Alcoholics Anonymous & History of AA
By Dick B.
September 2008 is National Recovery Month. Governments, treatment facilities, therapists, and non-profits are asked to post proclamations and conduct media presentations.
In Kihei, Maui, Hawaii, we have a different suggestion. This September of 2008, we shall focus on the life of A.A. cofounder Dr. Bob. Focus on how he approached sick newcomers who came to earliest A.A. Focus on how Dr. Bob led newcomers to cure by the power of God and to their well-documented, 75% recovery rate. And to the astonishing results of the early, pioneer, “old school,” spiritual recovery program. In short, instead of a focus on recovery, let there be focus on a new way of celebrating recovery this September of 2008. Let the emphasis be on the original recovery premise: “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path.” This success is neither denominational nor religious. It is based on documented, factual history that needs to be known, reported, celebrated, and highlighted.
Here are some timely recovery facts and events to remember in connection with National Recovery Month in September of 2008. And these facts and events will take you to the State of Vermont.
Dr. Bob (Robert Holbrook Smith, M.D.) was born in St. Johnsbury, Vermont, on August 8, 1879.
His father (a Judge) and his mother (a Sunday school superintendent and Vermont Library activist) attended North Congregational Church three times on Sunday and usually again on Wednesday for prayer meetings. Dr. Bob was active in the North Congregational Church Christian Endeavor Society. His father was President of the local YMCA and a deacon at his church. His mother was a Sunday school teacher, church choir member, women’s club president, and active alumni group executive at St. Johnsbury Academy. Dr. Bob attended St. Johnsbury Academy, went to daily chapel, attended weekly church services, and went to weekly Bible study. He graduated in 1898—an orator at the ceremony.
The Bill Wilson story is not that much different. Wilson came from a family where his grandfather had been cured of alcoholism in a conversion experience. His paternal and maternal families were much involved in the East Congregational Church located between the Wilson and Griffith homes in East Dorset, Vermont. Wilson went to Burr and Burton Academy in Manchester, Vermont, where he (like Dr. Bob) attended daily chapel, attended church each week, went to required Bible study each week, took a required Bible course all four years he was a Burr and Burton student, was president of the YMCA.
This year, the following events will focus on the importance of training young men in the way they should go. They will publicize the reasons why Dr. Bob said he had had excellent training in the Bible as a youngster in Vermont. They will publicize the very basic ideas Bob translated from his boyhood village to Akron, Ohio, where he cofounded Alcoholics Anonymous with Bill Wilson of New York in June of 1935.
See Dr. Bob’s birthplace and boyhood home on Summer Street in St. Johnsbury, Vermont.
Take the new St. Johnsbury Historical Walking Tour, with its scheduled stops at Dr. Bob’s boyhood home and at his family’s North Congregational Church where the Dr. Bob Core Library is located.
Visit North Congregational Church, St. Johnsbury, which has just established the Dr. Bob Core Library where recovery people as well as the general public can see and study the historical materials that gave rise to Dr. Bob’s recovery role and strong biblical approach.
Note that authors Dick B. and Ken B. have just released their thorough study of Dr. Bob’s training and youth in St. Johnsbury, Vermont. The book is Dr. Bob of Alcoholics Anonymous: His Excellent Training in the Good Book as a Youngster in Vermont. (For details, please see: http://dickb.com/drbobofaa.shtml.)
Dick B., a writer, historian, retired attorney, and recovered AA, has just completed ten audio talks about Dr. Bob and the A.A. story as seen from the Vermont roots: http://dickb.com/audio-talks.shtml. The talks can also be heard on radio station KHLT in Oregon.
August 12th marked the opening of the newly-renovated St. Johnsbury Welcome Center. The public—and the recovery community specifically—will now have easier access to the most important spiritual source of early A.A. recovery in the world.
The recovery focus in September of 2008 should be on the youth of America. It should be on training in their family as to the way they should go. It should be on the importance of belief in and reliance upon the Creator. It should call to their minds the power to which they can turn when licked—the power of the one, true, living God.