Aa history Lovers 2006 moderators Nancy Olson and Glenn F. Chesnut page

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++++Message 3022. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Hank P. and early AA

From: mertonmm3 . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/2/2006 7:28:00 AM

Hi Pete,
As you probably know Clarence and Hank were brothers in law. After the

stock redemption/royalty sequence Hank carried a lifelong resentment

because the agreement was that only Dr. Bob would receive any proceeds

from the book. Dr. Bob did not want the royalty. Bill insisted that he

take it to avoid a potential claim by Hank. (Legally this last

assertation by Bill does not make sense but could be convincing coming

from a person with most of law school completed to someone with no

legal training.) Shortly thereafter Bill asked to "borrow" Dr.


royalty if he didn't need it.

One of the two letters housed at GSO became public and made it onto

the interernet: See

As is often the case particularly with AA History, and perhaps much of

history, one document is available where the surrounding documents

which establish context are not. I was fortunate enough to have read

and transcribed all the documents at GSO and Stepping Stones from this

era for a yet unpublished manuscript I've written.
My opinion, (emphasis on the last word), is that the issue is not that

Bill received a royalty, but that Hank did not. (and that Hank has a

innocent living decendent that genuinely is in need presently and Bill

does not).

As to the "porcelain buisness" to which you inquire Hank began a

buisness manufacturing Toby Mugs in the late 40's for which Clarence

was a salesman. You may recall the large decorative beer mugs often

sold in airport gift shops awhile back that had a pirates head as the

vessel and a parrot for a handle. There were many other head/handle

caricatures that being one example. The letterhead lists "Henry

Parkhusrst, Sales Management, Manufacturing, 1270 Ocean Avenue, West

Haven, Conn." Interestingly there is no "Inc." or

"Co." after his name

or the pseudonym "Henry Giffen, Fine Porcelains" on the letterhead

indicating that he probably learned the legalities of such use after

the failure to register the uncorporated buisness names of Henry G.

Parkhurst, Inc., Honor Dealers, Stainox Inc., Sharing Inc. or, until

1940, Works Publishing Company. Note that "Giffen" is Hank's

middle name.
In addition to Henry Giffen, Fine Porcelains there are two other

entity/people listed under Sales Management. These are, Stanley

Ballard and Co, Hand Made Porcelains, and Lumen Kelsey, Sculptured

Porcelains. These reflect possible other sales reps besides Clarence

although the collection of correspondence indicates the former as more

of a resseller. I've been told by a reliable source that the actual

small manufacturing plant was near Trenton, New Jersey and was also

shown a photograph of it. Hank speaks of kilns in the correspondence.

The West Haven, Conn. address is a bit of an anomaly as Hank's return

address and cancelled envelopes to him invarialy indicate General Mail

Facility, West Orange, N.J. as his place of pickup.
I doubt anyone could argue that both Hank and Clarence had somewhat

abrasive personalities. This often makes their correspondence somewhat

humerous, (depending, of course, on the readers sense of humor).

Neither held much back. For example one letter begans:

"Listen Snyder; Don't ever write me another letter like this one. I


the second time you have shot off at me like this - AND THE LAST."
The passage you refer to states that Hank admits to drinking a few

beers for a few weeks and that he found it negative and quit. This is

the only written record I have seen of his drinking during the early

40's thru his death. Interviews years ago I had with his surviving

relatives indicated multiple year periods of abstinence followed by

binges. He was reportedly abstinent for the entire period of his third

marriage to a Houston Oil heiress whom was the "real love of his

life". She died of a lung disease and this is where he obtained the

money for the $40,000 chicken coup I discussed earlier.
With respect to the implication that HAnk's drinking somehow voided

his rights in the book, it is necessary to remember that nobody has

the right to illegally deprieve someone of their property because

someone is drinking. Of course the situation which Bill found himself

was that someone drinking would not be good PR for a book on how to

stop. However the agreement that neither would take a royalty

deprieves Hank's living relatives of a rightful inheritence. There is

a solution to this issue which would cost a fraction of one years

expeses paid for the present copyright litigation or alot less than

one year's royalty payout to others.

--- In AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com, wrote:


> In 1947 Hank Parkhurst wrote a letter to Clarence Snyder regarding

their "porcelain moulding" business complaining that Clarence was

"messed up" with AA and other things and was not working the




> What was the porcelain moulding business and why was Hank relying so

heavily on Clarence to make the sales? The letter suggests that

Clarence might be the only salesman.


> There is another letter to Clarence in 1946 where Hank admits to

drinking beer for a couple of weeks so I assume he was still doing

this in 1947.


> God Bless,


> Pete K.

++++Message 3023. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Memories of Ralph Pfau (Father

John Doe)

From: Tom Hickcox . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/3/2006 3:00:00 AM
At 10:08 12/24/2005 , Glenn Chessnut wrote:
>Ralph's niece told me that he died because a doctor gave him an

>airsickness shot with a needle that had been improperly steriziled (that

>was back in the days when doctor's reused hypodermic needles over and


>again). Apparently the person on whom the doctor had used the needle the

>previous time had hepatitis. They rushed Ralph to the hospital in

>Owensboro, Kentucky, where one of the doctors was an AA member, and the

>only physician whom Ralph trusted by now.

I am old enough to have been given many shots with reused needles. It is

my recollection that normal autoclaving killed almost all of the bacteria

and viruses but higher temperatures were needed to kill certain ones like

some forms of hepatitis and most autoclaves did not do this, so standard

practice of the day did not eliminate this risk. My physician in the

period of the late 50s/early 60s had an autoclave that was capable of

achieving conditions that completely sterilized the needles.
My point is that Fr. Pfau was not infected due to neglect per se. My

understanding is that needles used on hepatitis patients were either not

used again or sterilized in autoclaves capable of destroying the hepatitis

Tommy in Baton Rouge

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3024. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: James Houck and AA in Towson

From: Rob White . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/6/2006 9:07:00 AM

I have been reading these entires with some mild amusement.
Having lived in the Towson area for most of my life (age 54) and having been


grateful member of AA for over 25 years,

I know who this James H is but he is a non-entity to Baltimore or Towson AA.
He does not go to meetings and the old timers don't know him (except by the


story about him).

I learned more about him from the Time Magazine article last year then


I say God Bless him- but don't look to him for anything other than an


old fellow that has some interesting stories.

But he is no AA icon around here or anywhere else.
Rob W.
>>> glennccc@sbcglobal.net 1/3/2006 4:50 PM >>>

A report from JM to Dr. Ernest Kurtz (author of *Not-God: A History of

Alcoholics Anonymous*) on James Houck and the Thursday night AA meeting at

Towson United Methodist Church in Towson, Maryland, which was recently

passed on

to me.
James has been called upon frequently as an "expert witness" by

certain people

in AA, to talk about "how different" early AA was from modern AA.

In the 1930's James did not identify with the early AA people in the Oxford

Group. His name shows up on no early lists of people who were participating


their special meetings for alcoholics. So there is no sign that he had any

accurate inside information about how early AA actually worked with


All he would have known was what was being said by the Oxford Group members


were hostile to the special mission to alcoholics, and were trying to push


early AA people out of the Oxford Group. We already knew that.
What JM's report does is to raise some interesting questions about James


claims of being deeply involved with modern AA, and of being an expert


on the way modern AA operates. James says that he has "spoken at

numerous AA

meetings and conferences," which means that Wally P. and others have

taken him

around to give talks to AA groups. But speaking in front of a large group of

people does not give anyone any inside information about how a modern AA


actually works with alcoholics.

James H. also says however that "I attended AA meetings at the Towson

Methodist church," which is one of his few claims to know anything

about how a

real AA meeting would operate in the modern period.

JM, before visiting the Towson AA group, had first read the material in the

Back to Basics website about James Houck and Wally P., and the way Wally has

been using a carefully structured questioning of Houck to back up his own


about the history of early AA. See http://www.aabacktobasics.com/
In response to Wally's questioning in


ml [1] James Houck said:


"Much of the AA program came directly from the Oxford Group. The AA

program of

the 1940's was similar in many ways to the Oxford Group program of the


AA has changed over the years -- today's program is very different from the

"original." For the past 20 years, I have been speaking at AA


workshopps and conventions about the "original" program of

recovery. My Sobriety

date is 12/12/34. I am a recovered alcoholic. I got sober in the Oxford

Group as

did many other alcoholics including Bill W., Dr. Bob, Fitz M., Rowland


Victor Kitchen, Charles Clapp, Shep Cornell. I have worked with alcoholics


well as non-alcoholics for the past 70 years. I took my granddaughter to AA

meetings in the 1980's. By then AA had already changed. It wasn't anything


the original program. While I was able to drive, I attended AA meetings at


Towson Methodist church. There are 3-4 groups that meet there. Over the

years, I

have spoken at numerous AA meetings and conferences. Today, I carry the


primarily by telephone. I take people through the Steps, and I share


with them. From time to time, AA's visit me at the retirement home where I



When JM told Dr. Ernest Kurtz that he was visiting that part of Maryland, at

Ernie's suggestion he paid a visit to the AA group in Towson to see what

that AA

group was like, and to see how closely connected James H. actually was to

the AA

program there. Are the Towson AA people typical of modern AA people in the

United States? Was James H. actively involved in their activities, and did


know lots of ordinary everyday modern AA people there in Towson from going


regular meetings with them? Was James H.'s description of Towson AA

What JM found was fairly troublesome, in terms of the claims that James H.


been making. Although James H. claims that he has attended numerous AA


at the Towson United Methodist Church, and is very familiar with the way


AA meetings function, JM could not find anybody at the AA meeting there who


knew who James was.
He found the Towson AA group to be a smoothly functioning AA group which was

doing a good job, and getting (and keeping) an awful lot of people sober. It

was most definitely NOT some group of ignorant, ineffectual, and demoralized

people who knew nothing about AA's Historic Heritage, and who were achieving

only a 1% to 3% success rate. Since this was James H.'s only claim to know

anything about modern AA practice, it seems very difficult to see where he


been getting all of his negative attacks on modern AA.

There may be explanations which could partially rehabilitate James H.'s

testimony, but it seems to me that what JM and Dr. Kurtz have discovered


to be posted in the AAHistoryLovers. So I am simply going to give JM's


to Kurtz as he wrote it:

Hi, Glenn!
Friends in AA recently sent me biographical information on one James Houck,

authored by Wally Paton on the Back To Basics web site, asking my opinion


his role in the development of AA out of the Oxford Group. In the past, I


read a lot of the history, but I am NOT an authentic or accredited

historian! I

rely on my old friend, Ernie Kurtz, for any needed expertise. Thus, I passed


item along to Ernie, asking for comment, especially on the inconsistency


the claim that Houck has never wanted to be considered an historic figure in


yet his long standing involvement in AA in Towson, MD, Methodist Church is

I am semi-retired, and am now near the end of a three week stay in Bethesda,

MD, spending the Holiday Season with our three children, all of whom live in

this area. Ernie and I decided I should drive up to a meeting of what Wally

presented as Houck's "home AA group", to size the old guy up in

person, or at

least learn a bit more first hand. On receiving my report, Ernie feels you


find this information of interest.

I am reporting in as your cub reporter concerning my field trip to


Houck's home AA group." I had hoped to report this material in a maiden


onto the AAHistoryLover list. Glenn Chesnut has provided information, and I


joined, but I haven't figured the interface out just yet. I might send the

information I'm sending you now, but maybe next week, if you think anyone


on the list might be interested. It's possible this is all just


and I should just drop this whole matter, instead of sustaining the

I attended the Towson United Methodist Church AA meeting on Thursday,


27, 2005, 8:30 PM. There were 39 in attendance, of which 8 identified


as "home group members." Most of the rest were young newcomers, as

the meeting

is a newcomers meeting, rotating weekly through discussion of the first


Steps. There were 10 minutes of traditional starter material, e.g. How It


Promises, Traditions, announcements. A young woman had been invited in to

give a

20 minute lead. One fresh newcomer, one person with a year of sobriety, and


17 year member talked for 10 minutes each, and that was it.
I sought out members with 4, 17, 28, and 35 years of sobriety for

conversation. None had ever heard of James Houck, Wally Paton, or the Back


Basics movement.

They all told me I must be looking for "_____," age 47, former

member until he

recently went back to drinking after 20 years in the group. He has


come back to AA elsewhere now, but no one knew for sure.
They all postulated that perhaps [the elderly gentleman whom I was asking

about] might be _____'s father or uncle or other relative.

The 35 year man offered to put me into contact with a 41 year group veteran

who can no longer make it to the meeting, but who "might know something


all this." I declined, as I needed to get back to Bethesda, and,

frankly, I saw

little utility to pursuing this matter any more.

My own personal conclusion is that Wally's very low success rate numbers


for AA seem completely off base and at odds with my own extensive experience


traditional AA in Minnesota and Florida. AA is clearly alive and well, at


in my own environment ....

That a man named James Houck put the cork in the jug a day after Bill Wilson

did likewise, and that they both found spiritual guidance through the Oxford

Movement, is a minor curiosity.
I hope you can find something of interest in this report. Thank you, again,

for steering me toward the historical sites you pointed out for me. And I


you have had a pleasant and uplifting Christmas and New Year.

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
Yahoo! Groups Links
++++Message 3025. . . . . . . . . . . . Alcohol left in food after cooking

From: JOHN e REID . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/3/2006 10:59:00 PM

The Editorial Staff: The Grapevine, The Pathfinder, The Reviver, AA Around

Australia, NZ Mainstay, Bristol Fashion.

Some years ago the Grapevine published the results of a study on how much

alcohol is retained in food after cooking. As Russ J who was "AA Number

5" in

Australia used the say, "the half truths in AA".

Recently I heard some fairly newly sober saying to a gathering of fairly new

folk recently, "do not worry about how much alcohol is in the food, it

is ALL

cooked out!!!!"

For the benefit of us all, would you be so kind as to re-print the results


that previous study?

All the very best for 2006, Thanks and Kind Regards, John R
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3026. . . . . . . . . . . . Send individual comments directly to

the group member

From: Glenn Chesnut . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/7/2006 5:34:00 PM
To the members of the AAHistoryLovers:
The way the Pending Messages are displayed in the Yahoo Group system, there


no way I can forward a message to another member of the group simply by


a button.

I would have to cut the message out, and paste it into an email on my own

email system and then send that to the other group member.

So if you want to contact another group member in order to comment on that

person's posting, it would be greatly appreciated if you could look up the


person's email address (which is sometimes time consuming to look up, but is

what I would have to do) and send your message to that person directly.
I'm beginning to get overwhelmed with multitudes of messages sent in to the

Pending Messages board which are in fact messages to other individual group

members instead of messages for general posting. I know that in chat groups

there are a lot of back and forth messages like that, but please remember


one of the central guidelines of the AAHistoryLovers is that we do not want


function as a chat group.

Thanks much!
Glenn Chesnut (moderator)

South Bend, Indiana, USA

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3027. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: Data on 3 and 5 year survival


From: ArtSheehan . . . . . . . . . . . . 1/3/2006 11:21:00 AM
The chain of messages on the term "real alcoholic" seems to be

straying away from history. There are certain terms that are likely

best to avoid in this forum since they tend to lead far more to

endless un-retractable debate over semantics rather than clarity.

Among those tedious terms are "recovered vs recovering",

"spiritual vs

religious" and "real alcoholic vs problem drinker or vs


Now having said that, let's try to provide a historical perspective

that culminated in the 12and12 (1953) and originated in the Big Book

(1935-1939). It is the matter of AA laying out the welcome mat for

those prospects who were not low bottom drunks (as were the very early

In the 12and12 essay on Step One (page 23) it states:
"Alcoholics Anonymous," published when our membership was small,


with low-bottom cases only. Many less desperate alcoholics tried A.A.,

but did not succeed because they could not make the admission of

It is a tremendous satisfaction to record that in the following years

this changed. Alcoholics who still had their health, their families,

their jobs, and even two cars in the garage, began to recognize their

alcoholism. As this trend grew, they were joined by young people who

were scarcely more than potential alcoholics. They were spared that

last ten or fifteen years of literal hell the rest of us had gone

through. Since Step One requires an admission that our lives have

become unmanageable, how could people such as these take this Step?

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