copyright Office says there were 4,730 copies in the first printing. The first ten copies were delivered April 10th of that year to the Newark office Hank and Bill shared. It was a joyous moment!



But, things soon went downhill for Hank. First, Bill obtained a postal box for the young fellowship across the Hudson River in lower Manhattan. Bill felt this location was the most convenient for reaching the area they intended to serve: New York City, Long Island and New Jersey. Bill then proposed moving the Alcoholic Foundation office itself to a point nearer the postal box. He felt there was no need to keep an office in Newark; Hank had closed Honor Dealers. But, since it had been his office, Parkhurst was upset about Bill's decision. The actual move, on March 16, 1940, to 30 Vesey Street, Room 703, in lower Manhattan angered Hank. And, when the furniture from his office moved across the Hudson, Hank was furious, even though he had sold the furniture to Bill. (That furniture remained with Bill Wilson for the rest of his life. First it went to AA headquarters in Manhattan. Later it moved to Bill's studio, "Wits End," at his home, "Stepping Stones," at Bedford Hills, in the rolling, wooded hills of picturesque, suburban Westchester County, just north of New York City.)



For Hank, this troubling episode appears to have been the least of it. In other

respects, he was beginning to collide with life and getting bruised heavily in the process. He was becoming (as Dr. Silkworth previously described it) "restless, irritable and discontented."



He had taken a new job-one he did not want -- in western New Jersey. He had intended to take the office, the furniture and Ruth Hock with him.  



Further, Hank wanted to divorce his wife, Kathleen, and marry Ruth. But, Ruth declined to go west with him and moved instead to the young fellowship's new office in lower Manhattan. Ultimately she said "No" to Hank's marriage proposal. Hank blamed Bill for her refusal.



Hank further resented Bill's asking him to turn in his stock certificates in Works Publishing, Inc. Members of the fellowship had decided in 1940 that all book sales profits should go to the Alcoholic Foundation. They decided that Bill and Hank should return their shares in Works Publishing. And, they asked those other members who had purchased shares of the stock to sell them to the Foundation at par value. In this way, the alcoholics reasoned, the fellowship would own the Big Book and anything it published in the future. Bill and Dr. Bob were to receive author's royalties from the book sales, so that they both might continue to devote their full time to the affairs of the fellowship.



Bill complied immediately. He turned in his shares of Works Publishing, Inc. stock to the Alcoholic Foundation. But, Hank, who had started drinking again, refused. He held onto the stock until he appeared unexpectedly one day, scruffy, drunk and destitute, at the New York office. He insisted the furniture in that office was his and demanded payment for it, even though he had been paid for it previously. Bill offered to pay for it again if Hank would hand in his stock. Hank accepted two hundred dollars and handed over his shares. He subsequently accused Bill of taking advantage of him in his drunken state.  Later, Hank approached Bill several more times claiming he had never been paid for the furniture and Bill paid him again each time.



Then Hank learned that AA had granted Bill a $25.00 a week payment from the sale of the Book. Hank considered the arrangement wrong. He resented it and was said to have become quite jealous of all the attention showered on Bill as A.A.'s co-founder.



Hank's oldest son, Henry G. Parkhurst, Jr., later that Hank always felt Bill had treated him unfairly with respect to the stock, the revenue from the Book sales and his office furniture. Years later sales of the Book mushroomed. But, Hank received no share of the profits.



It is difficult to say precisely when Hank returned to drinking, but it appears to have been late in 1939.  Lois Wilson's diary for September 6, 1939, says Hank was drunk. Kathleen Parkhurst had reported Hank was drinking on September 5th. He never recovered, completely, although there were some occasional, brief periods of dryness.



Hank and Kathleen divorced in 1939 and Hank married at least two other women during a return to drinking that lasted on and off for approximately eleven years. One of the women he married and divorced was a sister-in-law of Cleveland AA pioneer, Clarence Snyder. He later married an oil heiress from a wealthy Houston family. She died about 1950 of a cerebral hemorrhage. Sources say Kathleen married a Wally van Arc, who, they say, was involved, somehow, in the publishing of the Big Book. (AA's Archivists at GSO New York say they have no information whatever on anyone named Wally van Arc.) Later, during a brief period of dryness, Hank re-married Kathleen. Several sources say Kathleen was also an alcoholic: an episodic or periodic drunk. Hank's obituary identified Kathleen as his widow. Exact dates of these marriages, divorces and the re-marriage have proven unavailable.



Hank moved to Ohio and began spreading malicious stories there about Bill, charging that Wilson had diverted AA's money to his own personal use. Despite the fact that Hank was drinking, some Ohio AAs believed him, including Clarence Snyder, who had started AA in Cleveland. A number of the Ohio AA's began calling for Bill's expulsion, accusing him of financial trickery and dishonesty. One Ohio A.A. swore he knew personally that Wilson had taken as much as $65,000 from A.A. during the previous year. Several groups in Ohio wanted to secede from A.A. because of the charges and turmoil.



To meet the situation head-on, Bill and Dr. Bob, hosted a dinner for all concerned in June 1942 in Cleveland. After dinner, they all gathered in a hotel parlor, where a local committee, complete with its own attorney and certified public accountant, interrogated Bill. Both Bill and Dr. Bob quietly but firmly denied all allegations and answered all questions. Wilson presented the committee with a recent audit of all of A.A.'s financial affairs, showing, openly and clearly, his 25-dollar a week payment from sales of the Big Book. An identical payment had been arranged for Dr. Bob. (Bob had given some of his money to Bill and returned much of the rest to AA.) And, although it had nothing to do with the AA treasury, both Bill and Bob voluntarily told the committee of the 30-dollar-a-week income each received from a private fund set up to support them by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. so that both of them could continue their AA work full-time. The committee's CPA carefully examined the audit, read it aloud, pronounced it accurate beyond question, and thus completely exonerated Bill. The committee members apologized to him.



But, the emotional scars remained for Wilson. All this grief and scandal had been caused by a man he had helped to stop drinking, a man who once had been his partner. Opinions vary as to whether they ever completely settled their differences.



Hank Parkhurst died January 18, 1954, at Mercer Hospital in Pennington, New Jersey, within two months of his 59th birthday. Lois Wilson said his death was due to drinking. Others claimed it was pills. Some thought it was both. His obituary says only that he died after a lengthy illness. Others noted that Hank's disagreements with Bill and his subsequent resentments, mostly over Big Book matters, apparently kept Parkhurst from returning to AA.



Despite the pain and trouble he caused during the final years of his life, Alcoholics Anonymous would appear to owe a huge debt to Henry G. Parkhurst.  Ruth Hock, who was there for the entire adventure, said the Big Book definitely would not have been written without Bill and surely could not have been published without Hank. His story, "The Unbeliever" appeared in the first edition of the book that he was so instrumental in publishing.



SOURCES: The archives of the AA General Service Office; AA publications: "Alcoholics Anonymous", "Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age", and "Pass It On"; "Lois Remembers" by Lois Burnham Wilson; "Bill W." by Francis Hartigan; "Not-God" by Ernest Kurtz; "Bill W. And Mr. Wilson" by Matthew J. Raphael; The Hopewell (N.J.) Herald; the US Copyright Office, Washington, DC and AA historians Al R. and Joe H.



I'm grateful for the above sources. Any errors are my own.



Written/researched during 1997 by Mike O. of "The Just Do It Big Book Study Group of Alcoholics Anonymous," DeBary, Florida. (Author Revised: 1998, 1999, 2000,  2001.)



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Harold Sears, Brooklyn, NY "Smile With Me, At Me." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Harold Sears, Brooklyn, NY "Smile With Me, At Me." 4/6/2002 12:48:00 PM Smile With Me, At Me - Harold Sears, Brooklyn, New York.

(OM, p. 340 in 1st edition.)



Harold was an early New York member.  He probably stopped drinking in

February of 1938, but slipped in June of that year.



Through his long drinking career he held many and various jobs.  He was an

accomplished violinist who had played with some well-known orchestras, a

radio engineer, a ballet master, and hairdresser. At the time he enlisted in

the Navy during World War I, he was working as a host at a celebrated

Restaurant and Cabaret.  Having been a radio operator in the navy, he soon

became interested in amateur radio.  He got a federal license and made a

transmitting radio set. Broadcasting radio was just in its infancy then, so

he began to make small receiving sets for his friends and neighbors.  Finally

he worked up quite a business and opened a store, then two stores, with

eleven people working for him.  However, within three years time he had lost

both stores, probably in large part due to his drinking.



He drifted from one job to another, peddled brushes, did odd jobs such as

painting, and finally got established with a well known piano company as

assistant service manager.  But when the stock market crashed in 1929 he lost

that job.  He worked for one of his old competitors who owned a radio store,

until his drinking got so bad and he was in such poor physical condition that

he had to quit.



His family was concerned about his drinking.  His wife had to go to work and,

so that they would have someone to care for his son they moved in with his

parents.



His wife contacted a well-known psychiatrist and Harold saw him for a few

months.  He doctor advised hospitalization from three months to a year,

Harold knew he would just go back to drinking as soon as he was released.



What he thought and wanted at the time was "not to want to want to take a

drink." He knew it could only be done by himself, but how?



After going to as many as six or eight other doctors, some of his own friends

advised his wife to make her plans for the future as he was a hopeless case,

had no backbone, no will power, and would end up in the gutter.



Finally, his father, a physician, put him in a private New York hospital

(probably Towns).  When he was there ten days a new friend, "a true friend"

asked if he really wanted to stop drinking.  And if he did, would he do

anything no matter what it was?  The program was explained to him, and he met

the other members.



After about fourteen weeks, he took the first drink.  It took him several

tries to get back, but he realized that there was something that he failed to

do in those simple steps.  He had slipped away from quite a few of some of

the most important things he needed to do in order to keep sober.



One morning, after a sleepless night worrying, he turned to the Bible and

found help.  He returned to the group, and began to turn his life over to the

care of God.



For a time during 1939 meetings were held in his home.







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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Harry Zoeller, Akron, OH. "A Close Shave." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Harry Zoeller, Akron, OH. "A Close Shave." 4/6/2002 4:47:00 PM A Close Shave - Henry J. Zoeller (Harry Zollers? Boelen? Harry S.?), Akron, OH.  

(OM, p. 348 in 1st edition.)



Harry found sobriety in March of 1937, but he may have entered the fellowship

as early a January 1937.



He was born in 1890, the youngest of five sons to a "fine Christian mother,

and a hard working blacksmith father."  At the age of eight he began tasting his father's beer, and by fourteen, when he quit school, he was drinking wine and hard cider.



He worked as a barber, and acquired several lucrative shops, some with poolrooms and restaurants attached.  He married in 1910, during the time he

was running his own shops, and fathered ten children.



But the time came when he could no longer finance his own business, so he

began to float about the country, working at various jobs, but invariably getting fired in a short time because of his unreliability.  His children were usually desperately in need because he spent his money for drinking instead of providing for them.



He finally secured a job in a shop in a small town near Akron.  His reputation for drinking soon became more or less generally known, and he was irritated by a deacon and the pastor of a church who when they were in the shop constantly invited him to church and Bible classes.  He earnestly wished they would mind their own business.  But he became friendly with these men, and at last they persuaded him to go to Akron and talk with Dr. Bob.  



He listened to Dr. Bob for two hours, and although his mind was quite foggy, he retained a good deal of what was said. He felt that the combined effort of these three Christian gentlemen made it possible for him to have a vital spiritual experience.  



That was in March 1937.  At the time he wrote his story, he had not had a drink since. He had regained the love of his family and the respect of the community, and said the past few years had been the happiest of my life, spent helping others who were afflicted with alcoholism.



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Norman Hunt, Darien, CN. "Educated Agnostic" BB Authors, 1st edition -- Norman Hunt, Darien, CN. "Educated Agnostic" 4/6/2002 4:54:00 PM Educated Agnostic - Norman Hunt, Darien, Connecticut.

(OM, p. 351 in 1st edition.)



Norman's date of sobriety is uncertain.  One source says it was February 1938, another says June 1938.



He had been hospitalized four times.  The first three times he left the hospital determined never to drink again.  Now, on his fourth visit, he told the kindly doctor (perhaps Dr. Silkworth) that he was a thoroughly hopeless case and would probably continue to return as long as he could beg, borrow, or steal the money to get in.



On the second day in the hospital the doctor told him that he knew of a way he could stop drinking forever.  On the third day a man came to talk with him.  He talked about alcoholism and a spiritual way of life.



Norman was deeply impressed by his seriousness, but nothing that he said made

sense to him. He spoke about God, and Norman did not believe in a God.  It was not for him.  War, illness, cruelty, stupidity, poverty and greed were not and could not be the product of any purposeful creation.



The next day another man visited him.  He, too, was an alcoholic who no longer drank.  This second man had not had a drink in over three years. This was probably Fitz Mayo ("Our Southern Friend") or Hank Parkhurst ("The Unbeliever").



He told him of other men who had found sobriety through the recognition of

some power beyond themselves, and invited him to a meeting on the following

Tuesday at Bill Wilson's home in Brooklyn.



He told his wife about this group, and she thought he was mentally unbalanced.  But she had met this kindly doctor and, since he recommended it, she was willing for him to try it.



The following Tuesday, hardly daring to hope and fearful of the worst, he and his wife attended their first meeting.  He had never been so inspired.  That was, for him, the beginning of a new life.  Almost imperceptibly he began to change.  In the process of this change, he recognized two immensely significant steps for him.  He admitted to himself for the first time that all my previous thinking might be wrong, and he consciously wished to believe.



In his story, Norman ends by addressing himself directly to atheists or agnostics, who might read the book.  He assured them that their questions had been in his mind also.  He could see no satisfactory solution to any of them.  But he kept hard to the only thing that seemed to hold out any hope, and gradually his difficulties were lessened.  He said he had not given up his intellect for the sake of his soul, nor had he destroyed his integrity to preserve his health and sanity.  "All I had feared to lose I have gained and all I feared to gain I have lost."



As a result of this experience he was convinced that to seek is to find, to ask is to be given.  The day never passed that he did not silently cry out in thankfulness, not merely for his release from alcohol, but even more for a change that had given his life new meaning, dignity, and beauty.

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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Ralph Furlong, "Another Prodigal Story." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Ralph Furlong, "Another Prodigal Story." 4/6/2002 5:00:00 PM Another Prodigal Story -- Ralph Furlong, Springfield, Massachusetts?  Darien,

Conn.?

(p. 357 in 1st edition.)



Ralph had his last drink on June 6, 1938.  



He begins by telling of his last drunk.  He and a man he met at the bar planned how they would convince his wife that he had been about to commit suicide and how his new friend had saved his life, so that she would be sympathetic rather than angry at his drunken state.  When the man started playing with a gun, Ralph got nervous and ran away.



Only the day before he had been in an accident.  A Good Samaritan saw his

condition and got him away quickly, before the police came, and drove him home.  He was dreadfully drunk that day and his wife consulted a lawyer as

preliminary to entering divorce action.  He swore to her that he wouldn't drink again and within 24 hours, he was dead drunk.



Several months previously he had spent a week in a New York hospital for

alcoholics and came out feeling that everything would be all right, but soon began drinking again.



The next morning was June 7th.  He remembered the date because the day before was his daughter's birthday.  And that, by the grace of God, was his last

spree.  His wife, who had threatened to leave him, ordered him to get dressed because she was taking him to New York to the hospital.  His wife pleaded with the doctor to please do something to save her husband, to save her home, to save their business, and their self-respect.  The doctor assured them that he had something for him this time that would work.  



Four days later a man called on him who stated that he, too, had been there

several times but had now found relief.  That night another man came.  He, too, had been released from alcohol.  Then the next day a man came, and in a halting but effective way, told how he had placed himself in God's hand and keeping. Almost before Ralph knew it, he was asking God to help him.  Some alcoholics feel a strong resentment against such a spiritual approach.  But Ralph was ripe for it.



The following day was Monday and one of these men insisted that Ralph check

out from the hospital and go with him to his home in New Jersey (This may have been Hank Parkhurst.)  He did, and the next night he was taken to a meeting at Bill Wilson's home in Brooklyn, where there were more than 30 men like him.



When he returned home, life was very different.  He paid off the old debts, had money enough for decent clothes and some to use in helping others.  He also worked hard for A.A. He is believed to have started the group in Darien, Connecticut, and at the time he wrote his story there were four in that group.  He also may have been the Ralph who worked in the pressroom at A.A.'s second International Convention in St. Louis in July of 1955.   



This prodigal had come home.

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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Myron Willliams, NYC. "Hindsight." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Myron Willliams, NYC. "Hindsight." 4/6/2002 5:07:00 PM Hindsight - Myron Williams, New York City.

(p. 370 in 1st edition.)



Myron sobered up in April of 1936.



His is another story that could have been titled, "Fired Again."  He was fired repeatedly, but often could find a still better job.  During the Great Depression he was making $10,000 a year -- an enormous salary at that time.



He would stop drinking for weeks or even months, then begin to drink moderately.  He could do that for a time, but soon he would be back to problem drinking.  How many times this happened, he didn't know and didn't even want to know.



His story could also have been called "The Car Smasher."  During this period he completely smashed nine new automobiles, but escaped without injury to himself.  Even this, he said, didn't convince him that there might be a God who was looking out for him, perhaps in answer to the prayers of others.



He abused his friends; he didn't want to, but when it was a question of a friendship or a drink, he usually took the drink.



In a final effort to escape, he moved to New York thinking he could leave his

reputation and troubles behind him.  He was hired by eight nationally known

organizations and fired just as quickly when they had checked his references.  He felt the world was against him.  They wouldn't give him a chance.  So he

continued his drinking and took any mediocre job he could get.



He visited churches occasionally, hoping to find something that would help him.  On one of these visits he met a girl he thought could be the answer to all of his problems.  He was honest with her about his problems, but she knew better than to marry a man thinking she could reform him.  She suggested prayer instead.  And she told him "You must be decent for your own sake. And because you want to be decent, not because someone else wants you to be."  Myron then started bargaining with God but found that God didn't work that way.  He got neither the girl nor his old job back.



Six months later he was sitting in a small hotel, full of remorse and desperate.  A middle-aged man approached him and said, "Do you really want to stop drinking?"  When he answered yes, the man wrote down a name and address.

"When you are sure you do, go and see this man."  He walked away. Myron

tucked the address into his pocket along with a nickel for subway fare, just in case he ever decided to really quit.



A week later he found myself in the presence of the man whose address was in

his pocket. His story was incredible.  Myron couldn't believe it, but he had the proof. He met other men whose stories convinced him that in the ranks of men who had been heavy drinkers he was an amateur and a sissy.  What he heard was hard to believe but he wanted to believe it, and wanted to try it to see if it would work for him.  It worked.



He was reconciled to the fact that he might have to wash dishes, scrub floors, or do some menial task for many years in order to re-establish himself as a sober, sane, and reliable person.  Although he still wanted and hoped for the better things in life, he was prepared to accept whatever was due him.



Good things began to happen to him.  He applied for a position with a national organization. When asked why he had left a previous job, he told the truth.  He had been fired for being a drunk.  He got the job.



He was sober three and a half years when he wrote his story.  Those years were the happiest of his life. He had married woman who cared enough for him to tell him the nasty truth when he needed to hear it.



He continued to receive obstacles of various kinds.  He failed at business at least twenty times.  But he was not discouraged, sad or resentful.  He knew that only good would come from the experience.



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Horace R. (Popsy) Maher, NYC. "On His Way." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Horace R. (Popsy) Maher, NYC. "On His Way." 4/6/2002 5:13:00 PM On His Way - Horace R. (Popsy) Maher, New York City.

(p. 375, 1st edition.)



Popsy entered A.A. in September of 1938.  



He was described as a charming Virginia gentleman.  His wife, Sandy, had been

a nurse.  They lived in a fashionable home on exclusive Sutton Place in Manhattan.



According to his story he was drinking heavily by the age of fifteen and sixteen.  Then he decided to leave school. The next few years were spent in civil engineering work, travel, sports, and idleness, and he seemed not to have serious difficulties because of his drinking.



By the time he married and sailed for France during World War I, alcohol had

begun to play a big part in his life.  Soon he knew he was an alcoholic, but would admit it to no one.



Sometime after he was divorced from his first wife, he stopped being a social

drinker and became a periodic drunkard, with sprees lasting from three days to three weeks, and the dry intervals lasting from three weeks to four months.



He married again by the age of thirty-five and had a beautiful home.  He had a kind understanding, lovely wife; a partnership in a firm he had helped to found years before; a more than comfortable income; many luxuries and friends; opportunity to follow his interests and hobbies; a love of his work;

pride in his success; great health; optimism; and hope.



But he had a growing, gnawing fear about his drinking.  Soon he slipped to the bottom, sleeping in cheap hotels, flop houses, police stations and once in a doorway.  (Since they appear to have been a wealthy family, this may have been because his wife had kicked him out, or he didn't quite make it home due to his condition.)



He was sent many times to the alcoholic ward of a hospital. Sometimes he could pull himself together and work, but not for long.  He became helpless, hopeless, bitter.



When he finally found A.A., he found that his intelligence, instead of drawing him further away from spiritual faith brought him closer to it.  He was finally able to see that God could do an eminently more capable job of running the universe than he. At last he believed he was on his way.



It was Popsy and his wife who took Marty Mann ("Women Suffer Too") to her

first meeting, on April 15, 1939.  His sister-in-law had given the manuscript of the Big Book to Dr. Tiebout.  Marty was a patient of Dr. Tiebout at Blythewood.  Dr. Tiebout handed her a card with an address and told her to take the five o'clock train into New York, grab a cab, and go to the address on the card.  These people would take her to a meeting.  Marty was astounded to find this charming older couple, in this elegant home.  Sandy put Marty immediately at ease.  They had also invited for dinner a handsome, curly black-haired, blue-eyed young A.A. Irish man named Brian as Marty's escort for the evening.  They had an elegant dinner, after which the four of them caught the subway to Brooklyn across the East River.

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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Marie Bray, Cleveland, OH. "An Alcoholic''s Wife." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Marie Bray, Cleveland, OH. "An Alcoholic''s Wife." 4/6/2002 5:18:00 PM An Alcoholic's Wife - Marie Bray, Cleveland, Ohio.

(p. 378 in 1st edition.)



Marie, a non-alcoholic, was the wife of Walter Bray ("The Backslider").  Walter first joined A.A. in September 1935.  



There is indication in the Akron archives that Marie may have written the first draft of "To Wives," which Bill then edited.  But "Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers" and "Lois Remembers" both state that Bill wrote it.



She started her brief story by saying "I have the misfortune, or I should say the good fortune, of being an alcoholic's wife.  I say misfortune because of the worry and grief that goes with drinking, and good fortune because we found a new way of living."



Marie worried constantly about her husband's drinking, went to work to pay the bills, covered his bad checks, and took care of their home and their son.  When he stopped drinking she thought their problems were over, but soon found she had to work on her own defects and that they both had to give their problems to God.



She ended her story by saying "My husband and I now talk over our problems and trust in a Divine Power.  We have now started to live.  When we live with God we want for nothing."



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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Ray Campbell, NYC. "An Artist''s Concept." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Ray Campbell, NYC. "An Artist''s Concept." 4/6/2002 5:23:00 PM An Artist's Concept -- Ray Campbell, New York City.

(p. 380 in 1st edition.)



Ray joined the fellowship in February 1938.



He began his story by quoting Herbert Spencer: "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance-that principle is contempt prior to investigation."



He said that the quotation is descriptive of the mental attitudes of many alcoholics when the subject of religion, as a cure, is first brought to their attention.  "It is only when a man has tried everything else, when in utter desperation and terrific need he turns to something bigger than himself, that he gets a glimpse of the way out.  It is then that contempt is replaced by hope, and hope by fulfillment."



Ray chose to write of his search for spiritual help rather than "a description of the neurotic drinking that made the search necessary."



After investigating his alcoholic problem from every angle, medicine, psychology, psychiatry, and psychoanalysis, he began "flirting" with religion as a possible way out.  He had been approaching God intellectually.  That only added to his desperation, but a seed had been planted.



Finally he met a man, probably Bill Wilson, who had for five years "devoted a

great deal of time and energy to helping alcoholics."  The man told him little he didn't already know, "but what he did have to say was bereft of all fancy spiritual phraseology -- it was simple Christianity imparted with Divine Power."



The next day he met over twenty men who "had achieved a mental rebirth from

alcoholism."  He liked them because the were ordinary men who were not pious

nor "holier than thous."  He notes that these men were but instruments.  "Of themselves they were nothing."



He must have been an intellectual type.  He not only quotes Spencer, but

Thoreau: "Most men lead lives of quiet desperation."



It was Ray, a recognized artist, who was asked to design the dust jacket for the 1st edition of the Big Book.  He submitted various designs for consideration including one that was blue and in an Art Deco style. The one chosen was red, and yellow, with a little black, and a little white. The words Alcoholics Anonymous were printed across the top in large white script.  It became known as the circus jacket because of its loud circus colors. The unused blue jacket is today in the Archives at the Stepping Stones Foundation.



His story was not included in the Second Edition of the Big Book but the Spencer quote was placed in the back of the book in Appendix II, "Spiritual Experience."

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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Lloyd Tate, Cleveland, OH. "The Rolling Stone." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Lloyd Tate, Cleveland, OH. "The Rolling Stone." 4/6/2002 5:29:00 PM The Rolling Stone -- Lloyd Tate, Cleveland, Ohio.

(p. 386 in 1st edition.)



Lloyd's date of sobriety is uncertain.  One source says it was February of 1937, another says November 1937.



He came from a broken home, and when his parents separated his father went

west and became fairly successful.  Then it was decided that Lloyd should go to a preparatory school in Chicago.  Soon he was in trouble in school and his father sent him money to join him in the West.  



It was a lonely time for Lloyd, as his father was away most of the day and spent evenings reading and studying religious books.  Lloyd became very hostile toward religion, and that lasted for years.



When he was fourteen, but looked eighteen, he started hanging out in saloons.  On vacation his father let him go alone to San Francisco.  While there he

decided he wanted to see the world and signed on as an apprentice on a ship.



He developed into a steady drinker and, when going to sea, took enough liquor

along to last for the trip.  At foreign ports if American liquor was not available or cost too much he tried the native drinks, which were often very potent.  He visited most of the ports in the world, stayed in some of them for some time, and every place he went he found alcoholic beverages available.  At twenty he stopped going to sea, and eventually got into the building trade.  He made good money, but never stayed in one place for very long, ever the "rolling stone."



When World War I started he was twenty-nine and living in Texas.  When he left Texas, he learned that the train would be stopping in his hometown for an hour.  He saw his mother very briefly for the first time in eleven years.  He promised her that after the war he would come home.



He tried to stop drinking but could not.  There were many visits to doctors and sanitariums. He was then his mother's sole support, and he caused her mother much misery.  



Finally, he heard about Doctor Bob in Akron, and went to see him.  Dr. Bob put him in the hospital, and told him that unless he was sincere in wanting to quit he was just wasting their time.  But Lloyd was willing to do anything.  Eventually he had a religious awakening.



He was active in 12th step work and it was his name and address that Dr. Bob

gave Dorothy Snyder, then married to Clarence Snyder ("The Home Brewmeister"), when she appealed to him for help for her husband.  Lloyd

became Clarence's sponsor.  But when Clarence announced that he was starting

a meeting in Cleveland, which would be called Alcoholics Anonymous, Lloyd

stayed with the Oxford Group, at least until the Akron group also broke away.

  

He was fifty years old when he wrote his story, and unmarried.  But he had

become sane and sensible again, had made his mother happy and made many new friends.  He had gained the respect of his fellow men, and learned how to

enjoy life.  He had been sober nearly six and a half years when he wrote his

story.

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BB Authors, 1st edition -- Pat Cooper, Los Angeles, CA. "Lone Endeavor." BB Authors, 1st edition -- Pat Cooper, Los Angeles, CA. "Lone Endeavor." 4/6/2002 5:37:00 PM Lone Endeavor -- Pat Cooper, Los Angeles, California.

(p. 391, in 1st printing of 1st edition.  Removed from 2nd printing.)



Pat first stopped drinking in January 1939.  



Bill Wilson, Ruth Hock, and Hank Parkhurst were sending copies of the

manuscript around the country to friends for comment.  A copy reached the hands of Pat's mother, and Pat read it.  He then arranged to be hospitalized

for detoxification "to get the liquor out of my system and start the new idea

right."



On about February 27, 1939, six weeks after leaving the hospital on January

15, 1939, he wrote a letter to The Alcoholic Foundation in New York saying he

had recovered.  



He thanked them for the draft of the book which he had read cover to cover.  He told them how he had started drinking in 1917, about his service in World War I how his drinking continued in France and after he got back home from the war.  The following 15 years were "one drunk after another."  



He enlisted in the Marine Corp.  At first he drank very little and was promoted to Gunnery Sergeant. But he started drinking heavily again and was reduced in rank, then sent to China (which didn't help his drinking problem any).  He did not reenlist.



After he returned, his wife left him because of his drinking, and he couldn't hold a job.  He married again, but his wife and mother were worried about his drinking.  



Then he told how his mother had heard of A.A in an article published by a doctor, and had written the doctor for information.  He turned the letter over to A.A., which, of course, had immediately responded.  Pat's letter said he was already reaching out to help other alcoholics.



So they sent him a wire asking his permission to use the letter anonymously in the book, as the first example of what might be accomplished without personal contact.  He wired back the next day: "Permission granted with pleasure.  Lots of Luck."



This was the first time anyone had sobered up just from reading the book, so

everyone was very excited.  After the exchange of correspondence, which appears in the first edition, a collection was taken up to buy a bus ticket to bring him to New York.  



When the bus showed up in New York, a man fitting his given description did

NOT exit the vehicle. Confused, the welcoming party asked the driver if he had seen a man of the description aboard the bus at any time.  He replied that the man was sleeping it off UNDER the back seat!  So the story was removed from the second printing of the Big Book.



In the MSCA Archives is a letter from Kaye Miller, a non-alcoholic who started the first A.A. meeting in LA, to Bill Wilson in New York.  Bill had asked her to put on paper her early recollection of A.A. in Southern California. He also asked about Pat Cooper.  In this 1944 letter she writes that Pat was attending meetings again and had been sober about a year.



The story was ghost written by Ruth Hock, Bill Wilson's secretary, from correspondence between the New York office and Pat and his mother.  



Note:



This is the last post of 1st edition authors.  There were seven other stories

in the 1st edition that were retained in later editions.  I will post pieces on them

when I post the 3rd edition stories.  They are:



The Doctor's Nightmare - Dr. Robert H. Smith, Akron, Ohio.  It was renamed "Dr. Bob's Nightmare" in later editions.



The European Drinker -- Joe Doppler (Doeppler?), Cleveland, Ohio.



Our Southern Friend -- John Henry Fitzhugh (Fitz) Mayo, Cumberstone,

Maryland.  



Travel, Editor, Scholar - Jim Scott, Akron, Ohio.  It was edited and renamed

"The News Hawk."



Home Brewmeister - Clarence Snyder, Cleveland, Ohio.



The Fearful One -- Archie Trowbridge, Grosse Point, Michigan.  It was

rewritten and renamed "The Man Who Mastered Fear."



The Car Smasher -- Dick Stanley, Akron, Ohio.  It was rewritten and renamed

"He Had to be Shown."



Nancy

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BB Authors, 2nd Edition -- John Parr, "The Professor and the Paradox" BB Authors, 2nd Edition -- John Parr, "The Professor and the Paradox" 4/7/2002 2:04:00 AM This is the first of 7 stories which appeared in the 2nd edition, published

in 1955, but are not in the 3rd edition of the Big Book.  In the second edition, they began the practice of dividing the stories into "Pioneers of A.A.," "They Stopped in Time," and "They Lost Nearly All."  They also began putting brief descriptions of the story under the title.  These have been identified here as "Heading."



This story was in the section: "They Stopped in Time"



Nancy



**********



The Professor and the Paradox -- John Parr, Tuscaloosa, Alabama

(p. 336 in 2nd edition.)



Heading:  "Says he, 'We A.A.s surrender to win; we give away to keep; we suffer to get well; and we die to live.'"



According to a talk John gave on Founders Day 1978 in Akron, he entered A.A.

in February of 1949.



He was born in Atlanta, Georgia, and had a thick southern accent.  He described himself as having always been shy, sensitive, fearful, envious, and resentful, which in turn lead him to be arrogantly independent, a defiant personality.  He believed he got his Ph.D. degree principally because he wanted to either outdo or defy everybody else.  He published a great deal of scholarly research, perhaps for the same reason.



He finished graduate school at the age of 30, and taught English at the University of Alabama for 21 years.  That is where he was working when he entered A.A. He later taught at Kent State University in Ohio.  (He joked in a talk he gave in 1978 about teaching Shakespeare with a southern accent, and having taught freshman English to Jim Nabors, television's Gomer Pyle.  Had he known Nabors was going to make so much money, he would have sat in Nabors' seat and let Nabors teach the class.)



He began as a social drinker, in his early twenties, and did not experience any problems with drinking until well after he finished graduate school.  But as the tensions and anxieties of his life mounted, and the set-backs from perfection began to increase, he "slipped over the line between moderate drinking and alcoholism."  



John said "there are all kinds of drunks: melancholy drunks, weeping drunks,

traveling drunks, slap-happy and stupid drunks, and a number of other varieties."  He was a self-aggrandizing and occasionally violent drunk.  His crises came when, during a drunk, he became "violently insane" and landed in the City Jail.  Soon after he was ready for A.A.  



John gave very humorous talks.  For example, he said in his 1978 talk that he

did not know why his story was removed from the third edition, perhaps the

New York office thought he had died.  He also joked about how having your story in the Big Book could sometimes cause problems.  He told how after he had talked at a state A.A. convention in Little Rock, Arkansas, he overheard a man say that he was a fake, a liar, and a thief.  The man thought he had stolen every word of his story out of a story in the Big Book which the man had just read the night before.



He discusses four paradoxes in his story. (A paradox, he explains, is a statement seemingly self-contradictory; a statement which appears to be false, but which, upon careful examination, in certain instances proves to be true.)  The four paradoxes are, (1) we surrender to win, (2) we give away to keep, (3) we suffer to get well and (4) we die to live.



John updated his story for the January 1968 A.A. Grapevine.  In the update he

said that in A.A. we don't just quit drinking. "We learn to change our self-centeredness, to stop running away from things we don't like, and to remove or at least adjust our emotional shortcomings. We do these things by taking seriously and honestly our Twelve Steps, the nearest thing to a 'cure' for alcoholism that anybody has yet discovered. We learn to do these things not by just memorizing the Steps (though that is a good idea), but by attempting to live and act them each day or our lives.  And eventually, often when we least expect it, we discover that as a result of all this we are happy and contented and full of thanksgiving -- something I once knew (or thought I knew) I could never be, without drinking."



(Special thanks to Charles K. of California for some of the information on

John Parr.)

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BB Authors, 2nd edition -- Author unknown, Canada. "His Conscience." BB Authors, 2nd edition -- Author unknown, Canada. "His Conscience." 4/7/2002 2:13:00 AM From "They Stopped in Time."



His Conscience - Author unknown, Canada.

(p. 365 in 2nd edition.)



Heading:  "It was the only part of him that was soluble in alcohol."



It is believed that this author first got sober in 1938. He came from a family of five children and had a very happy childhood in a small Canadian town.  His parents were religious, without over emphasizing it.  



He never drank until he joined the Army in World War I, and drank very little while in the service.  In France he gave his rum ration away far more often than he drank it. He was sent back to Canada in the middle of the war because he was wounded and suffering from shock.  He did some drinking with friends while waiting for his final discharge papers, but out of the Army he only had a drink or

two on special occasions, two or three times a year.  That continued for ten years.



Toward the end of the twenties his company gave him a better job which entailed a lot of travel. He found that a few drinks with agreeable companions, in sleeping cars or hotels, helped pass the time.  He frankly preferred the company of those who took a drink or two to those who did not. 



For the next few years he had a lot of fun with alcohol and liked its effect. But soon he began to realize that he needed more alcohol than the others did.  In retrospect, he concluded that at this time he was becoming more physically sensitive to and losing his tolerance for alcohol.  Soon he began experiencing blackouts and at times would forget where he had parked his car.



Soon traveling, even by train, became a hazard.  He would find himself on trains going in the wrong direction, and would end up in a town or city where he had no intention of being, and had no business to transact.  Time and again he went on the wagon, but sooner or later it would start all over again. Friends and family began speaking to him about his drinking.  But the compulsion to drink was growing stronger.



Up to this point his rise in the business world had been steady and he held a fine executive position. But now he was delaying making decisions, putting off appointments, and it was difficult to concentrate or even to follow closely a business conversation.  Eventually he was fired.  So he went on the wagon and got another good job.  He stayed sober for a year, but found that being on the wagon was the most miserable way to exist, and fell off again.  He could not stop.



Finally, he contacted A.A.  His A.A. contact told him: "Today could be the most important day in your life."  It was. He immediately went to the president of the company for whom he then worked and told him he had joined A.A. He got a hearty handshake and an unmistakable look of approval.  That was enough.  He knew he was on the way up again -- as long as he remembered to stay away from the first drink.



He still had his ups and downs, but during his years in A.A. he was continually learning to accept the things he cannot change, being given courage to change the things he could, and the wisdom to know the difference.  A.A. gave him a happy and contented way of living, and he was very deeply grateful to the founders and early members of A.A. who plotted the course and who kept the faith.



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Big Book Authors, 2nd Edition -- Fred, NYC. "New Vision for a Scuptor" Big Book Authors, 2nd Edition -- Fred, NYC. "New Vision for a Scuptor" 4/7/2002 2:22:00 AM From "They Stopped in Time."



New Vision for a Sculptor -- Fred (last name unknown), New York City

(p. 426 in 2nd edition.)



Heading:  "His conscience hurt him as much as his drinking.  But that was years ago."



Fred stopped drinking in May of 1937, after praying to God for help.  He was

then not quite forty.  He joined A.A. in May of 1947.



He had a wonderful childhood.  His was a very close family.  His parents were

very successful and they had luxury and beauty in their lives and they were truly appreciative of all they had.  The family was Jewish, although not orthodox, and keenly alive to the beauty of religion.



His two older brothers were good students, but not artistic. Fred was a very bad student but very much an artist.  When he showed talent as a sculptor the entire family encouraged him.



When World War I broke out, he remembered what his parents had told him so

often; how grateful he should be to be in the United States.  His grandfathers had both come from countries in Europe where Jews were persecuted, and they wanted to live and be a part of the "land of the free."  Because his brothers were both married, he felt he should be the one to join the Army.  He was sent to France, where he discovered he could drink everyone else under the table. About three days before the Armistice, he was wounded when a truck he was riding in was blown up.  He woke up in Vichy a couple of days later to learn that he had an injury to his spine.



After the war, he seemed to have no problem with alcohol, except when he did

drink he always wanted to out-drink everyone else, and was drinking more and

more himself.  He married in 1920, and in 1928 he and his wife visited France with their two children. There he started drinking brandy to help him sleep.



By this time he had developed a good reputation as an artist and was very

successful at his work.  When he realized that his family was worried about his drinking, he started drinking at his studio and at bars rather than at home. This secret drinking caused him to feel very guilty.  He was very unhappy and knew his family was unhappy.  The worst part was that in his guilt he lost God.  He felt he had no right to pray to God, no right to go into the temple or church.  When they had lived in Rome he used to go into one of the cathedrals every night on his way home from work and, to him, a house of God was a house of God and was beautiful and dedicated to His worship.  Now he was robbed of God, because he was so ashamed.



One day he was asked to help the crippled son of his "wash-woman" Gabrielle, with his artwork. He was happy to do so, but when he arrived he was drunk.  At the door he prayed to God to help him.  Miraculously he was able to spend two and-a-half hours helping the boy.  But when he left he started drinking again.  He didn't remember much about the next ten days.  But when he remembered how he had prayed to help the crippled boy, he again turned to God for help.  He didn't drink again for the next ten years, but said they were miserable years.



A week or two before Decoration Day 1947, a friend asked him how he was doing with his alcohol problem.  He answered that he had no alcohol problem and

that on Decoration Day he and his wife were going to try a bottle of champagne.

His friend was an A.A. member and asked him, before he took that first drink, to go to a meeting with him.  At the meeting the leader stated "Alcoholism is an incurable, progressive disease. Whether you are dry one year, ten years or fifty years, you're still one drink away from a drunk."  Fred's reaction was "Thank God I didn't take that first drink!  Thank God I am here."



He remembered what his mother had said years before when he came home drunk.  Weeping, she said, "This must be somehow good.  This cannot be all negative.  Some good must come out of it."  Toward the end of his first A.A. meeting, he heard about the Twelfth Step.  Immediately, his mother's words came to his mind. "That's somehow good," he thought.  "Thank God," he wrote, "I have been able to turn it into "Somehow good."

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Big Book Authors, 2nd edition -- Joe Mina, the Bronx, NY. "Joe''s Woes." Big Book Authors, 2nd edition -- Joe Mina, the Bronx, NY. "Joe''s Woes." 4/7/2002 2:30:00 AM From:  "They Lost Nearly All."



Joe's Woes - Joe Mina, the Bronx, NY.

(p. 445 in 2nd edition.)



Heading: "These were only beginning when he hit Bellevue for the thirty-fifth time. He still had the State hospital ahead of him; and even after A.A., a heartbreaking test of his new-found faith."



Joe joined A.A. in April of 1939, but slipped in November 1939 and returned

in February 1940.  Joe had been to Bellevue's alcoholic ward thirty-five times.  He thought that should qualify him for A.A. because "they don't take you in the Bellevue alcoholic ward for sinus trouble."  His first trip to Bellevue was at the age

of seventeen, and he was called an alcoholic at eighteen or nineteen.  He was

in jail perhaps sixty-five or seventy-five times.



He got married in 1926, thinking he would be able to stop drinking, and fathered three children.  After eleven years his wife decided to leave with the children, but his sister intervened and suggested that she pay for him to be treated by a psychiatrist.  He agreed because he had begun hallucinating.  But he did not cooperate with the psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist suggested he go back to Bellevue.  They put him in the mental hospital, but he found he could get alcohol there too.  His ten-year-old son tried to support the family by shining shoes.  A doctor suggested he sign himself out and try to support his family.  But he couldn't hold a job and he couldn't stop drinking.  



He went from one job to another, until no one would hire him any more.  He

would go to his son and tell him his mother had sent him to get the money,

and the son never refused him. 



Eventually he was arrested for a very serious crime that he didn't remember

committing, and could have been sent Sing Sing for fifteen years.  But he was

sentenced to the State hospital again.  It was there, in early 1939, that a doctor called him into his office to meet Bill Wilson and five other A.A.s who were trying to get A.A. into the hospital.  Some time later he went to his first meeting in South Orange, New Jersey.  



For seven months his wife accompanied him to the meetings. The first time he

went alone, he didn't stay until the end, but instead got drunk.  Three months later he was back in the State Hospital.  He knew that A.A. had not failed him.  He had failed A.A. He had not been honest with himself or with anybody else.  So he saw a priest at the hospital and took a very thorough fifth step.  For nearly a year he couldn't get a job so he spent many hours at the A.A. clubhouse on 24th Street.  



His wife got pregnant again.  It was a very dangerous pregnancy and when she

was delivering the baby he thought she was dying and went to a bar.  In the bar he decided to try prayer.  He walked out of the bar after having only a ginger ale and went to the clubhouse.  About one in the morning he got a telegram from the hospital.  He had a daughter and she was fine.  He thanked God that he hadn't had a drink.



It took him seventeen months to get a job.  He didn't like the job he got and was going to give it another week and if no other job came along get drunk.  Before that week was up, two men he had worked for a long time before showed up at his house and offered him a job.  They had heard he was in A.A. and doing all right.  He said good news travels fast in A.A.



But tragedy lay ahead.  The son who had been shining shoes at the age of ten,

on his sixteenth birthday was in a trolley car accident only two blocks from home.  He regained consciousness once in the thirteen hours Joe was with him.  He seemed to be trying to tell his father "I'm losing this battle, dad, but don't let this throw you."  



Joe was going to go on a suicide drunk, and if that didn't work jump out a window.  But before he could do that his phone rang.  It was an A.A. member in Ohio.  He had heard the news and called to tell him not to drink over it.  Another called from Connecticut.  Others called, and while he was still answering calls an A.A. friend walked in and stayed with him that night.  The next morning the undertaker came to take him to the hospital morgue to identify his son.  His A.A. friend went with him, and the undertaker was also in A.A.



"Well, when that slab was pulled out for me to identify my son's body, if I didn't have A.A. on my right and A.A. on my left I wouldn't be alive today."



So his length of sobriety wasn't handed to him on a silver platter.  But he was sober over eleven years when he wrote his story, "thanks to the good people of A.A., and last but not least by the Grace of God.

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Big Book Authors, 2nd edition --Bill Green, "There''s Nothing the Matter with Me" Big Book Authors, 2nd edition --Bill Green, "There''s Nothing the Matter with Me" 4/7/2002 2:38:00 AM From "They Lost Nearly All."



There's Nothing the Matter With Me! - Bill Green, New Jersey

(p. 499 in 2nd edition.)



Heading:  "That's what the man said as he hocked his shoes for the price of two bottles of Sneaky Pete.  He drank bayzo, canned heat, and shoe polish.  He did a phony routine in A.A. for a while.  And then he got hold of the real thing."



Bill got sober in 1945. 



He thought that in his business, the furniture business, you had to drink.  You had to drink to celebrate a sale, to drown your sorrows if there isn't a sale.  First he drank only to celebrate or if he was depressed. Then he began drinking all the time.  He needed no excuse.  This was during Prohibition so he carried a flask.



Little by little he developed a persecution complex: his business associates said he drank too much, his wife expected him to bring home money on payday; the golf club asked him to resign for not paying his tabs.



He tried a geographic cure. He sold his business, went to Seattle, by way of San Diego, and went into business there and in twenty months was bankrupt.  It took him nine months to get back to New Jersey.



Things went from bad to worse and one day he sold his shoes for 75 cents and

bought two bottles of Sneaky Pete and a pair of "canvas relievers" (presumably cheap canvas slippers) to wear on his feet.  The Salvation Army gave him a bed and put him to work for ninety-five cents a week and his room and board.  Soon they were paying him $5 a week.  "No drunk can stand prosperity," he wrote, and he got drunk and was out on the street again.  But he had a pair of shoes and a gabardine suit much too large for him.  He slept under the bridge and drank "bayzo," (a product unknown to the author), canned heat, Sneaky Pete, shoe polish, anything that had alcoholic in it.  He had no sense of responsibility, no moral code, no sense of ethics -- nothing.



One day he ran into his wife who took pity on him.  She took him to a hospital where the doctor suggested he try A.A.  He told his wife A.A. didn't allow women at the meetings, and that they had alcohol there to test them.  When he came home smelling of alcohol, he would tell her he had been "testing."  When he finally came home dead drunk he said to her "Madam, they put me to the test, and I have failed!"  He called the clubhouse and he and his wife went there.  The women took his wife aside and explained A.A. to her, a different version from what he had told her.



At the end of three months they asked him to speak. All he could say was "I'm glad to be here."  He sat down to tremendous applause.



Soon he learned that A.A. did not need him, but that he needed A.A.  That gave him the beginnings of a little humility.  He had divorced himself from the Church when he was twenty-one.  But he talked to "Father McNulty" who told him not to worry "you'll develop an awareness of God."



He did.  He began to see God in nature and in people.  He would meet someone

he knew and the first thing that entered his mind was "What is there good about that guy that I know?"  Big people, he said, discuss ideals, average people discuss things, and little people -- they just talk about other people.  And you realize that if you put this all together, you get a little humility, a little tolerance, a little honesty, a little sincerity, and a little prayer  -- and a lot of A.A.

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BB Authors, 2nd edition -- Annie Collohouse, NYC. "Annie the Cop Fighter." BB Authors, 2nd edition -- Annie Collohouse, NYC. "Annie the Cop Fighter." 4/7/2002 2:51:00 AM From: "They Lost Nearly All."





Annie the Cop Fighter - Annie Collohouse, New York City.

(p. 514 in 2nd edition.)



"For thirty-five years she fought God, man, and the police force to keep on being what she wanted to be -- a drunk.  But a telephone call from a gin mill where she was celebrating Mother's Day brought in the nosey A.A.s to change her life."



Annie came to A.A. in April of 1947, at the age of sixty-seven.  She was a "scrub lady," poor, and uneducated.  She lived in a tenement house on First Avenue.  Her husband had left her, taking the children with him.  At one point he invited her to move back with him and she did.  She says that by then the oldest boy was married, and the youngest was studying to become a policeman.  "Brother!"    



She had her first drink at age 31.  She fought with police and was frequently

arrested for being drunk and disorderly.  She cleaned rooms in a hotel, but got drunk on an occupant's liquor and fell asleep on his bed.  She got fired.  At one point she was drinking with the boys on the Bowery.



At her first meeting she met Nancy F. ("The Independent Blonde") who reports

"She laughed and said 'You're jealous of me because I've had a few drinks and

you can't have any.'"  Nancy replied, "You're so right."



She had a slip, after which she went to High Watch Farm.  When she returned

Nancy suggested she take the fifth step, either with Dr. Silkworth or with a priest.  She chose to do it with a priest.  (The priest was probably also an A.A. member.)

She and the priest met at Nancy's apartment.  Nancy made coffee and suggested

that Annie attend the meeting on 58th Street when they were finished, then left.  When Annie arrived at the meeting she seemed clearly relieved.  Even though Nancy had told her this was not a confession, she was just to tell him her story, she did make a confession.  She told the priest: "Father, I'll tell you everything, but don't ask me how many times."



She was a very simple, uninhibited woman. She cursed a lot when she spoke, but then would look at a priest in the audience say, "Excuse me, Father, but I'm trying to be careful."



Nancy was a hairdresser, and when Annie came to the beauty shop she would

charge her a dollar "because I never wanted her to think I just gave her anything because she was very proud."  Annie later went to another beauty shop and when they charged her six dollars she said, "Hell, I can get it done for a buck up on Park Avenue."



She is said to have had the time of her life in A.A.  She had nothing, but she was sober, and she was having a ball.  She was happy as a lark.



Annie died when she was about seventy-four.



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BB Authors, 2nd edition -- Nancy F., NYC. "The Independent Blonde." BB Authors, 2nd edition -- Nancy F., NYC. "The Independent Blonde." 4/7/2002 3:14:00 AM From "They Nearly Lost All."



The Independent Blonde - Nancy F., New York City

(p. 532 in 2nd edition.)



Heading: "The lady was blonde, self-supporting, and self-sufficient.  Then she began slamming doors, kicking shins, and waking up in psychopathic wards.  At last the day came when all that changed."



Nancy came to A.A. in June 1945, when she was 39 years old.  She did not write her own story, which was written by some writers in A.A., and she claims she didn't even know it was in the Big Book.



She left home at fourteen.  Her mother had died when she was three, her father remarried when she was fourteen, and her stepmother kicked her out.  "When you're thrown out, you don't feel like you're anything. You know something's got to be wrong with you or they wouldn't have thrown you out.  And they tell me that, psychologically, I felt abandoned by my mother."



She had made a few geographic "cures," but they didn't work. She kept quitting jobs, not having the courage to wait to be fired.  



Her contact with A.A. was at the clubhouse on Ninth Avenue and 41st Street.  She expected to meet a bunch of bums, so did not get dressed up because she didn't want to look better than everybody else.  When she arrived "Park Avenue types" were there.  "And I was so welcome.  It was the first time I felt welcome."  She was impressed on coming to A.A. to meet a countess (Felicia Gizycka, "Stars Don't Fall.")



At that time Nancy had a little beauty shop and often gave permanents to

members of A.A., those who could afford to pay her and those who could not.



She and another young woman, perhaps Marty Mann, were often asked to go to

hospitals and drying-out places frequented by the wealthy, because they were

younger and "presentable."  They bought little hats with flowers on them, and wore little black dresses and pearls on these occasions.  Once they went to the apartment of a celebrated actress, and she told them such wonderful stories, they forgot why they were there.  "We didn't have the nerve to tell her that she was a drunk.  Later she did get sober," Nancy said years later.



She didn't like to work with the families in the beginning.  "I was mad at the families. I wouldn't talk to anybody but the alcoholic."  She said "I was so eager to give what I had, I went right from the First Step to the last Step.  For me it was just wonderful. I got in with people and I cared for somebody. You see, I had never cared for anybody, not even myself. When you care for somebody, you begin to heal yourself. You don't even know it."



Nancy said everyone in A.A. knew each other in those days because they were

all in one clubhouse.  She often went to Dr. Silkworth for advice.  "If we were in trouble, we'd go to Dr. Silkworth.  If we were in a situation and we didn't know how to get out of it or were afraid we might get drunk, we could talk it over with him.  He was a very simple, wonderful man. He said to me once, 'The day that you

can sit down and just be honest with yourself in this situation, you will know what to do.' That was the kind of a man he was."



Nancy went to the clubhouse every day from eleven o'clock in the morning when

they opened until they closed at night.  It was the only place she felt safe.  For the first five years, she did nothing but go to A.A.  She didn't know what else to do.  For fifteen years she attended a women's meeting that Marty Mann started in the home of a woman whose husband was an alcoholic.  It was on 58th Street in midtown Manhattan.  Marty wanted to hire her as a speaker for the National Council on Alcoholism, but she declined.



When she arrived at A.A. she didn't believe in God and didn't want to hear anything about it.  But she began searching.  Later she became a Quaker and

taught English to migrant workers. 



Nancy is a good example of what people can accomplish after they get sober.  

She went to high school in her fifties and went to college when she was seventy. She studied behavioral science.  She went to college for nine and a half years.  She graduated cum laude.



She now lives in Pennsylvania, and spoke at the 2000 A.A. International

Convention in Minneapolis.



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BB Authers, 3rd edition -- Dick Stanley, Akron, OH. "He Had to be Shown." BB Authers, 3rd edition -- Dick Stanley, Akron, OH. "He Had to be Shown." 4/7/2002 1:06:00 PM From: Pioneers of A.A.



He Had to be Shown -- Dick Stanley, Akron, Ohio.

(p. 364 in the 1st edition, p. 193 in 2nd and 3rd editions.  Titled "The Car Smasher," in the 1st edition, rewritten and renamed for later editions.)



Heading:  "Who is convinced against his will is of the same opinion still."  But not this man."



Dick's date of sobriety (according to his story in the 1st edition) was the first week of March 1937.  In his revised story, which appears in the 2nd and 3rd editions, he cites February 1937.  Perhaps in the 1st edition he was citing the day he left the hospital rather than the date of his last drink.



His brother Paul ("Truth Freed Me" in the 1st edition) preceded him into A.A.

and helped 12th Step him.  



He was the oldest of three children and his father was an alcoholic.  His father died in 1901 when he was eight years old.  He quit school and went to work.  When he was sixteen his mother remarried and he was given an opportunity to go back to school but he did not do well.  He was jealous of his brother, Paul, who did things better than Dick did because he applied himself.



When he was eighteen Dick showed off to a group of friends by ordering a

martini, extra dry, not even knowing what it was.  He drank nine martinis in less than an hour.  This was his first drink and his first drunk.  He did not drink again for a year.  But blackout drinking had begun at once.



He married at nineteen.  He tried to control his drinking, but frequently had

blackout drunks.  He was in the construction business, but lost money, then went into the crude rubber business.  He prospered despite his drinking, but the rubber prosperity fell apart in the twenties.  His marriage deteriorated and they were divorced. 



He began to think he was insane.  He didn't want to neglect his children, but he did; he didn't want to get into fights, but he did; he didn't want to get arrested, but he did; he didn't want to jeopardize the lives of innocent people by driving while

intoxicated, but he did.



On one occasion when he was hospitalized after a terrible automobile accident, Sister Ignatia stuck her head in the door and told him she thought they might be able to make something human out of his face after all.  He was in the hospital fourteen days, but drank again after getting out.



One day after a binge he woke to find his brother, Paul, and Dr. Bob at his

bedside.  When he asked Dr. Bob if he were ever going to drink again, he answered:  "So long as I'm thinking as I'm thinking now, and so long as I'm

doing the things I'm doing now, I don't believe I'll ever take another drink."



Dick became a very enthusiastic, hard working early member.  He was one of

several unidentified people pictured in the March 1, 1941, Saturday Evening

Post story, most of whom have their backs to the camera.  When a committee was formed to develop plans for the first A.A. International Conference, Dick was elected General Chairman.  However, according to Bill Wilson, he was not, at least initially, in favor of a General Service Conference.



Dick stayed close to Dr. Bob until his death.  He traveled to the West Coast after Anne Smith's death, to renew old acquaintances.  Dick accompanied him.  He wrote Bill Wilson after returning from the trip, reporting on how much good the trip had done Dr. Bob, but complaining about "well-wishing friends -- one in particular who stayed four hours and damned near drove him nuts."  



Ironically, while Dick's story was titled "The Car Smasher," it was his brother Paul, who died as a result of an automobile accident on September 19, 1953.  However, both brothers remained completely sober until their respective deaths.



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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Joe Doppler, Cleveland, OH. "The European Drinker." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Joe Doppler, Cleveland, OH. "The European Drinker." 4/7/2002 1:20:00 PM The European Drinker -- Joe Doppler (Doeppler?), Cleveland, Ohio.  

(OM, p. 206 in 1st edition, p. 230 in 2nd and 3rd editions.)



Heading:  "Beer and wine were not the answer."



Joe's date of sobriety was April 1936.  He was 12th stepped by Dr. Bob, and was probably the first Roman Catholic in A.A.



He was born in Germany and grew up on "good Rhine wine of song and story."  

His parents wanted him to become a priest and he attended a Franciscan school

at Basle, Switzerland.  But although he was a good Catholic, the monastic life did not appeal to him, so he became a harness-maker and upholsterer.



He drank about a quart of wine a day, which was common in his part of the world. Everybody drank wine.  He did his compulsory military service, and took part in the Boxer Rebellion in China.  There he experimented with more potent beverages.  When he returned to Germany he resumed his wine drinking.



At age twenty-four, he came to America and settled in Cleveland where he had

relatives.  He founded a mattress factory and was doing well with his general upholstering work, and there was every indication that he would be financially independent by the time he was middle aged.  By this time he was married and was paying for a home.



He thought American wine inferior to German so drank beer instead.  When

Prohibition became law he quit drinking altogether, since he couldn't get what he liked.  He hardly tasted anything for two years.  Soon like his friends, he began to drink home-brew, which was a lot stronger than he had been used to.  More and more he started doing some of his business in the speakeasy.  There he could buy whiskey, which was easier to transport than beer or wine, and he developed a taste for hard liquor.  



It soon became obvious that he had a problem with alcohol.  He became a

periodic drinker, and was eased out of the business he had founded and was

reduced to doing general upholstery in a small shop at the back of his house.



His wife complained about his drinking, so he hid bottles all over the house.  At times he would resolve never to drink again and pour out full pints and smash the bottles, only to find himself frantically searching for any he missed so he could have a drink.



He began to absence himself from the church where he had formerly been a

member of the choir.  He never asked the priest to give him the pledge like many other Catholic alcoholics did.  (It was common at that time for Roman Catholics who had problems with alcohol to pledge to a priest that they would stop drinking.  It usually didn't work if the man was an alcoholic.)



Then occurred the event that saved him.  Dr. Bob visited him.  He did not ask any questions except whether he was definite about his desire to quit drinking.  There were no more than four or five in Dr. Bob's group at the time, but they befriended him.  He was advised "You've been trying man's ways and they always fail.  You can't win unless you try God's way."



He had no problem with what they were teaching him because his church taught

the same thing.  He put into practice what he was being taught and soon Dr. Bob sent him to talk to other alcoholics.



The first few months were hard: business trials, little worries, and feelings of general despondency nearly drove him to the bottle, but he made progress in the spiritual life.



"As I go along I seem to get strength daily to be able to resist more easily.  And when I get upset, cross-grained and out of tune with my fellow man I know that I am out of tune with God.  Searching where I have been at fault, it is not hard to discover and get right again, for I have proven to myself and to many others who know me that God can keep a man sober if he will let him."



Dorothy Snyder, the wife of Clarence Snyder ("The Home Brewmeister"), was

eager to help this group reach other alcoholics.  She approached Rev. Dilworth Lupton, of the First Unitarian Church in Cleveland, concerning the group, but he was negative about the Oxford Group and wanted nothing to do with it.  After the Cleveland members broke away from the Oxford Group, she approached him again, this time with a copy of the book and with the names of some Roman Catholics who were members.  Among the names was that of Joe Doppler.  The fact Joe Doppler was associated with this new Cleveland group was sufficient proof to Reverend Lupton that the alcoholic fellowship had indeed broken with the Oxford Group, and he offered to help in any way he could.



He preached a sermon called "Mr. X. and Alcoholics Anonymous," which Dorothy

arranged to have covered by the press.  It was later made into one of the first pamphlets used by Cleveland A.A.



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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Abby Golrick, "He Thought He Could Drink ..." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Abby Golrick, "He Thought He Could Drink ..." 4/7/2002 1:13:00 PM From: Pioneers of A.A.



He Thought He Could Drink like a Gentleman -- Albert (Abby) Golrick,

Cleveland, Ohio.

(p. 210 in 2nd and 3rd editions.)



Heading:  "But he discovered that there are some gentlemen who can't drink."



Abby's date of sobriety was April 1939.  Clarence Snyder was his sponsor.  He

was one of the Roman Catholics who had some problems about attending Oxford

Group meetings.  



He was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1889, the last child of a family of eight.  His parents were hard working people, but his father was a strict disciplinarian.  But Abby was slick and cute enough to be safe from his father's discipline.  So he grew up thinking rules were for others, not for him.  At sixteen he was picked up by the police and brought home drunk.  He got expelled from various schools but finally graduated from the eighth grade.



He obtained a job as a toolmaker's apprentice and later worked for large companies and gained experience.  Then he attended a technical high school and at eighteen went to night school to get a high school diploma.  He then entered an engineering college, then law school and passed the bar exam.  He later became a patent attorney.



He married at twenty-eight, while in law school, and had two children by the time he was admitted to the bar.  During this time he had been too busy to drink much, but about four years after he became a partner in his law firm, he began, like others during Prohibition, making elderberry blossom wine.  



Soon there were automobile wrecks, when the police escorted him home, but not

to jail.  On business trips to New York he would disappear and wind up in Philadelphia or Boston.  He began firing clients before they fired him.  His

partners suffered from his conduct, but tolerated it because he still managed to hang onto a very substantial practice.  



His wife learned about the fellowship from her hairdresser who told her about her brother-in-law, Clarence Snyder ("The Home Brewmeister"), who had been quite a drinker, and about some doctor in Akron who had straightened him out.  (This was not the same sister-in-law who married Hank Parkhurst.)  For about nine months she prayed constantly that Abby would find this solution that Clarence had found.  Her prayers were answered: one day Clarence and his sister-in-law called at the house.



For some reason he didn't like Clarence at first.  Clarence thought Abby looked down on him because Abby was an educated man, a patent attorney, and Clarence only had a high school education.  But Dorothy Snyder, Clarence's

first wife, reported that although Abby was well educated, the person in Akron that made the most impression on him was a man who hadn't gone beyond the fourth grade.  (This may have been Dick Stanley, "He Had to be Shown.")



Abby resisted joining A.A., but Clarence would show up at saloons where he was drinking to drag him home.  Finally, Bill Wilson, while visiting Cleveland, called on Abby and persuaded him to enter the hospital.  Bill and Dorothy Snyder drove him there.  While he was still in the hospital, his wife volunteered their large home as a meeting place in Cleveland.  Thus, the first Cleveland meeting was held at Abby's home.  



Bill Wilson gave him credit for starting the principle of rotation of jobs in A.A. Abby had been chairman of the central committee in Cleveland (the first in the nation).  It consisted of five men and two women.  But Abby was older (in years) than most of the members, and had family responsibilities.  So he was happy to step down after a few months.  He suggested that one man and one woman drop off each month to be replaced by the next in line according to seniority.   



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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Jim Scott, Akron, OH. "The News Hawk." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Jim Scott, Akron, OH. "The News Hawk." 4/7/2002 1:29:00 PM From: Pioneers of A.A.



The News Hawk -- Jim Scott, Akron, Ohio.

(OM, p. 254 in 1st edition, p. 251 in 2nd and 3rd editions.  Titled "Travel, Editor, Scholar" in the 1st edition.)



Heading:  "This newsman covered life from top to bottom, but he ended up,

safely enough, in the middle."



Jim's date of sobriety was July 1937.  He was described as tall and skinny, and a real lone wolf.   



He was born in Australia, and it is uncertain when he first came to America.  He received a liberal arts education and apparently married while in college or soon after.  



Jim had itchy feet and soon after college, estranged from his family, he went to Great Britain where he became a bookmaker's clerk on the British racing circuits, and was far better off financially than the average professional man.  When money was missing he was fired and he sailed for New York, knowing he was through among the English "bookies."



He continued to travel far and wide, working at a variety of jobs in many cities in this country and abroad, and he also spent some periods as a hobo.  On one occasion he left his wife and baby in Scotland and sailed for New York.  



Many of his jobs were with newspapers, the first one in Pittsburgh.  While working on a newspaper in Ohio he stayed sober for two years, except for a one-night drunk in Chicago, and kept a quart of medicinal whiskey in his apartment to taper off the occasional newspaper alcoholics who were sent to see him.  He stayed sober for a total of four years, the last two during World War I when he served in a Canadian regiment.  



Discharged in 1919 he made up for his dry spell: Quebec, Toronto, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh, were the scenes of man-sized drunks until he until he had gone through his readjustment discharge pay. He again became a reporter on a Pittsburgh paper.  



He was working in a large Ohio city when his wife came over from Scotland to join him.  The new job lasted five years.  He quit that job moved to Washington, D.C., then Texas.  Washed up in Texas he returned to the town he had left five years before.  His wife made several attempts to get him to stop drinking, but without success.



While working in a small bookstore Jim was called to a hospital to see a friend with whom he had once worked.  (This man was probably Earl Treat, "He Sold Himself Short").  His friend had insisted he visit.  He was hospitalized for alcoholism and was already reaching out to help Jim.  A few days later another man came into his shop to talk to him about a plan for recovery and invited him to a meeting.  But Jim insisted he was on the wagon and doing fine.  It wasn't long before he was on another bender, which lasted until his friend from the hospital picked Jim up and put him in the hospital.



In the interim he may have lost his job at the book store, since one report says that Dr. Bob found Jim on skid row selling hair oil and panhandling.  But according to Jim's story, he didn't meet Dr. Bob until he was in the hospital.



After Jim's recovery began, knowing he had been a journalist, Dr. Bob, asked

him if he would help the Akron and Cleveland members write their stories.  He

took on the job gladly, urging them to get their stories on paper, and nagging them when they dragged their feet.  He edited and rewrote some of the stories, but tried to keep the flavor of the original version.

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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Ethel Macy, Akron, OH. "From Farm to City." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Ethel Macy, Akron, OH. "From Farm to City." 4/7/2002 1:37:00 PM From: Pioneers of A.A.



From Farm to City -- Ethel Macy, Akron, Ohio.

(p. 261 in 2nd and 3rd editions.)



Heading:  "She tells how A.A. works when the going is rough.  A pioneer woman

member of A.A.'s first Group."



Ethel's date of sobriety was May 8, 1941.  She was the first woman to get sober in Akron.  She 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 rest.  



At 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 Macy, (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.



They 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 of alcohol.



At 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 him.  



He 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.  



Then 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.



They 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.  



In 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.  She 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 Munier, one of the early Cleveland members.)



Finally, 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 Stanley visited and stressed that they read the Big Book.  



So 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 the hearse?'"



Jack took them to a meeting at the King School on Wednesday night and introduced Ethyl to some of the wives. Annabelle Gillam, the wife of Wally Gillam ("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 for."       

.

Women 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".)



Ethel gave a lot of credit to Dr. Bob and Anne for their recovery.  The Smiths spent at least an evening a week at the Macy's home, and Russ thought Dr. Bob thoroughly enjoyed these visits.



She 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.  



Her 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. 




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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Clarence Snyder, Cleveland, OH. "Home Brewmeister" BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Clarence Snyder, Cleveland, OH. "Home Brewmeister" 4/7/2002 1:44:00 PM The Home Brewmeister -- Clarence H. Snyder, Cleveland, Ohio.

(OM, p. 274 in 1st edition, p. 297 in 2nd and 3rd editions.)



Heading:  "An originator of Cleveland's Group No. 3, this one fought Prohibition in vain."



Clarence had his last drink on February 11, 1938, according to the article he

wrote for the A.A. Grapevine November 1968 issue.  Fifteen months later he

organized the first Cleveland group.   



Clarence was born on December 26, 1902, in Cleveland, Ohio, the youngest of

three brothers.  He dropped out of high school at fourteen, after his father's death, and went to work.  He later took many night courses studying economics, business, credits, and collections.  This prepared him for later employment at the City National Bank in Cleveland, from which he was fired for alcoholism at the age of thirty-two.  It was not the only job from which he had been fired.



After holding good positions, making better than average income for over ten

years, he was bankrupt in every way.  He was in debt, he had no clothes to speak of, no money, no friends, and no one any longer tolerated him except his wife, not even his son or the saloonkeepers. He was unemployable.  He said in a talk he gave in 1965 that he couldn't even get a job with the WPA.  His wife, Dorothy, who worked for an employment agency, couldn't even get him a job.



Then Dorothy heard of a doctor in Akron who had been successful in treating

alcoholics.  She offered him the alternative of going to see Dr. Bob or her leaving for good. He agreed and that was the turning point in his life.  He entered the hospital (after first going on a three-day drunk).  While in the hospital a plan for living was explained to him, a simple plan that he found great joy and happiness in following.



He became an enthusiastic 12th stepper, literally dragging prospects for A.A.

off bar stools.  Clarence started the first A.A. group in Cleveland in 1939, in part because some Roman Catholic priests in Cleveland were refusing to let Catholics

attend the Oxford Group meeting in Akron.  



This was the first group to use the name Alcoholics Anonymous.  Nell Wing, Bill Wilson's long-time secretary, said that Bill had been using the name since 1938 in letters and a pamphlet, but on this slender basis, Clarence forever claimed to have founded A.A.



Dorothy also was very active and did much to help A.A. in Cleveland. They were divorced before Clarence was drafted into the Army in 1942. Dorothy and their son moved to California.  



Unfortunately, Clarence had an abrasive personality, and as one of his friends said, you either loved him or hated him.  According to Nell Wing, had he not been so abrasive he probably would have been considered a co-founder of A.A.  



When Clarence left Cleveland for military service a farewell party was held for him and he was presented with a wristwatch as a gift from all the West Side groups who acclaimed him for his pioneer work in Cleveland and particularly on the West Side.  In a letter from basic training, Private Snyder said the going was rough, and he wished he were fifteen or twenty years younger.  He supplied his address at Fort Knox, Kentucky, for anyone who wished to write him, and said he missed the association of the groups and was looking for other A.A. members in Kentucky.



He became very hostile toward Bill Wilson.  He opposed the traditions and

continued to use his full name in public.  He led a small group to oppose the

Conference and the General Service Office.  



After the war he married his second wife, Selma, who worked at the Deaconess

Hospital, where her father was the director.  Clarence often took alcoholics there to sober them up.  Clarence and Selma moved to St. Petersburg, Florida. Eventually they divorced.



Clarence then married his third wife, Grace (also an A.A. member), and joined

her as a member of the Assembly of God Church in Winter Park.  They did much

A.A. work together and conducted many religious retreats. Unlike Bill Wilson, he always used his full name in public, and was honored with several prestigious awards for public service during his life, which he did not hesitate to accept.



He remained very active in A.A., and his A.A. work became increasingly Christian fundamentalist in nature.  He and Grace lived at 142 S. Lake Triplet Drive in Casselberry, Florida, until his death on March 22, 1984.  



He was buried in Cameron Cemetery in Cameron, North Carolina, in Grace's

family plot.  His tombstone reads "He led the way for A.A."



________



Sources for some of the information about Clarence's later years are: "How It

Worked, the Story of Clarence H. Snyder," by Mitchell K., privately

published, and "That Amazing Grace, the Role of Clarence and Grace S. in

Alcoholics Anonymous," by Dick B., Paradise Research Publications, San

Rafael, California




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99 NMOlson@aol.com
BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, "Too Young?" BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, "Too Young?" 4/8/2002 2:20:00 AM They Stopped in Time



Too Young? -- Author unknown.

(p. 317 in 3rd edition.)



Heading:  "Sergeants, doctors, girl friends -- everybody seemed to be picking

on him.  But he couldn't be an alcoholic at his age, could he?



This man was only twenty-four years old when he wrote his story for the 3rd

edition.  He started drinking about age thirteen.



He didn't do well in school so quit at seventeen and joined the Army. He was in trouble from the beginning.  While still in basic training he got drunk almost every night.  He couldn't take orders from the head cook when on K.P. and threw a garbage can at him.  He was reported to the company commander.  After basic training he didn't drink for three months because he was in school at night.  He thought this meant he had no drinking problem.



He was sent to Viet Nam where he stayed drunk or sick from a hangover for a 

year.  When he came back from Nam he met a girl he liked, but she would not

put up with his drinking and told him to leave.  Next he was sent to Arizona where his drinking increased even more and he started having blackouts and was thrown in jail for speeding and drunk driving. Then he re-enlisted and was sent back to Viet Nam.  There he tried suicide twice and wanted to kill his sergeant, so they sent him to a psychiatrist.



When he returned to the States he met a wonderful girl and got engaged. But she soon dropped him, and he still couldn't believe it was his drinking.  He began needing a drink in the morning, and missing work because he was still too drunk to stand up.  He became very paranoid and thought everyone was against him.  It was the same when they sent him to Germany.



He began hallucinating, and was finally hospitalized, but drank again as soon as he was released.  He finally realized he couldn't quit.  He talked to the first sergeant and the battalion commander and they put him in contact with an A.A. member.



He had trouble trusting the A.A. members and admitting he was an alcoholic, but eventually did. But he still couldn't stop drinking so was hospitalized again, this time in a rehabilitation center.  When he got out he continued to go to A.A. and finally realized that the people in the groups only wanted to help him get sober and to stay sober themselves.



A.A.'s Twelve Steps showed him the way to sobriety, if he wanted it.  And he wanted it.  A.A. gave him a new way of life.  He did have a slip, but was told not to worry about yesterday, because nobody can change it, and not to worry about tomorrow, because it hasn't come yet.  Live twenty-four hours at a time.  And it works.  He said "I'm a twenty-four year-old alcoholic -- and I'm happy."  



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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Cecil (Teet) Carle, "Those Golden Years" BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Cecil (Teet) Carle, "Those Golden Years" 4/8/2002 2:32:00 AM From: They Stopped in Time





Those Golden Years -- Cecil (Teet) Carle.

(p. 327, in 3rd edition.)



Heading:  "All the joys of retirement lay ahead for the movie publicist.  Safely pensioned, with no job to protect, at last he could drink as he pleased."



Teet's date of sobriety, according to one source, was December 1970.  He was

75 at the time his story was written.



Raised in Kansas, which was dry, he did not start drinking until he had finished college, done a stint on newspapers, married, become a father, and been in movie studio publicity two years.



At age thirty-two, and unaccustomed to drinking, he was assigned to keep media guests happy at a Halloween party given by a major star.  At the party he got drunk and threw up, and felt disgraced and humiliated.  He vowed never to be embarrassed like that again, and though he continued to drink, he did it with caution when in public. Most of his heavy drinking was at home.  (Not all hidden drunks, he points out, are housewives.)



He retired at sixty-eight, after forty years in public relations for Paramount Studios.  He had successfully hidden his alcoholism until he retired.  He had never lost a days work because of drinking; never been warned about his drinking; had not lost his wife or family; had not lost his driver's license; had never been in jail or a barroom fight.  He had managed to protect and maintain an image of respectability.



Now retired he was free to drink as much as he wanted.  He lived with his wife who was a heart patient.  Teet pointed out that: "So long as a retiree woos his bottle at home, he stays out of public trouble.  But for him, financial security or even affluence can be a tragedy."



When Teet retired he said he would never be bored because he wanted to write

novels, articles, short stories, and scripts on which he had copious notes.  

Creativity at the typewriter would keep him busy and alert, he thought.  He managed to sell a few things, but his writing career could be summed up in the couplet "Alcohol gave me wings to fly/And then it took away the sky."



One day he remembered a line from an Alan Ladd movie, Shane, on which he had worked.  "The trouble is, old man, you've lived too long."  Crises were emerging rapidly as he approached his seventieth birthday.  Death seemed the only way out.  But first he had to empty the upper cupboard full of empties so that they would not be found after his death.  His sick wife, who didn't know the extent of his drinking, woke and caught him at it.  She gasped and he feared she was having another heart attack.



This caused him to go into action.  That evening he poured out the truth to her, admitting he was an alcoholic, and telling her that he would go to A.A.  He attended his first A.A. meeting two nights later and never took another drink.



One advantage of those forty years as a movie press agent was that he had worked so long in a profession where fakery, deceit, and untruths are tools of the trade, he instantly recognized honesty when he heard it, from the mouths of A.A. members.



He had said he would not be bored in retirement.  He was not.  A.A. kept his

retirement years full.  Not long before he wrote his story he lunched with another retired publicist who was close to tears in describing his boredom.  Teet could not help thinking "You poor guy.  I feel so sorry for you. You're not an alcoholic.  You can never know the pure joy of recovery within the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous."



Teet died on June 26, 1992.  



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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, "Lifesaving Words." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, "Lifesaving Words." 4/8/2002 2:39:00 AM From:  They Stopped in Time



Lifesaving Words -- author unknown, Lucknow, India.

(p. 342 in 3rd edition.)



Heading:  "For this officer in the Indian Army, going on the wagon was not enough, attempts at control failed.  The answer came to him by mail."



This man is believed to have stopped drinking in January of 1973.  He attended high school in an American-sponsored Methodist public school, known as Philander Smith College, and eventually became a schoolmaster.  He left that to join the Indian Army and was soon a commissioned officer.  It was after he joined the Army that his alcoholism made itself known.



Eight years before writing his story, he and his wife spent a vacation in sixty-day leave in Naini Tal, the mountain resort.  That was his first long vacation since joining the army.  It was during this vacation that he decided to stop drinking, and he succeeded in this attempt for approximately fifteen months with only a couple of slips.  But being an alcoholic, he always looked forward to the day when he could drink again.



At Christmas time the next year he convinced his wife that he had alcohol under control and could do controlled drinking over Christmas and the New Year.  In a short time it became uncontrolled drinking.  For the next three years he tried often again to stop, but failed miserably.



Then he saw an A.A. advertisement in a newspaper and wrote to the address it

gave.  The reply came putting him in touch by mail with an A.A. member in New

Delhi.  This man sent him literature which he read systematically since then, and A.A. literature kept him sober.



The year before writing his story he took another vacation in Naini Tal.  He made this one an A.A. vacation.  He read, studied, and meditated on every bit of A.A. literature in his possession, studied the Big Book again, and took down notes for reference purposes.  



"The difference between the two vacations was this: On the first, though on the water wagon, I looked forward to my next drink.  I went on the wagon more to placate my wife than anything else.  On the second, I knew -- as I know now -- that if I remained away from the first drink, then I had not to worry about the hundredth one.  And I knew this: Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic.  I owe everything to A.A."

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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Lisa, Washington State. "A Teen-ager''s Decision." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Lisa, Washington State. "A Teen-ager''s Decision." 4/8/2002 2:46:00 AM From:  They Stopped in Time



A Teen-Ager's Decision  -- Lisa, Washington State

(p. 353 in 3rd edition.)



Heading: "Just three years of drinking pushed a shy, lonely young girl to the depths of depression.  Out of sheer despair, she called for help."



Lisa's story was first named "The Story of Lisa" in an early printing of "Young People and A.A."  She began to drink at fifteen, and never drank socially, but always as often as much as she could.  She wanted to drink herself to death.  It seemed that her whole life had been spent on the outside looking in.  She had been unhappy, lonely, and scared for so long that when she discovered alcohol it

seemed to be the answer to all her problems.



But it became a painful answer as hangovers, blackouts, trouble, and remorse set in.  She recounted driving her parents' car down a bank, ramming the steel fence around someone's backyard.  She was informed the next morning that she had not behaved like her shy, quiet self.  She remembers lying on a cold cement floor shredding into little bits several pieces of stolen identification cards, and washing her face in the toilet bowl trying to sober up, and screaming hysterically while clinging to bars too high to see out of and cursing everyone that came near her. She lost her driver's license and became a ward of the court, and was put on

probation.  None of this impressed her.



Thinking that school was interfering with her drinking, she ran away from home, despite the fact that she was near graduation and her mother was sick in a hospital.  She recounts hitchhiking with a friend to Las Vegas from Washington State, spending a month drinking, taking drugs, and finding shelter where they could and accepting meals from anyone, begging and stealing anything they needed.  They were arrested and her friend was institutionalized for eight months.  

But Lisa, who had turned eighteen during the trip, and was allowed to return home to a pair of miserable, hurt parents.



She began to hate herself, and drank primarily to ease her conscience and forget.  But things got progressively worse.  Finally, she began to take a good look at herself: she had managed to drink her way through all her friends, had no one in the world to talk to, was increasing guilt ridden and depressed.  She was too weak to continue this day-by-day suicide.



Thank God she knew of A.A. and called.  She had no idea what would happen, she just knew she didn't want to live if life was going to go on like it was.  At the time she wrote her story she was counting her blessings, instead of her troubles. A.A. became a way of life and living for her.  It brought about a revelation of self, the discovery of an inner being, and awareness of God. She wouldn't give it up or trade it for anything.  And knows "the only one who can take it away from me is me -- by taking that first drink."

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103 NMOlson@aol.com
BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Pete Wasser, Pittsburgh. "Rum, Radio and Rebellion" BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Pete Wasser, Pittsburgh. "Rum, Radio and Rebellion" 4/8/2002 3:04:00 AM From:  They Stopped in Time



Rum, Radio and Rebellion -- Pete Wasser, Pittsburgh, PA.

(p. 317 in 2nd edition, p. 356 in 3rd editions.)



Heading:  "This man faced the last ditch when his wife's voice from 1,300 miles away sent him to A.A."



One source said of Pete that his original date of sobriety was June 1944, but he slipped briefly in September of 1944.  However, in an update of his story, which was printed in the A.A. Grapevine in January 1969, he says that he came into A.A. in 1945.  Pete was fifty-three years of age when he wrote his story, with over nine years of A.A. behind him.



He was born in Cleveland, Ohio (or perhaps, Cleveland, Tennessee), the only child of a prominent dentist, and a very proud mother.  He had every advantage: private schools, dancing schools, two colleges, coon skin coats, automobiles, a listing in the social register.  All this resulted in a very popular but spoiled brat.



He ran away from school to join the army in World War I, but the Armistice was signed the very day he arrived in Atlanta to sign up. (Pete wrote an update of his story for the January 1969 issue of the A.A. Grapevine, which indicated he was then living in Cleveland, Tennessee. Tennessee is much closer to Atlanta than Cleveland, Ohio.  Perhaps he returned to his hometown when he retired, which would mean that the reference to Cleveland, Ohio, in the Big Book is inaccurate.)



He ran out of money and wired his father for funds to come home, but his father wired back saying he could stay there until he earned enough to get home. It took him a year.



He went to work in Birmingham for a newspaper at fifteen dollars a week.  During Prohibition he had his first taste of moonshine.  For the next twenty-five years he drank anything and everything at the slightest excuse.



When he made it home in 1920, he re-entered school and did a year's work in

three months, proving that he could do it when he wanted to.  During the roaring '20s, he drank a great deal and thought he was having a grand time.  He got to Europe for a few weeks, had cards entitling him to an entrée in the better joints between Cleveland and New York, got married, and built a home in a fashionable suburb of Cleveland.  This high living ended with the 1929 stock market crash.  In a couple of years he lost his worldly goods, and his wife left him.  



He then made a geographic cure -- to New York.  He began working in the

broadcasting business.  He worked for a Chicago firm that represented several

large radio stations.  It was his job to sell time on these stations to advertising agencies in New York.



Then he met a woman he wanted to marry, but she refused him at first.  He persisted.  In January 1938 he took a job managing a small radio station in

Vermont, and again proposed to the girl.  She was then working in Salt Lake

City, but said, if he would curtail his drinking she would consider marrying him.  They were married in Montreal in November 1938.  But on their first Christmas he came home drunk.



In 1940 they moved to Pittsburgh where he managed two radio stations under the same ownership.  His wife tried everything she could to help him, but by early spring of 1944, his drinking had become so troublesome that she left him and moved to her parents' home in Florida.  She told him she was not leaving because she didn't love him, but because she did love him and could not bear to be there when he lost the respect of others and, above all, of his own self respect.



Full of self-pity he staggered home one day determined to kill himself.  "Then, by George, she'd be sorry!" But he passed out, and when he woke, looking straight at him was a large oil painting of his wife, and he remembered her words:  "I'm not leaving you because I don't love you, but because I love you."  This was about ten p.m. (He pointed out that the hour is important.)



He called A.A.  After a few meetings he drove to Florida unannounced and showed his wife the A.A. literature he had brought with him to convince her that he was trying to change.  She returned with him to Pittsburgh.  



In September he went to New York alone and got drunk.  It was a one-day drunk

and he didn't tell anyone.  He began skipping meetings.  On New Year's Day he

almost took a drink, but did not.  It frightened him and he started going back to meetings.  He met an old friend new in AA, and full of enthusiasm.  This fired his spirits again, and he started really working the program.



Then, when the group was celebrating his one years of sobriety, he told the truth. It had only been nine months since his last drink.  He had thrown off the big lie that had been burdening him for months.  "What a wonderful relief."



His first spiritual experience came early.  While in Florida trying to convince his wife that he was serious about A.A., she picked up a clipping from the St. Petersburg Times about A.A.  She had considered sending it to him.  She cut out that clipping at about ten o'clock on the same night, and at the same time as he called A.A. in Pittsburgh, some 1300 miles away.  



In his 1969 update of his story, Pete said that when he came to A.A. he believed in God, but that was about the limit of his spiritual qualifications.  He was in the program about three years before he found comfort and deep satisfaction in prayer.  Insight came gradually through the voices of oldtimers.  



When he and his wife moved to a new neighborhood in Pittsburgh, several 

ministers called on them asking them to visit their churches.  It was embarrassing to his wife when the ministers groped around to find out just what their religion was.  One young minister came quickly to the point by asking his wife what religion her husband followed.  Without hesitancy she said, Alcoholics Anonymous.  The minister replied that he knew of no better one.  Pete went on to say that A.A. is not a religion, but certainly is a spiritual program.



He expressed dismay that responsibility to our group, to A.A. as a whole, and

especially to General Services is a subject dwelt upon far too lightly by many of our members.  He said it distresses him particularly when older members gradually drop out of the picture.  We need their good experience, and they should be grateful enough to carry on the message as their responsibility to the future of Alcoholics Anonymous and, in many instances, to their very own sobriety.  He hated to meet members who consider that they have graduated from A.A.  They are missing so much!  Pete knows now that sobriety is not a destination, but an endless journey, and he hastened to add, a very beautiful journey.  (This update was written from Cleveland, Tennessee.)  



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BB Authors -- Author unknown, "Any Day was Washday." BB Authors -- Author unknown, "Any Day was Washday." 4/8/2002 4:24:00 AM From:  They Stopped in Time



Any Day Was Washday -- Author unknown.

(p. 369 in 3rd edition.)



Heading: "This secret drinker favored the local Laundromat as a watering hole. Now, she no longer risks losing her home, her self-respect, or her laundry."



One source says this woman's date of sobriety was April 1973.  Her father was a big Irish oilman who came up through the "school of hard knocks" and so had to be a two-fisted drinker.  Her sweet mother said he had a "weakness."  The author realized that something was wrong and developed a great sense of insecurity.



She married at nineteen and had six children.  In the beginning she and her husband drank on social occasions, but without problems.  Then a series of tragedies occurred.  Her father died from falling down a flight of stairs while drunk, after his death her mother took up drinking and died of cirrhosis of the liver; then her five-year-old girl was killed by a neighbor's car.  She couldn't take all the stress and was soon admitted to a state hospital for the mentally ill.  After a few months she was "released and left the world of insanity, only to return to the world of alcoholic insanity."



Her husband disapproved of her drinking so she would gather up the soiled clothes and go the Laundromat, buying alcohol on the way.  She would get drunk at the Laundromat, lose shirts, and once lost the entire wash.  (During this time she was considering doing laundry for the neighbors as a part-time job, so that she could spend all her time at the Laundromat.)  Finally her husband decided he wanted a divorce and told her to leave because she was "unfit as a mother, a wife, and a laundress."



Fortunately her sister-in-law knew of a place that helped alcoholic women, a halfway house.  There she found A.A. and learned that she didn't have a "weakness" but the disease of alcoholism.



One night, a few weeks after joining the Fellowship, she was surprised and delighted to see a familiar face -- her husband.  (It is unclear whether he was there because he, too, was an alcoholic, or whether it was an open meeting that he attended to learn about the disease in order to help her.  She says only "he was learning, too.")



They resumed their marriage, moved away from the street of sad memories, and found a new home.  But for her, what is more important is "I found a new life in Alcoholics Anonymous.  I'm very active in A.A. work and active at home, too, with my family.  I still wash clothes, lots of them, but I no longer lose them at the Laundromat.  That's right!  During three years in A.A., I haven't lost so much as one shirt."

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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Esther Elizardi, TX. "A Flower of the South." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Esther Elizardi, TX. "A Flower of the South." 4/8/2002 4:35:00 AM From:  They Stopped in Time



A Flower of the South -- Esther Elizardi, Houston, TX.   

(p. 343 in 2nd edition, p. 384 in 3rd edition.)



Esther's date of sobriety was May 16, 1941.  She was a very attractive woman, full of pep.  She was raised in New Orleans where social drinking was acceptable.  At home they always had wine with dinner and cordials after dinner.  She attended cocktail parties, dances and nightclubs.  



The first time she realized what alcohol could do for her was her own wedding.  She was so afraid that everything wouldn't be perfect that she became very nervous and "was really in a terrific state" when her father said "Miss Esther is about to faint.  Get her something to drink."  The servant came back with a water glass full of bourbon and made her drink it down.  The bourbon hit as she started down the aisle.  "I walked down that aisle just like May West in her prime.  I wanted to do it all over again," she wrote.



From that day on she used alcohol to ease social situations and didn't know when she crossed over the line into alcoholism.  She divorced her husband after seven years and went home to her parents, but couldn't stand living with them and went back to Texas and remarried her ex-husband.  Then they moved to Oklahoma.  The drinking got worse; her husband would come home day after day to find her passed out.  She was sent to a mental hospital where they kept her seventeen days.  



When they moved to Houston the drinking continued.  She went out one day to

walk the dog.  A patrol car passed and saw her staggering and stopped to take

her home, but she got "sassy" with him so he took the dog home and took poor

Esther to jail.  She was only there a few hours.  When her husband came to get her the look of disgust on his face helped her to hit bottom.



He had read a story about A.A. in the Saturday Evening Post a few weeks before.  He finally showed it to her with the ultimatum "If you will try this thing, I'll go along with you.  If you don't, you will have to go home.  I cannot sit by and watch you destroy yourself!"



She wrote to the GSO office in New York.  Within a week a letter came back with A.A. literature.  It was the routine letter they sent everyone, but with it was a hand-written letter from, Ruth Hock, A.A.'s non-alcoholic secretary.  That personal touch did a lot to help Esther.  Esther was full of gratitude to her husband, and to A.A. members who had paved the way for her.  



During her second year in A.A. they were transferred to Dallas, and she started an A.A. group there in 1943.  The telephone number in Dallas that Ruth Hock had given her had been disconnected when she arrived.  But undaunted, she started seeking other alcoholics to 12th step.  



Esther had lived in Dallas from 1927 to 1932 and, according to a letter she wrote to New York dated March 29, 1943, "This is where I had been so sick for five years.  Where I started trying out all the doctors, hospitals and cures (the Sanitarium three times) so I've lots to do.  First off, four doctors to call on and let them look over 'exhibit A' (me)!  My minister (Episcopal) has two prospects for us.  He tried so hard to help me for years, had never heard of A.A."  She added "Hope I have much A.A. to report in my next letter.  You'll be hearing from me!"  They did indeed.



A week later, April 5, she wrote "Dear Bobbie [Margaret R. Burger, Bill's secretary at the time]: The new Dallas Group met for their first time last night!  Three inactive alkies, one active from Detroit and two non-alcoholics who brought the active one."  The group met for some time in Esther's home.



Esther died on June 3, 1960, with slightly more than 19 years of sobriety.  Her copy of the Big Book, which is signed by Bill Wilson, is on display in the Dallas Central Office.



________



Thanks to Cliff B. of Texas for providing the letters that are quoted and the correct spelling of her name and date of death for Esther's biography.


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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, "Calculating the Costs." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, "Calculating the Costs." 4/8/2002 4:39:00 AM From:  They Stopped in Time



Calculating the Costs - Name unknown.

(p. 396, 3rd edition.)



Heading:  "A retired Navy man looks back over twenty years of drinking, to add up his A.A. 'initiation fee.'"



This man's sobriety date is unknown.  But since he likes calculations let us do some calculating, based on what he tells us in his story, to find out when he came into A.A.



If he entered the Navy at the age of twenty-one, not long after the United States entered World War II, say early 1942, and served twenty years in the Navy, he would have been forty-one when he retired in 1962.  The heading on his story refers to twenty years of drinking, but he talks about twenty-five years of drinking (he started serious drinking at eighteen) so he must have entered A.A. two years after getting out of the Navy, i.e., about 1964.



Lack of funds and young age kept him from drinking much before the age of

eighteen, but he was quite inventive.  Beginning when he was fourteen he

displayed alcoholic tendencies.  He started to steal wine from the family jug, siphoning it off one drink at a time so it wouldn't be missed, and saving it up until he had about a pint so that he could get drunk.  "Even at that age," he says, "I had learned that one drink was not enough.  I had to have enough to get drunk on, or what was the use?"



He points out that his initiation fee was at least $10,000.  All alcoholics pay a high initiation fee to enter A.A.  But as this alcoholic points out, "Incalculable are the intangible initiation fees that A.A. members have paid, the sick, sick hangovers, the remorse, guilt, broken homes, jails, and institutions, and the mental anguish in general that has been generated over the years."

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Big BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Felicia Gizycka, NYC. "Stars Don''t Fall." Big BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Felicia Gizycka, NYC. "Stars Don''t Fall." 4/8/2002 4:54:00 AM From: They Stopped in Time



Stars Don't Fall -- Countess Felicia Gizycka, New York City.

(p. 401 in 2nd edition, p. 400 in 3rd edition.)



Felicia entered A.A. in 1943, and relapsed briefly during the first year.  Her last drink was in 1944.  Marty Mann ("Women Suffer Too") was her sponsor.



She was born in 1905, in the family castle in Poland, the daughter of Count Josef Gizycki and Eleanor Medill "Cissy" Patterson, editor of the Washington Times.  Cissy was a cousin of Robert McCormick of the Chicago Tribune.



Because of the Count's violent, abusive behavior, when Felicia was about two years old Cissy fled with her to London.  The Count followed them, and succeeded in literally kidnapping his daughter and taking her back to Poland.  For two years he parked her in a convent to be cared for by the nuns. Then, through the intervention of President Taft, four-year-old Felicia was returned to Cissy in a dramatic event that riveted the attention of the world's press.



Felicia believed her alcoholic problem began long before she drank.  Her personality from the time she could remember anything, was "the perfect set-up for an alcoholic career."  She was always out of step with the world, her family, with people in general.  She lived in a dream world.



Until her early thirties, when her drinking became a problem, she lived in large houses, with servants and all the luxuries that she could possibly want.  But she never felt she belonged.



Felicia was married three times, first to Drew Pearson in 1925, (the newspaperman she mentions on page 402).  She divorced him three years later.  

(She met him again when she had been sober ten years and he told her he had

always felt guilty because she became an alcoholic after their divorce.  She was able to explain that she would have become an alcoholic anyway, that she had been a sick person, unfit for marriage.)  She married Dudley de Lavigne in 1934, (the husband mentioned on page 493), but was again divorced less than a year later.  She married again after her recovery.  Her third husband, John Kennedy Magruder, whom she married in 1958 and divorced in 1964.  For most of her professional career she went by the name of Felicia Gizycka.



Through her first two marriages, and several geographic cures in Europe, her

drinking caused more and more degradation.  By 1943 she had moved to New York and was living a Bohemian life in the Village.  Her daughter, Ellen, was taken away from her during this period.



Felicia sank lower and lower, but eventually had the good fortune to find a new analyst, Dr. Ruth Fox (who later became the medical director of the National Council on Alcoholism).  Dr. Fox told her about A.A., gave her the Big Book, and finally persuaded her to meet with Bill Wilson.  Bill arranged for her to meet Marty Mann.  (Marty told how Bill called and said "I have a dame down here whose name I can't pronounce.  I don't know what to do with her.")



The woman who answered the door at Marty's apartment (page 413 in the 3rd edition) was Marty's longtime lesbian partner, Priscilla Peck, a very glamorous art director at Vogue magazine.  Felicia speaks of Priscilla on page 414.  They took Felicia to her first AA meeting and Felicia and Priscilla became lifelong friends.  

Marty was sponsor to them both.



When Marty spoke at Felicia's 16th anniversary celebration, she joked about how at their first meeting Felicia said little.  But Marty talked on and on about her own history.  Finally, Felicia admitted she drank a little too, "not much -- once in a while.  Nothing very serious, you understand."  It was a long time before Marty heard the full story.  Little by little episodes came out that were not so mild.  "I remember as though it were yesterday the first time I heard about her fighting ability."  She turned to Felicia and asked: "What was it they used to call you?"  Felicia replied, "Sadie, the fighting Pollock."  It wasn't until after Felicia had a slip that she dropped her defenses and started to really talk about what alcohol had done in her life. 



She was a talented writer and -- with Marty and Priscilla - helped start the A.A. Grapevine.  She also kept journals, one of them entitled "To Those Who Didn't Make It."  In this journal she describes Marty's form of sponsorship.  She called Marty from a bar expecting Marty to run to her rescue.  Instead, Marty said "Well, honey, what can I do about it?"  Marty didn't let her dramatize herself.



Felicia wrote an update of her story for the November 1967 Grapevine.  It was

signed "F. M., New Canaan, Connecticut."  In it she said she was disappointed

to learn that her story would be in the section labeled "They Stopped in Time."  She thought she had sunk pretty low.  



Felicia celebrated her 55th anniversary of sobriety in 1998.  That same year she gave an interview about her friend Marty Mann to Marty's biographers.  During the interview she was unable to communicate more than five minutes at a time, then she'd fall asleep in her chair.  Her grandson, who was present, said it was a pity they hadn't come six months earlier, when her mind was still clear.  But they were given access to Felicia's journals (1950-1988).



A few months later, on February 26, 1999, Felicia died at the age of 92.



________



My gratitude to Sally and David Brown, Marty Mann's biographers, who supplied me with much of the information in this biography.

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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Harris K, IL. "Growing Up All Over Again" BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Harris K, IL. "Growing Up All Over Again" 4/8/2002 5:15:00 AM From:  They Stopped in Time



Growing Up All Over Again -- Harris K., Illinois.

(p. 418 in the 3rd edition.)



Heading:  "A 'good boy' reached adulthood and success without achieving

maturity or fulfillment.  Defeated by alcohol and pills, he found the way to a new life."



Harris's date of sobriety is believed to be 1960.  He was a second-generation A.A. member, taken to A.A. by a woman whom his father had taken to A.A. thirteen years earlier.



He neither drank nor smoked until he was nineteen years old.  He was an honor

graduate in high school, and the "good boy" to whom mothers pointed when their sons went astray.  He was awarded a scholarship to a famous old eastern college, but began to drink at the end of his freshman year.  By junior year he had to transfer to an easier state university to keep his grades up. 



He entered dental school, his admission, oddly enough, arranged by the dentist who started A.A. in Amarillo, Texas.  During his first year there, he married.  He went through dental school sober, for the most part, except that he imitated his father's periodic drinking pattern by getting drunk at a few parties and on vacation.  He graduated with honors, but could feel no real responsibility as a father or a husband.



Then he served a four-year tour in the Navy, two of which were spent in the

Philippines. He described his life there as "a nightmare of periodic binges on alcohol and pills, adultery, unhappy hours at the dental office, seeing my life give birth to our second child and have several miscarriages, living in a turbulent household, and making continual attempts to be the respectable dentist, husband, father, and community leader."



His return to the United States proved effective as a geographical cure, and he was sober for a while, with the help of the Church.  He had another brief period of sobriety when he went back to his hometown to go into private practice, but it did not take long for the pressures to bring out his immaturity and his insecurity.  



By the age of twenty-eight he was well established and had been elected president of a civic club, was a deacon and a Sunday-school teacher, and had a lovely wife and three children.  His wife was in the Junior League, and he was on the board of directors of the local center for the mentally retarded.  But he had a queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach, which hinted to him that everything was phony.  He had no real peace of mind, nor any gratitude.



In less than two years he had lost his practice, his home, his wife and children.  He tried the church and psychiatry and finally came to A.A. He was twenty-nine when he had his last drunk.  During that last drunk, which lasted four days, he threatened to kill his children, beat his wife at home and on the Church steps, mistreated a child in his office, and ran to a hospital for mental illness to avoid jail.



He came to A.A. simply because there were no other doors of help open to him

in his hometown.  After coming to A.A. he was divorced, lost his practice, was legally restrained from seeing his children, went broke, and the dental society

threatened him with the loss of his license. Only A.A. kept him from running

away.



He went to meetings frequently, listened to tapes and attended A.A. conferences, worked on the Twelve Steps and with other alcoholics and their families.



A.A. gave him a new wife who was also an A.A. member, a beautiful stepdaughter, a new practice, a new home, and a new relationship with his four children.  Most important, it enabled him to go back and start growing up all over again in all areas of his life.



He asks at the end of his story, "Why am I alive, free, a respected member of my community?"  And he answers his own question: "Because A.A. really works for me!"



It appears that Harris is still living.  I was given his full name and hometown.  His name is still in the phone book there -- twice actually, the second perhaps his son -- so I have not revealed his full name or hometown.

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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, "Unto the Second Generation." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, "Unto the Second Generation." 4/8/2002 5:23:00 AM From:  They Stopped in Time



Unto the Second Generation -- Author unknown, Chicago, Illinois.

(p. 355 in 2nd edition, p. 422 in 3rd edition.)



Heading:  "A young veteran tells how a few rough experiences pushed him into A.A. - and how he was therefore spared years of suffering."



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 schedule.



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 he 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 without A.A.



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.

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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Morris B., NY. "A Five-Time Loser Wins." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Morris B., NY. "A Five-Time Loser Wins." 4/8/2002 5:35:00 AM From:  They Lost Nearly All



A Five-Time Loser Wins -- Morris B., Long Island, New York.  

(p. 457 in 3rd edition.)



Heading:  "The worst of prison treatment couldn't break this tough con.  He was serving time on his fifth felony conviction when a miracle happened."



Morris said that, like most alcoholics, for him it was "Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you die."  But he couldn't die. He kept painfully awakening each time, mentally, physically, and spiritually, sick.



There are worse things than dying, he points out, "but is there any death worse than the progressive, self-induced, slow suicide of the practicing alcoholic?"



Morris described himself as a five-time loser, and explained that this means that he had five felony convictions (not including the cases beaten).  He served time in four penitentiaries and several prison camps, including a maximum-security camp. He spent eleven months in solitary confinement, bouncing in and out of the "hole" (a bare concrete-and-steel cubicle) about five times during those eleven months.  The crimes that he committed were the result of drinking and using drugs.  Even in prison he was always fighting the system, even to the extent of using his body: he cracked his leg with a sixteen-pound sledge hammer in the rock hole; he let lye and water eat away at four of his toes and his foot for five hours.



At the age of forty-four, he finally hit bottom.  And then the miracle happened.  He saw a wooden sign with the Serenity Prayer printed on it.  He had been to A.A. before, in and out of A.A. in Los Angeles, Phoenix, and San Francisco.  He remembered that at one of his first A.A. meetings he had heard, "If you are an alcoholic and if you continue to drink, the end is death or insanity."  He added, "They hadn't mentioned the living hell before death."



After seeing that sign, he took the first three Steps for the first time.  He

surrendered totally.  Now he began to sleep, to relax, to accept his plight.  He started going to A.A. in prison at the group's next meeting.



While still in prison, Morris was given training and after he was paroled he went to work as a counselor in Corrections, then worked for a County Mental Health organization, and when he wrote his story had been an alcoholism counselor for over a year and was off parole.



Morris was almost fifty years old when he wrote his story, and was expecting soon to meet his ex-wife and his two children, whom he had not seen in

twenty-three years.  His son was to be married and wanted Morris at the wedding.  His ex-wife, from whom he had not heard in over twenty-three years, had telephoned him three weeks earlier about the wedding.



He wrote:  "I am still arrogant, egocentric, self-righteous, with no humility, even phony at times, but I'm trying to be a better person and help my fellowmen.  Guess I'll never be a saint, but whatever I am, I want to be sober and in A.A."  He ended his story by saying:  "God bless all you people in A.A. and especially you fellows in prison.  Remember, now you have a choice "



When last heard of Morris was living in North Carolina.  

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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, "Belle of the Bar." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, "Belle of the Bar." 4/8/2002 5:58:00 AM From:  They Lost Nearly All



Belle of the Bar - Author unknown.

(p. 478 in 3rd edition.)



Heading: "Waitress by day, barfly by night, she drifted down the years into jail.  Then A.A. showed her the beauty of normal living, in a whole family reborn."



This alcoholic woman had been "slinging hash" for eighteen years, and she thought she was managing.  She had a beat-up car that wasn't paid for, no clothes, no money, no home, no real friends to speak of, mentally and physically pooped, "but I was doing all right!"



She began drinking at the age of twelve and quit at thirty-two.  She also had a pill problem and for two years she was also addicted to heroin, using as many as twenty caps a day. She felt she had wasted twenty years of her life, but was fortunate not to have brain damage.



After being arrested and serving six months on drug charges she didn't go back to heroin.  Her poor mother had "three of her kids in jail that year -- two sons and a daughter."  A few years later an older brother died in a house fire because of "pills and booze."  She attempted suicide on several occasions "making sure there was always somebody within reaching distance."  On one of these occasions her brother-in-law ran to her rescue but she wound up in a mental institution.  Finally, she and her surviving siblings were all in A.A. and her mother in Al-Anon.



In her story she told of the many benefits she had received from A.A.  She had a happy marriage to a man she met in A.A.  He taught her that in their new life she was the most important person of all.  For her, her sobriety came before his or even before her feeling for him.  He taught her that she must help herself first, only then would she be able to help others.  



She and her husband were aware of the nice things around them, things they had never noticed before in their drunken stupor.  She planted her first flower garden the year she wrote her story, she was enjoying hockey games with her husband and her brother without being "all boozed up."  She went to church on Easter Sunday with her husband and "it didn't hurt at all."  (And the church walls didn't tumble down.)



She knew that the biggest word for her in A.A. is "honesty."  "I don't believe this program would work for me if I didn't get honest with myself about everything. Honesty is the easiest word for me to understand because it is the exact opposite of what I've been doing all my life.  Therefore, it will be the hardest to work on.  But I will never be totally honest -- that would make me perfect and none of us can claim to be perfect.  Only God is."









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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Maynard B., "Join the Tribe." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Maynard B., "Join the Tribe." 4/8/2002 5:52:00 AM From;  They Lost Nearly All



Join the Tribe! -- Maynard B.

(p. 474 in 3rd edition.)



Heading:  "From a Canadian reservation to overseas bars to New England lockups, an Indian traveled a long trail that finally led him home to A.A."



One source claims that this story may have been first published in the A.A. Grapevine in 1972 as "Son of Tall Man."  This has not been verified.  Maynard was born on a Maliseet Indian reservation in Canada, the oldest of thirteen children.  He apparently was raised as a Christian as he says he was an altar boy at the church on the reservation.  



He had his first drink in his early teens. But he was afraid of his father, whom he calls "Tall Man," so he didn't drink much in the beginning.  But he thinks he was an alcoholic from the first drink.



When he was twenty-one his cousin came home from the U.S. Army on leave. Maynard stayed with him at his aunt's house in Maine.  That night they drank beer at a tavern and his cousin gave him drinks from a bottle of "hard stuff." Maynard had his first blackout.



He joined the Canadian Army, but could not run away from his problem.  He found that canteens served drinks to Indians in uniform.  His heavy drinking and blackouts continued for the next two years.  When he came home his father met him and they drank together.  Soon he was getting arrested and to avoid going to jail he kept moving from one place to another.  He tried going on the "water wagon" for a few months.



In Connecticut some policemen tried to help him, but soon tired of him and bought him a one-way ticket to Canada, packed his clothes and put him on a train.  He considered suicide, but didn't want to cause more pain to his parents.  Then he remembered hearing of an Indian who was in A.A.  He found him and they talked.  He took him to a meeting in a small town in Maine.  He did not drink again.  He jumped from the first step to the twelfth and tried to help his brother.  Two weeks later his brother joined A.A. and stopped drinking.



Eventually he and his brother went back to Canada to carry the message to Tall Man.  Two years later Tall Man also got sober and started a group on the reservation.  



Tall Man died sober, five years before Maynard wrote his story for the 3d edition.  A newsletter reported of Tall Man:  "With tireless devotion and humility, this venerable Indian gentlemen traveled thousand of miles humbly pleading for sobriety.  He planted many seeds, and it will be many moons before another rises to walk in his shoes."



Maynard tells Indians: "Don't be afraid to join A.A.  I once hear people say only Indians crazy when drunk.  If so, A.A. full of Indians.  Join the tribe!"

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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, NYC. "The Prisoner Freed."" BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Author unknown, NYC. "The Prisoner Freed."" 4/8/2002 6:07:00 AM From:  They Lost Nearly All



The Prisoner Freed - Author unknown, New York City

(p. 495 in 2nd edition, 508 in 3rd edition.)



Heading:  "After twenty years in prison for murder, he knew A.A. was the spot for him -- if he wanted to stay on the outside."



This alcoholic first heard of A.A. and went to his first meetings when he was in prison.  He probably joined the fellowship in 1950 or 1951.  He slipped after ten months, but by the time he wrote his story for the 2nd edition he had four years sobriety.



He started drinking when he was about sixteen, but had to hide it from his father.  After his father died he "rolled along with the mob," for years until one day, returning from a four-day drunk, a detective was waiting for him.  He had shot and killed one person and almost killed a second.



He was indicted for murder in the first degree, and feared he would get the death penalty, but the jury brought back a verdict of murder in the second degree, for which he received a sentence of twenty years to life.  He received an additional sentence of fifteen years for attempted murder of the other man.  He was sent to Sing Sing expecting to serve a minimum of thirty-five years, as at that time there was no time off for good behavior. Eventually the laws were changed and he was released after serving twenty years and nine months.  



During that time he was incarcerated at Sing Sing, Dannemora in the Adirondacks, and a place Wallkill, "a so-called rehabilitation center."  It was at Wallkill that he first heard of A.A. from two other inmates. He didn't like A.A., but his two friends kept insisting he go back to the meetings.



When he was released from prison he made excuses to his parole officer for not going to A.A.  Then one day he ran into the old crowd and got drunk.  His mother, was heartbroken and asked if he were going to do this to her all over again.  He told her he would not.  She was still alive at the age of eighty-two when he wrote his story.



So he finally joined A.A., and after a slip at ten months stayed sober.  Life was no bed of roses, but when something happened that upset him, instead of walking in and throwing a buck at the barman, he walked into a phone booth and dropped a dime in the box to call an A.A. member.



He considered himself very lucky to have found A.A. and the A.A. program to hand on to and carry him through.

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Big Book Authors -- Helen B., NYC. "Promoted to Chronic." Big Book Authors -- Helen B., NYC. "Promoted to Chronic." 4/8/2002 5:48:00 AM From:  They Lost Nearly All



Promoted to Chronic -- Helen B., New York

(p. 485 in the 2nd edition, p. 464 in the 3rd edition.)



Helen entered A.A. in New York in November of 1944, but had a slip in 1945.  She started drinking socially and at parties and proms when she was about twenty years old.  It made her feel quite grownup and mature, and another added attraction was that as far as her family was concerned it was forbidden.



Eventually she became dependent on it and became a daily drinker.  Then she had a week-long-bender of solitary drinking, locked up a hotel room because her family opposed her coming marriage.  During that week the hotel doctor gave her sleeping pills and she took the whole bottle.  Only the actions of an alert hotel maid saved her.



The next five years were filled with fear, failure and frustration.  Her doctor had suggested to her husband that he send her to A.A. but little was known about it then.  The doctor said it was a bunch of drunks who helped one another.  Her husband thought the last thing she needed was to be around a bunch of drunks.  She lost a child, her marriage ended and she was living with her parents.  She was in and out of sanitariums.



One day her psychiatrist left Helen's case history on her desk when she was called away from the room.  Helen read it and was delighted to see that "Periodic Drinker," had been crossed out and the words "Chronic Alcoholic," substituted.  She thought this meant she was getting better.



Finally, in November of 1944, she went to A.A. "A.A. took this wreck of a woman and brought her back to life."  Her sponsor was "a charming, delightful, lovely person," and Helen put her on a pedestal.  She centered her life on this woman.  Her sponsor recognized that she was depending on her and not on the A.A. program, and began to pull away.  When she broke a luncheon date with Helen, she got drunk to punish her.  That was February of 1945, and Helen was sent back to the sanitarium in which she had been so often.



While hospitalized, Helen realized that she had not been basing her sobriety on the book, or the group, or the Higher Power, but on an individual.  She started really working the program and never drank again.



In December of 1949, Helen became a senior staff member at the New York office, where she recommended Nell Wing to work as Bill's secretary.  She had previously worked for the Boston Central Service Office of A.A.  She proved of tremendous help to Bill Wilson, especially in promoting the Traditions and the Conference idea to the Fellowship, and in organizing the General Service Conference.  She served as secretary of the first two Conferences.  Helen also worked closely with Bill on the booklet called "The Third Legacy."  Bill said of her in Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age, "Helen B. of the office staff had a real flair for statesmanship in the best sense of the word, and she understood practical politics too.  Her assistance throughout proved invaluable."



In March 1955, she resigned to be married, and moved to Texas.



_________



Information about Helen is from "Grateful to Have Been There," by Nell Wing, Parkside Publishing Corporation, and an unpublished history of A.A.'s first fifty years by Bob P., as well as A.A. Comes of Age.











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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Pat M., NYC, "Desperation Drinking." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Pat M., NYC, "Desperation Drinking." 4/8/2002 6:28:00 AM From:  The Lost Nearly All



Desperation Drinking -- Pat M., New York City

(p. 509 in 2nd edition, p.  512 in 3rd edition.)



Heading:  "He was drinking to hold on to his job, to hold on to his wife, to hold on to his sanity.  Finally, he was drinking to keep away those little men, and those strange voices, and the organ music that came out of the walls."



Pat probably joined AA and stopped drinking about 1952.  He was born in Ireland and came to the United States as a child.  He started drinking at the age of sixteen, but wasn't a social drinker very long. He had blackouts, began swearing off alcohol, and taking the morning drink quite early.  He became a binge drinker.



He thought the Army would be a cure all, a new life.  But when he returned from the Army things were probably worse because now he had a lot more resentments.



He married the girl he'd left behind, who had been warned by his own mother that he was a hopeless drunk.  He stayed sober for her for nine months but then took a drink at a party.  No one had warned him that it was the first drink that did the damage. His drinking became desperation drinking.



Finally he hit bottom.  He knew he had come to the end of his rope and turned for help to someone he had turned his back on for years: God.  He then went the doctor who had treated him for DTs.  The doctor sent him to the Alanon House on the West Side.  There he was introduced to A.A.  He found friendship and understanding he needed, he learned how to pray honestly.



Pat didn't take the 10th step inventory at night.  He took it continuously during the day.  At the time he wrote his story he had not had a drink since his first meeting. 

For him, A.A. had become a way of life.

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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- E.B.R., "Bob", NYC. "He Who Loses His Life" BB Authors, 3rd edition -- E.B.R., "Bob", NYC. "He Who Loses His Life" 4/8/2002 6:45:00 AM From:  They Lost Nearly All



He Who Loses His Life - E.B.R., "Bob," New York City.

(p. 540 in 2nd edition, p. 531 in 3rd edition.)



Heading:  "An ambitious playwright, he let his brains get so far ahead of his emotions that he collapsed into suicidal drinking.  To learn to live, he nearly died."



Bob, as he calls himself in his story, found A.A. and stopped drinking in January 1947.  He wrote an update of his story for the September 1967 A.A. Grapevine, which he signed with the initials E.B.R.  



He had wanted to be a great author, and write plays, but was stuck in a job he hated, with people he disliked.  Disappointed with his life, he decided to kill himself, but instead decided to drink himself to death.  Instead he drank himself into lost jobs, jails, hospitals, and heavy debt.



At the point he first went to A.A. it had not worked for him -- because he had not worked for A.A.  His serious drinking lasted seven or eight years.  After recovery he entered a new field -- perhaps alcoholism -- in which he taught and about which he published a book.  He still wanted to write a fine play.                          



In his 1967 update he reported: "The bad old years of suffocating in the deep morass of alcoholism, are years I could have used to good advantage had I not been trapped by this hideous disease. There were seven or eight years before I found A.A. -- oh, how I could have used those years!  But they were not wasted; they stripped me of everything, including self-respect; but they made me ready for the happiness of the last twenty years in A.A."









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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Bill Dotson, Akron, OH. "A.A. Number Three." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Bill Dotson, Akron, OH. "A.A. Number Three." 4/8/2002 7:33:00 AM From Pioneers of A.A.



Alcoholics Anonymous Number Three -- Bill Dotson of Akron, "The man on the

bed,"

(p. 182 in 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions.)



Heading:  "Pioneer member of Akron's Group No. 1, the first A.A. group in the

world.  He kept the faith, therefore, he and countless others found a new

life."



Bill's date of sobriety was the date he entered Akron's City Hospital for his last detox, June 26, 1935, where Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob visited him on June 28.  His wife, Henrietta, recalled years later that she had asked her pastor to try to help him, and had prayed with another that someone who could help would visit him at the hospital.



He was a prominent lawyer, had been a city councilman, and was a well-adjusted family man and active in his church.  Nonetheless, he had been hospitalized eight times in the past six months because of his alcoholism and got drunk even before he got home. When admitted this time he had DTs and had blacked the eyes of two nurses before they managed to strap him down.  A nurse commented that he was a grand chap "when sober."



He walked out of that hospital on July 4, never to drink again.  A.A.'s first group dates from that day.  Within a week, he was back in court, sober, and arguing a case.  The message had been successfully shared a second time.  Dr. Bob was no fluke, and apparently you did not have to be indoctrinated by the Oxford Group before the message could take hold.



He immediately began working with Dr. Bob and Bill, and went with them to visit Ernie Galbraith ("The Seven Month Slip" in the 1st edition) and others.



Oldtimers in Akron said he was indeed a grand chap, when sober, one of the most engaging people they ever knew.  One said: "I thought I was a real big shot because I took Bill Dotson to meetings."  Another noted that, though Bill Dotson was influential, he was not an ambitious man in A.A., just a good A.A.  If you went to him for help he would help you. He never drove a car, but he went to meetings every night, standing around with his thumbs in his vest like a Kentucky colonel.



A.A.'s first documented court case was one Phil S., who was released to the

care of Dr. Bob through the efforts of Bill Dotson, who talked with the judge who agreed to release him.



Bill never submitted his story for the 1st edition.  Various theories include (1) he wanted to be paid for the story, (2) he was too prominent a person, (3) he was too humble to have his story appear.  But in 1952 he told an interviewer that he hadn't been much interested in the project or perhaps thought it unnecessary.  He added that Bill Wilson had come to Akron to record his story, which would appear in the next edition of the book.  Perhaps by 1952 he was embarrassed that he'd originally wanted to be paid for the story so didn't mention it.  But apparently he cooperated to have it appear in the 2nd edition.



Bill Dotson died September 17, 1954, in Akron.  Bill Wilson wrote, "That is, people say he died, but he really didn't.  His spirit and works are today alive in the hearts of uncounted A.A.s, and who can doubt that Bill already dwells in one of those many mansions in the great beyond.  The force of the great example that Bill set in our pioneering time will last as long as A.A. itself."  

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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Robert Holbrook Smith, M.D. "Doctor Bob''s Nightmare." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Robert Holbrook Smith, M.D. "Doctor Bob''s Nightmare." 4/8/2002 7:24:00 AM From Pioneers of A.A.



Doctor Bob's Nightmare -- Robert Holbrook Smith, M.D., of Akron, Ohio.

(OM, p. 183 in 1st edition, p. 171 in 2nd, 3rd and 4th editions.  In the OM and

1st edition, it was titled "The Doctor's Nightmare.")



Heading: "A co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous.  The birth of our Society dates from his first day of permanent sobriety, June 10, 1935.  To 1950, the year of his death, he carried the A.A. message to more than 5,000 alcoholic men and women, and to all these he gave his medical services without thought of charge.  In this prodigy of service, he was well assisted by Sister Ignatia at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, one of the greatest friends our Fellowship will ever know."



Dr. Bob met Bill Wilson and stopped drinking on Mother's Day, May 12, 1935, but about three weeks later he drank again while on a trip to attend a medical convention.  His last drink was June 10, 1935, (or perhaps June 17, 1935, according to some sources).



His son, "Smitty," described him as a very sensitive man, who loved being a doctor, and as "a man's man," who was also very courteous, especially to women.  "Women felt comfortable around him, because he so obviously loved my Mom."  Smitty also describes him as having a great sense of humor. 



He was born on August 8, 1879, St. Johnsbury, Vermont, about one hundred miles northeast of East Dorset, where Bill Wilson was born.  He was the only child, of Judge and Mrs. Walter Perrin Smith, who were influential in business and civic affairs.  He had a much older foster sister, Amanda Northrup, of whom he was quite fond.



His parents were pillars of the North Congregational Church in St. Johnsbury.  They insisted Bob go to church not only on Sunday, several times during the

week.  He later rebelled against this and decided he wasn't going into a church again except for funerals or weddings.  And he didn't -- for about forty years.  But the religious education stood him in good stead in future years.  Smitty said his father was one of the few people he knew who had read the Bible from cover to cover three times.



He entered St. Johnsbury Academy at fifteen. At a dance during his senior year he met Anne Ripley of Oak Park, Illinois, a student at Wellesley on holiday with a friend.  It was not a whirlwind marriage.  They weren't married until seventeen years later.  He first had to finish his education, and later she may have been reluctant to marry him because of his drinking.



Except for a secret taste of hard cider when he was about nine, he didn't drink until he was about nineteen and attending Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, described as "the drinkingest" of the Ivy League schools.  A tattoo he wore the rest of his life was probably from those days at Dartmouth: a dragon and a compass tattoo.  The dragon wound around his left arm from the shoulder to the wrist.  It was blue with red fire.  His son thinks "he had to have been drunk to have it put there, and you didn't do something that complicated in a day.  When I asked him how he got it, he said, 'Boy, that was a dandy!'  And it must have been, too."



He wanted to be a doctor, but for some reason his mother opposed it, so he spent the next three years in Boston, Chicago, and Montreal working.  Finally he began studying medicine, first at the University of Michigan, and then at Rush University near Chicago.  His drinking interfered with his medical education repeatedly, but he eventually received his medical degree, and secured a coveted internship at City Hospital in Akron.  After his two years internship he opened an office.  



Soon his alcoholism progressed and he was hospitalized repeatedly.  His father sent a doctor to Akron to take him back to Vermont where he stayed for a few months, then he returned to his practice, sufficiently frightened that he did not drink again for some time.  During this sober period he married Anne.  



During Prohibition he thought it would be safe to try a little drinking, since it would not be possible, so he thought, to get large quantities.  But it was easy for doctors to obtain alcohol.  He also used sedatives to hide his "jitters."  Things went from bad to worse.



In the late 1920s, he decided that he wanted to be a surgeon, perhaps because

he would be able to control his schedule more easily in this specialty than he could as a general practitioner.  The patients wouldn't be calling him for help all hours of the day or night, so they wouldn't catch him when he was drinking.



He went to Rochester, Minnesota, and studied under the Mayo brothers.  He

became a rectal surgeon, and did nothing but surgery for the balance of his life.  But Smitty says that the other doctors knew he was a drunk, so the referrals were scarce and his practice small.  (Despite the financial problems, they were able to keep the house during the Great Depression because the Federal Government placed a moratorium on foreclosures.)



When he was introduced to the Oxford Group he tried hard for three years to

follow their program, and did a lot of study, both of spirituality and of alcoholism.  But it wasn't until Bill Wilson arrived in the spring of 1935 that Dr. Bob found the kind of help he needed -- one alcoholic talking to another.



Smitty describes Bill Wilson as being the opposite of his dad and both of them were needed for the success of A.A.  He once joked: "If it had been up to my dad, A.A. would never have spread beyond Akron.  Had it been up to Bill, they would have sold franchises."  On another occasion he said: "Bill was garrulous, Bill was a promoter, Bill was a visionary.  I think Bill W. could see further in the world than anyone I've ever known. My dad wasn't that way."  (Dr. Bob was quiet, cautious, conservative, steady, insistent on keeping things simple.)



Anne Smith died on June 2, 1949.  Bill noted that she was "quite literally, the mother of our first group, Akron Number One.  In the full sense of the word, she was one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous."



Serenely remarking to his attendant, "I think this is it," Dr. Bob died on November 16, 1950.  The funeral service was held at the old Episcopal Church by Dr. Walter Tunks, whose answer to a telephone call fifteen years earlier had led to the meeting between Bob and Bill.  He was buried at Mt. Peace Cemetery, next to Anne.



There is no large monument on his grave.  Doctor Bob, who always admonished

A.A. to "keep it simple," when he heard that friends were planning a monument, remarked "Annie and I plan to be buried just like other folks."

    

Alcoholics Anonymous itself is Dr. Bob's monument.

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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Margaret ("Marty) Mann, NYC. "Women Suffer, Too" BB Authors, 4th edition -- Margaret ("Marty) Mann, NYC. "Women Suffer, Too" 4/8/2002 8:33:00 AM From: Pioneers of A.A.



Women Suffer Too - Margaret ("Marty") Mann, New York City and Connecticut.

(p. 222 in 2nd and 3rd editions, p. 200 in the 4th edition.)



Heading:  "Despite great opportunities, alcohol nearly ended her life.  Early

member, she spread the word among women in our pioneer period."



Marty's date of sobriety is uncertain, but she attended her first A.A. meeting at Bill Wilson's home in Brooklyn on April 11, 1939, and was an enthusiastic member of A.A. from that day until her death.



She was not the first woman in A.A.  The "Lady known as 'Lil'," in Akron, who

probably never got sober, and Florence Rankin ("A Feminine Victory" in 1st edition) preceded her.  A recent biography of Marty reveals that there was still another woman ahead of Marty, Mary Campbell.  Mary visited Marty when she was still at Blythewood Sanitarium in 1939.  Mary would have been the A.A. woman with the longest sobriety had she not slipped in 1944.  Thereafter she stayed sober until her death in the 1990s.



Marty was the first woman to enter A.A. and gain long-term sobriety. But she had several slips, and thus other women were able at one time to claim longer uninterrupted sobriety.



Marty grew up in Chicago, in a wealthy family.  She had every advantage, the

best boarding schools and a finishing school in Europe.  A popular debutante, she made her debut in 1927, after which she eloped with John Blakemore of New Orleans.  Marty said of him:  "He was one of the most attractive men I've met, interesting, traveled, with a keen mind.  His family was prominent socially and he was the town's worst drunk."  They were both high on alcohol when they eloped. Later a church service was held in New Orleans.  Marty, whose alcoholism was not far progressed at the time, could not put up with John's drinking behavior and they were divorced in 1928.  She resumed her maiden name and sometime thereafter started to identify herself as "Mrs. Marty Mann."  She never remarried.



Her divorce coincided with her father's bankruptcy and Marty went to work.  For the next ten years she did whatever she wanted to do.  For greater freedom and excitement she went abroad to live.  She ran a successful business.  Headstrong and willful she rushed from pleasure to pleasure.  But her alcoholism got out of hand and soon she was in real trouble and attempted suicide twice.  She came home to America, broke and desperate.  Things got even worse.  



She entered Bellevue Hospital's neurology ward under the care of Robert Foster Kennedy, M.D.  Eventually she entered Blythewood Sanitarium, as a charity patient, under the care of Dr. Harry Tiebout, who gave her the manuscript of the Big Book to read and arranged for her to go to her first meeting.  



She said "I went trembling into a house in Brooklyn filled with strangers and I found I had come home at last, to my own kind.  There is another meaning for the Hebrew word that in the King James version of the Bible is translated 'salvation.' It is: 'to come home.'  I had found my salvation.  I wasn't alone any more."



In a July 1968 Grapevine update of her story, Marty said the Twelve Steps were still very important to her.  They gave her more than sobriety.  They gave her a glimpse at something she had never known -- peace of mind, a sense of being comfortable with herself and with the world in which she lived, and a lot of other things which could be summed up as a sense of growth, both emotional and spiritual.



Marty was a visionary and a pioneer who took on an unpopular cause during an

era when women were supposed to remain silent.  With the encouragement of

Bill Wilson, Marty founded the National Council on Alcoholism, through which she educated the general public about alcoholism and helped shape the modern alcoholism movement.  



She wrote two authoritative books on alcoholism, ("Marty Mann's Primer on Alcoholism," (1950), which was rewritten and published as "Marty Mann's New

Primer on Alcoholism," in (1958), and "Marty Mann Answers Your Questions About Drinking and Alcoholism" (1970).  



Marty influenced alcoholism legislation at the State and national levels.  She is considered to be "the mother of the Hughes Act," the Comprehensive Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation Act of 1970, which greatly enhanced the federal government's role in alcoholism treatment and prevention.



Mel B., in "My Search for Bill W.," described Marty as one of Bill Wilson's closest friends and allies.  "A refined, attractive woman, she impressed me as being the kind of person who can handle great responsibilities with confidence and ease.  While some men may have felt threatened by such a strong woman, Bill supported her work and went out of his way to encourage her."



To protect the work she was doing during a period of heavy anti-gay bias, Marty never revealed her lesbianism except to Bill (her sponsor) and other close friends.  Her long-time lesbian partner was Priscilla Peck, once a glamorous art director at Vogue Magazine, the fifth woman Marty brought into A.A.  In her last years Marty was deeply troubled by Priscilla's Alzheimer's disease.     



Marty made her last public appearance at the A.A. International Convention in New Orleans in July of 1980.  She arrived in a wheelchair, but after she was

introduced she rose and walked to the podium to thunderous applause and a

prolonged ovation.  



Two weeks after her return to her home in Easton, Connecticut, her housekeeper found her unconscious at the kitchen table. She had suffered a massive cerebral hemorrhage the night before.  Priscilla had slept through it all.  She was rushed to St. Vincent's Medical Center in Bridgeport, CN, where she died later that night, July 22, 1980, at the age of 75.



The New York Times ran a major obituary, and her death was widely reported

around the nation.  A long tribute to her was read into the Congressional Record.



When Priscilla died on November 9, 1982, Marty's brother tried to make arrangements for her to be buried next to Marty in Chicago, but Rosehill Cemetery ruled that the family plot was reserved for members of the family only.  Priscilla was cremated and her remains spread on the waters off the coast on the shore of Connecticut.



________



The source of much of the information on Marty's early years and marriage is

"Mrs. Marty Mann, The First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous," by Sally and David

Brown.





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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Fitz Mayo, Cumberstone, MD. "Our Southern Friend." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Fitz Mayo, Cumberstone, MD. "Our Southern Friend." 4/8/2002 8:46:00 AM From Pioneers of A.A.



Our Southern Friend -- John Henry Fitzhugh (Fitz) Mayo, Cumberstone, Md.

(p. 226 in 1st edition, p. 460 in 2nd edition, p. 497 in 3rd edition, and p. 208 in 4th edition.  In the first three editions it appeared under the section "They Nearly Lost All.")



Heading:  "Pioneer A.A., minister's son, and southern farmer, he asked, 'Who am I to say there is no God?'"



Fitz's date of sobriety was October 1935.  He was Bill's second or third success at 12th stepping after he returned from Akron in 1935.  The first was Hank Parkhurst ("The Unbeliever" in the 1st edition), and the second probably William Ruddell, "A Business Man's Recovery" in the 1st edition.)  



Fitz has been described as a blue blood from Maryland.  Alcoholism may have run in his mother's side of the family.  Fitz was, reportedly, quite handsome, with chiseled features.  He had the quiet, easy charm of the landed gentry.  Indeed, he was quite the Southern gentleman. Lois Wilson said Fitz was an impractical, lovable dreamer.  His intellectual, scholarly qualities gave him common ground with Bill who -- like Fitz -- was also a dreamer.



He was the son of an Episcopalian minister.  Alcoholism may have run in his mother's side of the family.  They never drank at home, but when Fitz took his first drink when at college, he discovered that it removed his fear and sense of inferiority.



He attempted to enlist during World War I, but could not pass the physical.  This added to his sense of inferiority.



He had a good job with a large corporation until the Great Depression. Later he worked at various jobs: traveling salesman, teacher and farmer.  But he couldn't stop drinking.  He was drunk when his mother-in-law died, when his own mother died, when his child was born.



His wife had heard of Towns Hospital in New York and urged him to go there.  Finally he agreed.



Another patient told him about a group of men who were worse than he was but who didn't drink any more.  This patient had tried the program but had slipped.  He knew it was because he hadn't been honest.  He asked Fitz if he believed in God.  Fitz did not.  Later, in his bed, the thought came: "Can all the worth while people I have known be wrong about God?"  He took a look at his own history and suddenly a thought like a Voice came: "Who are you to say there is no God?"



The Wilsons and the Mayos became devoted friends, and visited one another often.  Fitz frequently came up for the Tuesday night meeting at the Wilson home in Brooklyn.  It was while Bill and Lois were visiting Fitz in Maryland in the summer of 1936 that Bill C., committed suicide. (See page 16 of the Big Book.)  And Fitz, as well as Hank Parkhurst often joined Bill and Lois at Oxford Group house parties before A.A. broke away from the Oxford Group.  



During the writing of the Big Book, Fitz insisted that the book should express Christian doctrines and use Biblical terms and expressions.  Hank and Jim Burwell opposed him.  The compromise was "God as we understood Him."



When the group was trying to decide on a name for the book, Fitz, because of his close proximity to Washington, was asked to go to the Library of Congress and find out how many books were called "The Way Out."  His sister, Agnes, came to the their assistance when the printer refused to release the book he was holding -- the first printing of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Agnes loaned A.A. $1,000, the equivalent of nearly $12,000 today.  



Fitz later started A.A. in Washington.  Florence Rankin ("A Feminine Victory" in the 1st edition) joined him in Washington.  It was Fitz who was called on to identify her body when she died.  He sent one of his early sponsees (who never recovered) to see his old friend Jim Burwell in Washington ("The Vicious Cycle") when Jim was just coming off a binge.  



In World War II, Fitz at last was able to join the Army, where he was found to be suffering from cancer.  He died October 4, 1943, eight years after he stopped drinking.  Fitz is buried on the grounds of Christ Episcopal Church at Owensville, MD, where his father had once been pastor.  He is buried just a few feet from Jim Burwell.













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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Jim Burwell, Washington, D.C. "The Vicious Cycle." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Jim Burwell, Washington, D.C. "The Vicious Cycle." 4/8/2002 9:54:00 AM From Pioneers of A.A.



The Vicious Cycle -- Jim Burwell, Washington, D.C.

(p. 238 in 2nd and 3rd editions, p. 219 in the 4th edition.)



Heading:  "How it finally broke a Southerner's obstinacy and destined this

salesman to start A.A. at Philadelphia."



Jim was twelfth stepped into the fellowship on January 8, 1938.  But he had a

slip in June of that year.  His last drink was June 16, 1938.  He was described as having red hair, and being rather slim, at least in his last years.



He spent his early life in Baltimore where his father was a physician and a

grain merchant.  They lived in very prosperous circumstances, and while both

parents drank, sometimes too much, they were not alcoholics. Home life was

reasonably harmonious.  There were four children, and both of his brothers later became alcoholics.  One of his brothers died from alcoholism.  His sister never took a drink in her life.



He attended public schools until thirteen, then was sent to an Episcopal school for boys in Virginia where he stayed four years.  But there he developed a real aversion to all churches and established religions.  At school they had Bible readings before each meal and church services four times on Sunday.  



At seventeen he entered the university to please his father who wanted him to study medicine, as he had.  There he took his first drink and he always remembered it.  He blacked out the first time he drank.  



In the spring of 1917, because he feared he would be kicked out of school, he

joined the Army.  Due to his OTC training, he entered with the rank of sergeant, only later to come out a private.  During his military service he became a periodic alcoholic.  On November 5, 1918, the troops heard a false report that the Armistice would be signed the next day, so Jim had a couple of cognacs to celebrate, then hopped a truck and went AWOL. His next thing he knew he was in Bar le Duc, many miles from base.  It was November 11.  The bells were ringing, and whistles blowing, for the real Armistice.  



Back in the States he migrated from job to job, unable to hold any for very long.  The boss who fired him from one job was Hank Parkhurst ("The Unbeliever" in the 1st edition.)  In the eight years before he stopped drinking, he had over forty jobs.



Finally, January 8, 1938, his boyhood friend Fitz Mayo ("Our Southern Friend") sent one of his early sponsees, Jackie Williams, to try to help him.  When Jackie got drunk Jim called New York and was told that the two of them should come to New York.  Hank, who had fired him eleven years before, offered Jim a job working with him and Bill Wilson at Honor Dealers.  (See bottom of page 149 of the Big Book.)  Hank fired him again, at least briefly, when he had his slip in June of that year.  



Jim met his wife, Rosa, on a 12th step call.  (The only time he ever 12th stepped a woman.)  They were married a year later, and reportedly both did much service work in A.A. and were elected to various offices.



On February 13, 1940, with about two years of sobriety, Jim moved to the Philadelphia area and started a group there. He also helped start A.A. in

Baltimore.  



He wrote a history of A.A. in Philadelphia, and also wrote a history called "The Evolution of Alcoholics Anonymous."  It contains some factual errors and his memory differed in spots from some of the other early A.A. members and of

Bill Wilson, but it is the first historical piece written about A.A.



Jim is usually given credit for the third tradition, that the only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking.  He also is credited with the use of "God as we understood Him" in the Steps.  (Jim, an agnostic, was militantly opposed to too much talk of God in the Big Book, but he said later that his agnostic stance had mellowed over the years.)  



When he updated his story for the May 1968 edition of the A.A. Grapevine, he

told how in the early days in New York he started fighting all the things Bill and the others stood for, especially religion, the "God bit."  But he did want to stay sober, and did love the understanding Fellowship.  Soon he was number four in seniority in the New York group.



He said he learned later that the New York group had a prayer meeting on what to do with him. The consensus seemed to have been that they hoped he would either leave town or get drunk.  He added that his spiritual growth over the past thirty years had been very gradual and steady.



Later he moved to San Diego, CA, where he lived until his death.  After

breaking his hip in a freak accident from which he never fully recovered, Jim

was often in a wheelchair. Following a long illness, he was admitted to the

Veterans Administration Medical Center, La Jolla, California, where he

started an A.A. meeting which still meets on Thursday nights.  



Jim died in the VA hospital on September 8, 1974.  He and Fitz Mayo are

buried just a few yards apart on the grounds of Christ Episcopal Church at

Owensville, MD.



_________



Special thanks to Ron L. of California for information on Jim's last days.









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BB Authors, 4rd edition -- Jim S. Washington, D.C., "Jim''s Story." BB Authors, 4rd edition -- Jim S. Washington, D.C., "Jim''s Story." 4/8/2002 10:07:00 AM From Pioneers of A.A.



Jim's Story - Jim S. (Scott?), Washington, D.C.

(p. 471 in 2nd edition, p. 483 in 3rd edition, and p. 232 in the 4th edition.  In the 2nd and 3rd editions it was in "They Nearly Lost All.")



Heading:  "This physician, the originator of A.A's first black group, but badly caught in the toils, tells of his release and of how freedom came as he worked among his own people."



Jim was born in a small town in Virginia, the son of a country physician.  They lived just a few doors from the First Baptist Church and as a small boy Jim would often ask when they had funerals whether the person was good or bad and whether they were going to heaven or hell.  His mother, recently converted, was something of a religious fanatic.  She was very Puritanical, did not allow card playing, although both parents drank moderately.



His father was from the South and had suffered a great deal there.  He was a doctor and wanted to give his son the best, and nothing but being a doctor would suffice.  Jim never thought he was as good a doctor as his father, whose medical ability was "a gift."  His father also had a mail order business since there was not much money in medicine at the time.



Jim attended elementary and high schools in Washington, D.C. and then attended Howard University.  His internship was in Washington.  Because of his mothers Puritanical training about sex, he married much younger than he might have otherwise.  (His mother didn't like his wife, Vi, in part because she had been married before.)  They had three children.  After they had their first child his parents became allies, but when Jim became an alcoholic they both turned against him.



Jim's real trouble with alcohol began about 1935 during the Great Depression.  He had lost practically all his property except the place they were living.  He had to give up a lot of things to which he had been accustomed.  His wife expressed concern about his drinking so he started lying about it and hiding bottles.



Then in 1940 man whom he had known for years came to his office.  He filled a prescription for the man's wife while in a blackout.  That frightened him and he talked to a psychiatrist about it, and a minister for whom he had a lot of respect.  But nothing seemed to be the answer. He went to work for the Federal Government, while still maintaining evening office hours.  Then he went to North Carolina because they told him the county he was going to was "dry."  He managed to stay sober there about six months.  Vi had secured work with the government in Washington and did not move to North Carolina, as he had expected.  So he started drinking again.  His physical condition deteriorated (he had his first stomach hemorrhage), and he was in financial difficulties, having borrowed money and drunk it all up, so he decided to return to Washington.



His wife received him graciously, although she was living with the children in a one-room apartment.  When he struck her with his fist, she got a court order against him and he went back to his mother. Things continued to get worse for Jim until one day, in a blackout, he stabbed Vi with a penknife.  Vi testified that he was basically a fine fellow and a good husband, but that he drank too much.  He was committed for thirty days observation.  He moved around the country for a time after that but soon went back to Washington.



When repairing an electric outlet for a friend, to earn some drinking money, he met Ella G., whom he had known years before but didn't recognize.  Ella arranged for Jim to meet "Charlie G." who became his sponsor.  Charlie was a white man.  The following Sunday he met with Ella, Charlie, and three or four others at Ella's house.  "That was the first meeting of a colored group in A.A.," so far as Jim knew.  



Soon Jim began looking for a place for them to hold meetings and was finally allowed to use a room at the YMCA at two dollars a night.  In the beginning the meetings were often only Jim and Ella, but gradually the group began to grow.  Charlie and many other white members of A.A. came to their meeting and taught them a great deal about how to hold meetings and about Twelve Step work.  "Indeed," wrote Jim, "without their help we couldn't possibly have gone on.  They saved us endless time and lost motion.  And, not only that, but they gave us financial help.  Even when we were paying that two dollars a night, they often paid it for us because our collection was so small."      



Jim was unemployed at the time and being supported by Vi.  So he devoted all his time to the building of that group.  Jim had found this new "something," and wanted to give it to everybody who had a problem.  "We didn't save the world, but we did manage to help some individuals," he wrote.



Jim spoke at the "God as We Understand Him" meeting held Sunday morning at the International Convention in St. Louis in 1955.  Bill wrote in "A.A. Comes of Age": "Deep silence fell as Dr. Jim S., the A.A. speaker, told of his life experience and the serious drinking that led to the crises which had brought about his spiritual awakening.  He re-enacted for us his own struggle to start the very first group among Negroes, his own people.  Aided by a tireless and eager wife, he had turned his home into a combined hospital and A.A. meeting place, free to all.  Ase told how early failure had finally been transformed under God's grace into amazing success, we who listened realized that A.A., not only could cross seas and mountains and boundaries of language and nation but could surmount obstacles of race and creed as well."

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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Archie Trowbridge, "The Man Who Mastered Fear." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Archie Trowbridge, "The Man Who Mastered Fear." 4/8/2002 10:20:00 AM From Pioneers of A.A.



The Man Who Mastered Fear -- Archie Trowbridge, Grosse Point, Michigan.

(OM, p. 332 in 1st edition, p. 275 in 2nd and 3rd editions, p. 246 in the 4th edition.  Titled "The Fearful One," in the 1st edition.  It was rewritten and renamed for the later editions.)



Heading: "He spent eighteen years in running away; and then found he didn't

have to run.  So he started A.A. in Detroit."



Archie's date of sobriety was November 1938.  He came from a good upper middle class family in Grosse Point, Michigan.  By the time he was twenty-one he had lived in foreign countries for six years, spoke three languages fluently, and had attended college for two years.



Then, family financial difficulties necessitated his going to work.  He entered the business world with every confidence that success lay ahead.  He had endless dates and went to countless dances, balls and dinner parties.  But this was suddenly shattered when he had a devastating nervous breakdown.  Doctors could find nothing physically wrong with him.  Psychiatry might have helped, but psychiatrists were little known in his town at that time.  



Recovery from the nervous breakdown came very slowly.  He ventured out of the

house for a walk, but became frightened by the time he reached the corner.  

Gradually he was able to do more, and even to work at various jobs.  He found

that alcohol helped relieve his many fears.



His parents both died when he was thirty, leaving him a sheltered and somewhat immature man, on his own.  He moved into a "bachelor hall," where the men all drank on Saturday nights and enjoyed themselves.  Archie drank with them, but also drank himself to sleep every night.



With bravery born of desperation and abetted by alcohol, he married a young

and lovely girl.  But the marriage lasted only four years, then she took their baby boy and left.  He locked himself in the house and stayed drunk for a month.



The next two years he had less and less work and more and more whisky.  He

ended up homeless, jobless, penniless and rudderless, the problem guest of a

close friend whose family was out of town.  When the family returned his friend turned Archie over to a couple, perhaps Oxford Group members, who knew Dr. Bob, and who were willing to drive him to Akron. The only stipulation they made was that he had to make the decision himself.  What choice did he have? Suicide or finding out whether this group of strangers could help him.



Dr. Bob put him in the hospital for a few days.  He then stayed with Dr. Bob and Anne for ten months.  He was in bad shape physically, mentally, and spiritually.  At first Dr. Bob thought he was "kind of simple."  He was penniless, jobless, and too ill to get out during the day to look for work.  Anne nursed him back to health, and while in their home he got down on his knees one day for the first time in thirty years.  "God.  For eighteen years I have been unable to handle this problem.  Please let me turn it over to you."  Immediately, a great feeling of peace descended on him, intermingled with a feeling of being suffused with a quiet strength.

 

He did not want to go back to Michigan, preferring to go someplace where he

could make a fresh start.  But Detroit was where he had to return, not only

because he must face the mess he had made there, but also because it was

where he could be of the most service to A.A.  In the spring of 1939, Bill Wilson stopped off in Akron on his way to Detroit on business.  He invited Archie to accompany him to Detroit.  They spent two days there together before Bill returned to New York.



He made amends where he could, and delivered dry cleaning out of a broken

down jalopy to his one-time fashionable friends in Grosse Point.  With a nonalcoholic friend, Sarah Klein, he started an A.A. group in Detroit.  



The date of his death is unknown.

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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Earl Treat, Chicago, IL. "He Sold Himself Short." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Earl Treat, Chicago, IL. "He Sold Himself Short." 4/8/2002 10:52:00 AM From Pioneers of A.A.



He Sold Himself Short -- Earl Treat, Chicago, Illinois.

(p. 287 in 2nd and 3rd editions and p. 258 in 4th edition.)



Heading:  "But he found that there was a Higher Power which had more faith in

him than he had in himself.  Thus, A.A. was born in Chicago."



Earl's date of sobriety was originally April 1937.  He had a brief slip in

July of 1937.  He grew up in a small town near Akron, Ohio.  Due to his interest in

athletics and his parents' influence, he didn't drink or smoke till after high school.  All this changed when he went to college, but still he confined his drinking to weekends, and he seemed to drink normally in college and for several years thereafter.



After he left school he lived with his parents and worked in Akron.  When he drank he hid it from his parents.  This continued until he was twenty-seven. 

He then started traveling on his job throughout the United States and Canada.  This gave him freedom and with an unlimited expense account he was soon

drinking every night, not only with customers, but alone.



In 1930 he moved to Chicago. With the Depression limiting his opportunity for employment, and with a lot of time on his hands, he began drinking in the morning.  By 1932 he was going on two or three day benders.  His wife became fed up and called his father to take him back to Akron.  For the next five years he bounced back and forth between Chicago and Akron to sober up.  



In January of 1937, back in Akron with his father to be sobered up, his father told him about the group in Akron, who had the same problem but had found a way to stay sober.  Earl knew two of them, one of them, Howard, was an ex-doctor whom he had once seen mooching a dime for a drink.  He didn't think he was that bad and would have none of it.  He told his father he could lick it on his own.  He said he would drink nothing for a month and after that only beer.



Several months later his father was back in Chicago to pick him up again, but

this time his attitude had changed, and he was willing to talk to the men in Akron.  When they got to Akron they routed Howard out of bed.  He spent two hours talking to Earl that night.  



He was indoctrinated by eight or nine men, after which he was allowed to attend his first meeting, which was led by Bill Dotson ("A.A. Number Three").  There were eight or nine alcoholics at the meeting and seven or eight wives.  There was no Big Book yet and no literature except various religious pamphlets.  The meeting lasted an hour and closed with the Lord's Prayer.  Then they had coffee and doughnuts and more discussion until the small hours of the morning.



He stayed in Akron two or three weeks and spent a lot of time with Dr. Bob, who took him through the steps in one afternoon.  Dr. Bob helped with the moral inventory by pointing out some of his bad personality traits or character defects.  Earl wished every alcoholic could have the benefit of this type of sponsorship today.  



He returned to Chicago in 1937 to start A.A. there.  He got angry and got drunk when his wife criticized his coffee drinking and smoking.  (Earl is the heavy smoker and coffee drinker mentioned on page 135 in "The Family Afterwards.")  When he slipped he realized that the alcoholic has to continue to take his own inventory every day if he expects to get well and stay well.



Soon Dan Craske, M.D. began referring prospects to him, and another doctor in

Evanston referred a woman.  This was Sylvia Kauffmann ("The Keys to the Kingdom").  Earl suggested she go to Akron.  There they dried her out and

explained the program to her, after which it was suggested that she return to

Chicago to work with Earl.



It was Earl who urged Bill Wilson to codify the A.A. experience, resulting in Bill writing "Twelve Points to Assure Our Future," first published in the April 1946 A.A. Grapevine.  These are now known as the long form of the traditions.  Earl later urged him to shorten them to the Twelve Traditions as we know them today.



Bill Wilson, in a talk given in Chicago in February 1951, said:



"I must say that a powerful impetus was given the Traditions by the Gentleman who introduced me.



"One day he came down to Bedford Hills after the long form of the Traditions were written out at some length because in the office we were forever having to answer questions about Group troubles so the original Traditions were longer and covered more possibilities of trouble. Earl looked at me rather quizzically and he said 'Bill, don't you get it through your thick head that these drunks do not like to read. They will listen for a while but they will not read anything.  Now, you want to capsule these Traditions as simply as are the Twelve Steps to Recovery.'



"So he and I stared the capsulizing process, which lasted a day or two and that put the Traditions into their present form."

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BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Sylvia Kauffman, "The Keys to the Kingdom." BB Authors, 3rd edition -- Sylvia Kauffman, "The Keys to the Kingdom." 4/8/2002 11:05:00 AM From Pioneers of A.A.



The Keys to the Kingdom -- Sylvia Kauffmann, Chicago, IL.

(p. 304 in 2nd and 3rd editions, p. 268 in the 4th edition.)



Heading:  "This worldly lady helped to develop A.A. in Chicago and thus

passed her keys to many."



According to member list index cards kept by the Chicago group, Sylvia's date

of sobriety was September 13, 1939.  Because of slips by Marty Mann ("Women

Suffer Too,") Sylvia may have been the first woman to achieve long term

sobriety.



Sylvia was raised in a good environment with loving and conscientious parents and given every advantage: the best schools, summer camps, resort vacations and travel.  She had her first drink at sixteen and loved what it did for her.  



She was the product of the post-war prohibition era of the roaring '20s.  She

married at twenty, had two children, and was divorced at twenty-three.  This gave her a good excuse to drink.  By twenty-five she had developed into an alcoholic.

She began making the rounds of the doctors in the hope that one of them might

find a cure for her accumulating ailments, most of whom prescribed sedatives

and advised rest and moderation.



Between the ages of twenty-five and thirty she tried everything.  She moved to Chicago thinking a new environment would help.  She tried all sorts of things to control her drinking: the beer diet, the wine diet, timing, measuring, and spacing of drinks.  Nothing worked.  The next three years saw her in sanitariums, once in a ten-day coma from which she very nearly died.  She wanted to die, but had lost the courage to try.



For about one year prior to this time there was one doctor who did not give up on her.  He tried everything he could think of, including having her go to Mass every morning at six a.m., and performing the most menial labor for his charity patients.  This doctor apparently had the intuitive knowledge that spirituality and helping others might be the answer.  



In the 1939 this doctor heard of the book Alcoholics Anonymous and wrote to

New York for a copy.  After reading it he tucked it under his arm and called on Sylvia.  That visit marked the turning point of her life.



He must have studied the book carefully because he took its advice.  He gave her the cold, hard facts about her condition, and that she would either die of acute alcoholism, develop a wet brain, or have to be put away permanently.  Then he told her of the handful of people in Akron and New York who seemed to have worked out a technique for arresting their alcoholism.  He asked her to read the book and to talk with a man who experiencing success by using this plan.  This was Earl Treat ("He Sold Himself Short"), the "Mr. T." to whom she refers on page 273 of the 4th edition.



Earl suggested she visit Akron.  According to Bill Wilson, she got off to a slow start there, and may also have been a pill addict.  She took a lot of "little white pills" which she claimed were saccharin, and no one could understand why she was so rubber-legged.  A nurse was flown in, presumably from Chicago, to take care of her.



Sylvia stayed two weeks with the Snyders (Clarence Snyder, "The Home Brewmeister) in Cleveland.  She met Dr. Bob, who brought other A.A. men to meet her.  Dorothy Snyder said that the men "were only too willing to talk to

her after they saw her."  Sylvia was a glamorous divorcee, extremely good looking, and rich.  But these attractions probably did not help her with the wives of the alcoholics, who were known on occasion to run women out.



After meeting Dr. Bob she wanted to move to Akron, but this caused great consternation, since her presence threatened to disrupt the whole group.  Someone told her it would mean a great deal more if she could go back and

help in Chicago.  



She went back to Chicago where she eventually got sober.  She worked closely

with Earl Treat, and her personal secretary, Grace Cultice, became the first

secretary at the Intergroup office in Chicago, the first in the country.



Sylvia updated her story in the January 1969 issue of the "A.A. Grapevine."  She told how busy her first ten years in A.A. were, but how all this tremendous activity, by bringing her into almost constant contact with other members, provided her with everything she most desperately needed to save her life.  As she looked back she realized this was the most excitingly beautiful period of her life.



When she wrote this update, Sylvia had been living in Sarasota, Florida, with

her husband, Dr. Ed Sunderlund, and was soon to celebrate their eighteenth

wedding anniversary.  "He is an alky, too, and our lives have been enriched by our mutual faith and perseverance in the A.A. way of life.  Through it we have found a quality of happiness and serenity that, we believe, could not have been realized in any other way. Small wonder our gratitude knows no bounds."

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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Ceil F., NYC. "Fear of Fear." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Ceil F., NYC. "Fear of Fear." 4/8/2002 11:20:00 AM From: They Stopped in Time.



Fear of Fear -- Ceil F.  (Ceil Mansfield?), New York City.

(p. 330 in the 2nd edition, p. 321 in the 3rd edition, and p. 289 in the 4th edition.)



Heading:  "This lady was cautious. She decided she wouldn't let herself go

in her drinking.  And she would never, never take that morning drink!"



Ceil's date of sobriety was, according to one source, July 1949.  Her husband

George joined shortly before she did.  She thought she was not an alcoholic, that her problem was that she had been married to a drunk.  But she finally admitted, to a woman she met when she accompanied George to the Greenwich Village Group, that she, too, had a problem.



She was one who never went to a hospital, never lost a job, and had never been to jail.  And she didn't drink in the morning. Nonetheless, she was a severe alcoholic.  She believes that she should have lost her husband, but the fact that he was an alcoholic too kept them together.



She wrote an update of her story for the September 1968 A.A. Grapevine.  In it she tells how dramatically their lives had changed.  When they came to A.A. they were spiritually, mentally, and physically beaten people.  Their children were ashamed of them, their families did not want any part of them.  She reported that now their families trusted them again, and physically they were in better shape than they were when they came in.  Their friends were all in the Fellowship.



George had found it tough going financially for a while, so the women in A.A.

suggested she get a job.  She went to work for a New York advertising agency as a receptionist, but soon gained the confidence to look for a better job with more responsibility and a better salary.  In 1968 she had been at her current job for eight years, getting advancements each year.  But she complained about the office politics and how the other women snickered when she told them she did not tell lies.  Office politics were strange for her.  She said she had always been honest, even when drinking, but "this office hanky-panky was new."  She loved her work, but admitted that nineteen years earlier she would not have had the serenity to take the office politics.



George finally got started again in his profession.  After eighteen years, they were both still very active in A.A. and doing a lot of Twelfth Step work.  She expressed enormous gratitude to the Fellowship for all it had given them.



Like so many of us sober a long time, friends asked Ceil and George why they

continued to go to meetings, do Twelfth Step work, and speak at other groups.  "They ask, 'Isn't eighteen years enough time to prove you have the alcoholic

problem licked?'  My answer is always the same: that I love my A.A.  It is the one Fellowship that has given us our lives, freedom, and happiness.  We are not reformed drunks -- but informed alcoholics."  And she concludes: "I know to whom I owe my gratitude: my fellow members of A.A.  I hope I shall never forget to be grateful."



She has been identified by one source as Ceil Mansfield, but her update was

signed C.F.  Perhaps that was a typo in the A.A. Grapevine, or perhaps she

had begun using her maiden name for professional reason.



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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Author unknown, "The Housewife Who Drank ..." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Author unknown, "The Housewife Who Drank ..." 4/8/2002 12:02:00 PM From:  They Stopped in Time



The Housewife Who Drank at Home -- author unknown.

(p. 375 in 2nd edition, p. 335 in 3rd edition, p 295 in the 4th edition.)



Heading:  "She hid her bottles in clothes hampers and dresser drawers.  She

realized what she was becoming.  In A.A., she discovered she had lost nothing and had found everything."



This story is of an alcoholic woman who stayed at home to care for her family. Her bar was her kitchen, her living room, her bedroom, the back bathroom, and the two hampers.  She had never been a very heavy social drinker, but during a period of particular stress and strain she resorted to alcohol in her home, alone, as a means of temporary release and a means of getting a little extra sleep.  She

didn't think a little wine would hurt her, but soon she was a chronic wine drinker.  She needed it and couldn't live without it.



She became secretive about how much she drank.  She pretended to be doing a

lot of entertaining when she bought more wine, not wanting the clerk to know it was for herself.



When the doctor prescribed a little brandy for her son to help him through the night when he coughed, she switched from wine to brandy for three weeks.  

Soon she was in D.T.'s and screaming on the telephone for her mother and husband to come help her.



Thinking it would help if she got out of the house, she became active in civic affairs.  As long as she worked she didn't drink, but had to get back to that first drink somehow.  While she was out of the house her behavior was fine, but her husband and children saw the other side of her.  She had turned into a Jekyll-and-Hyde personality.



When the children were in school from nine to three she started a little business and was fairly successful in it.  But it was just a substitute for drink and she still needed that drink.  She tried switching to beer, which she had hated. Now she grew to love it and would drink it warm or cold.  Through all of this, her husband, whom she had turned against and treated badly, stayed with her and tried to help her.  



Finally a doctor recommended A.A.  At one time the admission that she was an

alcoholic meant shame, defeat, and failure to her.  Now she was able to interpret that defeat, and that failure, and that shame, as seeds of victory.  It was only through feeling defeat and feeling failure, the inability to cope with her life and with alcohol, that she was able to surrender and accept the fact that she had the disease of alcoholism and that she had to learn to live again without alcohol.



In A.A. she found that for the first time she could face her problems honestly and squarely.  She took everything that A.A. had to give her.  She surrendered.  To her surrender brought with it the ability to run her home, to face her responsibilities, to take life as it comes day by day.  She had surrendered once to the bottle, and couldn't do those things.  She was brought up to believe in God, but not until she found A.A. did she know faith in the reality of God, the reality of His power that is now with her in everything she does.



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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Dr. Earle M., CA. "Physician Heal Thyself!" BB Authors, 4th edition -- Dr. Earle M., CA. "Physician Heal Thyself!" 4/8/2002 12:15:00 PM From They Stopped in Time



Physician Heal Thyself! -- Dr. Earle M., San Francisco Bay Area, CA.

(p. 393 in 2nd edition, p. 345 in 3rd edition, p. 301 in the 4th edition.)



Earle had his last day of drinking and using drugs on June 15, 1953.  An A.A.

friend, Harry, took him to his first meeting the following week, the Tuesday

Night Mill Valley A.A. group, which met in Wesley Hall at the Methodist Church. There were only five people there, all men: a butcher, a carpenter, a baker, and his friend Harry H, a mechanic/inventor.  He loved A.A. from the start, and though he has been critical of the program at times, his devotion has remained constant.



Described in his story heading as a psychiatrist and surgeon, he was qualified in many fields.  During his long career, he has been a prominent professor of obstetrics and gynecology, and an outstanding clinician at the University of California at San Francisco. He was a fellow of the American College of Surgeons and of the International College of Surgeons, a diplomat of the American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology, board-certified psychiatrist, vice-president of the American Association of Marital and Family Therapists, and a lecturer on human sexuality.



He was raised in San Francisco, but was born on August 3, 1911, in Omaha,

Nebraska, and lived there until he was ten.  His parents were alcoholics.  In Omaha they lived on the wrong side of the tracks, and he wore hand-me-down

clothes from relatives.  He was ashamed of this, and could not begin to accept it until years later.  He revealed none of this in his story.  Instead he talked about how successful he had been in virtually everything he had done.  He said he lost nothing that most alcoholics lose, and described his skid row as the skid row of success.  But in 1989 he wrote an autobiography by the same title, which reveals much more of his story. 



During his first year in A.A. he went to New York and met Bill Wilson. They became very close and talked frequently both on the phone and in person. He frequently visited Bill at his home, Stepping Stones.  He called Bill one of his sponsors, and said there was hardly a topic they did not discuss in detail.  He took a Fifth Step with Bill.  And Bill often talked over his depressions with Earle.



In a search for serenity Earle studied and practiced many forms of religion:

Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and ancestor worship. 



He has long been a strong advocate for the cross-addiction theory, and

predicted that over time we would see the evolution of Addictions Anonymous.



When he was sober about ten years, Earle developed resentments against

newcomers and began a group in San Francisco for oldtimers.  It was called

The Forum.  He wrote a credo for it designed of ten steps for chemically

dependent people.  He felt that addiction represents a single disease with many open doors leading to it: alcohol, opiates, amphetamines, cocaine, etc.  Most of the Forum members were also devoted A.A. members.  He also established a new kind of A.A. group, which used confrontational techniques. Some A.A. members disliked it intensely, while others seemed to

gain a great deal from it.



Many alcoholics make geographic changes when they are drinking.  But Earle

seems to have made his after achieving sobriety. He has lived in many places, both in this country and abroad, traveled around the world three times, and attended A.A. everywhere he went. 



He also married several times.  In 1968 he divorced his first wife, Mary, whom he had married in 1940.  She once told him she had great respect for him as a doctor, but none as a human being.  He admitted that he'd had affairs during the marriage, even after joining A.A.  His relationship with their only child, Jane, who was a very successful opera singer, was strained, but he gave her an opportunity to air her feelings in his book.  She wrote that when she received the gold medallion at the International Tchaikovsky Voice Competition in Moscow in 1966, a high honor, her father did not attend. Some people told her that it was not easy for him to see her become such a success -- to be so in the public eye.  She added that their paths were still separate, but she did not ever totally close a door because he WAS her father.



In the 1960s he was experimenting with encounter and sensitivity awareness

groups, which were then in vogue.  At one of the encounter marathons he met

his second wife, Katie, and within a year they were married and soon moved to

Lake Tahoe.  They lived separately except for two brief periods, and after a few years were divorced.



Later he accepted a job with the U.S. State Department at the University of

Saigon Medical School, in Korea.  He spent five years there, after which he

returned to San Francisco, hoping to rekindle his marriage to Katie.



In September 1975 he moved to Hazard, Kentucky, to work at the Hazard

Appalachian Regional Hospital.  There he met his third wife, Freda, thirty years younger than he was.  Freda came from a truly humble background.  She was the daughter of a miner who had died of black lung disease.  She and her six brothers were raised in a typical two-room coal miner's house in Hazard.  During his relationship with her and her family he was able to put to rest some ghosts concerning his Nebraska background.  This wonderful family helped him to re-evaluate his memories of Omaha.



In 1978 his feet began again to itch again. He accepted short-term job in Napal. When he was offered a long-term assignment Freda and his stepsons did not want to leave Kentucky. Disappointed, he returned to Kentucky, and obtained work as a gynecologist in a family planning clinic, and also lectured to medical students on human sexuality at the University of Louisville Medical School.  When he moved again, this time to Kirkland, Washington, Freda again refused to leave Kentucky.  They were divorced soon after.  They remained friendly and talked to one another on the phone about twice a year.



From all his travels, he always seemed to return to the San Francisco Bay Area.  In 1980 he accepted a position as medical director of the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco.  There he met his fourth wife, Mickey.  She was a Ph.D. candidate at the Institute.  He described her as a vibrant, open, honest, direct woman without pretense, non-threatening, sexually on fire, lacking in prejudice, and tolerant about all aspects of life -- including human sexuality.  She was already an Al-Anon member when they met, having been married to an alcoholic.  She also made contributions in the field of alcoholism and recovery at Merritt Peralta Chemical Dependence Recovery Hospital in Oakland, California.  They married and remained together until her death in 2000.  His book is dedicated to her.



I talked to Earle on July 27, 2001. He told me he still gets to an A.A. meeting almost every day.  His eyesight is not too good, but otherwise he is full of vim and vigor.  Form his voice, I would have taken him for a man of 40.  He missed the A.A. International Convention last year because of Mickey's ill health, but he hopes to attend the one in 2005.

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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Chet Rude, "It Might Have Been Worse." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Chet Rude, "It Might Have Been Worse." 4/8/2002 12:29:00 PM From: They Stopped in Time



It Might Have Been Worse -- Chet Rude

(p. 382 in 2nd edition, p. 373 in 3rd edition, p. 348 in the 4th edition.)



Heading:  "Alcohol was a looming cloud in this banker's bright sky. With

rare foresight he realized it could become a tornado."



Chet's sobriety date and place of entry into A.A. are unknown. He was raised in a family of modest circumstances, in a small town in the Midwest.  He attended public schools, worked part-time after school and during vacations, and participated in some athletics.  But ambition to succeed was instilled in him by his Scandinavian parents who had come to this country because they thought there were better opportunities here.  



Wartime service in the Army (presumably World War II) interrupted his plans

for success.  After the war he continued his education, married and had a

family, and got started in business.  He worked hard and in time became an officer and director of a large commercial bank, and also became a director in many important institutions.



His drinking did not start until he was thirty-five and fairly successful in his career, but success brought increased social activities which involved alcohol.  At first it was just an occasional drink, then the "nineteenth hole" at the golf course, then cocktail hours. Eventually the increased drinking substituted for what he really enjoyed doing.  Golf, hunting, and fishing became excuses to drink excessively.



He made promises and broke them many times; went on the wagon and fell off;

tried psychiatry but gave the psychiatrist no cooperation.  Blackouts, personality changes, hangovers and remorse resulted in his living in constant fear.  He thought no one knew the extent of his drinking and was surprised to learn later than that everyone knew.  His wife tried to control the amount he drank; tried leaving or threatening to leave.  Nothing seemed to work.



After a drunk which ruined his wife's birthday party, his daughter said "It's Alcoholics Anonymous -- or else!"



A lawyer in A.A. called on him the next day, spent most of the day with him, and took him to his first meeting that night.  At first he wondered if he belonged in AA because he hadn't had the experience of jails, lost jobs, lost families that he heard others describe.  But the answer was in the first step.  Most certainly he was powerless over alcohol, and for him his life had become unmanageable.  It wasn't how far he had gone, but where he was headed.  He was wise enough to recognize that.



He began to realize how his obsession with alcohol had lead to self-pity, resentments, dishonest thinking, prejudice, ego, a critical and antagonistic attitude toward anyone and everyone who dared to cross him, and vanity.  It took him some time to realize that the Twelve Steps were designed to help correct these defects of character and so help remove the obsession to drink.

 

A willingness to do whatever he was told to do simplified the program for him.  He was told to study the AA book, not just read it, to go to meetings, and to get active. 

He was desperately in earnest to follow through and understand what was expected of him as a member of A.A. and to take each Step of the Twelve as

rapidly as possible.  The fact that A.A. is a spiritual program didn't scare him or raise any prejudice in his mind.  He couldn't afford that luxury.  He had tried his way and had failed.



When he joined A.A. he did so for the sole purpose of getting sober and staying sober.  But he found it was so much more.  A new and different outlook on life started opening up almost immediately.  Each day seemed to be so much more productive and satisfying.  He got so much more enjoyment out of living, and found an inner pleasure in simple things.  Above all, he was grateful to A.A. for his sobriety, which meant so much to his family, friends and business associates, because God and A.A. were able to do for him something he was unable to do for himself.    

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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Author unknown, "Me an Alcoholic?" BB Authors, 4th edition -- Author unknown, "Me an Alcoholic?" 4/8/2002 12:37:00 PM From They Stopped In Time



Me an Alcoholic?  -- Author unknown.

(p. 419 in 2nd edition, p. 432 in 3rd edition, p 382 in the 4th edition.)



Heading:  "Alcohol's wringer squeezed this author - but he escaped quite whole."



This author's date of sobriety is believed to be November 1947.  He reveals little of his childhood years or his origin, just the hint when discussing his seven years in psychotherapy that someone had coddled him and built him up, and then turned and beat him savagely.



He was a father, husband, homeowner, athlete, artist, musician, author, editor, aircraft pilot, and world traveler.  He was listed in "Who's Who in America."  He had been successful in the publishing business, and his opinions were quoted in "Time" and "Newsweek" with pictures, and he addressed the public by radio and television.



He drank heavily as was common in the literary circles in which he traveled.  "Evening cocktails were as standard as morning coffee," and his average daily consumption ran a little more or less than a pint.  This did not seem to affect his work.  He was never drunk on the job, never missed a day's work, was seldom rendered totally ineffective by a hangover and kept his liquor expenses well within his adequate budget.  How could he possibly be an alcoholic?  



But he occasionally went on binges, usually one-night stands.  In twenty-five years of drinking there were only a few occasions when he took a morning drink.  He usually had excuses for the binges and tried several methods of controlling his drinking.  These plans seemed to work for short periods.



Inwardly unhappy he turned to psychoanalysis. He spent seven years and ten thousand dollars on psychiatric care and emerged in worse condition than ever, although he learned a lot about himself, which would be useful later.  His binges got closer and closer together and with more and more disastrous results.  Soon he was in suicidal despair.



After his last binge, during which he did considerable damage to his home, he crawled back to his analyst and told him he thought he was an alcoholic.  His doctor agreed.  He said he hadn't told him because he hadn't been sure until recently. The line between a heavy drinker and an alcoholic is not always clear, and that he wouldn't have believed him had he told him.  The doctor admitted that there was nothing he could do for him, and that there was nothing medicine could do for him.  But he suggested A.A.  Many times in the years that followed the author thanked God for that doctor, a man who had the courage to admit failure and the humility to confess that all the hard-won learning of his profession could not turn up the answer.



In A.A. he found the power he needed.  In the seven years since he had come to A.A. he had not had a drink.  He still had some hell to go through.  His tower of worldly success collapsed, his alcoholic associates fired him, took control, and ran the enterprise into bankruptcy.  His alcoholic wife took up with someone else and divorced him, taking with her all his remaining property.  But the most terrible blow was when his sixteen-year-old son was tragically killed.  "The Higher Power was on deck to see me through, sober.  I think He's on hand to see my son through, too.  I think He's on hand to see all of us through whatever may come to us.



Some wonderful things had happened, too.  His new wife and he didn't own any property to speak of and the flashy successes of another day were gone.  But they had a baby "who, if you'll pardon a little post-alcoholic sentimentality, is right out of Heaven."  His work was on a much deeper and more significant level than it ever was before, and he was, at the time he wrote his story, a fairly creative, relatively sane human being.  "And should I have more bad times," he wrote, "I know that I'll never again have to go through these alone."

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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Dr. Paul Ohliger, CA. "Acceptance Was the Answer." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Dr. Paul Ohliger, CA. "Acceptance Was the Answer." 4/8/2002 1:00:00 PM From They Stopped in Time



Acceptance Was the Answer --  Paul Ohliger, MD, Laguna Niguel, California.

(p. 439 in 3rd edition, p 407 in the 4th editiion.  In the 3rd edition it was entitled ".Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict." )



Heading:  "The physician wasn't hooked, he thought - he just prescribed drugs

medically indicated for his many ailments.  Acceptance was his key to liberation."



Paul's story is one of the most frequently quoted because it talks so much about acceptance.  His original date of sobriety was December 1966, but he slipped until July 1967.  He didn't think he was an alcoholic, he just had problems.  "If you

had my problems you'd drink too."  His major problem was his wife.  "If you

had my wife you'd drink, too."  He and his wife, Max, had been married twenty-eight years when he entered A.A.  He said she was a natural Al-Anon long before they heard of either A.A. or Al-Anon.  His story in the Big Book, and tapes of his talks, show that Paul had a great sense of humor, and was a very humble man. 



Paul had begun to drink when in pharmacy school to help him sleep.  He went

through pharmacy school, graduate school, medical school, internship, residency and specialty training and, finally went into practice.  All the time his drinking kept increasing.  Soon he began taking drugs to pep him up and tranquilizers to level off.  



On occasion he tried to stop completely, but had convulsions from withdrawal.

When he went to Mayo Clinic he was put in the locked ward. Another hospitalization was in the psychiatric ward of a hospital, on which he was on

the staff.  But there he was introduced to A.A.  It took him awhile to get off the alcohol and pills, but when he wrote his story he said: "Today, I find I can't work my A.A. program while taking pills, nor may I even have them around for dire emergencies only.  I can't say 'Thy will be done,' and take a pill.  I can't say, 'I'm powerless over alcohol, but solid alcohol is okay.'  I can't say 'God could restore me to sanity but until He does, I'll control myself -- with pills.'"   



He started Pills Anonymous and Chemical Dependency Anonymous, but did not

attend them because he got all he needed from A.A.  He did not introduce himself as an alcoholic and addict, and was irritated by people who want to broaden A.A. to include other addictions. 



He wrote an article for the Grapevine on why doctors shouldn't prescribe pills for alcoholics, and because he had a dual problem was asked to write his story for the Big Book.  It was originally published in the A.A. Grapevine with the title "Bronzed Moccasins" and an illustration of a pair of bronze moccasins.  It was eventually renamed and included in the Big Book.  His book, "There's More to Quitting Drinking than Quitting Drinking," was published in 1995 by Sabrina Publishing, Laguna Niguel, CA.



Paul complained in an interview with A.A. Grapevine that the story might have

"overshot the mark."  One of the most uncomfortable things for him was people

run up to him at a meeting and tell him how glad they are the story is in the book.  "They say they were fighting with their home group because their home group won't let them talk about drugs. So they show their group the story and they say, 'By God, now you'll have to let me talk about drugs.' And I really hate to see the story as a divisive thing. I don't think we came to A.A. to fight each other."



But he denied that there is anything in the story he would want to change.  The story "makes clear the truth that an alcoholic can also be an addict, and indeed that an alcoholic has a constitutional right to have as many problems as he wants! But that doesn't mean that every A.A. meeting has to be open to a discussion of drugs if it doesn't want to.  Every meeting has the right to say it doesn't want drugs discussed.  People who want to discuss drugs have other places where they can go to talk about that."



How did he work his program?  "Pretty much every morning, before I get out of

bed, I say the Serenity Prayer, the Third Step Prayer, and the Seventh Step

Prayer.  Then Max and I repeat those prayers along with other prayers and

meditations at breakfast."



He had a special meeting format for early morning meetings. He called them

Attitude Adjustment Meetings. They consisted largely of readings from the Big

Book, prayers from the Big Book and 12 & 12, and a short session of positive

pitches. The meetings were at 6:30 am or 7:00 am each day.



Paul died on May 19, 2000.  Max, died on July 1, 2001.



________



Some of the information about Dr. Paul is taken from his book "There's More

to Quitting Drinking than Quitting Drinking," and from his tapes.

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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Bertha V., Louisville, KY, "Another Chance" BB Authors, 4th edition -- Bertha V., Louisville, KY, "Another Chance" 4/8/2002 4:12:00 PM From They Nearly Lost All



Another Chance - Bertha V., Louisville, Kentucky

(p. 526, 3rd edition, page 531 in 4th edition.)



Heading:  "Poor, black, totally ruled by alcohol, she felt shut away from any life worth living.  But when she began a prison sentence, a door opened."



Bertha arrived at A.A.'s doors in April of 1972.  She was the daughter of a clergyman, but had sunk low because of alcohol.  She had served time in prison for killing a man in a blackout.  It was in prison that she accepted A.A., having rejected it earlier.  She only served three years of a twelve-year sentence.



She was a poor African-American woman from an area where there were very few African-Americans in A.A.  And they didn't get involved much in A.A. activities.  She thought some African-Americans were afraid to go to other meetings, but she wanted them to know that "there are no color bars in A.A."  She talks movingly about how she was not discriminated against in A.A., nor made to feel different in any way.



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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Wynn Corum Laws, CA. "Freedom From Bondage." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Wynn Corum Laws, CA. "Freedom From Bondage." 4/8/2002 4:27:00 PM From They Lost Nearly All



Freedom From Bondage - Wynn Corum Laws, California

(p. 553, 2nd edition, p. 544 3rd edition, p. 544 4th edition.)



Heading:  "Young when she joined, this A.A. believes her serious drinking was the result of even deeper defects.  She here tells how she was set free."



Wynn joined A.A. in California in 1947 at age thirty-three.  She was described by the novelist, Carolyn See, one of her several step children, as "tall, and with a face that was astonishing in its beauty.  She had "translucent skin with a tiny dusting of freckles, Katharine Hepburn cheekbones, bright red hair, and turquoise eyes."  She was a "knockout."



She believed that her alcoholism was a symptom of a deeper trouble, and that her mental and emotional difficulties began many years before she began to drink.  But AA taught her that she was the result of the way she reacted to what happened to her as a child.



She was born in Florida and, like Bill Wilson before her, her parents separated when she was a child, and she was sent to live with her grandparents in the Mid West.  She reports feeling "lonely, and terrified and hurt."  (This common childhood experience may have been one of the reasons for the reported close friendship she had with Bill Wilson.)



She married and divorced four times before finding A.A.  The first time she married for financial security; her second husband was a prominent bandleader and she sang with his band; her third husband was an Army Captain she married during World War II; her fourth husband was a widower, with several children.



One A.A. friend quipped when first hearing Wynn's story, that she had always been a cinch for the program, for she had always been interested in mankind, but was just taking them one man at a time.



Sometime after 1955 when her story appeared in the Big Book, she married her fifth husband, George Laws, another A.A. member.  George and Wynn were married for several years and his daughter Caroline lived with them when they were first married.  After they were divorced, according to Caroline, she dated a wealthy insurance executive whom she had hoped to marry.



George and Wynn were a popular team speaking at meetings.  "My dad was Wynn's opening act," said Carolyn.  "He couldn't help but be funny.  Then he would defer to Wynn, whose tale was hair-raising."



Carolyn writes:  "Wynn's mother had deserted her in order to go out and live a selfish life.  An unloving grandmother reared her in strict poverty.  She contracted typhoid fever and hovered between life and death for about ninety days.  All her hair and (though she would not admit this) her teeth fell out."



She recovered at about age sixteen.  Her beautiful red hair grew back in and she wore dentures "stuck in so firmly that no one saw her without them."  According to Caroline, "she began carving out a career as a femme fatale, and started drinking to bridge the gap between the grim hash-slinging reality she was born to, and the golden mirage of American romance she yearned for."



Wynn said in her story that she didn't know how to love.  Fear of rejection and its ensuring pain were not to be risked.  When she found alcohol it seemed to solve her problems -- for a time.  But soon things fell apart and jails and hospitals followed.  When she wound up in a hospital for detoxification, she began to take stock and realized she had lived with no sense of social obligation or responsibility to her fellow men.  She was full of resentments and fears.  



When she wrote her story she had been in A.A. eight years and her life had changed dramatically.  She had not had a drink since her first meeting, and had not only found a way to live without having a drink, but a way to live without wanting a drink.



Wynn believed she had many spiritual experiences after coming to the program, many that she didn't recognize right away, "For I'm slow to learn and they take many guises."



On the last page of her story Wynn says:  "As another great man says, 'The only real freedom a human being can ever know is doing what you ought to do because you want to do it.'"  That "great man" may have been Bill Wilson.



Wynn and Jack P. of Los Angeles started more than 80 meetings in hospitals, jails and prisons in Southern California from about 1947 to 1950. Jack P. reports that during this period they were widely criticized by other members of the Fellowship who thought this was not something A.A. should be doing.   



"A.A. can be said to have worked for my father and Wynn," wrote Carolyn.  "Although they would divorce, neither of them would ever take a drink again."



George died from lung cancer.  Wynn, too, suffered from cancer and when first diagnosed became very active in the American Cancer Society.



Carolyn comments:  "Here's the other thing my father wanted, above all else, to write.  My first and second husbands wanted above all else, to write.  All I ever wanted was to write.  But guess who really got to be the writer?  Who's the one in our family, who has actually changed, improved, transformed thousands of lives?  The woman who wrote 'Freedom from Bondage' under the section 'They Lost Nearly All' in the A.A. Big Book.  The girl who lost all her teeth from typhoid when she was in her teens, who slung hash way up into her forties, and who died a cruel death from cancer when she was way too young.  She couldn't have done it if she hadn't 'lost nearly all.'"



The date of Wynn's death is unknown, but she apparently died in poverty.  When her cancer returned, several years after she had divorced George, she contacted Carolyn trying to reach him because she needed financial help.  Carolyn tried to persuade her father to help Wynn.  When he refused it upset Carolyn who was genuinely fond of Wynn.  Her last words to Carolyn were "I've always loved you," and Carolyn believes she truly did.

 

________



Sources:  Personal communications with Carolyn See and her book: "Dreaming, Hard Luck and Good Times in America," University of California Press.

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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Bob P., CN. "A.A. Taught Him to Handle Sobriety." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Bob P., CN. "A.A. Taught Him to Handle Sobriety." 4/8/2002 4:42:00 PM From  They Lost Nearly All



A.A. Taught Him To Handle Sobriety -- Bob P., Connecticut

(p. 554 3rd edition, p. 553 4th edition.)



Heading:  "God willing, we may never again have to deal with drinking, but we have to deal with sobriety every day."



Bob joined A.A. in New York City in 1961, probably never dreaming one day he would be the manager of A.A.'s General Service Office.



Bob was born in Houston, Texas, but raised in Kansas, the only child of loving parents.  His parents drank only socially, and his father gave him his first drink -- a tiny glass of sherry to celebrate the New York -- when he was thirteen.  He immediately saw the effect it had on him and prayed he wouldn't drink any more.  But in college he began to drink at fraternity parties and beer busts.



The family moved frequently and Bob found himself in a different school every year until high school, where he was always the new kid who had to prove himself.  He retreated into a fantasy world.  He became the classic over-achiever and sold his first article to a national magazine while still an undergraduate.  



After graduation from college he moved to New York to pursue a writing career and landed a good job. He was soon regarded as a "boy wonder."  But by age twenty-two he was a daily drinker.



He then had difficulty in every aspect of his life.  His service in the Navy was marred when he was given a "Captain's Mast," i.e., discipline for trouble he got into while drinking.  His marriage suffered, his values became distorted, and by forty his health was severely damaged.



When the doctor told him he would have to stop drinking he did, for ten months, with no apparent difficulty, but he did not enjoy life without drinking, and soon he was drinking again and his physical condition deteriorated further.  He developed cirrhosis of the liver, had frequent blackouts, severe nosebleeds, angry bruises which appeared mysteriously all over his body.  Despite three episodes of losing large quantities of blood by vomiting and from his rectum, he drank again.



His doctor finally gave up on him and referred him to a psychiatrist in the same suite of offices.  "He happened to be, by the grace of God," Bob wrote, "Dr. Harry Tiebout, the psychiatrist who probably knew more about alcoholism than any other in the world."  At that time Dr. Tiebout was serving as a nonalcoholic trustee on the General Service Board.



Dr. Tiebout sent him to High Watch to dry out.  There he read the Big Book and began his slow road back to health and sanity.



When Bob had been in A.A. only a short time, an oldtimer told him that A.A. does not teach us how to handle our drinking, but it teaches us how to handle sobriety.



Not only did his health recover, so did his marriage, his relationship with his children, his performance on his job.  All these things A.A. gave him, but most of all it taught him how to handle sobriety, how to relate to people, how to deal with disappointments and problems.  He learned that "the name of the game is not so much to stop drinking as to stay sober."



"God willing, we members of Alcoholics Anonymous may never again have to deal with drinking, but we have to deal with sobriety every day.  How do we do it?  By learning -- through practicing the Twelve Steps and through sharing at meetings -- how to cope with the problems that we looked to booze to solve, back in our drinking days."



Bob has served A.A. in many ways.  He worked for G.S.O. for twelve and a half years.  He was a director and trustee of the General Service Board for six years and office general manager for a decade.  Upon retirement from G.S.O. in 1986, he took on the task for G.S.O. of writing an update of A.A.'s history covering the period from the publication of "Alcoholics Anonymous Comes to Age," through its fiftieth year.  Unfortunately, this manuscript was never published.



At the 1986 General Service Conference, Bob gave what the 1986 Final Report called "a powerful and inspiring closing talk" titled "Our greatest danger: rigidity." 

He said: "If you were to ask me what is the greatest danger facing A.A. today, I would have to answer the growing rigidity - the increasing demand for absolute answers to nit-picking questions; pressure for G.S.O. to 'enforce' our Traditions, screening alcoholics at closed meetings, prohibiting non-Conference approved literature, i.e., 'banning books,' laying more and more rules on groups and members.  And in this trend toward rigidity, we are drifting farther and farther away from our co-founders.  Bill, in particular, must be spinning in his grave, for he was perhaps the most permissive person I ever met.  One of his favorite sayings was 'Every group has the right to be wrong.'"



Bob continues to give his service to A.A. in many ways.  At the International Convention in Minneapolis in 2000, he appeared to be handling many jobs.  He filled in to lead at least one of the small meetings, "Pioneers in A.A."  The program does not list him as the Moderator.  He was probably filling in for someone else at the last minute.



_________



Source for some of the information about Bob is "Not God, a History of Alcoholics Anonymous" by Ernest Kurtz, expanded edition, Hazelden, 1991.











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BB Authors, 4th edition -- Dave Bancroft, Montreal. "Gratitude in Action." BB Authors, 4th edition -- Dave Bancroft, Montreal. "Gratitude in Action." 4/8/2002 5:11:00 PM There is one new story in the 4th edition on which Jim Blair earlier had posted information to A.A. History Buffs.  This is the only new story in the 4th edition on which I have any information at this time.



Nancy Olson

Moderator



Gratitude in Action -- Dave Bancroft, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

(p. 193, 4th edition.)



Heading:  "The Story of Dave B., one of the founders of A.A. in Canada in 1944."



Dave's date of sobriety was April 7, 1944.  He was born on June 25, 1908, in Toronto, Canada, and spent his youth in Knowlton, Quebec.  He married Dorothy Ford on September 1, 1929.  They had three children and thirteen grandchildren. 



In Montreal, just before World War II, a young physician interested in alcoholism, Dr. Travis Dancey, had tried to get Dave to read the Big Book while he was incarcerated in a mental institution.  Dave, angry and rebellious, literally threw the Big Book at his would-be benefactor.  Dr. Dancey was taken into the military service and when he returned in late 1944 and saw Dave, the latter was newly sober in A.A.



Dr. Dancey recalled that when he returned, Dave not only dragged him around to A.A. meetings, "but he had the effrontery to explain the spiritual principles of the program to me!"  Dr. Dancey went on to become the first Class A. (nonalcoholic) trustee from Canada, serving from 1965-1974.



Dave was a tireless twelfth-stepper, who founded the first A.A. group in the Province of Quebec.  He served as a Class B (alcoholic) Trustee from 1962 to 1964.



He died on December 9, 1984.





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Henrietta Sieberling on A.A.''s beginnings, supplied by Cong. John Sieberling.. Henrietta Sieberling on A.A.''s beginnings, supplied by Cong. John Sieberling.. 4/11/2002 5:04:00 AM Cong. John Sieberling wrote:



In the spring of 1971, the newspapers reported the passing of Bill Wilson of New York City, who as one of the two co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous. The other co-founder, Dr. Robert Smith of Akron, Ohio, has passed on some years earlier.



Shortly after Bill’s death, the Akron Alcoholics groups asked my mother Henrietta Seiberling, to speak at the annual “Founders Day” meeting in Akron, which is attended by members of Alcoholics Anonymous from all over the world. She lives in New York and did not feel up to traveling, so they asked me to speak in her place.



I agreed to speak but felt that it would mean most to them to hear some of her own words, so I called her on the telephone and asked her to tell me about the origins of Alcoholics Anonymous so that I could make sure my remarks were accurate. I made a tape recording of the conversation and played part of it at the 1971 Founders Day meeting, which was held in the gymnasium at the University of Akron with a couple of thousand people present.



So many people have asked for a transcript of the recording that I have finally had one typed.  Attached is a copy of the transcript, which follows the tape recording as closely as possible, with only my own remarks and some of the conversational asides and redundancies edited out.



The first meeting of Bob and Bill, described in the attached transcript, took place in the summer of 1935 in Henrietta’s house in Akron, which was the Gatehouse of Stan Hywet Hall, then my family’s estate, now the property of Stan Hywet Hall Foundation.



Henrietta was not an alcoholic. She was a Vasser college graduate and a housewife with three teenage children. She, like Bob and Bill, would be deeply disturbed by any inference that she or they possessed any extraordinary virtues or talents. On the contrary, they would all emphasize the power of ordinary people to change their lives and the lives of others through the kind of spiritual discipline so successfully exemplified in Alcoholics Anonymous.



I am happy to make this transcript available to persons who are sincerely interested in learning more about Alcoholics Anonymous and its message. It is a way of sharing some of the insight’s which made and still make Alcoholics Anonymous a vital force in people’s lives. I ask only that the transcript be held in the spirit in which it is offered and not used for publicity or in an effort to magnify any individual.



John F. Seiberling



Transcript Of Remarks



Henrietta B. Seiberling:



I would like to tell about Bob in the beginning. Bob and Ann came into the Oxford group, which, as you know, was the movement which tried to recapture the power of first Century Christianity in the modern world, and a quality of life which we must always exercise. Someone spoke to me about Bob Smith’s drinking. He didn’t think that people knew it. And I decided that the people who shared in the

Oxford group had never shared very costly things to make Bob lose his pride and share what he thought would cost him a great deal. So I decided to gather together some Oxford Group people for a meeting, and that was in T. Henry Williams’ house. We met afterwards there for five or six years every Wednesday night.



I warned Ann that I was going to have this meeting. I didn’t tell her it was for Bob, but I said, “Come prepared to mean business. There is going to be no pussyfooting around. And we all shared very deeply our shortcomings, and what we had victory over, and then there was silence, and I waited and thought, “Will Bob say something?” Sure enough, in that deep, serious tone of his, he said, “Well, you good people have all shared things that I am sure were very costly to you, and I am going to tell you something which may cost me my profession. I am a silent drinker, and I can't stop.” This was weeks before Bill came to Akron. So we said, “Do you want to go down on your knees and pray?” And he said, “Yes.” So we did.



And the next morning, I, who knew nothing about alcoholism (I thought a person should drink like a gentleman, and that's all), was saying a prayer for Bob. I said, “God, I don't know anything about drinking, but I told Bob that I was sure that he lived this way of life, he could quit drinking.  Now you have to help me.”  Something said to me – I call it “guidance” – it was like a voice in the top of my head – “Bob must not touch one drop of alcohol.”  I knew that wasn't my thought. So I called Bob, and said I had guidance for him – and this is very important.



He came over at 10 in the morning, and I told him that my guidance was that he mustn't touch one drop of alcohol.  He was very disappointed, because he thought guidance would mean seeing somebody or going someplace.  And then – this is something very relevant – he said, “Henrietta, I don't understand it. Nobody understands it.” Now that was the state of the world when we were beginning. He

said, some doctor had written a book about it, but he doesn't understand it. I don't like the stuff. I don’t want to drink. I said, “Well, Bob, that is what I have been guided about.” And that was the beginning of our meetings, long before Bill ever came.



Now let me recall some of Bills very words about his experience. Bill, when he was in a hotel in Akron and down to a few dollars and owed his bill after his business venture fell through, looked at the cocktail room and was tempted and thought, “Well, I’ll just go in there and get drunk and forget it all, and that will be the end of it.” Instead, having been sober five months in the Oxford Group, he said a prayer. He got the guidance to look in a ministers directory, and a strange thing happened.



He just looked in there, and he put his finger on one name: Tunks.  And that was no coincidence, because Dr. Tunks was Mr. Harvey Firestone’s minister, and Mr. Firestone had brought 60 of the Oxford Group people down there for 10 days out of gratitude for helping his son, who drank too much. His son had quit for a year and a half or so. Out of the act of gratitude of this one father, this whole chain started.



So Bill called Dr. Tunks, and Dr. Tunks gave him a list of names. One of them was Norman Sheppard, who was a close friend of mine and knew what I was trying to do for Bob. Norman said, “I have to go to New York tonight but you can call Henrietta Seiberling, “When he told the story, Bill shortened it by just saying

that he called Dr. Tunks, but I did not know Dr. Tunks.  Bill said that he had his last nickel, and he thought, “Well, I’ll call her.”



So I, who was desperate to help bob in something I didn’t know much about, was ready. Bill called, and I will never forget what he said: “I’m from the Oxford Group and I’m a Rum Hound.” Those were his words. I thought, “This is really manna from Heaven.” And I said, “You come right out here.” And my thought was to put those two men together. Bill, looking back, thought he was out to help someone else. Actually, he was out to get help for himself, no thought of helping anyone else, because he was desperate. But that is the way that God helps us if we let God direct our lives. And so he came out to my house, and he stayed for dinner. And I told him to come to church with me next morning and I would get Bob, which I did.



Bill stayed in Akron. He didn’t have nay money. There was a neighbor of mine, John Gammeter, who had seen the change in my life brought by the Oxford Group, and I called him and asked him to put Bill up at the country club for two weeks or so, just to keep him in town. After that, Bill went to stay with Bob and Ann for three months, and we started working on Bill Dotson and Ernie Galbraith.



The need was there, and all of the necessary elements were furnished by God. Bill the promoter, and I, not being an alcoholic, for perspective. Every Wednesday night I would speak on some new experience or spiritual idea I had read. That’s the way we all grew. Eventually the meetings moved to King School. Some man from Hollywood came, an actor, and he said that he had been all over the country and that there was something in the King School group that wasn’t in any other group. I think it was our great stress and reliance on guidance and quiet times.



Bill did a grand job. We can all see in his life what the Oxford Group people had told us in their message: that if we turn our lives to God and let him run it, he will take our shortcomings and make them valuable in His way and give us our hearts desire. And when I got the word that Bill had gone on, I sat there, and it was just as if someone had spoken to me again on top of my head.  Something said to me, “Verily, verily, he as received his reward.” So I went to the Bible, and there it was, in Matthew VI. Then I looked at Bill’s story in Alcoholics Anonymous where

Bill had said that all his failures were because he always wanted people to think he was somebody.



In the first edition of the book, he said he always wanted to make his mark among people. And by letting God run his life, God took his ego and gave him his hearts desire in God's way. And when he was gone, he was on the front page of the New York Times, famous all over the world.  So it does verify what the Oxford Group people had told him.



Father Dowling, a Jesuit Priest, had first met our group in the early days in Chicago, and he came to Akron to see us. And then he went on to New York to see the others. And he said to one of our men, “This is one of the most beautiful things that has come into the world. But I want to warn you that the devil will try to destroy it.” Of course, it’s true, and one of the first things that the devil could have used was having money, and having sanitariums' as the men were planning. Much to Bob’s and Bill’s and Ann’s surprise, I said, “ No, we’ll never take any

money.”



Another way where I saw that the devil could try to destroy us was having prominent names. The other night I heard on TV special about alcoholics, a man explaining why they are anonymous. And he showed that he didn’t really know why. He just said that it wouldn’t do to let people know that you were an alcoholic. That’s not the reason. In fact, the surest way to stay sober is to let people know that you are an alcoholic because then you have lost something of yourself.



I would say that the second way that I saw that the devil would be trying to destroy

us was to have any names. Those who think that they are prominent or that they have become leaders, all fail people because no one is on top spiritually all the time. So I said, “We’ll never have any names.”



I feel that the whole wonderful experience of Alcoholics Anonymous came in answer to a growing great need in the world, and this was met by the combination of Bill, who was a catalyst and promoter, and Bob, with his great humility (if you spoke to him about his contribution, he’d say, “Oh, I just work here.) and Ann, who supplied a homeyness for our men in the beginning.



And I tried to give to the people something of my experience and faith.  What I was most concerned with is that we always go back to faith. This brings me to the third thing that would be destructive to the early days, Bob and Bill said to me. “Henrietta, I don’t think we should talk too much about religion or God.” I said to them, “Well, we’re not out to please the alcoholics. They have been pleasing themselves all these years. We are out to please God. And if you don’t talk about what God does, and your faith, and your guidance, then you might as well be the

Rotary Club or something like that. Because God is your only source of power.” And finally they agreed. And they weren’t afraid any more. It is my great hope that they will never be afraid to acknowledge God and what he has done for them.



The last A.A. dinner that I went to, over 3,000 people were there. And it was the first meeting that I went to which I was disappointed in. There were two witnesses there, a man and a woman, and you would have thought they were giving you a description of a psychiatrist’s work on them.  Their progress was always on the level of psychology. And I spoke to Bill afterwards and I said that there was no spirituality there or talk of what God had done in their lives. There were giving views, not news of that God had done. And Bill said, “I know, but they think there were so many people that need this and they don’t want to send them away.” So

there again has come up this same old bugaboo – without the realization that they

have lost their source of power.



This makes me think of the story of the little Scotch minister who was about to preach his first sermon, and his mother hugged him and said, “Now, Bobbie, don’t forgot to say a word for Jesus. Your mother always wants a word for God."



And then there is one other thought I‘d always like to stress, and that is the real fact of God’s guidance. People can always count on guidance, although it seems elusive at times.



___________



Congressman John Sieberling placed this in the Congressional Record on September 11, 1973



I would like to share a small story about Congressman Sieberling.  In 1975, when Robert Thomsen's biography of "Bill W." was published, the National Council on Alcoholism arranged for a Congressional reception to be held in one of the House of Representatives' office buildings. They invited all the Members of Congress from Ohio and New York, because AA had started in those two states, and they invited all the members of the committees which had jurisdiction over the alcoholism legislation.  I suggested a few other names of Members of Congress, primarily those on the Appropriations Committees who would be deciding how much money to earmark for alcoholism.



John Sieberling was the only member of the House of Representatives who

showed up. (One Senator, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, also attended.)



I saw Congressman Sieberling at the reception, just milling around. No one else seemed to recognize him. So I introduced myself and saw that he met the NCA people who were there, and that they knew his connection to A.A.



The next day I wrote him a brief note thanking him for coming to the reception and mentioning that I owed my life to what his mother had helped start.  When he received my note he showed up unexpectedly in my office to ask my permission to send the note to his mother. Of course, I gave the permission.  Then Sieberling said: "I called Mother this morning and told her that I had attended the reception. Mother replied: 'you were touched.' I asked her what she meant and she said 'John, you were touched by God, that's why you were there.'"



Sieberling humorous reply was "Mother, I don't know if I was touched, but I

do know that I was invited."



John Seiberling continued to support our efforts to bring more federal attention to alcoholism during his entire time in Congress.



Nancy Olson





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Chuck Chamberlain''s Testimony Before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee, 1969. Chuck Chamberlain''s Testimony Before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee, 1969. 4/11/2002 6:05:00 AM Chuck Chamberlain, a well-known early AA member in California, testified before the Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Subcommittee in Los Angeles on Saturday, September 27, 1969. This is his testimony which I have copied from the official hearing records:



Present: Senators Hughes, (presiding), Dominick, and Saxbe [members of

the Subcommittee]. Also present: Senators Cranston and Murphy [both

Senators from California].



[page 150]



Senator Hughes.  For the next witness, I want no television, no pictures taken of the witness at all, because it's the witness's desire there be none.  Once before a witness's anonymity was broken before this subcommittee, so I'll ask all members of the press, radio, and television please to respect the identity of this man and no photographs.  He can state his own preferences about what he says.



STATEMENT OF CHUCK C., RECOVERED ALCOHOLIC, MEMBER OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS.



Mr. Chuck C. Thank you, Senator Hughes. It's a privilege for me to come with you this morning. I feel rather like a fifth wheel, because the things have been pretty well covered already: But I appear in a little different capacity than any of the others this morning, because I am Chuck C. and I am a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.



Through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, applied to my own life, I haven't had a drink or a sedating or tranquilizing pill since January of 1946, for which I am very grateful.



Now, we in Alcoholics Anonymous think that alcoholism is a disease. You have

heard it spoken of this morning several times as such. I think informed medical opinion throughout the country recognizes it as a disease. It is defined as a disease of twofold nature, an allergy of the body coupled with an obsession of the mind.



However, most of us, or many of us, think that there is a third factor. We think it's a living problem. We do not deny the allergy of the body or the obsession of the mind. I had them both. I tried for the last ten years of a 25-year drinking career to prove that I didn't have an allergy of the body or obsession of the mind. However, I knew nothing about them, because I knew nothing about the disease of alcoholism. I tried to beat this thing myself for the last 10 years of a 25-year drinking career; and I proved to myself conclusively that I do have both the

allergy and the obsession.



Now with 24 years of sobriety, 25 years of drinking, and the time before I drank to look at, I believe that our problem is primarily a living problem, and that alcohol is pretty much a symbol of it or a symptom of it.



For instance; I never had a drink until I was out of athletics. I was an athlete in my youth. I was always in training and I never smoked and never drank until I was out of school and out of athletics. When I took my first drink it was not a problem. It was an answer -- providing that the problem was already with me. If I hadn't already had the problem I wouldn't have needed an answer. I used alcohol as an answer for 15 years. But being the wrong answer, it finally turned on me and beat me to death making it necessary for me to find the right answer and, of course, it came through my association with drunks in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.



Now, we feel that the medical approach and psychological approach, and the

religious approach are all good. We feel that all approaches to this disease should be brought to bear upon it, but most of us are convinced that if we're

going to get rid of the bottle we have to replace it with something better, with a state of being that makes drinking unnecessary.



For instance, why am I not drunk this morning? I'm an alcoholic. I'm an alcoholic of the tongue chewing, babbling, idiot variety: so why am I not drunk this morning? Because I have the thing I was looking for in the bottle. And what is the thing? It is a state of being that makes drinking absolutely unnecessary. There is nothing that a drink or a sedating or tranquilizing pill or needle can do for me but tear me down; therefore, there's no necessity for it at all. It can't do anything for me. I have the answer that I was looking for.



Now, we have been in existence as Alcoholic Anonymous for 34 years. We have

a membership of perhaps some 500,000 but we see that's just a slight percentage, it may be 2 percent, of the problem drinkers. And that's all we've been able to accomplish in 34 years. But we're not selling it short. We love it, but much more has to be done.



We think that before long it might be the legal opinion that they can't throw us in jail any more just for being a drunk, that we have to be taken care of as sick people. And it looks as though there will have to be detoxification enters and halfway houses throughout the country.



And it's going to take a lot of money. It's going to take a lot of know-how.  We are very pleased about the fact that there is a separate committee now that is very much interested in this problem and that it is manned by knowledgeable people. We think that perhaps through the medium of these meetings throughout the country more interest will be brought to bear on the Senate as a whole and that as a result you will get appropriations which will make it possible for you to do some things -- such as setting up these detoxification centers and halfway houses.



In this event what would be the position of Alcoholics Anonymous?



Traditionally we neither endorse or oppose any causes. We cooperate but we do not affiliate. We are on tap in most of these things, but never on top. So I think our position would be this: That when the detoxification has been accomplished, that we would, as individual members of Alcoholic Anonymous, then be available to share our experience, strength and hope with those who are coming through the halfway houses. And it is from this angle that I think that it would be of the greatest benefit to your program. We cannot take an active part as a society, but we can take an active part as individuals.



Senator Hughes: Sir, would you mind me interrupting you for a moment as you

go along? I'd like to ask a question for the record. I have received a lot of mail from people who know nothing about Alcoholics Anonymous wondering why

we don't appropriate money to Alcoholics Anonymous to handle the job since they obviously do pretty well. Would you like to reply to that?



Mr. Chuck C. We also have the tradition that we are self supporting. We don't take any moneys from any outside sources whatsoever. We support ourselves through our own contributions. We have no paid teachers or speakers. We do this work on a voluntary basis. And I'd like to throw this in for the record, also, that I suspect that in the last 23 years half of my waking time has been spent working with alcoholics throughout this country and Canada and in many of the other

countries. And I find it a very fascinating and rewarding experience - I think that's what you wanted.



A very interesting fact has been brought out already: When I came to the program the average age probably would have been 45. I don't think it would

have been less than that. It might have been nearer 50. But over the years the age has come down, down, down, until today the face of Alcoholics Anonymous has changed considerably. They are coming to us much younger.



For instance, we have a man in our own group in Laguna Beach who had his

first birthday in Alcoholics Anonymous before his eighteenth birthday. We find this is true pretty much throughout the country. Brought about through better educational programs such as the Committee on Alcoholism for instance, and things of that kind. People are coming to us much much younger than in my day and that is a very good sign.



One of the things that I would like very much to speak on for a minute (and this certainly is my own opinion), we've heard a little about the seriousness of the problem. And, of course, the problem is serious. I suspect it's the most serious problem that we face in our country today. And I know that if we put pills with it it would be by far and away the most serious problem that affects our society today.



But it is my opinion that the individual alcoholic cannot be dealt with seriously. Let me give you an example. I was sitting in Edmonton, Canada, at a banquet and I had six judges around me, and they were saying to me, "We only have so many dollars and so many days and that's the only thing we can put out. We know that isn't the answer, but how can we help you; what can we do to help you?" And I said, "Well, don't sell yourselves short with so many dollars and so many days, because you and the highway patrolmen probably are responsible for my life, because you've taken me off the street at times when I was a great danger to anybody who was there, including myself. So don't sell yourselves short with so many dollars and so many days.



But perhaps the one thing that you could cut out could be the lecture that you give. When you sentence us, don't give us that lecture, because we can't take it. We've given the same lecture to ourselves many many times, so instead of giving us a lecture, as we go by you poke us in the ribs with your elbow and say, "Look, dad, when you are sick enough of being sick, and tired enough of being tired, I know a place you can go for an answer." And laugh right in our teeth; because we can understand that, but we can't take the preachment or the lectures.



So, indeed, in A.A. we have a lot of fun. I find it the most fascinating thing that has ever crossed my path. I love it. I happen to have hated alcoholics worse than anybody in the world. As a matter of fact, when I ran out of time I didn't care for the human race. I thought it was a cosmic mistake. I didn't even like the good people and the drunks I hated. Because I was a drunk and hated myself. I hated all drunks. In the last 24 years, however, I've come to the place where I think I love all of God's children, and of all of them I love the drunks the most. So my dedication, my love, and my life, are in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous, working with drunks.



And, again, we are most happy that you, all of you, are headed in the direction in which you're headed. And we want to help as much as it is humanly possible for us to help, both in seeing to it that you get an appropriation - maybe by doing a little work on the rest of the Senate by letters, and so forth - and also by being on tap when you need to call on us later on.



And that would be all I have to say.



Senator Hughes. Thank you very much, Chuck.  I'd like to point out that the camera in the back of the room was not taking pictures.



I'd like to ask you, just for the record, to explain that fact when you say you want to be of help. I happen to have been visiting a lot of halfway houses around the country and in all of them I found Alcoholics Anonymous is a stable working factor within the halfway house. You point out, of course, that you accept no money and all of this is on a voluntary basis. I take it then, that should appropriations someday be made, whether it's on a sharing basis with States or communities and the Federal Government, that all these members of A.A. will be around and will be working with the people who come into these facilities. Is that right?



Mr. Chuck C. That would be a fair statement, I'm quite certain Individual members of the society can and do work as counselors and are paid for it in industry and other places. But, in the main, I think that most of the effective work in all the hospitals, in all the penitentiaries, and in many of the halfway houses that we have

throughout the country today, is and will be on a voluntary basis by individual members of Alcoholics Anonymous.



Senator Hughes. Could you, perhaps, elaborate just a little bit on the changes you have seen in this 24 years in hospital treatment of patients and doctor's treatment of patients? Have you seen any changes?



Mr. Chuck C. There's been great change, of course. In my last 10 years of

drinking, I went to all the recognized sources for help. I went to the clergy, to men of medicine and to a few people who knew more psychiatry than there is. And my answer from all of them was willpower, backbone and stand-up-and-be-a man.



I never heard of the disease of alcoholism until I came to my first Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Today this is common knowledge now amongst all informed, all who want to be informed about this subject.



It is only recently that we have been able to get alcoholics into most hospitals. There are beds for us in most of them now and this was not the case for a long, long time. Everything has changed for the better. It's not fast enough, but it has changed for the better over the years.



Again, due, I think, not only to what we have done in Alcoholics Anonymous,

but to the great educational programs of such organizations as the National

Committee on Alcoholism.



Senator Hughes. I'd like to ask you a question and answer it any way you see

fit. Why the word, "anonymous" Why do alcoholics want to remain anonymous?



Mr. Chuck C. There are many reasons for it. But the two great reasons - the

fundamental reasons, I believe, are these: There is a little verse in the Good Book that says, "Let not thy right hand know what thy left hand doeth," and this is probably the first time in our lives that we have ever been willing to do things like getting up in the middle of the night and going clear across town, at our own expense, to a dark room with an alcoholic who is really suffering. It's the first time in our lives we've been willing to do these things free - maybe even hoping that

nobody will ever find out about it.



And the second reason is that. As long as we are anonymous people can come to

us without feeling that they're going to have their problems become general

knowledge. And people will come to us with problems when they won't go to

anybody else, because, they don't want it known that they have this problem.



Senator Hughes. Why don't they?



Mr. Chuck C. It's a holdover from the days when the only descriptive adjectives used for people like me were bums, spineless people, dregs of society, a cancer on the social body, and all that sort of thing.



Senator Hughes. The great stigma.



Mr. Chuck C. Yes, it was a great stigma, but this is changing much for the better.



Senator Hughes. Senator Dominick?



Senator Dominick. I just first want to say it's highly refreshing, Chuck, to find a group of people who are not asking for appropriations from the Federal Government. [Audience laughter.]



May I congratulate you and your group, of which I have a fair knowledge because of my association with people afflicted with the problem.



I want to get back to this treatment center and halfway house. I'm sure that there must be some method of detoxification, but I also - only based on my own experience, and you have got a lot more than I have - have grave doubts whether detoxification, in fact, does the job. A lot of people go and get dried out. This is a kind of social phenomena, particularly in the East. You go and get dried out and then go out and start all over again.



Questions will be raised in the subcommittee and later on the Senate floor as

we move forward. Senators will ask: "What good does it do? Isn't there an

organization which is doing a lot better than this voluntarily? Is a treatment center, in fact, going to be more than just a way station for drying out to give them strength to start in all over again? And will a halfway house follow enough of a detoxification process to be able to bring people back into the mainstream, particularly those who don't particularly want to, and how large a proportion of the ones that we have that are afflicted with this disease really want to recover; really want to admit to themselves that they're an alcoholic and that they can't take that first drink?"



I don't have any facts and figures. I know we're going to develop some as we go along in these hearings, but I'd just like to get your comments on this, which I think is a very grave communication problem that we've got.



Mr. Chuck C. This is the reason I spoke of the detoxification centers and halfway houses.



Senator Dominick. I notice that you couple them together all the time.



Mr. Chuck C. I think that the detoxification center is where the professional people can get us defogged so that we may hear what's said to us. And then the great rehabilitation work starts.



For instance, in Alcoholic Anonymous, we have nothing in our program that

tells a person how to get sober, how to get physically sober. There's nothing in the book that tells you how to do that.



But we, as members of Alcoholics Anonymous, help each other get sober. It's a great part of our work and we wouldn't change it. We help each other get sober only that we might then take care of our problem - which is alcoholism; but before we can talk about the problem itself, we've got to get people so they can hear.  And so they're detoxified, or gotten sober and then we talk with them. In our work we talk with them mainly in their homes or in ours. But, again, the job is too

great for that.



And we are going to have the problem dumped in our laps whether we like it or

not, because one of these days we're not going to have any place to put drunks if we do not have detoxification centers and halfway houses; because we're not going to take them to jail. (If you go back prior to 24 years ago you can find me all over the blotter of this town. I was no respecter of jails. I went to all of them.) So we are going to have to have places where we get sober and then we are going to have to have therapy that comes not only from members of Alcoholic Anonymous but from professional people like psychiatrists.



Now this thing is seemingly proven in our work. Any alcoholic who sits through an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, leaves knowing the answer is there - whether or not he admits that he has a problem.



Now, he might say to himself. "Well, I'm not one of these people. I haven't gone to this extent. Therefor, I'm not an alcoholic."  But he knows, before he leaves that meeting, that the answer's in the room for an alcoholic and maybe many years later when he runs out of time he remembers and comes back, and he isn't lost.



So I believe that no one, no alcoholic, regardless of whether he has admitted

it or not, who is exposed to this therapy about which we are talking, leaves with any questions in his mind. I think he knows immediately that the answer is in the room.



Does that help you any?



Senator Dominick. Yes, I think it does with respect to the Alcoholics Anonymous. My problem is trying to get the people that I have known to go to you.



Mr. Chuck C. Yes --



Senator Dominick. You know, they just say, "No. No, I don't want to do that. I want to drink."



Mr. Chuck C.  But we have it. We have it in the setup that we are talking about. They are going to be sent to these detoxification centers. But they're going to be sent there by the court or by the police instead of being sent to jail. They will have to go through that. But to a large extent they will have to go to the halfway houses once they are set up.



Senator Dominick. That program has worked; that's what I want to know?



Mr. Chuck C. Yes.



Senator Dominick. Where they say you go there or you go to jail?



Mr. Chuck C. Very definitely. I happen to be very familiar with Judge Harrison's work up in Des Moines. But I believe Judge Taft in Santa Monica was one of the first to use this approach many, many years ago.



And I've talked at meetings where there were over a hundred men and women who had been sober a year or more who had initially been sentenced to the program by Judge Taft and it worked.



Senator Dominick. Let's use another word. Let's say recommended.



Mr. Chuck C. Recommended. Okay. (audience laughter).



Senator Hughes. Don't stop. I just wanted to make a comment. Senator Dominick, my limited experience with this has been that some of the time the private institutions for detoxification are rather protected and they are not really exposed when they are dried out.



Also, we see right now in Washington, D.C., for example, the detoxification center which was originally set up for 5 days of detoxification and then building into the therapy. Now they're down to 24 hours because of the crush of patients.



The court is sending the patients there. They have no bed space. Their unit of 800 beds over at Lorton is completely filled with the so-called recovery part. The physical part of the detoxification stage has been taken care of, unless there is serious complications. You're right, it's got so easy that in many instances the guy who runs through the mill to be detoxified feels great again and he's ready to go. So often there is no followup. It can serve as a revolving door drying out process.



Excuse my interruption.



Senator Dominick. That's all I have.



Senator Hughes. Senator Saxbe?



Senator Saxbe. Well, I want to compliment you for not only coming, but also

for the great work you are doing. I'm familiar with it. I've dealt with Alcoholics Anonymous in working with friends and acquaintances. I've always been amazed at the dedication and willingness of members to turn out at 3, 4 o'clock in the morning to drive somebody a hundred miles and to stay with them at great personal sacrifice perhaps to their own jobs and business; and seemingly to stick

with them, even when their own families have abandoned them. This dedication

has paid off.



Oh, I've known some cases where it hasn't worked, but in many cases it's been a successful salvage job. I think if just somehow we can get this same kind of dedication into a public facility, it would certainly simplify the work of the political subdivision in meeting this problem.



Thank you very much.



Senator Hughes. Chuck, I want to thank you very much for coming forward and sharing with us your thoughts and ideas on what we might do, and your hopes, also. I especially thank you for your support as we get to a point of trying legislation.



Mr. Chuck C. Thank you.

_________



Others have sent the following information on Chuck Chamberlain:



He was born in 1902, and got sober in A.A. in January 1946.  He wrote a book called "A New Pair Of Glasses" which is a transcript of a retreat he gave for alcoholics in 1975. The Preface is written by Clancy I. of California.  It can be purchased through New-Look Publishing Co., 1960 Fairchild, Irvine, CA 92715.



His son [Richard] became a famous actor.



Chuck died in 1984.



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BILL WILSON U.S. SENATE TESTIMONY, 1969 BILL WILSON U.S. SENATE TESTIMONY, 1969 4/11/2002 6:55:00 AM THE IMPACT OF ALCOHOLISM



HEARINGS BEFORE THE SPECIAL SUBCOMMITTEE ON ALCOHOLISM AND NARCOTICS OF THE COMMITTEE ON LABOR AND PUBLIC WELFARE, UNITED STATES SENATE, NINETY-FIRST CONGRESS, FIRST SESSION, ON EXAMINATION OF THE IMPACT OF ALCOHOLISM, THURSDAY, JULY 24, 1969,



The subcommittee met at 9:30 a.m., pursuant to call in room 4232, New Senate Office Building, Senator Harold E. Hughes (chairman of the Subcommittee) presiding.



Present: Senators Hughes, Yarborough, Williams, Javits, Dominick, and Bellmon.



* * * * * * * *



Senator Hughes. For the next witness there will be no television. There will be no

pictures taken. The next witness is Bill W., Cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous. Audio is fine. You may photograph the Senators or you may photograph Bill W. from the back of the head if you want to.



Bill, you may proceed with your statement as you desire.



STATEMENT OF BILL W., CO-FOUNDER, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS



Mr. Bill W. Mr. Chairman, Senators, we of A.A., it is already apparent, are going to have reason for great gratitude on account of your invitation to put in an appearance here. For me this is an extremely moving and significant occasion.

It may well mark the advent of the new era in this old business of alcoholism.  I think that the activities of this committee and what they may lead to may be a

turning point historically. This is splashdown day for Apollo. The impossible is

happening. Like my dear friend Marty [Marty Mann], who has just spoken to you, I share with her the opinion that in this field of alcoholism we are now seeing the beginning of the achievement of the impossible.



Because or my appearance here as an A.A. member, I have to limit myself pretty

much to statements about AA. But you must remember that as time passes in these hearings a great many AA's will be testifying as citizens, and they will be far more free to express opinions on the general field and their activities in it than I am.



So I take it that my mission here today will be to acquaint you with the resources

that A.A. may reveal for treatment, for education and so on.



I shall start off by taking the dry part of my recital first: a few figures.  Our

national magazine, "The AA Grapevine," makes a brief and simple statement as

to what A.A. is: "Alcoholics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who

share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve

their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism.



"The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no

dues or fees for membership. We are self-supporting through our own contributions.



"AA is not allied with any sect denomination, politics, organization or institution,

does not wish to engage in controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to

achieve sobriety."



Now, as a little more background for my presentation, let me present just a few

figures. Our last census, that is to say, reports of our group sessions, shows that we have 15,000 AA groups throughout the world and an active membership of 285,000.



Besides the 285,000 there are hundreds of thousands -- maybe 200,000, for all

we know, 300,000 recovered A.A.'s on the sidelines who do not get caught up in the active statistics, people who have remained for the greater part sober, who

are carrying A.A. attitudes and practices and philosophies into the community life.



So AA is much more in reality than a generator of mere sobriety, it is returning us

to citizenship in the world.



Now, then, that breaks down these figures into something like this: groups in the

United States, 9,000, active members, 148,000; groups in Canada, 1,500; members in Canada, 21,000; groups overseas, 3,300, membership, 62,000;

internationalists, 344. We mean by that, people on ships, largely, who travel from port to port spreading the AA message.



We have 648 groups in hospitals, members in hospitals (and this means largely

mental institutions), 18,500; and groups in prisons, 33,000. And lone members

throughout the world, who correspond with the world headquarters, 522.



Those statistics are of interest, but they are scarcely inspiring, because they are

not as yet connected with the flesh and blood of human experience. I think the best way of presenting some of that experience would be to relate to you certain fragments of AA history that have a particular bearing upon this occasion.



Oddly enough, and contrary to the information of most people, Alcoholics

Anonymous, we see in retrospect, very definitely had its start in the offices of one of the founders of modern psychiatry. I refer to Karl Jung, who in the early 1930s received a patient from America, a well-known businessman.  He had run the gamut of the cures of the time, and desperately wanted to stop and could get no help at all.



He came to Jung and stayed with him about a year. He came to love the great man. During this period the hidden springs of his motivation were revealed.  He felt now with this new understanding, plus communication with this new and wonderful friend that he had really shed this strange illness of mind, body and spirit.



Leaving there, he was taken drunk, as we AA's say, in a matter of a month, perhaps, and coming back, he said, "Karl, what does this all mean?" Then this man made the statement which I think led to the formation of AA. It took a great man to make it.



He said, "Rowland, up until recently I thought you might be one of those rare

cases who could be aided and made to recover by the practice of my art. But

like most who will pass through here, I must confess that my art can do nothing for you."



"What," said the patient, "Doctor, you are my port of last resort. Where shall I

turn now? Is there no other recourse?"



The Doctor said "Yes, there may be. There is the off-chance. I am speaking of the possibility of a spiritual awakening, if you like, a conversion."



"Oh," said the patient "but I am a religious man. I used to be a vestryman in the

Episcopal Church. I still have faith in God, but He has little in me, I should think."



Jung said, "I mean something that goes deeper than that Rowland, not just a question of faith. I am talking about a transformation of spirit that can motivate you and set you free from this.



"Time after time alcoholics have recovered by these means. The lightning strikes

here and there, and no one can say why or how. All I can suggest is that you expose yourself to some religious environment of your own choice."



The patient went to England. He became associated with the group of that day in

later years called "Moral Rearmament," [the Oxford Groups] and to his great surprise he began to feel released from this hideous compulsion.



He returned to America. He had a place in Vermont. There he ran into a friend

of mine about to be committed, a friend that we A.A.'s lovingly call Ebby.  Ebby, at the time a wealthy man, had just run his car through the house of a farmer, into the kitchen, pushing in the wall, and when he stopped, out stepped a horrified lady from inside and he said, "How about a cup of coffee?"



This was the extent of his illness and he was about to be committed. The patient,

Roland, got hold of him, took him to New York, exposed him to the Oxford Groups,

whose emphasis was upon admission of hopelessness, in a sense, on one's unaided resources a human being could not go too far.



Another was self-survey. Another was a species of confession, and then there was restitution and belief in a Higher Power.



That movement was rather evangelical, but AA owes it a great debt in what to do

and also in what not to do.



Then, thinking of me, and I was about at the end of my rope, my friend visited me. In the previous summer I had been in a drying-out emporium in New York

City, and there my doctor, who was to make a crucial contribution to A.A., had

said to my wife, "Lois, I am afraid, my dear, that I can do nothing. I thought that he might be one of those rare instances in which I could help him stay sober, but I am afraid not. He is the victim of a compulsion to drink against his will, and, as much as he desires, that compulsion I don't think can be broken; and this compulsion is coupled with what I call an allergy.



"It is a misnomer, but it is indicating that there is something wrong with this man

physically. Therefore, the eternal dilemma has been this eternal compulsion to drink, to the point almost of lunacy, coupled with the physical allergy that guarantees insanity and death. I think you will have to lock him up."



After that treatment I came home and a few months later this friend appeared, sat across the kitchen table where there was a big pitcher of gin and pineapple juice. I was a solitary drinker of about two or three bottles of bathtub gin a day. The year is 1934.



Enters this friend of mine that I had known to be a very hopeless case.  At once it struck me that he was in a state of release, this just was not another drunk on the wagon. Then he told me this story, how he had felt this relief, the moment he had gotten honest with himself and adhered to their simple program, he began to feel this release, how much more he had gotten through his friend, Rowland. He told me the story about him.



Finally I put the question to him. I said, "Ebby, you say you don't want to

drink, you are not drinking today. What does this mean?"



He said, "Well, I have got religion." I said, "Well, what brand is it?" So he revealed to me his story. I was deeply impressed, really, because here was

somebody that I knew had lived in this strange world of alcoholism, where I, too, was a denizen. So this transmission of the fatal nature of this malady in many cases struck me. I think it caused a great personal deflation and laid the ground for what was subsequently to happen.



My friend went off. I didn't see him for a few days. In no waking hour could I forget the face across the kitchen table. Yet I gagged on this concept of a Higher Power, even in its lowest denominator.



So I finally decided I would go to the hospital, get detoxified. I appeared at the

hospital. Dr. Silkworth began treatment. I announced that I had found something new, I thought, I wanted to get sobered up.



I could not have any emotional conversion. So after about 3 days detoxification, I

found myself falling into a terrible depression. I felt trapped.  In other words, I was asking the impossible, to believe in a Higher Power, let alone cast my dependence on it on the one side, and yet my guide in science [Dr. Silkworth] was saying, "But medically you are pretty hopeless."



Out of this eventuated a very sudden spiritual awakening in which I was released

from this compulsion to drink, a compulsion on my mind morning, noon and night for several years. I was suddenly released from it.



Mine was a rather spectacular experience. But it is quite identical to what happens to any good A.A. In other words, their experiences are apt to take a

longer time and they are not so sensational, but we do get the transforming effect on motivation.



With the experience came this thought: Why can't this be induced chain style?

In other words, I can identify myself with another alcoholic through this kinship of

suffering, then why can't that inflate him and perhaps he will be motivated and one can talk to the other.



I came out of the hospital, began to feverishly work with alcoholics. We had a

house full of them. I was so keyed up with the paranoid side with my spiritual

awakening, I even thought I had a kind of divine appointment about all the alcoholics in the world.



There was 6 months of complete failure. Finally I went to Akron on a business trip to see if I could regain my fortunes. I was away from my friends. The business deal fell through. I had hardly carfare home and all of a sudden the old desire to drink started to come back. I was frightened.



Then I realized that in talking and trying to help other alcoholics, this had a great deal to do with my staying sober.  These were the elements of the process and through a strange set of circumstances I was led ... the doctor in town who was to become my partner in this thing.



He, too, when the nature of his malady was revealed to him in medical terms, one

drunk talking to another, achieved sobriety that he had long since thought impossible.



Shortly after that, in one of the Akron hospitals, No. 3 got sober, and an A.A. group, the first one really, came into existence in June 1935 in Akron, Ohio. Then

there was a return to New York and a group started there. A few people in from Cleveland began to come to the group meetings in Akron.



We grew very, very slowly, trial and error all along the line. If it seemed to work,

get with it, if it failed, discard it. That was our practice until about 4 years later, after hundreds of failures, we found that we had a hundred people sober. At that time, having retired from the Oxford Group, and yet having no name actually, we just called ourselves a nameless bunch of drunks trying to help each other get

well.



At that time we began to think in terms of a book, which supported by case histories would portray our approach. The book is called "Alcoholics Anonymous" and it was published when we had a hundred members.



Up to this time we had been virtually a secret society. Then we realized that we would have to be publicized. So we were very reluctant about this, what kind of people would come in?



We were publicized first by Liberty magazine, and flooded by 6,700 inquiries

into a post office box in New York. We gave these inquiries to a few of our

traveling people out of the small established groups. Then came an experience in mass production of sobriety which I think is most relevant to any presentation here.



Up until the fall of 1939, 5 years after I had sobered up, we had thought that the

presentation of our case to the other alcoholics was up to the founding fathers or the elder hierarchy or whatnot. We thought it to be a very slow business indeed.



The idea of a mass revival was very far from our minds. The Cleveland Plain

Dealer decided to publish a series of articles about us. There was a chap doing the articles who himself was an alcoholic. The poor devil never recovered, but he could talk our language.



These articles were placed in a box on the editorial page every 3 or 4 days and a

supporting editorial was written. Then our friends of the press and the communications media began this benign process of bringing us customers.



At this time the group in Cleveland numbered only about 20 people. They were

suddenly confronted with hundreds of frantic telephone calls to hospitals and

people with or without money, people who were hospitalized this week, next-week were going with an older member to see somebody in the hospital.  This thing pyramided so that in the succeeding year of 1940 these 20 had pyramided themselves into what had turned out to be several hundred sound recoveries.



Now this is the final suggestion, that the resources of Alcoholics Anonymous

for mass society have hardly been touched. This set of figures shows in the last

10 years Alcoholics Anonymous membership has pyramided at the rate of only 8

or 10 percent a year, when in the early days, in the first decade, increases of 100 percent 500 percent 1,000 percent were very common. Therefore, we have a tremendous lot of people with whom to deal. This is partly due to the reluctance of the alcoholic himself.



Figures tell us that we have 5 million alcoholics in America. This means 5 million poor souls who are in all stages of this dissolution and in the early years scarcely one of these people can be brought to believe that he is actually beginning to be sick.



This rationalization can exist right through all sorts of evidence of sickness right

down to the undertaker himself. It is this mass capability of the alcoholic to rationalize himself out of this predicament. This is one of the great obstacles to bringing alcoholics toward treatment. In fact this is the obstacle that all of the remarkable agencies we now have at work are running against, how do we get these people in?



It is a process of education, but what kind of education we simply don't know.

Another part of the resistance of Alcoholics Anonymous stems from the fact that it has a spiritual content and a great many of our professional friends are apt to believe Alcoholics Anonymous is for the religiously susceptible only.



Well, this is a very mistaken impression. At last year's New York dinner, we were talking about this topic and it suddenly occurred to me that of the four speakers on the platform, only one of us four had any religious background whatever.



Why were they in A.A.? They were driven there because there was no other place to go, no other place to get well.



So these are the treatment resources.



How can the resources of experience which have to do with the other agencies

and disciplines in the field be brought to this committee by our friends and by AA

members who are also working in these area? You have begun to surmise that in effect, we are coming out of the woodwork, we are in practically all of these efforts bringing the AA experience to them, making it available and that kind of experience can be made available by any members here in these committee hearings if they come here acting as citizens and recovered alcoholics [but not as AA members].



We have to do that as a protective thing for AA. Now we have great numbers of

friends. Those, too, can be called upon and I notice that some are going to be available here. For instance here is Jack Norris, a nonalcoholic.



Many of you know him. He is chairman of our board of trustees. He is second

in charge, or was until his retirement in the medical department of Eastman Kodak, the second industrial company to give the nod to AA and make use of

the resources.



In Wilmington, for example, we have Dr. Glanto, the head of the medical department of the first company ever to make arrangements with A.A.  I think he

would be quite happy to testify.



On our board we have Mr. Austin McCormick, one of the country's great criminologists, and I think he could throw much light on the situation. We have A.A. members beyond count.



So you have that sort of resource available for treatment and for experience.



Well, I think I am presenting this overlong and perhaps you gentlemen would like

to ask questions at this point.



Senator Hughes. Bill, I thank you for your bring us up to date on the beginnings

and where you are now. I would like to ask some pointed questions.  No. 1, I

have never been in a prison institution, I have never been in mental hospital

institution, where there was not an A.A. group in my years in public life, not only of the inmates but of people coming in from the outside who were conducting meetings in an effort to help these people recover. This is also true in the case of halfway houses, private treatment centers, and every public treatment center that I know of dealing with the alcoholic where there are Government programs sponsored by State, community, or county divisions.



I take from your testimony that as a cofounder of AA you certainly believe that in

any program this committee and this Congress might develop, that there would be a place and a willingness for AA members to work in recovery, education, and counseling of the ailing alcoholics, and prevention also?



Mr. Bill W. I should think so. Of course, this is the pleasure of our friends. But

certainly this experience is of great value and in respect of this communication one alcoholic is certainly of unique value.



Senator Hughes. I think what you indicated is what I expected. No. 1, we have available through Alcoholics Anonymous a resource of willing people whom you

have indicated have the capabilities of multiplying not 100 percent, but 1,000 percent if they can get to the people.



Mr. Bill W. If we can get to the people.



Senator Hughes - This is the essence of my question. Undoubtedly knowing the

organization quite well myself, these people have dedicated themselves to doing the job of calling on alcoholics and assisting in any way they can in their recovery.



Mr. Bill W. Yes. Of course, it ought to be observed at this point that the virtues

of AA are not really earned virtues. It is a matter of do or die. Nothing is too good for the next sufferer. So our dedication is first based on the fact that our lives and fortunes have been saved and we want to share this with the next fellow, knowing that it is a part of the maintenance of our own recovery and life or death.



So this is the source of the great dedication that you see among the A.A. 



Senator Javits. I would like to just join the Chair in what he has said and assure

you, sir, from what I see here, we will do our utmost to utilize to the fullest these

resources which you have so eloquently testified to.



Senator Hughes. Thank you very much, Senator Javits. Senator Yarborough?



Senator Yarborough. Mr. Bill W., I am astonished to learn that AA had its beginning in 1934 and 1935 and was very small until 1939. Because the escalation was so fast after that, so well known nationally now, that you have an idea this has gone on for generations.



Mr. Bill W. When you consider the enormous ramifications of this disease, we

have just scratched the surface. I think we should humbly remember this. 



Senator Yarborough. The experience you personally described when this burden

fell away from you, I have thought back in my reading, I know of only two other men who have had such a dramatic experience. One was Saul of Tarsus, on the road to Damascus and the other was Sam Houston, the great national hero.



Sam Houston, who once was called by the Indians, Big Drunk, became, while he

was a U.S. Senator, a temperance lecturer all over the United States.  Congratulations on what you have done for so many hundreds of thousands who

are in your debt and the millions I believe who will be reached in the not distant future.



Senator Hughes. Bill, I thank you kindly for your willingness to come forward as

a cofounder of the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous and express the basis of its founding, it's willingness to cooperate, and the hope of people over the last

few decades who have found their way through this. The Subcommittee and the

Committee are indebted to you for your willingness to do this. I want to express also the Chair's appreciation to the press for their cooperation in honoring tenets of your institution to retain the anonymity of your members.



Mr. Bill W. I thank them, too, with you.



Senator Hughes. Thank you very much, Bill. The committee will recess until

1:30 p.m.



NOTE: Only four days before the whole world had watched as Neil Armstrong and

"Buzz" Aldren had walked on the moon. Just a few years later Buzz Aldren would participate with Senator Hughes and 50 other famous recovered alcoholics in "Operation Understanding" in Washington, D.C. They all identified themselves as recovered alcoholics in an effort to reduce stigma and increase public awareness that alcoholism is a treatable disease. This event gained extensive worldwide front page newspaper, television and radio coverage.



(I am happy to make this testimony available. Bill assured the AA members who testified during the three days of hearings that it was perfectly permissible for them to testify "as citizens and recovered alcoholics" so long as they did not, in this public forum, reveal their membership in A.A., which would have been a violation of the AA tradition. I was present at this hearing, at which both Bill Wilson and Marty Mann testified. I served on the Subcommittee professional staff from 1969 to 1980.



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156 NMOlson@aol.com
How A.A. Got Started in Maryland -- Marylanders in early A.A. History How A.A. Got Started in Maryland -- Marylanders in early A.A. History 4/13/2002 5:55:00 PM This is posted courtesy of Al W. of the West Baltimore Group.



From the MERGENSER NEWSLETTER



Part 1. 



Many of us came to A.A. feeling that a mysterious, malign force would do us in, no matter what we did.  Then something strange stirred within us. As we became willing to accept the help of those who went before us, who understood us, good things happened. We followed in their footsteps and found freedom from the bondage of self.  What resulted was a sense of identification, of belonging, of unity. But lest we become too clannish, we must remember that without guidance and support of nonalcoholic friends in the early years, A.A. would not be here for us.  Maryland-born Samuel Shoemaker was the first of such friends.



His influence began on December 7, 1934, when a tall, gaunt, drunk -- William Griffith Wilson -- made his first visit to Calvary Episcopal Church, where the reverend Samuel Shoemaker was rector.



At this stage, Bill was stealing money from his wife, pawning household items, falling down drunk and having blackouts and delirium tremens.  Bill had visited the mission under stimulus from an old drinking buddy, Ebby Thatcher, who had gotten sober through the Oxford Group, which was headquartered at Calvary Methodist Church, on 23rd Street in New York City. Shoemaker had helped convert drunkards at this Calvary Mission using Oxford Group principles.



Four days after he visited the mission, Bill was admitted to Towns Hospital for a one week stay, during which time he had a profound spiritual experience and never drank again. After leaving Towns, Bill associated himself with Shoemaker's Oxford Group, Calvary Mission and Towns Hospital, dedicating himself to other alcoholics.



Born in Baltimore in 1893, Rev. Shoemaker published over 25 books and many Pamphlets on spirituality. One pamphlet, "What the Church Has Learned From Alcoholics Anonymous," is an interesting commentary on how we learn by helping each other Shoemaker died in October 1963 and was buried in Garrison.



In "Language of the Heart," Bill says, "Dr. Shoemaker was one of A.A.'s indispensables. Had it not been for his ministry to us in our early time, our Fellowship would not be in existence today. He will always be found in our annals as the one whose inspired example and teaching did the most to show us how to create the spiritual climate in which we alcoholics may survive and then proceed to grow ..."



For the next few months after meeting Sam Shoemaker, Bill haunted the mission and Towns Hospital trying to help other drunks, but with little success.  Then he made his fateful trip to Akron, Ohio.



We A.A.'s say that our program began there on June 10, 1935, when Dr. Bob Smith had his last drink, one month after his historic meeting with Bill W.  But one could argue that it really began in April 1939 when the book Alcoholics Anonymous was published.



Up to the time the Big Book appeared, our program had no name or written guidelines or principles. The early "nameless bunch of alcoholics" followed a "word-of-mouth" program that had evolved mainly from their affiliation with the Oxford Group, a movement based on the philosophy of First Century Christianity.  Bill W. summed up the six-point word-of-mouth program as follows



1. Admit powerlessness over alcohol.



2. Take a moral inventory



3. Confess shortcomings with another person.



4. Make restitution for wrongs done to others.



5. Pray for power to practice these principles.



After several years of association with the Oxford Group, the small groups in New York and Ohio broke off and started their own meetings.  Up until then, alcoholics were doomed, except for rare cases where they experienced profound religious conversions. But with the A.A. approach of one drunk trying to help another came hope for the previously hopeless.  The several dozen members of the infant fellowship had come across something wonderful.  They had discovered a way out, and it had to be documented so alcoholics everywhere could be helped.



Bill agreed to write the book.  As he finished the rough drafts of the chapters, Bill would have them read and discussed at the meetings in New York and Ohio so all members could have their say.  The review of the first four chapters generated enthusiastic arguments. But things really became hectic when Bill released Chapter Five.  (Bill said by then he had become the umpire rather than the author!)



Members had drifted into two opposite groupings -- a pro-religion faction led by Fitz Mayo argued that the book should reflect the teachings of the churches, missions, and, especially, the Oxford Group.  An agnostic action spearheaded by Hank Parkhurst and Jim Burwell was passionately against theological orientation, believing in a practical, psychological approach.



Heated discussions went on for days and nights, but out of it all came the answer. The agnostics persuaded the others to accept the compromise language of "God, as we understand Him."  This non-dogmatic idea opened the door to uncountable numbers of alcoholics who otherwise would not have entered our recovery program.



Eventually the book was almost ready for printing, but still hadn't been titled.  Various recommendations were dropped from consideration until two choices remained. The Way Out was Ohio's choice; Alcoholics Anonymous was New York's.  A check of book titles in the Library of Congress by Fitz showed 12 books named The Way Out and none named Alcoholics Anonymous. The choice was thereby made easy, and both the book and the Fellowship acquired names.



In April 1939, the Big Book was published, and our program was established. As Bill said in his 1953 Grapevine article, "Little did we guess that our Twelve Steps would soon be approved by clergy of all denominations and even by our latter-day friends, the psychiatrists ..."



The Big Book is now over 55 years old.  [At the time of this writing.]  Over 14 million copies have been published in 27 languages without one word of the basic text being changed.  And our program has become the model for some 114 other self-help groups. 



Although Fitz and Jim Burwell were miles apart on spiritual philosophy, they were always close family friends.  And their final resting places are also close, just a few yards apart on the grounds of Christ Episcopal Church at Owensville, MD.



The two were born in Maryland and were boyhood friends in southern Anne Arundel County. As previously mentioned, Shoemaker was also a Marylander. Had not this Maryland trio played their critical roles in AA's infancy, our Fellowship in all likelihood would not have been born and survived its growing pains. They are among the many unsung heroes to whom we A.A.'s owe a debt that we cannot repay but partially by continuing to carry the message to alcoholics who still suffer from our devastating disease.



Part 2:  Two Boyhood Friends Made Crucial Contributions



Two friends from boyhood who lie buried in the cemetery of Christ Episcopal Church at Owensville, Maryland, made vital contributions to Alcoholics Anonymous in the Fellowship's infancy.  But for their individual input, countless thousands would never have joined AA and the Fellowship itself might have been short-lived.



One of the pair -- John Henry Fitzhugh Mayo "Our Southern Friend" in A.A.'s Big Book -- was among the first few to get and stay sober in New York.  The other was Jim Burwell, whose Big Book story is "The Vicious Cycle."  Their early efforts formed the foundation of A.A.'s rich history in Maryland.



The pair's friendship flowered in southern Anne Arundel County after Fitz's minister father became rector of Christ Episcopal Church at Owensville when Fitz was about four years old.  Jim Burwell was the son of a Baltimore physician and grain merchant with family ties at Cumberstone, just a few miles from Owensville. As teenagers they attended the Episcopal School for Boys at Alexandria, VA.



Alcohol began to take its toll on both in their twenties. Fitz had a promising career with an established firm aborted by the Great Depression and took a teaching position in Norfolk, VA, where he drank heavily, lost his job, and his health deteriorated. Feeling great compassion for Fitz, another friend from childhood gave him part of his own farm at Cumberstone to homestead. 



Jim's story relates that, after losing several fine positions, he drifted into sales work and lost 40 jobs in eight years "before A.A. found me." 



In the fall of 1935, Fitz heard that Towns Hospital in New York was having some success in treating alcoholics, and he went there for the "cure."  This was just a few months after Bill Wilson's historic meeting with Dr. Bob in Akron that marked the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous.  On Bill's return to New York, he had set about trying to "fix" drunks he found at the Calvary Mission and Towns Hospital. His first successful project was Hank Parkhurst, whom he had rescued at Towns; Fitz was the second to be picked up there and maintain sobriety.  After returning to Cumberstone, Fitz brought a number of prospects into his home in a vain effort to get them sober, much to the distress of his wife.  He also began to make frequent trips to New York to join Bill and Lois Wilson and Hank at meetings of the Oxford Group, a "First Century Christian movement" with which early members of the fellowship were affiliated.  When weekly meetings of the small group of alcoholics soon began to be held at the Wilson home, Fitz usually came up to attend.  Fitz formed a close friendship with the Wilsons, who were frequent visitors to his Cumberstone home for several years, starting in 1936.  Lois Wilson recalled in her book, "Lois Remembers," that they often visited "Fitz and Co" at

Cumberstone and that on different occasions she was called on to care for Fitz's ailing wife and diabetic daughter. (When queried some years later, Lois said that Bill did not write any of the Big Book at Cumberstone, but some Maryland old timers believe he made notes there as he formulated ideas for the book.)



At least as early as 1937, Fitz was spending much of his time trying to help drunks and gain a foothold for the Fellowship in Washington, DC, where his sister Agnes worked and provided Fitz shelter and a base of operations for his A.A. work.  His early efforts met with minimal success, but by the fall of 1939 he and Ned Foote had established the nucleus of a small group with staying power that began to function in Washington as A.A.'s southernmost outpost.



One of Fitz's early reclamation projects was the ill-fated Jackie Williams. Fitz sent Jackie to see his old chum Jim Burwell, who was just coming off a binge at his mother's home in DC. Jim describes the encounter in his Big Book story: "January 8, 1938 -- that was my D-Day; the place Washington, DC.  This last real merry-go-round had started the day before Christmas and I had really accomplished a lot in those fourteen days.  First, my new wife had walked out, bag, baggage and furniture; then the apartment landlord had thrown me out of the empty apartment and the finish was the loss of another job. After a couple of days in dollar hotels and one night in the pokey, I finally landed on my mother's doorstep -- shaking apart with several days' beard ... That is the way Jackie found me, lying on a cot in my skivvies, with hot and cold sweats, pounding heart and that awful scratchiness all over.



"I had not asked for help and seriously doubt that I would have, but Fitz, an old school friend of mine, had persuaded Jackie to call on me. Had he come two or three days later I think I would have thrown him out, but he hit me when I was open for anything..."



Jim and Jackie took the train to New York, where they met Bill and Hank. It turned out that Hank had fired Jim from a job years earlier. Jim was impressed by the sobriety of the New Yorkers and decided to join them "and take all that they gave out except the 'God Stuff'."  He also took a job as a traveling salesman for a business Hank and Bill had started. Burwell later recalled that his association with the little band in New York started about the time that Hank began pressing Bill to put something of the program in writing; up to that time, the "program" was carried solely by word of mouth in the New York and Akron meetings.



The Akron contingent was initially against any publication -- it was still closely affiliated with the Oxford Group, from which the New Yorkers had severed ties in September 1937.  Akron finally acquiesced, and Bill began writing in the sprint: of 1938.



As Bill finished a chapter it would be reviewed and discussed by the New York members and a copy sent to Dr. Bob for review in Akron. This procedure brought lively debate in New York, particularly over the language of Chapter Five and the Twelve Steps.  As related in Part 1 of this series, Fitz and Jim became central characters in the discussions, with Fitz favoring a Christian religious approach and Jim aligned with those wanting a philosophical text devoid of references to God. The resulting compromise language of "God as we understood Him" was hailed by Bill Wilson as a "ten strike" that opened the way for those of all faiths and little or no faith to embrace and be embraced by Alcoholics Anonymous.

And when disagreement developed over the title of the Big Book, it was Fitz to whom Bill turned for help: his search at the Library of Congress found a dozen books titled The Way Out and none named Alcoholics Anonymous. Thus both the book and the Fellowship were named. Fitz and Jim were also prototype "service workers." In addition to "Twelve Stepping" prospects and founding groups, they pioneering institutional relations community/public emissaries.



Fitz's efforts in Washington led to groups forming in Georgetown, Chevy Chase, Silver Spring, Bethesda, Rockville and Colmar Manor in Maryland; and Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, and Falls Church in Virginia.  The other traveling salesman Burwell's need for the company of other alcoholics led him to establish groups in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Harrisburg, PA, and Wilmington, DE.



His seed-planting in Baltimore doubtless eventually sprouted groups in Towson, Glen Burnie and other points in Maryland.  Both developed excellent relationships with hospitals in DC and Philadelphia to the point where A. A.'s could admit and take home alcoholics from alkie wards to which they had were and access any hour of the day or night. Through his liaison with top government officials, Fitz also gained A.A. access to the workhouse to which drunks were sent by DC courts.



An invaluable bonus growing out of Jim's founding the first group in Philadelphia was the famous Jack Alexander article in The Saturday Evening Post, which Burwell was instrumental in getting published.  Publicity in the immensely popular and widely circulated Post brought thousands of letters to AA and spurred phenomenal growth of the Fellowship in 1941 and subsequent years.  Burwell can also be credited with adoption of AA's Third Tradition -- "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking"-- as reported by Bill Wilson in "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions."  (pp. 143-145).



In World War II, Fitz rejoined the army where he was found to have cancer. He died October 4, 1943, eight years sober. Jim migrated to San Diego and continued active in A.A. until his death on September 8, 1974.



Fittingly they rest a few yards apart just outside the chancel of Christ Church at Owensville, where their paths first crossed as youngsters.  Undoubtedly there were many other unsung heroes among "early timers" whose efforts helped Alcoholics Anonymous through its perilous first years, but few if any made critical contributions like those of the two Maryland men of south Anne Arundel County.



Part 3 - How it happened in Baltimore.



The first request for help from Baltimore was received by the New York AA/office in mid-December 1939, eight months after publication of the Big Book. In his letter, Louis M. wrote that he was tired of making and breaking promises to his wife and pastor. He saw himself in many of the stories in the book and wanted, if possible, to get in touch with some of the men who had the same problems.



The Office promptly responded, " ... we are sorry that at present we have no members in Baltimore, and we are hoping it is possible for you to make the trip to Washington, DC, where we do have a few members . . ."



Louis was advised to contact Ned Foote, who along with Fitz Mayo (see Parts 1 and 2 of Margenser series), had begun the nucleus of a small group in DC several months earlier. His was to be the first on-going group outside the New York and Ohio areas.



About the time of Louis' letter, Jim Burwell -- one of the earliest members to stay sober in New York -- got a traveling sales job that took him to Philadelphia. Upon arriving, and recognizing the need to work with other alcoholics to stay sober, he went out into the community to carry the message as was done in New York and Ohio. As a result, he was able to start the first group in Philadelphia on February 26, 1940.



Jim's job also brought him to Baltimore, his old hometown.



There he was able to locate a former drinking buddy, Jim Ridgely, who had been sober four years after a religious recovery at Keswick Colony, New Jersey. Ridgely had been working with two other alcoholics without success.



Burwell's arrival was timely -- he had 12th step experience and had already

started up an AA group in Philly.  On June 16, 1940, the two Jims met with three other men at Ridgely's home on St. Paul Street. Several days later, Burwell received a letter in Philadelphia from a Baltimore lawyer who wanted to help his

alcoholic brother and offered his office in the Munsey Building on Fayette Street as a meeting place. On June 22, 1940, the six men held the second Baltimore A.A. meeting in that office.

 

In early October the group moved to the Altamount Hotel basement on Eutaw St. for several months, after which the group had to leave to make room for processing of World War II draftees into the military.



About that time, the members located a run-down, second-floor mail-order house at 857 Eutaw Street. With only six dollars in the treasury, four members signed a two-year lease at $45.00 per month. Several sobering-up members removed shelving, painted the interior, and put down a new floor. An employer who was so pleased that one of his workers got sober, donated 50 chairs to the cause.



The group moved into "857" in early 1941 and remained there until 1987 when it moved to 123 N. Clinton Street in Highlandtown.  Club 857 - the No. 1 group in Baltimore - is still in operation after 53 years.  [At this writing.]



Publicity contributed greatly to the public knowledge and growth of Baltimore's budding AA group:



*February 16, 1941 -- Baltimore Sunday Sun article by Harrison Johnston



*April 1941 -- Saturday Evening Post magazine article, "Alcoholics Anonymous"

by Jack Alexander



*October 25, 1941 -- Baltimore News American article by Louis Azreal



Early members said that as each article came out, the phones would start ringing. The AAs were like firemen, always ready to go. "857" -- also called the Rebos Club -- had grown to about 50 members in 16 months, which included several women. The group had no traditions to guide them in those early days, so they tried whatever they thought might work. For example, they asked judges to lock up drunks until they got sober and the A.A.'s would then try to help them; they asked the Salvation Army to provide beds; and they gave out meal tickets, which didn't work because the drunks sold the tickets for booze money.



Looking back, the local and national publicity had an incalculable impact on the growth of A.A.  By the end of 1941, there were over 50 active groups in the United States, according to estimates provided by A.A.'s New York office.



"857" continued to grow, and the need to start up another group became apparent. Transportation was a problem as trolleys or busses were sometimes not available. People often didn't have automobiles, and gas was limited because of World War II rationing. Because of periodic overcrowding, the Baltimore Fire Department said the club site was unsafe.



Several suburban members decided to start the second group in Towson. The first meeting of seven people was held in the study of an Episcopal minister on April 18, 1945. Two months later, they moved to a rented room above a store on York Road. At that first meeting, the gathering included a judge, a probation officer, a doctor, and two clergymen. 



In late 1945, the group found new quarters in an apartment building basement at 212 Washington Avenue, away from streetcar and traffic noise, and large enough to accommodate the growing membership. This location became well known to drunks, as it was only a block away from the police station.



The Towson group remained on Washington Avenue for 40 years.  In late 1985, it moved to and remains at the Carver Annex at Jefferson Street and Towsontown Boulevard.  The Maryland General Service Archives are also located at the Carver Annex.



Fifty years ago drunks had little chance for a decent life.



They were viewed as psychos by the medical profession and as spiritual lepers

by the churches. Now, here was an answer, and the several dozen recovering

Baltimore alcoholics were eager to pass it on.



Tom S. and Lib S. -- two of our pioneer members -- came across a beat-up, downtown Baltimore row house being auctioned off.  They were living in a boarding house and had limited assets, but nevertheless made a down payment. Tom recruited 18 friends, each of whom advanced $1,000 for working capital. One floor would be a club house, one a business office for educating the public about alcoholism, and another for detoxing and housing drunks.



Sailors awaiting sea duty would help with the renovations.



At a business meeting requested by Towson members, Tom and Lib representing "857" members faced heated disagreement and squabbling. To muster support for their plan, they and a friend went to New York to see Bill Wilson.  Bill said that if he had been asked about it five years prior, he would have been all for it. But now he was against it because experience showed that A.A. should be self-supporting, should not have any outside affiliation, and should focus on attraction rather than promotion.



As a suggestion, it was noted that Cleveland and Boston were growing faster than other cities and each had an effective central AA office, separate from clubs and groups. Tom and Lib decided to drop the big plan, to return the $18,000, and to recommend that Baltimore follow the Cleveland-Boston arrangement.  At another briefing of Baltimore members, tempers flared once again. Club house advocates believed they could more effectively handle 12th-step calls and walk-ins. But after about a one-week cooling-off period, the members became agreeable.



A tiny room in the Bromo-Seltzer Tower Building was rented in late 1948. Lib S. stated that if you stood in the middle of the room and extended your hands, you would touch the walls.



Since 1948, the Intergroup Office has moved four times and has been located at 5438 York Road since July 1986. Operating Intergroup back in the 1940's was a rather simple but important job. Since then, responsibilities have snowballed. Over 3000 calls ring monthly. The volume of activity requires special workers: one full-time and three part-time. In addition to regular staff, about 30 volunteers answer calls for help and meeting information. The staff coordinates with employers, clergy, media, hospitals, professionals and institutions as required. Intergroup conducts all of its affairs according to the Traditions.



This volume of work would be impossible to handle without the aid of modern technology. A computer database helps keep accurate information on meeting locations and times. Twelfth Step lists are kept up to date. The over 900 meetings need constant assistance. All groups receive bulletins and council reports twice monthly. Twenty-thousand directories are printed for distribution every eight months. Also, the office stocks and sells conference-approved literature ... Action is the magic word in AA and there is lots of action at the Intergroup Office, the Baltimore service hub.



The enclosed graph shows Baltimore's remarkable meeting growth.  Early members were innovative, carry-the-message activists. They took it upon themselves to get spot information, announcements and interviews on the radio and place simple ads and articles in the newspapers. They informed the clergy, the medical profession, and law enforcement personnel. They took meetings to

mental institutions and prisons. One of our early embers, Tom B. (see box),

was instrumental in starting the first half-way house, the American Council

on Alcoholism, and the annual AA Sobriety Show to celebrate recovery.



Along with A.A.'s growing success came a change in public attitude.  People started to recognize alcoholism -- once thought to be a moral deficiency -- as a health problem.  U. S. medical societies, including the World Health Organization in 1954, declared alcoholism a disease.  Recovering employees convinced their companies to implement programs to help alcoholic employees, and labor unions were very supportive.  Our own Jim Burwell provided guidance to the DuPont Company, using A.A. as the vehicle for recovery.  (DuPont may have been the first company to have a viable program.) 



Government action had far-reaching impact.  James C. of Baltimore was able to develop and have passed the 1968 Maryland Comprehensive Intoxication and Alcoholism Control Act, the first such law in the country.



This act preceded by two years the famous U. S. Public Law 96-616, the so-called Hughes Act, which declared that alcoholism was a disease and all U.S. Government agencies were to have employee assistance programs.  The positive examples set by recovering alcoholics and actions such as those mentioned above generated many calls for help. Members would meet face-to-face with the callers to share their AA experiences and encourage meeting attendance.



Membership and meetings spread in all directions, and by 1970 there were about 140 weekly meetings. Then growth increased dramatically to about 900 meetings by 1991.



However from 1991 to mid-1994, meetings increased only by 33.  This dramatic decline in growth may surprise A.A. members, especially since the trend is not simply a Baltimore happening.  A review of data from Box 459, published by the N. Y. General Service Office, reflects similar trends in the U. S. and Canada. GSO estimated that in 1991 the number of AA groups grew by only 5%, in 1992 by but 3%, and in 1993 by a scant .7%. And a review of estimated data for the same time span shows a similar trend in membership growth.



These statistical snapshots prompt the authors to ponder several questions --



Is this a natural statistical development and the problem of alcoholism in North America actually leveling out, or is A.A. starting to go downhill?



Are we failing in AA's primary purpose of carrying the message to still-suffering alcoholics?



Could the trends reflect a serious threat to AA's future?



We raise these questions not to be alarmists, but to sound a timely alert against complacency and suggest that perhaps AA members and groups need to take inventories and decide what, if anything, should be done about the trends.



Reference Material



* Early AA in Baltimore, April 1975, written by Henry M. and Don H. of the

first Towson Group.



* Historical material provided by:



* Ed B., Maryland General Service Archivist



* Susan K., Baltimore Intergroup Office Administrator



* Ray R., longtime member now living in Florida *Bob M., longtime member,

American Council on Alcoholism



*Lib S., interviewed on July 9, 1994. Lib was a pioneer in Baltimore A.A.

development, sober since Sept. 1945, active for years in Baltimore, Washington and New York, having worked in the General Service Office for 11 years.



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Why Study A.A. History? Why Study A.A. History? 4/14/2002 4:29:00 AM This article is written by Mitchell K.



Why Study A.A. History?



Why study, or for that matter, even discuss the history of Alcoholics Anonymous? What difference would it make? How could it affect how we live and work our own individual recovery? Who cares? The history of AA can be both educational and fascinating and help in making the recovery process a fruitful one.



In a quote attributed to Carl Sandburg, he summed it up when he wrote; "Whenever a civilization or society declines (or perishes) there is always one condition present - they forgot where they came from."



This quote, often used by Frank M., Archivist for AA General Services gives a warning to present and future generations of AA members to "Keep It Green."

The Washingtonians, The Oxford Group and others forgot where they came from. They watered-down and made changes to their respective movements which eventually led to their demise. AA members could take notice and begin to learn their roots. The history of AA can be both educational and fascinating and help in making the recovery process a fruitful one.



Bill W. stated in 1940 that of those entering AA, 50 percent never drank again. 25 percent remained sober throughout their lives after experiencing some early difficulties and the remaining 25 percent could not be accounted for.  Bill stated that 75 percent of AA members back then got well -- they recovered.



Group records indicate that in Cleveland, Ohio, there was a 93 percent success rate for recovery in the early 1940's. Could these astounding figures be attributed to the fact that only low-bottom alcoholics came into AA?  Could they be attributed to the lack of multiple addictions?  We think not.



Early records indicate that though a great number of early members were considered as low-bottom, there were many who entered AA before losing

everything.  Both Dr. Bob and Bill had difficulties with drugs other than alcohol. Bill struggled with these problems until his death in 1971.



Why did they stay sober?



The original members of AA, between 1935 and 1939 went to only one meeting per week, and that meeting wasn't an AA meeting - they were Oxford Group meetings. They got well and they recovered. Why?



There was no 90-in-90 back then. It is not even mentioned in the first 164 pages of the Big Book. There were no conventions, retreats or treatment centers as we know them today. There weren't even the 12 Steps until 1938. Why did they stay sober, on a continuous basis until their deaths?



The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and the way of life described within its pages is probably the most sane way of living possible. It promises a changed life, removal of obsession, removal of fear and being "rocketed into a fourth dimension of existence of which we have not even dreamed."



Were these people who wrote the book long-term members of AA? Did they have decades of recovery behind them which gave them the wisdom to write such a "prescription for a miracle?"



What they did have was a program of recovery and determination to do whatever it took to stop drinking forever.  The longest term of sobriety for those who wrote this book was just over four years. The average was about eighteen months. All were relative newcomers, those who wrote and described what this writer and many others describe as the greatest spiritual movement of the 20th Century.



They didn't have the benefit of daily meetings, many didn't have telephones and there were no 28-day treatment centers. What they did have was a program of recovery and determination to do whatever it took to stop drinking forever.



The study of the history of AA will show you what it was that worked so many wonders which resulted in so many miracles. Learning about where AA came from and what they did will give you an idea of what they had.



Remember, "If you have decided you want what we have and are willing to go to any lengths to get it..."



Strengthening the fellowship:



It is this writer's hope and prayer that a continuing dialogue and forum be made available to study the history of AA. Hopefully, this continuing open discussion will not only serve to strengthen your personal recovery but also begin the serve to strengthen AA as a whole.



Revolving Door Recovery will eventually lead AA towards the fate of the Washingtonians and the Oxford Group.  For the sake of the future generations of alcoholics I pray that AA remain strong.



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161 NMOlson@aol.com
Interview with Katie Treat, wife of Earl Treat, who founded AA in Chicago. Interview with Katie Treat, wife of Earl Treat, who founded AA in Chicago. 4/14/2002 10:47:00 AM I am very grateful to Gary P. and Hugh M. who arranged for the us to have access to this Interview, Courtesy of Chicago Area Nineteen Archives, and to Gigi D.who transcribed it.  It may contain some factual errors.  (None of our memories are perfect, which is why I regret I did not keep a diary in my early years in AA.)  Nonetheless, I think the Interview is well worth posting.

__________



Interview with Katie T. (Non Alcoholic), Wife of Earl T. (Chicago's 1st AA)



Conrad:    Conrad 0, alcoholic and the date is July 29, 1985, and I am interviewing Katie T., non-alcoholic, who is the wife of Earl T., the first AA in the Chicago area.



Katie:    In 1935 and '37, in Akron, Ohio, there was a small band of men, 12 in number, who were interested in their sobriety.  Dr. Bob, who was an alcoholic in Akron, and Bill W of New York, had gotten together and put together a small program of steps of which people could regain their sobriety.  These men were desperate for it and they took to the program as it was presented verbally. There was no book, no pamphlets, no nothing, and the only way you could get it was through passing it on verbally to the next fellow.



Earl heard about it and was in great need for it, and he heard about it through his father who lived in Akron, and told him, he better come over and join this group, which he did.  And at that time, he was the thirteenth in the small group in Akron.  



There was no name for the group.  It was not Alcoholics Anonymous; it was nothing.  But the Oxford Group, which was a group of people who had been in Oxford, England, and was brought over here as a program, and they had the same ideas and principles as AA now has, they helped others.  They helped in many, many ways: in marital affairs, in finances, anything you could think of. However, they had never coped with alcoholism.



But they did welcome these 13 men, and took them into their group, where they stayed for a short time, and then I think the Oxford Group figured they couldn't help very much in alcoholism.  So they suggested that they get out and form their own group. Which they did.



Earl came back to Chicago at Dr. Bob's suggestion, and Dr. Bob always said to Earl, "When the time is ripe and you are right, then you will form a group." So Earl began to run around frantically to all the doctors in Evanston, the suburbs, Chicago, and tell them of this wondrous program.  Now remember, there was no literature.  The doctors would say to him, "Mr. T., how long have you been sober?" And he would say, "Well, about a month." And they'd say, "Come back in five years, and we'll talk to you."



All the alcoholics had apparently gone underground in Chicago, because Earl couldn't find any of them. (Smile in her voice.)  But his first break came when one of his friends told him about a young man in his thirties who had been taken up to the North Shore Sanitarium, which was a sanitarium for nervous disorders and also a drying-out place.



So Earl went up there and found Dick.  Dick was about 5 foot 3, and a lot of fun.  He was a lawyer.  His family had lots of money, but his only interest was in playing golf and drinking.  So he wanted to get out of the sanitarium to do a little more of drinking and playing golf, so he listened to Earl.  But he wasn't at all interested.  So Earl bundled him up, got him out of there, and brought him home. And Dick lived with us for quite a number of months.  In those days, in Akron, the idea was to take any prospect into your home and keep them.  Because then you could give them the word; they were right there, under your nose, and you could really tell them.  There still was no book.



So Dick came to live with us, and I must say, we loved him, but he was a problem child.  He would be sober for 3 or 4 days, and then he'd disappear.  And Earl and I would go down on Howard Street and do all the bars at night where he hung out, and then if we didn't find him, we'd go down to the Near North Side and find him in one of these hangouts.  Usually he had a couple black eyes.  And we'd take him home and get him back again in the groove.  And he would last for about a week, and then he'd be gone again.



Well, he finally did pretty well; not real well, but well enough to get a room.  And he went out on his own.  And do you know, for many years, Dick never made the program.  But after I guess 20-some years, he finally made it.  And Dick passed away in the 50s.



But anyway, we loved Dick.  He was our good friend, and the first prospect.



Conrad:    What year was that Earl went out to Akron?



Katie:    He went out in '37, I believe, '37 and '38; and he returned to Akron about every 3 weeks, because it gave him insurance, he said. He was up here all alone.



Well, after that, the doctors didn't do very much for him, but one man who was a surgeon at the Osteopathic Hospital in Chicago called him and said he had a prospect for him. And Earl always took me along for moral support, I guess.  He always contended in the future that the non-alcoholics should be aware of what went on in the big meetings; they should know about the program because it was so helpful to the alcoholic.  There would be no frustrations, no jealousies, and so on.



So we were always included, which was nice.  But we never tried to take over their program.  We did the coffee, and we helped in any way we could.  But it was the alcoholic's program, and he had to use it for himself.  It was not ours.  Since then, they have Al Anon, which is a group of relatives -- wives, husbands, children -- who meet and discuss their own problems.



We went out to find Sadie.  She was a middle-aged grandmother, and she lived in a very nice apartment on Stony Island in Chicago.  We went up to see her; she lived with her son.  She was a charming little lady with two black eyes.  She had fallen down and she had a hangover, but she was interested.  So Sadie was the second one that we found.



Then in rapid succession, Ed came into the group, through his sister; they lived downstate.  She rather pushed him in, and he was glad to come.  And then Sylvia, who was from Washington, and she was living here; and her roommate, who was a non-alcoholic, Gracie K.  Grace worked for an advertising company, J. Walter Thomas.  Thompson?  Is that it? Thompson.



And so, she volunteered to be the secretary of these five people.  And she was the secretary through the years, until she passed away. And she ran the downtown office, and she did a marvelous job.  She was a non-alcoholic.  So as time went on, they decided they must have a meeting. The first meeting was held in our apartment.  



There were five alcoholics and two of us non-alcoholics, Grace and myself.  That made seven.  And Earl was a nervous wreck about the whole thing. He didn't know what they could do or talk about.  He finally said, "Well, we better pattern ourselves after the Oxford Group."  And they had used the Bible.



Of course, a lot of these people had not read a Bible for forever.  But we got down the old Bible and brushed it off, and when they came, they picked out a chapter and it was read.  Then they discussed it.  This was the first meeting.



Conrad:    Do you recall the date of the first meeting?



Katie:    Well, it was in the fall of '38, I believe, 'cause Chan came in '39 -'40.  After that, after the final prayer, and they were all willing -- they agreed upon this spiritual thing -- there was great discussion and they all opened up and told about their problems and so on, which was good; and drank gallons of coffee and stayed until four a.m. in the morning!



The things that came out of that first meeting were rather interesting.  They decided that there would be no money taken from anybody outside of the group. The theory was that the alcoholics had always taken money, wherever they could get it, from whoever they could get it, and now it was time for them to be on their own.  So there would be no money taken.



And this was a great problem, because Ed's sister had sent $5. And they didn't know what in the world to do with it.  To give it back would be insulting to her, because she had given it in such good faith; they couldn't accept it, they thought.  Well, that was why they sat up till 4 in the morning, trying to figure out what to do with this $5.  And I don't know what they did with it; probably bought coffee.



The next thing they decided that once a week they would have a general meeting of the five and the non-alcoholics.  And that was a must.  You must save that evening, and you must be there.  In between, every day, you were to contact one or all of the people who were there at that meeting, either by phone, or by dropping in and having coffee, or at their office, or wherever they were.  But you must keep in touch with them.  And Earl and I used to drive around in the evening to see if they were all home (laugh) and in good shape.



The friendliness and the love that was given was what bound them together.  We were all good friends.



The next thing they decided upon was a quiet time.  I guess that has gone by the boards, but it was a wonderful thing.  The alcoholic was to rise an hour before his usual time; he had always been in such a hurry and such a mess to do ninety-five things at the wrong time, and he was to get his day straightened out and in some order before he started out.



He was also to offer a prayer, ask for guidance, and at night when he came home, to review what had happened to him, and also to offer a prayer of thankfulness.  So the quiet time was born that night.  Which was great.  There were other things that they were to do that they talked about that evening.  Apparently it worked because everybody stayed sober, which was great!  Except Dick.  And Dick was still running away every few days and getting drunk.  But he always came to the meetings.  So that was the beginning of the first AA meeting in our apartment.



It continued on there until we got 25 members, and we couldn't get them all in.



Conrad: Your apartment was on Central Street in Evanston?



Katie:    On Central Street in Evanston.  But the group was known as the Chicago Group.  In the interim, Bob and Bill had gotten their heads together and had gotten a name for this group.  It was Alcoholics Anonymous, which I thought was a marvelous name.  The alcoholic was promised anonymity and we non-alcoholics never broke it.  We were careful.



I guess the others were too, because people began to be very curious.  What were you doing, and you know, and particularly in our building, when these people would come and go and stay so late.  But we never told. (Laugh.)  But anyway, that was the first meeting.



Then, when there were 25 people, we felt we had grown enough. And I say "we" because, we were the non-alcoholics, but included in this. But it was not our program, per se.



So Earl went down and talked to someone at the Medical and Dental Arts Building, and he made a deal with them, that if they would give us their lounge to set 25 or 50 people and have a meeting, we would use their restaurant and guarantee 25 meals.  And I was in charge of the meals, and I used to stand at the darn counter, because we had to have 25 people.



The roast beef dinners were 75 cents, and 10 cents for a tip.  Most of us couldn't afford that because most of us were broke.  It was all we could do to afford coffee and cake.



But they were well attended, and we had a little publicity by Jack Alexander, and then they began to come in.  At that time, we rose from 25 to 50, and then we went to different places that were larger, and finally ended up at the Engineering Building, where we could have hundreds.



AA has grown by leaps and bounds all over the world.  I have traveled a lot, when Earl was alive and after he passed away.  Invariably, they find me. I've gone to meetings in little motor homes, where they sit out on the prairie, in Texas; I've gone to Fort Wayne, Indiana.



By the way, in the early days, those men used to travel at night.  They would go down to St. Louis; they would go to Springfield; they would go to Milwaukee; to Madison, Iowa, all around, helping start groups.  After work, if they had a job, they would leave, and talk to the groups down there, and then come home that same night, at 5 in the morning.  It was a rugged deal, but all of those groups started from the Chicago area.



It was great.  It was good AA.  The book came out, that was helpful.  The steps -- I believe in the beginning, they had planned on 15 steps, but they cut it down to 12.  And it's been revised a bit, too.  Are there any questions you would like to ask?



Dr. Bob and Annie S. had relatives in Kenilworth, the suburb.  They came once or twice a year.  And of course, we always got together with them.  And Earl frequently went to Akron, because his father lived there.  He was so fond of Dr. Bob, who had sponsored Earl, really.  Earl was only 35 when he went over there, and most of these men were 50s and 60s.  Earl was the youngest one.



They used to put everyone who came into Dr. Bob's hospital, because they could all go and pinpoint him there and talk with him.  There was no literature, so they had to do it that way.



Earl begged and pleaded not to put him in the hospital, so they made an exception, let him stay at home.  He said, "I'll sit right here.  I won't leave."  And they all called upon him.  He left at something like seven or eight o'clock at night, and didn't get into Akron until -- his father was with him -- until it was one or two in the morning, and they all came that early morning to see him.



Conrad:    Did they all come to the train station to meet him?



Katie:    No, but they called at the house, and they continued.  Two would come at a time, and then maybe another one, and so on.  And they continued all day and every day.  He had lots of company, believe me.  They saturated him with this program.



To them it was the last hope.  They had hit bottom.  As Earl often said, "Without sobriety, I'm nothing."  Which was true.  So they worked hard at it, believe me.



Conrad:    Did Bill W. come to Evanston?



Katie:    Bill W. always stayed with us.  We would get him a room at the Palmer House, and the next thing, he landed in a cab outside of our door.  He said, "I don't want to stay down there.  I'd rather stay with you!" (Laugh.) So he always came to us and stayed with us.



Dr. Bob and Annie stayed with their relatives, which they should have.  And when we went to Akron, we did not stay at their home, because we had a home there.  Earl had been born and reared in Akron.  But we saw Annie and Bob constantly.  Annie was a marvelous woman, and every body loved her.  And they were a great couple.



Bob's last words, as you know, at the Cleveland Convention, were, "Just remember to keep it simple." And I hope they always do.



A lawyer called Earl and asked him to come down to his office.  He had a proposition for him.



Earl went down, and he said, "There is a woman in town who is very wealthy and would like to give you some money." And he said, "Well, we don't take money." And he said, "This is for you."  And Earl said, "No, I don't accept any money.  Oh maybe the group would take five or ten dollars."  The lawyer laughed, and he said, "This is a million."



Conrad: A million dollars?



Katie: Well, Mr. T. almost fell over backwards. (Laugh.) There were many offers of great amounts of money, and many to Earl, because he was the first man here.



What is Nancy, the politician's wife, what was her name before she married him?  Well, it doesn't make any difference.  Her mother called her, and said that she had a friend, that she had been on the stage, and she had a friend who also was with her in vaudeville, and he was in great trouble at the Blackstone.  But she was going to move him up to their house.



She was married to L. D., the doctor, surgeon.  Would Earl come to their home and talk to this man?  So Earl galloped down there and Nancy opened the door.  She was probably a teenager. She wasn't too old.  In her twenties, maybe.

And it was an actor who was in trouble.  He really was.  He would go to the Blackstone and hole in there, and just drink himself to death.  Then, they would go and get him, and take him home.



Earl kept track of him and every time the actor came to town, he called Earl, and they would have lunch or dinner together.  And Earl would tell him, but the actor didn't stop drinking. He kept right on.  So finally, he said to Earl, "How would you like to go to Hollywood?"



Earl said that he had never thought about going to Hollywood.



The actor said, "I'll move your family out there.  I'll give you a house and a car, and all the servants you need, if you'll dance attendance on me and keep me sober."



Earl said, "I'm going to tell you something. If I accepted that, I'd be drunk in a week."



But Earl would call him on the phone, and we kidded him, because he'd say, "How are ya, S, old boy?" (Laugh.) But they liked each other.



Then the actor continued to drink. But he found the actress (name deleted).  And she had some magical power over him.  And they used to put the actor on a boat when they were filming and send him out in the bay and keep him there until the film was done, so he couldn't get anything to drink.  But the actress took over, and he did pretty well.  He sobered up.



There have been a lot of people that Earl and I have had the privilege of meeting that were interesting.  And they're just as common as all the rest of us, I mean, and they all have the same problems.  But it was fun to know them.



A President's son, we knew him.  A nice man; I think he died recently.  He was very old.  A lot of dignitaries, and nice.  Earl served on the Board, the AA board in New York, for several years.  He would go to New York, and Bill and he would get together and talk about AA.  They did a lot of things together.



Conrad:    Did Earl do anything with the downtown office, or the general service?



Katie:    Oh yes, oh yes.  He was very influential in that.  We ran all over.  I went with him because he had to go alone, he asked me to go.  I can't tell you how many places we visited.  And they didn't want us.  They didn't want alcoholics in their building.  Finally, they found a little office.  I can't remember just where it was.  It was sort of south, either on Wabash or someplace in there, just a hole in the wall.



The coffee pot was always on; anybody could wander in and out and have a cup of coffee and meet other AAs in there.  And Grace Kaidas was established there behind the desk.  She ruled over it like a matriarch. (Laugh.)  She would say to some of these men who came in, "Did you go and get a bath and get de-loused like I told you to?  No -- then get out of here." (Laugh.) She took good care of her boys and girls.  She served many times.



From that little office, they again went on a search, and they found the Wacker Drive.  And that's a nice office.  Earl always spent every weekend down there.  They had their committees. I don't know if he ever made a living, because he spent most of his waking hours with AA.  I taught school in between times, so we made it.



Conrad:  Did you have a General Service Representative?  I mean a representative from this area, and other areas in the city at that time?



Katie:  Well, they established the small groups. Yes, then they tried to choose somebody from the West Side, South, North and so on, and they met as a committee, and they sort of set the tone for what they were going to do.  There had to be something that was put together; I mean, you can't just have a loose organization.  Yeah, they did pretty well.



Conrad:    What did they call the first group, in Evanston? Did it have a name?



Katie:    By then, it was Alcoholics Anonymous.  Right after Earl joined, the Oxford Group threw them out and said they didn't want them any more. I think Bill and Bob had gotten their heads together and decided they should have a name.  And it came through as Alcoholics Anonymous, which was good.  It was an inspired thing.  But I think the whole thing was an inspired, God-given thing, because up to then, you know, a person who had a problem of alcoholism was just a garden-variety drunk.  And everybody looked down their nose at them and nobody did anything.  But when AA came into being, it was understandable; they had respect, they said maybe after all it was a disease people had.  They couldn't help it, and they treated it as such.  Which was good.



As far as figures were concerned, I don't know how they could ever get counts.  Oh they could make some count of how many belonged.  Who cares?  As long as they come in the group and are rehabilitated, doesn't make any difference if you have 10,000 or 50.



Conrad:    How did they pay the rent on this office downtown?



Katie:    By free will offering.  They never took any money from anyone.  They passed the basket on the night that they met.  Every week we went. They got quite a bit of money.  See, that was right after the Depression, and people didn't have much money.



Conrad: This was in 1940...



Katie:    In the 40s, yes.  Then we began to be a little more prosperous, so they had more money.  Then we had once a year, a free will offering, that you could send in if you wished, or not.  There was no obligation.  And the money came in.



Conrad: Then there was, in addition to the groups in different parts of the city, there was one big meeting, wasn't there?  Downtown, Tuesday nights?



Katie:    One big meeting, that's right.  And each group took care of its own.  They usually met on a Thursday night.  I don't know, do they now?



Conrad:    Yes they do.



Katie: They met in homes, which seems to be a more well, better, it was not so formal.  It was informal.  And then when the group would get so big, they would have to either split, which caused a lot of trouble, because nobody wanted to split up with their fellow men.  Or they would have to rent a hall or a church. The churches were pretty good.  They gave room for them.



They had groups all over the city, up the shore, all around.  Then they came together in that one annual big meeting.  Usually, Bob and Bill came, and some of the Board would come.  There was Mr. S., I forgot, I think he was a lawyer.  He was a non-alcoholic.



They had a ratio of I think it was 3 alcoholics and 4 non, about that, because they said, (laughing) you can't trust to put too many alcoholics on.  You never know what they're going to do.  So they put the non in greater proportion, 4 to 3. 1 think that was it.  I don't know what they do now.



They had a big office in New York, much bigger than we ever had here. They did a lot of printing, sending out pamphlets and books and what have you. We never went into that.



Pamphlets that you see now that you pick up, many of them were written by some of the former first members, like Judge T and some of the others.



And I might add that Chan F, who is a wonderful AA, and I think that he and I are the only two survivors, came in '39.  He sort of nosed around and thought, 'Well, maybe he didn't need this very much.' But in '40 he decided.  He was a newspaperman, and everybody wondered, down at the newspaper offices, what had happened to him, because he was a good drinker.  So he spread the word, and we got in rapid succession, many newspapermen.  Clem came in, and Luke, and I can't tell you all the newspaper guys who came.  They were good.



Then Judge T, and they had a good nucleus of people who were intelligent, and who could do things and hold it together.  And that's very important I think, don't you?



Conrad: Yes.



Katie:    The AAs were wonderful and we loved all of them, but some of them couldn't do that sort of thing.  But these men had what it took.  They were very active up until the time of their deaths.  And Chan is still going strong, isn't he?



Conrad: Yes, he is.



Katie:    He's wonderful.



Sylvia was one of the first members in the group, and a very beautiful gal. She lived in Washington, DC, and was married to one of the owners of a newspaper.  She was the only one in the group that had any money. (Laugh.) She was divorced from him, and he paid her alimony.  So whenever we needed coffee or cream, Sylvia would bring it, because she had the money.



Anyway, she was an eager beaver, and a spark plug.  Every night, at 6:00, when we were about to sit down to dinner, the phone would ring, and she'd say, "Earl, can you come right over? I think I'm going to drink." (Laugh.)



And he'd say, "Well, I'm going to eat my dinner, and then I'll come over."

"Well, I've decided I'm going to China tomorrow, so you'd better come over tonight, or I won't be here tomorrow. I'm going to China."



We had a terrible time with Sylvia. (Laugh.) She was always doing something, and chasing somebody she thought that was an alcoholic.  So one night, through her garage man, she heard about this man that the garage man thought needed help.  So she loaded Earl and me into the car, and we went down to this street, and I don't know where it was, in Chicago some place.  And in front of his rooming house, and she said, "Now the garage man says he comes out every night about 7:00 and goes to the Silver Dollar around the corner.  And we'll wait for him and then we'll grab him."



This man came along, and he didn't come out of the house there, but he was staggering down the street, and Sylvia said, "There he is." Now she said, "You let him get a little distance away, Earl, and then you get out and chase him."

So he got oh, about maybe a quarter of a block away, and Mr. T. got out of the car, and started after him.  In order to close some of the distance between them, Earl ran a little bit.  And the man saw him, and he'd run and Earl would run, (laughing), and finally Earl caught up with him.  He said, "Are you 'Spencer,'" or whatever his name was.  He said, "Oh no, no." He was not this one at all.



Earl came back and we sat some more.  Finally, 'Spencer came out of the house, and around the corner to the Silver Dollar.  We waited for him, and finally, back he came again.  Sylvia and Earl got out, and went in with him. They said, oh he lived in the most disreputable room -- it was just a mess.  So they said he couldn't stay there.  They took him out.  They took him home.



One of the other members, the Fs, the wife and husband, were both alcoholics.  They lived in south Evanston.  They said that they'd take Spencer. So they took him in and T. F., the wife, finally objected.



She said, "You know, he has a wet brain." She said, "He doesn't know where he is.  He wanders around and he puts cigarette ashes in my powder box." (Laughs.)

She said, "I can't have him any more."



So they put him away, and he couldn't remember his name.  He would scratch it on the wall.  I guess he finally died. He was in bad shape.  Those were the kind that we got too.  They weren't all wonderful outstanding judges and doctors and what have you.  They were the dregs, some of them.



But, Dr. Bob always said, "You've got to love them, whether you like them or not.  You've got to love them."  So we tried to, love all of them, dirty or otherwise.



Katie:    She came into the group in the 40s.  Her husband was related to a manufacturing family.  They had lived over there, on the estate.



Conrad:    This is Dorothy G.



Katie: Dorothy G. Jim G, her husband, was an alcoholic, but wouldn't admit it. Dorothy was.  Finally they separated, and she came up here and she lived near us on Central Street.  So we saw a lot of her.  She had alimony of sorts, and she also had a retarded daughter who lived with her.



When they established an office downtown, Grace took over, but they needed someone else too.  Earl suggested maybe Dorothy would like to work there, and she said, Oh, no; she had never worked in her life.  She wouldn't know how to do that.  They finally prevailed upon her, and she did a marvelous job through the years.  When Grace died, she took over.  Every body knew Dorothy.  She knew every group in town, and every body would come in, and she could call them by name.  She was really good.



She should be well thought of in the group, because she did a lot for it.



There were so many who did so much.  All very humble people.  We went down to Sarasota, and we stayed down there.  When Earl was stricken, you know, when he was in his 50s, he had a stroke.  We went down there, and it was warm and he could get out.  Up here in the winter, he couldn't.  We used to go to the meetings there.



He never announced who he was.  We'd sit down, maybe in the back, and people would come up and greet him, and say, "How long have you been in the group?"

He'd say, "Oh I don't know," some little time, something like that.  He never said, "Oh I was first in AA in Chicago." He was a very humble person, as were the other alcoholics.  Once in a while, we got somebody that...



We went to a meeting in Sarasota.  The speaker we had known for a good many years.  He took a nip now and then, but he never told anyone.  Earl always had his ear to the ground, he was like a bird dog (laughing).  He knew what Clarence was doing.  Anyway, Clarence was a speaker and he was expounding.  Oh my, you know, how good he was, and what he'd done, and soon....  When he was halfway through, his eye lighted on Earl T.  He almost fell to the ground, because he knew Earl knew what he was up to.



There were very few of those fakers, a few who didn't behave well. But I think all in all, we were lucky to have such wonderful people.



Conrad: Thank you, Katie.  This is the end of the interview with Katie T...



For more information on Earl T. see post 126.









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Interview with Searcy W., "Ebby''s Sponsor." Interview with Searcy W., "Ebby''s Sponsor." 4/14/2002 11:10:00 AM This is an interview with Searcy W. that was conducted for the October 1999

issue of the D.I.A.Log, the official newsletter of the Dallas Intergroup Association. Searcy has the most sobriety of any AA member in the Dallas area... he has 54+ years of continuous sobriety!  Searcy is a founding member of the White House Group in Dallas, and his sobriety date is 5/5/46.



D.I.A. Log - Searcy, you have been sober longer than anybody that we know of

in Dallas AA, but at the time you got sober you weren't living here. When did you actually move to Dallas?



Searcy W. - Well, the thing about that is, I came into Alcoholics Anonymous in Dallas, but at that time I had been transferred to Lubbock by the company I worked for. My drinking problems had become more serious, and toward the end in 1945 I heard about Alcoholics Anonymous from Bob S., who was an old drinking buddy of mine who lived in West Texas but had moved to Dallas.  I ran

into him in Odessa, and he told me about AA and what happened to him, and he

sent me the Big Book. I didn't read the Big Book very much, and I kept drinking until I lost my job in November 1945; then I stayed drunk until April 1946 when I finally did what Bob told me to: I came to Dallas, looking him up to find out what Alcoholics Anonymous was about. I had little knowledge of the actual workings of AA. They put me in a drying out place here in Dallas off Maple Street, which was the only place that a drunk could get in to sober up, and the third day there, they took me to a meeting in downtown Dallas. I finally got sober there on May 5, 1946. 912-1/2 Main Street was the first group in Dallas, and there were about eight or nine people there sober in AA, and there were only about fourteen members at that time in all of the Dallas area.



D.I.A. Log - So your home was actually in Lubbock when you sobered up and

then you moved back here?



Searcy W. - I was in Lubbock, yes.



D.I.A. Log - Okay, when did you actually move back to Dallas?



Searcy W. - I moved back here in 1949.



D.I.A. Log - Tell us more about the groups that were here when you moved back

in 1949 and then how they developed through the '50s.



Searcy W. - I came to all the meetings here even in the beginning: there was no group where I lived in West Texas; there wasn't any group between Ft. Worth and Phoenix. So I had to come to meetings in Dallas, and I was a member of the Downtown Group. In September of 1946 we moved out and formed the Suburban Group at the corner of Dickason and Sale streets. I was a member of that group. The first groups were in this order: the Downtown Group at 912 1/2 Main, the Suburban Group at Dickason and Sale, and then the Oak Cliff Group was formed about the same time. Out of the Suburban Group grew the Preston Group, the Belmont Group, the Belwood Group, and several like that.



[Editor's note: Other old-timers aver that the Preston Group was a split-off from the Town North Group.] The Central Group and Town North and all of those groups grew out of the old Suburban Group: most of them did, anyway. 



D.I.A. Log - That wasn't the same Central Group that was around in Dallas in the '80s, was it? That must have been a different group.



Searcy W. - No, no, that was before then, a different group.



D.I.A. Log - Right. So when did the White House Group actually get started?



Searcy W. - The White House Group started about fourteen years ago as a result of the demise of the Suburban Group which had closed its doors way back then, so the old members of Suburban Group came together at the White House where I had an office and we formed the White House Group. That was about fourteen years ago.



D.I.A. Log - So the White House Group really itself isn't that old but it's what was left of the old Suburban Group?



Searcy W. - Yeah, there were fourteen former members of Suburban Group that

helped start the White House Group.



D.I.A. Log - That's really interesting. Now let's explore a bit more about the origins of Dallas AA. Our history records that a woman named Esther E. founded the first AA group in Dallas. Tell us what she was like.



Searcy W. - Well, Esther's story actually is written in detail; her story's in the Big Book. "The Southern Belle," you know. She was a good-looking lady and full of pep and knowledge about the program of Alcoholics Anonymous. Of course she'd been through the ringer pretty well. She came to Dallas in 1943, and there were no groups in Dallas at that time. And there was no place, no hospital that would take an alcoholic for treatment. But you could take an alcoholic to Terrell state mental hospital. In that mental hospital was a guy named Vern G.  Esther for 2 years went out there and worked there with him, and he would get out intermittently for a while but he couldn't stay sober.



She tried to give the program to him for a long while, but it failed.  But then in 1945 they started the Downtown Group of Alcoholics Anonymous which was in cooperation with some early members of Alcoholics Anonymous in Ft. Worth. They had formed a little group in Ft. Worth, four or five people.



D.I.A. Log - Searcy, you have a wonderful story about you, Bill W. and the Twelve Traditions.



Searcy W. - From the time I came in 1946 through late '46 and '47 we tried to

establish groups all over Texas, and everybody all over the state worked together to form these groups. And so what happened was that a lot of groups presented problems because in the Southwest we had clubs, and they called them AA clubs - which was not right. AA is not a club, officially. But we had clubs and that caused a need for money. So money and management and those things caused problems with Bill Wilson.  Day and night he was being called about so-and-so trying to run this or that club. In 1948, 25 people agreed to meet in Lubbock; they came from all over the state of Texas. Bill Wilson had been visiting his mother in Phoenix, and I got him to come to Amarillo to meet me and then go on to Lubbock to speak and help us with forming these groups and tell us what we were doing wrong. Bill and Lois came in on a plane from Phoenix, and then we got on another plane and headed toward Lubbock.  Then Bill reached in his coat pocket and pulled out some handwritten notes saying, "I want you to read these notes and see what you think about it."  I read them over carefully and looked at him and said, "Well, Bill, we don't need this down here. We love each other. Oh, how we love each other."  But it was the Twelve Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous,

the thing that saved Alcoholics Anonymous, but I didn't know it then. Very few people knew anything about these Traditions and why they were being formed, but later on of course in 1950 at the International Conference in Cleveland, Dr. Bob and Bill took me up to the room and schooled me in what we needed to do to get votes to pass the Twelve Traditions, to accept the Twelve Traditions as they were written. We were to vote on the Twelve Traditions with about 8,000-9,000 people.  And at that meeting there was not a single dissenting vote.



D.I.A. Log - Can you clarify one thing for us? Bill showed you this draft of the traditions in 1948 when you were in West Texas but he had started publishing articles about his proposed Traditions two years before in the Grapevine. I'm betting not a lot of people who were members of AA down here were reading the Grapevine at that time.



Searcy W. - Very few. And very few people in the Southwest knew anything about the Traditions being formed, they didn't know anything about it.  Not only in West Texas, but all over. At that convention in Cleveland where they voted to adopt the Twelve Traditions, not a lot of people knew about them, either. We voted for it for unity but we didn't know a hell of a lot about it, very little. It passed, thank God. You know, Bill worked on those traditions for four or five years previously and there may have been some things I had corresponded with him with about them, but I still didn't understand exactly why we needed them. That's how ignorant I was about it.



D.I.A. Log - Bill was incredibly farsighted, wasn't he?  Tell us this: when you talked at our group a few years back you had some great reminiscences about Ebby T's sojourn in Dallas. Didn't Bill send him down here in desperation because he wasn't staying sober back East?



Searcy W. - Well, here's the story behind that.  As you know, when Bill Wilson was near the end in 1934, Ebby came to see him and gave him an idea about "God as we understand Him."  After AA got started Bill always said that Ebby was his sponsor. But six months after he gave Bill a clue on how to stay sober, Ebby went back out in the Bowery in New York City and had stayed drunk on and off for eighteen years. Then in early 1953 Bill Wilson came to Dallas. By then I was head of a clinic that took wet drunks. Bill and I had lunch, and after that lunch I asked Bill, "What would you rather see happen now that's never happened in AA before?" and without any hesitation he said, "I'd rather see Ebby have a chance to get sober." Bill said that it as if to say, "You sober Ebby up" - that's the way I took it. Bill didn't even know exactly where Ebby was, but a couple of mutual friends found him on the Bowery. They dried him out a bit but gave him a pint of whiskey to get on the plane with, and he flew to Dallas to sober up. Ebby was in bad shape physically, mentally, spiritually and every other way you could imagine after being drunk for the better part of eighteen years and sleeping on the streets. And he was very unruly. He cussed out Bill and Dr. Bob and me and everybody else. Ebby was still very resentful because he could have been one of the forefathers of AA. But finally, Ebby asked if he could go to a meeting with me, and we went over to the Suburban Club - he got sober and stayed that way. And he got to helping others; we got him a job and he did pretty good. He stayed 4 or 5 years before going back to New York. But his health was failing him and he fell off the wagon again. Of course Bill was in touch with him all the time, and he made arrangements for Ebby to go to a halfway house in upstate New York. The lady up there that ran it said she would gladly take care of him. He went up there in 1963 and in 1966, he died.



D.I.A. Log - Many of us have heard stories that Ebby didn't die sober, but then there are other ones that said he did die sober. Which is true?



Searcy W. - I happen to know that Ebby was sober 2-1/2 years when he died.



D.I.A. Log - Thank you, it's good to get that straight.



Searcy W. - Most people say that Ebby died drunk, but he did not.  He was

sober 2-1/2 years. My source on that was directly from was Lois Wilson; she

told me unequivocally that Ebby was sober 2-1/2 years when he passed away.



D.I.A. Log - I appreciate you clearing that up for all of us.  Only two more

questions, Searcy. I'm sitting here looking at a medallion on your desk that has a Roman number L and three IIIs on it, and, frankly, that whole idea overwhelms me - you've been sober a very long time. Apart from your own sobering up, could you tell us the one most significant event of your whole AA experience? Most significant to you, that is.



Searcy W. - That would be difficult. I always thought after I came in that this was such a great thing. The program of Alcoholics Anonymous - it's such a design for living that I thought the whole world ought to know about it.  So I questioned Bill Wilson about all these things that happened and why we're here and how we were here, and he wanted me to go to the Yale Summer School and study these things, alcoholism, you know? So I did that and luckily, Dr. Jellinek moved from Yale after I attended there in 1947 and came to teach a year at Ft. Worth. [Ed. note: Dr. E. M. Jellinek co-founded the Yale School of Alcohol Studies in 1943.] Then I met a man named Horace, and he and I worked for Dr. Jellinek and did educational work. We talked to schools, churches - anybody that would listen about the disease of alcoholism. We worked colleges, universities, schools, churches, all kinds of public talks.  Dr. Jellinek also suggested we needed hospitals for an alcoholic to go into to sober up and go directly into AA. So he helped me establish the clinic in Lubbock, the clinic in Dallas where Ebby sobered up, and the ones in Houston and Carlsbad, New Mexico. And in those days everybody had a problem with drinking, but there were very few drug addicts; we didn't have any. We had every once in a while a barbiturate addict, but mostly straight alcoholics.  But they sobered up in those places because

there were AAs in there day and night taking them to meetings and sponsoring

them, helping them through the steps, and they stayed sober.  About 75% of

them stayed sober, because they went into AA. Because they were taken to AA

by an AA and worked with after that.



D.I.A. Log - As a final comment, Searcy, tell us how the Twelve Steps are working for you today, perhaps contrasted with the way they worked in your life fifty years ago when you were early in your sobriety.



Searcy W. - Well, there was a greater urgency at that time just to stay sober, that's for sure. But it's still true that anything that comes up in my life today is contingent on my daily relationship with a higher power. I can stay sober only on a daily basis - thank God we're taught to live one day at a time, and I've been doing that for 53 years, now!



D.I.A. Log - Searcy, this has been great, and we're so grateful for your spending your time with us. I know I can speak for all our readers in saying that we're looking forward to hearing about your celebrating a 54th birthday very soon.









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Interview with Dr. Paul Ohliger, AA Grapevine, Inc., July 1995 Interview with Dr. Paul Ohliger, AA Grapevine, Inc., July 1995 4/14/2002 11:52:00 AM AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR OF "DOCTOR, ALCOHOLIC, ADDICT"

July 1995  [In the 4th edition, Dr. Paul's story is retitled "Acceptance Was the Answer."]



Dr. Paul's story "Doctor, Alcoholic, Addict" was published in the Third Edition of the Big Book; his remarks on acceptance, which appear on pages 449 and 450, have been helpful to many AA members over the years. This interview was conducted by telephone to Dr. Paul's home in California.



Grapevine: How did you come to write the story that's in the Big Book?



Dr. Paul: The editor of the Grapevine - a woman named Paula C. - was also the

chairperson of the committee to review the stories.  She wrote to tell me that

the magazine was going to use an article I'd written on why doctors shouldn't

prescribe pills for alcoholics.  So she knew my writing a little bit and she asked me if I had a dual problem and would I be willing to write an article about it for consideration in the Big Book. My reaction to that was the same as my reaction when it was suggested I come to AA - I thought it was one of the dumbest ideas I'd ever heard and I ignored her letter.



Later on she called and asked for the article, and I lied and said I hadn't had time to write it. She extended the deadline and called me a second time.  I had a gal working in the office with me who was in the program, and she thought it would be nice to have typed a story that might end up in the Big Book, so she said to me, "You write it, I'll type it, and we'll send it in."  So that's what we did.  But by that time they had done another printing of the Second Edition, and I thought, Fine, that means they won't use it. But Paula said she liked it and the Grapevine published it with the title "Bronzed Moccasins" and an illustration of a pair of bronze moccasins.  Eventually it was put in the Big Book, but the title was changed, and my guess is that they wanted to show that an alcoholic could be a professional and be an addict, but that wouldn't make him not an alcoholic. It worked well but maybe it overshot the mark, and now one of the most uncomfortable things for me is when people run up to me at a meeting and tell me how glad they are the story is in the book. They say they've been fighting with their home group because their home group won't let them talk about drugs. So they show their group the story and they say, "By God, now you'll have to let me talk about drugs." And I really hate to see the story as a divisive thing. I don't think we came to AA to fight each other.



Grapevine: Is there anything you regret having written in your story?



Dr. Paul: Well, I must say I'm really surprised at the number of people who come up to me and ask me confidentially if what they've heard on the very best authority - usually from their sponsor - is true: that there are things in my story I want to change, or that I regret having written it, or that I want to take it out because it says so much about drugs, or that I've completely changed my mind that AA is the answer, or even that acceptance is the answer. I've also heard -- on the best authority! -- that I've died or gotten drunk or taken pills. The latest one was that my wife Max died and that I got so depressed I got drunk. So, is there anything I'd like to change?  No.  I believe what I said more now than when I wrote it.



Grapevine: Do you think that your story might help those who are dually addicted?



Dr. Paul: I think the story makes clear the truth that an alcoholic can also be an addict, and indeed that an alcoholic has a constitutional right to have as many problems as he wants! But I also think that if you're not an alcoholic, being an addict doesn't make you one. The way I see it, an alcoholic is a person who can't drink and who can't use drugs, and an addict is a person who can't use drugs and can't drink. But that doesn't mean that every AA meeting has to be open to a discussion of drugs if it doesn't want to. Every meeting has the right to say it doesn't want drugs discussed. People who want to discuss drugs have other places where they can go to talk about that. And AA is very open to living the Steps and Traditions to other groups who want to use them. I know this from

my own experience, because I wrote to the General Service Office and got

permission to start Pills Anonymous and Chemical Dependency Anonymous. I did

that when I was working in the field of chemical dependency. We started groups but I didn't go to them because I get everything I need from AA. I don't have any trouble staying away from talking about drugs, and I never introduce myself as an alcoholic/addict. I'm annoyed -- or maybe irritated is better word -- by the people who keep insisting that AA should broaden to include drugs and addictions other than alcohol. In fact I hear it said that AA should change its name to Addicts Anonymous. I find that a very narrow-minded view based on people's personal opinions and not on good sense.



History tells us that the Washingtonians spread themselves so thin they evaporated. Jim B. says the greatest thing that ever happened in AA was the publication of the Big Book, because it put in writing what the program was and made it available all over the world. So wherever you go it's the same program. I don't see how you could change the program unless you change the book and I can't see that happening.



Grapevine: It's a question of singleness of purpose?



Dr. Paul: That singleness of purpose thing is so significant.  It seems to be working; why would we change it? I can't think of any change that would be an

improvement.



Grapevine: Nowadays drunks often come to meetings already dried out, but that

wasn't always the case.



Dr. Paul: No, it wasn't. You don't get Twelfth Step calls as dramatic as they used to be. Now I find that if you're called upon to make a Twelfth Step call, it'll be on somebody who is in the hospital. You find out when they're available and not in some other kind of meeting, and make an appointment.  But this might change as the number of treatment programs begins to fade out.



I used to make "cold turkey" calls, where the alcoholic hadn't asked for help. One time I went to see this guy who was described to me as a big husky fellow. He was holed up in a motel. I found out from the manager of the motel that he was on the second floor, and as I was walking up the outside stairs to get to his place, I thought to myself, if this guy comes charging out the door, he could easily throw me over the stair railing and I'd end up on the concrete. So I thought, well, the good news is I'd probably be one of AA's first martyrs. Then I thought, yeah, but I'd be an anonymous martyr. I made the call anyhow, and he got sober for a while.



Grapevine: In your Big Book story, you say that acceptance is the key to

everything. I wonder if you've ever had a problem accepting what life hands you.



Dr. Paul: I think today that my job really is to enjoy life whether I like it or not. I don't like everything I have to accept. In fact, if everything was to my specifications and desires there would be no problem with acceptance.  It's accepting things I don't like that is difficult. It's accepting when I'm not getting my own way. Yes, I find it very difficult at times.



Grapevine: Anything specific?



Dr. Paul: Nothing major, though it sometimes seems major that I have to accept living with my wife Max and her ways of doing things! She is an entirely different person than I am. She likes clutter, I like things orderly. She thinks randomly and I like structured thinking. We're very, very different. We never should have gotten married! Last December we were married fifty-five years.



Grapevine: I guess she knows your thoughts on this matter.



Dr. Paul: Ad nauseum.



Grapevine: You're still going to meetings?



Dr. Paul: I'd say five or six a week.



Grapevine: Do you and Max go to meetings together?



Dr. Paul: Max isn't in AA, she's in Al-Anon and she's still very active in it. But I go to Al-Anon too, and that helps a great deal, and Max comes to open AA meetings with me and that helps too. It's kind of like Elsa C. used to say: when two people have their individual programs, it's like railroad tracks, two separate and parallel rails, but with all those meetings holding them together.



Grapevine: Do you think you'd still be married if you hadn't gone to meetings all these years?



Dr. Paul: I'm sure we wouldn't. I initially thought that the Serenity Prayer said I'd have to change the things I couldn't accept. So I thought, well, we can't get along so it's time to change the marriage. I used to go around looking for old-timers who would agree with me and say that's what the Serenity Prayer meant. But Max and I finally made a commitment to the marriage and stopped talking about divorce and started working our programs.  In fact we tend to sponsor each other, which is a dangerous thing to do, but we help each other see when we need more meetings, or need to work a certain Step or something like that.



Grapevine: Do you have, or did you have, a sponsor?



Dr. Paul: Early on I was talking to a friend of mine, Jack N., who was sober a couple of months longer than I was. Jack and his wife and Max and I used to go to AA speaker meetings together. I was telling him how my home group was

nagging at me because I didn't have a sponsor, and on the spur of the moment I said, "Why don't you be my sponsor?" and on the spur of the moment he said to me, "I'll be your sponsor if you'll be my sponsor." And I said, "I don't know if they'll allow that." But we decided to try it and it worked out. He calls me because I'm his sponsor and I call him because he's my sponsor so I guess we call each other twice as often. We're still sponsoring each other.  That's been going on for twenty-seven years. He moved to L.A. but we stay in touch, mostly by phone.



Grapevine: Is there a tool or a slogan or a Step that is particularly useful to you right now?



Dr. Paul: Pretty much every morning, before I get out of bed, I say the Serenity Prayer, the Third Step Prayer, and the Seventh Step Prayer. Then Max and I repeat those prayers along with other prayers and meditations at breakfast. And I say those three prayers repeatedly throughout the day. I grew up thinking that I had to perfect my personality, then I got into AA, and AA said, no, that isn't the way we do it: only God can remove our defects. I was amazed to find that I couldn't be a better person simply by trying harder!



What I've done with a number of problems -- like fear and depression and

insomnia -- is to treat them as defects of character, because they certainly affect my personality adversely.  With depression, I've never taken any antidepressants. Instead, with any defect I want to get rid of, I become willing to have it removed, then I ask God to remove it, then I act like he has. Now, I know God has a loophole that says he'll remove it unless it's useful to you or to my fellows. So I tell him I'd like my defect removed completely, but he can sleep on it, and in the morning he can give me the amount he wants me to have, and I'll accept it as a gift from him. I'll take whatever he gives me. I've never done that when he hasn't removed a great deal of my defect, but I've never done it when he has permanently and totally removed any defect. But the result is that I no longer fight myself for having it.



Grapevine: That's a helpful way of seeing things. It makes defects into a

gift.



Dr. Paul: That's right. And it's the Rule Sixty-two business [see Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, p. 149]. It's like Father Terry always says, "Be friendly with your defects." In fact some poet said, "Hug your demon, otherwise it'll bite you in the ass." Poets can talk like that.



Grapevine: Has your sponsoring changed over the years?



Dr. Paul: I do a lot more stuff by telephone. When I'm speaking at a meeting, if I think of it, I give out my home phone number. So I get a lot of phone calls from all over the country. People ask me if I'm willing to help them as a sponsor and I tell them, well, you call me every day for thirty days, or maybe sixty or ninety or whatever, and then they call me every day, and we get to know each other, and during that time we find out what it's like to be relating to each other. It's kind of a probationary period. Then if they still want me to be their sponsor, we'll go ahead and if they don't, we move on and there's no loss. And this gets them accustomed to calling, so when they have a problem, they don't have to analyze it at great depth and decide if it's bad enough that they should bother me with a phone call. I haven't personally been doing each Step individually with people as much, but I've

redone all the Steps myself on an average of every five years. And every time

I've done that, my sobriety has stepped up to a new plateau, just like the first time I did them.



Sometimes people call me because they're feeling in a funk, their sponsor has

moved away or died, or they've moved away from their sponsor, or the meetings

don't mean much anymore. They aren't getting anything out of AA. And because

of my relationship with pills, I've had a lot of people come to me and say they've got -- what do you call it? -- a "chemical imbalance." They're seeing a counselor who says, "Yeah, you're depressed," and the counselor wants to start them on an antidepressant. My suggestion is, if you want to do something like that and you haven't done the Steps in a number of years, do the Steps first. And repeatedly people will do that and decide they don't need the pills

.

Grapevine: When you speak at out-of-state AA meetings, does Max go with you?



Dr. Paul: I don't go unless she goes.



Grapevine: Why not?



Dr. Paul: Because I decided I didn't come to AA to become a traveling salesman and be away from home. So we go where it's a big enough event that they can take us both. And what's really more fun is if it's a mixed event where Max can speak, especially if she gets to speak first. She likes that. She likes to say that I say that she tells a perverted version of my drinking story. Then she points out that I was the one who was drinking and she was the one who was sober.



Grapevine: There are many more young people in the Fellowship now. Do you

think young people have special problems because they're getting sober at such an early age?



Dr. Paul: People always say they're so glad to see the young people come in, and I agree, but I'm glad to see the old people come in too. I like to see anybody get sober. It's hard to say whether your pain is greater than my pain or mine's greater than yours. I'm sure that young people have problems, but we all have problems -- gays have problems, people who are addicted to other drugs have problems, single people have problems. I can't think of anything more of a problem than being a woman alcoholic trying to get sober, married to a practicing alcoholic male, and with a handful of kids. That must be about as big a problem as you can get. Everybody has special problems. I've said it often and I haven't had any reason to change my mind: the way I see it, I've never had a problem and nobody will ever come to me with a problem such that there won't be an answer in the Steps. That gives me a great deal of confidence. I think the program -- the Steps - covers everything conceivable.



I'm getting way off from what you asked me. I can't give short answers. I often tell people that the more I know about something, the shorter the answer, but when I don't know, I just make up stuff.



Grapevine: Did you find it helpful at some point to become familiar with the

Traditions?



Dr. Paul: I find the Steps easier to understand than the Traditions and the Traditions easier to understand than the Concepts. In fact, I find the long form of the Traditions considerably easier to understand than the short form, and I find that the long form is much more specific on the idea that AA is for alcoholics and not for just anybody who wants to come in. A lot of people like that phrase "The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking," and people interpret that to mean that if you're willing to not drink, you can call yourself an alcoholic and a member of AA. That's not at all what it says. I think it means that if you're an alcoholic with a desire to stop drinking, that's the only requirement for membership.



Grapevine: How many years have you been sober now?



Dr. Paul: Twenty-seven.



Grapevine: Twenty-seven years of meetings. Have you seen any changes in the

way the meetings are conducted?



Dr. Paul: All I see is that there are more meetings and bigger meetings and more variety of meetings. I just love to see AA grow. I enjoy meetings. I've been to meetings in Singapore and Hong Kong and Japan, but I think the most interesting was when Chuck C. and Al D. and I were vacationing in the Cayman Islands and we couldn't find any meetings. We were twelfth stepping alcoholics there and we decided we all needed a meeting, so we went to the local newspaper and got some publicity. We had a public information meeting, and we got a regular meeting started. As far as I know, that meeting is still going.



Grapevine: So you haven't gotten bored by Alcoholics Anonymous.



Dr. Paul: Well, I thought about that some years back. Why is it that so many people aren't around any more? Where do they go? It seems to me that most of

the people who leave AA leave because of boredom. I made up my mind I wasn't

going to get bored, and one of the things I do when I get bored, if I can't think of anything else to do, is to start a new meeting. I've probably started fifteen or twenty. The most recent one was last November.  I got a couple of friends together and we started a "joy of sobriety" meeting -- it's a one-hour topic discussion meeting and it has to be a topic out of the Big Book and it has to be on the program and how you enjoy living the program. It's fast-moving and we just have a lot of fun. It's a great antidote for depression.



Grapevine: What's the most important thing you've gotten from AA?



Dr. Paul: This whole thing is so much more than just sobriety. To be sober and continue the life I had before -- that would have driven me back to drink. One of the things I really like about AA is that we all have a sense of direction, plus a roadmap telling us precisely how to get there. I like that. All I want out of AA is more and more and more until I'm gone.



© Copyright, AA Grapevine, Inc., July 1995







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164 NMOlson@aol.com
An Interview with Nell Wing, AA Grapevine, June 1994 An Interview with Nell Wing, AA Grapevine, June 1994 4/14/2002 12:03:00 PM SPELLBOUND BY AA:



AN INTERVIEW



WITH NELL WING



June 1994



Nine years after the Fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous began in Akron, Ohio, the Grapevine magazine published its first issue in June 1944. Three years after that, Nell Wing arrived in New York. A young woman in her late twenties, Nell had decided to go to Mexico to pursue a career in sculpture. In the meantime, she wanted a temporary job to earn a little more money for the journey. The agency where she applied for a temporary job told her about an opening at the headquarters office of Alcoholics Anonymous. Nell knew about AA, having read Morris Markey's article "Alcoholics and God" in the September 1939 Liberty magazine, and through other magazine articles in the early forties, as well.



In 1947, she started working in the office of the Alcoholic Foundation (now the General Service Office), and in 1950 became Bill W.'s secretary. Within a few years, she became close friends with Bill and his wife, Lois, and on weekends she regularly went up to Stepping Stones, their home in Bedford Hills, New York, to help Bill with correspondence or research, or just to keep him and Lois company.



After Bill died in 1971, Nell continued her close association with the General Service Office and with Lois. She organized the AA Archives, and in 1993 published a memoir called Grateful to Have Been There. Nell never got to Mexico, but she worked for AA for thirty-six years. She still travels frequently around the country, speaking to groups about AA history. Two Grapevine staff members interviewed Nell Wing at the Grapevine office in New York.







Grapevine: You've described the Grapevine as having an "improbable history." What did you mean?







Nell Wing: It's miraculous that the Grapevine is still in existence fifty years later. The Grapevine doesn't have what a lot of magazines have, like ads or a sales force. It has to stick to its primary purpose and basically that's to ask members to write articles and to share their stories. But the Grapevine has kept going because there are many, many people who understand and appreciate it. There are always enough members who find it useful and helpful in maintaining sobriety and keep it going. Some even read it long before becoming members of AA.







Grapevine: What was it about the Grapevine that Bill W. found so appealing?







Nell Wing: He quickly saw it as a means of carrying the message. And since he couldn't connect personally with all groups and areas in AA on a regular basis, he used it as a primary source of sharing and explaining the important issues that he wanted accepted by the Fellowship. It took several years, as we know, before there was a steady and enthusiastic growth of Grapevine readers. But Bill thought that sharing his ideas in print this way was important. It was there - you could read it, you could think about it, you could refer to it later.







Grapevine: That was one of the reasons for writing the Big Book - so the program wouldn't get "garbled" in transmission.







Nell Wing: Exactly. If it's in print, it's a matter of record. And the fact is, Bill was perhaps his own worst enemy in trying to get his ideas across. He could pound you into a corner, so to speak, because of his frustration when his ideas were not understood and accepted by the trustees and the membership at large. So the Grapevine was an effective way for him to reach people - without the pounding!







Grapevine: The Grapevine is now fifty years old, and we're considering what our role for the future will be. Do you have any thoughts about where the Grapevine fits in?







Nell Wing: Preserving the experience - to my mind that's what you do in the Grapevine. The Grapevine's purpose is similar to the purpose of archives in general: to preserve the past, understand the present, and discuss the future. So many young people are coming in today and they need to know about the history of AA.







Grapevine: What was your first acquaintance with alcoholics or AA?



Nell Wing: My dad was a teacher and a justice of the peace in our small town. I knew about alcoholics very early on because the state police would often drag guys over at three in the morning, rapping on our door. And many of these drunks were professional people in our town or nearby towns, and perhaps good friends of my dad's. Occasionally he'd pay their fines for them - when you've been out drinking until three A.M., who has any money left to pay fines with?



I read about AA in the September Liberty magazine - sitting in my college dorm - in 1939. So when I first came to work at AA, I knew about it, and I also knew that a drunk was not always a Bowery bum.







Grapevine: You worked with Bill W. for twenty years. Tell us more about him.







Nell Wing: As I said, he could be adamant about what he knew had to be accomplished. He had the vision to see what was needed in order to preserve the Fellowship. But everybody liked to argue with Bill, and he liked to argue, too!



Listening to Bill was some experience. When Bill would be talking, say at a banquet, many in the audience would be very moved and even weeping at what and how he shared. He could touch you in ways that were really remarkable.



Generally, he could learn from experience. Like for example when he was advised to set the tone and tense for the text of the Big Book: don't say, you must do it this way. Just say, Look, this is what we do. He was a teacher but not a preacher!







Grapevine: What's amazing is that he listened.







Nell Wing: I always think how Bill was so much like the   philosopher and writer William James. Both Bill and James were spiritual, though not necessarily deeply religious; they were also both pragmatic New Englanders. Bill had a way of talking about a deep faith inside himself the way James did. Bill liked to read about different interpretations of what God was like. He was very philosophical, and James's The Varieties of Religious Experience was very meaningful to him, as it was to many AAs both in those early years and since.







Grapevine: How were Bill and Dr. Bob different from each other? Was Bill the greater risk-taker?







Nell Wing: I think so. Dr. Bob, as a doctor, believed in being cautious and advising people how to evaluate ideas and solutions, to weigh them carefully - have everyone in agreement before taking action. Bill believed in putting the goal forward and aiming for it. No matter who liked it or who didn't like it: aim for that goal. Bill always thought way ahead. Dr. Bob was the monitor, evaluator, the ground level, the supporter of Bill's ideas, even perhaps not always agreeing with the timing of an idea. Another miracle! A perfect match! A wonderful partnership, indeed. Yes, Dr. Bob was the right person to balance Bill. His view was, Keep it simple. Bill had vision; that was one of his gifts - he could see the road ahead.







Grapevine: Where do you think he got this?







Nell Wing: I don't know. He simply was of that character. He had a need to think ahead to the next step, a sense of direction, an ability to judge what the needs were, and a great ability to bring different streams of thought together. But he took time to think things through. People said that up at Stepping Stones, Lois was the one who did the yardwork, the plumbing, and the daily things that husbands usually do. It was true. Bill would be walking a lot, contemplating, just thinking ahead.







Grapevine: Did Bill have a sense of humor?







Nell Wing: Yes, he'd knock us off our chairs sometimes. He'd tell Lois and me something funny that happened to somebody he'd heard about, and the way he told it, we would just absolutely go into hysterics. He could tell a naughty story, too. It wasn't that he was always pristine about everything. In the office, Bill and I used to share a big room; I was at one end and he was at the other end. So I saw the "passing parade," as it were - people coming in to see him. Occasionally somebody would say, "Hey, Bill, I just heard this," and then tell a joke currently making the rounds. And Bill would look at him as if the guy was crazy. If he didn't relate to a story or it didn't have a spark, he'd just kind of look at you. The poor guy would be standing there, so disappointed that he was telling Bill a joke and Bill wasn't laughing.







Grapevine: Lois and Bill never had children. Do you think they wanted them?







Nell Wing: Lois did, certainly. She always wanted children but she had three ectopic pregnancies back in the twenties. She and Bill tried to adopt but the adoption facility said they needed a friend who could recommend them, and the friend they asked - an old friend of Lois's - said that quite frankly she didn't think it was the right thing to do, because of Bill's drinking. So they never got the go-ahead to adopt.



But Lois loved children. Up at Stepping Stones, young kids would come running over to visit with her. She didn't treat them like silly children but would talk to them as if they were adults. And even years later, the grown-up children would come back and see her. At Halloween time especially there were always lots of neighborhood kids - I never think of Halloween without remembering Bill and Lois. Lois always had the table full of pumpkins and treats. When the children knocked at the door she'd be there to give them a little something. Then the kids would pull straws to see who got the biggest pumpkin.







Grapevine:: You mentioned before about Bill reading. Did he like to read?







Nell Wing: He read a lot in earlier years. One of Bill's great attributes was that he could listen and learn. And a lot of very well-informed people came to visit Stepping Stones over the years. A lot of ideas were expressed there and talked about.







Grapevine: Did Bill imagine that AA was going to be as big as it is today?







Nell Wing: I remember in the late 1940s I said, "Bill, this Fellowship is going to go all over the world." He laughed and said, "Nell, you can say that - I can't." But the growth was phenomenal. After the war, many servicemen in AA were stationed overseas and were responsible for getting AA started in Japan in the late forties and in Frankfurt, Germany. Actually, in Japan, the program started out with thirteen steps, not Twelve. And do you know what the wives were called in Japan? The Chrysanthemums. Wives were invited to open meetings - well, not invited, but tolerated, and they definitely did participate!







Grapevine: Any thought on what made AA so successful?







Nell Wing: You know, one reason is that Bill wanted to avoid the mistakes of the past. He paid great attention to what made the Washingtonians and other similar movements fail back in the nineteenth century.







Grapevine: That's true, especially in a Grapevine article in 1948 - "Modesty One Plank for Good Public Relations." [In this article, Bill discusses how the Washingtonians veered from their initial singleness of purpose - which was helping alcoholics - and how they didn't have a national public relations policy - a Tradition, as AA does.]







Nell Wing: Yes, that was a marvelous article. But there were also plenty of things going on in the present that helped shape AA policy and Traditions, too.







Grapevine: Such as?







Nell Wing: Well, for one thing, when Marty M. was soliciting for the new National Committee for Education on Alcoholism (later the National Council on Alcoholism), she made a big error in 1946. She said that whoever contributed to the NCEA would also be contributing to AA, or that AA would benefit from it. Well, that created some explosion! Bill was traveling and speaking out West and AAs were bombarding him with questions: "What's going on? What is this woman saying?" The trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation had their first press conference because of this, explaining that what Marty said was not endorsed by AA, and that the trustees had nothing to do with the solicitation announcement. Bill and Dr. Bob had earlier let their names be put on the NCEA letterhead because Bill was very supportive of what Marty was doing in the field of alcoholism. Bill never believed that AA had all the answers for every alcoholic. He always said that   whatever worked for the individual was what was needed. Anyway, the Marty M. controversy lasted four years - it was a fast and furious business at the time. But it helped galvanize acceptance of the short form of the Traditions, which were later accepted in 1950 at the Cleveland Conference.







Grapevine: While Bill was clearly one of the Fellowship's old-timers, it seems he was often at loggerheads with other members about a variety of things.







Nell Wing: Well, when he wrote the Twelve Concepts in 1959, most of the Fellowship wasn't interested at all. And in the early fifties he proposed a change in the ratio of alcoholics to nonalcoholics on the Board of Trustees. And nobody wanted to hear about that proposal, either. Nevertheless, both the Concepts and the ratio proposal were eventually accepted by both the Board of Trustees and the Fellowship as a whole.







Grapevine: These are more examples of how Bill looked ahead.







Nell Wing: Absolutely. That's why he was so concerned about establishing the General Service Conference in 1951. By the late 1940s, it was no secret that Dr. Bob probably didn't have long to live. [Dr. Bob died in 1950.] And Bill was wondering how much time he himself might have. He wanted and expected the Fellowship to be able to go on without him and Dr. Bob. But nobody wanted to face the fact that he was going to die someday.







Grapevine: Weren't there a number of projects Bill wanted to get to in the years following Dr. Bob's death?







Nell Wing: In 1954, Bill had the idea of creating a writing and research team to help him with, among other things, a major   history of AA. Bill's depression was still with him and he knew that if he could give a lot of time to doing something specific and keep at it, that would help the depression. He wanted to do a good, thorough history and also put together a new edition of the Big Book. The scope of the history project proved to be too much, though, and had to be scaled back. Nevertheless, the result was AA Comes of Age. The new edition of the Big Book finally did get completed, and Bill was also eager to do a summing up of what he had learned, the wisdom that had come up through the Fellowship. He had a very precise idea of the kind of book he wanted to write, but he wasn't able to do it. In the end, what took its place was As Bill Sees It - not a bad substitute!







Grapevine: What were Bill's depressions like?







Nell Wing: Most times you didn't know he was going through it. His depressions came and went. Sometimes, not often, but occasionally, when he was dictating to me in the office, he would just put his head in his hands and weep for a bit. The worst of these depressive bouts were between 1945 and 1955.



What he accomplished, AA-wise, despite his depressions, is a miracle. So many people wanted Bill's advice - not just AA and Al-Anon friends, but nearby neighbors at Bedford Hills. They'd ask if they could come over to Stepping Stones, and Bill always said yes to everyone.



To get away from the phone ringing and all the people, Bill and Lois would often go away in the middle of the week - to their "hideaway," they called it, a small rented cottage ten or fifteen miles away. Lois would write and work on Al-Anon matters and Bill would catch up on correspondence and memos regarding current AA projects.



Then, once a year they often took an overseas trip, usually in the fall, and in the spring they would take a trip around the United States and Canada, visiting AA friends and discussing AA matters. Harriet, the housekeeper, would pick up their mail, and I'd go through it to see what needed to be answered right away and what could wait for their return.







Grapevine: Bill seems to have taken every opportunity possible to communicate - through memos, letters, Grapevine articles, the Big Book, the "Twelve and Twelve," traveling around, talking to groups.







Nell Wing: Yes, he was a terrific communicator! And he felt intensely the need to share his plans for AA's future and to receive endorsement of them - despite the often feisty opposition from some.



Right here, I would like to mention the Grapevine book, The Language of the Heart, for I think it's a most valuable book. If you want to know what Bill W. was all about, read that book!







Grapevine: Tell us about working in the Archives of the General Service Office.







Nell Wing: I wanted the Archives started, as did Bill. My father, who valued history, had a huge library at home, and after college I took a course in library science and liked it. I always thought that it was very important to preserve AA history, preserve how it started and how it grew - to remember the mistakes in order to avoid future ones. It certainly was important to Bill, but it was hard to get others to understand the need for setting up an Archives. In Europe, in the fifties, archives were thought to be very important, but were not generally so considered here in the United States. We're a "now" people; we don't always think about the future in terms of preserving the past.



In 1954, a fellow named Ed B. was hired to help Bill with his writing projects. Ed was a wonderful guy - a writer, a criminologist, and just newly sober - but he didn't think it was important to preserve all the material we had collected and researched. Our desks were opposite each other and I'd watch him going through pamphlets and letters, throwing many of them in the wastebasket. I'd say, "Hey, Ed, we can't throw all this away." I knew from experience that each of Bill's letters contained at least five different ideas! Ed had had a laryngectomy - so he'd write out a note, "No, that's not important any more." I didn't argue, but after he left work at four o'clock, I'd take everything out of the wastebasket and put it all safely away in storage boxes until I could sort it out.



I'm especially grateful that Bill so strongly believed in preserving AA's experience. He knew the importance of getting things done, and had a special gift for timing. I often think, suppose he hadn't possessed certain leadership abilities - where would AA be now? Maybe some little sect, who knows? I think it was destined. I think the Higher Power set this up, I really do. The fantastic success of AA is like a big puzzle and there are pieces that you know fit in, but you just don't know where until you look back into the past.







Grapevine: How has being so close to the Fellowship affected you?







Nell Wing: Well, I always like to say I'm on the outside looking in. About a week after I first came to the office, I attended an open AA meeting at a meeting hall on Forty-First Street. I remember a gentleman sharing his story and I found myself weeping - while everyone else was laughing! Right from the start, I was spellbound by AA. One person helping another who had a similar problem - that is still a stunning idea to me.



Over the years, I've gained some spiritual gifts myself. Most nonalcoholics who are familiar with AA feel the same sense of growth.







Grapevine: Hanging around with a bunch of drunks for this long - it can only go up from here!







Nell Wing: I'll tell you something, I don't know people who have lived and learned and reacted to life like AA members. I've been taught - and I'm grateful. Every morning when I wake up, I express gratitude for what's happened to me.









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165 NMOlson@aol.com
Interview with George E. Vaillant, M.D., AA Grapevine Interview with George E. Vaillant, M.D., AA Grapevine