Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age. Anonymous

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Название Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age
Автор произведения Anonymous
Жанр Здоровье
Издательство Здоровье
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isbn 9781940889948

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care and devotion, Dr. Strong served as secretary to our Board of Trustees from its beginning in 1938 until his own retirement in 1955.

      Dick Richardson was an old friend and confidant of the John D. Rockefellers, Senior and Junior. The result was that Mr. Rockefeller, Jr., became deeply interested in A.A. He saw that we had the small sum necessary to launch our service project, yet not enough to professionalize it, and he gave a dinner in 1940 to many of his friends so they might meet some of us and see A.A. for themselves. This dinner, at which Dr. Harry Emerson Fosdick and the neurologist Dr. Foster Kennedy talked, was a significant public recommendation of our fellowship at a time when we were few and unknown. Sponsoring such a dinner could have brought Mr. Rockefeller under much ridicule. He did it nevertheless, giving a very little of his fortune and much of himself.

      Mr. Richardson brought still other friends to our aid. There was Mr. Albert Scott, head of an engineering firm and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Riverside Church in New York, who presided over the famous meeting in late 1937 in Mr. Rockefeller’s office which was the first gathering of some of us alcoholics with our new friends. Here Mr. Scott asked the searching and historic question: “Won’t money spoil this thing?” Dr. Bob, Dr. Silkworth, and I attended that meeting, and there were present also two more friends of Mr. Richardson’s who were destined to exert great influence on our affairs.

      Early in the spring of 1938 our new friends helped us to organize the Alcoholic Foundation, and Mr. A. LeRoy Chipman tirelessly served for many years as its treasurer. In 1940 it seemed desirable for the Foundation to take over Works Publishing, Inc., the little company we had formed to handle the book, and two years later Mr. Chipman did most of the work in raising the $8,000 which was needed to pay off the shareholders and Mr. Charles B. Towns in full, thus making the Foundation the sole owner of the A.A. book and putting it in trust for our society for all time. Recently Mr. Chipman had to retire from the Board of Trustees because of illness and to his deep disappointment was unable to come to St. Louis. Nor could Dick Richardson be with us, for he had died some years before.

      Present at that early 1940 meeting was yet another of Mr. Richardson’s friends, Frank Amos, a newspaper and advertising executive and a Trustee of A.A., only lately retired. In 1938 Frank went out to Akron to meet Dr. Bob and to make a careful survey of what had transpired there. It was his glowing report of Dr. Bob and Akron’s Group Number One that had caught Mr. Rockefeller’s interest and had further encouraged the formation of the Foundation. This Foundation was to become the focal point of A.A.’s world services, which have been responsible for much of the unity and growth of our whole fellowship. Frank Amos was accessible at his office or home in New York at almost any time of day or night, and his counsel and faith were of immense help to us.

      As we New Yorkers continued to reminisce the small hours away at St. Louis, we thought of Ruth Hock,10 the devoted nonalcoholic girl who had taken reams of dictation and had done months of typing and retyping when the book Alcoholics Anonymous was in preparation. She often went without pay, taking the then seemingly worthless stock of Works Publishing instead. I recall with deep gratitude how often her wise advice and her good humor and patience helped to settle the endless squabbles about the book’s content. Many an old-timer at St. Louis also remembered with gratitude those warm letters Ruth had written to him when he was a loner struggling to stay sober out there in the grass roots.

      Ruth was our first National Secretary, and when she left in early 1942 Bobbie B. took her place. Bobbie for several years faced almost single-handed the huge aftermath of group problems that followed in the wake of Jack Alexander’s feature article on A.A. in the Saturday Evening Post. Writing thousands of letters to struggling individuals and wobbly new groups, she made all the difference during that time when it seemed very uncertain that A.A. could hang together at all.

      While I was still reminiscing about old times in New York, the names of more of my alcoholic friends loomed up. I remembered Henry P., my partner in Works Publishing and the book enterprise. Among all the prospects Dr. Silkworth had pointed out to me at Towns Hospital, Henry in 1935 was the first one to sober up. He had been a big-time executive and salesman, and he turned his really prodigious enthusiasm into the formation of the New York group. Many a Jerseyite can remember his impact over there, too. When in 1938 the Foundation found it could not raise money to publish the A.A. book, it was largely Henry’s insistence that caused us to set up Works Publishing, Inc., and while we were working on the book his endless hounding of the subscribers to Works Publishing kept enough money trickling in (barely enough!) to finish the job.

      About that time there appeared on the New York scene another character, Fitz M., one of the most lovable people that A.A. will ever know. Fitz was a minister’s son and deeply religious, an aspect of his nature which is revealed in his story entitled “Our Southern Friend” in the Big Book. Fitz fell at once into hot argument with Henry about the religious content of the coming volume. A newcomer named Jimmy B., who like Henry was an ex-salesman and former atheist, also got into the hassles. Fitz wanted a powerfully religious document; Henry and Jimmy would have none of it. They wanted a psychological book which would lure the reader in; when he finally arrived among us, there would then be enough time to tip him off about the spiritual character of our society. As we worked feverishly on this project Fitz made trip after trip to New York from his Maryland home to insist on raising the spiritual pitch of the A.A. book. Out of this debate came the spiritual form and substance of the document, notably the expression, “God as we understood Him” which proved to be a ten-strike. As umpire of these disputes, I was obliged to go pretty much down the middle, writing in spiritual rather than religious or entirely psychological terms.

      Fitz and Jimmy were equally ardent to carry the A.A. message. Jimmy started the Philadelphia group in 1940, while Fitz took the good news to Washington. The first meeting in Philadelphia was held in the home of George S. George was one of A.A.’s first loners. He had sobered up after reading the article “Alcoholics and God” written in 1939 by Morris Markey and published in the September issue of Liberty magazine by its then editor Fulton Oursler, who was to do much more for us later on. George’s case was a very severe one, even for those days of “last gaspers.” When the issue of Liberty first arrived, George was in bed drinking whiskey for his depression and taking laudanum for his colitis. The Markey piece hit George so hard that he went ex-grog and ex-laudanum instantly. He wrote to New York, and we gave his name to salesman Jimmy, who traveled that territory, and that’s how A.A. started in the City of Brotherly Love.

      Philadelphia A.A. soon attracted the attention of three noted Philadelphia physicians, Drs. A. Wiese Hammer, C. Dudley Saul, and John F. Stouffer, the latter of the Philadelphia General Hospital. The outcome of this interest was the best of hospital care for alcoholics and the opening of a clinic. And it was Dr. Hammer’s friendship with Mr. Curtis Bok, owner of the Saturday Evening Post, that led to the publication in 1941 of Jack Alexander’s article. These friends could hardly have done more for us.

      Fitz, living near Washington, D.C., had no such breaks. Near-failure dogged his efforts for years. But he finally planted seed there that bore fruit and before his death in 1943 he saw that seed flower. His sister Agnes rejoiced with him. She had loaned him and me $1,000 from her modest resources when, after the A.A. book fiasco in 1939, the future had looked the darkest. To her I send our everlasting thanks.

      The year 1939 saw the arrival among us of still another unforgettable character, a woman alcoholic known to so many of us as Marty. At Blythewood Sanitarium in Greenwich, Connecticut, she had been a patient of Dr. Harry Tiebout’s, and he had handed her a prepublication manuscript copy of the A.A. book. The first reading made her rebellious, but the second convinced her. Presently she came to a meeting held in our living room at 182 Clinton Street, and from there she returned to Blythewood carrying this classic message to a fellow patient in the sanitarium: “Grennie, we aren’t alone any more.”

      Marty pioneered a group in Greenwich so early in 1939 that some folks now think this one should carry the rating of A.A.’s Group Number Three. Backed by Dr. Harry and Mrs. Wylie, owner of Blythewood, the first meetings were held on the sanitarium’s grounds. Marty was one of the first women to try A.A., and she became in later years among the most active workers we have, as well as a pioneer in the field of education and rehabilitation for alcoholics. Today she holds the longest sobriety