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Northwest Illinois A.A.
in Illinois, northwest and west of Chicago, grew in the
early 1940s due to the efforts of members who would be called
"Loners" today. In one town located on the Rock
River in Whiteside County (about 60 miles east of the Mississippi
River), Ken S. of Sterling, Illinois, began an A.A. group
in the winter of 1943 that first met in his home with three
local members. Ken had gotten sober in Chicago in 1940 and
soon moved to Sterling, employed as a foreman with a steel
wire manufacturer. For three years he regularly made Chicago
meetings and brought local "prospects" to Chicago's
"Big Meeting" on Tuesday nights. The traveling,
either by car or train, was probably an all-day affair for
the long trip across the state.
S. is considered the earliest member, within the current
Northern Illinois Area 20 boundaries, to carry the A.A.
message in Illinois west of Chicago. His name was listed
with Alcoholic Foundation directories from 1943 on, and
he also kept up his correspondence with the Chicago Central
Office (currently the Chicago Area Service Office, which
has the distinction of being the first "Intergroup-type"
office of early 1941 and today serves as the Area 19 office).
groups grew in early A.A., the Sterling Group moved out
of Ken's home within a short time, and is credited with
branching out and starting groups in a half dozen towns
in northwestern Illinois and eastern Iowa. It appears that
keeping the linkage with the rest of A.A. was key to the
group's success. Ken, as Secretary for the Sterling Group,
was the contact for correspondence and twelfth step work.
group still meets on Tuesday nights.
following piece was written by Ken S. in 1943 as the last
page of a six-page observation on his A.A. recovery. It
was placed in the Area 20 Archives in 1995 as a result of
research for the Area's history project.
have we learned as we passed through the various stages
of A.A. absorption? What are the things that make today
so worthwhile? What has been given us for future guidance?
that through Gods guidance and Grace, it is possible
to live in perfect sobriety, enjoying a greater than normal
share of happiness and understanding.
that in God we find we have an ever available haven when
troubled or goaded by fear or despair---an ever ready guidance,
if we but seek with a willingness to follow.
that the spirit of God is an ever-present force, understanding,
forgiving, loving, and guiding those who seek direction
and try to live in accordance with His teachings---teachings
upon which is founded our A.A. program of Faith, Tolerance,
Humility, and Service.
we have learned, too, that the program so simply stated
provides a straight and undeviating pathway to our goal.
We need no further guides, guards, bosses, or directors.
The way is open, its up to us.
that the program goes beyond meetings---beyond our own little
alcoholic world and our homes, when practiced in all our
we are awakened to a realization that we have and must assume
obligations and responsibilities---that we owe so much and
can repay so little.
we find that work is the motivating power of our lives.
It vitalizes Faith, produces accomplishment. Dryness without
work is hunger partially satisfied - Faith without work
we acknowledge that the rights of others must be considered
first. There is little danger that we shall forget to look
to our own.
we also find that the I and We judge and jury
attitude has no place in a program of humility.
that resentments include more than well nursed grudges of
long standing. The word has many synonyms including: anger,
animosity, irascibility, and wrathful indignation.
we have found that one of the hardest tasks is to be unselfishly
truthful to ourselves, and we have seen truth reborn in
the statements and actions of fellow members.
and most important, we have discovered a capacity for true
thankfulness, for the innumerable things large and small
that are our daily lot.
with meditation on past and present, we move on through
life, secure in the admonition to look up to where there
is an intelligence from which comes all intellect---recognize
the source which sustains us and gives us courage and self-reliance.
Provided by District 73 Archives for the NIA History Project
and placed in NIA Archives, March 1995. Copyright ©
Ltd. and used with permission.
Ken S.' writing reflects the style of 1940's Alcoholics
Anonymous members, and it's shared with "aahistorybuffs"
from the Appendix of the 100-page booklet.
Please respect the copyright and list the source if any
group member chooses to print it elsewhere, "used with
The history will be placed on the Area's web site before
the end of the year, but before then, feel free to link
to the site: http://www.aa-nia.org
Right now the booklet is considered as "out of print,"
and a reason to place it on the web site, to pass it on.
My belief is that Ken S.' observations are as valid today
as fifty-seven years ago!
in the Fellowship,
Rick T., Area 20 Archivist