Business Man's Recovery
S. S. "Falcon" of the Red D. Line, bound from New York
to Maracaibo, Venezuela, glided up the bay, and docked
at the wharf in the port of La Guayra on a hot tropical
afternoon early in 1927. I was a passenger on that boat
bound for the oil fields of Maracaibo as an employee of
the X Oil Company, under a two year contract at a good
salary and maintenance. There I hoped to buckle down to
two years of hard work, and save some money, but above
all to avoid any long, continued drinking that would interfere
with my work, because that had cost me too many jobs in
Not that I was going
to give up drinking entirely; no, such a step would be
too drastic. But down here in the oil fields with a bunch
of hard working, hard drinking good fellows, I, too, would
learn how to handle my liquor and not let it get the best
of me again. Such an environment would surely do the trick,
would surely teach me to drink moderately with the best
of them and keep me away from those long, disastrous sprees.
I was still young, I could make the grade, and this was
my chance to do it. At last I had the real answer, and
my troubles were over!
Red and I, who had
become bosom shipboard companions on the way down from
New York, stood at the rail watching the activity on the
dock incident to
Business Man's Recovery
the vessel secured alongside. Red was also on his way
to Maracaibo to work for the same company, and we agreed
that so long as we were going to be here overnight, we
might as well go ashore together and look the town over.
Red was a swell fellow
who might take a drink now and then, who might even get
drunk once in a while, but he could handle his liquor
and did not go to any great excesses. Thousands of other
fellows like him, who have been my drinking companions
from time to. time, were in no way responsible for the
way I drank, or what I did, or the way liquor affected
So off we went, Red
and I, to do the town-and do it we did. After a few drinks
we decided there wasn't much else to do in town except
to make a round of the "cantinas," have a good time, get
back to the ship early and get a good night's rest. So
what harm would a little drinking do now, I reasoned.
Especially with one full day and two nights ahead to get
We visited every "cantina"
along the straggling main street of La Guayra, and feeling
high, wide and handsome, Red and I decided to return to
the ship. When we rolled down to the dock we found that
our ship had been berthed off from the wharf about thirty
feet and that it was necessary to take a tender out to
her. No such ordinary method would satisfy Red and myself,
so we decided to climb the stern hawser hand over hand
to get on board. The flip of a coin decided that I would
go first; so off I started, hand over hand, up the hawser.
Now even a good experienced
sailor, perfectly sober, would never attempt such a foolhardy
feat and, as was
be expected, about half way up the hawser I slipped and
fell into the bay with a loud splash. I remember nothing
more until next morning. The captain of the boat said
to me "Young man, it is true that God looks after drunken
fools and little children. You probably don't know it,
but this bay is infested with man-eating sharks and usually
a man overboard is a goner. How close you were to death,
you don't realize, but I do."
Yes, I was lucky to
be saved! But it wasn't until ten years later, after I
had time and time again tempted Fate by going on protracted
benders that I was really saved-not until after I had
been fired from job after job, tried the patience of my
family to the breaking point, alienated what might have
been many, many good, lasting friendships, taken my dear
wife through more sorrow and heartaches than any one woman
should bear in a lifetime; after doctors, hospitals, psychiatrists,
rest cures, changes of scenery and all the other paraphernalia
that go with the alcoholic's futile attempts to quit drinking.
Finally I dimly began to get the realization that during
twenty years of continual drinking every expedient I had
tried, (and I had tried them all) had failed me. I hated
to admit the fact even to myself, that I just couldn't
lick booze. I was licked. I was desperate. I was scared.
I was born in 1900,
my father was a hardworking man who did the very best
he could to support his family of four on a small income.
Mother was very good to us, kind, patient, and loving.
As soon as we were old enough my mother sent us to Sunday
School and it so happened that as I grew older I took
quite an active
Business Man's Recovery
becoming successively a teacher and later Superintendent
of a small Sunday School in uptown New York.
When the United States
entered the World War in April 1917, I was under age but,
like most other youngsters of that period, wanted very
much to get into the fray. My parents, of course, would
not hear of this but told me to be sensible and wait until
I was eighteen. Being young and restless, however, and
fired by the military spirit of the times, I ran away
from home to join the Army in another city.
There I joined up. I didn't get into any of the actual
hostilities at the front, but later, after the Armistice,
served with the United States forces occupying the Rhineland,
working my way up to a good non-commissioned rank.
While serving abroad
I started to drink. This, of course, was entirely my own
choice. Drinking by a soldier during those times was viewed
with a degree of indulgence by both superiors and civilians.
It seems to me, as I recall it now, that even then I wasn't
satisfied to drink like the normal fellow.
Most of the United
States Army of Occupation were sent back home in 1921
but my appetite for travel had been whetted, and having
heard terrible stories of Prohibition in the United States,
I wanted. to remain in Europe where "a man could raise
Subsequently I went
to Russia, then to England, and back to Germany; working
in various capacities, my drinking increasing and my drunken
escapades getting worse. So back home in 1924 with the
stop drinking and the hope that the Prohibition I had
heard so much about would enable me to do it-in other
words-that it would keep me away from it.
I secured a good position,
but it wasn't long before I was initiated into the mysteries
of the speakeasy to such an extent that I soon found myself
once more jobless. After looking around for some time,
I found that my foreign experience would help me in securing
work in South America. So, full of hope once more, resolved
that at last I was on the wagon to stay, I sailed for
the tropics, A little over a year was all the company
I then worked for would stand of my continual drinking
and ever-lengthening benders. So they had me poured on
a boat and shipped back to New York.
This time I was really
through. I promised my family and friends, who helped
me get along while looking for another job, that I would
never take another drink as long as I lived-and I meant
it. But alas!
After several successive
jobs in and around New York had been lost, and it isn't
necessary to tell you the cause, I was sure that the only
thing that would enable me to get off the stuff was a
change of scenery. With the help of patient, long-suffering
friends, I finally persuaded an oil company that I could
do a good job for them in the oil fields of Maracaibo.
But it was the same
thing all over again!
Back to the United
States. I really sobered up for a while-long enough to
establish a connection with my present employers. During
this time I met the girl who is now my wife. At last here
was the real thing-I was in love. I would do anything
for her. Yes, I would
Business Man's Recovery
up drinking. I would never, never do anything to even
remotely affect the happiness that now came into my life.
My worries were over, my problem was solved. I had sown
my wild oats and now I was going to settle down to be
a good husband and live a normal happy life.
And so we were married.
Supported by my new
found happiness, my abstinence this time lasted about
six months. Then a New Year's party we gave started me
off on a long bender. The thing about this episode that
is impressed on my mind is how earnestly and sincerely
I then promised my wife that I would absolutely and positively
this time give up drinking-and again I meant it.
No matter what we
tried, and my wife helped me in each new experiment to
the best of her ability and understanding, failure was
always the result, and each time greater hopelessness.
The next step was
doctors, a succession of them, with occasional hospitalization.
I remember one doctor who thought a course of seventy-two
injections, three a week, after two weeks in a private
hospital, would supply the deficiency in my system that
would enable me to stop drinking. The night after the
seventy-second injection I was paralyzed drunk and a couple
of days later talked myself out of being committed to
the City Hospital.
employers had a long talk with me and told me that they
were only willing to give me one last final chance because
during my short periods of sobriety I had shown them that
I could do good work.
knew they meant it and that it was the last chance they
would ever give me.
I also knew that my
wife couldn't stand it much longer.
Somehow or other I
felt that I had been cheated-that I had not really been
cured at the sanitarium even though I felt good physically.
So I talked it over with my wife who said there must be
something somewhere that would help me. She persuaded
me to go back to the sanitarium and consult Dr. --, which
thank God I did.
He told me everything
had been done for me that was medically possible but that
unless I decided to quit I was licked. "But doctor," I
said, "I have decided time and time again to quit drinking
and I was sincere each time, but each time I slipped again
and each time it got worse." The doctor smiled and said,
"Yes, yes, I've heard that story hundreds of times. You
really never made a decision, you just made declarations.
You've got to decide and if you really want to quit drinking
I know of some fellows who can help you. Would you like
to meet them?"
Would a condemned
man like a reprieve? Of course I wanted to meet them.
I was so scared and so desperate that I was willing to
try anything. Thus it was that I met that band of life-savers,
The first thing Bill
told me was his own story, which paralleled mine in most
respects, and then said that for three years he had had
no trouble. It was plain to see that he was a supremely
happy man-that he possessed a happiness and peacefulness
I had for years envied in men.
Business Man's Recovery
he told me made sense because I knew that everything that
I, my wife, my family and my friends had tried had failed.
I had always believed in God even though I was not a devout
church-goer. Many times in my life I had prayed for the
things I wanted God to do for me, but it had never occurred
to me that He, in His Infinite Wisdom knew much better
than I what I should have, and be, and do, and that if
I simply turned .the decision over to Him, I would be
led along the right path.
At the conclusion
of our first interview, Bill suggested that I think it
over and come back to see him within a few days if I was
interested. Fully realizing the utter futility with which
my own efforts had met in the past, and somehow or other
sensing that delay might be dangerous, I was back to see
him the next day.
At first it seemed
a wild, crazy idea to me, but because of the fact that
everything else I had tried had failed, because everything
seemed so hopeless, and because it worked with these fellows
who all had been through the same hell that I had been
through, I was willing, at least, to have a try.
To my utter astonishment,
when I did give their method a fair trial, it not only
worked, but was so amazingly easy and simple that I said
to them "Where have you been all my life?"
That was in February,
1937, and life took on an entirely different meaning.
It was plain to see that my wife was radiantly happy.
All of the differences that we seemed to have been having,
all of the tenseness, the worry, confusion, the hectic
days and nights that my
had poured into our life together, vanished. There was
peace. There was real love. There was kindness and consideration.
There was everything that goes into the fabric of a happy
normal existence together.
My employers, of course,
the same as the writers of these stories, must remain
anonymous. But I would be very thoughtless if I did not
take this opporunity to acknowledge what they did for
me. They kept me on, giving me chance after chance, hoping
I suppose, that some day I would find the answer, although
they themselves did not know what it might be. They do
A tremendous change
took place in my work, in my relationship with my employers,
in my association with my co-workers and in my dealings
with our customers. Crazy as the idea seemed when broached
to me by these men who had found it worked, God did come
right into my work when permitted, as He had come into
the other activities connected with my life.
With this sort of
lubricant the wheels turned so much more smoothly that
it seemed as if the whole machine operated on a much better
basis than heretofore. Promotion that I had longed for
previously, but hadn't deserved, was given to me. Soon
another followed; more confidence, more trust, more responsibility
and finally a key executive position in that same organization
which so charitably kept me on in a minor position through
the period of my drunkenness.
You can't laugh that
off. Come into my home and see what a happy one it is.
Look into my office, it is a
Business Man's Recovery
human beehive of activity. Look into any phase of my life
and you will see joy and happiness, a sense of usefulness
in the scheme of things, where formerly there was fear,
sorrow and utter futility.
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