Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter AUGUSt 2006

Dear Marina Dock Members and Patrons:

Thank you for your continued support, The Marina Dock, owes its success to the ongoing generosity and support of a small group of big supporters, and a large group of everyday small donations. I guess that just about covers everyone who walks through our doors. One thing we are sure of is, you all have a stake in this operation and have a part to play in the miracle on 2118 Greenwich St. Everyday new people cross our threshold seeking help and refuge from the ravages of alcoholism and substance abuse, and everyday you await their arrival with empathy, compassion and unconditional love. My part in all of this is merely academic we do the footwork but the results remain exclusively in the hands of a God of our understanding. What a great phrase that is, I love it and I try to find an excuse to work it into a discussion at every opportunity. In fact just last night I had a chance to expound on that very topic.

Godless in the Excelsior

I gave my newcomer friend Dante (not his real name) a ride to the Excelsior and as we cruised down Ocean Ave the conversation invariably turned from joblessness and bills, to powerlessness and God. Dante has a little over a year and is really struggling right now with paying his rent and holding down a job, not to mention that he and his girlfriend just ended their relationship the night before. He asked me how it was for me when it came to ending relationships? I told him I never did end a relationship I simply stopped showing up and after a while the other person would realize they were no longer in a relationship. He laughed at that and figured I was trying to humor him and pull him out of his funky mood. Then he asked me if I had a problem with a belief in a "Higher Power" or God when I first came around the program. I told him I was so deranged from alcoholism that I thought Elvis was God. Dante laughed, he is from Memphis so he got a kick out of that one. Seriously though I asked, trying to steer the conversation back on to a more spiritual footing, why do you think you have a problem with the God part of the program ?. He said, I don't know for sure, but it may have something to do with growing up in Tennessee rather than Virginia, my folks grew up in Richmond, he said jokingly. I told Dante most newcomers have problems with the spiritual angle when we first get sober, l suggested we see what Bill our co-founder has to say to the newcomer on this issue.

Belief in God From "Let's Ask Bill Wilson"

Q- What about the alcoholic who says that he cannot possibly believe in God?

A - A great many of them come to A.A. and they say that they are trapped. By this they mean that we have convinced them that they are fatally ill, yet they cannot accept a belief in God and His grace as a means of recovery. Happily this does not prove to be an impossible dilemma at all. We simply suggest that the newcomers take an easy stance and an open mind; that he proceeds to practice those parts of the Twelve Steps that anyone's common sense would readily recommend. He can certainly admit that he is an alcoholic; that he ought to make a moral inventory; that he ought to discuss his defects with another person; that he should make restitution for harms done; and that he can be helpful to other alcoholics.

We emphasize the 'open mind,' that at least he should admit that there might be a 'Higher Power.' He can certainly admit that he is not God, nor is mankind in general. If he wishes he could place his own dependence upon his own A.A. group. That group is certainly a "Higher Power," so far as recovery from alcoholism is concerned. If these reasonable conditions are met, he then finds himself released from the compulsion to drink; he discovers that his motivations have been changed far out of proportion to anything that could have been achieved by a simple association with us or by any practice of a little more honesty, humility, tolerance, and helpfulness. Little by little he becomes aware that a "Higher Power" is indeed at work. In a matter of months, or at least in a year or two, he is talking freely about God, as he understands Him. He has received the gift of God's grace - and he knows it. (N.C.C.A., Blue Book, Vol.12, 1960)

A Piece of local A.A History


On September 1st 2006 Wade D will celebrate 56 years of sobriety. Wade is very much involved in the everyday operations of The Marina Dock, like his friend of 5 decades, Frank Brennan, Wade's influence extends into every corner of the global recovery community. Frank died in September 2003 in San Francisco, California.

Random reflections on the occasion of Frank Brennan's 50th clean and sober birthday, January 4, 1996. Celebration dinner, 7pm at the Holiday Inn, Union Square, San Francisco.

Valentine, Nebraska December 28, 1995

When Pauline and I moved from Chicago to San Francisco in 1966 Frank welcomed us with open arms. At the time Frank was the major domo at the 7 Seas club which catered to alcoholic seamen. He invited us to a Saturday night AA meeting. We ascended a flight of stairs. When we approached the landing we recognized Lee Marvin, a prominent movie star, drunk and disheveled, sitting on the last step. He mumbled that Frank wouldn't let him stay inside. We later found that Frank had bounced him for being loud and obstreperous. Frank was alert to early warning signals of people who tend to become allergic to their own bullshit. We were entranced with the 7 Seas Club - it had the trappings of a sleazy waterfront dive.

Through the years Frank has earned and enjoyed the respect and love of Bay Area AAs. He is a down home guy and, thankfully, with a half a century of sobriety Frank is not and never has been an AA guru. Our friends to the south in LaLa land suffer a few gurus gladly - I recall one who drones on and on. Almost every time he opens his mouth he subtracts from the sum total of AA wisdom. Frank ain't that way - his remarks are pithy and sparkle with self-deprecating humor.

Frank is direct but now and then his directness wanders off in circuitous fashion. We baseball fans over age fifty tag him with affection as the Casey Stengel of AA. I recall Frank calling me about a fallen away Catholic from Boston with a huge guilt problem which was putting his sobriety in jeopardy. Frank inveigled me into inviting the Bostonian, and AA Father Andy, to lunch at the Banker's Club. I ducked out after a round of Perrier and left them a running tab. Later Andy told me the guy ate like the Russians were in Daly City, attacking, and was only interested in relating his Brahmin Harvard background. Frankly, we saved no souls that day.

We scored when Frank called me about John, who had spent over a year in a halfway house, and had lost all confidence in an attempt to re-enter the corporate world. We convinced John to apply to the company which had fired him for drinking. John thought we were nuts but it worked. His former company, after a couple of years, promoted him to a top executive position in Chicago.

The piece de resistance came on a Sunday morning in 1971 when Frank, accompanied by a handsome couple, dropped by our house. Joe R. was black and the chief steward on the SS African Rainbow. Shalimar, an East Indian, was raised in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. Joe, several years previously, had made a 12th step call on a physician who was Shalimar's father. The doctor rejected our way of sober life. However, all was not lost as subsequently Joe and Shalimar were married. Joe wore out his welcome in apartheid South Africa and was banished due to political activity. Pauline and I were leaving on a holiday for South Africa the following morning.

Frank dropped his bombshell shortly before leaving our house. He casually mentioned that Joe had been 12 stepping Zulu King Edward Masinga in Durban prior to Joe's getting the boot. Frank then reached into his always bulging jacket inside pocket to hand me a sheaf of news articles from the Durban papers. These described erratic behavior, including alcohol abuse, plus infidelity problems of the King and his number 8 wife. Joe gave me the name and phone number of a white Vice President of a sugar company known as "Sugar Hill" in Durban AA circles.

Why am I providing this background information? Then came the rapid fire pitch from Frank: "You're going to be in Durbin for ten days. We want you to call "Sugar Bill" and follow up on Joe's 12th step calls on the King. We gotta go now. Be your own best friend. Drop me a card. Goodbye." I belatedly realized that once again the master delegator had struck with a swift and deft touch.

Upon arrival at Durban's Hotel Edward I followed instructions and got in touch with "Sugar Bill." I outlined the situation. Bill indicated he would co-operate but he said he believed it to be a most difficult assignment. He proved to be right.

Fortunately, in the world of apartheid, Bill had underground contacts. No way could we reach the King direct 'protocol indicated intermediaries. Proposed meetings were set up and then cancelled. "Sugar Bill" and I played hide and seek with the King for ten days. We never met him. It was frustrating, but fun. We went to any lengths to try and carry the message. The King went to any lengths to avoid us. He won - or did he? "Sugar Bill" and I reluctantly accepted the obvious. The King was not ready to stop drinking. Sorry, Frank, we really tried.

Old friend - you are the niftiest on your fiftieth. May you enjoy good health and sobriety into the millennium -and then some.
Pauline and I love you

Wade D


With Gratitude

"Irish Tony"


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