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"BLUE BOOK" AN ANTHOLOGY
OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
BY A MUNICIPAL COURT JUDGE
years ago last night I attended my first A.A. meeting. That
was after an eight-day sojourn in the hospital during which
time, because of a tremendous spiritual experience, I became
an entirely different person. Within a very short space
of time, my life was completely changed.
is well to look back occasionally and see whence we come.
Fifteen years ago last June, a number of people were meeting
home of T. Henry Williams in Akron, Ohio. T. Henry Williams
very fine person and still is. He became interested in a
non-denominational religion - I think I will call it - specialized
as to groups, middle and upper classes. And he recruited
number of people from Akron to come to his house every Wednesday
night to witness and convict themselves of their misdeeds.
basis of their program was absolute honesty, absolute
purity, absolute unselfishness, and absolute love. During
construction of his house, which was a rather fine residence,
had been a man of strong faith. When his fortunes turned,
saved his home and his business, he said to everybody, "This
God's house. It isn't mine. It is God's." So he turned
it over to
these people for their purposes.
among those who regularly met there on Wednesday night
with T. Henry Williams was Henrietta Sieberling and Dr.
Bob was then about fifty-five years of age and an alcoholic.
few of those who met at T. Henry Williams' home were alcoholics,
but I have heard it said that some of them must have stretched
truth to be able to convict themselves or witness against
themselves of anything that savored of evil doing; yet they
years ago last June, in New York, Bill W. had met a
person who for the first time brought God into his life,
greater than himself, God as he understood Him." Bill
W., after he
got out of service in World War I, had been tremendously
in a number of business ventures, and failed completely
in just as
many - sometimes because of economic changes, but frequently
because of his addiction to alcohol.
believed in God. He knew that nobody went out in the
morning to pull up the sun, or went out in the evening to
the moon. He knew that animals did things that they were
taught. But he didn't have any idea of a personal God upon
human beings are totally and completely dependent, in whom
should have a trusting confidence and love.
man to whom he was speaking had been a drunkard too, and
had done some remarkable things with his life because he
God for grace and strength. And so for the first time Bill
that and experienced a tremendous change.
had been in Wall Street for many years, succeeding and
failing frequently, and at this time he had under consideration
negotiation that was going to make him independent for life.
thought he had everything sewed up in the way of proxies
complete control of a very successful industry in Akron,
somebody outsmarted him, and he learned at the
stockholders' meeting held in Akron that he had failed.
that happened to him that day was all an alcoholic needed
to go out
and start on a real binge, but he didn't. He was in a hotel
afternoon and had only five dollars. He had a hotel bill
running up, and he debated whether to use that five dollars
a bottle to take to his room and drown his troubles. While
walking across the lobby he saw a church directory on the
decided that he would pick some clergyman from that list,
through him, try to find some alcoholic with whom he could
called a clergyman, who had some grave doubts and
misgivings about the genuineness of his purpose, and being
to refer him to anybody who was addicted to excessive drink,
suggested that he might talk to Henrietta Sieberling. She
attended certain meetings which were also attended by men
he called up Henrietta Sieberling and she too had at first
some doubt about his sincerity, but she was rather intrigued
subject and suggested that he come out to her house. While
there she became convinced that he was sincere.
was from her house that she called up Dr. Bob and learned
from Dr. Bob's wife that the good doctor was drunk. So the
engagement was postponed. They met the next day and discussed
common problem, and Doctor Bob admitted that he had been
these Oxford Group meetings regularly, and that he was praying
some, but getting drunk just as often as before.
decided that the next day they would look for a subject
they could work on. They conceived the idea that faith and
fellowship with prayer and the interest in their fellow
was a solution for their individual problems, and for the
of other alcoholics.
the next day they called up the City Hospital. When they
asked the man in charge if they had any drunks in there,
them that they had one who was in there for about the eighth
but that he was helplessly drunk.
went down anyway, and there they saw in bed Bill D., an
Akron lawyer, who had been in there for a day or two, and
in restraint. They saw at once that he was in no fit condition
be talked to, but somehow or other they made a remark to
registered. When they came back the next day he was comparatively
sober and listened. So they proceeded to meet together frequently
and attend the meetings at T. Henry Williams' home for some
the first year four successful, totally abstemious
alcoholics was their record. During the second year they
fourteen more; they obtained twenty-three by mid-August
the end of three years they had forty, at the end of four
years, a hundred. It was about at that time that Jack Alexander
the Saturday Evening Post wrote an article, and the Cleveland
Dealer ran a series on A.A. And the growth began to be tremendous
from then on.
the first two years, as I have said, they met regularly
at the home of T. Henry Williams, but after that it was
that they were to begin to meet at King's School in Akron.
six remained with Williams out of a sense of loyalty to
because they had attained their sobriety through the meetings
were conducted in his home. But all the others withdrew
their meetings at King's School. When those grew too large
majority were from Cleveland), the Cleveland group was formed.
that beginning the groups we now have in Cleveland have
grown to about a hundred, and of course you know the tremendous
growth throughout the country, in every state in the union,
many countries beyond our shores.
there are many strange things that happened during the
formation of this fellowship; things it seems that could
been purely coincidental. The Big Book was drafted in the
year; the twelve steps were being formed by trial and error;
the fourth year they had reached their final form.
once heard it said by a Jesuit who made a thorough study
A.A. by close observation of its members and by a thorough
of all the literature, that it was his considered opinion
Twelve Steps of A.A. were not work of human minds alone,
early pioneers in our fellowship, but that they seemed to
more I have contemplated that remark, the more convinced
am that since they have stood the test of time without having
subjected to the slightest change, they might well have
think that one of the things that helped Doctor Bob and
W. more than anything else as the first members of this
was the fidelity and purity of their domestic lives. There
thing that can be found in their lives that savored of anything
fidelity, constancy, and devotion to their wives, Ann and
have often thought, as time went on, that we in A.A. during
the past fifteen years are just forming the nucleus of the
brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God we were all
for from the beginning. It seems to me that this fellowship
from God and goes back to God, because the trouble with
alcoholics and the trouble with the world today is Godlessness.
have work to do, and I say to you that it is a back-to-God
movement, and is fundamentally Catholic throughout.