I never expected
to write a book about an early woman A.A.
pioneer. But when I first started writing
about the spiritual roots of early A.A.,
I discussed with Bill P. (now at Hazelden)
the plans I had to write a book about
the women pioneers--people such as Anne
Smith, Henrietta Seiblerling, Clarace
Williams, and so on. Not too long ago,
Bill apparently picked up on the idea
and said Hazelden was proceeding with
a broader project. One to which I contributed
on the subject of Henrietta Seiberling.
The book will be released soon.
But I had no contact with the actual women
AAs of the early days. Then a grateful
mother of a recovered AA asked me to write
a book about Mrs. Geraldine O. Delaney.
I went to Little Hill-Alina Lodge at Blairstown,
New Jersey and was given the run of the
place. Mrs. Delaney had retired as founder
and CEO emeritus, but she was very much
present. I interviewed her in her home
and at the Lodge. And I discovered she
was something special.
Mrs. D. was then 90 years old, 70 years
a tireless worker in the public service
field, and 50 years sober in A.A. She
had known Bill and Lois Wilson well. She
knew Dr. Bob too. She was enthusiastic
about A.A., the Big Book, and the Twelve
Steps. And she had founded Little Hill
Foundation to put together some unique
ideas in the treatment of alcoholics,
polyaddicted, and their families.
Gerry's program was tough. It was long-term,
non-permissive, structured, residential,
and permitted no fraternization. The Lodge
has helped thousands, and it recently
hired a new executive director who had
the opportunity to get to know Mrs. D.,
talk to her, absorb her unique ideas,
and get the continuity of leadership well
under way before Mrs. D. died. I have
met him, and he has been tireless in assuming
his new leadership post.
Back to Mrs. D., she had been given applause
by two Presidents, by two Popes, by countless
leaders in the recovery field, and by
the many A.A. audiences before whom she
spoke. She believed in no-nonsense treatment
and the "tincture of time" which was an
essential ingredient in getting the cobwebs
out and helping the afflicted and their
families to learn a new healthy way of
life in sobriety.
When I completed the book HOPE!:The
Story of Geraldine D., Alina Lodge, and
Recovery, we had no difficulty in
securing the endorsement of Mrs. D.'s
work by Betty Ford, Dr. Abraham Twerski,
and Col. Mel Schulstad.
I was and am grateful to have met and
talked at length with this unusual pioneer
before her death. She accorded me every
courtesy during my week's visit at Alina
Lodge. I shall miss her.