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



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Excerpt from Indianapolis AA History:
From several sources I will attempt to weave a new,

but connected pattern of how AA was started here in

Indianapolis and identify the critical people who

constitute the threads.


Let me quote a description of Doherty Sheerin, the

man who founded AA in Indianapolis. J. D. Holmes (who

was one of the original AA group in Akron) said in

a letter that Doherty Sheerin was:


" ... the boy who put AA on the Indiana map. I have

always considered him the number 3 man in A.A., a

statement I can boldly make after having been

closely associated with Dr. Bob and Bill W. And

there are others who think the same as I."
That is an extraordinary thing to say. Next to Dr. Bob

and to Bill W. in his understanding of the AA program,

Doherty Sheerin was the number three man in

AA. Later I will read this letter in its entirety.


Who was this spectacular man who had such an affect

on my life and on yours? No doubt AA would have found

its way to Indianapolis. But the historical evidence

seems to indicate this is how AA actually came together

in Indianapolis.
Who was this man?
His name, as we have said, was Doherty Sheerin.

Other names that you will hear are "J. D." who was

James D. Holmes. He was AA # 8 and lived in Akron,

Ohio. His wife was from Evansville, and J.D. and his

wife eventually relocated to Evansville, where her

family was still residing as this story unfolds. J. D.

had started the first A.A. group in Indiana in Evansville

on April 23, 1940.


The other essential man in this unfolding episode

is Irving M. from Cleveland. Irving M. is sometimes

referred to as Erwin. His last name was Meyerson. The

long time Indianapolis Saturday Evening group still

honors him. His final residence was on the West coast.
The central figure in early Cleveland A.A. was Clarence

Snyder, the "Home Brewmeister" in the story in the

Big Book (pp. 297-303 in the 3rd edition). He was the

dynamo who pioneered the printed word -- pamphlets,

advertisements and newspaper articles. Irving Meyerson

was one of Clarence Snyder's train of "pigeons" or

sponcees. When Irving came to Indianapolis and introduced

himself to Dohr Sheerin, he simply said, "I am from

Cleveland and I've come here to help you get to work."
Dean L. Barnett, who made the first attempt at writing

a history of AA in Indiana, gives one account of how

Irving and Dohr got together. One copy of Dean's history

is in the New York AA Archives, and another copy, which

seems to be a slightly different version, is in the

Indianapolis AA Archives. In the New York version, Dean

says that in the Spring of 1940, in Indianapolis,

"... a man who had been sober on his own for almost

three years read the Liberty Magazine article on A.A.

and sent to New York for what information was available,

but experienced little reaction from what he received.

This man was the late, beloved Doherty S[heerin]. Later

in the same year, Irvin S. M[eyerson] of the Cleveland

group visited Mr. S[heerin] and took him and a Mr. Barr

to Evansville to meet Mr. Holmes. Hope was revived in

D[ohr]'s breast, he once told me, so that when he

returned to Indianapolis, he soon interested another

sufferer in the program on or about October 28, 1940,

the date now marked as the founding of the movement in

the capital city."


End of excerpt
- - -
[FROM THE MODERATOR: I should say that Dean Barnett

was not a very good researcher, and got a number of things

wrong in his history of how AA came to Indiana. Dean

says that Doherty Sheerin read the Liberty Magazine

article and wrote the New York AA headquarters, and that

somehow or other Irwin Meyerson ended up coming out to

Indianapolis from Cleveland. Dean would get the basic

story right, but tended to garble and confuse the details

and guess when he didn't know. Many present-day Indiana

AA historians think that it is more likely that Doherty

Sheerin came upon some of the things printed about AA in

the Cleveland newspaper, and wrote directly to Cleveland,

where Clarence Snyder asked Irwin to pass through

Indianapolis when he was traveling around selling venetian

blinds.
But Dean Barnett could have been right, and perhaps

Dohr did write New York, and New York sent Irwin to

Indianapolis.
At any rate, Irwin made the twelfth step call on Dohr

in Indianapolis, but immediately took him down to Evansville,

Indiana, where the AA leader J. D. Holmes had already set

up an AA group. It was J. D. who help Irwin show Dohr

how to set up an AA group, and the J. D. Holmes and Doherty

Sheerin then set up a highly organized campaign, where they

had soon set up AA meetings all over the state of Indiana.
I have been told, but have not been able to verify,

that AA in Louisville, Kentucky, was founded by contact

with Indianapolis, which is a straight drive north from

Louisville.


South Bend, Indiana, where I live, which is up in the

far north, is the only major part of Indiana where AA

was not founded (directly or indirectly) by the efforts

of J. D. Holmes (from Akron) and Doherty Sheerin (who

was twelfth stepped by Irwin Meyerson from Cleveland).
Glenn C.]
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++++Message 3869. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: How did Bill W. annual dinner

begin in New York?

From: Tom Hickcox . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/15/2006 4:02:00 PM
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At 19:31 11/13/2006 , James Blair wrote:
>Sasha wrote

>

>"This year I had a strong sense of being at a



>historical event, and I wondered what you all

>know about it."

>

>The December 1944 issue of the GV reported on the



>gathering of 1500 people, most of them drunks at the

>Hotel Commodore to celebrate the 10th anniversary

>of the founding of AA. Bill gave a report on the

>first 10 years of AA and a female member also shared.

>Fulton Oursler of the Reader's Digest was the

>non-AA speaker.

>

>(The date of the dinner is not mentioned).


The N.Y. World-Telegram article quoted by the N.Y.

Sun and included in the December 1944 Grapevine

article James Blair cited says "last night". I

would presume "last night" was in the recent past.


None of the responses to the initial query addresses

two of the three questions Sasha posed:


1. How did it come to be?

[And why late October/early November?]


2. Was it always conceived as a fundraiser?
3. Akron has its Founders' Day [Shouldn't Founders

be plural?] on the traditional founding date,

June 10th, annually.
Perhaps, tho, we are trying to read importance into

it that isn't there. 8^)


My wife, late of Long Island, has attended the N.Y.

dinner and experienced feelings similar to those

Sasha experienced.
Tommy in Baton Rouge
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++++Message 3870. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: "at" vs. "for" on Big Book p. 66

From: Tom Hickcox . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/17/2006 10:41:00 PM


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Peter Tippett
wrote:
In a Big Book Study while reading page 66 from my

3rd Edition I read, "We turned back to the list,

for it held the key to the future. We were prepared

to look AT IT from an entirely different angle."


"AT IT" or "FOR IT"?
I went and checked in my library and found the

following differences in the Eidtions and Printings:


Page edit./printing Date "at" or "for"
79 1st, 11th June 1947 "at"

66 2nd, 7th 1965 "for"

66 3rd, 10th 1981 "for"

66 3rd, 56th 1996 "at"

66 4th, 14th Sept., 2004 "at"
And on the spine of the 310 th printing of the 3rd

Edition it says, "Third Edition: New and Revised."


New and Revised?
I just have a curiosity as to any information

surrounding the "at" vs. "for" and the "New and

Revised."

__________________________


The Anonymous Press has a reproduction of the first

edition, first printing, which lists the changes

made from the 1st/1st to "modern text." This change,

whether accidental or purposeful, is not listed.

This comparison list is interesting to read, but be

aware that there is at least one typo in it. The

Big Book writers, for example, used the terms

ex-alcoholics and former alcoholics and these terms

were subsequently changed, but I digress . . .
I checked my library and four first editions, the

5th, 10th, 11th, and 13th printings all have "at."


I checked all 16 printings of the second edition

and they all have "for." They all also have "New

and Revised" on the spine, even the one that says

"Third Edition."


The first twenty printings of the third edition

have "for." The twenty-second printing has "at."

My modest library lacks a twenty-first printing,

so I can be no more definitive than that. Subsequent

third editions that I checked have "at." My one

fourth edition, a first printing, has "at." It

does not have "New and Revised" on the dust jacket

or cover.


I realize this doesn't answer the why question, but

I can't answer that.


Tommy H in Baton Rouge
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++++Message 3871. . . . . . . . . . . . Hospital records and the date of Dr.

Bob''s last drink?

From: Russ S . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/16/2006 10:56:00 AM
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Hello Fellow History Lovers,
Today, on the anniversary of the passing of our

beloved Dr. Bob I received an email saying he

"began his sobriety on or about June 16, 1935."
I know this issue has been raised in several

previous AAHL posts.


Has anyone ever tried to check hospital records in

Akron to see when Dr. Bob operated and who the

famous, um, person was, who had to have a "delicate

procedure?"


Love and Service,
Russ Stewart

Hooterville, NJ


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++++Message 3872. . . . . . . . . . . . Early Grapevine article and the word

"slip"


From: john.otis . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/18/2006 1:06:00 AM
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Hi. Back in the 60s I had a sponsor in Lancaster,

Calif. and he had one of the first Grapevines.


In it someone had written "Slipping From the Hands

Of God," and said that this is what we mean by the

word "slip."
Is there any way I can get a copy of this Grapevine?
Your site puts tears in my eyes when I see the

roots of this LIFE SAVING PROGRAM.


John Otis
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++++Message 3873. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: "at" vs. "for" on Big Book p. 66

From: Charlene C. . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/19/2006 4:47:00 PM


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Not sure what you are looking for but from a

grammatical point of view, the word "for" makes

zero sense in that particular sentence.
charlene

austin, tx.


Peter Tippett
wrote:
In a Big Book Study while reading page 66 from my

3rd Edition I read, "We turned back to the list,

for it held the key to the future. We were prepared

to look AT IT from an entirely different angle."


"AT IT" or "FOR IT"?
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++++Message 3875. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Hospital records and the date of

Dr. Bob''s last drink?

From: Glenn F. Chesnut . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/19/2006 11:36:00 PM
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The Evolution of Alcoholics Anonymous

By Jim Burwell - The Agnostic


http://www.barefootsworld.net/aa-jb-evolution.html
Jim Burwell, one of the earliest AA members, says

in this little history of AA that he wrote at one

point, that Dr. Bob "dates his last drink June 15,

1935."
Jim preserves one version of some of the early AA

oral traditions. What you have to do in this kind

of historical research is look at all the various

oral tradition material, because usually what

happens is that each version gets some things right

but other things wrong. So the next thing you have

to do is look at written sources of information,

to see which oral tradition version best corresponds

to what can be corroborated from written documents.


Given the actual date of the AMA Convention in 1935,

Jim Burwell's memory may well have been more accurate

on this issue than the date which Bill W. and

Dr. Bob tried to reconstruct later on.


But the important thing to note is that not EVERYBODY

in early AA said that the date was June 10th, as

people today tend to falsely assume.
- - - - - - - -
In AAHistoryLovers@yahoogroups.com,

"Russ S" wrote:

>

> Hello Fellow History Lovers,



>

> Today, on the anniversary of the passing of our

> beloved Dr. Bob I received an email saying he

> "began his sobriety on or about June 16, 1935."

>

> I know this issue has been raised in several



> previous AAHL posts.

>

> Has anyone ever tried to check hospital records in



> Akron to see when Dr. Bob operated and who the

> famous, um, person was, who had to have a "delicate

> procedure?"

>

> Love and Service,



>

> Russ Stewart

> Hooterville, NJ

>
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++++Message 3876. . . . . . . . . . . . Use of the word "slip" in early AA

From: Mitchell K. . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/20/2006 9:22:00 PM


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Not sure about the Grapevine article but the term slip

or slipper was used very early on. In Cleveland, ca

1941 (pre-Grapevine which was published 1944) in the

rules for hospitals there is a definition of a

"retrovert" or "slipper." That definition is "A man

or

woman who has been sponsored, and has attended at



least one A.A. meeting, then takes a drink, is

considered a retrovert, or slipper."


Responding to Message 3872 from "john.otis"

(suzkem at theriver.com)
Subject: Early Grapevine article and the word "slip"
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++++Message 3877. . . . . . . . . . . . Re: Re: "at" vs. "for" on Big Book

p. 66


From: ny-aa@att.net . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/20/2006
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Looking at the grammar:
"We were prepared to look AT IT..."

The antecedent of "it" is "The Inventory."

Therefore, "We were prepared to look at the inventory..."
"We were prepared to look FOR IT..."

The antecedent of "it" is "the key."

Therefore, "We were prepared to look for the key..."
From a grammatical point of view, either FOR or AT

makes perfect sense in that sentence. The meanings are

different but both valid sentences. You need to figure

out what the groups approved and not what someone

thought was better. Or did Bill change it himself?
As was obvious in the flap over changed commas in the

original Fourth Edition version of "Dr Bob's Nightmare,"

some of the "editors" who try to "improve" the Big Book

have yet to master the English Language. Some changes

that "sounded right" to them changed the meanings in

subtle ways.

_________

Tom E
-------------------------------------------------


From: "jimlynch279"

(jimlynch279 at yahoo.com)


I think to say the sentence with "for" makes no

grammatical sense is not accurate.


If the phrase is "look FOR it from an entirely

different angle," the antecedent of the pronoun "it"

is "the key", something that we need, must find and

will search for by looking from a different angle.


If the phrase is "look AT it from an entirely

different angle.", the antecedent of the pronoun "it"

is "the list," something that we have available for

review and will gain more infomation from if we view

it from a different angle.
Jim L

xpd in Pittsburgh


-------------- Original message -----------------

From: "Charlene C."

> Not sure what you are looking for but from a

> grammatical point of view, the word "for" makes

> zero sense in that particular sentence.

> charlene

> austin, tx.

>

> Peter Tippett wrote: -------------->



> In a Big Book Study while reading page 66 from my

> 3rd Edition I read, "We turned back to the list,

> for it held the key to the future. We were prepared

> to look AT IT from an entirely different angle."

>

> "AT IT" or "FOR IT"?



>

-------------------------------------------------


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++++Message 3878. . . . . . . . . . . . Ebby''s Philadelphia Adventure

From: Shakey1aa@aol.com . . . . . . . . . . . . 11/19/2006 7:39:00 PM


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Philadelphia and Ebby (Edwin Throckmorton Thacher)
As Mel B writes in his book "Ebby": on June 1940

Ebby decided to come to Philadelphia. He arrived at

10 A.M and was drunk by noon. He mentions that the

Philadelphia mother group was not too keen to help

a New York AA due to some rivalry between the cities.

He states they got him situated at P.G.H.(Philadelphia

General Hospital).
Mel states that this recollection was from a 1954

interview and says the Philadelphia Group, which

numbered 75, may not have been too keen to help

someone who didn't want it. Ebby got out and lived

and worked at a mission similar to the Salvation Army

for three weeks. He then worked as a porter at a

Philadelphia hospital in the cancer laboratory for

three months.


The September 1940 Philadelphia meeting list does not

show his name. With our involvement in World War Two,

a 46-year-old Ebby did not have to worry about the

draft and with the shortage of able bodied workers

he secured employment with the US Navy as an associate

inspector of parts.


He arrives on the Philadelphia meeting list dated

November 1941 as Edw. Thatcher with an address of

Lankenau Hospital. Also sharing that address was a

Mr. Art O'C.


Ebby went in and out and had no trouble finding jobs

crating trucks to ship overseas and at Westinghouse

at the steam plant division in South Philadelphia.

He also worked for the Red Cross packing depot and

worked at the AA Clubhouse at 219 S. 36th Street

near the University of Pennsylvania as an Assistant

Club Steward (1943).
Our June 1, 1942 meeting list has him at 242 S. 17th

Street in Philadelphia with a phone number of Kin 9881.

The same meeting list has Mr. William H. with the

same address and phone number. It is interesting

to note that this address is close to the offices

of Dr. A. Weise Hammer (see AA Comes of Age pg. 190

and Grapevine May 1957). His wife Helen overheard

Jimmy B. in a bookstore trying to sell the Big Book

and with a Mrs. (Dr.) Dudley Saul (of the Saul Clinic)

introduced him to their husbands. They were great

friends to A.A. and introduced us to Judge Curtis

Bok, of the Philadelphia Municipal Court and Curtis

Publishing, the owner of the Saturday Evening Post.
(Read 3/1/1941 Saturday Evening Post article

"Alcoholics Anonymous" by Jack Alexander.)


Dr. Hammer was at 323 S. 17th Street and his

alcoholic nephew, Mr. Charles A. D. (Dan) M. lived

at 237 S 18th Street.
Ed F., the founder of the Northeast Clubhouse, in

a tape recorded for the Archives of the Southeastern

Pennsylvania Intergroup Association recalled an

Ebby anecdote.


He was at the 36th Street clubhouse with his sponsor

George S. (the first open AA meeting in Philadelphia

was at his home). He related that he was the first

speaker that evening at the closed A.A. meeting and,

"after I finished talking I get back in the room

and George S. says Ann G. is having a problem. Now,

she is one of the few women we have in A.A. at the

time. She lived at 23rd and Spruce in a third floor

apartment. Let's go down and see if we can help

her. So we jump in my car and Ebby was just going to

close the meeting. So we went down to 23rd and Spruce

and we're walking up the steps and I'm right in

front of George. We get up to the third floor and

there's a pig-tail light hanging from the ceiling

of the long hall. And here's our friend Ann G.

walking down the hall with a little mandarin coat

on and a mandarin hat and I swear all I can see was

bare legs. So I pointed to her for George and he

coughed or said something and she turned around and

had a bikini on. So we came up to the top of the stairs

and Ann says 'Come on into the front room, the living

room.' So we walk into the living room and I started

to sit on the couch and she says 'No, no, no. You

don't do that.' We sit on the pillows. So she took

and put out three pillows out on the floor and it so

happens I was sitting on the pillow that looked right

down the hallway. And as we're talking, and she

had a few drinks on board, and as we're still

talking I see this man and women coming down the

hall all the way to the other end door, open the

door and walk in. The man had two big what looked

like shopping bags in his hand. They looked very

familiar. I'm looking at them from the back. So I

say to Ann, 'Where's the bathroom?' She says,

'It's the third door on the right.' So I walk down

the hall right past the third door to the end door

that had just been opened and closed. I open the

door and I walk in and there's our friend Ebby

and Emily his girlfriend sitting at the table each

with a quart of beer. I said, 'Well what's the beer?'

He said, 'Well, it's all right to drink between

meetings.'"


Yours in Service,

Shakey Mike Gwirtz




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