Bob's Last Drink
article is written by nationally recognized historian
and oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell
W. had met a kindred spirit in Dr. Bob. Both men were
born in Vermont, both were intelligent and both were alcoholics.
They somehow knew that fateful evening in Henrietta Seiberling's
Gatehouse home both of them were going to be okay.
a few weeks of working with each other and attempting
to deliver the message of recovery to other alcoholics
Bill and Dr. Bob did not appear to be discouraged. Despite
their not being able to bring another rummy into the fold
- they were staying sober. Quite a feat for Dr. Bob who
had been attending Oxford Group meetings even prior to
getting together with Bill.
Bob was feeling so secure that he decided to attend a
convention of the American Medical Association. He had
not missed a convention in 20 years and did not plan on
missing this one. Bob's wife, Anne was set against him
attending the convention. She remembered previous ones
where he had gotten drunk.
Bob assured her that he would not drink. He said that
alcoholics, even those who had stopped drinking, would
have to begin to learn how to live in the real world.
She finally agreed and off he went.
Bob kept his promise to Anne. That is, until he boarded
the train to Atlantic City. Once on the train Dr. Bob
began to drink in earnest. He drank all the way to Atlantic
City, purchased more bottles prior to checking in to the
hotel. That was on a Sunday evening.
Bob stayed sober on Monday until after dinner. He then
resumed his drinking. Upon awakening Tuesday morning his
drinking continued until noon. He then realized that he
was about to disgrace himself by showing up at the convention
decided to check out of the hotel and return home. He
purchased more alcohol on the way to the train depot.
He waited for the train for a long time and continued
to drink. That was all he remembered until waking up in
the home of his office nurse and her husband back in Ohio.
Bob's blackout lasted over 24 hours. There was a five-day
period from when Dr. Bob left for the convention to when
the nurse called Anne and Bill. They took Dr. Bob home
and put him to bed. The detoxification process began once
again. That process usually lasted three days according
to Bill. They tapered Dr. Bob off of alcohol and fed him
a diet of sauerkraut, tomato juice and Karo Syrup.
had remembered that in three days, Dr. Bob was scheduled
to perform surgery. On the day of the surgery, Dr. Bob
had recovered sufficiently to go to work. In order to
insure the steadiness of Dr. Bob's hands during the operation
Bill gave him a bottle of beer. That was to be Dr. Bob's
last drink and the "official" Founding date
of Alcoholics Anonymous.
operation was a success and Dr. Bob did not return home
right after it. Both Bill and Anne were concerned to say
the least. They later found out, after Dr. Bob had returned,
that he was out making amends. Not drunk as they may have
surmised, but happy and sober. That date according to
the AA literature was June 10, 1935.
10, 1935 has been considered as AA's Founding Date for
many years. After all, it was the date Dr. Bob had his
last drink - or was it? Recently discovered evidence appears
to differ with the "official" literature.
Archives of the American Medical Association reportedly
show that their convention in Atlantic City, in the year
1935 did not start until June 10th. How could Dr. Bob
have gone to the convention, by train - check into a hotel
- attend the convention on Monday - check out on Tuesday
- be in a blackout for 24 hours - go through a three -day
detoxification - perform surgery on the day of his last
drink - June 10, 1935?
days had passed since Dr. Bob left for the convention
and returned to Akron. There was the three-day detoxification
process and then there was the day of the surgery. Approximately
nine days had passed from when he left and the date of
his last drink.
the records of the American Medical Association are in
error as to the date of their convention it is possible
that June 10, 1935 was the date of Dr. Bob's last drink.
If the records are in error, the 1935 convention would
have been the only one in the history of the American
Medical Association that was listed with the wrong date.
now appears that the date of Dr. Bob's last drink was
probably on, or about, June 17, 1935. Maybe AA should
keep the June 10th date as a symbolic Founding Date rather
than claim it as the actual one? Maybe the date should
be changed to reflect historical accuracy?
way, Dr. Bob never drank again until his death, November
16, 1950. Dr. Bob sponsored more than 5,000 AA members
and left the legacy of his life as an example. Dr. Bob
told those he sponsored that there were three things one
had to do to keep sober:
GOD, CLEAN HOUSE, HELP OTHERS.
will be revealed