guides, and talked at both AA and their own meetings. One family present had
Alateen members along. Its fifteen-year-old had painted the enormous,
blue-and-white "Fourth International Conference, Young People in
decorated the main AA meeting hall for the Milwaukee sessions.)
If any quality besides enthusiasm and love seemed a hallmark of the brand of
the Milwaukee get together, it was seriousness. Healthy, honest
and open self-inventory and wide varieties of opinion, were evident
A thirty-seven-year-old, sober six years, summed up the value of young
groups this way: "We show younger alcoholics that they are not
they are young. We show others that you can be young, and alcoholic, yet
sober and happy in AA. Booze doesn't respect youth any more than it does
The Milwaukee Conference helped prove those facts in a big way and must have
the message to many other young alcoholics, or their friends. Both of
daily newspapers ran many stories about "Young People in AA."
Local ministers and hotel officials also helped, as did many older AA
Chicago-Milwaukee area. A Milwaukee clubhouse cooperated and so did the
the Milwaukee Central Office. Both Illinois delegates to the Eleventh
Conference supported the youth conference with their presence.
Of the thirty-nine AA speakers on the program, only three talked
young people's groups, or the Young People's Conference idea. Others told
stories, as AAs do everywhere, or addressed themselves to the three theme
the Conference: Gratitude, Obedience and Devotion.
But do the supporters of these Canadian-American conferences of young people
really advocate the formation of more groups designated especially for young
As might be expected among any collection of good AAs, opinions differ, and
seems to have a valid foundation in its holder's own individual experience.
A pamphlet distributed at the Milwaukee sessions is entitled "Facts,
of Young People's Groups in AA in the United States and Canada." It
"...there is a great need for at least one young people's group in
every city so
young coming into AA can get together once a week and discuss their problems
other young people of their own age."
Some young members, as we have seen, claim that such groups made it possible
them to receive and maintain a sobriety they found impossible in other
of them insist, though, that it is necessary for any young AA to attend
meetings in addition to those for young people.
Other speakers in Milwaukee denied any intention to encourage the formation
special groups. "We just want to encourage the acceptance of young
people in any
groups. We do not favor any kind of AA segregation, by age or anything else.
not seek to divide AA, or set up any separate organization. We just want to
extra bond of fellowship to the cement of AA."
Three young members in a New England state -- who were not at the
Convention -- say they have found no need for special young people's
One twenty-three-year-old mother of two came to AA when she was eighteen.
window-shop the fancy stores on Fifth Avenue, in New York, dead drunk,
sloppy blue jeans and a filthy sweat shirt with university letters on it, so
would think I was a college kid! AA is not for kids; it forces us to mature
didn't want to grow up. So I slipped around for two years before I really
It happened in a regular group."
Her husband was in trouble because of drinking at fifteen, swore off at
because of "a car-theft charge." Shaking his head wonderingly, he
was too young to be an alcoholic!" He sobered up in a group full of
His buddy's first drinks were morning ones. "I reached under the bed
before I got up, in a summer work camp," he said. "I was fifteen
years old." Ten
years later he came to AA and "slipped around at first. I didn't see
any room in
outfit for a young man to 'get ahead' -- that is, get to be group
at that now. At the age of thirty he was chosen by the name-in the-hat
prescribed in "The Third Legacy Manual" as one of his state's two
Eleventh General Service Conference in New York.
Do the Young People in AA conferences divert energy that could be better
contributions to AA as a whole? Maybe so.
None of the young members on the program in Milwaukee spoke of service to AA
General Service Representatives, local Committeemen, or G.S. Conference
(However, the Milwaukee Central Office Secretary says local youngsters are
supporters.) There were no Grapevine Representatives or contributors among
Little was said of institutional work and nothing about correspondence with
lack of information about AA as a whole and its Third Legacy seemed on a par
what I've found in almost any other AA gathering not specifically devoted to
larger, more demanding aspects of worldwide AA service.
There was at the Milwaukee gathering, though, an unusually intense awareness
Traditions and the need for Public Information activities by AA members.
reporters were especially well treated. Nonalcoholic guests included the
director of the Chicago Alcoholic Treatment Center, a prison warden, and a
school principal. A rehabilitation counselor of Chicago's police department
present by invitation.
On the value of special young people's groups, here is what one central
secretary from a large city said: "These young people's groups are the
AA in our area. They are actually open to members of all ages but the
them are held by those under thirty-five. It's from these young people that
most of the best workers who keep our Central Office functioning. They're
can count on most to take on Twelfth Step jobs, institutional work and
One of the older "advisors" of the Milwaukee Conference said:
"We noticed in my
regular group that young people didn't stick with us, and we had a meeting
it one night. We wondered if maybe wasn't our own fault. That's why we
establish a young people's group and now do all we can to help these
see, it's great for us!"
The Milwaukee Conference had three such advisors ("We spoke only when
grinned one of them), a practice established at the second youth conference,
Chicago in 1959, when the youthful sponsors of the get-together found
some pretty tough problems to lick.
Over objections and warnings by some of those present in Milwaukee, a
"Advisory Council" was formed there to help perpetuate the youth
accumulate a body of guiding experience.
Two officers from each of the first four conferences make up the Advisory
They hope to establish a permanent fund to insure the financial solvency of
conferences (incidentally, all who went to Milwaukee, even the speakers,
own way); set up their own newsletter and public information activities, and
permanent address for the exchange of information about young people in AA.
not a movement, or a breaking away from AA," one conference leader kept
"Our primary purpose is to help carry the message to younger
Perhaps these young people have a genuine, valid need for a new AA service
line with our Ninth Tradition: "... we may create service boards or
directly responsible to those they serve." Perhaps not.
The member I know who has been sober longest seems quite unperturbed by such
developments as the young people's conferences. He says, "Don't forget,
self-corrective factor in AA. These special groups either function in the
of AA, or they fold up. don't know what we have to be afraid of, as long as
ourselves truly in God's hands. We ought to do everything we can to
to help them communicate with alcoholics they can reach and we can't. They
our censure. We owe them our love."
I felt quite at home among these younger members. I was impressed by the
their sobriety, their dedication to AA principles and work, their
generally to add to AA, never to detract from it or divide it. They taught
and I'll be sentimentally grateful for a long time.
One thing is certain: young people, thank God, are coming to AA in
numbers. They hold the promise and the power of our future leadership, and
members must help them to utilize their youth, vitality and great potential.
B.L., New York City
++++Message 3164. . . . . . . . . . . . Bill Wilson and Sister Ignatia -
From: Steve Leeds . . . . . . . . . . . . 2/13/2006 12:04:00 PM
I have a cassette tape that is marked Sister Ignatia and Bill Wilson -
Longbeach Convention. The recording is old and it's obviously Bill but
I am looking for confermation that the womens voice is that of Sister
Ignatia. Could anyone confirm that she did speak with Bill at that
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3165. . . . . . . . . . . . Bill D.
From: Ernest Kurtz . . . . . . . . . . . . 2/13/2006 7:39:00 AM
Mel and interested others,
Back when I was doing research at GSO in 1976, Nell Wing for sure and, I
think, trustee George G. told me that Bill D's story was not in the
first edition because he wanted to be paid for it.
At best third-hand hearsay to you, but . . . .
++++Message 3166. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: God as we understand Him