AA History Lovers 2004 — moderators Nancy Olson and Glenn F. Chesnut — page
AA History Lovers
September 18, 1929 – March 25, 2005
Glenn F. Chesnut
June 28, 1939 –
++++Message 1575. . . . . . . . . . . . Significant January Dates in A.A.
From: NMOlson@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/1/2004 4:07:00 AM
Happy New Year to all 795 AA History Lovers. By popular demand, I am
resuming sending the monthly significant dates in A.A. history.
1946: The A.A. Grapevine increased the cost of a year's subscription to
1948: "Columbus Dispatch" reported first anniversary of Central Ohio A.A.
1948: First A.A. meeting was held in Japan, English speaking.
1988: West Virginia A.A. began first statewide toll-free telephone hotline.
1889: Bridget Della Mary Gavin (Sister Ignatia) was born in Ireland.
2003: Mid-Southern California Archives moved to new location in Riverside.
1939: First sale of Works Publishing Co. stock was recorded.
1941: Jack Alexander told Bill Wilson the Oxford Group would be in his
Saturday Evening Post article on A.A.
1939: Dr. Bob stated in a letter to Ruth Hock that A.A. had to get away from
the Oxford Group atmosphere.
1940: First A.A. group was founded in Detroit, Michigan.
1941: Bill and Lois Wilson drove to Bedford Hills, NY, to see Stepping
Stones and broke in through an unlocked window.
1941: Bill and Lois visited Bedford Hills again.
1941: Bill Wilson told Jack Alexander that Jack was "the toast of A.A. -- in
Coca Cola, of course."
2000: Stephen Poe, compiler of the Concordance to Alcoholics Anonymous,
1938: New York A.A. split from the Oxford Group.
1943: Press reported the first A.A. group in Pontiac, Michigan.
1988: Jack Norris, M.D., Chairman/Trustees of A.A. for 27 yrs. died.
2003: Dr. Earle Marsh, author of "Physician Heal Thyself," sober 49 years,
1941: A.A. Bulletin No. 2 reported St. Louis group had ten members.
1941: Bill Wilson asked Ruth Hock to get him "spook book," "The Unobstructed
1945: First A.A. meeting held in Springfield, Missouri.
1948: Polk Health Center Alcoholic Clinic for Negroes started operations
with 14 willing subjects. The Washington Black Group of A.A. cooperated with
1919: 18th amendment, "Prohibition," became law.
1940: First A.A. group met in Detroit, Mich.
1943: Canadian newspaper reported eight men met at "Little Denmark," a
Toronto restaurant, to discuss starting Canada's first A.A. group.
1999: Frank M., A.A. Archivist since 1983, died.
1954: Hank Parkhurst, author of "The Unbeliever" in the first edition of the
Big Book, died in Pennington, NJ.
1951: A.A. Grapevine published memorial issue on Dr. Bob.
1961: Bill W. sent an appreciation letter, which he considered long-overdue,
to Dr. Carl Jung for his contribution to A.A.
1918: Bill Wilson and Lois Burnham were married, days before he was sent to
Europe in WW I.
1971: Bill Wilson died in Miami, Florida, only weeks after sending a
postcard to Senator Harold Hughes of Iowa, saying he wanted to live long
enough to see Hughes become President.
1915: Dr. Bob Smith married Anne Ripley.
1971: New York Times published Bill's obituary on page 1.
1971: The Washington Post published an obituary of Bill Wilson written by
Donald Graham, son of the owner of the Washington Post.
1961: Dr. Carl Jung answers Bill's letter with "Spiritus Contra Spiritum."
Other significant things that happened in January (no specific date
1938: Jim Burwell, author of "The Vicious Cycle," a former atheist, gave
A.A. "God as we understand Him."
1940: First AA meeting not in a home meets at Kings School, Akron, Ohio.
1942: "Drunks are Square Pegs" was published.
1951: The A.A. Grapevine published a memorial issue on Dr. Bob.
1984: "Pass It On," the story of Bill W. and how the A.A. message reached
the world, was published.
++++Message 1576. . . . . . . . . . . . Wynn L. Freedom From Bondage
From: jeffrey4200 . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/1/2004 2:42:00 PM
She married and divorced four times before finding A.A. The first
time she married for financial security; her second husband was a
prominent bandleader and she sang with his band;
I wanted to know if anyone know the name of the band she sang with
or the bandleaders name. If you have any information please let me
++++Message 1577. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Question On When Districts
From: gratitude . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/1/2004 6:34:00 PM
Just so happens there's an article in BOX 459 that speaks about the
district and how it relates to the DCM (the DCMC in larger districts).
Please see quote below:
"The term 'district'' was mentioned during early General Service
Conferences, and both 'district'' and 'district committee member' were
used informally in the 1950s. The term 'district' was included in the
1955 draft of The Third Legacy Manual of World Service (now titled The
A.A. Service Manual) and 20 years later was formalized in a 1975
supplement to The Service Manual.
"In today's Service Manual a district is clearly defined as 'a
geographical unit containing the right number of groups -- right in
terms of the D.C.M.'s ability to keep in frequent touch with them, to
learn their problems, and to find ways to contribute to their growth.
In most areas a district includes six to 20 groups. In metropolitan
districts the number is generally 15 to 20, while in rural or suburban
districts it can be as small as five.' (To encourage maximum group
participation, some areas have incorporated linguistic districts. These
usually have a bilingual D.C.M. or liaison, and their boundaries may be
independent of the conventional geographic district boundaries.)"
Outgoing DCMC Distric 4 - Long Beach
of Purpose Workshop - March 21
Hi History Lovers
Can anyone help me pin
down the year that Districts started
and the General Service Structure position of District Committee Member
I would dearly like to
find out in what year the Third
Legacy Manual defined Districts and DCMs. My guess is the early 1960's
but that is only a guess.
The earliest reference to
'district'' I can find
in Conference advisory actions is a 1966 action for a glossary to be
the Service Manual. There is a 1956 advisory action that uses the term
'district'' but it seems more in the context of what would make up
an Area rather than a District.
Any help or citations
from written references would be most
++++Message 1578. . . . . . . . . . . . Grapevine Clip Sheet, Feb. ''48
From: NMOlson@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/2/2004 4:35:00 AM
Grapevine, Feb. '48
[Note: There was no clip sheet column for Dec. '47 or Jan. '48.]
The Clip Sheet
Excerpts from the Public Press
Boston, Mass., "Post": "Guernsey Island in the English Channel has an
effective way of handling topers. It still retains its ancient custom of
blacklisting alcoholics, in the hope of reforming them. A member of the
tippler's family applies to the court, which issues an official order that
no one is to sell him liquor thereafter, and to put teeth into the ruling
the court orders a police photo of the offender to be posted in every bar.
In England in the days of Oliver Cromwell drunkards were punished by being
forced to walk around in a barrel with their heads protruding from the top
and their arms dangling on the sides through holes. It has been suggested
that this custom may be the origin of the term 'pickled.'
"The ancient Romans used an 'aversion therapy' that is not unlike certain
modern methods in use. Chronic alcoholics had to drink wine in which live
eels were swimming, on the theory that this would create excessive disgust.
"The word teetotaler, by the way, stems from the French 'the-a-toute a
1'heure,' which means literally 'tea in a little while.'
"Alexander the Great would have lived longer if he had squeezed less grapes.
He was a prodigious drinker, one of the mightiest, in fact, of his era. But
he carried the crock to the spigot once too often. After two nights of
guzzling he drained the so-called Hercules cup, which was the equivalent of
six bottles of wine. He never awoke."
++++Message 1579. . . . . . . . . . . . Grapevine Clip Shee, March ''48
From: NMOlson@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/3/2004 6:04:00 AM
Grapevine, March '48
Clip Sheet - - Items of Interest from the Public Press
"Pittsburgh Post-Gazette": "Vicious Den of Pinochle Players Unmasked: VICE
RAIDERS CRASH A.A. PARTY -- Police Snoopers Smash into Roomful of
Ex-Drinkers Quietly Whooping It Up for Abstinence -- It was the members of a
police squad who wanted to be anonymous and not the Alcoholics, after an
incident Saturday night which left the four raiders red-faced and
sputtering. As you might or might not know, Alcoholics Anonymous is a group
of persons whose purpose is to rehabilitate tipplers. Saturday night is
usually the thirstiest night of the week for a drinker and, in an effort to
get him 'over the knuckle,' as they say, the A.A.s sponsor a little social
every Saturday eve for members and wives. This social consists of card games
such as bridge, pinochle, '500' and other amusements such as bingo. Everyone
pitches in for the sandwiches and coffee, and a good, dry time is had by
all. Such was the situation Saturday night on the second floor at 3701 Fifth
Avenue where the A.A.s were laughing it up to the tune of 'nine under the B'
and 'four no trump' when there came a knocking at the door. It was the kind
of bold, hard knock that settled silence over the 100 or so persons gathered
in the recreation room. An anonymous member opened the door, and a
broad-shouldered man shouldered his way into the room, flashed a badge, and
blustered: 'What's going on in here? We've had a complaint about this
place.' Three other policemany-looking men followed him and surveyed the
soiree with steely eyes. It was explained that this was a harmless
Alcoholics Anonymous social and they were welcome to join in the card games
if they didn't mind not playing for stakes. The four men clutched their
hats, muttered something about 'we must have made a mistake,' slowly backed
out of the door and tiptoed away. Some of the A.A. members claimed at least
two of the raiders were members of Lieutenant Lawrence Maloney's vice squad.
This, however, the lieutenant denied, declaring that all members of his
squad were with him on other business Saturday night."
Sydney (Australia) "Sun," January 1: "Sydney Women Alcoholics in New Group.
Inaugural meeting of a women's group of Alcoholics Anonymous, first of its
kind in Australia, will be held in Sydney on January 14. The meeting is open
to any woman with an alcoholic problem and no other visitors will be
permitted. ... This society of mutual aid is expanding rapidly in Australia.
Alcoholics Anonymous is nonsectarian and non-political. A.A. is so busy
applying its principles to alcoholic sufferers that it has no place for
arguments about creeds or politics."
Sydney "Sun." January 16: "Women Alcoholics Urge Special Clinic. 'Many women
have experienced mental hospital treatment when recognition of their malady
as a public health problem would have been more humane,' said a spokesman of
Alcoholics Anonymous Inter-Group today. 'We know alcoholism as a disease. In
most cases, proper place for treatment is in a public hospital or alcoholic
clinic. ... Because no hospital or clinic exists, many alcoholics are forced
into institutions and gaols where no treatment for their disease is given.'"
Santa Rosa (Calif.) "Press Democrat": "There was a contribution to Santa
Rosa's Memorial Hospital Fund last week that is, perhaps, one of the most
unusual to date. It was a $1,600 donation. There have been others larger,
others smaller, but none with a more dramatic story behind it. The
contribution is money that might have been wasted, and came from men whose
lives, too, might have been wasted. It came from the Santa Rosa Chapter of
Alcoholics Anonymous. It is the grateful contribution of former alcoholics
now devoting their efforts to aid other victims of alcoholism, including
some now successful businessmen for whom A.A. provided a turning point in
life. ... The substantial hospital contribution is too significant to pass
unnoticed, and calls for some recognition of the role A.A. has been playing
in rebuilding lives right here in our community, lives that faced ruin as a
result of the disease of alcoholism. The local group was established October
9, 1945, with six members. ... There is now a membership of 75, but over 100
have been benefited during the past two years. ... The need for
hospitalization and medical attention is critical in a great many cases.
Since alcoholism is recognized as a disease, the medical profession, the
psychiatrists, courts and the hospitals are cooperating with A.A. in every
way possible. But the A.A. here recognizes the need for an adequate hospital
in Santa Rosa, and is doing its share to get one -- doing it with money that
cured alcoholics might have wasted had it not been for Alcoholics
Elmira (N. Y.) "Advertiser": "It is a great privilege to attend a meeting of
this wonderful group which has found the way to bring peace and sobriety to
so many hundreds of sick and troubled folks. Its method is simple and
direct. It works for the proud and the humble, the rich and the poor --
works because an alcoholic of any estate is the suffering blood brother of
every other man or woman who has passed beyond the border into the land
where drinking is a thief that steals away family and friends and respect
and money and health and mind and finally life itself -- does all that and
more unless by some miracle he can find the way not to take the drink that
numbs and dooms him."
New York "Herald Tribune": "TOWN'S 80 TOPERS EXILED FROM BARS. Five Women in
Group Facing 90-Day Discipline -- Bedford, Pa. (UP) Drinks were shut off
today for five women and 75 men of "known intemperate habits" in this
mountain community of 3,500. The ban was put into effect through
resurrection of a nearly forgotten state law forbidding sale of liquor to
persons of such habits. Proprietors of each of the 11 bars in the town were
ordered to post in a prominent place lists containing the names of the 80
drinkers in the police department's 'doghouse.' The lists will be brought up
to date every 90 days. If any of the wayward drinkers shows improved habits
their names will be removed. Assistant Police Chief H. A. Clark said: 'We
just decided we'd put up with these people long enough. If we had to help
them home every night, it was a nuisance. If we brought them in and fined
them, we were taking bread out of their wives' and children's mouths. This
will work better.' "
Brewton (Ala.) Standard": "If there were any who might have gone to the
meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous which was held here recently in order to
scoff, we are quite sure that they remained to offer prayerful thanks for an
organization that is doing such a wonderful piece of work. Most of us are
inclined to look on a man or women who is a victim of the alcohol habit as
just another sot. But the A.A.s will soon convince you otherwise. While the
disease is incurable, it can be arrested through the own efforts of the
victim and with the help of his friends, so the A.A.s say. And they not only
say it, they demonstrate it by their own experience. One remarkable thing
about Alcoholics Anonymous is that it is not a crusading organization. It
solicits no members and does not impose itself on any alcoholic who does not
first request help. And therein, in our judgment, lies its greatest
strength. It does not presume to interfere with the personal rights, and
liberties of any person to consume as much alcohol as he chooses. But it
does offer to that person who seeks aid in his problem what seems to be the
greatest 'cure' for drinking that has ever been devised. The word 'cure' as
we have used it here is ours -- not that of the A.A.s. They make no claim
that their philosophy can cure alcoholism. ... The inspiring thing about the
organization is the spiritual rebirth that appears to take place in those
who adopt the philosophy which it teaches."
++++Message 1580. . . . . . . . . . . . Grapevine Clip Sheet, April ''48
From: NMOlson@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/4/2004 2:03:00 AM
Grapevine, April '48
THE CLIPSHEET -Excerpts from the Public Press
Alliance, Neb., "Times & Herald": "Worn and haggard police officers who
wonder what will happen next on Saturday nights will be very much interested
in a classification of drunks as outlined by a New Jersey police chief some
"Police have met most of the following engaging characters and if not, they
will be glad to be on the lookout for the types they haven't yet had the
displeasure to meet.
"Here are the different classifications of persons who have swilled too much
C2-H5-OH in one form or another:
"Alias Joe Louis
"1. The fighting drunk -- gets nasty after a few drinks and wants to fight
anyone he sees, male or female.
"2. The religious drunk -- heads for the nearest church and drops off to
sleep. (This species is comparatively rare in Alliance.)
"3. The leaning drunk -- is reluctant to move and wants to lean on the
nearest upright solid substance, whether it is the policeman, a fellow
pedestrian, lamp post or a plain wall.
"4. The crying drunk -- this obnoxious person carries a good part of the
community's alcohol in his system and a large part of the woes of the world
on his heaving shoulders.
"5. The singing drunk -- here's the person who after a few bottles or drinks
is convinced he can make Tibbett look and sound like a chump. Flats where he
"6. The suspicious drunk -- he's convinced that the police or his companions
or both, are trying to railroad him into some asylum or jail, where he
rightly should be, by the way.
"7. The wife-beating drunk -- this character is usually a small man mentally
and physically and would not engage in a fight with a 7-year-old boy without
the false courage of a bottle. When he drinks he wants to lambaste somebody,
usually his ever-suffering wife.
"8. The running drunk -- this guy is always in a hurry. He goes crabwise
down the street, usually in search of another shot.
"The Big Gesture
"9. The generous drunk -- this slaphappy person is tighter than Jack Benny
with a nickel until he drinks too much and then he makes a fool of himself
by going around waving fistfulls of bills at everybody. It's usually the
money to pay off an old telephone bill.
"10. The loving drunk -- he always wants to kiss every woman in sight except
his own wife.
"11. The talking drunk -- tells interminable stories, invariably about
himself. None of the yarns has any point or interest.
"12. The important drunk -- this is the person who wants to dominate
everybody around him and who is filled with yarns about all the big shots he
"This unsavory crew are all well known to most policemen. The average
citizen meets them once in a while. They make up 12 good arguments for
Alcoholics Anonymous. Because they aren't.
"VA Recommends A.A.
"Newsweek": Even the harassed doctors, long used to sobering up
lost-week-end revelers, had never seen anything like it. From Friday to
Monday, drunken veterans reeled into Veterans Administration hospitals
demanding the cure.
"Of the thousands who applied, about 10,000 veterans were treated for
alcoholism in 1947, as compared with 6,459 in 1946 and 3,529 in 1945.
"Although tests showed that almost none of the alcoholics had
service-connected disabilities or appeared to be suffering from alcoholism
because of service connections, alarmed relatives, energetic local
politicians, and veterans' organizations insisted that they be cared for in
the already overcrowded VA hospitals.
"Boozers: In exasperation, authorities finally made a nationwide survey
among the VA hospitals. Last week Dr. Harvey Tompkins, assistant chief of
the neuro-psychiatric division, gave Newsweek these facts:
"Two-thirds of the veteran cases are 'pure, uncomplicated alcoholism,' with
no evidence of mental illness. The others have accompanying mental or
emotional ailments ranging from manic-depressive psychoses to less serious
psychoneuroses. More than 10 per cent of all VA neuropsychiatric cases are
alcoholics. (Inexplicably, the Southeast and Southwest account for more than
half the alcoholic patients.)
"The Veterans Administration has no specific treatment for alcoholism. In
some instances it takes weeks, and in others months or years, to curb the
craving for drink. VA doctors have tried insulin injections, forced vomiting
to make the men "rum-sick," and group psychotherapy -- but with very little
"In some hospitals, Dr. Tompkins said, 'as few as 10 per cent of the
patients show themselves amenable to treatment at all.' The great majority
entering the hospital with uncomplicated alcoholism merely stay long enough
to sober up and then demand release.
"A.A. Aid: For the veteran who wants to recover, VA doctors recommend
Alcoholics Anonymous help as the best course. Nearly all VA institutions
have made a working arrangement with this group, providing space in the
hospitals for A.A. meetings and personal interviews with the patients. In
turn, many cured veterans become A.A. crusaders and work in the wards on new
"Night Club Now A.A.
Des Moines, Iowa, "Register": Babe's nightclub in downtown Des Moines, under
padlock as a liquor nuisance since Oct. 29, was taken over Wednesday by the
Des Moines chapter of Alcoholics Anonymous as a clubroom.
"District Judge Loy Ladd, who had ordered the place padlocked, required the
A.A. group to post a bond guaranteeing that no liquor will be brought on the
"'I am granting this application because I feel that this particular group
(Alcoholics Anonymous) is one of the best organizations for suppression of
intemperance in existence today,' Judge Ladd said.
"'In Des Moines they have proven themselves successful in curbing and curing
alcoholics,' he said.
"Sentenced to A.A."
Westport, Conn., "Herald": A sentence was imposed in Town Court this week by
Judge Leo Nevas that deserves more than local attention.
"A chronic alcoholic who is a solitary drinker was before the bench. Such
cases have been there before, leaving the judge and prosecutor worried
because the state has no hospital to which the habitual drunkard can be sent
for treatment. Although medicine and jurisprudence are today looking upon
these cases as sick people rather than as only inebriates, nothing official
has been done to cure them.
"The court cannot overlook the offenses when the drinkers become public
nuisances, which the case of this week definitely is. But fines do no good
and jail sentences too often aggravate the mental illness which makes a man
or woman a drunkard. What can the court do? Judge Nevas decided. He imposed
a jail sentence but suspended it on certain conditions. These conditions are
what make his decision important.
"The drunkard, he ordered, must once more become a member of Alcoholic
Anonymous. She must report to the Yale Clinic for treatment. She must keep
in close contact with her own physician. She must report to the probation
officer weekly. Should she fail to do these things she must go to jail even
though Judge Nevas knows well that a term there will do her no good unless
it should frighten her to do the things he has ordered.
"This sentence was imposed in the hope that the woman wants to help herself.
If she doesn't, none of the suggestions will help. Alcoholics Anonymous,
with its increasing record of aid to drinkers, can accomplish nothing
without the determined cooperation of the patient. It is unlikely that the
Yale Clinic can help those who refuse to help themselves.
"Judge Nevas, however, was willing to believe the woman's insistence that
she did not want to drink and would do anything to stop the habit. If she
really means that, the clinic will probably turn her back to society
"This is a little court but into it can come problems of great importance,
and this was one of them. Other courts might well emulate the example set by
Judge Nevas. Other courts, too, might well watch how this case turns out. It
should be of interest to everyone.
"And the case plus the decision emphasizes anew the need for a
state-operated clinic in Fairfield County set up properly for the treatment
of habitual drunkards. There seems to be no other way to help them.
Boston, Mass., "Boston University News": "Our culture is too tolerant of
drunkards of either sex," claims Dr. Herbert D. Lamson, Professor of
"Commenting on the proposed Massachusetts law to control the sale of
alcoholics to women 'barflies,' Dr. Lamson argues that 'the alcoholic
problem should be controlled for both sexes. A law which differentiates
cannot be a far-reaching measure nor can it touch the basic problem.
"'We must de-smartize the drink. We have been sold a bill of goods that it's
smart to consume liquor by persons who have profit motive at stake. Profits
in the industry are great,' continued the sociology expert. 'Alcoholism
plays a great role in family disintegration, and society must face its
"As an alternative program to laws, Prof. Lamson suggests preventive
methods. Alcoholics Anonymous is now in the first stages of the curative
method, but a preventive approach must be begun in schools with health and
alcoholic education, commencing in the grade school and varying at different
"'We must have institutions for alcoholics, and not throw them in jail. Jail
isn't helping them solve their problem,' says the doctor. 'Provide
recreational facilities, hobby centers, and athletic contests as outlets for
escape,' concludes Dr. Lamson, 'and it will do more than any patch-work laws
can possibly do.'"
++++Message 1581. . . . . . . . . . . . Grapevine, June ''44, Mail Call for
the Armed Forces
From: NMOlson@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/5/2004 4:33:00 AM
This new series comes to us courtesy of Tony C.
Grapevine, June '44
Mail Call for All A.A.'s in the Armed Forces
When the idea of bringing out a New York Metropolitan A. A. paper was
conceived, one of the first thoughts was that it might prove particularly
helpful to our members in the Service. If anyone doubts what such a paper
can mean to these men, here, we think, is the answer. Corporal Hugh B., now
in England, had no knowledge of
our project when he wrote one to us recently: "Your letter of ten days ago
was much appreciated and was one of the most newsy A.A. letters I have
received. Certainly was interesting to hear about the boys and gals all over
the world. Made me think that we should have a monthly publication. Think it
The records kept by our Central Office show approximately 300 A.A. members
now in Service, with some 40 coming from the New York area and belonging to
various Metropolitan Groups. These figures, due to constant changes, are
probably not complete. Of the New York crowd, the files indicate 26 are in
the Army, 9 in the
Navy, and 5 scattered between the Merchant Marine and other auxiliary
services. Eleven are known to be commissioned officers and the remainder are
serving in the ranks.
These men, and in a few cases women, are as a rule cut off rather abruptly
from any direct contacts with the Groups and are often subject to disturbing
new influences and unusual temptations to take that fatal first drink. They,
it would seem, face a harder battle in their recovery than most of us,
benefiting, as many of us do, from almost daily association with our fellow
members. Yet frequently they come through unscathed! We would like to give
you a few examples of their clear thinking along A. A. principles:
A Navy lieutenant (j.g), who joined A.A. over two years ago, wrote us
recently from a South Pacific Island: "Your mention of John N. [an A.A. of
even longer standing, now a lieutenant in the Army. Ed.] caused me to
investigate. He was evacuated for stomach trouble two days before I looked
him up and for four months he had been only half a mile from my camp. Such
is life!" [Both these men have had fine records of sobriety with A.A. and
have now seen considerable service at an advanced base. What an A.A. meeting
that would have been. Ed.]
In December, John N., the Army lieutenant, had written: "We have arrived at
a New Island and are set up in a coconut grove. Your letter was most
welcome. How often these days I think of the fine times I had in A.A. and
the wonderful people I have met. The whole thing means an awful lot to me
and I thank God for being allowed to be a part of it. My work is interesting
but hectic but I have really improved on the 'Easy Does It' department. I
know who to thank for that too. So Flushing has a separate group now. That
Again we quote our naval correspondent: "I should like to address an A.A.
gathering now, as I have a perspective that few get the opportunity to
enjoy, having been completely apart from the Group for nearly a year, and it
is easy to see the fundamentals closely, and determine the main factors -- I
think even more closely than
when one is steeped in A. A. work with daily contact. It is easier to see
how the program works into every day normal life too."
Once more, from Bob H., now an Army sergeant overseas, written last
Thanksgiving Day: "When I think of myself just eighteen months ago, I
realize, too, just how much I have to be thankful for. I've been more
fortunate than most -- maybe someday I'll feel I've earned my breaks. I
should hate to have anything happen to me now, before I have a chance to do
something, however small, worth-while with my life." [This man had worried
about not getting the spiritual side of the program. Ed.]
THE WORDS OF A DANGLING MAN
"'Off Again, On Again Finnegan' has a new lot of loyal rooters: the 'You're
In--You're Out' Selective Service inductees, aged twenty-six to
"For the past six months, on alternate Tuesdays, the Home Editions of the
paper you read had us in the Army or Navy 'within a month,' but by Seven
Star Final time, one of the two Washington authorities (the one who hadn't
had a press interview earlier in the day) was quoted as saying that men over
twenty-six would probably not be called 'until later in the year.' And so it
goes, and so we go -- crazy!
"But wait: Easy Does It. How thankful I've been for having that little
'punch-line' pounded into my daily living. To me, that's a first 'first
step.' It keeps me from jumping to conclusions, making snap judgments,
becoming excited or irritated over the way things 'seem' to be. It cautions
me to cut my pace, mentally, and make certain things are as they may seem.
It permits, above all, the serenity that comes, with reflection, as I repeat
the process of turning my will and my life over to the care of My Higher
Power. Does that sound simple? Or do you think I'm putting down one little
another here because that's what our program tells me I should do? Well,
I'll tell you, if twelve months ago I had been riding the Selective Service
Merry-go-round (without A.A.) two things would have happened: (1) My wife
would have been relieved at the prospect of my being in service, preferably
in Timbuktu (if that's at the other end of the world); and (2) I would have
been a rip-roaring, hell-bent-for-another-drink, psychoneurotic alcoholic.
Today, I'm sober and not in service. Tomorrow, I may be in service, I don't
know. But I do know that tomorrow I'll be sober, through the Grace of God
and Alcoholics Anonymous. David R."
++++Message 1582. . . . . . . . . . . . Grapevine, July ''44, Mail Call for All A.A.s in the Armed Forces
From: NMOlson@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/6/2004 3:13:00 AM
Grapevine, July '44
Mail Call for All A.A.s in the Armed Forces
In our first issue we told of the near reunion on a South Pacific Island of
two veteran A.A. members, one a Navy, the other an Army, lieutenant. Our
Navy friend now writes: "Have been having a few A.A. reunions out here on my
own. Finally ran into John N., who has returned to this isle after an
absence of several months. We see each other frequently and reminisce about
the real old days. In addition to Johnny, I had a reunion with the master of
a Liberty ship which came in here a short while ago -- he was a member of
the Frisco group and out on the ship we just left the South Pacific and were
right back in the old atmosphere. Both of us agreed that without the Group,
neither would be here. Such reunions as these do wonders for people who have
been more or less completely cut off, and living in a world apart. Give my
best to all the old gang, and tell them to start those letters coming!"
[That closing sentence should give us pause for thought. Ed.]
The South Pacific lads are, it seems, our most prolific correspondents, and
the following recent letter from Navy Lieutenant Bob W. to a fellow-member
of a New Jersey Group contains so much sound A.A. philosophy that we are
quoting it, in as far as space permits, verbatim:
"Dear Tom: Life has been very full and interesting for the past few months.
I am still living the way you expect me to and if I was ever tempted I am
sure the memory of those who mean so much to me would intervene and put a
halt to such ideas. There are plenty of boys who aren't doing themselves any
good out here but it is quite easy to get a 'don't give a damn' attitude
when you're so far from any civilization. There will be more than ever for
us to do when this is over, Tom.
"News about the new groups is very interesting. Personally I think it is a
healthy sign. Every great philosophy of living, Christianity, Mohammedanism,
or what have you, has grown because the original leader has multiplied
himself by creating other strong leaders who in turn did the same thing.
Whether you conceive of A.A. in the category of a religion or not, it
certainly is a plan of life for those of us who need it and it will spread
only as fast as capable leaders develop to organize in such a way that it
will be accessible to as many as possible. Some are more effective
with certain types than others but there are all types who need the program.
You say you prefer the 'bottle drunks' and the Salvation Army bums. Someone
else wants to deal with 'dignified drunks,' whatever they are. The need for
this thing is far beyond the question of personalities but we still have to
remember that we and our prospects are human beings, so it behooves us to
present our merchandise as attractively as possible. If you work more
effectively with one kind, which is quite likely, and someone else does
better with another, I say full steam ahead on that basis. The underlying
need and the answer to it will remain the same and we will all be happier
because we will be doing our best work. Some of the groups will probably die
off if the leadership isn't there, but they will merge with stronger groups.
"I didn't mean to get going on that subject but I am enthusiastic about the
development. It seemed to me at times that the South Orange meetings were
getting so large as to be somewhat awesome to new members who were naturally
a little shy. One
of the most important holds on the new man is making him feel that he has a
real part in the scheme.
"When you get a chance, please give me the late news. You can do a lot of
good for your SOUTH SEAS BRANCH, you know. One of the extra dividends of
A.A. is that you get to know such damned fine people. Sincerely, Bob." [We,
too, wonder who the "dignified drunks" are and think it would be restful
12th Step work to contact a few. Ed.]
ONCE AGAIN, EASY DOES IT
"Dear Bud: I feel like a rat not having answered your letter long ago; I'm
afraid I'm not a very good correspondent. At least I can now tell you where
I am -- Maui is the spot, the Hawaiian Islands the locale. This must be
almost anti-climactic for you to hear, as I'm sure by this time you have
pictured me anywhere but here -- probably down under, in a jungle surrounded
by Japs. However, I'm in no hurry; I'll probably get there soon enough.
Meanwhile this is a grand spot, and I feel very lucky indeed to be here.
This climate just suits me, the scenery, flowers, etc., are lovely, the
swimming superb, and recreational facilities are excellent. As far as I'm
concerned, these Islands are all they're cracked up to be and more. I've
seen Pearl Harbor, done Honolulu, swum at Waikiki, and lolled around the
Royal Hawaiian. Even so, I'll take Maui.
"I've had several letters from Bob D., and these, together with yours, have
kept me pretty well posted on doings in New York. Was sorry to learn that
the new Club House fell thru; but no doubt this will be only a question of
time. I was interested, too, to learn of the proposed -- shall I say 'Trade'
publication. Sounds intriguing, if it
can be worked out. Give my best to Ed C., Bob D., Chase, Bill C., John, and
all the rest, including the gals. Best regards, Bob H."
[On receipt of Bob's letter, we immediately got in touch with the Central
Office which will send him by Air Mail the address of the Honolulu group
(see story in this and previous issue). As a veteran A.A., "dry" for two
years, we believe he can he of invaluable assistance to that fledgling group
which is trying so hard to consolidate its beachhead, and that he, in turn,
will be pleasantly surprised to find A.A. has now reached the Hawaiian
First reactions to The Grapevine received from A.A.s in Service are
favorable. Accordingly, we urge all members to send in interesting data,
especially from members overseas, expressing ideas dealing with the Program,
methods of handling their special problems, or amusing incidents of Service
++++Message 1584. . . . . . . . . . . . Grapevine, Aug ''44, Mail Call for All A. A.s in the Armed Forces
From: NMOlson@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/7/2004 3:21:00 AM
Grapevine, Aug. '44
Mail Call for All A.A.s in the Armed Forces
In answer to our D-day letter, that old raconteur, Warrant Officer Norman
M., shot one back at us from the South Pacific in near record time. His
letter, dated June 15, enclosed as an exchange copy for The Grapevine an
amusing Picture Supplement to an
Air Force paper. Norman writes: "The Grapevine! There's a sardonic double
entendre masthead if I ever saw one. It, like the whole tone of the paper,
is perfectly A.A. in spirit. The utter lack of finality in editorializing as
well as its sense of humor about its mission is grand! And what a gem it is
for an A.A. to get overseas.
Alcoholics are such a peculiarly 'much-in-common' group that I sometimes
doubt how I'd behave in the Tokyo chapter of the A.A.! Comes that day, I
think we'd better start one. Talk of alibis! Whew! The very thought makes me
jittery and I can't get to 24th Street soon enough."
(The ideas expressed in the following letter are, according to the author,
"the result of much meditation during tropical nights on a South Pacific
Island." We hope other members in the Service, wherever stationed, will find
time to meditate and pass on to us as helpful an analysis of their
conclusions on the effectiveness of the
"As an officer in the Navy, completely apart from active touch with the
Group for 11 months, I have had considerable opportunity to reflect that
certain phases of the overall picture have been the most important in the
A.A. Program; a program which has proved to be the most powerful influence
in shaping my life. At a distance, not
clouded by too close a perspective resulting from very active participation
in Group matters, one has occasion to get a clearer view of the problem as a
whole. Two years ago I attended my first meeting. It impressed me
terrifically--so much so, in fact, that for the first year I 'worked' the
program every possible moment, i.e., meetings, calls, discussions, etc., as
well as trying to practice the principles. This, combined with the fact that
I reached the portals of A.A. fully 'ripe,' and anxious to do something
about my problem, has made it easy for me to remain 'dry' since that first
meeting. From my reflections on A.A., and what it has meant to me, three
salient factors have impressed themselves on my mind:
"1. The definite and final realization that I cannot take a drink and react
like a normal person. This had been pointed out by others before A.A., but
it took the understanding, and the 'decide for yourself' approach of A.A. to
convince me. Now I realize the fatality of believing that 'this time will be
different,' and know that, no matter how long sober, the same old pattern
will start with the first drink,
whenever taken. To my mind, no other method has been devised to convince the
alcoholic as conclusively of this fact as the plan of A.A., of hearing and
watching (on '12th step' work) other alcoholics and their experiences.
"2. The gradual stirring and awakening of the Spiritual side of my
personality: Before A.A. I had never given consideration to spiritual
thought, or the power to be transmitted and released through contact with
God, and the resultant influence in shaping one's life. Through the Program,
an interest in Spiritual thought evolved, I
know not exactly how, and this contact with a 'Higher Power' has resulted in
the banishment of fear, a peace of mind which I never expected to enjoy, and
a change in my whole method of living. In fact, it has reached into corners
of my life far apart from the problem which led me to A.A.
"3. The friendships which have resulted from being in the Group: These are
truly real friendships in every sense of the word. While I feel that I have
many friends outside of A.A., and also the ties that bind me and my brother
officers. I know that in time of crisis of any kind, none would stand by
with clearer understanding or a more sincere desire to help than each or all
of my many friends in the Group. For from the teaching of A.A. as a program
of living come richer friendships than any others.
"To my mind, any one of the above three factors would, of itself, make the
Program worthwhile. Combined, they have remolded my life, and provided it
with its greatest experience. Y.G."
FROM THE ATLANTIC FRONT
On the eve of D-day, another good A.A. member, an Army officer in a
responsible post, writing from England, gives his method of working out the
problem of lack of A.A. contacts: "We are pretty tense wondering if and when
the big show is going to start. I think often, with pleasure, of our small
meetings. In fact, I believe I have an even deeper appreciation of them and
the friendships made there than I did before. Being over here under present
circumstances gives you a pretty sharp perception of values. A.A. has been
working without a 'slip' for me. By reading and rereading the book and
holding regular thought sessions with myself, I have been able to compensate
in part for the lack of association and group therapy. Feel very confident
but not cocky."
ADDITIONAL OVERSEAS NOTES
From one of our two-man Group on a South Pacific Island (see the last
"G. and myself have a wonderful time together. To meet one of the boys in a
place like this is really out of the world. He has a jolt which is very
harassing and he takes it right in his stride. His attitude is a fine
example. ... I have met lots of people in my travels but give me the
understanding, tolerant group of people I left
at 24th Street. John"
What locality is your guess on this one? "Both typewriters and ink are
scarce in these parts. So are napkins, matches, good coffee, female legs
with proper curves (all the ladies look like they're muscle-bound), streets
that know where they're going, sunshine, and good plumbing."
From an Island in the South Pacific: "It's so damned hot here that even a
nonalcoholic would 'blow his top' on a drink. "
A London oddity: "A cabbie from Brooklyn who'd been here since the last
++++Message 1585. . . . . . . . . . . . Grapevine, Sept. ''44, Mail Call for All A.A.s in the Armed Forces
From: NMOlson@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/8/2004 3:20:00 AM
Grapevine, Sept. '44
Mail Call for All A.A.s in the Armed Forces
We received a letter from Bill X., who has been in Northern Ireland, which
starts innocently enough with a pat on the hack for the Editors and winds up
with the germ of a great idea for a new column for the paper:
"Congratulations to the staff. Two copies have come along now and Grapevine
has proved a 24th Street extension course for me [24th Street refers to the
New York clubhouse]. It will be particularly helpful for isolated
individuals sweating out the prologues to pub-crawling without the Group;
and for new Johnny-come-latelys out in
Jeeptown, Arizona, with the book only. Grapevine is a meeting by mail.
"That new group in Honolulu will be aided no little by the publication of
their tribulations in getting started because we are all rooting them on
from all over the world. The house organ idea, with the chit-chat, lore and
some party line thinking, establishes a newer sense of unity which projects
the group therapy phase a step further. It's terrific.
"Why not have a little 'Alibi Alley' or 'rationalization of the month'
column, printing the phoniest excuses submitted. For example, 'Well it was
like this, see, it was the night of the invasion, and here I am sitting back
hundreds of miles from the action, squarely behind a typewriter, a
chair-borne paragraph trooper. So, getting such lousy breaks, and being such
an eventful day, how could a little drink or
possibly two hurt anybody, and even if it did hurt a bit, how could it
compare to the thousands of casualties on the beachhead, and how could such
an insignificant taking of a drink or possibly two be noticed during such a
catastrophic, world-shaking event. And, oh yes! I have just been promoted to
sergeant, and that in itself calls
for a little good-humored drink of celebration or possibly two, in itself.'
"'That's right, you only get promoted to sergeant once. After showing up at
noon the next day when I was on duty, and with the shakes no less, I damn
near got busted. since that time I have taken some active steps including
coming clean on the whole
deal to my boss. And I have a date with one of the highest churchmen over
here to pass the story on, etc. Grapevine (the first issue) had come a few
days after the 'slip' and it was a real antidote to the fogs and fears. I
simply sat down and had a
meeting with the whole outfit. So you can understand my enthusiasm for
Permission, accompanied by the encouraging comment, "More strength and
success to you," was obtained to print this interesting official
communication: "The Army War College Library would appreciate greatly being
placed on your mailing list to receive
future copies, and also to receive a copy of each back number. This is a
subject which has a bearing upon the efficiency of military personnel." To
the Librarian, our best Grapevine bow.
LIEUTENANT RE-DISCOVERS BEAUTIES OF "EASY DOES IT"
One of the strongest motives behind the starting of The Grapevine -- in fact
the main thing that pushed the Editors from the talking to the acting stage
-- was the need so often expressed in letters from A.A.s in the Service for
more A.A. news. We felt that their deep desire for a feeling of contact with
A.A. might be fulfilled at least in
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