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
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
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
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?
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: 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.....
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.
[mailto:AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Paul
Sent: Wednesday, July 12, 2006 5:46 AM
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
[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
hi history lovers, have you any idea on why bill used the term rarely in
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 RARELY TO NEVER?
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
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.
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,"