The Marina Dock Newsletter September
Dear Marina Dock Members
Thank you for your
continued support. Despite the fact that August was a no show
in terms of donations, we managed to keep our doors open and
provide the highest caliber of services to our patrons. In addition,
we are in the process of trying out some new chairs, on an experimental
basis, in the East Room. I personally like them because they
provide better back support. Others feel they are a little on
the hard side, while others believe they will keep people from
falling asleep. It's one of those deals where "more will
be revealed." Before I forget I would like to express our
deepest gratitude to the individuals who did come forward in
August with decent donations and helped us out, we are eternally
grateful to you.
From A Distance
Wade in Valentine,
Nebraska, just celebrated his 89th birthday August 18th and
on September 1st he will have 54 years of continuous sobriety.
Wade is as sharp as a tack. I talked to him on the phone today
and he went over a half a century of AA stories with incredible
accuracy. He loves to tell the story about the time he and his
wife Pauline (now deceased) went on a trip to Africa in the
early seventies. Before he left, Frank Brennan showed up at
his office wearing his customary big overcoat with huge pockets.
Frank used this coat as his filing system. He'd have papers,
notes, and old photos, dating back to his time in the Pacific,
stuffed in every pocket. He pulled a crumpled piece of paper,
with a name on it, out of the depths of one of these pockets
and asked Wade to do some twelve-step work in South Africa.
The intended recipient was a Zulu warrior/Chief King Edward,
in Kwazulu-Natal (people of the heavens) Province. Brennan had
information through a mediator known as "Sugar Bill"
that this guy Edward M had a serious beverage problem and needed
all kinds of help. Wade told me they were hold up in a hotel
in Durban for about 8 days waiting for King Edward to show up.
Everyday there would be a flurry of activity, with an assortment
of emissaries and potentates running all over the place, in
anticipation of his arrival, but he never did show up. When
Wade got back to San Francisco Frank sidled up to him at a meeting
and asked quizzically "So what did the King have to say
"I got religion,"
Ebby told Bill
I used to be one of
those people " who read wordy books and indulged in windy
arguments believing that the universe needs no God to explain
it" (p. 49). My best thinking got me, first, in a whole heap
of trouble, and eventually, in a state of spiritual bankruptcy,
to the doors of AA. I was in not in any shape or form interested
in God, and then, one day I found myself sitting next to Randy
Campbell (now deceased) over in the ballroom meeting at the French
Hospital. Randy, an old-timer then in his seventies, was my unofficial
sponsor (come to think of it I did not have an official sponsor).
During the break he asked me how I was doing. I told him despondently,
I was having a hard time finding God. Randy, then almost totally
blind, leaned over and quietly suggested "I should follow
those who seek God and avoid those who found him." At that
moment, Randy the cabdriver became my Carl G Jung. Jung, the eminent
Swiss Psychiatrist, you may recall was the one who treated Rowland
Hazard, a wealthy Rhode Island industrialist, for chronic alcoholism
in the early thirties. When you consider Rowland first tried to
see Sigmund Freud, but Freud was fighting bone cancer and was
not seeing any new patients. Rowland then tried to see Alfred
Adler, another renowned psychiatrists but Adler was not available
either. So Hazard ended up seeing Jung, Imagine what might have
been had he seen Freud? We would all now be woefully hung over,
trying to interpret our dreams from the night before, or more
likely, our nightmares (I don't ever remember having any dreams
until I was close to 5 years sober). Rowland kept relapsing during
this period and would return to Jung seeking help. That is when
Jung admitted to Rowland that he had badly misdiagnosed him and
told him that he "had the mind of a chronic alcoholic"
and "I have never seen one single case recover, where that
state of mind existed to the extent that it does in you (however
there are exceptions) here and there. Once in a while alcoholics
have had what are called vital spiritual experiences. (See page
27 in the third edition Alcoholics Anonymous), which releases
them from their obsessions." The rest is part of AA history.
Hazard joined the Oxford Group where he met Ebby Thatcher. Ebby
was having his own problems with alcohol and befriended Rowland
in his pursuit of a spiritual solution. Ebby and Bill Wilson had
known each other since 1911. The Thatchers were a prominent family
from Albany, New York, who summered in Manchester, New York, not
far from where Bill went to a private school, the Burr & Burton
Seminary. In the fall of 1934 Ebby, now living at the Calvary
Mission in New York, not far from Clinton Street where Bill was
living at the time. When Ebby visited Bill, late in 1934, Bill
noticed something different about his friend, Ebby had told him
he was not drinking, Bill queried, "What was this all about?"
"I have got religion," Ebby told Bill. This was something
that aroused Bill's interest. He thought if this will help Ebby,
it would make a genius out of me. We know Bill had his last drink
on December 11, 1934, and on a business venture to Akron, Ohio
in the spring of 1935 Bill met Dr Bob. Dr Bob was already attending
Oxford Group meetings around Akron for some time but he was constantly
falling off the wagon. In June of 1935, Dr Bob had his last drink
and AA was founded. Bill was never really into the Oxford Group
and broke with them entirely a few years later. Bill never forgot
the first link in the chain of events that led to the founding
of Alcoholics Anonymous. In 1961, Bill wrote a letter of gratitude
to Jung, it was not a long letter but it included everything in
the chain of events that led to Bill's own conversion or spiritual
experience. Jung wrote back and recalled with great clarity his
encounter with Rowland Hazard thirty years earlier. Bill kept
the Jung letter as a talisman. In time it has been, read at meetings,
reprinted in The Grapevine, but the original Bill kept in his
top drawer and sometimes, even though he knew it by heart, he
would look down at the signature and reread a phrase. Jung in
his letter to Bill described "the alcoholics craving for
alcohol as the equivalent, on a lower level, to the spiritual
thirst of our being for wholeness, expressed in medieval language:
the union with God." Jung went on to stress the difficulty
of formulating such an insight in a language that would not be
misunderstood in our day. Alcohol, Jung went on to say "in
Latin is 'spiritus' and the same word is used for the highest
religious experience as well as for the most depraving poison.
The helpful formula therefore is: spiritus contra spiritum."
Jung ended the letter
with the following "As the hart paneth after the water brooks,
so paneth my soul after thee, O God." (Psalms 42:1)
In a way, I suppose,
I could argue, that Randy Campbell was essentially conveying the
same message to me, when he told me to "follow those who
seek God" but God is always just beyond our grasp, it's supposed
to be that way, after all we are talking about God.
Matters more terrestrial
The Art Therapy workshop
is back to it's original time of 6:30 PM. Everyone raves about
Jody H and the great insights she provides to recovery through
the medium of art. The workshop is every other Wednesday. Ask
or call for details at the Marina Dock. Paul H is still doing
the Monday night Fourth Step Workshop, but I believe he is now
focusing on steps one, two and three as well. He and Lucio are
starting another Fourth Step workshop on Sunday nights at 9:00
PM, again call or ask for details at The Marina Dock. The Secretary's
Workshop is still on a Saturday (call for details or ask for flyer).
This workshop really does make a difference in the caliber and
quality of meetings in general. We urge everyone who does AA service
work to attend, especially those who are new. There are also several
AA meetings that need a secretary. I know there are at least two
on Sunday evening and a few others throughout the week. Ask the
person behind the desk for more details. A six-month commitment
now, will guarantee sobriety into the New Year and beyond.
The Surgeon General
Thankfully, we have
evolved from the era where the general public still viewed with
skepticism the idea that alcoholism, drug addiction, compulsive
gambling, and other destructive behaviors were anything more than
a moral weakness on the part of the individual, so inclined. Fortunately,
we now live in an age where the public recognizes that alcoholism
and drug dependence is a disease with consequences that affect
both physical and behavioral health. Evidence generated by scientific
investigation demonstrates that treatment for alcohol and other
drug abuse works. Treatment not only saves lives, it also saves
dollars that would be otherwise spent in other areas of medical
care and social services. For every dollar spent on addiction
treatment, seven dollars is saved in reduced health care costs
I Know What You're
Smoking outside the
front entrance is a continuing problem. not just for our neighbors
upstairs, but for our patrons and volunteers in the social room.
There are so many people who are affected by second hand smoke,
especially those with, allergies, asthma and respiratory problems.
You don't have to be reminded of the serious risks to ones health
associated with smoking, and I know how difficult it is to quit.
There is, however, a Twelve Step Program (Nicotine Anonymous)
and we have meetings at The Marina Dock.
August Was Financially
It seems like everyone
"got out of Dodge" for August, we noticed an absence
of a lot of our regulars and a lot fewer donations. I always convince
myself that it will be better tomorrow than it is today. It has
worked for me now for, let's see, come October 7th, twenty years.
In closing, I would like to include below this eloquent piece
of San Francisco AA history (with Wades approval) in the form
of a letter Wade wrote to his old friend Si P, when Si celebrated
35 years of continuous sobriety in the late nineties.
Anthony T. Murray "Irish Tony"
from Wade D to Si P
My old friend, I congratulate you on your 35th birthday, along
with a warm and good wish for continuity of sobriety, a day at
a time, or until 2017 when your social security folds.
In 1966, Pauline and I moved from Chicago to San Francisco. I
was introduced to meetings in church basements, which included
bad coffee. At these meetings I would lead off with "My name
is Wade D. from Chicago." The usual reply was "Welcome,
Wade, you you 'll like it here. Keep coming back." Then a
little small talk followed by an unduly quick exit to visit with
friends. How I longed for friendly near north side Chicago AA
where we met in homes and sumptuous repasts were served after
the meetings (Si, I 'm very fickle. I 've known for a long time
that SF meetings are the best).
My self-esteem was sinking until one Friday at a City of Paris
AA lunch I sat next to you. We hit it off. You indicated that
you were going to speak the following night at an East Bay meeting.
You asked me to drive over with you and, also, would I handle
the preliminaries and introduce you. I was delighted. Through
you, as time went on, Pauline and I met other people with whom
we developed lasting friendships. Occasionally, we would get together
for dinner. As I recall, there were you and Judy, Richard O'L,
Ken K, Ron B, Bill S, Ted F (now deceased) and Chuck G (now deceased)
with a female friend. Lighthearted talk ensued at the dinner,
which triggered humor and laughter. We took the program seriously
but not ourselves. Apparently, whatever we did worked. Our friends
listed above have enjoyed 30 plus years of continuous sobriety.
Now I want to touch on some humorous aspects that happened at
Wednesday 5:00 pm Bank Meeting: You will recall that traditionally
it was a men's stag. One Friday, two women showed up. Radio Free
Freddy of Sacramento fame promptly announced that they were not
welcome. The rest of us decided it would be in order to vote on
this unique situation. We all voted "Yes." Radio Free
said "No." The women stayed. Freddy exited. From then
on out, we were a mixed meeting. Laurence of America: He would
arrive late, hover around the doorway, take issue with whoever
was speaking, insult them, tell us the coffee and rolls were better
at other meetings, vow never to return. And always showed up the
The Forum Meeting at Children's Hospital: Following this meeting
several of us would adjourn for refreshments at the nearby Red
Roof coffee shop. The waitress assumed us to be physicians-addressed
us as doctors. We did nothing to dissuade them. One evening, you
or Ray B, were speculating as to what might happen should a waitress
confront a medical emergency - which of us would respond? We had
a spirited debate. We finally nominated Henry K, as he looked
the part of a medical man. Happily, we were never faced with the
Center table, Grant Avenue Alano Club: The worst food in town
coupled with vigorous table talk. Everyone an authority-usually
about someone else's field. Maxim: Seldom right, but never in
doubt. The heated arguments between Ted F, President of Triangle
Trucking, and Teamster official, Ken W. You were usually the arbiter
in attempting to cool things down. We plotted Ted F's birthday
roast - you were master of ceremonies. The "roasters"
were Chuck G, Bill S, Richard M, Ron B, and me. The pièce
de résistance was the anonymous, scantily clad, well-endowed,
young lady who jumped out of the cake. It was rumored she was
a center table regular but we'll never know, as she was masked
to conceal her identity.
425 Battery Meeting: The small elevator would become overloaded
and at times we would be stuck between floors. Often you would
challenge "No God" Betty at this noon meeting, which
insured a lively discussion. I can still hear you say "Now
Betty, you really don 't believe what you just said." Betty:
"Yes, I most certainly do!" Then it would get interesting.
Frank B 's Seven Seas Club: Primary purpose was for rehabilitation
of alcoholic seamen with open AA meetings playing a fundamental
role. There was a sprinkling of business people, lawyers, politicians,
homeless, priests, nuns and prostitutes. This notwithstanding,
it was solid AA with occasional salty language. Si, your great
story of the club (you were brand new and still pretty shaky).
You thought you were hallucinating when you saw Admiral Nimitz
in dungarees painting a wall. Brennan assured you it really was
the Admiral-a non alcoholic-who often volunteered for mundane
tasks at the club. You were so relieved to know you might be shaky
but still sane.
701 Montgomery Noon Meeting: The mystery woman who never revealed
her first name. She was a bag lady who placed personalities over
principles. We were peppered with caustic, personal remarks. We
did not take umbrage as one of our more curious noticed a pistol
in her bag. Included in her personal effects were several wigs
of diverse colors. She was deft in changing them several during
the meeting. It was unnerving to sit next to her-you would see
a blonde-turn your head for thirty seconds-and find yourself with
a redhead. At one time, we elected a young male hairdresser a
treasurer. He was also the coffee maker. Instead of doughnuts
he provided us with great pastries and imported cheeses. The coffee
was never better. One noon he didn't show up. We found there was
no money in our group treasury. We estimated that he spent about
half on us and left town with the other half. We shared the blame.
We had elected as treasurer a young alcoholic with only seven
months of sobriety. Bad judgment.
No more vignettes. Si, you and I always felt AA is a program of
joy while attempting to live in the now. We parted slightly on
the "now' bit. You may recall from the Bank meeting that
I was an advocate of selective procrastination. In my book you
were a role model in working the program. You adhered to the principles
of not saying "No" when asked to speak, of not saying
"No" to a 12 Step call, of often saying, "Yes",
when asked to sponsor someone. These all required a heavy demand
on your time. I know that you as a lawyer contribute substantial
pro bono time to the alcoholic who still suffers and
to others in the fellowship.
If wishes were airplanes Pauline and I would ride out to join
you, Judy and your sons, together with a host of AA friends to
celebrate your 35th birthday. No can do. Si, I not only love you
- I like you! You are a good guy.
Fraternally, as a friend of Dr Bob,
Wade D. A.k.a. Joseph Pierpoint Beaverbox
P.S. Whatever happened to Bill Z?