GROWTH AND MOVEMENT
Cleveland Central Office Formed
The legitimate object of Government
is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have
done, but cannot do all in their separate and individual capacities.
Being mindful of the need and
usefulness of a central committee, our two meetings have been
marked by an outstanding atmosphere of fine fellowship and co-operation
between the groups. We have had excellent attendance and much
interest is being shown by all committee members in the furtherance
of our fellowship.
Bulletin to All Groups - regarding
the second meeting of the Cuyahoga Central Committee,
August 15, 1941... Clarence H.
the late Spring or early Summer of 1939, the A.A. Association
had been formed in Cleveland so that prospective members could
have their hospital and sanitarium bills paid in a timely manner.
This Cleveland committee was the forerunner of the Cleveland or
Cuyahoga County A/A Committee, or "Central Committee," as it was
later called. The A.A. Association kept track of alcoholics in
the various centers for detoxification and kept records of their
accounts there. If the bills were not paid, the Association either
called up on members to pay them, or, in cases where this was
not possible, the Association would accept payment responsibility
for those members from funds set aside for such a purpose.
there was still no official Central Committee in operation as
of February 21, 1941, seems evidenced by a letter to the editor
in the Cleveland Press by Clarence. In that letter, Clarence
told what Alcoholics Anonymous was all about and used the address
of the Alcoholic Foundation. He listed it as "30 Vesey street,
Room 700, New York City." Clarence then also gave his own address
at 8803 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland.
his February, 1941 letter to the Cleveland Press Clarence
wrote that A.A members accomplished their sobriety by following
a specific pattern. He said the member must:
sincere desire to quit drinking forever.
the allergy and compulsion for lifetime.
his ailment as a disease.
God and live by four simple principles: honesty, unselfishness,
purity and love.
continued his letter to the Press, by suggesting that one
read "our book 'Alcoholics Anonymous,' a book written by alcoholics,
for alcoholics, at the Cleveland Public Library." Clarence added:
thousand people, (over 700 in Cleveland alone) who have thus far
found life and hope through this means, is ample testimony that
the day of miracles has not passed.
March 2, 1941, only one day after the Jack Alexander article appeared
in the Saturday Evening Post, a meeting was held in the
office of the Cleveland Switchboard Co. The purpose was to form
the Cuyahoga County A/A Committee.
announcement card for the meeting read as follows:
by B___, second by C___ - that a CLEARING HOUSE COMMITTEE be formed,
and that it be composed of two (2) members from each and every
A/A Group in Cuyahoga County. This Committee to have NO AUTHORITY
to commit, involve or bind any one or all of the Groups in Cuyahoga
County in any manner whatsoever without referring proposed ideas,
plans or propositions to each individual Group for its acceptance
MEMBERS: Kindly conform to this important rule.
H. Snyder, Chairman.
meeting was held, and the motion was carried. But there was a
movement to oust Clarence from the position of Chairperson. Clarence
wrote Bill Wilson on March 4, 1941, asking Bill for help with
this "revolution." It seems the Cleveland members were still complaining
about what had transpired with the articles in the Cleveland
Plain Dealer. Clarence wrote:
to know how much the Plain Dealer pd. me. Why I didn't put it
in the kitty. Where did I get the authority etc. etc. etc. Not
one kind thing said in my behalf. This from persons I had picked
out of the gutter & worked on & gave unceasingly &
unselfishly of fellowship & whatever I could. Experience then,
the resentment & hatred has been there. They have gone out
of their way on numerous occasions to embarrass me.
disgruntled members voted Clarence out of office, just as they
had voted him out of A.A. during the original split of the Cleveland
Group. They elected Bill H. as chairperson and wanted nothing
to do with Clarence.
ego was wounded. He wrote Bill Wilson, stating that Bill should
"pay no attention to this so-called Cuyahoga County committee
as yet. Continue to send me the names as always, & they will
be followed & taken care of in a conscientious manner as always."
the same time, a number of Cleveland members who objected to the
Alcoholic Foundation's call for contributions; and they refused
to support the New York office. As to this issue, Clarence added
in his letter to Bill:
foundation money plan, don't concern yourself about that here.
I wish I had known about it before Bert T____ blew in. After this
revolution subsides, I can get you all the dough for the foundation
that will be needed from our part of the country. And believe
me when I tell you I can get it where no one else can.
continued in Cleveland for several months. A Cleveland Committee
did not develop until August of 1941. A bulletin to all groups,
sent out at that August, said:
second meeting of the Cuyahoga Central Committee meeting, held
Friday evening, August 15th, the following committees were appointed
by the chairman.
"chairman" at that time was once again, Clarence Snyder. Three
committees were formed. One was Entertainment, with Al "Abby"
G. as chairman, one was Finance, with Wm. "Bill" H. as chairman
and one was Hospital, with H. L. M. as chairman. Each of the three
committees had six members from different groups around the Cleveland
area. The terms of office for committee members was to be three
months "or until the chairman's term of office expires, or until
replaced by the chairman."
of officers was one of Clarence's ideas. This was to insure an
equal and representative voice from within the fellowship. Also
introduced at this meeting were the "new A.A. Pamphlets." The
author believes these were probably similar in content to the
earlier Houston Press articles, by Larry J. whom Clarence
sponsored, and who moved to Texas to start A.A. there.
August 19, 1941, a meeting of the Finance Committee of The Central
Group Committee was held. Its minutes suggested to:
of the groups that they in turn propose to their respective group
that they deposit with the Finance Committee the Sum of one dollar
each week beginning January 1st 1942." It went on to state that
"Such funds are to be used for the purpose of defraying normal
expenses of the Central Committee Group such as P.O. box rental,
postage and such other incidental expenses as may be required...
[And to] make contributions to the Foundation in New York and
such other charities as may be recommended to the finance committee
by the various groups and approved by the finance committee.
bulletin to all groups from the "third meeting of the Curahoga
(sic) County Central Committee, held Tuesday evening, August 26th,"
announced plans for a Halloween Party and a New Year's Eve Party
which was to include "all the combined groups." The bulletin also
announced the availability of two A.A. pamphlets: 1) the Houston
Press articles written by Larry J., and 2) the articles in
the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The bulletin also asked if
anyone was interested in a bowling league. Thus the Fellowship
was not only concerned with the meetings and 12 Step work. It
was also involved in social activities.
this time, Clarence proposed a dinner to "Honor Dr. Bob Smith;"
and it was planned October 5th. Clarence felt his sponsor,
Dr. Bob, should be honored for his untiring efforts in "fixing
first the "Dr. Bob" dinner was set for the Lake Shore Hotel at
12506 Edgewater Drive in Cleveland. The Hotel had room for 450
people. Announcements were sent out to all of the Ohio groups,
as well as to those in surrounding states. The event was to involve
not only the dinner, but "An afternoon full of special events."
All of this was to cost $1.35 per person.
response was overwhelming. The reservations were reaching the
450 person cut off. They had to decide what to do. Would they
turn people away? They decided to move the location. Clarence
contacted all of the local hotels and found one which would accommodate
more than 600 people.
Hotel Statler was chosen. When built, the Statler had cost over
$2,500,000 and was one of the largest hotels in Cleveland. The
hotel negotiated a deal, similar to the one with the Lake Shore
Hotel. The price for the room and the meal was still low.
menu was to consist of:
-Pan Fried Veal Cutlet - Potatoes Croquette - Peas au Beurre -
Ice Cream with Raspberry Ice - Cakes - Coffee.
of this was to cost the committee $1.00 per person. Invitations
were sent out to Bill Wilson and others; and local groups contributed
to help pay the train fare to bring the speakers out to Cleveland.
were sent out to once again asking people to attend and informing
them of the change of location. In a letter to Clarence dated
September 30, 1941, Jim B. of Detroit wrote, "I shall deliver
your affectionate message to Archie (Arch T.), but, sorry to say,
he told me Sunday, he was not planning on making the trip." Jim's
letter thanked Clarence for the invitation and for the information
as to the change of location and informed Clarence of other Detroit
members who would attend.
5, 1941 finally arrived. According to the press release from the
Central Committee, "Approximately 850 attended [the dinner],"
and "About sixteen out of town groups were represented at this
newspaper article about the dinner was headed, "900 Reformed Alcoholics
Hold Anonymous Dinner." The turn out had been so great that the
article ended with the following:
ballroom seldom has entertained a larger crowd than that which
attended the dinner. Extra tables were set on the balcony and
in the corridor.
M.C. for the event, Clarence wrote a schedule of events on the
back of the card which announced the meeting. It was written in
pencil, and read as follows:
Talk & Welcome to guests
- Out of town guests
Mrs. Borton - Women's Group
- Edna McD.
S. - Mrs. Doc Smith
Seiberling - Wally G.
- Bill Wilson
- Closing Remarks
Bob Smith was overwhelmed by the response. He spoke briefly and
tried to downplay his role in the founding of A.A. Everyone was
pleased with the outcome. In the Bulletin to All Groups, dated
October 17, 1941, Clarence wrote,
was gratified to learn that we didn't go in the red on our appreciation
dinner. In fact we came out .90 to the good.
October 21st, the Central and Group Hospital Committee met with
14 groups represented and two absent. They adopted the "rules
and regulations... or general use by the Hospitals and the Sanitariums
accepting A.A. patients." (see Appendix
Committee continued to meet, formulate policy, set social events
and inform the groups of current events concerning A.A. members.
Clarence had an idea for a newsletter which would inform members
of A.A. news and contain a meeting directory. The other purpose
for the newsletter, which was to be called the Cleveland Central
Bulletin, was to inform the membership of the whereabouts
of members who were serving in the Armed Forces.
the Central Committee decided they needed an office. On February
8th, 1945, the A.A. Cleveland District Office opened. And, though
it has changed addresses many times since 1945, that District
Office has continued to respond to the still sick and suffering
a pamphlet put out by the Cleveland District Office in 1962 the
following statistics were given.
Office door opened on February 8th, 1945, more than 12,910 calls
for help have been received. Of these, 7,878 were reported receptive
and already started on their way back to a New Life. During the
same period, hundreds of speakers have been supplied to groups
and various organizations... also thousands of packages of literature
have been sent out to everyone seeking information regarding Alcoholics
contact, sponsorship, literature, a newsletter, rotation of officers,
and a tremendous recovery rate were to become the trademarks of
Cleveland A.A. And Clarence had fought for all of this because
he wanted the still sick and suffering alcoholic to have the same
chance that he had gotten. His sponsor, Dr. Bob, had given him
a ministry. To help the alcoholic get well, if he wished to get
well. Clarence wanted the best and did his utmost to see that
Cleveland got it.
here set forth the "Aims, Purposes and Functions of the Cleveland
Central Committee." The source, an original document, was early
PURPOSES AND FUNCTIONS OF CENTRAL COMMITTEE
promote unselfishness, unity and understanding among all groups:
we should never forget our purpose in being associated with our
fellowship. Our membership is composed of persons from all walks
of life, many different types of background, various stages of
mental, physical and spiritual development; various temperaments,
social set-ups, religious beliefs and creeds. All of us have reached
the same extremity. All of us are trying to maintain sobriety,
and live like human beings are meant to live. We are all interested
in helping others like us to share what we have found.
fact that we are such a cosmopolitan and democratic fellowship
accounts for the fact that we have numerous perspectives among
the members of our fellowship. No individual or group in our fellowship
is perfect, nor perhaps will ever be, and by the same token, no
individual or group is one hundred percent wrong. We feel that
every one and every group has a place in our plan, and can contribute
constructive ideas and suggestions for the benefit of our movement
as a whole. We believe that any difference of opinion arising
between individuals and groups can be brought to a satisfactory
compromise, through the patient application of the principles
of Love, Unselfishness, Tolerance and Understanding. By meeting
together, we can get acquainted, and come to realize that no matter
what our perspectives may be, we all have about the same problems,
and in really understanding the other fellow, we find that he
is not such a blackguard after all.
needless to expound at length on the merits of Unity. In our case,
however, a greater unity and understanding can be responsible
for the salvaging of futures, homes and lives. A duty rests upon
us to discharge an obligation that no person or group of persons
but us can handle satisfactorily. By one hundred per cent co-operation,
can't we do a much better job of discharging that duty?
establish a uniform hospital technique: E.G.-
constructive measures have already been worked out by the Hospital
Committee; case histories, group hospital committees, new hospital
connections, standard regulations for entering patients; visiting,
handling "slips" etc. Much money has been saved the hospitals
who co-operate. Our position with the hospitals has been strengthened.
Constant attention must be paid to our hospitalization set-up,
for the good of the fellowship as a whole.
and maintenance of a suitable promotional program: E.G.-
and need new members. They want and need us. Promotion of our
plan is very important. It is a discharge of a duty. In the past,
most of our promotional work has rested on too few of the members.
Some members have done much toward helping, by sending out pamphlets
at their own expense. Some groups have also done this.
of our members have found us through the medium of newspaper and
magazine articles; talks before clubs and organizations; from
physicians; members of the clergy; social and civic organizations;
the courts, and others. The proper type of publicity is very beneficial
to our ends, but the very nature of our work makes it necessary
that we be certain, insofar as possible, that all publicity be
edited by us, before being released.
months ago, the Central Committee appointed Clarence Snyder as
a committee to check all publicity. Due to his efforts, a number
of items of publicity which were of questionable value, and more
than likely, of definite harm to our plan, were suppressed. For
the good of all, let us co-operate, and remember to never give
interviews for publication without first consulting him on the
matter. Publicity seeking persons can do much harm to our groups
and members, through ignorance or mercenary motives. One piece
of publicity may look helpful to one group, but may cause much
embarrassment or harm to individuals in another. Obviously, if
every one who gets an idea about publicity is permitted to scatter
it to the four winds, pandemonium would result. On sober reflection,
we cannot but agree that a "safety valve" is needed in connection
with this phase of our work.
a Post Office Box, No. 1638, Station C, to which many requests
for help are addressed. An effective plan to answer these requests
and make equitable distribution of the names among the groups,
must be worked out and maintained.
of ideas and suggestions among groups: E.G.:
groups operate exactly alike. Why do some groups have more social
times? Some have literature tables? Some have regulations regarding
admittance of "slips" outsiders, guests, etc.? Why do some groups
boast a better percentage of recoveries? Why are some more successful
in putting the "slipper" back on his feet? Why are meetings conducted
differently in different groups? How can one group help another
in matters of overlapping and hospital visitations? What ideas
does your group have, to help one another maintain sobriety?
of such questions could conceivably arise, through association
of our twenty-three groups.