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It’s Fun to Be Sober
many seamen, the sea is an escape. It was for Joe. The ruddy-
faced, squarely built, 27-year-old Irishman would come into
port, get drunk, maybe get jailed, and then look around
for a ship. The first few days on board were pretty rugged.
But after he had fought off his drunk, he was safe from
another - until the next port.
About a year ago, Joe sobered up permanently. "On account
of being a drunk, I fell out with the union," he explained.
"My privileges were taken away from me." At the
same time he learned from a Public Health Service doctor
that alcoholism is a disease and that "drunks aren't
just bad boys." The doctor recommended Alcoholics Anonymous,
the group of chronic drinkers who have learned how to keep
sober by helping others to do the same.
idea made sense. But Joe didn't like to rub elbows with
bankers, lawyers, teachers, and other toffs in the original
A.A. membership. On the hunch that it takes a seaman to
understand a seaman he collected "a handful of drunks"
and formed his own club - Alcoholics Anonymous Seamen's
Group. Last week, in their new clubhouse on West 24th Street
in New York, the reformed seamen held a New Year's open
house for 150 members. Refreshments: hot dogs, coffee, cokes,
As secretary of the group Joe has given up the sea to remain
on duty at the clubhouse. "Guys hear about it and walk
in," he said. "Some don't know what it's all about.
They think they can take a couple of pills - and bingo!
- they're cured. Not everybody wants to cure himself."
Joe also goes down to hospitals and shipyards to talk to
"tough cases." "I tell my own experiences.
If a guy gripes about the War Shipping Administration, I
ask him: "How are you going to be in a position to
tell off the WSA if you're a drunk."
Newsweek, January 15, 1945)