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One of our AAHistoryLovers, reference librarian

Charlie C., has come up with exactly the kind of

information I was looking for:


Obituary in the New York Times, January 30, 1975, p. 37.
KITCHEN -- Victor Constant, son of the late Dr. and

Mrs. J. M. W. Kitchen of East Orange, N.J., born

New York City, April 9, 1891, died at home in Cabool,

Missouri, Jan. 29, 1975. Husband of Elsie Rodman

Kitchen, father of Beverly K. Almond of Bloomfield,

N.J., Myra K. Prindle, Redding, Conn., Hope K. Ayer,

Cabool. Nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Attended Carteret Academy, East Orange High School,

Stevens Institute of Technology, Columbia School of

Journalism. Advertising executive, Doyle, Kitchen and

McCormick, N.Y.C. Since 1934, full time with Oxford

Group and Moral Re-Armament. Author of the book,

"I Was A Pagan." Gathering of gratitude at his home,

Route 2, Cabool, Mo., 3 P.M., Saturday, Feb. 1.

Eventual interment, Gilmantown, N.H. In lieu of

flowers, family suggests remembrance to Up With People,

3103 No. Campbell Ave., Tucson, Ariz. 85719.


This information was in response to Message 3305,

from Glenn C., on "V. C. Kitchen and the Oxford Group"

"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 .... If any members

of the AAHistoryLovers can provide me with any

additional information about V. C. Kitchen's life,

I would greatly appreciate it."

++++Message 3316. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Joe and Charlie tapes online

From: Doug B. . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/10/2006 9:19:00 PM

Billy-Bob and Jim,
The Joe and Charlie Big Book studies that I have attended

in the past were nothing like you suggested in your response.

They were keeping it very simple and didn't seem to be on

any crusade except that of actually having you read the book

for yourself.
Then again, I haven't been to one in ten years..maybe their

message has changed?

Doug B.

Riverside, CA

(dougb at aahistory.com)

++++Message 3317. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Joe and Charlie tapes online

From: serenityodaat . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/12/2006 11:29:00 AM

Hiya Jim!
This is from the foreword to the second edition of

"Alcoholics Anonymous":

"While the internal difficulties of our adolescent

period were being ironed out, public acceptance of

A.A. grew by leaps and bounds. For this there were two

principal reasons: the large number of recoveries, and

reunited homes. These made their impressions

everywhere. Of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really

tried, 50% got sober at once and remained that way;

25% sobered up after some relapses, and among the

remainder, those who stayed on with A.A. showed

improvement. Other thousands came to a few A.A.

meetings and at first decided they didn’t want the

program. But great numbers of these - about two out of

three - began to return as time passed."

- page xix and xx

When I sum this text up I get a recovery rate of

approx. 90%. And this is A.A. in general. The

Cleveland area showed a 100% recovery rate for a long

period of time.

Kindest Regards from Sweden with Love!

Anders B
Recovered alcoholic by the Grace of God

Note from the moderator:
In this group (unlike an AA chat group, of which

there are many) we're trying to keep away from

just people giving their opinions on things, no

matter how heartfelt their convictions.

This message however centers on a question of fact.

Anders has cited a quotation from the foreword to

the Big Book, and that involves a matter of historical

fact. One can also come up with a number of other

statements from the early period saying things quite

similar to this.

The key question is, what does the above statement

actually mean, factually?

The crucial clause in the passage which Anders

quoted is one which people often overlook:

"Of alcoholics who came to A.A. and really tried."

Go back and read that quotation from the foreword

to the Big Book, and notice that phrase.
That quotation says that 50% of the people who

"really tried" got sober. But how many does it

write off as people who didn't "really try"?

There is one place where Bill W. says that 3 or 4

out of every 5 people who came to their AA meetings,

decided after just a few meetings that this program

was not for them, and disappeared.
If 80% of the people who came to a few meetings

(4 out of 5) disappeared after a short period of

time, because "they didn't really want to try,"

there were only 20% left after that point. If only

50% of these actually got sober, that was a success

rate of only 10%, if we calculate these figures the

way they are calculated in analyzing modern AA


Arthur S. and Tom E. have been going through all

the early data which they can find, and they have

come to the conclusion that early AA almost certainly

had a much better than 10% success rate. Bill

Wilson was probably being overly pessimistic when

he said that 3 or 4 out of every 5 people disappeared

after a few meetings. But we have a large number of

statements from the early period making it clear

that they were also most definitely not achieving

anything nearly approaching a 50% success rate, if

we count all parts of the U.S. and Canada, and

everybody who had some kind of brief contact with

How about modern AA in the U.S. and Canada? The

best analysis of that data that I have seen is the

one which was given in Message 2379, which I attack

to the bottom of this posting. Just like in early

AA, we have large numbers of people in the modern

period who come to a few meetings, but then disappear.

Nowadays, 53% of the people who come to a few AA

meetings do not make it through to the end of their

third month. But of those who do make it past the

three month mark, 56% of those will be able to make

it successfully through their first year.
The main thing is to quit comparing apples and

oranges. The early AA figures, as in the passage

which Anders quotes, regularly make the claim that

50% of those who "really tried" ending up being

able to stay sober the first time through the program.

That is quite correct. By comparison, the modern AA

figures show that 56% of those who start attending

AA meetings and make it past their first three months

-- these are the ones whom the old timers would say

"really tried" -- end up making it successfully to

the end of their first year.
To my reckoning, that is fundamentally the same

kind of basic success rate, both then and now, a

roughly 50% success rate back then among those

who "really tried," and a roughly 56% success rate

now among those who "really tried."
Glenn C., South Bend, Indiana


Message 2379
From: ny-aa@att.net

Date: Mon May 9, 2005 11:56 am

Subject: Success vs. Gloom-and-Doom

56% of those who stay three months are still

active in AA at the end of a year. That first

year is the hardest: the retention rates

dramatically improve for those who have earned

their one-year chip. The current U.S. population

(U.S. Census Bureau) is 296 million, with around

220 million over eighteen years of age. In the

data given below, the NIAAA estimates that roughly

8% of the U.S. population over age 18 abuse alcohol

(17.6 million out of 220 million), but that there

are only 7.9 million true alcoholics over eighteen

years of age in the U.S., which is 3.6% of the

population over eighteen years of age. With roughly

1 million AA members, that means that around 12 to

13% of these genuine alcoholics (about one out of

eight) is in AA at this point.]
There is a tendency of some observers to offer

a pessimistic view of A.A. today. This becomes the

basis for advocating return to the practices of

some time in the past. Often, they back this up

with a misreading of one particular graph in a

summary of the 1977 through 1989 Triennial Surveys.

"Percent of Those Coming to AA Within the First

Year Who Have Remained the Indicated Number of

Months." It graphed the "Month" and "Dist"

(distribution) columns here. Note the "Dist" column

adds up to 100. It is NOT a retention percentage.

For every 100 people surveyed with under a year,

13% were in their 2nd month and 9% were in their

4th month. The "New" column I added is scaled to

show retention. The "3mo" column tracks retention

after the usual introductary period when, presumably,

only "real alcoholics" (about half) will stay.
Month Dist . New . 3mo

1 ... 19 ... 100

2 ... 13 .... 68

3 ... 10 .... 53

4 .... 9 .... 47 . 100<=== Over 3 months

5 .... 8 .... 42 .. 89

6 .... 7 .... 42 .. 83

7 .... 7 .... 36 .. 77

8 .... 6 .... 34 .. 72

9 .... 6 .... 32 .. 68

10 ... 6 .... 30 .. 64

11 ... 6 .... 28 .. 60

12 ... 5 .... 26 .. 56
The Dist(1)=19 does NOT mean that "81% dropped

out in a month." Dist(3)=10 does NOT mean that

"90% leave within three months." And Dist(12)=5

does NOT mean that "95 abandon active participation

in AA inside of a year." What it does show is

that 56% of those who stay three months are still

active in A.A. at the end of a year. Other Survey

results show substantially better retention rates

after the first year. Here is a typical example of

misinterpretation of the table.

> "Those of us who have survived in A.A. for a

> good many years know for a certainty the dire

> failure statistics of today -- statistics reported

> by A.A.'s own service structure:

> 81% of new members drop out in a month;

> 90% leave within three months; and

> 95% abandon the active participation in AA inside

> of a year."

That's just not true. Another misreading of statistics

is to forget that not everyone who shows up at an

A.A. meeting is an alcoholic. And not everyone with

"a drinking problem" is an alcoholic (yet) either.

For example, in 2002 the National Institute on Alcohol

Abuse and Alcoholism said that there were 9.7 million

"alcohol abusers" and 7.9 million "alcohol dependent

people" over age eighteen. There are clear definitions

for these two categories. Only the 7.9 million are

what A.A. calls "real alcoholics." These NIAAA numbers

are misquoted as:
> "And in America, there are less than a million

> AAs at any given time out of an estimated

> eighteen million alcoholics in all."
Eighteen million is the total of "real alcoholics" and

"a certain type of hard drinker." Further, most

alcoholics have never tried or even visited Alcoholics

Anonymous and have never made any serious attempt at

recovery through any other means. With that in mind,

one million sober American AAs is rather impressive.

It also shows the need to reach out and invite more

alcoholics to try Alcoholics Anonymous. Let's hope

the pessimistic message of gloom-and-doom doesn't scare

away and discourage the rest of those who need help.


often said that 50% of those (as they put it) "who

made a serious effort" in AA got sober the first

time they tried. Careful reading of the early

documents and interviews with old timers makes it

clear that they were not counting those who came to

a few meetings but then fizzled out when they gave

their 50% success rate. When early groups gave their

membership figures, they usually made a rough-and-ready

but clear distinction between the numbers of those

at their weekly meetings who were just coming to a

few meetings at that point and the numbers of those

who were much more committed members. So early

success rates were not actually all that much

different from the present success rate. AA is

still extraordinarily effective today, just as it

was in the old days, particularly when we remember

that alcoholism has always been the third leading

cause of death in the United States ever since the

1930's: a fifty percent remission rate for what is

frequently a fatal disease is medically impressive

by any standards.]

++++Message 3318. . . . . . . . . . . . The Exact Quote from Francis

Hartigan''s Book In Regard To Early AA''s Success

From: backtobasicsbillybob . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/12/2006 1:50:00 PM
"We have to wonder why both the Wilson's and the Smiths did not simply

give up. Today the nations best treatment centers report success rates

ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent. During Bill's stay in Akron, he

and Bob calculated their success rate to be about 5 percent, and among

the few who seemed to catch on, not all of them were able to maintain

consistent sobriety. The first edition of AA's Big Book, published in

1939, contains the personal recovery stories of many of AA's earliest

members. Some years later, Bill made notations in the first copy of

the book to come off the press, indicating which of the individuals

portrayed therein had stayed sober. A good 50 percent had not."

Francis Hartigan, Bill W., Pages 91-92
++++Message 3319. . . . . . . . . . . . The Exact Quote From Dr. Bob''s

Memorial Service, Nov. 15th, 1952

From: backtobasicsbillybob . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/12/2006 2:18:00 PM
"You haven't any conception these days of how much failure we had. How

you had to cull over hundreds of these drunks to get a handful to take

the bait. Yes, the discouragement's were very great but some did stay

sober and some very tough ones at that."

Bill Wilson, Dr. Bob's Memorial Speech, Nov. 1952, At The 24th Street

Club in New York City, New York.

To Thine Own Self Be True, Billy-Bob
++++Message 3320. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Use of Dash in First Step

From: Ernest Kurtz . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/10/2006 2:28:00 PM

Messages from Ernest Kurtz, James Blair, Tim T.,

Mackley, Robert Stonebraker, and mrjocisoo7

on the dash used as punctuation in the middle

of the first step.


From: Ernest Kurtz

(kurtzern at umich.edu)
On Bill W's intentions in writing AA's First Step:

Bill commented in several letters, usually to

individuals inquiring about the distinction

between "defects of character" and "shortcomings"

in Steps Six and Seven, along the lines that he

had no such ideas in mind as he wrote those Steps,

but that he thought it wonderful that people found

so much in them.

My reading of some of the drafts of Bill's AAGV

articles, later collected in *The Language of

the Heart,* inclines me to suspect he would have

said something similar about portions of the AA

Big Book.
ernie k.


From: James Blair

(jblair at videotron.ca)

What is historical about the proper use of English

grammar? Bill may not of been up there with Einstein

but he did have some command of the English language.
"We admitted we were powerless over alcohol (end of

thought) - (new thought) that our lives had become

We need to stick to reading the black stuff and leave

the white stuff alone.



From: Tim T.

(pvttimt at aol.com)

Tim T., here, an alky.
How interesting! My grand-sponsor Bob Anderson

"ran" our meeting in which I got sober finally in 1978.

At the time he had 25 years, having sobered up in

Cleveland in 1953. His sponsor was an iceman named

Ed S. who in turn sobered up on the Cleveland-Akron

AA axis. Bob has been dead for 7-8 years now, having

finished his aa career in southern California.
My grand-sponsor taught us stuff that isn't

exactly in the big book, but he claimed was the

"original" way it was taught in the early days in

northern Ohio. It included his description of the

"dash in the First Step!" And he taught us just as

you described it!

Another bit of "original" lore he taught us

was that the Second Step is found in the big book

between the ABC's and the Third Step prayer. Right

after the ABC's it says: "Being convinced, we were

at Step Three, which is that we decided to turn our

will and our life over to God as we understood Him.

Just what do we mean by that, and just what do we do?"

Bob taught us that this means that in order to be

convinced, we must work Step Two, and that the

discussion that follows is therefore Step Two.

Then, just before the Third Step prayer, it

says, "We were now at Step Three." Bob would say to

us, "How can you NOW be at Step Three, if what went

before wasn't Step Two?" And it kind of all made

sense to us, how the preceding discussion about

running the show, being the director, selfishness

and self-centeredness, troubles of our own making,

etc, etc, was largely a description of the insanity

of Step Two. His point was that our thinking is

still screwed up even when we are dry. Made sense

to me. And it was very helpful to me in working

through my early sobriety.

I guess those of us around today will never

really appreciate the apparent wide diversity of

opinion and approaches taken in the early days.

One also has to remember that there weren't very

many at that time. I'd imagine that some millions

of folks have come in, stayed, gone back out,

whatever over the last 70-ish years. It makes this

forum valuable in appreciating that wide range of

Thanks for your subject.



(mackleyhome at aol.com)

Tommy, I suggest that you check a high school English

Text for that time period. You might well find that the ninth

punctuation mark was the DASH. It's most common usage

was to indicate "end of complete thought" DASH or --

"beginning of new and somehow related thought." It was on

having this pointed out to me that I realized for the first time

that my life was unmanageable because of my drinking, not

the reverse. As to Bill's education, didn't he had two

advanced degrees?
And you use the word pedant as if it were a bad thing.
Just thought you might be interested.

Rayville LA.

From: "Robert Stonebraker"


Dear Tommy,
Your point is well taken on Bill's punctuation

skills at but it is good to remember that other

well educated (in writing) people had to do with

the changing from the ‘final draft' to the first

printing, first edition, Big Book, e.g.:
Mar (?), The much changed book manuscript was turned

over to Tom Uzzell. He was a friend of Hank P, an

editor at Collier's and a member of the NYU faculty.

The manuscript was variously estimated as 600 to

1,200 pages (including personal stories). Uzzell

reduced it to approximately 400 pages. Most cuts

came from the personal stories, which had also been

edited by Jim S (The News Hawk) a journalist from

Akron, OH. (AACOA 164, BW-FH 126, PIO 203)
Silkworth and Dr Tiebout offered similar advice.

(AACOA 167-168 NG 67-77)

The dash:
I have always thought the dash simply completes the

sentence, e.g.: "She was very smart - she got

straight ‘A's"
Or powerless - unmanageable. This means to me that

the fact my life may be unmanageable today has

little to do with the fact that I drank alcoholically

a long time ago.

Thanks for the subject,

Bob S, from Indiana

From: mrjocisoo7@aol.com

(mrjocisoo7 at aol.com)

The detailed study of the big book allows us to

really stay busy. But also help us target the very

book that has helped millions of people. I am pro

study in detail. It helps centers me.

++++Message 3321. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Question about Clyde Bertram


From: John Pine . . . . . . . . . . . . 4/10/2006 2:16:00 PM
I heard Clyde speak at a conference in Pennsylvania

about six or seven years ago...I was most struck by

his ability (need?) to recite "How it Works" from

memory. He was then more than 50 years sober.

He was also pitching his book, which didn't carry

his real name due to the anonymity tradition.

I believe he was a carpenter through most of his

drinking, and became a certfied addiction counselor

after he got sober.
On 4/10/06, Jean Cottel wrote:
> 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.


> Information?



> Jean Cottel

> jcottel@earthlink.net

> (jcottel at earthlink.net)

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