Myers Raymer, Alumni Support
Hey, all! I just got back from the “Old-Timers Roundup” in Jackson, Mississippi. I was one of the old-timers who got to present and it was the coolest. Lots and lots of nice folks AND we got to eat GRITS!!! (It’s a Southern thang, y’all.)
Anyway, one of the coolest things about the weekend had nothing to do with the talks. Instead of the regular banquet that most roundups have, these folks actually recreated in great detail the now-famous fundraising dinner that John D. Rockefeller, Jr. hosted for the then fledgling Fellowship called Alcoholics Anonymous. This dinner, which was hosted on February 8, 1940 was, according to Bill Wilson, supposed to be the “big break” that would set Alcoholics Anonymous on its feet financially and allow all of their lofty ideas and goals to finally happen. It was going to be the climax of years of work and dreams.
Besides the Rockefeller bunch, they had as a keynote speaker Harry Emerson Fosdick, the noted clergyman of the day (think Billy Graham) and a noted Physician to fill in things on the medical side. Bill W. would also quietly place at each table, a real live drunk who had recovered in AA – just in case folks needed to see the real results. What a hoot!
Well, all went well until it didn’t. At the end of the evening, instead of everyone opening their checkbooks and writing fat checks, Rockefeller said that money might just be what spoiled these altruistic men and their good works. Bill and his bunch almost died! They were so disappointed! It would take some time but, in the end, Bill and the others realized that it was John D’s great wisdom that would save the day and perhaps the whole Fellowship. Big sums of money would have indeed ruined what was to become the most important and profound way to get, and stay, sober.
There have been other “good” disappointments. Bill’s disappointment with his business deal that led to his meeting Dr. Bob. The early frustrations with how they carried the message soon brought about Dr. Silkworth’s ideas of a better way to present the new program. These things seemed like the end of the world to these men and women but eventually they learned that trust in our Creator is necessary – even when WE think it’s the end.
I guess the lesson to us all is to sit tight when we feel disappointment. As an old-timer, I can tell you for sure that truth and wisdom will be easy to see as we look back on it all. Hang in there!!!