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article is written by nationally recognized historian and
oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell K.
W. had his last drink in December 1934. Bill met Dr. Bob
on Mother's Day in 1935 and Dr. Bob had his last drink in
mid June 1935. The Big Book was published April 10, 1939
and the first meeting to be called an AA meeting separate
from the Oxford Group was held on May 11, 1939 in Cleveland,
was a slow year for AA growth around the country. Small
meetings were being started and other than the articles
in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the LIBERTY Magazine article
and other similar publicity many people had not heard of
Alcoholics Anonymous. The major growth of AA centered around
Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland had seven meetings by the end
of 1940 and an over 90 percent recovery success rate. New
York was having little success keeping people sober and
Akron didn't break from the Oxford Group until the fall
major national magazine had heard of Alcoholics Anonymous
and thought it was just another quack cure. They sent one
of their best investigative reporters to do an expose' on
the fledgling organization. This reporter had just completed
an expose' of organized crime and was ready to do the same
late 1940, Jack Alexander contacted the New York Alcoholic
Foundation office at 30 Vesey St. in order to get the necessary
information to write his article. He met with Bill W. and
Ruth Hock (non-alcoholic). He attended some meetings and
read the Big Book. He was so taken with what he found he
decided that an expose' was not warranted and decided to
do a favorable article instead.
Alexander wanted to see how AA was working in other areas
of the country. It was recommended to him that he visit
Akron and especially Cleveland where the growth and success
was so phenomenal. Ruth Hock wrote to Clarence S. (Home
Brewmeister), one of the original 100 members of AA who
was sponsored by Dr. Bob in order to prepare the Ohio members
for Alexander's arrival.
of their (Saturday Evening Post) staff writers
is definitely on the job and is now doing the rounds of
some of our New York meetings. He will be out here to attend
at least one Cleveland and one Akron meeting and is going
to look you up for a talk. He is a very thorough person
and we all feel that the result will be one exceptionally
good article which should mean a lot in many ways. His name
is Jack Alexander and I think he will be out here in about
Alexander did visit Cleveland and went to several of their
meetings. A large portion of the article text related to
his experiences in Cleveland. Clarence wrote to Bill for
a preview of the article in order to prepare the "boys
and gals" for the influx of new prospects.
have had over 700 contacts here & have prepared a
couple more sanitarium set-ups to take care of any possible
overflow of inquiries... We are prepared for a rush, if
one occurs, in any degree. With all the members we have,
it will not be difficult to absorb any amount now."
to the large influx of new prospects coming into Cleveland
AA, Clarence had initiated a meeting specifically to indoctrinate
new members and take them through the 12 Steps. This meeting
was comprised of older member's teaching Beginner "Classes"
at the Crawford Road Men's Group. The Crawford Road Group
was founded in February 1941 and by the end of their first
year had over 135 members.
The New York AA office was also preparing for the prospect
of increased membership due to the article. Bill wrote in
a Memorandum To The Board Of Trustees Of The Alcoholic
Foundation dated February 19, 1941.
article is to appear on March 1st in the Saturday
Evening Post. This piece will be the feature number
of that issue. The name Alcoholics Anonymous will appear
on the outside cover of the magazine. Our message will
be brought straight to the whole nation - nearly every
one of at least a million alcoholics will hear of us."
was preparing for the onslaught of new prospective members
and of course, Big Book sales. Of the almost 4,800 books
printed in April 1939, they still had approximately 4,000
left. Bill had hoped to have been sold out of Big Books
during the first month after it was released. Unfortunately,
after almost two years, there were still thousands of copies
left. Maybe this article would be the break and turning
point Bill was counting on.
will be revealed...