(p. 364 in the 1st edition, p. 193 in 2nd and 3rd editions. Titled “The Car Smasher,” in the 1st edition, rewritten and renamed for later editions.)
Pioneers of A.A.
“Who is convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.” But not this man.”
Dick’s date of sobriety (according to his story in the 1st edition) was the first week of March 1937. In his revised story, which appears in the 2nd and 3rd editions, he cites February 1937. Perhaps in the 1st edition he was citing the day he left the hospital rather than the date of his last drink.
His brother Paul (“Truth Freed Me” in the 1st edition) preceded him into A.A. and helped 12th Step him.
He was the oldest of three children and his father was an alcoholic. His father died in 1901 when he was eight years old. He quit school and went to work. When he was sixteen his mother remarried and he was given an opportunity to go back to school but he did not do well. He was jealous of his brother, Paul, who did things better than Dick did because he applied himself.
When he was eighteen Dick showed off to a group of friends by ordering a martini, extra dry, not even knowing what it was. He drank nine martinis in less than an hour. This was his first drink and his first drunk. He did not drink again for a year. But blackout drinking had begun at once.
He married at nineteen. He tried to control his drinking, but frequently had blackout drunks. He was in the construction business, but lost money, then went into the crude rubber business. He prospered despite his drinking, but the rubber prosperity fell apart in the twenties.
His marriage deteriorated and they were divorced. He began to think he was insane. He didn’t want to neglect his children, but he did; he didn’t want to get into fights, but he did; he didn’t want to get arrested, but he did; he didn’t want to jeopardize the lives of innocent people by driving while intoxicated, but he did.
On one occasion when he was hospitalized after a terrible automobile accident, Sister Ignatia stuck her head in the door and told him she thought they might be able to make something human out of his face after all. He was in the hospital fourteen days, but drank again after getting out.
One day after a binge he woke to find his brother, Paul, and Dr. Bob at his bedside. When he asked Dr. Bob if he were ever going to drink again, he answered: “So long as I’m thinking as I’m thinking now, and so long as I’m doing the things I’m doing now, I don’t believe I’ll ever take another drink.”
Dick became a very enthusiastic, hard working early member. He was one of several unidentified people pictured in the March 1, 1941, Saturday Evening Post story, most of whom have their backs to the camera. When a committee was formed to develop plans for the first A.A. International Conference, Dick was elected General Chairman. However, according to Bill W., he was not, at least initially, in favor of a General Service Conference.
Dick stayed close to Dr. Bob until his death. He traveled to the West Coast after Dr. Bob’s wife Anne S.’s death, to renew old acquaintances. Dick accompanied him. He wrote Bill W. after returning from the trip, reporting on how much good the trip had done Dr. Bob, but complaining about “well-wishing friends — one in particular who stayed four hours and damned near drove him nuts.”
Ironically, while Dick’s story was titled “The Car Smasher,” it was his brother Paul, who died as a result of an automobile accident on September 19, 1953. However, both brothers remained completely sober until their respective deaths.