By Mitchell K. © 1991, 1997
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Index of Chapter 6

6.1 - The Saturday Evening Post Article
6.4 - 1st A.A. Newsletter - Cleveland Central Bulletin
6.2 - Cleveland A.A. Grows by Leaps and Bounds
6.5 - Army Life in Fort Knox
6.3 - Cleveland Central Committee Formed
Chapter 7: Decentralization - Promises and Reality

Chapter 6.2


Cleveland A.A. Grows in Leaps and Bounds


Speaker - Mr. Clarence Snyder, Ford Salesman,

E.D. Latimer and Co., 5362 Broadway.

Subject - "Alcoholics Anonymous"

This movement, rapidly gaining in momentum, offers the first uniformly successful hope for a large group of people. There is much all of us would like to learn of this. The program has received favorable comment in other clubs as being most instructive.

From Construction News Issued weekly by The Kiwanis Club of East Cleveland, Ohio

The year 1941 was a banner year for the growth of A.A. in Cleveland. The first group formed that year on Friday, January 3rd, was organized on and called the Lee Road Group. It met at 1637 Lee Road. A second Lee Road Group was formed as part of the original group and it met for the first time on Monday, January 6th, at the same address. This meant there were now nine meetings in the Cleveland area.

A tenth meeting - the Crawford Road Men's Group - had its first organizational meeting on February 12th with twelve members present. Its second organizational meeting which was probably its first regular meeting on February 19th, with seventeen members present. The Crawford Road meeting was held originally at 1779 Crawford Road. Clarence described its origins as follows:

There was a time in A.A. that people were coming in so fast, we had a hard time absorbing them on a one-on-one basis... I was trying to figure out how to teach A.A. in classes to people. The problem was, where to find a place to teach these classes. This was because we had no money which added to the problem.

One of the 1941 inquiries which came in to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, was from a Walter B.; of him, Clarence wrote, "He lived down on Crawford Road." Clarence took this inquiry and went to visit with Walter. When he arrived, Clarence found the address to be a funeral home. Clarence was told that Walter was living out in the back in the carriage house.

When Walter answered the door he was wearing a beret. Of meeting him, Clarence said, "He was very affable, very polite and very drunk." Walter invited Clarence inside; and, Clarence said, "Lo and behold, this place was a theater." Walter loved the theater so much that he set up his home as one. Clarence described the "theater," starting that there were a "couple of hundred theater seats, a stage and props." On the other end of the building, Walter made his living quarters. There was no one else living there besides Walter except for "this great Dane, his best buddy," as Clarence described the Dane.

Walter's hobby was putting on amateur theatrical events for the neighborhood. Most people didn't come to these because Walter was always drunk and making a fool of himself.

Clarence took a look at this theater and told Walter, "You are a gift from heaven." Walter was dumbfounded. He didn't understand what Clarence was talking about. But Clarence felt he had just found the right place for holding the A.A. classes. It was perfect, Clarence thought.

The A.A.s took over Walter's home. Clarence said of the new classes:

"All these men, who were just wandering around with no place to go anyway, were told to go to this place. They came to be taught this program. By the end of the first year, the Crawford Road Men's Group had one hundred and thirty-five members. This was from a core group of only ten."

Clarence told the author about one of Walter's neighbors, an elderly woman who once inquired about what was going on. She wanted to know about all of these strange men coming and going, the laughing and carrying on. She asked if they were drunk. Clarence told her that none of them drank even though they were once hopeless alcoholics. "You mean they don't drink," she asked? Clarence replied, "Nope, and they never will drink again." He explained to her a little about the A.A. program and told her his own story.

The Lady proceeded to tell Clarence that she had a boy who was "on the bum," and asked, "Can you fix him?" Clarence asked her where the boy was. She told him her boy was somewhere on skid row in New York City, and that he hadn't contacted her in a long time. Clarence told her about Bill Wilson, and gave her Bill's number.

This woman also had a daughter who was living in New York, and the daughter was given Bill's number in case she ever saw her brother. The brother had been an advertising manager for Calvert Distillery and got fired for drinking too much. "I guess he must have believed his own ads," Clarence observed.

Shortly, the brother contacted his sister for help, and the two got together. The sister gave him Bill's number, and the man joined A.A. Clarence recalled that this man never drank again and went on to become the first Editor of the A.A. Grapevine.

On August 20th, 1941, the meeting at Walter's "theater" had to move. The announcement for the new meeting read as follows:

We have moved to our new meeting place at 8920 Euclid Ave. 2nd floor of the Euclid-Bolton Garage Building. A new and larger meeting place, seating approximately 150 people, located on the south side of Euclid Ave. between East 89th. St. and East 90th. Street.

There is ample parking facilities in the neighborhood for those who drive.

A Special and Interesting Meeting is planned for MEN ONLY Wednesday P.M. Aug. 20, 1941. Our first meeting in our new quarters.

Phone RA. 5759 - W.E.B., Secretary

On April 21st, 1941, The Miles Avenue Group was formed in Cleveland. It branched off from the Borton Group and had its first meeting on that Monday at 10203 Miles Avenue. William H. and Frank W. were the group's sponsors. There were twenty original members; and by the end of the first year, the Miles Group had eighty-five in attendance.

Cleveland's group number twelve was the Collinwood Group. It first met on Thursday, April 24th. at the Arnold Hall on East 152nd. and St. Clair. There were fourteen members present. It had branched off from the Lee Road Friday Group; and its sponsors were: Dan M., Franklin S., Tom V. and Harvey B. S. The group, on June 25th, moved to 14709 St. Clair Avenue and met on Wednesdays. At the end of the first year, the Collinwood Group had eighty-five active members.

Group number thirteen was the Shaker Group; and it was formed on Monday, May 4th, 1941, and met at the Shaker Junior High School. It had branched off from the Borton Group with ten original members and immersed to twenty-three active members by the end of the first year. The first Secretary was Thomas C. B.

Cleveland's next group was formed on May 16th, 1941. It was the Avon Lake Group and it met for the first time on Wednesday at the home of Dr. P. The group then later moved to the Avon Lake Town Hall and met on Fridays. This group had branched off from the Lake Shore-Cleveland Group with eight original members. It later moved to the American Legion Home in Lorain, Ohio. Its sponsors were Dr. P., John B., John M. and Tom S. (Tom was one of Clarence's "babies").

The next group was not only a first for Cleveland, it was a first for A.A. as a whole. Group number fifteen was the Women's Group. Marion R., the group's secretary, wrote, "I believe it is most interesting to know we are the first women's group in the U.S."

The first meeting of that women's group was on Tuesday, May 20th, 1941, and it met at the Colonial Hotel. There were sixteen original members. The sponsors of the group were Marion R., Lila D., H. M. and Mary S. On May 27, the women began holding their meetings at the "homes of girls" and later moved their meetings to Wednesday nights at 12214 Detroit Avenue.

Clarence had always fought for women to be able to come into A.A. But Dr. Bob had been against this idea, stating, he felt women members would be too distracting and would cause problems, not only for the male members, but for their wives as well. Also, Clarence felt, Bill Wilson was not too "keen on the idea" of women in A.A. But Clarence believed the meetings should be open to any person who had a problem with alcohol, and that women were certainly not immune.

Six more meetings were formed between May 23rd and November 26th, 1941. The first of these was the Lorain Avenue Group, which met on Monday, May 23rd at 11934 Lorain Avenue. It had twenty original members and had branched off from the Brooklyn Group.

Next, the West Side Men's Group was formed and had its first meeting on September 4th. It first met at 11107 Fortune Avenue with eight original members. These later moved their meeting to Tuesday Nights at Pilgrim Church on West 14th. Street and Starkweather. The sponsors of the West Side Group were Howard E., Norman J., Elmer H., Regis L., Jim C., Bob T., Bob F. and Jim S. At the end of its first nine months the West Side Group had one hundred and thirty-three members. The group was a special interest group of sorts, as was explained by its secretary, Dr. H.C.R., who wrote, "This group is solely for recreation purposes... Requirement of membership is good standing in a parent group."

The Collinwood A.M. Group had its first meeting on Wednesday, October 1st. and met at 14709 St. Clair. There were fifteen original members; and, by the end of its first year the group had fifty-eight active members. The sponsors of the group were Al R., Don M., Frank S. and Bill C. It had branched from the original Collinwood Group.

The next group to form was the Lorain Group which met on Wednesday, October 22nd. at the Antlers Hotel. There were fifteen original members and, at the end of the first six months, there were thirty. The sponsors of that group were Tom S., Don W. and Frank B. Both Tom and Don were Clarence's "babies."

The West 25th Street Group first met on Thursday, October 30th at West 25th Street and Erin. It had thirteen original members; and at the end of its first year, there were fifty active members. The sponsors of the group were H.H.F., Tom C., Clayton B. and Tom L. This group had branched off from the Brooklyn Group.

The Lee Road Wednesday Men and Women's Group held its first meeting on November 26th at Lee and Mayfield. There were fifty original members; and, at the end of the first six months, there were seventy-five. The sponsors of the group were Albert R. G. ( from the original G. Group), Stan B., B. McD., F.D. The Lee Road Group had branched from the Thursday and Friday Lee and Mayfield Groups.

There was one other Cleveland Group, which for some reason Clarence couldn't recall, did not make the list compiled by Norm E., Recording Statistician of the Central Committee. This group was not listed among the original twenty-nine groups from May 11, 1939 through July 24, 1942. This was the Heights Group Friday, which first met on January 3, 1941, at 1637 Lee Road. It had twenty original members and had branched off from the Heights Group Thursday. Original members included George McD. and D.B.H.

There were two out-of-town groups formed in 1941 which sprang directly from the Cleveland Groups. These were the Douglass Group, which met on Tuesday, November 11, 1941, at the Grace Episcopal Church in Mansfield, Ohio. It had seven original members, four of whom had come from the Borton Group. At the end of six months, there were fourteen active members. The sponsors of the group were Marion D., Ralston Fox S. and C.T. "Duke" P. (from Toledo).

The other out-of-town group was the Geneva Group, which first met in Geneva, Ohio on September 8th. On January 30, 1942, it moved to Ashtabula, Ohio and changed its name to the Ashtabula Group. This meeting met bi-monthly since its members were still going to Cleveland to meet at the Borton Group every other week. The sponsors of the group were Jack D., William F. Harry S., Al S. and Pete S.

Clarence and "the boys and girls" were thus very busy during 1941. They were running around, answering inquiries and starting meetings. They were also beginning to form what was probably the first local Central Office of A.A. The only other A.A. office was that of the Alcoholic Foundation in New York City.

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