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Book Stories - Updated (4 of 5)
This is the forth article in the Grapevine's series by authors
of the personal histories in the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.
The Big Book was published in 1935; the revised, enlarged
version came out in 1955. Now, the author of "Rum,
Radio and Rebellion," page 317 in the revised edition,
stresses themes that seem of the greatest importance to
him now -- responsibility and gratitude to AA: "It
distresses me particularly when I see older members gradually
drop out of the picture."
Graduation from AA!
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., January 1968
question has been asked of me on more than one occasion:
"If you had it to do over again, would you change your
story in the Big Book?" My story (titled "Rum,
Radio and Rebellion") was written after nine years
of sobriety in AA. Today, after twenty-one years of this
new way of life, I will let the story stand, however much
I would like to add to it. I have been very fortunate in
having the opportunity to speak at AA conferences, banquets,
and state conventions. (Join AA and see the world!) And
here I want to give just a short qualification and spend
more time on what Alcoholics Anonymous means to me. Nine
years of AA certainly did not qualify me on two subjects
I now like to stress (not that I am fully qualified on these
now, or ever will be): the spiritual part of our program
and the responsibility to our group and to AA as a whole.
opinions on these subjects are not mine alone, but are what
I have gathered from many who have been in the program for
a long time and are still working it successfully one day
at a time.
came into AA in 1945. I believed in God, but that was about
the limit of my spiritual qualifications. Actually, I was
in the program about three years before I found comfort
and deep satisfaction in prayer. Insight gradually cam to
me through the voices of older members. I became convinced
through meditation and prayers (Step Eleven) that I had
neglected one of the most important facets of our program.
we moved into a new home and district several years ago
in Pittsburgh, various ministers called inviting us to attend
their churches. It became a little embarrassing to my wife
at times when the minister was groping around to find out
just what our religion was. One young minister came quickly
to the point by asking, "Mrs. W____, just what is your
hesitancy, she said, "Alcoholics Anonymous."
reply was "I don't know of a better one!"
course AA is not a religion, but it is most definitely a
spiritual program. In my years in this Fellowship, I have
yet to see a happy member who does not seek and take advantage
of the spiritual benefits to their fullest extent.
responsibility to our group, to AA as a whole, and especially
to General Service is a subject dwelt upon far too lightly
by many of our members. It distresses me particularly when
I see older members gradually drop out of the picture. Not
only do we need their good experience, but 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.
never forget one individual who approached me several years
ago. He opened the conversation by stating that I probably
did not remember him, but six years ago I had brought him
to his first AA meeting. He went on to say that it did not
"take" until three years later, when he found
himself on skid row and remembered me and the meeting I
took him to. He then sought AA again. He had been sober
three years and had driven over 200 miles to thank me for
showing him the way.
night I gratefully thanked God for my sobriety and my active
association with AA. You and I will never know when some
future member will walk through the door of your meeting
or mine, bankrupt in every department, but seeking us out
for help because we planted the seed months and even years
ago. At times like this, I am so grateful that I was at
my meeting to extend a welcoming hand.
could be most distressing to that prospective member if
he asked you and was told, "He never made the grade.
As far as we know, he is still drinking." Such an answer
would be more than disconcerting to the down-and-outer.
It could mean that his life was left hanging in the balance.
hate to meet members who consider that they have graduated
from AA. They are missing so much! I know now that sobriety
is not a destination, but an endless journey. I hastily
add: a very beautiful journey.
P. W., Cleveland, Tenn.
© The A.A.
Grapevine, Inc., January 1968
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