LEARNED to drink in a workmanlike manner when the law
of the land said I couldn't and what started out as a
young man's fun became a habit which in its later existence
laid me by the heels many a time and almost finished my
'Teen years were uneventful
for me. I was raised on a farm but saw little future in
farming. I was going to be a business man, took a business
college course, acquired a truck and stand in the city
market of a nearby town, and started off. I brought produce
from my folks' place and sold it to city customers and
there were plenty of them with bulging pocketbooks.
Back of me was the
normal life of a farmer's son. My parents were unusually
understanding people. My father was a life-long comrade
till the day of his death. The business theory I had learned
in college was now being practiced and I was equipped
beyond many of my competitors to be materially successful.
Soon I had expanded until I was represented in all the
city markers and also in another city. In 1921 we had
the forerunner of the later depression and my customers
disappeared. Successively I had to close my stands and
was finally wiped out altogether. Being a young man of
affairs, I had begun to do a little business and social
drinking and now with time on my hands, I seemed to do
more of it.
Following a year of
factory work, during which time
got married, I got a job with a grocer as clerk. My grocer-employer
was an expert wine-maker and I had free access to his
cellar. The work was monotonous in the extreme, behind
a counter all day when I had been used to driving around
attending to business, meeting people and building for
what was a great future. I mark, too, as a milestone,
the death of my father, whom I missed greatly.
I kept hitting the
wine, with just occasional use of liquor. Leaving the
grocery I went back into the produce business and out
among people, went back to liquor again and got my first
warning to quit before it got me.
I was anxious to get
with a concern which would give me an opportunity to build
up again, and landed a job with a nationally known biscuit
company. I was assigned to a good business region, covering
several important towns, and almost at once began to earn
real money. In a very short time I was the star salesman
of the company, winning a reputation as a business-getter.
Naturally I drank with my better customers for on my route
I had many stops where that was good business. But I had
things rather well under control and in the early days
on this job I seldom wound up in my day's work with any
visible effects of drinking.
I had a private brewery
at home which was now producing 15 gallons a week most
of which I drank myself. It is typical of the attitude
I had toward alcohol at that time that, when a fire threatened
total destruction of my home and garage, I rushed to the
cellar and rescued my most precious possessions-a keg
of wine and all the
I could carry, and got pretty indignant when my better
half suggested that I had better get some of the needed
effects out of the house before it burned down.
My home-brewing gradually
became a bore and I began to carry home bottles of powerful
bootleg whiskey, starting with half a pint as my daily
after-supper allowance. For a time I kept on the job spacing
my drinks en route and very little of them in the morning
hours. I just couldn't wait until I got home to drink.
In a very short time I became an all-day drinker.
and quantity buyers were both my guests and hosts and
every now and then we had prodigious parties. Finally,
in a re-organization shake-up resulting in new district
managers with a pretty poor territory deal for me, I gave
the company two weeks notice and quit. I had bought a
home but in the year and a half following I had little
income and finally lost that. I became satisfied with
just enough to live on and buy the liquor I wanted. Then
I landed in the hospital when my car was hit by a truck.
My car was ruined entirely. That loss and my injuries
plus the recriminations of my wife sort of sobered me
up. When I got out of the hospital I stayed sober for
six weeks and had made up my mind to quit.
I went back in the
business where I had been a successful salesman, but with
another company. When I started with this concern I talked
things over with my wife and made her some very solemn
promises. I wasn't going to touch another drop of liquor.
By this tie prohibition
was a thing of the past and
and clubs where I was well known as a good customer and
good spender became my patrons. I rolled up business until
I was again a star, but after the first four months on
the new job I began to slip. It is not unusual in the
drinking experience of any man that after a time of sobriety
he comes to the conclusion that he "can handle it." In
no time at all liquor again became the most important
thing in my life and every day became like another, steady
drinking in every saloon and club en route. I would get
to headquarters every night in a top-heavy condition,
just able to maintain equilibrium. I began to get warnings
and was repeatedly fired and taken on again. My wife's
parents died about this time in unfortunate circumstances.
All my troubles seemed to be piling up on me and liquor
was the only refuge I knew.
Some nights I wouldn't
go home at all and when I did go home I was displeased
when my wife had supper ready and equally angry when she
didn't. I didn't want to eat at all and frequently when
I underestimated my consumption of the amount of liquor
I brought home, I made extra trips back to town to renew
the supply. My morning ration when I started out was five
double whiskies before I could do any business at all.
I would go into a saloon, trembling like a leaf, tired
in appearance and deathly sick, I would down two double
whiskies, fell the glow and become almost immediately
transformed. In half an hour I would be able to navigate
pretty well and start out on my route. My daily reports
became almost illegible and finally, following arrest
for driving while intoxicated and on my job at that, I
and stayed sober for several days. Not long afterward
I was fired for good.
My wife suggested
I go to my old home in the country, which I did. Continued
drinking convinced my wife I was a hopeless case and she
entered suit for divorce. I got another job, but didn't
stop drinking. I kept on working although my physical
condition was such as to have required extensive hospitalization.
For years I hadn't had a peaceful night's sleep and never
knew a clear head in the morning. I had lost my wife,
and had become resigned to going to bed some night and
never waking again.
Every drunkard has
one or two friends who haven't entirely given up hope
for him, but I came to the point where I had none. That
is, none but my Mother, and she, devoted soul, had tried
everything with me. Through her, people came to me and
talked, but nothing they said-some were ministers and
others good church members-helped me a particle. I would
agree with them when they were with me and as fast as
they went away, I'd go after my bottle. Nothing suggested
to me seemed to offer a way out.
I was getting to a
place where I wanted to quit drinking but didn't know
how. My mother heard of a doctor who had been having marked
success with alcoholics. She asked me if I'd like to talk
to him and I agreed to go with her.
I had known, of course,
of the various cures and after we had discussed the matter
of my drinking fairly thoroughly, the doctor suggested
that I go into the local hospital for a short time. I
was very skeptical, even
the doctor hinted there was more to his plan than medical
treatment. He told me of several men whom I knew who had
been relieved and invited me to meet a few of them who
got together every week. I promised I would be back on
deck at their next meetings but told him I had little
faith in any hospital treatments. Meetings night, I was
as good as my word and met the small group. The doctor
was there but somehow I felt quite outside of the circle.
The meeting was informal, nevertheless I was little impressed.
It is true they did no psalm singing, nor was there any
set ritual, but I just didn't care for anything religious.
If I had thought of God at all in the years of drinking,
it was with a faint idea that when I came to die I would
sort of fix things up with Him.
I say that the meeting
did not impress me. However, I could see men who I had
known as good, hard-working drunkards apparently in their
right minds, but I just couldn't see where I came into
the picture. I went home, stayed sober for a few days,
but was soon back to my regular quota of liquor every
Some six months later,
after a terrific binge, in a maudlin and helpless state,
I made my way to the doctor's home. He gave me medical
treatment and had me taken to the home of one of my relatives.
I told him I had come to the point where I was ready for
the remedy, the only remedy. He sent two of the members
to see me. They were both kindly to me, told me what they
had gone through and how they had overcome their fight
with liquor. They made it very plain that I had to seek
God, that I had to state my case to Him and ask
help. Prayer was something I had long forgotten. I think
my first sincere utterance must have sounded pretty weak.
I didn't experience any sudden change, and the desire
for liquor wasn't taken away overnight, but I began to
enjoy meeting these people and began to exchange the liquor
habit for something that has helped me in every way. Every
morning I read a part of the Bible and ask God to carry
me through the day safely.
There is another part
I want to talk about-a very important part. I think I
would have had much more difficulty in getting straightened
out if I hadn't been almost immediately put to work. I
don't mean getting back on my job as a salesman. I mean
something that is necessary to my continued happiness.
While I was still shakily trying to rebuild my job of
selling, the doctor sent me to see another alcoholic who
was in the hospital. All the doctor asked me to do was
tell my story. I told it, not any too well perhaps, but
as simply and as earnestly as I knew how.
I've been sober several
years, kept that way by submitting my natural will to
the Higher Power and that is all there is to it. That
submission wasn't just a single act, however. It became
a daily duty; it had to be that. Daily I am renewed in
strength and I have never come to the point where I have
wanted to say, "Thanks, God, I think I can paddle my own
canoe now," for which I am thankful.
I have been reunited
with my wife, making good in business, and paying off
debts as I am able. I wish I could find words to tell
my story more graphically. My former friends and employers
are amazed and see in
a living proof that the remedy I have used really works.
I have been fortunate to be surrounded with friends ever
ready to help, but I firmly believe any man can get the
same result if he will sincerely work at it God's way.
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