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Walter B., Cleveland, Ohio.
(OM, p. 265 in 1st edition.)
Walter first joined A.A.
in September 1935.
He was known as a notorious
alcoholic and a regular consumer of paregoric, an over-the-counter
opiate then easily available to the general public.
Too young to enlist in World
War I, he earned high wages as a machinist, and did very
well at his work. He confined his drinking to weekends or
occasional parties after work. But he was unsettled and
He got married, and in 1924
moved to Akron, where he got a job in the largest industrial
plant. Things were going well until the stock market crashed
and work slowed down. Finally he was laid off.
He found another job that
required him to travel. Away from home his drinking increased,
and he finally lost that job. A series of jobs followed,
but things continued to go down hill.
He was hospitalized several
times. During one of his hospitalizations, the chief resident
physician, during his rounds, asked him if he would like
to stop drinking, and suggested that he send another doctor
to see him. This was Dr. Bob.
For two years he stayed
sober and his life was greatly improved. Then he started
to miss meetings, and stopped working the program. He soon
started drinking again.
On either August 16 or 18,
1939, he was the first alcoholic admitted by Dr. Bob and
Sister Ignatia for the purpose of detoxification. Sister
Ignatia labeled his problem as "acute gastritis" in order
to admit him. She first put him in a double room. Dr. Bob
asked her to move him to a private room so that he could
have visitors. No private room being available she moved
him to the "flower room," where the nurses watered the flowers
that patients had received. The room was also used as a
temporary holding room for corpses awaiting transfer to
He had probably been in
this hospital before under various diagnoses. He talks in
his story about many hospitalizations and mentions that
in one Catholic hospital, a Sister had talked religion to
him and had brought a priest in to see him. They were sorry
for him, he said, and assured him he would find relief in
Mother Church. He wanted none of it.
When he wrote his story
he had been sober about a year, and intended to stay close
to what he had proven was good for him. Every day he asked
God to keep him sober for twenty-four hours. "He has never
let me down yet."
His wife, Marie B., wrote
the story "An Alcoholic's Wife," which also appears in the