THE ORTHODOX MOVEMENT
Henrietta Seiberling Speaks Her Mind
...and the truth shall set
Seiberling was not an alcoholic. In 1933, she was a housewife
with three children. But not just an ordinary housewife. She
was the daughter-in-law of the founder and one-time president
of the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company. And she had much to
do with the founding of A.A.
January 1933, Harvey Sr. and his son, Russell "Bud" Firestone
sponsored an appearance by Dr. Frank N.D. Buchman and his "Oxford
Group team" in Akron. And, as part of the day's events, a big
dinner was held at the Mayflower Hotel in Akron.
and her son, John Seiberling, attended that first dinner and
meeting as well as the balance of the meetings from January
14th through the 22nd; and, when Frank
Buchman shouted to those assembled, "Get right with God," Henrietta
decided to get right with God through membership in the Oxford
Bill Wilson, an Oxford Group member from New York, had come
to Akron in 1935, he had phoned Dr. Walter Tunks, a minister
affiliated with the Oxford Group. And Tunks, in turn, gave Bill
Henrietta's number. Through that phone call, which was supposedly
made with Bill's last nickel, a meeting was set up at Henrietta's
home, the Gate house of Stan Hywet Hall, her husband's family
is where Bill and Dr. Bob Smith first met and Doc. first got
his indoctrination into the idea "one alcoholic helping another."
And in the ensuing years, Henrietta worked with both to help
in A.A.'s founding.
Henrietta became disenchanted with A.A.'s development as the
years rolled on. According to John Seiberling, Jr., Bill and
Bob told her, "Henrietta, I don't think we should talk too much
about religion or God." But Henrietta responded:
we're not out to please the alcoholics. They have been pleasing
themselves all these years. We are out to please God. And if
you don't talk about what God does, and your faith, and your
guidance, then you might as well be the Rotary Club or something
like that. Because God is your only source of Power.
her association with A.A., Henrietta was always outspoken in
her zeal for service to God. She had cautioned that "Money will
spoil this thing." She had complained to Bill that A.A., in
later years, was proceeding more on the level of psychology
than through spirituality. Bill's response to her had been,
"I know, but they think there are so many people that need this
and they don't want to send them away" by talking about what
God has done in their (the early members') lives. Henrietta
felt A.A. people had forgotten their "source of Power," God.
the early 1950's, Henrietta was living in New York at 863 Park
Avenue. She was greatly disturbed which the way A.A. was going.
She wrote Clarence,
lot of people up here are buffaloed into being "W.W.s" (Wilson
Worshipers) instead of "A.A.s'." Notice that A.A. is at the
beginning & WW is at the end, even of the
also wrote Clarence,
will stand exposed for the show off that he is. He is so empty
that as you know Anne [Smith] begged me to do a little "missionary
work" on him. She [Anne Smith, Dr. Bob's wife] was sorry to
have heard him at the last banquet she came to hear.
the same letter, Henrietta wrote Clarence, "I knew he [Bill]
had petitioned the Foundation to give Dr. Silkworth & himself
the royalties [that were] going to Bob [Smith]." Henrietta felt,
as did Clarence, that there should be no royalties paid for
what was supposed to have been an avocation.
the time of Dr. Bob's death, Henrietta wrote Clarence about
A.A.'s memorial Grapevine issue for Dr. Bob. She wrote:
really read it through because the truth is so doctored up to
suit Bill's claims. - The telephone conversation involving me
is utterly false & all of it so 'slanted' - I wish he would
have left me in the anonymity I have kept.