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A Narrative Timeline Of AA History

Public Version vApril 04'

1929 to 1932

A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003

1929

Dr Bob went back to school to study under the Mayo brothers in Rochester, MN. He also studied at the Jefferson Medical School in Philadelphia, PA and became a surgeon proctologist. His condition was severely compounded by his daytime habit of taking barbiturate sedatives (until around 4PM) and drinking at night. (CH 101, DBGO 32-33)

Jan, Bill W pledged again in the family Bible: “To tell you once more that I am finished with it. I love you.” (PIO 81)

Jan, on a trip to Manchester, VT Bill W called Ebby T in Albany, NY. After an all-night drinking spree, they chartered a flight with Flyers Inc. in Albany to be the first flight to Manchester. They landed drunk (the pilot, Ted Burke, as well) and disgraced themselves. (EBBY 39-41, PIO 83-84, BW-40 121, NW 20, LR 76-77, LOH 367, BW-RT 183-184) Note: beyond this incident, it does not appear that Bill and Ebby drank together very much.

Oct 29 (black Tuesday) the Stock Market collapsed. Bill W was broke and $60,000 in debt ($645,000 today). He and his benefactor, Frank Shaw, parted company. Later, Bill’s friend, Dick Johnson, offered him a job in Montreal with Greenshields and Co. By Christmas the Wilsons were in Canada (BW-RT 152-154, LOH 367, LR 81, PIO 85-86, RAA 148-149, BW-FH 44-46)

1930

Bill W and Lois lived lavishly in Canada in a furnished Glen Eagles apartment on Cotes des Neiges in Mount Royal overlooking Montreal. They had a new Packard automobile and membership in the Lachute Country Club. (BW-RT 154, BW-FH 45, LR 81)

Neurologist, Dr William Duncan Silkworth (nicknamed “Silky”) after losing his investments and savings in the stock market crash, started work at Towns Hospital earning $40 a week ($440 today). Charles Towns did not see eye to eye with Silkworth on alcoholism as an illness. (PIO 101, SW 30-31) (NG 22 says Silkworth arrived in 1924)

Sept 3, Bill W wrote his last promise to stop drinking in the family Bible: “Finally and for a lifetime, thank God for your love.” After that, he gave up making promises in despair. (LR 79)

Fall, in less than ten months after arriving in Montreal, Bill W was fired from Greenshields and Co (due to his drinking and fighting in the country club). Lois went back to Brooklyn because her mother had fallen ill. Bill stayed behind in Montreal to clean up details. (RAA 149, PIO 86, BW-RT 155, BW-FH 45)

Dec, after a binge that started in Montreal and carried him into VT, Lois went to get Bill W. They finally returned to Clinton St and moved into a room there. Lois’ mother was dying from bone cancer. (PIO 86-87, BW-FH 46)

Dec 25, Christmas, Lois’ mother died. Bill W, drunk for days beforehand, could not attend the funeral and stayed drunk for many days after. (SW 30-31, PIO 87, BW-RT 156, LR 82, BW-FH 46)

1931

Bill W was able to work occasionally through 1931, but entered a phase of helpless drinking. Lois went to work at Macy’s, earning $19 a week ($230 today) and that became their livelihood. (PIO 90, 128, BW-FH 47)

The Common Sense of Drinking, by Richard Peabody, was published. It strengthened the concept of alcoholism as an illness and contained the statement “Half measures are to no avail.” The book later became a prominent reference source in the early AA Fellowship. (NW 16, SW 126 says 1930)

Rowland H (age 50) was treated by Dr Carl Gustav Jung in Zurich, Switzerland. It is believed that he was a patient for about a year, sobered up and then returned to drinking. Treated a second time by Jung, Rowland was told that there was no medical or psychological hope for an alcoholic of his type; that his only hope was a vital spiritual or religious experience - in short a genuine conversion experience. Bill W later wrote that this was “the first in the chain of events that led to the founding of AA.” (NW 11-19, NG 8-9, EBBY 59, LOH 277)

Dec, Russell (Bud) Firestone (alcoholic son of Akron, OH business magnate Harvey Firestone Sr.) was introduced to Sam Shoemaker by James Newton on a train returning from an Episcopal conference in Denver, CO. Newton was a prominent Oxford Group member and an executive at Firestone. Bud, who was drinking a fifth or more of whiskey a day, spiritually surrendered with Shoemaker and was released from his alcohol obsession. Bud joined the OG and became an active member (but later returned to drinking). (NW 15, 65, AGAA 8-9, 32-36)

1932

Rowland H found sobriety through the spiritual practices of the Oxford Group (it is not clear whether this occurred in Europe or the US - and it could have occurred in 1931). Rowland was a dedicated OG member in NY, VT and upper MA and a prominent member of the Calvary Episcopal Church in NYC. He later moved to Shaftsbury, VT. (NW 10-19, NG 8-9, PIO 113-114, AGAA 28, 141-144, LOH 277-278, www)

Apr 8, Bill W’s brother-in-law, Gardner Swentzel (Kitty’s husband) helped him form a stock buying syndicate with Arthur Wheeler and Frank Winans. Bill was assigned a generous interest with the stipulation that if he started drinking again the deal would be off and he would lose his interest in the venture. (PIO 90-91, BW-RT 164-165)

May, Bill W went on a business trip to Bound Brook NJ with a group of Pathe Co. engineers to examine a new photographic process. It turned into a disaster. In a small hotel Bill drank Apple Jack (Jersey Lightning) and was drunk for 3 days. His contract with Wheeler and Winans was cancelled. (PIO 91-92, BW-RT 165-167, AACOA 55-56)

Financier, Joseph H Hirshhorn (also sometimes misspelled Hirshorn and Hirschorn) hired Bill W to analyze and evaluate companies. (DBGO 45, PIO 93-98, www)


A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003

 
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