HOME...for just a brief moment
The crowning experience of
all, for the homecoming man, is the wonderful feeling that,
after all he has suffered, there is nothing he need fear any
more - except his God.
Viktor E. Frankl, MAN'S SEARCH
FOR MEANING: An Introduction to Logotherapy (Beacon
Press, 1959, 1963 by Viktor E. Frankl.
UNLESS YOU HAPPEN TO BE AN ACTIVE ALCOHOLIC.
AN ACTIVE ALCOHOLIC FEARS EVERYTHING !
an act of sheer determination, Clarence managed to make it back
to his home. He was cold and numb, knee-deep in snow. He charged
up to the front porch and looked around. A puzzled expression
began to form on his face.
door was still up, as were all of the screens on the windows.
This, he surmised to himself, was the reason that he had been
called, summoned in on his homing instinct. His wife needed
him. She couldn't get along without his help and knowledge.
The screens were all the proof that he needed. Everybody, he
thought, knew that you don't keep the summer screens up all
on the screen door which, much to his dismay, was locked with
a hook on the inside. He shouted and continued to pound. He
demanded to be let in. How dare she lock him out of his own
home! He had forgotten he was told, in no uncertain terms, that
he was forbidden to return there.
Dorothy came to see who it was who was making all of this commotion.
Upon seeing Clarence, she did not unlock the door. Rather, she
spoke to him through the door. She kept the security chain on
and opened the door as much as the chain allowed.
stood straight as he could and endeavored not to show her how
cold he actually was. He pointed out to her that people didn't
leave screen doors and windows up all winter long. He told her
she needed a man around the house to take care of all these
little details. He tried to utilize all his best sales techniques
and ploys, plus good, old fashioned guilt, to convince her to
let him inside. After all, he was freezing out there on the
front porch. He also thought that if he were able to convince
her at least to let him into the house, at least to let him
warm up, he could then charm and talk her into letting him stay.
was having none of this and would not budge an inch. She did,
however, concede that she needed a man around the house. Clarence's
hopes began to rise as his chest puffed out and his shoulders
drew back. But this hope was deflated instantly when she told
him she really didn't need one that badly. She also said
that, even if she did, it certainly wasn't going to be him.
say, however, that she had a counter-offer to make to him. His
hopes once again began to rise. Unbeknown to Clarence, many
months earlier - after he had romped on the floor with Virginia's
children - Virginia had found the need to call the family doctor.
Her children had become very ill and since the doctors of that
day still made house calls, the doctor came to her house.
the doctor had examined the children, he and Virginia began
talking. The conversation included her fears about Clarence.
She told this doctor that Clarence was the best brother-in-law
possible when he was sober. She related that, when she had had
to go to Ohio to live with her sister, Clarence paid for all
of her bills. These bills included an operation, there when
she had taken ill. She told the doctor she felt that she owed
not only Dorothy, but Clarence as well.
continued on, discussing the evils of drinking at great length
and also "cures" that were available. Virginia's doctor did
mention one very likely possibility. If Clarence was really
willing to quit drinking for good, he knew of another doctor
- this one in Ohio - who had had a great deal of success in
working with alcoholics of Clarence's sort. Virginia's doctor
related to her the sad story of his own brother-in-law, who
had also been a seemingly hopeless alcoholic. He told her that
this very same brother-in-law had not had a single drink of
alcohol in almost three years. The doctor's brother-in-law had
relied upon this same treatment that the doctor in Ohio had
used so successfully.
turned out, Virginia's doctor was Leonard V. Strong. Dr. Strong's
alcoholic brother-in-law was William Griffith "Bill" Wilson.
The doctor in Ohio was Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith.
had written to Dorothy regarding this conversation and had given
her sister Dorothy Snyder the name and address of the doctor
in Akron. Virginia's doctor had given them to her on the off
chance that Clarence might someday show up in Cleveland.
remembered Dr. Robert Smith's name and asked Clarence through
the slit in the door if he was now ready to stop drinking. "Yes,
yes, " Clarence yelled, willing to say anything that might get
him inside the house and into the warmth before he froze to
were once again dashed to the floor, however, Dorothy still
refused to open the door, and would not let him inside. She
told Clarence that Virginia had written her about this doctor
in Akron who "fixes drunks," and that if he really wanted to
quit, she would make sure he got to Akron to meet this wonderful
mind was working on overtime. He was in desperate need of a
drink. He was also in desperate need of getting warm. He figured
that if he could just get into Dorothy's car for the long ride
to Akron, he could then convince her to stop at a bar or liquor
store and get him just one little drink. After that accomplished,
he knew, his mind would be working better. Then, with the right
fuel, he could convince her to turn the car around. She would
then take him back home where they both belonged. After all,
didn't he once sweep her off of her feet? He was sure that,
with the right words, he could do it again.
responded to the idea of getting her car. She brought their
son to a neighbor's house and she and Clarence proceeded, towards
what he thought was going to be Akron. During the ride, he could
not convince her to stop anywhere, nor could he convince her
to turn around. He became crestfallen when she pulled her car
into the bus depot in Cleveland. She took her car keys and asked
him to accompany her as she went inside. She purchased a one
way ticket to Akron.
that ticket, Dorothy handed him a small slip of paper. On it
was the doctor's name, address and phone numbers: "Dr. Robert
Holbrook Smith, 810 Second National Building, Akron, Ohio. Office
phone: HEmlock 8523, Residence phone: UNiversity 2436. Hours
2 to 4 PM."
sure that Clarence was on the bus when it left so that he could
not cash in the ticket for money to buy alcohol. When the bus
left the terminal, Clarence noticed that Dorothy also left.
She followed the bus a few blocks to make sure that Clarence
didn't convince the bus driver to let him off.
way to Akron, to while away the time, Clarence read a couple
of newspapers he had found on the bus. The bus was warm, which,
to Clarence was a little bit of heaven. Dorothy had given him
a sandwich to eat. He was warm and fed, and the news in the
paper was certainly exciting reading.