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A Narrative Timeline Of AA History

Public Version vApril 04'

1933 to 1934

A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003

1933

President Franklin D Roosevelt declared a mortgage moratorium preventing banks from foreclosing on unpaid mortgage payments. This kept both Bill W and Dr Bob from being evicted from their homes. (CH 114)

Jan, Harvey Firestone Sr. (grateful for help given his son Bud) sponsored an Oxford Group conference weekend (DBGO says 10-day house party) headquartered at the Mayflower Hotel in Akron, OH. Frank Buchman and 30 members (DBGO says 60) of his team were met at the train station by the Firestones and Rev Walter Tunks (Firestone’s minister and rector of St Paul’s Episcopal Church). The event included 300 overseas members of the OG and received widespread news coverage. The event attracted Henrietta Sieberling, T Henry and Clarace Williams and Anne Smith. (NW 65-67, CH 2, DBGO 55, AGAA 9, 37-51, 71)

Feb, Congress passed the 21st amendment to the US Constitution to repeal the 18th amendment. (www)

Early, Anne Smith attended meetings of the Oxford Group with her friend Henrietta Sieberling (whose marriage to J Frederick Sieberling was crumbling). Anne later persuaded Dr Bob to attend. The meetings were held on Thursday nights at the West Hill group. (NW 67-68, SI 32, 34, DBGO 53-60, CH 2-3, 28-29) Beer had become legal and Dr Bob previously went through a beer-drinking phase (“the beer experiment”). It was not long before he was drinking a case and a half a day fortifying the beer with straight alcohol. In his Big Book story, Bob says that this was around the time when he was introduced to the OG. He participated in the OG for 2 ½ years before meeting Bill. (DBGO 42, AABB 177-178, NW 62)

Joe Hirshhorn sent Bill W on a trip to Toronto, Canada. Bill arrived at the border drunk and was refused entry. He protested so belligerently that he was arrested and jailed. After finally arriving in Toronto, Bill stayed drunk and had to be sent home as useless. This was his last chance on Wall St. (BW-FH 48, PIO 98)

May, Lois’ father married “Joan Jones.” Lois was the only family member who attended the civil wedding ceremony. (LR 83-84, PIO 98, BW-RT 170)

Jun-Sep, Lois took a 3-month leave of absence from Macy’s. She and Bill W spent the summer in VT at the home of Bill’s sister, Dorothy, who was vacationing in Europe with her family. (BW-FH 49, LR 84, BW-RT 171)

Autumn, Lois, now earning $22.50 a week at Macy’s ($317 today) turned to her brother-in-law Dr Leonard V Strong, who arranged, and paid for, Bill W’s first admission to Towns Hospital. Bill was subjected to the “belladonna cure.” The regimen primarily involved “purging and puking” aided by, among other things, castor oil. Belladonna, a hallucinogen, was used to ease the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. (PIO 98-101, LR 85, BW-40 104, NG 14-15, 310, BW-FH 50, BW-RT 174)

Dec 5, the 21st amendment to the US Constitution was ratified when Utah became the 36thstate to vote to repeal the 18th amendment. The almost decade and a half prohibition of alcohol was widely flaunted and yielded fortunes for organized crime figures in bootlegging and smuggling. (www, GB 30)

1934

Dr Bob was appointed to the courtesy staff of St Thomas Hospital in Akron, OH. His position at City Hospital had become precarious because of his drinking. (SI 9, DBGO 45, 51, NG 317)

The Sermon On The Mount by Emmet Fox was published. Both Fox and the book would later become popular among early AA members. Dr Bob would propose the book as recommended reading for Akron, OH members. (NW 111, 114, DBGO 310-311)

Sister Ignatia befriended Dr Thomas P Scuderi, (an emergency room intern who later became Medical Director of Ignatia Hall at St Thomas Hospital). She convinced him that alcoholics were sick and accident-prone and persuaded Dr Scuderi to allow them to “rest” in the hospital prior to release. Dr Scuderi and Sister Ignatia secretly treated Bill D (later to become AA #3) prior to his meeting Dr Bob and Bill. (SI 10, DBGO 51)

Mar, Lois quit her job at Macy’s to take Bill W to VT. They stayed there until the summer. (PIO 105-106)

Jul, Ebby T was approached in Manchester, VT by his friends Cebra G (an attorney) and F Sheppard (Shep) C (a NY stockbroker). Both were Oxford Group members who had done considerable drinking with Ebby and were abstaining from drinking. They informed Ebby of the OG in VT but he was not quite ready yet to stop drinking. (EBBY 51-55, PIO 113)

Jul (?), Bill W’s second admission to Towns Hospital (again paid by Dr Leonard V Strong). Bill met Dr Silkworth for the first time. Silkworth explained the obsession and allergy of alcoholism but Bill started drinking again almost immediately upon discharge. Bill was unemployable, $50,000 in debt ($675,000 today) suicidal and drinking around the clock. (AACOA 52, PIO 106-108, BW-40 114-117, NG 15, 310, BW-FH 50-55)

Aug, Cebra G and Shep C vacationed at Rowland H’s house in Bennington, VT. Cebra learned that Ebby T was about to be committed to Brattleboro Asylum. Cebra, Shep and Rowland decided to make Ebby “a project.” (NG 309)

Aug, Rowland H and Cebra G persuaded a VT court judge (Cebra's father Collins) to parole Ebby T into their custody. Ebby had first met Rowland only shortly before. In the fall, Rowland took Ebby to NYC where he sobered up with the help of the Oxford Group at the Calvary Mission. (RAA 151, AACOA vii, NW 20-21, 26, EBBY 52-59, NG 9-10, PIO 115, AGAA 155-156)

Sep 17,[1] Bill W’s third admission to Towns Hospital (again paid by Dr Leonard V Strong). Dr Silkworth pronounced Bill a hopeless drunk and informed Lois that Bill would likely have to be committed. Bill left the hospital a deeply frightened man and sheer terror kept him sober. He found a little work on Wall St, which began to restore his badly shattered confidence. (PIO 106-109, LR 87, AACOA vii, 56, BW-RT 176-177, NG 15, 310, BW-FH 4-5, 54-55)

Nov 11, Armistice Day. Bill W went to play golf and got drunk and injured. Lois began investigating sanitariums in which to place Bill. (AACOA 56-58, BW-FH 56)

Nov (late), Ebby T, while staying at the Calvary Mission and working with the Oxford Group, heard about Bill W’s problems with drinking. He phoned Lois who invited him over for dinner. (EBBY 66)

Nov (late), Ebby visited Bill W at 182 Clinton St and shared his recovery experience "one alcoholic talking to another.” (AACOA vii, 58-59) A few days later, Ebby returned with Shep C. They spoke to Bill about the Oxford Group. Bill did not think too highly of Shep. Lois recalled that Ebby visited several times, once even staying for dinner. (AACOA vii, NG 17-18, 31, BW-FH 57-58, NW 22-23, PIO 111-116, BW-RT 187-192)

Dec 7, Bill W decided to investigate the Calvary Mission on 23rd St. He showed up drunk with a drinking companion found along the way (Alec the Finn). Bill kept interrupting the service wanting to speak. On the verge of being ejected, Ebby came by and fed Bill a plate of beans. Bill later joined the penitents and drunkenly “testified” at the meeting. (AACOA 59-60, BW-40 136-137, NG 18-19, BW-FH 60, NW 23, PIO 116-119, BW-RT 193-196, AGAA 156-159, EBBY 66-69)

Dec 11, Bill W (age 39) decided to go back to Towns Hospital and had his last drink (four bottles of beer purchased on the way). He got financial help from his mother, Emily, for the hospital bill. (AACOA 61-62, LOH 197, RAA 152, NG 19, 311, NW 23, PIO 119-120, GB 31).

Dec 14, Ebby visited Bill W at Towns Hospital and told him about the Oxford Group principles. After Ebby left, Bill fell into a deep depression (his “deflation at depth”) and had a profound spiritual experience after crying out “If there be a God, will he show himself.” Dr Silkworth later assured Bill he was not crazy and told him to hang on to what he had found. In a lighter vein, Bill and others would later refer to this as his “white flash” or “hot flash” experience. (AABB 13-14, AACOA vii, 13, BW-40 141-148, NG 19-20, NW 23-24, PIO 120-124, GTBT 111, LOH 278-279)

Dec 15, Ebby brought Bill W a copy of William James' book The Varieties of Religious Experience.[2] Bill was deeply inspired by the book. It revealed three key points for recovery: 1) calamity or complete defeat in some vital area of life, 2) admission of defeat and 3) appeal to a higher power for help. The book strongly influenced early AAs and is cited in the Big Book. (AACOA 62-64, LOH 279, EBBY 70, SI 26, BW-40 150-152, NG 20-24, 312-313, NW 24-25, PIO 124-125, GTBT 111-112, AABB 28)

Dec 18, Bill W left Towns Hospital and began working with drunks. He and Lois attended Oxford Group meetings with Ebby T and Shep C at Calvary House. The Rev Sam Shoemaker was the rector at the Calvary Church (the OG’s US headquarters). The church was on 4th Ave (now Park Ave) and 21st St. Calvary House (where OG meetings were usually held) was at 61 Gramercy Park. Calvary Mission was located at 346 E 23rd St. (AABB 14-16, AACOA vii, LR 197, BW-40 155-160, NG 24-25, PIO 127, GB 32-33, AGAA 144)

Dec (late), after Oxford Group meetings, Bill W and other OG alcoholics met at Stewart’s Cafeteria near the Calvary Mission. Attendees included Rowland H and Ebby T. (BW-RT 207, BW-40 160, AAGA 141-142, NG 314)


A Narrative Timeline Of AA History – 1774 to 2003

 
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