| print this
Glimmer of Hope
article is written by nationally recognized historian and
oft-quoted Alcoholics Anonymous archivist Mitchell K.
his own success at staying sober, Bill W. had not been able
to get anyone else in New York sober. He carried the message,
but no one would join him on this new journey. Both Bill
and Lois were happy about this new life in sobriety, but
Bill was discouraged not being able to "cure"
the early spring of 1935, Bill was going to Akron, Ohio
on a business venture. With almost 5 months of newfound
sobriety he was ready to tackle the world. Upon his arrival
in Akron he checked into the Mayflower Hotel.
business venture failed. The proxy fight did not go as he
had expected he was alone in a strange city and he was feeling
down. As he paced the lobby of the Mayflower, the bar and
the familiar noises associated with bars was drawing him
towards that direction.
had a choice to make; use what little money he had left
to get drunk - or - make a phone call and once again, attempt
to help another drunk to get sober. He chose the phone call.
is the official rendition of the story as told in the literature.
There is some speculation however; that the events portrayed
in the literature are not what actually happened. There
are some who question whether or not the Rev. Samuel Shoemaker
asked Bill to "look up" Henrietta Seiberling or
some other Oxford Group member as a means of keeping in
contact with the Group in Akron.
had many close ties with the Oxford Group in New York and
Rev. Shoemaker might have hoped that a connection to the
Oxford Group in Akron would help in Bill's continued sobriety.
of the story relating to the phone calls at the Mayflower
has been labeled as false by one of the people who would
have known about what actually transpired there.
Seiberling, the person who arranged the meeting between
Bill and Dr. Bob wrote to an early AA member telling him
her side of the story. In that undated (ca. Early 1950's)
letter, Henrietta wrote the following about what Bill had
written in the RHS Memorial Grapevine issue.
accounts in the "Memoriam" Grapevine were made
up - Telephone conversations, etc - Everything phony
the official story was written to make a better sounding
history or not doesn't alter the fact that Bill did meet
with Dr. Bob and the seed that was to become Alcoholics
Anonymous was planted at Henrietta's Gatehouse home on the
a week after that historic meeting, Bill wrote a letter
to his wife Lois. It was written on Dr. Bob's letterhead
and described Bill's experiences with Dr. Bob. The letter
was written prior to Bill moving in to live with Dr. Bob
and his wife Anne while he was still staying at the Portage
Country Club where Henrietta had arranged for Bill go as
he could no longer afford to continue on at the Mayflower
this letter Bill told Lois that "I am writing this
in the office of one of my new friends, Dr. S____. He had
my trouble and is getting to be an ardent Grouper. I have
been to his house for meals, and the rest of his family
is as nice as he is." Bill went on to say that he had
"witnessed" at several meetings of the Oxford
Group at the home of T. Henry and Clarace Williams. He also
wrote that he and Dr. Bob were trying to "change a
Dr. McK___, once the most prominent surgeon in town,"
and, "His change, if accomplished, would be a most
powerful witness to the whole town as his case is so notorious."
Bill D., was the first successful case Bill and Dr. Bob
worked on, and credited with being, "AA #3," it
appears that there were probably several other alcoholics
prior to him to whom the message was carried.
will be revealed