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

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(HYPERLINK "mailto:tomper99%40yahoo.com"tomper99@yahoo.-com)
From message 50 on this site and a tape of Bill W. talk in Chicago

in 1951:
"There were people, believe it or not whose morals were bad and the

respectable alcoholics of that time shook their heads and

said, "Surely these immoral people are going to render us


Little Red Riding Hood and the bad wolves began to abound. Ah, yes,

could our society last?"
Seems Bill W. was talking about the fear generated in some that

others would cause the end of AA.

I like James Thurber's rendition of "Little Red Riding

Hood" where she recognizes the Big Bad Wolf in Grandma's

bed and takes her automatic out of her basket and shoots

him dead. Moral of the story: "It is not so easy to fool

little girls nowadays as it used to be."

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++++Message 3576. . . . . . . . . . . . Earl T. and Sylvia K. in Chicago

From: scruffymactaggis . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/15/2006 12:04:00 AM

I live in Australia and have just moved to a small

country town and the most influential member in the

small fellowship here mentions regularly that all the

earliest members died drunk because they didn't know

they needed to keep working the steps; this is despite

the fact that Bill clearly states we cannot rest on

our laurels, we must continue to take inventory and

work with others.

I know of course that our co-founders stayed sober,

as did Jim Burwell, Bill Dotson and Clarence Snyder.

I would appreciate any information or directions to a

site that contains info about which of the other early

AA people died sober.
I am especially interested in the two Chicago people:

Earl Treat, "He Sold Himself Short" and Sylvia Kauffman,

"The Keys to the Kingdom."
The stories of the Big Book authors which I have been

able to find on the internet often end before the

person's death, so I can't always tell from those

accounts which ones died sober:



From the moderator:
Who can tell us about Earl Treat and Sylvia Kauffman?

Earl was the great early leader in Chicago AA. See the

photo of him at one of the Minnesota gatherings of the

old timers at http://hindsfoot.org/mnfound1.html .

Don B. or Rick Tompkins, you are Chicago people, can

you tell us about Earl and Sylvia? Or somebody else

in the group?
It was Nancy Olson (now deceased), the founder of the

AAHistoryLovers, who wrote those stories that you

consulted, and in some instances, she was not able

at that time to find out how the person ended his or

her life. That did NOT mean that the person died

drunk, just that she was unable (through her own

researches) to find out about the last years of that

person's life.

It was a massive research project, and she did a

really good job at it, but like a lot of things in

AA history, it takes numerous researchers (living in

different parts of the country and looking in various

local archives) to locate all of the available

evidence. That is what makes the AAHistoryLovers

group so useful. A large number of experts can pool

their knowledge, and greatly increase our overall

knowledge of what happened historically. AA history

all across the U.S. and Canada and all around the

world is too big a topic for any one person to do

all the research on it and be an expert on all of

it. All really major historical research has to be

a cooperative group effort on the part of a large

number of researchers.
We have gained additional information on some of

these people since then. If you look at the past

messages in the AAHistoryLovers, you will be able

to find a lot of messages dealing with this topic.

The guff about most of the early AA members dying

drunk was a misunderstanding which arose because a

number of the stories in the first edition of the

Big Book were removed and replaced with other stories

in the second edition. Some people falsely assumed

that these stories were removed because the authors

had gotten drunk. That was not so. They were removed

to put in what Bill W. thought were better written

stories, that would be more useful to larger numbers

of members. See Message 3353 at

The reason I am posting this is because, no matter

how many times the good AA historians repeat that

this myth about most of the early AA people dying

drunk is total nonsense, the myth keeps on cropping

up again.
We have members of the group who are better experts

than me on this, who will set me right if I get this

wrong, but the best current research (as I understand

it) shows that about 50% of the people whose stories

appeared in the first edition of the Big Book died sober

with no slips. Another 25% roughly had a temporary slip

at one point, but ended up dying sober. It comes out to

pretty close to an overall 75% success rate.

We need to put to rest all the nonsense you sometimes

hear about "most of the early AA people dying drunk."

NO, NO, NO. Just like today, they too had large numbers

of people in the early days who played around with AA for

a few days or a few weeks and then disappeared. Of those

who stuck around for a while and actually tried working

the program seriously and honestly, the 50% / 25% rule

seems pretty close to correct.

In the U.S. today, we have a big drop off during the

first three months, but 50% of the people who come into

AA and keep attending meetings and staying sober for

three months, will still be around at the end of their

first year. And as we all know, some of the people who

don't make it the first time around, end up coming back

and eventually getting sober. It is not that much

different today from the early AA experience.

The most important part of what your Australian AA

leader said is certainly true: if we wish to be certain

of dying sober, we have to keep "working the steps ....

we cannot rest on our laurels, we must continue to take

inventory and work with others." But I sure wish he

wouldn't keep repeating that falsehood that most of

the early AA people died drunk, because that was not

Glenn C. (South Bend, Indiana)

++++Message 3577. . . . . . . . . . . . Big Book Story Author Interview (4

of 4)

From: Bill Lash . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/15/2006 9:24:00 PM
Interview With the Author of "Physician, Heal Thyself!

Fourth in a series of articles on authors of Big Book stories

AA Grapevine, October 1995
Dr. Earle's story "Physician, Heal Thyself!" appeared in the

Second and

Third Editions of the Big Book. Dr. Earle was interviewed by telephone at

his home in California by a Grapevine staff member.

What is the background of your Big Book story?
I'd met Bill, and he and I had become very friendly because we had the same

kind of a hot-flash story--Bill sobered up with a big hot flash and so did

I. Physical sobriety came to both of us on a golden platter. He got hold of

the tape of a talk I'd made at Folsom Prison, and he said he wanted to put

my story in the Big Book, and I said, "Sure." So that's the way it


It was typed from the tape recording. I think I helped with some of the

editing of it.

Have you had occasion to reread it lately?
Not for some time. Why?
I was just curious to know what you thought of it now.
I would say again what I said there, and that is that I lost nothing

materially, that I was on the "skid row of success." As a matter

of fact, I

made more money the last year of my drinking than I'd made in my whole life.

(More than I've made since, too!) But the skid row of success is just as

uncomfortable as the actual skid row in a down-and-out area of a city.

When I came to AA, we had a lot of low-bottom snobs who would look at

everybody else and say, "What do you know about drinking? I've spilled


on my tie than you've ever seen." Then pretty soon we got some


snobs who said, "At least I didn't have to go as far down as you did


I came to AA." I think these comparisons between high and low bottoms


no sense because alcoholism is like pregnancy--either you are or you aren't.

A woman can be in early pregnancy and not show, but she's still pregnant.

With alcoholism, there may be degrees but it's all the same disease.

And unmanageability can manifest in a variety of ways.
Yes. I don't know how many dozens of times I tried to stop drinking, and I

could do it--but I couldn't stay stopped. I remember one time, a Sunday,

that I was looking in the bathroom mirror, and I looked terrible. I said to

myself as I had said many times before, "I'm going to stop drinking for

good. I'm going to go on the wagon forever"--a very dangerous

statement. And

I was pretty good on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but on Friday

I came home and went to the kitchen and poured a big glass of vodka and

drank it down. And as I drank it, I said, "Earle, you said you weren't


to ever drink again." Somehow, I just could not stay stopped. But the


day of my drinking I had a tremendous flash of awareness about what

addiction was and what had happened to me and then the craving to take a

drink disappeared and has never returned.
What happened?
I talk about it some in my Big Book story. The only thing I knew about AA

was what I'd read in Jack Alexander's article [Saturday Evening Post, March

1941]. It said that one of the founders, Dr. Bob, was a doctor, and I'm a

doctor--I'm a gynecologist and I'm also a psychiatrist--so I identified with

that. On the last day of my drinking, I talked to a friend of mine about AA.

My friend gave me a piece of paper and there were twenty-four or twenty-five

statements on it directed toward the drinker who's planning on stopping. Now

that wasn't me. I didn't plan on stopping. In fact, I thought I had the

problem licked--once again. I had gotten a concoction that I thought

wouldn't get me drunk--vodka over ice. Plus, I hadn't ever considered myself

alcoholic. I hadn't used that phrase. A drunk--yes. I couldn't stop drinking

and stay stopped--yes. But in those days we used the word alcoholic to mean

somebody on skid row, and I wasn't on skid row.
I don't recall leaving my friend's house (I wasn't totally blacked-out that

day--I was kind of browned-out), but I do recall being on my deck in Mill

Valley trying to make out what this piece of paper said. I was just so drunk

I couldn't read it. So I asked my wife to read it to me and she did. And she

read one thing that said, "Don't stop drinking for anybody else except

yourself." That made a very deep impression on me; to this day I've no


why. And the next thing she read was, "Don't consider yourself a martyr

because you stopped drinking." I've forgotten what the other statements

were, but those two just hit me across the face like a baseball bat. I broke

down and cried. Of course crying was par for the course in those days. Bing

Crosby was popular then and I'd listen to his songs and I'd cry, or I'd be

driving along and I'd look up at the sky and I'd see a lovely cloud and I'd

cry. I'd look at my wife and daughter and cry, and I suspect they looked at

me and cried too.
Well, that evening my wife patted me on the back and went into the house,

and I sat there and I'd never felt so depressed in my life. Now, I'm a

reasonably happy guy. I have my downs, like everybody does, but in general I

kind of radiate above the line. But this was the deepest I'd ever felt. I

was feeling just terrible. I don't know how long I sat there--for a long

time. Finally I looked at my watch and I realized it was time to ascend my

stairs--we lived on the side of a mountain--and go up to the barbecue area

and make the fire for dinner. I remember going up those stairs and being so

drunk I was afraid I'd fall. There were no handrails on those stairs. I got

to the top stair and I looked at my drink and I had just a little bit left

in the bottom of the glass, and I thought, "This small amount won't do


good, I'd better go down to the kitchen and make a big drink and bring it

back up." So I turned around, just feeling terrible, down and

depressed, and

all of a sudden a very remarkable thing happened to me. It was as though an

explosion occurred inside of me. I felt pain in every segment of my body. I

have no idea why this happened. At that instant I heard the words,

"This is

your last drink." Well, I certainly hadn't planned on this. This is


last drink!

I looked at my glass and poured out what was there. I'd already had my last

drink. I never felt so relieved in my life. God, I felt good. I felt just

tremendous. It suddenly occurred to me: "Earle, your trouble is that


call yourself a drunk; you're not, you're an alcoholic." At that

instant the

craving to take another drink evaporated from me and believe it or not, it

has never returned once.

I saw my friend the next day and I went to AA and I got turned on by AA and

I've been turned on ever since.

When was that?
I came into the Fellowship on the fifteenth of June, 1953. So by the time

this article is published, it'll be forty-two years and I'll be eighty-four

years old. I still go to AA meetings several times a week. I think it's the

greatest. I have a lot of fun there.

In the Big Book, you talk about operating on a woman with a tumor and how

that brought you a sense of the Higher Power. Can you tell us any more about

that experience?
When I came into AA I knew all about psychological things but I had never

thought of a power greater than myself--that really hadn't crossed my

consciousness. So in AA they said you needed to find a power greater than

you were. Jimmy B. and Hank P. were the guys responsible for the phrase


you understand Him" and I talked to Jimmy and Hank, I talked to Bill, I

talked to Chuck C.--I kept asking, "What's all this Higher Power

When I was about nine or ten months sober, I operated on a woman and took

out a large uterine tumor. I took out the sutures on the sixth day, and the

wound was tightly healed together. How come? As I was pondering this, the

woman's husband called me. He said, "I want to thank you for curing my


We are deeply appreciative." And she got on the phone and said the same

thing. I said, "Well, I'm glad to be of service," but when we hung

up, I

asked myself, "Did you cure her?" And I thought about the wound

and how it

had healed, and while I didn't underestimate my diagnostic ability or my

surgical ability, I wondered if I really could say I'd cured her. Well, I

couldn't account for it. I thought, Well, maybe the nurses at the hospital

cured her, because after all they had spent more time with her than I did. I

spent many hours in surgery with her, but after that I just spent a few

minutes twice a day making rounds. But I realized that as valuable as the

nurses were and as lovely as they were, even they could not bring about a

cure. And then it finally became perfectly clear to me that inside of every

human being there is a healing power. I had cut my finger and it had gotten

well; I'd broken a bone and it had gotten well; I'd operated on this woman

and she had gotten well. How come? That to me, in its simplest form, is a

concept of a power greater than I am.
What was your impression of Bill W.?
I thought he was a hell of a great guy. I went back to New York and I met

Nell Wing [Bill's nonalcoholic secretary], and some others, and they took me

in and introduced me to Bill. He was a great big tall, long, lanky guy. And

he and I took to each other just like a duck takes to water. We sat and

talked for an hour or two, I think, and we just talked back and forth--what

had happened to him, what had happened to me--and we became fast friends

almost instantly. He was a guy who felt very deeply about things, and he'd

had a remarkable experience that had brought him to the conclusion that he

might sober up the world. And to begin with, he went off to do just that--to

sober up the world. But pretty soon he quieted down and just sobered up

those around him. I went back to New York many, many times and spent time

with him. He had a room in a hotel under the name William Griffith. He

didn't use his last name because people could find him. He and I would spend

all day long talking about things, talking about one thing or another--we

shared all kinds of stuff.
Let me tell you about one of my trips back to New York. I looked at Bill and

he just looked terrible. And I said, "Bill, how do you feel?" And

he said,

"I don't feel well at all." I found out that whenever guests came

to AA

headquarters, Bill would take them down to a little ice cream shop around

the corner and he'd buy them ice cream and cake and coffee. He was doing

nothing day after day but drinking coffee and eating ice cream and cake. And

I said, "Bill, you know, this isn't the best diet." He said,

"I guess it's

not. What shall I do?" So I put him on a high protein diet and he went


that diet and got to feeling just great. And people said, "Bill, you

look so

good--what happened?" And Bill said, "My gynecologist put me on a


protein diet."

Have you had periods in sobriety that were emotionally difficult?
Oh my, yes. So did Bill--you know Bill had a long depression. Let me tell

you how I got at some emotional rest. Years ago, a medical college in the

South asked me to go to Saigon as a visiting professor to help the

Vietnamese set up a new department in gynecology and obstetrics. Before I

left, I went back to see Bill and Lois and Marty M. and some others, and I

spent about eight or nine days back in New York before I went to Asia. Bill

took me to the airport and on the way there he said, "You know, Earle,


been sober longer than anyone else in our organization. After all I was

sober six months when I met Bob. But," he said, "I don't have too

much peace

of mind." He said, "I feel down in the dumps a hell of a

lot." So I said,

"So do I, Bill. I don't have much serenity either." I was sober by

this time

maybe sixteen, seventeen years. He said, "Do me a favor. When you get


to Asia, see if you can investigate, firsthand, the various religions in

Asia. That means Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, and Confucianism and

ancestral worship and the whole shebang." And I said, "All right,

I'll do

it." And he said, "Stay in contact with me and maybe we can find


in those religions. After all, we've taken from William James, we've taken

from all the Christian religions. Let's see what these others have."
So I hugged Bill and got on the plane and went to Asia. I had three or four

rest and relaxation periods a year but I didn't rest and relax. I was

determined to find something that would bring peace and serenity to me. I

spent a lot of time in Nepal and in Indonesia. I spent time in India. I went

into these places looking, looking, looking for serenity. I spent two or

three years just driving to find out something. I tried meditation, I read

the Bhagavad Gita, the Vedas--everything. I went to an ashram on the

southeast coast of India, run by a very famous guru and saint. There were

about a hundred and fifty East Indians there. I was the only Westerner and

they welcomed me. I wore a dhoti--that's a white skirt that men wear--and I

wore one like the rest of them did. We all ate on the ground on great big

banana leaves over a yard long. There would be food on the banana leaves and

you'd make it into a ball with your right hand and throw it into your mouth.

There were no knives or forks at all, so I did what they did. I didn't like

the taste very much but I did it.
I happened to be there at the time of the Feast of Dewali. Dewali is like

our time of Easter; it's the time of renewal. We were awakened on the early

morning of Dewali around two o'clock. This ashram was located at the base of

a mountain known as Arunachal. Now Arunachal in Hindi means sun, and the

myth goes that one of the gods, Rama, lives inside of this mountain. We were

told we had to walk around the base of this mountain--which was a ten mile

walk--and as we walked, we were yelling to Rama. If you do it in a very firm

and believing way, it's said that Rama will come up and wave at you and

bless you. I was there, and I did it. We walked around and we were yelling

"Rama, Rama, Rama" hoping that Rama would come up and bless us

all. They all

walked in their bare feet. I didn't, I wore my shoes. Gosh, I was tired. But

I walked all night long, the whole distance.
After that event, I came back to my little apartment in Saigon, ready to

return to my medical work. I was so beaten because I'd been driving and

searching and clenching my fists for almost three years (and I kept writing

to Bill about all this, you know). And I came into my apartment and I

suddenly collapsed down onto the floor. I lay there breathing kind of

heavily and I said to myself, "Oh, to hell with serenity, I don't care

if it

ever comes." And I meant it. And do you know what happened? All of a


the craving to find serenity utterly evaporated--and there it was. Serenity.

The trouble was the search . . . looking out there for what was right here.
You know, we only have this given second. There's always now. Once I

realized that, serenity became mine. Now--I'm speaking about emotions--I

haven't sought one single thing since that day because it's all right here.

I often say to people at meetings, "You're trying to find peace of mind


there. I don't blame you, but it isn't out there. It's here. Right

Now, do I think there is a supreme being, a God? Sure I do. Of course. But

do I have any religious beliefs? No. Religion demands that you do certain

things and my life in AA isn't like that. AA is a very loose-jointed

organization. People say there is only one way to work the program. That's

crazy. We talk about the "suggested" Steps, which are guides to


not absolutes. Chapter five of the Big Book says "no one among us has


able to maintain anything like perfect adherence to these principles."

If we

had all the members of AA standing here, everyone would have a different

idea what AA is all about. Bill's idea was different from Dr. Bob's, yours

will be different from mine. And yet they're all based on one thing and that

is: don't drink, and use the Twelve Steps in your own way.

Do you sponsor people differently now than you did years ago?
I don't think I do. Maybe these days sponsees tend to talk about not only

their drinking but a little more about the relationship problems, and so we

get into conversations about their wives or sweethearts and some emotional


So whatever changes you find in AA, you're not uncomfortable with them?
Well, some AA groups have turned into kind of psychological forums and that

isn't AA to me. Maybe it is, I don't know. But here's the way I feel about

it, correct or incorrect: AA is my family, and every family has a mix of

people in it. Every family has people who are braggarts who think they know

everything--every family does. Every family has people who whine all the

time--every family. And every family has people who go out and do very well

and succeed at the art of living. So when I hear the whiners--well, they're

kind of a bore, but on the other hand, a family always has boring whiners in

Did your marriage change after you got sober?
Oh my God, yes--I've been married four times. I was sober about fifteen

years before I got divorced the first time. I'd been married thirty years.

It was a marriage that was not very successful. My wife and I went on

different paths, but we were victims of the idea that good boys and girls

don't get divorced. Finally I said to Mary, "You know, I think we ought


get divorced," and she said, "I think so too. We don't have much

in common."

So we had a very sensible, quiet, straight-forward divorce. But you can't

hang from the rope for thirty years and not miss it when it's cut down. So,

after that I got married twice for very short times to two very fine women,

good friends of mine today. Then I had a long time when I wasn't married and

then I met my current wife and we've been married fifteen years. She's

sitting right here, by the way, working on the computer.
Is there any Step that is a particular help to you?
I like that Tenth Step pretty well. When you make a mistake--stomp on

somebody's toes--you can straighten it out right away. I think that's a

pretty valuable Step.
What is your view of the Eleventh Step?
Let me say something which might be heretical to many people. I think that

God's will and my will are identical. I think that it was God's will that I

become addicted to alcohol and amphetamines so that I could find AA and get

sober. And so I feel that the greatest thing that ever happened to me were

the alcohol and drugs that I took, because that brought me to where I am,

and I need to be here. If the casting director who runs this whole universe

were to come to me and say, "Earle, you're going to live your life over

again," I would say, "All right, but I want to live it exactly the


way--all the misery, all the drinks, all the amphetamines." All the

stuff I

took, I'd do it exactly the same way. Why? If I didn't do it exactly the

same way, you and I wouldn't be having this conversation and I live on such

things. So, the Eleventh Step is great but I don't need to pray for God's

guidance. It's here all the time.
So God's will for you is to be sober.
That's right, but he had to get me drunk first.
Is there anything you'd like to say in conclusion?
I think AA is the greatest thing alive. And I think that we do need to check

on what's happening in AA, and I think we need to look at AA as a family. AA

cannot be the same way it was when Dr. Bob and Bill were here. So I think

that we need to go along with changes in AA but let's not forget the Twelve

Steps. Let's not forget those suggested Steps that we can use to make

ourselves more aware of what's going on. Because to me the greatest thing in

life is to be aware of what's happening all the time.
I'm not a church-goer--I'm in church all the time. To me, prayer is utter

awareness. I don't know if that makes sense to you but it does to me. It's

being aware of things, of what's going on around me all the time, in a given

second. That to me is a form of prayer, that to me is a form of

righteousness, if you want to use that religious word.
A Buddhist might call that awareness "mindfulness."
Christians call it a state of grace. We in AA have a bit of a state of

This concludes the Grapevine's series of interviews with writers whose

stories have appeared in the Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous.
++++Message 3578. . . . . . . . . . . . Why is the word "rarely" used?

From: trixiebellaa . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/17/2006 4:12:00 AM

hi history lovers, have you any idea on why bill used the term rarely

in chapter five.


Big Book p. 58, first sentence in Chapter 5: "Rarely have

we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."


we understand that people who do not recover are

people who cannot or will not develop a manner of living that demands

rigorous honesty. we also understand that people with grave emotional

and mental disorders who cannot thoroughly follow this path do not

recover. if our groups experience is anything to go by we agree with

Dr bob that it never fails if the path is thoroughly followed. the

above mentioned cannot or will not follow this path so although it is

not their fault it is not the books fault either so again why did bill

and the first hundred choose the word rarely. your ideas on this

matter will be greatly appreciated.

++++Message 3579. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Significant July Dates in A.A.


From: Shakey1aa@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/18/2006 1:17:00 PM
The "Best Cartoons of the Grapevine" shows on page 4

a Victor E cartoon dated July 1962.

Shakey Mike G.
(Going to Baton Rouge in September; anyone else?)
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3580. . . . . . . . . . . . In what order did earliest AA ask

people to read the Big Book?

From: trixiebellaa . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/16/2006 9:49:00 AM
Hi history lovers, our group was just wondering, when

the big book was sent out to people IN THE VERY

BEGINNING, was there ANY OTHER MATERIAL sent out to

them along with that copy of the book, explaining

how to read the book, and in what order?
For example was there anything that stated read the first

portion of the book first or identify with the shares at

the back first then read the first portion of the book?
The reason we ask is that it seems that some of these

people would be sponsorless and you miss so much if you

read the book alone.
We do realise that the book directs us in the forewards and

"There is a Solution" to the back of the book but we just

wondered if there was any more information.
Thanks for your assistance
++++Message 3581. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Canada AA

From: Hugh D. Hyatt . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/18/2006 9:40:00 PM

Paul is alleged to have written, on or about 12-Jul-06 05:46:

> July 2, 1993 - 50 years of AA celebrated in Canada.


> July 2-4, 1965 - 30th Anniversary of AA in Toronto. Adopted "I Am

> Responsible."


> July 5-7, 1985 - 50th AA Anniversary in Montreal, Canada.


> Using the dates from this wonderful group I thought that Canada and the

> USA used the same starting dates for AA. Now I see that they

> celebrated 50 years of AA in 1993 making their AA date 1943. Now if

> this is the case then why do we have AA anniversaries in Canada

> celebrating 1935?

A.A. as a whole dates itself from the beginning of Dr. Bob's sobriety

in June 1935, allegedly on the 10th, when Bill W. successfully carried

the message to another alcoholic for the first time (despite Bill's

having been sober since December 1934). The 30th and 50th

anniversaries in Canada were International Conventions celebrating the

time since that event. The first A.A. meeting was presumably held in

Canada in 1943.

Hugh H.

Bryn Athyn, PA

Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained by incompetence.

++++Message 3582. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Chapter called "The Lone

Endeavor" in 1st Ed.1st Printing

From: Tom Hickcox . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/18/2006 10:29:00 PM
At 15:33 7/11/2006 , Shakey Mike wrote that he has
"a list of AA members sober between June 1935 to

February 1939 in Akron and New York. This particular

list was highlighted with comments from Sybil Corwin

and states Ruth Hock wrote (the) chapter called

The lone Endeavor in first edition! Just before

book went to print based on phone calls and letters

from Pat from Los Angeles .... THIS IS SIGNIFICANT.

This credits a non-alcoholic as writing a chapter in

the Big Book."


My understanding is that both the Akron Group and

the New York Group had professional help writing the

stories in the back of the First Edition. One of

the professional writers was a member of the group and

the other was hired, so another non-alcoholic had a

hand in writing the book.

Tommy H in Baton Rouge
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3583. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Chapter called "The Lone

Endeavor" in 1st Ed.1st Printing

From: Mitchell K. . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/18/2006 7:28:00 PM
Ruth told me that she had written the Lone Endeavor

during several conversations I had with her. Depending

on the conversation there were two versions on how she

did the writing - one was that the story was a

compilation of several similar stories about people

getting sober just through the book and two, that the

story she wrote was based upon a compilation of

several contacts with Pat Cooper.

As to a non-alcoholic writing a chapter..... Maybell

Lucas (My Wife and I) co-authored a story and Marie

Bray (An Alcoholic's Wife) also authored a story.....

both non-alcoholics from what I've been told.

++++Message 3584. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: Canada AA

From: Joe Nugent . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/18/2006 8:10:00 PM

The two dates were for the international which is celebrated every five

years, as a Canadian we are fortunate to have three so far that's including

2005 in Toronto again using the same responsibility pledge.all the

alcoholics I know use the June 10th 1935 date.

As for the 1993 date was when the first meeting was held in Toronto.

If I go to Akron they celebrate the amount of years gone by since the 1935

date, am I missing something here.


From: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

[mailto:AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Paul

Sent: Wednesday, July 12, 2006 5:46 AM

To: AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com

Subject: [AAHistoryLovers] Canada AA
July 2, 1993 - 50 years of AA celebrated in Canada.
July 2-4, 1965 - 30th Anniversary of AA in Toronto. Adopted "I Am


July 5-7, 1985 - 50th AA Anniversary in Montreal, Canada.
Using the dates from this wonderful group I thought that Canada and the

USA used the same starting dates for AA. Now I see that they

celebrated 50 years of AA in 1993 making their AA date 1943. Now if

this is the case then why do we have AA anniversaries in Canada

celebrating 1935?
Thanks Paul
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3585. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Why is the word "rarely" used?

From: Jim B . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/19/2006 2:22:00 PM

trixiebella wrote

hi history lovers, have you any idea on why bill used the term rarely in

chapter five.
He used the word rarely because we are Not-God. To lay claim to any kind of

absolute control of recovery would be to claim to have God like powers.

In the archives are two articles which appeared in the GV on this subject.


++++Message 3586. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Why is the word "rarely" used?

From: Ernest Kurtz . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/19/2006 8:14:00 PM

When asked that question, Bill W. habitually replied, "Well, we didn't

want to seem to be claiming anything as a hundred per cent result."

This connected with the early alcoholics' difficulty accepting the

Oxford Group's "Four Absolutes." As Bill wrote on another occasion


one of his "letters of record," according to Nell Wing):


are as dedicated to honesty, unselfishness, purity and love as any other

people, but we found that when we put the word 'absolute' in front of

them, the drunks simply couldn't stand the pace." [Both quotations from

memory and therefore the wording may not be exact, but this is true to

Bill's expressed thought in each case.]

ernie kurtz
trixiebellaa wrote:



> hi history lovers, have you any idea on why bill used the term rarely

> in chapter five.


> -----------------------------

> Big Book p. 58, first sentence in Chapter 5: "Rarely have

> we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path."

> -----------------------------


> we understand that people who do not recover are

> people who cannot or will not develop a manner of living that demands

> rigorous honesty. we also understand that people with grave emotional

> and mental disorders who cannot thoroughly follow this path do not

> recover. if our groups experience is anything to go by we agree with

> Dr bob that it never fails if the path is thoroughly followed. the

> above mentioned cannot or will not follow this path so although it is

> not their fault it is not the books fault either so again why did bill

> and the first hundred choose the word rarely. your ideas on this

> matter will be greatly appreciated.



++++Message 3587. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: Why is the word "rarely" used?

From: Bill Lash . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/19/2006 1:55:00 PM

I have heard so many people in A.A. say that Bill

Wilson wanted to change the word "Rarely..." to the

word "Never..." in the opening of "How It Works",

that I just wanted to bring this rumor to the light

of truth. In the book "Pass It On" (the green AA

history book which came out 13 years after Bill died)

it says on page 200:
"According to an apocryphal story (which means

"a story of doubtful authenticity"), Bill was asked

in later years whether there was any change he wished

he could make in the Big Book, and he replied that

he would change 'rarely' to 'never'. Bill himself

said he never considered that change."

"Rarely - or Never?"
How co-founder Bill Wilson answered a frequently

asked question.

The AA Grapevine, December 1978
From time to time over the years, some AA members will

question the wording of the first sentence of Chapter 5

of Alcoholics Anonymous: "Rarely have we seen a person

fail who has thoroughly followed our path." Why, the

enthusiastic member asks, doesn't the Big Book say,

"Never have we seen a person fail..."?

This question was answered - several times - by an AA

well qualified to speak on the subject, since he wrote

the book, with the assistance of other early members.
Bill Wilson, AA's co-founder, answered a 1961 letter

from Minnesota with these words (preserved, like those

of the following letter, in the archives at the AA General

Service Office): "Concerning your comment about the

use of the word 'rarely" in Chapter 5 of the Big Book:

My recollection is that we did give this considerable

thought at the time of writing. I think the main reason

for the use of the word 'rarely' was to avoid anything

that would look like a claim of a 100% result. Assuming,

of course, that an alcoholic is willing enough and sane

enough, there can be a perfect score on [a person of

this sort]. But since willingness and sanity are such

elusive and fluctuating values, we simply didn't want

to be too positive. The medical profession could jump right down our

"Then, too, we have seen people who have apparently

tried their very best, and then failed, not because of

unwillingness, but perhaps by reason of physical tension

or some undisclosed quirk, not known to them or anyone

else. Neither did we want to over encourage relatives

and friends in the supposition that their dear ones

could surely get well in AA if only they were willing.

I think that's why we chose that word. I remember thinking

about it a lot.
"Maybe some of these same reasons would apply to present

conditions. Anyhow, I do know this: The text of the

AA book is so frozen in the minds of tens of thousands

of AA's that even the slightest change creates an uproar."

In 1967, Bill made the following reply to a Florida

member asking the same question: "Respecting my use

of the word 'rarely,' I think it was chosen because

it did not express an absolute state of affairs, such

as 'never' does. Anyhow, we are certainly stuck with

the word 'rarely.' My few efforts to change the

wording of the AA book have always come to naught - the

protests are always too many."

And at the 1970 General Service Conference, this

Ask-It-Basket question was addressed directly to Bill:

"If there was any change you would make in the Big

Book, would it be to change the word 'rarely' to

'never' at the start of Chapter 5.
Bill answered, "No."
++++Message 3588. . . . . . . . . . . . Marty Mann in New York or Sylvia K.

in Chicago?

From: Tom Hickcox . . . . . . . . . . . . 7/19/2006 5:04:00 PM
At 18:03 7/18/2006 , David Jones wrote:
"Marty M., who entered A.A. in New York in 1939 and

went on to become the first woman to achieve enduring

sobriety within A.A., noted that many of these women

failed to get sober not because they were so much

sicker, but simply because they were women."
This perpetuates the false notion that Marty M was

the first female A.A. with enduring sobriety.

This should probably be given to Sylvia K, author of

the story, "Keys to the Kingdom," whose sobriety date

was September 13, 1939.
Marty was sober from Christmas 1940 until some time

around 1960, when she relapsed. She sobered up again

and remained so until her death.
Sally and David Brown detail this in their book "Mrs.

Marty Mann, the First Lady of Alcoholics Anonymous,"

Hazelden, 2001.
Tommy H in Baton Rouge

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