Charlie S.

Authors of the Stories from the Book

Biography: "Riding the Rods." 

Charlie S., Akron, Ohio. 
(OM, p. 303 in 1st edition.)

Charlie probably came to A.A. in May of 1937.

According to his story, when he was fourteen years old, he ran away from the farm where he lived, befriended some hobos, and hoped on a train with two of them headed for Detroit. When they arrived one of them, Tom Casey, took Charlie under his wing, got them both a room with a kindly Irish landlady. Tom looked after Charlie for the next two years, taught him what not to do, made him start a bank account and keep it growing.

Charlie quickly found a job, but missed Tom. Soon he started to drink, lost jobs, his bank account dwindled, and disappeared entirely. He was broke and homeless. Soon he was hopping freights again. He found and lost one job after another.

When he tired of city life, he found a job on a farm. Soon he married a young schoolteacher, and needing more money, he moved to an industrial city in Ohio [Akron]. He made up his mind to leave liquor behind and get ahead. Soon he had a job, a nice home, and an understanding wife. They had a small circle of friends. He began to try social drinking. But soon he became the bootlegger's first morning customer.

When he finally decided he was just no good and his wife and children would be better off without him he hopped a train for Pittsburgh. After a while he took another back home. He went back to work, but continued to have trouble. He tried suicide several times. When he became dangerous, his wife had him placed in a hospital, where he was placed under restraint.

One day he fell into casual conversation with another patient—another alcoholic. They began to compare notes. This man told him of a group of about thirty men who had found a way to stay sober. He had tried and had stayed sober for a year. He planned to go back to it when he was released from the hospital.

Charlie asked his wife to try to find this group. She was skeptical, but the next day Charlie had a visit from Dr. Bob. When he was released from the hospital, his friend, who had been released a few days earlier, introduced him to several of the other members.

Two years later, when Charlie wrote his story, he said that the way had not been easy, but helping others had strengthened him and helped him to grow. He had obtained a measure of happiness and contentment he had never known before. He knew he would have difficulties every day of his life, but now there was a difference. Now he had a new and tried foundation for every new day.

Charlie may have been the first—but probably not the last—to be 12th stepped by a relapsed A.A. member.


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