Clarence's Story in the Big
Book from the First Edition
or by some queer quirk, I became acquainted with the "hilarious
life just at the time in my life when I was beginning to really
settle down to a common sense, sane, domestic life. My wife became
pregnant and the doctor recommended the use of Porter Ale . .
. so . . . I bought a six gallon crock and a few bottles, listened
to advice from amateur brewmeisters, and was off on my beer manufacturing
career on a small scale (for the time being). Somehow or other,
I must have misunderstood the doctor's instructions, for I not
only made the beer for my wife, I also drank it for her.
time went on, I found that it was customary to open a few bottles
whenever visitors dropped in. That being the case, it didn't take
me long to figure out that my meager manufacturing facilities
were entirely inadequate to the manufacture of beer for social
and domestic consumption. From that point on, I secured crocks
of ten gallon capacity and really took quite an active interest
in the manufacture of home brew.
were having card parties with limburger and beer quite regularly.
Eventually, of course, what with all the hilarity that could be
provoked with a few gallons of beer, there seemed to be no need
of bridge or poker playing for entertainment. Well . . . we all
know how those things go. The parties waxed more liquid and hilarious
as time went on, and eventually I discovered that a little shot
of liquor now and then between beers had the tendency to put me
in a whacky mood much quicker than having to down several quarts
of beer to obtain the same results. The inevitable result of this
discovery was that I soon learned that beer made a very good wash
for whiskey. That discovery so intrigued me, that I stayed on
that diet almost entirely for the balance of my extended drinking
career. Yes sir, the old Boilermaker and his Helper. The last
day of my drinking career, I drank 22 of them between 10 and 12
A.M. and I shall never know how many more followed them until
I was poured into bed that night.
was getting along fairly well with my party drinking for quite
some time however, but eventually I began to visit beer joints
in between parties. A night or so a week in a joint, and a party
or so a week at home or with friends, along with a little lone
drinking, soon had me preparing for the existence of a top flight
years after I started on my drinking career, I lost my first job.
At that time, I was living out of town, so I moved back to the
home town and made a connection in a responsible position with
one of the larger companies in the finance business. Up to this
point I had spent six years in the business and had enjoyed the
reputation of being very successful.
new duties were extremely confining and my liquor consumption
began to increase at this time. Upon leaving the office in the
evening, my first stop would be a saloon about a block from the
office. However, as there happened to be several saloons within
that distance, I didn't find it necessary to patronize the same
place each evening. It doesn't pay to be seen in the same place
at the same hour every day, you know.
general procedure was to take 4 or 5 shots in the first place
I stopped at. This would get me feeling fit, and then I would
start for home and fireside, thirteen miles away. Well . . . on
the way home numerous places must be passed. If I were alone I
would stop at four or five of them, but only one or two in the
event I had my mistrusting wife with me.
I would arrive home for a late supper, for which, of course, I
had absolutely no relish. I would make a feeble attempt at eating
supper but never met with any howling success. I never enjoyed
any meal, but I ate my lunch at noon for two reasons: first, to
help get me out of the fog of the night before, and second, to
furnish some measure of nourishment. (My enjoyment of meals now
is an added feature to the Seven Wonders of the World to me. I
can still hardly believe it). Eventually, the noon meal was also
cannot remember just when I became the victim of insomnia, but
I do know that the last year and a half I never went to bed sober
a single night. I couldn't sleep. I had a mortal fear of going
to bed and tossing all night. Evenings at home were an ordeal.
As a result, I would fall off in a drunken stupor every night.
I was able to discharge my duties at the office during those horrible
mornings, I will never be able to explain. Handling customers,
dealers, insurance people, dictation, telephoning, directing new
employees, answering to superiors, etc. However, it finally caught
up with me, and when it did, I was a mental, physical, and nervous
arrived at the stage where I couldn't quite make it to the office
some mornings. Then I would send an excuse of illness. But the
firm became violently ill with my drunkenness and their course
of treatment was to remove their ulcer in the form of me from
their payroll, amid much fanfare and very personal and slighting
remarks and insinuations.
this time, I had been threatened, beaten, kissed, praised and
damned alternately by relatives, family, friends and strangers,
but of course it all went for naught. How many times I swore off
in the morning and got drunk before sunset I don't know. I was
on the toboggan and really making time.
being fired, I lined up with a new finance company that was just
starting in business, and took the position of business promotion
man, contacting automobile dealers. WOW . . . was that something???
While working in an office, there was some semblance of restraint,
but, oh boy, when I got on the outside with this new company without
supervision, did I go to town???
really worked for several weeks, and having had a fairly wide
acquaintance with the dealer trade, it was not difficult for me
to line enough of them up to give me a very substantial volume
of business with a minimum of effort.
I was getting drunk all the time. It wasn't necessary to report
to the office in person every day, and when I did go in, it was
just to make an appearance and bounce right out again. Was that
a merry-go-round for the eight months that it lasted???
this company also became ill and I was once more looking for a
job. Then I learned something else. I learned that a person just
can't find a job hanging in a dive or barroom all day and all
night, as jobs don't seem to turn up in those places. I became
convinced of that because I spent most of my time there and nary
a job turned up. By this time, my chances of getting lined up
in my chosen business were shot. Everyone had my number and wouldn't
hire me at any price.
have omitted details of transgressions that I made when drunk
for several reasons. One is that I don't remember too many of
them, as I was one of those drunks who could be on his feet and
attend a meeting or a party, engage in a conversation with people
and do things that any nearly normal person would do, and the
next day, not remember a thing about where I was, what I did,
who I saw, or how I got home. (That condition was a distinct handicap
to me in trying to vindicate myself with the not so patient wife).
also committed other indiscretions of which I see no particular
point in relating. Anyone who is a rummy or is close to rummies
knows what all those things amount to without having to be told
eventually came to the point where I had no friends. I didn't
care to go visiting unless the parties we might visit had plenty
of liquor on hand and I could get stinking drunk. Fact is, that
I was always well on my way before I would undertake to go visiting
at all. (Naturally, this condition was also a source of great
delight to my wife).
holding good positions, making better than average income for
over ten years, I was in debt, had no clothes to speak of, no
money, no friends, and no one any longer tolerating me but my
wife. My son had absolutely no use for me. Even some of the saloon
keepers where I had spent so much time and money, requested that
I stay away from their places. Finally, an old business acquaintance
of mine, whom I hadn't seen for several years offered me a job.
I was on that job a month and drunk most of the time.
at this time my wife heard of a doctor in another city who had
been very successful with drunks. She offered me the alterative
of going to see him or her leaving me for good and all. Well .
. . I had a job, and I really wanted desperately to stop drinking,
but couldn't, so I readily agreed to visit the doctor she recommended.
was the turning point of my life. My wife accompanied me on my
visit and the doctor really told me some things that in my state
of jitters nearly knocked me out of the chair. He talked about
himself, but I was sure it was me. He mentioned lies, deceptions,
etc. in the course of his story in the presence of the one person
in the world I wouldn't want to know such things. How did he know
all this? I had never seen him before, and at the time he hoped
to hell I would never see him again. However, he explained to
me that he had been just such a rummy as I, only for a much longer
period of time.
advised me to enter the particular hospital to which staff he
was connected and I readily agreed. In all honesty though, I was
skeptical, but I wanted so definitely to quit drinking that I
would have welcomed any sort of physical torture or pain to accomplish
made arrangements to enter the hospital three days later and promptly
went out and got stiff for three days. It was with grim foreboding
and advanced jitters that I checked in at the hospital. Of course,
I had no hint or intimation as to what the treatment was to consist
of. Was I to be surprised!
being in the hospital for several days, a plan of living was outlined
to me. A very simple plan that I find much joy and happiness in
following. It is impossible to put on paper all the benefits I
have derived . . . physical, mental, domestic, spiritual, and
is no idle talk. It is the truth.
a physical standpoint, I gained 16 pounds in the first two months
I was off liquor. I eat three good meals a day now, and really
enjoy them. I sleep like a baby, and never give a thought to such
a thing as insomnia. I feel as I did when I was fifteen years
. . . I know where I was last night, the night before, and the
nights before that. Also, I have no fear of anything. I have self
confidence and assurance that cannot be confused with the cockeyness
or noise-making I once possessed. I can think clearly and am helped
much in my thinking and judgment by my spiritual development which
a domestic standpoint, we really have a home now. I am anxious
to get home after dark. My wife is ever glad to see me come in.
My youngster has adopted me. Our home is always full of friends
and visitors (No home brew as an inducement).
. . . I have found a Friend who never lets me down and is ever
eager to help. I can actually take my problems to Him and He does
give me comfort, peace, and radiant happiness.
a monetary standpoint . . . in the past nine months, I have reduced
my reckless debts to almost nothing, and have had money to get
along comfortably. I still have my job, and just prior to the
writing of this narrative, I received an advancement.
of these blessings, I thank Him.