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story behind the books signed by
Chuck C. and Clancy I.*
felt like home from my very first Meeting in 1978 at age
And it wasn't long before I discovered
Chuck C. and Clancy I.
I still listen to all of their
recorded talks I can — I love them, and continue
to relish hearing stories about them.
Through the years, I built a large
family company that, as Worth Magazine put it, introduced
more people to commodities (the futures market) than anyone
in the universe.
So after retiring in 2006, and
fully appreciating the principles and potential of supply
and demand, I discovered and naturally took to collecting
A.A. Big Books and rare A.A. memorabilia.
One of the rarest and most sought
after is A.A.'s "Big Red" — the very first
printing of the Big Book in April, 1939 — 400 thick
pages with a red cloth cover. Some 4,730 were originally
printed but many fewer still exist today. It's unusual
to find one for less than $10,000 today.
But in my collecting pursuits,
another serious collector shared how he believed that
the first printings of Chuck C's, "A New Pair of Glasses"
book are actually rarer than Big Reds. Indeed, they were
few and far between. I did some research and learned that
the first printing in May, 1984 consisted of only 5,000
copies. Chuck passed away just seven months later, after
a long illness, so not only are first printings of Chuck's
book very difficult to find, but those with his signature
are much rarer still.
I began aggressively pursuing
and bidding on first printings. Other collectors joined
in the hunt, and their price went from less than $100
when I began, to a record high of $1,200. I was also fortunate
enough to locate and purchase two with Chuck's signature.
As I was searching for Chuck C's
first-printing books and signatures, a collector in California
told me that he had Chuck's personal Big Red, presented
to Chuck on his 20th A.A. anniversary. He explained that
Chuck's Big Book had been hocked years after his death
and that he discovered it in a pawn shop in Southern California.
Clancy I. wrote the Preface to
Chuck's C's, "A New Pair of Glasses," and after
so many years of listening to his recorded talks and hearing
countless colorful stories about this A.A. legend, I was
thrilled to finally go hear him speak in person —
at the annual A.A. Gratitude Roundup in Diamondhead, Mississippi
on November 28, 2009.
I showed up early that Saturday
afternoon, my prized books in hand, so excited to hear
one of my A.A. heroes for the first time live and in-person!
I carefully placed the two signed "A New Pair of Glasses"
books and Chuck C.'s Big Red beneath my chair.
I was sitting with an A.A. friend
of mine — an old-timer with over 30 years in the
Program — who isn't as enthusiastic about Clancy
I. as I am (to say the least). I was very nervous about
what I was about to do, and before Clancy began speaking,
I asked my friend if he thought Clancy would sign these
three books for me. "I wouldn't ask him, but you never
know about Clancy!" he said. Indeed, as Chuck himself
said in a talk, "A.A. can live with just one Clancy!"
Now I knew from their recorded
talks how close Clancy I. and Chuck C. were and how much
they loved and respected each other. I wanted to respect
and honor their special friendship too. So I said a prayer
and asked God for guidance that afternoon.
Clancy was 80, bright-eyed and
fit, but he lacked the "bristle" I knew so much about.
I heard that if someone arrived late for his talk, he
might say "Oh, you had something more important to
do?!" And if someone left a talk early, he's been
known to say "Sit down! I'm not finished yet!"
Several people did arrive late
this day, and others left early. I held my breath, sat
up in my chair, and waited for Clancy's retort . . . But
surprisingly, Clancy said nothing! I was witnessing a
kinder, gentler Clancy . . . "This is good!" I thought.
Frankly, I was so nervous that
I don't remember much of what Clancy spoke of that afternoon.
But the thought came to me that it would be a nice gesture
to offer a donation to Clancy's pride and joy: the Midnight
Mission in Los Angeles, California. So after his talk,
I placed a donation in a plain white envelope, printed
"MIDNIGHT MISSION" on the front,
and sealed it. I showed my friend the envelope and told
him the idea that occurred to me during the Meeting. He
said, "Oh, no; that wouldn't be appropriate at an
With that, and now in more inner
turmoil than before, I closed my eyes, prayed, and waited
for the long line of people wanting to thank Clancy after
his talk to diminish. The line finally shrunk to only
three or four people. I took a deep breath and walked
up to stand in Clancy's receiving line. Several more people
came to greet him, so I stepped back and let each one
get ahead of me. I knew I had to be last in line.
Clancy was shaking hands with
the final person . . . It's time!
I stepped up, smiled, stuck my
hand out, and said "Clancy, it's an honor to meet
He was soft spoken and very cordial.
I held the books out and said
"Clancy, I have three very special books here: Chuck's
Big Red, and two copies of A New Pair of Glasses that
he signed . . . "
I placed them on a table next
to us and Clancy slowly looked at each one. Tears were
in his eyes as he finally said "I think of dear Chuck
every day. I miss him."
"Would you do the honor of
signing them too?" I asked hesitantly.
"Yes," he replied. And
I handed him a pen.
When he finished, I thanked him,
held out the white envelope, and said "I'm not sure
if this is appropriate here, Clancy, but . . ."
He looked at it, read the words,
said "You damn right it's appropriate!" and snatched
the envelope from my hand . . .
What a day that was!
These are the photo's of The, "Big Red"
(Big Book) and Three books of, "A New Pair
of Glasses" that Clancy I. and Chuck C. wrote
in the books. Click on an image to see its original
God Bless A.A.,
Mobile Bay, Alabama
Note: Ken R. is the current owner of the, "
Original Working Manuscript of Alcoholics Anonymous"
purchased in Sotheby's in 2007. Ken has decided
to sell the Manuscript. This is an extremely very
rare opportunity! Please contact Ken's agent, "email@example.com"
for further information.
reading can be found on the main index