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

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again reprint the book, and a sense of the meeting at

the 1979 AA General Service Conference approved this

project. The articles are unchanged; statistics and

other facts included reflect the Fellowship as it was

in 1960."

Bruce C.
From: "Jim S."

(james.scarpine at verizon.net)

Fourth printing, 1979.
Jim S.
From: Shakey1aa@aol.com

(Shakey1aa at aol.com)

"By the end of 1964,the last copy of the 3rd printing

had been sold, and AA Today became unavailable. Since

then, many members have suggested that theGrapevine

again reprint the book, and a sense of the meeting

at the 1979 AA General Service Conference approved this


One would think that the 4th printing would be 1979.

Perhaps a member of AAHL has the 4th printing to

confirm it.
Shakey Mike Gwirtz

Phila, Pa.

++++Message 3831. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: AA Online

From: Ernest Kurtz . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/2/2006 7:45:00 AM

Dennis wrote:

> It certainly would be wonderful if there was

> searchable access to past Box -4-5-9 publications.
Hi Dennis,
Thanks for the good AAGV article summary. AA's

current archivist, Amy Filiatreau (non-alcoholic)

is working to digitize much of the early information,

and she says she also hopes soon to get all of

Box 459 available electronically.
I am now in contact with several AAs who were early

online, and they are offering much helpful knowledge.

The changing attitude of various people at G.S.O.

to recognizing online "groups" and "meetings" is

emerging as one important part of the story. I thus

really appreciate your passing on of Frank M's

comments, and I hope your message and this one elicit

more of that kind of information. It seems important

to remember that GSO is made up of individuals, and

that each staff member brings to general discussion

what he/she learns from contact with the grass roots

of the fellowship via their particular desks.

As in the general population, then, some GSO servants

were enthusiastic about, others wary of, the new

technology and its possibilities. I hope others will

step forward to offer remembered experiences of either.

ernie kurtz
++++Message 3832. . . . . . . . . . . . Group conscience meetings

From: Ernest Kurtz . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/2/2006 10:23:00 AM

A question has been posed in a different setting:

"Do you have any guidelines, electronically available,

on the subject of group conscience and group business

meetings?. In particular the role of the Chairperson?"

I trust some AAHL members will be interested in

the topic; responses may also be posted directly to


(jre33756 at bigpond.net.au)

Kell C,

(kellcheevers at hotmail.com)

or Denise H Brisbane Traditions.

(jha at powerup.com.au)

Thanks for this group's help.
ernie kurtz

(kurtzern at umich.edu)

++++Message 3834. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: The reading of "How it Works" at

the beginning of meetings

From: Robert Stonebraker . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/1/2006 9:04:00 PM
Greg asked: "2nd question: I recently heard a story of a recovered

brother sending a Big Book to a non-alcoholic sister

who helped organize a meeting in LA. Does anyone

know anything about this story?"

This is a long answer from a 2002 AA HISTORY LOVERS post by . Nancy O.

Bob S. from Indiana

Subject: [AAHistoryLovers] Sybil C., first Woman in AA West of the


From: NM Olson
Sybil C. was the first woman to enter AA west of the Mississippi. Her date

of sobriety was March 23, 1941. Her name at the time was Sybil Maxwell,

though she later opened her talks by saying, "My name is Sybil Doris


Stratton Hart Maxwell Willis C., and I'm an alcoholic."
She was born Sybil Doris Adams on May 20, 1908, in the small oil town of

Simians, Texas. Her parents were poor but hardworking and she had a brother

Herman, ten years her senior. Herman was called "Tex." Sybil

adored her

big brother. She remembered that when she was five and he fifteen, he would

hold her and rock her to sleep.

Tex joined the Army during World War I was reported missing in action, and

when the family heard nothing further they assumed he was dead. However,

when Sybil was thirteen they learned that he was alive and living in Los

Angeles. The family immediately moved to California.

Sybil felt like a misfit in Los Angeles. She affected the flapper makeup

popular at the time: heavy white powder on her face, and two big red spots

of rouge on her cheeks and lots of lipstick and black eyebrows.
"I must have looked like a circus freak or something like that,"

she wailed.

"I was in eighth grade out there in Los Angeles, and the other kids


at me. I had trouble making friends, being shy and timid by nature, but

also my papa wouldn't let boys even walk home with me, let alone go to

parties. I just wasn't allowed to do anything, and I knew I didn't belong


"So naturally I started drinking at a very early age, against my better

judgment, full of shame and remorse because of Papa's teachings. He was a

good man. When I was fifteen, I got drunk one night, passed out, and had to

be carried home and put to bed in my mother's bed. I cried the next day and

promised that it would never happen again -- and I meant it. But I didn't

know myself, I didn't know the disease of alcoholism. The next Saturday

night the kids handed me a bottle and I drank it. And I continued to do

that through a couple of semesters of high school, and I stayed drunk

through seventeen years of failed marriages and more jobs than I can

Sybil dropped out of high school and took a secretarial course and was hired

as a secretary. It was the first in along list of jobs. At various times

she was a real estate broker, a taxi driver, a bootlegger, an itinerant farm

worker, the editor of a magazine for pet owners, and a salesperson. 'I

didn't mind working," she said, "but I never seemed to get

anywhere. I was

just on a treadmill because of booze."

She had a child by her first husband, a sailor. She thought having the

child would prevent her drinking, but she drank more than ever, and her

parents eventually took the child from her.
She and her husband hitchhiked out of town to find grape picking jobs. They

thought getting away from their city friends would help them quit drinking,

but she soon was drunk again. During one of her drunks she heard music. At

first she thought she was hallucinating, but she followed the sound and

wandered into a tent where a revival meeting was in progress. The preacher

asked for anyone to come forward who wanted to be saved. "Well, that


me," Sybil told AA members. "I went all the way down while the

people were

singing. The preacher put his hand out and placed it on my head, and I

threw up all over him. It was so terrible! I was so ashamed, I couldn't

bring myself to tell anyone about it until I got into Alcoholics Anonymous

eleven years later."
She left her sailor husband and hitchhiked back to Los Angeles to her

mother's house. Her brother, Tex, now had a speakeasy on skid row, and to

make money to take to her mother to support the child, she went into the

bootlegging business with him. Eventually the speakeasy was raided and they

were out of business. Then she went to work in a taxi-dance hall.
Little is known of her second husband, but she met her third husband, Dick

Maxwell, while working in the taxi-dance hall. One night a rich, handsome

stranger walked in and bought dance tickets with Sybil for the whole night.

During intermission he bought several pitchers of beer (the girls got a

dollar for every pitcher their partner bought), and she told him her sad

story. He offered to marry her and adopt her child if she would promise not

to drink any more.
Now she had a wonderful husband, a home, a housekeeper, and a car. But she

couldn't stop drinking.

In 1939, while visiting her mother, she read the Liberty magazine article

called "Alcoholics and God." She thought the story fascinating but


nothing about it and her downward spiral continued.

Eighteen months later God gave her another chance, when she read the

Saturday Evening Post's March 1, 1941, issue which contained the famous Jack

Alexander article about AA She wrote to New York and received a reply from

Ruth Hock, then Bill Wilson's secretary, who told her that there were no

women members in California, but that Marty Mann was sober in New York.

Ruth referred her to the small group of men then in the area.

On Friday, March 23, Sybil's nonalcoholic husband, Dick Maxwell, drove her

to the meeting. They found ten or twelve men seated around a table and

three or four women seated against the wall. When the chairman began the

meeting he announced "As is our custom before the regular meeting

starts, we

have to ask the women to leave." Sybil left with the other women but


husband stayed and the members assumed he was the alcoholic. When he

rejoined Sybil he said "They don't know you're alive. They just went on


on bragging about their drinking until I was about to walk out, when they

jumped up and said the Lord's Prayer, and here I am." Sybil headed for


nearest bar and got drunk.

But she remembered the Ruth Hock had written, "If you need help, call


W." and had given her his phone number. He explained: " You didn't

tell us

you were an alcoholic. We thought you were one of the wives. If you had

identified yourself as an alcoholic, you would have been welcome as the

flowers in May."
When she returned the following week, Frank R. brought in a large carton

full of letters bundled into bunches of twenty to fifty. He explained that

they were all inquiries and calls for help from people in southern

California. "Here they are! Here they are! If any of you jokers have


sober over fifteen minutes, come on up here and get these letters. We've

got to get as many of these drunks as we can in here by next Friday, or they

may die."

The last bundle was of letters from women. Frank said: "Sybil Maxwell,


on up. I am going to put you in charge of all the women."
Sybil liked the idea of "being in charge" but replied "I

can't, sir. You

said I have to make all those calls by next Friday, or somebody might die.

Well, I'll be drunk by next Friday unless you have some magic that will

change everything so I can stay sober."
Frank explained that everything she needed to know was in the Big Book.

"And it says right in here that when all other measures fail, working


another alcoholic will save the day. That's what you will be doing, Sybil,

working with other alcoholics. You just get in your car and take your mind

off yourself. Think about someone sicker than you are. Go see her and hand

her the letter she wrote, and say: 'I wrote one like this last week, and

they answered mine and told me to come and see you. If you have a drinking

problem like I have, and if you want to get sober as bad as I do, you come

with me and we'll find out together how to do it.' Don't add another word

to that, because you don't know anything yet. Just go get 'em."
It worked, and she never had another drink.
When Bill and Lois Wilson made their first visit to Los Angeles in 1943,

Sybil was one of the delegation of local AA's who met them at the Town House

hotel. Later she met Marty Mann.
But Dick Maxwell began to feel abandoned and lonely. He urged her to cut

down on her AA activities so that they could have more of a home life. He

had grown to hate AA and refused to read the Big Book or discuss the Twelve

Steps. Finally he suggested that the solution to their marriage problems

was for her to go back to drinking and he would take care of her.
Sybil quickly packed a bag and left. She left her lovely home and rented a

housekeeping room with a gas hotplate and a bath down the hall for nine

dollars a week and went to work for the L.A. Times to support herself.


just had to come first with me," she explained.
Her brother, Tex, joined the week after she did. He started the second AA

group in the area, and appointed Sybil coffeemaker and greeter for the new

group, and finally made her deliver her first shaky talk.
When Tex died in 1952, Sybil was devastated. She wrote Bill Wilson, pouring

out her grief and asked "What am I going to do, Bill? I don't crave a

drink, but I think I'm going to die unless I get some answers." She


Bill's answer saved her life. He wrote:
November 6, 1952
My dear Sybil,
Thanks for your letter of October 21st - it was just about the most stirring

thing I have read in many a day. The real test of our way of life is how it

works when the chips are down. Though I've sometimes seen AAs make rather a

mess of living, I've never seen a sober one make a bad job of dying.

But the account you give me of Tex's last days is something I shall treasure

always. I hope I can do half as well when my time comes. I am one who

believes that in my Father's house are many mansions. If that were not so

there couldn't be any justice. I can almost see Tex sitting on the front

porch of one, right now, talking in the sunlight with others of God's ladies

and gentlemen who have gone on before. I certainly agree with you that

little was left in Tex's grave. All he had was left behind in the hearts of

the rest of us and he carried just that same amount forward to where he is

now. If you like what I've said, please read it to the Huntington Park

Group. In any case, congratulate them for me that they had the privilege of

knowing a guy like Tex.
As for you, my dear, there is no need to give you advice. How well you

understand that the demonstration is the thing, after all. It isn't so much

a question of whether we have a good time or a bad time. The only thing

that will be asked is what we do with the experience we have. That you are

doing well with our tough lot is something for which I and many others are

bound to be grateful. This is but a long day in school. Some of the

lessons are hard and others are easy. I know you will keep on learning and

passing what you learned. What more does one person need to know about

Affectionately yours,
/s/ Bill
Sybil Willis

2874A Randolph

Huntington Park, California
The letter touched Sybil so deeply she gave many copies to people who were

at a low point in life, and a few years ago someone I met at an on-line

meeting sent a copy to me.
At the time of the letter, she was married to Jim Willis, the founder of

Gamblers' Anonymous.

Sybil is perhaps best remembered as the first executive secretary of the Los

Angeles Central office of AA, a position she held for twelve years. This

was a turbulent time for AA, with much disunity and controversy within the

groups that led to the Twelve Traditions. Sybil remembered that the groups

regarded them either with opposition or indifference and the Central Office

couldn't sell many copies of the Traditions pamphlet.

Understandably, since Sybil began doing Twelfth Step work immediately, she

took a dim view of the rigidity that crept into the requirements. Some

areas required six months or even a year or sobriety before one was allowed

to call on new prospects. She advised "If you don't get prospects from


Central Office, look around the meeting rooms. There is always the

forgotten man or woman, nervous and scared, who would love to have you come

up and shake hands. Just feel what the new person is feeling. It kept me

sober, it kept my brother Tex sober, and it will keep you sober when all

other measures fail."

Her fifth and enduring marriage was to another AA member, Bob C. He has

been described a "a high-spirited, warm, and loving man, fourteen years


junior in age and twenty-two years her junior in sobriety."

"Bob and I are very happy," Sybil declared. "This has been

the best years

of my life." They were both enthusiastic meeting-goers and enjoyed an

incredibly wide circle of AA friends.

Sybil was honored at the International AA Convention in Montreal in 1985.

She was then the longest-sober living woman in AA. When she was introduced

to the 50,000 attendees from fifty-three countries, she told the colorful

story of AA's beginning in Los Angeles, in which she had played such a vital

role. When she finished her talk audience rose to its feet as one and gave

her a standing ovation which continued so long that some thought it would

never stop.
According to one source, Sybil died about 1999.
"Women Pioneers in 12 Step Recovery," by Charlotte Hunter, Billye


Joan Zieger.
"Gratefull to Have Been There," by Nell Wing.
Various tapes of Sybil's talks
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
++++Message 3835. . . . . . . . . . . . An online Varieties of Religious

Experience group?

From: Glenn Chesnut . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/2/2006 2:35:00 PM
Robyn Mitchell just wrote in (I give her email below),

and it struck me that there might be people in the

group who were interested in forming a Varieties of

Religious Experience web group (you can do it free

through Yahoo), or who would at least be interested

in exchanging emails with Robyn on this subject.

And I hope that anybody who would like to point

out specific ideas that Bill W. got from William

James' book would send something in to the group.
But if you just want to talk to Robyn personally,

since the Yahoo system does not have a button for

forwarding messages, please send your email directly

to her at:

robyn mitchell

(dollyleggs1 at bigpond.com)

Glenn C., Moderator


From: robyn mitchell

(dollyleggs1 at bigpond.com)

Date: Sun Oct 29, 2006 9:52 am

Subject: Re: [AAHistoryLovers] Science of Mind,

New Thought, and AA
I'm also reading 'Varieties' for the first time!

Yesterday I mused about the probability of finding

someone else who would be reading the book at the

same time, I guessed that at least one of you guys

would have read it recently, but didn't expect a

reply to unsent mail so soon.

The idea that Bill was reading this a few days off

the booze enhances my experience of the text; and yes,

there are several ideas that I recognise from the

Big Book and a few of those are not Jamesian but are

quotes/references he uses to illustrate his ideas, so

it widens the circle of reading even further for me!


[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

++++Message 3836. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: The reading of "How it Works" at

the beginning of meetings

From: Robert Stonebraker . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/1/2006 8:55:00 PM
Los Angeles in 1940, see AA Comes of Age, p. 93

--- from Bob S., tom2cor134@yahoo.com>, James R.,

and Debbie U.
Greg asked: " Can someone point me in the right

direction as to the origin of the custom (at least

for some groups) of reading "How It Works" at the

beginning of meetings.

From: "Robert Stonebraker"

(rstonebraker212 at insightbb.com)

Please read page 93 of AA COMES OF AGE. The year

seems to be 1940 and a member named Mort J. insisted

on reading Chapter 5 at the start of every session.

This took place at the Cecil Hotel in downtown

Los Angeles. I think that hotel was on Hill Street

or perhaps Broadway (Near Pershing Sq. Park). It

is probably torn down now, but it was still there

in the 1960s.

Bob S., Indiana

"Tom" (tom2cor134 at yahoo.com)

James R (jamesoddname at yahoo.com)

"Debi Ubernosky" (dkuber1990 at

++++Message 3837. . . . . . . . . . . . RE: Required reading of the Preamble

From: Bill Lash . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/2/2006 9:07:00 AM

From Bill Lash, John Lee, Mark Everett, Tracy Flynn,

Mike S., and Debi Ubernosky

- - -
From: Bill Lash

(barefootbill at optonline.net)

Just so you know, the Preamble is NOT Conference

Approved Literature, it is written and copyrighted

by the AA Grapevine. Also, it is DEFINITELY NOT

required to be read at every sanctioned group.

Just Love,

Barefoot Bill

- - -
-----Original Message-----

Message #3826 from "earlynomad"

(psycoweirdo at aol.com)

Is it required that the Preamble be read at every

sanctioned group, and if so, is there only one

version that can be read at the group?
My group is looking at changing the wording of the

preamble and I am against it. I would like to know

if there is something according to AAWS that the

wording of the preamble must be of a particular


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