“His conscience hurt him as much as his drinking. But that was years ago.”
Fred stopped drinking in May of 1937, after praying to God for help. He was then not quite forty. He joined A.A. in May of 1947.
He had a wonderful childhood. His was a very close family. His parents were very successful and they had luxury and beauty in their lives and they were truly appreciative of all they had. The family was Jewish, although not orthodox, and keenly alive to the beauty of religion.
His two older brothers were good students, but not artistic. Fred was a very bad student but very much an artist. When he showed talent as a sculptor the entire family encouraged him.
When World War I broke out, he remembered what his parents had told him so often; how grateful he should be to be in the United States. His grandfathers had both come from countries in Europe where Jews were persecuted, and they wanted to live and be a part of the “land of the free.”
Because his brothers were both married, he felt he should be the one to join the Army. He was sent to France, where he discovered he could drink everyone else under the table. About three days before the Armistice, he was wounded when a truck he was riding in was blown up. He woke up in Vichy a couple of days later to learn that he had an injury to his spine.
After the war, he seemed to have no problem with alcohol, except when he did drink he always wanted to out-drink everyone else, and was drinking more and more himself.
He married in 1920, and in 1928 he and his wife visited France with their two children. There he started drinking brandy to help him sleep.
By this time he had developed a good reputation as an artist and was very successful at his work. When he realized that his family was worried about his drinking, he started drinking at his studio and at bars rather than at home.
This secret drinking caused him to feel very guilty. He was very unhappy and knew his family was unhappy. The worst part was that in his guilt he lost God. He felt he had no right to pray to God, no right to go into the temple or church. When they had lived in Rome he used to go into one of the cathedrals every night on his way home from work and, to him, a house of God was a house of God and was beautiful and dedicated to His worship. Now he was robbed of God, because he was so ashamed.
One day he was asked to help the crippled son of his “wash-woman” Gabrielle, with his artwork. He was happy to do so, but when he arrived he was drunk. At the door he prayed to God to help him. Miraculously he was able to spend two and-a-half hours helping the boy. But when he left he started drinking again. He didn’t remember much about the next ten days. But when he remembered how he had prayed to help the crippled boy, he again turned to God for help. He didn’t drink again for the next ten years, but said they were miserable years.
A week or two before Decoration Day 1947, a friend asked him how he was doing with his alcohol problem. He answered that he had no alcohol problem and that on Decoration Day he and his wife were going to try a bottle of champagne.
His friend was an A.A. member and asked him, before he took that first drink, to go to a meeting with him. At the meeting the leader stated “Alcoholism is an incurable, progressive disease. Whether you are dry one year, ten years or fifty years, you’re still one drink away from a drunk.”
Fred’s reaction was “Thank God I didn’t take that first drink! Thank God I am here.”
He remembered what his mother had said years before when he came home drunk. Weeping, she said, “This must be somehow good. This cannot be all negative. Some good must come out of it.”
Toward the end of his first A.A. meeting, he heard about the Twelfth Step. Immediately, his mother’s words came to his mind. “That’s somehow good,” he thought. “Thank God,” he wrote, “I have been able to turn it into “Somehow good.”