Non-Profit Corporation

The Marina Dock Newsletter November 2003

Dear Marina Dock members and patrons alike,

The Marina Dock /Dry Dock is closing in on eighteen years of continuous service to the San Francisco recovery community. We seem to have a built in immunity to wars, recessions, natural disasters, and a host of other problems that beset other businesses in a ever changing political and economic climate.
I see we have a new guy at the helm in Sacramento, although I have no opinion on outside issues (and this is what they are). I always like to take a gander at the financial disclosures of luminaries, running for public office. Have you noticed how, for some reason, they all seem to own shopping malls in Ohio. This is about the fourth guy in the last few years who has declared “a shopping mall in Ohio” a part of his holdings. What is it about Ohio and shopping malls? Do any of our members or patrons have a shopping mall in Ohio, or know someone who has a shopping mall in Ohio? Don’t get me wrong I have nothing personal against “The Buckeye State” on the contrary The 17th State looms large in the annals of AA history. Even before Dr Bob and events in Akron in May/ June of 1935, Ohio was a spearhead for all kinds of movements that involved abstinence. “The Woman’s Christian Temperance Union” was founded there in 1874 and “The Anti-Saloon League of 1893.” But it was what happen in Akron Ohio on Mothers Day, May 12, 1935, that allows me to write this letter, and presumably a large number of our patrons, to read it. For it was on that day that Henrietta B. Seiberling arranged for Bill Wilson and Dr Bob Smith to meet at Henrietta’s Home, The Gate Lodge at 5.00P.M.

Bill Uses his Last Nickel to Make a Call

We all know how Bill down on his luck, another business venture had fallen through, was a few months sober, pacing a hotel lobby, he looked at the cocktail room and thought, “Well, I’ll just go in there and get drunk and forget it all, and that will be the end of it .” Instead he said a prayer and got the guidance to look in a ministers directory, and a strange thing happened. He put his finger on a minister by the name of Tunks who happened to be Harvey Firestone’s minister. Mr. Firestone had a son who drank too much, but had quit about a year and a half earlier with the help of the Oxford Group. Bill called Dr Tunks and Tunks put him in touch with Henrietta Seiberling who knew Dr Bob and his wife Ann through The Oxford Group. When Bill called her up he said “I’m Bill Wilson and I’m a Rum Hound.” Henrietta arranged for Dr Bob and Bill to meet the next day. It’s interesting that the co-founders of AA referred to themselves as “A Rum Hound “ and a “Silent Drinker,” respectively. On Founder’s Day, June 10, 1971 Henrietta reflected on that momentous occasion, by saying “The need was there, and all of the necessary elements were furnished by God. Bill was the promoter, through the Oxford Group, Bill learned “That if we turn our lives to God and let him run it, he will take our shortcomings and make them valuable in His way and give us our hearts desire.” I have to say, ”Ohio has been very good to me.”

Alcoholics Anonymous, Chaos Theory and The Butterfly Effect

I am pretty sure right now a group of AA intellectuals are applying some form of Chaos Theory to the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. Chaos theory of which I know absolutely nothing about, is apparently the brainchild of one Edward Lorenz a meteorologist who was looking for a way to model the action of chaotic behavior in a gaseous system. He discovered, and this by the way is a simplified version of a much more complicated system, “ That small variations in initial conditions result in huge, dynamic transformations in concluding events.” This effect came to be known as the “Butterfly Effect” The amount of difference in the starting points of two curves is so small that it is comparable to a butterfly flapping its wings. “The flapping of a single butterfly's wing today produces a tiny change in the state of the atmosphere. Over a period of time, what the atmosphere actually does diverges from what it would have done. So, in a month’s time, a tornado that would have devastated the Indonesian coast doesn’t happen. Or maybe one that wasn’t going to happen does.” So what if Bill didn’t have a nickel that night in 1935? What if Tunks was not home or Henrietta was out of town? Wouldn’t any one of those variables be a variation in the initial conditions?. I think it’s fair to assume, that chaos theory like all other phenomena, has to be attributed to the hand of God?

Tribute to Frank B 1918-2003

I first met Frank over 22 years ago (1981) at one of my first AA meetings. I think it was the 8.30 Friendly Circle Meeting at Sacramento and Van Ness. He always wore that big brown coat with deep pockets, he carried a shopping bag, later he upgraded to a leather attache-case, but sometimes he would have the attache-case and the shopping bag. Later on, in 1986 when the Dry Dock opened, I saw him pretty much everyday, he came there daily, rain or shine, until he got sick in 2001 and went to St Ann's. Frank was truly in his element at The Dry Dock, this was a perfect landscape for him, lots of people, lots of action, and lots of laughter, if he liked you, you were in, and you knew it. Sometimes he would show up around noon and attend every meeting one after the other. Many times he would come out of a meeting intending to leave, and on the way out the door he would run into someone he had not seen for a while, There would be the customary greeting, hands open, lots of “There you are’s!” and an about turn back into the next meeting. Sometimes Frank had no idea what kind of meeting he was in, it didn’t matter to him, if someone later pointed out to him that he was in an SLAA meeting or a Debtors Anonymous meeting, he would take on this feigned look of having screwed up, hold open his hands, and say “ Holy Christ” followed by his thunderous laughter. That was so lovable about the guy he had absolutely no pretentiousness what you saw was what you got. I liked it best when he would take time out, and sit in his favorite sofa in the social room and rummage through the shopping bag or the brown paper bag. He would pull out a handful of old letters or photos and share all kinds of stories. His favorite letters were the ones from Admiral N. One was about N getting into trouble at West Point over climbing out over a wall and abandoning his post. After a while I realized Frank’s life was condensed into the contents of this brown paper bag. Sometimes he would get so involved in his stories he would leave at the end of the night and forget his bag, although he had shared the secrets of this bag with me many times, none of us would dare look inside, it was considered sacrascant, the holy of holiest. He always liked to, in a very lovable way, inflate your status, if I told him I was at City College or later Dominican, he would introduce you to others as a Professor, a Scholar, or a near genius in something or other. He loved to see people in recovery succeed and if you asked him about this one or that one, he would recite to you chapter and verse, her sobriety date, her academic achievements, who she was married to and where she was living “right now!” On the other hand, he had no time for blowhards or “The cult of the personality “ whenever a name came up of someone in the fellowship purporting, to be the next Messiah, he would close his eyes, look heavenwards and in the inimitable Frank style, utter something like “Ah yes! I knew that a**h*** when he was a piano player in a whorehouse, then he got sober, then he became a Guru, then he became God!.” He loved the “Half measures group” (Frank’s moniker), even up to the end he would ask about the “Half measures.” The half measures, now defunct, were a group of guys who would sit in the social room and like the fella in the Big Book, “Who lolls in the Florida sunshine in the winter complaining of the sad state of the nation” would go on, and on, ad nauseum, about the world and its problems. This group, and Frank’s interest in them, was a testament to his infinitesimal capacity for love and tolerance, he never judged, he really didn’t care what kind of a program you were working as long as you were showing up, he gave you unconditional love. On the other hand if you were a bully, or in his face, he would still carry the message, but it would have a slightly different texture to it.

Many years ago

My fellow Irishman and friend David G told me he was going into the Wednesday Night Compass Group meeting, and he saw this guy sitting outside reeking of alcohol, dragging on a cigarette. When he looked closer he realized it was the late actor Lee M. When he asked M why he was not in the meeting, M said, without malice “Well I was in there and I was creating a scene, so B threw me out.” Only Frank’s inner circle referred to him as “B,” you had to know him pretty well to call him “B.” I asked David M, founder of the Dry Dock, for a B moment. David told me when he first opened, they had no money to buy any furniture, so Frank sent him down to St Vincent De Paul and told him to mention his name. They got all the furniture they needed for fifty bucks. There are many stories on Frank but I am out of time and space, perhaps next time.

In the meantime

I need to keep things afloat, with your help and the grace of God. Right now we are hurting and need ($)funds.

Until next time,

"Irish Tony"


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