SEEMS to me that I never did do things normally. When
I learned to dance I had to go dancing every night in
the week if possible; when I worked or studied I wanted
no interruptions or distractions. Wherever I worked I
wanted to be the highest paid man in the place or I was
irritated; and of course when I drank I could never seem
to stop until I was saturated. I was usually hard to get
along with as a boy; if the others wouldn't play my way
I'd go home.
The town we lived
in when I was a child was rather new and raw, peopled
largely by immigrants who seemed to be constantly getting
married with free drinks and eats for anybody who cared
to come. We kids usually managed to get to these celebrations,
and although supposed to have soda pop we could get ourselves
one or two beers. With this sort of background and more
money than was good for me, it was fairly easy to start
getting drunk before I was sixteen.
After I left home
I earned rather decent salaries but was never satisfied
with my position, salary, or the treatment accorded me
by my employer. I very seldom stayed on one job for more
than six months until I was married at the age of 28,
at which time I had already begun to lose jobs because
of my drinking. Whenever things went wrong I knew that
a few drinks would make everything rosy, my fears, doubts
vanish and I would always promise myself that the next
time I would stop short of getting plastered. Somehow
things seldom worked out that way though.
I was irritated by
the efforts of so many doctors, ministers, lawyers, employers,
relatives and friends who remonstrated with me what I
was up against. I'd fall down, get up, work a while, get
my debts paid (at least the most pressing ones) drink
moderately for a few days or weeks, but eventually get
myself so messed up in tanglefoot that I'd lose another
job. In one year (1916) I quit two jobs because I thought
I'd be discharged anyhow and was fired outright from five
more, which is more jobs than many men have in a lifetime.
Had I remained sober, any one of them would have led to
advancement because they were with growing companies and
in my chosen field of engineering.
After begin discharged
for the fifth time that year, I drank more than ever,
cadging drinks and meals where I could, and running up
a large rooming-house account. My brother took me home
and my folks talked me into going to a sanitarium for
thirty days. This place was operated by a physician at
the time. The doctor did his best, saw that I got into
good physical condition, tried to straighten out the mental
quirks he thought partly responsible for my drinking,
and I left with the firm resolve never to drink again.
Before I left the
sanitarium I answered an advertisement for an engineer
in a small Ohio town and after an interview, obtained
the position. In three days after
the sanitarium I had a job I liked at a satisfactory salary
in a small town with basic living costs (board, room and
laundry) amounting only to about 15% of my salary. I was
all set, sober, working in a congenial atmosphere for
a firm that had more profitable business that they knew
what to do with. I made some beautiful plans. I could
save enough in a few years to complete my formal education
and there were no saloons in the town to trip me up. So
what? So at the end of the week I was drunk again for
no particular reason at all that I could understand. In
about three months I was o ut of a job again, but in the
meantime two things of major importance had happened.
I had fallen in love and war had been declared.
I had learned my lesson.
I knew definitely that I couldn't take even one drink.
I wanted to get married so I planned very earnestly to
get another job, stay sober, and save some money. I went
to Pittsburgh on Sunday, called on a manufacturer of rolling
-mill equipment and on Monday, got a position and went
to work. I was first paid at the end of the second week,
was drunk before the end of the day and couldn't be bothered
with going to work the next Monday.
Why did I take that
first drink? I honestly don't know. Anyhow I nearly went
crazy that summer and really developed some sort of mental
disturbance. The night clerk of the small hotel where
I was staying saw me go about three in the morning in
pajamas and slippers and had a policeman take me back
into my room. I suppose he was used to screwy drunks or
he would have taken me to jail instead. I stayed there
days and sweated the alcohol out of my system, went to
the office to collect the balance o f my salary, paid
my room rent, and found I had just enough money to get
home. So home I went, sick, broke, discouraged and despairing
of ever attaining a normal, happy life.
After two or three
weeks of idleness at home, I obtained a subordinate position
with a former employer, doing the lowest grade of drafting
work on an hourly basis. I kept reasonably sober several
months, went to see my fiancee one or two weekends, was
advanced rapidly in salary and responsibility, had a date
set for the wedding and then inadvertently learned that
one of the men working under my direction was receiving
about forty dollars more per month than I was, which burnt
me up to such an extent I quit after an argument, took
my money, packed my personal effects, left them at the
corner drug store, and went downtown and got plastered.
Knowing that I would be greeted with tears, sorrowful
sympathy and more grief when I got home, I stayed away
until I was again destitute.
I was really worried
sick about my drinking so father again advanced the money
for treatment. This time I took a three-day cure and left
with the firm resolve never to drink again, got a better
position then I'd had before and actually did keep sober
for several months, saved some money, paid my debts and
again made plans to get married. But the desire for a
drink was with me constantly after the first week or two,
and the memory of how sick I had been from liquor and
the agonies of the treatment I had undergone faded into
the background. I had only begun to restore the confidence
associates, family, friends and myself before I was off
again, without any excuse this time. The wedding was again
postponed and it looked very much as though it would never
take place. My employer did not turn me loose but I was
in another nice jam nevertheless. After considerable fumbling
around mentally as to what to do I went back to the three-day
cure for the second time.
After this treatment
I got along a little better, was married in the spring
of 1919 and did very little drinking for several years.
I got along very well with my work, had a happy home life,
but when away from home with little likelihood of being
caught at it, I'd go on a mild binge. The thought of what
would happen if my wife caught me drinking served to keep
me reasonably straight for several years. My work became
increasingly more important. I had many outside interests
and drinking became less of a factor in my life, but I
did continue to tipple some during out-of-town trips and
it was because of this tendency that things finally became
all snarled up at home.
I was sent to New
York on business and later stopped at a night club where
I had been drunk before. I certainly must have been very
tight and it is quite likely that I was "Mickey Finned"
for I woke up about noon the next day in my hotel without
a cent. I had to borrow money to get home on but didn't
start to bother to start back till several days later.
When I got there I found a sick child, a distracted wife
and had lost another job paying $7,000 a year. This, however,
was not the worst of it. I must have given my business
card to one of the girls
the night club for she started to send me announcements
of another clip-joint where she was employed and writing
me long hand "come on" notes, one of which fell into my
wife's hands. I'll leave what happened after that to the
I went back into the
business of getting and losing jobs and eventually got
to the point where I didn't seem to have any sense of
responsibility to myself or to my family. I'd miss important
family anniversaries, forget to come home for Christmas
and in general wouldn't go home until I was exhausted
physically and flat broke. About four years ago I didn't
come home on Christmas Eve but arrived there about six
o'clock on Christmas morning, minus the tree I had promised
to get, but with an enormous package of liquor on board.
I took the three-day cure again with the usual results
but about three weeks later I went to a party and decided
a few beers wouldn't hurt me; however I didn't get back
to work for three days and a short while later had lost
my job and was again at the bottom of things. My wife
obtained employment on a relief basis and I finally got
straightened out with my employer who placed me in another
position in a nearby city which I also lost by the end
of the year.
So it went until about
a year ago when a neighbor happened to hear me trying
to get into the house and asked my wife whether I had
been having some drinking difficulties. This, of course,
disturbed my wife but out neighbor was not just inquisitive.
She had heard of the work of a non-drinking doctor who
was busily engaged in passing on the benefits he had received
had found the answer to his difficulties with liquor.
As a result of this my wife saw the doctor. Then I talked
with him, spent a few days in a local hospital and haven't
had a drink since.
While in the hospital
about twenty men called on me and told me of their experiences
and the help they had received. Of the twenty I happened
to know five, three of whom I had never seen completely
sober. I became convinced then and there that if these
men had learned something that could keep them sober,
I also could profit from the same knowledge. Before leaving
the hospital, two of these men, convinced of my sincerity
of purpose, imparted to me the necessary knowledge and
mental tools which have resulted in my complete sobriety
for these many years, and an assurance that I need never,
so long as I live, drink anything of an alcoholic nature
if I kept on the right track.
My health is better,
I enjoy a fellowship which gives me a happier life than
I have ever known, and my family joins me in a daily expression