WAS born in a small New England village of about seven
thousand souls. The general moral standard was, as I recall
it, far above the average. No beer or liquor was sold
in the neighborhood, except at the State liquor agency
where perhaps one might procure a pint if he could convince
the agent that he really needed it. Without this proof
the expectant purchaser would be forced to depart empty
handed with none of what I later came to believe was the
great panacea for all human ills. Men who had liquor shipped
in from Boston or New York by express were looked upon
with great distrust and disfavor by most of the good townspeople.
The town was well supplied with churches and schools in
which I pursued my early educational activities.
My father was a professional
man of recognized ability and both my father and mother
were most active in church affairs. Both father and mother
were considerably above the average in intelligence.
me I was the only child, which perhaps engendered the
selfishness which played such an important part in bringing
on my alcoholism.
From childhood through
high school I was more or less forced to go to church,
Sunday School and evening service, Monday night Christian
Endeavor and sometimes to Wednesday evening prayer meeting.
This had the effect of making me resolve that when I was
parental domination, I would never again darken the doors
of a church. This resolution I kept steadfastly for the
next forty years, except when circumstances made it seem
unwise to absent myself.
After high school
came four years in one of the best colleges in the country
where drinking seemed to be a major extra-curricular activity.
Almost everyone seemed to do it. I did it more and more,
and had lots of fun without much grief, either physical
or financial. I seemed to be able to snap back the next
morning better than most of my fellow drinkers, who were
cursed (or perhaps blessed) with a great deal of morning-after
nausea. Never once in my life have I had a headache, which
fact leads me to believe that I was an alcoholic almost
from the start. My whole life seemed to be centered around
doing what I wanted to do, without regard for the rights,
wishes, or privileges of anyone else; a state of mind
which became more and more predominant as the years passed.
I was graduated with "summa cum laude" in the eyes of
the drinking fraternity, but not in the eyes of the Dean.
The next three years
I spent in Boston, Chicago, and Montreal in the employ
of a large manufacturing concern, selling railway supplies,
gas engines of all sorts, and many other items of heavy
hardware. During these years, I drank as much as my purse
permitted, still without paying too great a penalty, although
I was beginning to have morning "jitters" at times. I
lost only a half day's work during these three years.
My next move was to
take up the study of medicine, entering one of the largest
universities in the country.
I took up the business of drinking with much greater earnestness
than I had previously shown. On account of my enormous
capacity for beer, I was elected to membership in one
of the drinking societies, and soon became one of the
leading spirits. Many mornings I have gone to classes,
and even though fully prepared, would turn and walk back
to the fraternity house because of my jitters, not daring
to enter the classroom for fear of making a scene should
I be called on for recitation.
This went from bad
to worse until sophomore spring when, after a prolonged
period of drinking, I made up my mind that I could not
complete my course, so I packed my grip and went South
and spent a month on a large farm owned by a friend of
mine. When I got the fog out of my brain, I decided that
quitting school was very foolish and that I had better
return and continue my work. When I reached school, I
discovered the faculty had other ideas on the subject.
After much argument they allowed me to return and take
my exams, all of which I passed creditably. But they were
much disgusted and told me they would attempt to struggle
along without my presence. After many painful discussions,
they finally gave me my credits and I migrated to another
of the leading universities of the country and entered
as a Junior that Fall.
There my drinking
became so much worse that the boys in the fraternity house
where I lived felt forced to send for my father, who made
a long journey in the vain endeavor to get me straightened
around. This had
effect however for I kept on drinking and used a great
deal more hard liquor than in former years.
Coming up to final
exams I went on a particularly strenuous spree. When I
went in to write the examinations, my hand trembled so
I could not hold a pencil. I passed in at least three
absolutely blank books. I was, of course, soon on the
carpet and the upshot was that I had to go back for two
more quarters and remain absolutely dry, if I wished to
graduate. This I did, and proved myself satisfactory to
the faculty, both in deportment and scholastically.
I conducted myself
so creditably that I was able to secure a much coveted
internship in a western city, where I spent two years.
During these two years I was kept so busy that I hardly
left the hospital at all. Consequently, I could not get
into any trouble.
When those two years
were up, I opened an office downtown. Then I had some
money, all the time in the world, and considerable stomach
trouble. I soon discovered that a couple of drinks would
alleviate my gastric distress, at least for a few hours
at a time, so it was not at all difficult for me to return
to my former excessive indulgence.
By this time I was
beginning to pay very dearly physically and, in hope of
relief, voluntarily incarcerated myself at least a dozen
times in one of the local sanitariums. I was between Scylla
and Charybdis now, because if I did not drink my stomach
tortured me, and if I did, my nerves did the same thing.
After three years of this, I wound up in the local hospital
where they attempted to help me, but I would get my friends
smuggle me a quart, or I would steal the alcohol about
the building, so that I got rapidlyworse.
Finally my father
had to send a doctor out from my home town who managed
to get me back there some way and I was in bed about two
months before I could venture out of the house. I stayed
about town a couple of months more and returned to resume
my practice. I think I must have been thoroughly scared
by what had happened, or by the doctor, or probably both,
so that I did not touch a drink again until the country
With the passing of
the Eighteenth Amendment I felt quite safe. I knew everyone
would buy a few bottles, or cases, of liquor as their
exchequers permitted, and it would soon be gone. Therefore
it would make no great difference, even if I should do
some drinking. At that time I was not aware of the almost
unlimited supply the government made it possible for us
doctors to obtain, neither had I any knowledge of the
bootlegger who soon appeared on the horizon. I drank with
moderation at first, but it took me only a relatively
short time to drift back into the old habits which had
wound up so disastrously before.
During the next few
years, I developed two distinct phobias. One was the fear
of not sleeping, and the other was the fear of running
out of liquor. Not being a man of means, I knew that if
I did not stay sober enough to earn money, I would run
out of liquor. Most of the time, therefore, I did not
take the morning drink which I craved so badly, but instead
would fill up on large doses of sedatives to quiet the
jitters, which distressed me terribly. Occasionally, I
would yield to the
morning craving, but if I did, it would be only a few
hours before I would be quite unfit for work. This would
lessen my chances of smuggling some home that evening,
which in turn would mean a night of futile tossing around
in bed followed by a morning of unbearable jitters. During
the subsequent fifteen years I had sense enough never
to go to the hospital if I had been drinking, and very
seldom did I receive patients. I would sometimes hide
out in one of the clubs of which I was a member, and had
the habit at times of registering at a hotel under a fictitious
name. But my friends usually found me and I would go home
if they promised that I should not be scolded.
If my wife were planning
to go out in the afternoon, I would get a large supply
of liquor and smuggle it home and hide it in the coal
bin, the clothes chute, over door jambs, over beams in
the cellar and in cracks in the cellar tile. I also made
use of old trunks and chests, the old can container, and
even the ash container. The water tank on the toilet I
never used, because that looked too easy. I found out
later that my wife inspected it frequently. I used to
put eight or twelve ounce bottles of alcohol in a fur
lined glove and toss it onto the back airing porch when
winter days got dark enough. My bootlegger had hidden
alcohol at the back steps where I could get it at my convenience.
Sometimes I would bring it in my pockets, but they were
inspected, and that became too risky. I used also to put
it up in four ounce bottles and stick several in my stocking
tops. This worked nicely until my wife and I went to see
Wallace Beery in "Tugboat Annie,"
which the pant-leg and stocking racket were out!
I will not take space
to relate all my hospital or sanitarium experiences.
During all this time
we became more or less ostracized by our friends. We could
not be invited out because I would surely get tight and
my wife dared not invite people in for the same reason.
My phobia for sleeplessness demanded that I get drunk
every night, but in order to get more liquor for the next
night, I had to stay sober during the day, at least up
to four o' clock. This routine went on with few interruptions
for seventeen years. It was really a horrible nightmare,
this earning money, getting liquor, smuggling it home,
getting drunk, morning jitters, taking large doses of
sedatives to make it possible for me to earn more money,
and so on ad nauseam. I used to promise my wife, my friends,
and my children that I would drink no more-promises which
seldom kept me sober even through the day, though I was
very sincere when I made them.
For the benefit of
those experimentally inclined, I should mention the so-called
beer experiment. When beer first came back, I thought
that I was safe. I could drink all I wanted of that. It
was harmless; nobody ever got drunk on beer. So I filled
the cellar full, with the permission of my good wife.
It was not long before I was drinking at least a case
and a half a day. I put on thirty pounds weight in about
two months, looked like a pig, and was uncomfortable from
shortness of breath. It then occurred to me that after
one was all smelled up with beer nobody could tell what
had been drunk, so I began to fortify my beer with straight
Of course, the result was very bad, and that ended the
About the time of
the beer experiment I was thrown in with a crowd of people
who attracted me because of their seeming poise, health,
and happiness. They spoke with great freedom from embarrassment,
which I could never do, and they seemed very much at ease
on all occasions and appeared very healthy. More than
these attributes, they seemed to be happy. I was self
conscious and ill at ease most of the time, my health
was at the breaking point, and I was thoroughly miserable.
I sensed they had something I did not have, from which
I might readily profit. I learned that it was something
of a spiritual nature, which did not appeal to me very
much, but I thought it could do no harm. I gave the matter
much time and study for the next two and a half years,
but still got tight every night nevertheless. I read everything
I could find, and talked to everyone who I thought knew
anything about it.
My good wife became
deeply interested and it was her interest that sustained
mine, though I at no time sensed that it might be an answer
to my liquor problem. How my wife kept her faith and courage
during all those years, I'll never know, but she did.
If she had not, I know I would have been dead a long time
ago. For some reason, we alcoholics seem to have the gift
of picking out the world's finest women. Why they should
be subjected to the tortures we inflicted upon them, I
About this time a
lady called up my wife one Saturday afternoon, saying
she wanted me to come over that
to meet a friend of hers who might help me. It was the
day before Mother's Day and I had come home plastered,
carrying a big potted plant which I set down on the table
and forthwith went upstairs and passed out. The next day
she called again. Wishing to be polite, though I felt
very badly, I said, "Let's make the call," and extracted
from my wife a promise that we would not stay over fifteen
We entered her house
at exactly five o' clock and it was eleven fifteen when
we left. I had a couple of shorter talks with this man
afterward, and stopped drinking abruptly. This dry spell
lasted for about three weeks; Then I went to Atlantic
City to attend several days' meeting of a National Society
of which I was a member. I drank all the Scotch they had
on the train and bought several quarts on my way to the
hotel. This was on Sunday. I got tight that night, stayed
sober Monday till after the dinner and then proceeded
to get tight again. I drank all I dared in the bar, and
then went to my room to finish the job. Tuesday I started
in the morning, getting well organized by noon. I did
not want to disgrace myself, so I then checked out. I
bought some more liquor on the way to the depot. I had
to wait some time for the train. I remember nothing from
then on until I woke up at a friend's house, in a town
near home. These good people notified my wife, who sent
my newly-made friend over to get me. He came and got me
home and to bed, gave me a few drinks that night, and
one bottle of beer the next morning.
was June 10, 1935, and that was my last drink. As I write
nearly six years have passed.
The question which
might naturally come into your mind would be: "what did
the man do or say that was different from what others
had done or said?" It must be remembered that I had read
a great deal and talked to everyone who knew, or thought
they knew, anything about the subject of alcoholism. This
man was a man who had experienced many years of frightful
drinking, who had had most all the drunkard's experience
known to man, but who had been cured by the very means
I had been trying to employ, that is to say, the spiritual
approach. He gave me information about the subject of
alcoholism which was undoubtedly helpful. Of far more
importance was the fact that he was the first living human
with whom I bad ever talked, who knew what he was talking
about in regard to alcoholism from actual experience.
In other words, be talked my language. He knew all
the answers, and certainly not because he had picked them
up in his reading.
It is a most wonderful
blessing to be relieved of the terrible curse with which
I was afflicted. My health is good and I have regained
my self-respect and the respect of my colleagues. My home
life is ideal and my business is as good as can be expected
in these uncertain times.
I spend a great deal
of time passing on what I learned to others who want and
need it badly. I do it for four reasons:
Sense of duty.
2. It is a pleasure
Because in so doing I am paying my debt to the man who
took time to pass it on to me.
4. Because every time I do it I take out a little more
insurance for myself against a possible slip.
most of our crowd, I did not get over my craving for liquor
much during the first two and one-half years of abstinence.
It was almost always with me. But at no time have I been
anywhere near yielding. I used to get terribly upset when
I saw my friends drink and knew I could not, but I schooled
myself to believe that though I once had the same privilege,
I had abused it so frightfully that it was withdrawn.
So it doesn't behoove me to squawk about it, for after
all, nobody ever used to throw me down and pour any liquor
down my throat.
If you think you are
an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other
form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting
what is in this book, I feel sorry for you. If you still
think you are strong enough to beat the game alone, that
is your affair. But if you really and truly want to quit
drinking liquor for good and all, and sincerely feel that
you must have some help, we know that we have an answer
for you. It never fails if you go about it with one half
the zeal you have been in the habit of showing when getting
Heavenly Father will never let you down!