Lorna Kelly, reverently speaks about Bill W. when she tells the story of the time, she herself, visited the Mayflower Hotel in Akron, Ohio. This is the actual phone, still located in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel, that Bill used on the day that changed the world.
Bill had traveled to Akron for business. That day, Bill had met with other business men, hoping to score a deal and make some money. Sadly, the business went South, and Bill walked away from that meeting, dejected and depressed.
He stood in the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel that day. Bill was sober. But was standing at the crossroads of his sobriety. His day was shot, and he had but one choice to make, between two extremes.
On one side of the lobby was the bar. The Easy Choice. The most logical, for most men.
Nikos Kazantzakis once said that “Always choosing the sure path is treason for the soul.”
On the other side of the bar, was the phone, and the church directory.
In that moment, the angels in heaven, must have been holding their breaths, wondering, “which way will he go?” “What is Bill going to do?”
The world did not know this innocuous situation would be as critical as it became.
Bill could have chosen the sure thing … The bar and a drink.
But Bill was sober. And he thought to himself, in that moment of desperation, that he needed another alcoholic. And in a moment, he turned, away from the bar, towards the phone.
Bill made several calls, none of which produced his desired intention. The last number he called was to Henrietta Sieberling. And it was Henrietta who sent him to the home of one Dr. Bob and Ann Smith.
Ann knew her husband had a problem with alcohol. And she tried in vain to try to get Bob sober, one way or another. In the end, it was a single conversation that ignited the spark that became the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Bill had once said that, “He needed Bob as bad as Bob needed him.” from ABSI, from tonight’s reading.
Bill arrived at the home of Bob and Ann. Bob, none to sure of what to expect, deigned Bill fifteen minutes and not a minute more. Bill walked in, with everything that he had. His story. His experience. And his own story of alcoholism.
It is in the telling of ones story, not dogma, not preaching, nor from ones ego, that we can reach another alcoholic.
Bill sat with Bob for more than six hours, that first night. In the end, Bill spent two weeks in the home of Bob and Ann, helping Dr. Bob get sober.
It was an easy sell, the basic premise of getting sober. The identification was there from the very beginning. But Dr. Bob was a little slow on the uptake, and sputtered and ground himself into the ground on a few occasions with bouts of drinking ending up on an errant sofa in the end.
That day, as Bill spoke with Dr. Bob about his own Experience, Strength and Hope, the fellowship began.
The Book reads: Dr. Bob’s Nightmare … Pg 171, the first story in the Book.
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 the 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 our fellowship will ever know.
Alcohol and drugs are the great equalizers. They do not discriminate.
Once one walks over the threshold of any meeting, we are all equal. And the cure for what ails us, is the experience, strength and hope of one another. The allergy of the body and the obsession of the mind, is solved, in spiritual principles.
Because at some point, somewhere, in that moment of indecision, the only thing that will stand between you and a drink, will be your Higher Power.
Gratitude week is always celebrated around the anniversary of Dr. Bob’s date of sobriety.
June 10th, 1935.