An Illinois 1930s-era college farm town would always have
at least one drug store with a soda fountain, penny candy,
magazines, newspapers, cigarettes, and of course, a door
with a bell at the top that would ring when it was opened
description might be just a mythical image of an earlier
time, but there is one fact of northern Illinois A.A.
history---a particular Dekalb pharmacist was sober in
1939 when the Big Book was first published.
In April of 1940 a letter arrived at the office of the
Alcoholic Foundation in New York City: Alcoholics
Anonymous is new to me, and Im interested to make
contacts in this vicinity that I may become a member in
good standing. Perrie S., the pharmacist, wrote
that he read Alcoholics Anonymous thoroughly
and wished to say, that I established myself with a Superior
Being by myself, with my own thoughts, during a 28 day
leave from business with persons who at that time were
in the same fix as myself.
Ruth Hock, the Foundation offices secretary, replied
within a few days and thanked him for his very sincere
letter. She referred him to an Earl T. and the Chicago
membership, and we assure you they will appreciate an
opportunity to talk with you.
The Chicago Group was the nearest A.A. Chapter, over 120
miles east of Dekalb, and Perrie rode the trains into
the city many times to attend its meetings. Over the next
few years, Perrie and Ruth exchanged letters on a regular
basis. Ruth, in different letters from New York, suggested
that he contact other new members in nearby Dixon, Sterling,
towns were home to the 1940s A.A. Loners who
eventually formed the first Groups in northern Illinois.
Our pharmacist friend in DeKalb, Perrie S., remains the
earliest correspondent of record.
Area 20 Historian, Algonquin, Illinois, August, 2002.
Quotes are used with the permission of the A.A. Archives
at the General Service Office in NYC.