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

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++++Message 3303. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: Are there recordings of Lois

Wilson speaking?

From: Phillip Waters . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/2/2006 8:52:00 PM
I have several talks by Lois in MP3 format.
Please feel free to contact me off list.
Phillip Waters


My e-mail address is:

(muddy at bham.rr.com)
++++Message 3304. . . . . . . . . . . . Wombley''s Clapboard Factory?

From: Joe Adams . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/3/2006 12:54:00 AM

Can ANYONE give me some background of the big

explosion of Wombley's Clapboard Factory?

It's April and my home group - and many of the groups

around here - will be studying Tradition 4 again.

Last year I went to six meetings in a row that were all

the same and no one has any idea of the significance

of the reference.
Not that it is a major point of recovery, but it IS in

the books and we DO get that question every single

Anybody? (and smile, it's not all that grim)


The "day the boiler burst in Wombley's

Clapboard Factory" is referred to in

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions pp. 147-149.
(This is also where we find Rule No. 62,

"Don't take yourself too damn seriously.")

We have a couple of past messages which talked

about this, which I give immediately below

(Messages 2324 and 1610). Does anyone in the

AAHistoryLovers have any additional information?

Message 2324 from "Mark Morse"

(markm at eauclaire.lib.wi.us)

Wombley's clapboard factory
Regarding the "explosion in Wombley's Clapboard

Factory," there was an Edgar Wombley, Chemist,

in Chittenden County, Vermont, before the turn of

the century. The Mad River Valley, which housed

such early clapboard mills as that of the Ward

family first in Duxbury, then in Moretwown, ran

through Chittenden county.


Message 1610 from Jim Blair

(jblair at videotron.ca)

I had a discussion with Ozzie Lepper who runs

the Wilson House in East Dorset and he claims

that the foundations of the clapboard factory

can still be seen.



The full story, pp. 147-149 from the chapter

in the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions on the

Fourth Tradition ("Each group should be autonomous

except in matters affecting other groups or A.A.

as a whole"). That section says:
Every group had the right to be wrong.
When A.A. was still young, lots of eager groups

were forming. In a town we'll call Middleton, a

real crackerjack had started up. The townspeople

were as hot as firecrackers about it. Stargazing,

the elders dreamed of innovations. They figured

the town needed a great big alcoholic center, a

kind of pilot plant A.A. groups could duplicate

everywhere. Beginning on the ground floor there

would be a club; in the second story they would

sober up drunks and hand them currency for the back

debts; the third deck would house and educational

project - quite controversial, of course. In

imagination the gleaming center was to go up

several stories more, but three would do for a

start. This would all take a lot of money - other

people's money. Believe it or not, wealthy

townsfolk bought the idea.
There were, though, a few conservative dissenters

among the alcoholics. They wrote the Foundation*,

A.A.'s headquarters in New York, wanting to know

about this sort of streamlining. They understood

that the elders, just to nail things down good,

were about to apply to the Foundation for a charter.

These few were disturbed and skeptical.
[*In 1954, the name of the Alcoholic Foundation, Inc.,

was changed to the General Service Board of Alcoholics

Anonymous, Inc., and the Foundation office is now

the General Service Office.]

Of course, there was a promoter in the deal - a

super-promoter. By his eloquence he allayed all

fears, despite advice from the Foundation that it

could issue no charter, and that ventures which mixed

an A.A. group with medication and education had come

to sticky ends elsewhere. To make things safer,

the promoter organized three corporations and became

president of them all. Freshly painted, the new

center shone. The warmth of it all spread through

the town. Soon things began to hum. to insure

foolproof, continuous operation, sixty-one rules

and regulations were adopted.

But alas, this bright scene was not long in darkening.

Confusion replaced serenity. It was found that

some drunks yearned for education, but doubted if

they were alcoholics. The personality defects of

others could be cured maybe with a loan. Some were

club-minded, but it was just a question of taking

care of the lonely heart. Sometimes the swarming

applicants would go for all three floors. Some would

start at the top and come through to the bottom,

becoming club members; others started in the club,

pitched a binge, were hospitalized, then graduated

to education on the third floor. It was a beehive

of activity, all right, but unlike a beehive,

it was confusion compounded. An A.A. group,

as such, simply couldn't handle this sort of project.

All too late that was discovered. Then came

the inevitable explosion - something like that day

the boiler burst in Wombley's Clapboard Factory.

A chill chokedamp of fear and frustration fell

over the group.

When that lifted, a wonderful thing had happened.

The head promoter wrote the Foundation office.

He said he wished he'd paid attention to A.A.

experience. Then he did something else that was

to become an A.A. classic. It all went on a little

card about golf-score size. The cover read:

"Middleton Group #1. Rule #62." Once the card was

unfolded, a single pungent sentence leaped to the

eye: "Don't take yourself too damn seriously."
Thus it was that under Tradition Four an A.A.

group had exercised its right to be wrong.

++++Message 3305. . . . . . . . . . . . V. C. Kitchen and the Oxford Group

From: Glenn Chesnut . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/7/2006 5:12:00 PM

I have been doing research on one of the important

Oxford Group books, V. C. Kitchen's "I Was a Pagan,"

for a book which I am writing.
Other than what Kitchen says about himself in

his book, I have so far been able to find out

relatively little about his life. Some of it is

a bit frustrating. For example, although I have

been able to discover his date of birth (1891),

his date of death is unaccountably absent from

the normal librarians' reference sources.
Using Google to search the internet has shown

that Dick B. and myself are the only two people

who seem to have done much research on V. C.

Kitchen, unless I am possibly missing something

by inadvertence. The standard library reference

sources at the Indiana University library (like

the "Dictionary of National Biography" and so on)

make no mention of Kitchen anywhere.

What I have done below is to give all of the

information which I have in fact been able to

find, written up in the form in which I plan to

use it in the book. If any members of the

AAHistoryLovers can provide me with any

additional information about V. C. Kitchen's

life, I would greatly appreciate it.
Glenn Chesnut

South Bend, Indiana

In 1934, Victor Constant Kitchen published a

book called "I Was a Pagan," [1] describing his

discovery of the Oxford Group and the way it

had changed his life. This is a short but very

useful work for understanding the Oxford Group

movement and the origins of many of the practices

found in Alcoholics Anonymous. One nevertheless

has to actually read Kitchen's little book.

Attempting to summarize the connections between

the Oxford Group and A.A. by giving short lists

of tenets and principles does not do adequate

justice to the linkage. Anyone however who has

a first hand acquaintance with A.A., who then

reads through "I Was a Pagan," will find page

after page where it sounds in uncanny fashion

almost like a description of Alcoholics Anonymous

in operation written by a long-time A.A. member.

The Oxford Group was not the same as A.A., but

we can see the connection between the two

movements in the style and the feeling, just

as much as in some of the ideas which A.A.

borrowed from the parent group.

V. C. Kitchen was a New York advertising man,

with an office at 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue.

He had a great interest in the Calvary Rescue

Mission for down-and-outers at 246 East 23rd Street

near Second Avenue, an operation which was

supported by Calvary Episcopal Church and run

by Oxford Group members.
Calvary Episcopal Church itself was located

several blocks away on Fourth Avenue (now Park

Avenue South) at 21st Street. The rector,

Father Samuel Shoemaker, had constructed an

eight-story parish house called Calvary House

next door to the church in 1928. Shoemaker was

a devoted follower of Frank Buchman, the founder

of the Oxford Group. Under Shoemaker's leadership,

Calvary House became the American headquarters

of the movement. Kitchen, with his writing skills,

wrote articles for the Rev. Shoemaker's publication,

the "Calvary Evangel." [2]

In November 1934, Ebby Thacher came to visit

Bill Wilson in his kitchen in the second floor

apartment at 182 Clinton Street in Brooklyn, [3]

and told him about the Oxford Group and its

teachings. As a result Bill visited Calvary

Rescue Mission, began learning more about the

Oxford Group, and eventually (after his vision

of the divine light in Towns Hospital) began

attending the Oxford Group meetings at Calvary

House, where he got to know Father Shoemaker

himself. [4]
What makes Kitchen's book so important for

A.A. history, is that the eye-witness account

which he gives of the Oxford Group at work

describes the kind of practices which existed

in the New York city area at the exact time that

Bill Wilson first came into contact with the

movement. He and Bill W. were both members of

the same Oxford Group businessman's group in

New York City during the period around 1935-1936,

and became good friends. [5] The two of them were

close to the same age, so they could relate to

one another easily: in 1934 -- which was the year

that Ebby visited Bill in his apartment and told

him about the Oxford Group, and the year that

Kitchen's book "I Was a Pagan" was published --

Bill turned 39 years old and Kitchen was 43. [6]

There was also a connection between Kitchen

and Dr. Bob, although it was indirect. In 1933,

wealthy rubber baron Harvey Firestone, Sr.

(president of the Firestone Rubber and Tire

Company) brought sixty Oxford Group members to

Akron, Ohio, paying all their expenses, so that

they could get a group started in that city.

Kitchen was one of the members of that team, [7]

which meant that he was one of the founders of

the Oxford Group fellowship in that city. Dr. Bob's

wife Anne was the one who persuaded the doctor

to start attending these new Oxford Group meetings

early in 1933, shortly after they were begun.

Now it should be noted that Dr. Bob was not able

to get sober just by joining the Oxford Group,

but it created the link which allowed him to meet

Bill W. two years later, in May, 1935. It also

gave him enough knowledge of Oxford Group

principles to allow him and Bill W. to start

talking together productively from the very

start, and creating the Alcoholics Anonymous

movement by modifying and adapting those Oxford

Group principles. [8]
So Kitchen had connections of one sort or another

with both of the founders of A.A., with Bill W.

directly, but indirectly with Dr. Bob too. This

is part of what makes Kitchen's book so important

for understanding early A.A.
[1] Victor Constant Kitchen, "I Was a Pagan"

(New York: Harper and Brothers, 1934). There is an

edition available on the internet at www.stepstudy.org

www dot stepstudy dot org).

[2] From Dick B. (Kihei, Hawaii), based on his

researches. Dick is the author of a number of books

on A.A. and the Oxford Group, including Dick B.,

"The Akron Genesis of Alcoholics Anonymous" (Seattle,

Washington: Glen Abbey Books, 1992) and Dick B.,

"The Oxford Group and Alcoholics Anonymous" (Seattle,

Washington: Glen Abbey Books, 1992).
[3] The Big Book = "Alcoholics Anonymous," 4th

edit. (New York: Alcoholics Anonymous World

Services, 2001 [1st edit. 1939]), pp. 8-13.

"Pass It On: The Story of Bill Wilson and How

the A.A. Message Reached the World" (New York:

Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, 1984),

pp. 87, 98, 111-115.
[4] "Pass It On" pp. 116-119 and 127.
[5] From Dick B.'s researches.
[6] Kitchen was born in 1891, according to

the standard bibliographies used by American

university libraries. Bill Wilson was born on

November 26, 1895.

[7] Dick B. (Kihei, Hawaii) was told this by

Oxford Group members from the 1930's when he

was interviewing them.
[8] "Pass It On" pp. 53-60.
++++Message 3306. . . . . . . . . . . . Question about Clyde Bertram


From: Jean Cottel . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/10/2006 12:04:00 AM
I have come across a booklet called "Stand Tall

Again," written under the pen name of "Freeman."

It is signed in the front "Clyde Bertram, 'Freeman'".

No date on it, it is a story of getting sober in AA.

Jean Cottel


(jcottel at earthlink.net)
++++Message 3307. . . . . . . . . . . . Bill W.''s last trip to Towns


From: gbaa487 . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/10/2006 10:45:00 AM
I understand that Bill W.'s first three trips to

Towns Hospital were paid for by his brother-in-law,

Dr. Strong.
Who paid for his fourth trip, in December 1934?


++++Message 3308. . . . . . . . . . . . Use of Dash in First Step

From: Tom Hickcox . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/10/2006 10:57:00 AM

When discussing the First Step in meetings, a

local pedant insists that Bill W. put the dash,

or, as he says, line separator, there on purpose

to signify that both phrases of the Step have

equal importance.
My problem with this is several-fold. Bill was

not that accomplished a writer, at least at this

point in his life, and if what he tells us of the

origin of the steps in "Twelve Steps in Thirty

Minutes" is true, I doubt if the intricacies of

English grammar and writing were in the forefront

of his mind when these were written down. His

formal education in English would have been what

he had in secondary school and perhaps the semester

of college he spent at Norwich. I am a product

of a New England prep school and they weren't

teaching those distinctions fifty years ago.

I also scanned about fifty contiguous pages of the

Big Book counting dashes/hyphens/line separators

and semi-colons. I chose semi-colons as one could

pick them out without having to read the text.

There was an equal amount of each, roughly thirty-five,

or one each on every page-and-a-half. This indicates

[not proves-indicates] that these dashes, etc., were

put in randomly along with semi-colons and perhaps

some other devices to avoid using the same thing over

and over. Bill has said that he alternated words

in several instances towards this same end.
Another problem I have with the pedant's assertion

is that I see no indication from the founders and

those who helped write the Big Book that it was

intended to be studied in this detail. I live in

the Bible Belt and there is among some people a mind

set that every word sprang off Bill W's pencil at the

direct order of God Himself., but that's a different

I am discussing history here, not recovery. I am not

arguing that the two parts of the First Step are not

of equal importance but rather that the argument about

the dash/line separator is invalid.
I would also note that over the years I have not

heard this assertion from anyone else nor have I read

it in any A.A. book or on any of the many A.A. related

sites out there on the internet. I suspect it came

from a circuit speaker. I would just like some feedback

from those better versed than I as to the substance

of the assertion.
Tommy in Baton Rouge
++++Message 3309. . . . . . . . . . . . silkworth''s letter

From: trixiebellaa . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/2/2006 1:10:00 PM

Hi history lovers, could you please tell us why

this part of Dr. Silkworth's second letter was in

the original manuscript of the Big Book, but taken

out when the book went to the printers.

"Then there are those who are never properly adjusted

to life, who are the so-called neurotics. The prognosis

of this type is unfavorable."
Thank you for your help in this mattter.
++++Message 3310. . . . . . . . . . . . Joe and Charlie tapes online

From: K D Dew . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/7/2006 5:23:00 AM

A while back I stumbled upon a link that had a

series of 9 real audio recordings of Joe and Charlie

and the big book study along with a word document

transcription of that session.

Unfortunately, I had a hard drive crash and I'm unable

to locate the backup that I made.

If anyone knows the link, please send it to me at

my e-mail address:


(Kddew_md at bardstowncable.net)

++++Message 3311. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Are there recordings of Lois

Wilson speaking?

From: Mike Aycock . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/6/2006 1:19:00 AM
I have a boxed set which includes Bill W. (AA), Dr. Bob

(AA), and Lois W. (Al-anon). On this CD however Lois

just has a few words to say. I do know that there are a

few recordings by her. If you need more info on this you

can probably check with James M. at:
(JamesTapes at aol.com).
++++Message 3312. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: Joe and Charlie tapes online

From: Joe Nugent . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/10/2006 1:59:00 PM

From: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

[mailto:AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of K D Dew

Sent: Friday, April 07, 2006 5:24 AM

To: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

Subject: [AAHistoryLovers] Joe and Charlie tapes online
A while back I stumbled upon a link that had a

series of 9 real audio recordings of Joe and Charlie

and the big book study along with a word document

transcription of that session.

Unfortunately, I had a hard drive crash and I'm unable

to locate the backup that I made.

If anyone knows the link, please send it to me at

my e-mail address:


(Kddew_md at bardstowncable.net)



++++Message 3313. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Joe and Charlie tapes online

From: Billy-Bob . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/10/2006 12:51:00 PM

The Joe and Charlie tapes promote the myth that early AA's had a higher


rate, and that by returning to the mythical "old way" of working

the AA program,

AA can reduce the relapse rate and get more people sober.
The truth is the relapse rate and failure rate in early AA was extremely


BiLL W. admits this in his memorial speech at Dr. Bob's funeral and Francis

Hartigan points this out in his biography of Bill W.

I don't dislike the Joe and Charlie tapes but I do dislike the fact that


continue to be on a crusade to return AA to a mythical time that never


in the first place.
Sincerely, Jim F.
++++Message 3314. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: Joe and Charlie tapes online

From: Jan L. Robinson . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/10/2006 7:44:00 PM

There is a great Joe and Charlie site. Here is the address


++++Message 3315. . . . . . . . . . . . V. C. Kitchen''s obituary (Oxford

Group author)

From: Glenn Chesnut . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/12/2006 4:23:00 PM

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