June 10th 1935 … The First Day

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Pioneers of A.A.

Dr. Bob and the nine men and women who here tell their stories were among the early members of A.A.’s first groups. All ten have now passed away of natural causes, having maintained complete sobriety. Today, hundreds of additional A.A. members can be found who have had no relapse for more than fifty years. All of these, then, are the pioneers of A.A. They bear witness that release from alcoholism can really be permanent.

Dr. Bob’s Nightmare

A Co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. The birth of our society dates from his first day of permanent sobriety, June 10th 1935.

To 1950, the year of his death, he carried the A.A. message to more than 5,000 alcoholic men and women, and to all these he gave his medical services without thought of charge.

In this prodigy of service, he was well assisted by Sister Ignatia at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, one of the greatest friends or fellowship will ever know.

83 years ago today, the fellowship marks its beginning. The first day of Dr. Bob Smith’s permanent sobriety date. This also marks what we now call Founder’s Day and Gratitude week, all over the world.

On that fateful day, as Bill’s business went South, and he stood in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel in Akron, heaven held its breath, waiting to see what choice Bill would make next. There he stood in that lobby, the bar to one side and the phone and church directory to the other.

It only took mere seconds, the choice Bill eventually made. And in that choice the fellowship of A.A. was on its way to being born. After several failed calls, Bill reached, one Henrietta Sieberling who put him in contact with Ann, Dr. Bob’s wife.

Quoting Dr. Bob …

“Of far more importance was the fact that Bill was the first living human with whom I had ever talked, who knew what he was talking about in regards to alcoholism from actual experience, in other words, he talked my language.”

Monday – On the Island of Crete …

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We are so privileged to have the resources we do today.

If you travel to the island of Crete, in Greece, and are looking for another alcoholic, or a meeting, one has to travel through back alleys, and little lanes, to the door of an old Greek Orthodox Church, where you will find a door, with an A.A. medallion, stuck to it.

And quite possibly, you will also find two ex-pat British men who, for 42 or 43 weeks a year, spend their time on the island of Crete. Two men, probably the only English meeting you will find there, will help you stay sober.

Imagine, if you will, in the year 2016, that there are only THREE people, who have the life saving message of how to quit drinking. There is no book, There are no meetings. There are only three men, in the whole of creation, that have the message, to offer …

In the story, A.A. Number Three, the story of Bill D. the man in the bed, is the founder of the first A.A. group in the world, in Akron Ohio. The Very First group.

When he received the message, it was only Bill and Dr. Bob.

“They said to me, Do you want to quit drinking? It’s none of our business about your drinking. We’re not up here trying to take any of your rights or privileges away from you, but we have a program whereby we think we can stay sober. part of that program is that we take it to someone else who needs it and wants it. Now, if you don’t want it, we’ll not take up your time, and we’ll be going and looking for someone else.”

Bill and Dr. Bob meant business. Because it was THEIR sobriety on the line. If they did not carry the message to a suffering alcoholic, then they were in jeopardy of drinking again.

Do you really need it or want it ???

Imagine if we were back in the day, knowing we had a serious problem, a sickness of the mind and the body, and there was no one around, to help us figure it out, save for just two men, who succeeded in stopping the drink.

We are just so lucky.

The next story in the founder’s section of the Stories in the back of the book is “Gratitude in Action,” The story about Dave B. who founded A.A. here in Quebec in 1944.

A.A. in Quebec began in a nondescript home, in the basement of said home, before A.A. found its way into a local church.

We are indebted to this intrepid group of men and women, for laying the groundwork for the system we have that keeps us sober.

I heard some friends of mine talk tonight about family members on the other side of the world, (read: S. Korea) where there are NO meetings in English and the only contact they have with another alcoholic lives here in Montreal.

I also heard a friend talk about some women who got sober around the same time my lady friend had, a little over two years ago. I warned them all about LONGEVITY. I warned them that sobriety was a LONG HAUL proposition.

That the Pink Cloud would come to an end, and if you are not focused on the long haul of it, you will fall off that cloud and drink again. A couple of those lady friends are still IN the meetings, they STICK around and have stayed.

But for some of those women, who were heavy alcoholics who ended up in institutions and hospitals, and lost their homes, kids, cars and THINGS, each of them rebuilt from the rubble, and then decided that they did not NEED us any longer.

They might be sober still, but they have gone off on their own.

Is that a good thing or a bad thing ? I’m not sure.

It’s not my problem.

Where ever you go in the world, you can, for the most part, find a meeting, in the local language, or better yet, in English if you are lucky. But no matter where you go, in the world, there are people out there to carry the message, even if we don’t speak the same language.

Sobriety is universal.

It was said tonight, by another of our women, that:

If it is the the only thing we find in the rooms, we find God, Spirituality.

The book says:

I came in A.A. solely for the purpose of sobriety, but it has been through A.A. that I have found God.

Bill D, goes on to say … I feel that is about the most wonderful thing that a person can do.

God has been a part of my life for the whole of my life. When it was good, it was good, but when it was bad, it was very bad. But in all my years, I never imagined that I would turn my ENTIRE will and my life over to the care of God, as I understood him.

God was present the first time I got sober, in the guise of Todd.

The problem was that Todd was not IN the rooms. But he gave me a plan to live and he kept me sober on the outside. The room I was attached to, was unhealthy and sick. I did not want to be in that room, but it was the only one close enough to walk, because I did not have a car, and other meetings were too far away and transit sucked.

My first sober stint was unhealthy and I did not connect, and decided not to stay.

Read: Taking back my will to fill the HOLE in my SOUL.

What I did right the second time was this … It began with prayer.

I had, functionally, committed to Steps One, Two and Three, the very night I decided I was done drinking, for the second time.

I made my first meeting in a room that welcomed me and asked me to stay. It was a healthy – safe – supportive space to get sober.

In deciding to grow up, it was in the rooms that I achieved that, with people who helped me stay sober, grow up and become a man. Coming to Montreal, was 100% a God decision.

And God has not done me wrong.