Alcoholics Anonymous History In Your Area
Long Beach, California
A Brief History of The Icebreakers Group
In March 1969, Dick Jewell was called to the office of Dr. Joe Zuska, the Station Medical Officer at Terminal Island Naval Station, Long Beach. Dick was introduced to a senior naval officer and was informed that this senior officer might have a drinking problem. Dick told the captain that he would show him a way to take care of his problem that night and arranged for the two to meet. Then Dick began to worry about where to take the captain, as it just wouldn’t do in those days to have a very senior naval officer be seen in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in town. He went to see his friend Frank Hunnicutt and asked him where to take the captain. Frank said, “Why, we’ll just do it right here,” meaning right there in Frank’s office. Dick went back to work and the telephones began to buzz as plans were made to hold a special meeting, that very night.
At a little before eight P.M., Dick led a shaky Captain John W. into Frank’s back office, where six men were waiting. What followed was the first meeting of the ICEBREAKERS GROUP, on Wednesday, March 23, 1969. Of the eight founding members, four have since died and the other four attend the meeting when they can. The four surviving founding members are John W. of San Diego, Frank H, Bill W, and Tom F..
The Group soon constituted itself as an underground professional meeting, not listed in meeting directories, but contributing regularly to local, regional, and national AA entities. Membership was limited essentially to military officers, past and present, but no one was turned away, including transients and streetwalkers. The initial membership was largely naval officers, although there were a few Army and Air Force officers from the very early days. For about ten years the Group met in Frank’s office near the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Santa Fe, in West Long Beach. When the “clinic” started by Dick and Dr Zuska began to treat officers, they were bussed to the Icebreakers Group on Wednesday nights, and to other meetings. Hundreds of patients were exposed to ICEBREAKERS GROUP meetings and then moved on, back to the fleet or their bases.
The early members of the Group, for the most part, immersed themselves in AA, doing all that was necessary to ensure continued sobriety. All were seen at several other meetings in long Beach, especially the Friday night meeting of the Los Altos Group at Bellflower and Atherton. This was a gala occasion each week, when all the members wore coats and ties, and all the wives were there. After the meeting, they all usually went to a coffee shop or to some member’s home for a continuation of the meeting. The men would talk AA in the living room while the wives would talk ALANON in the kitchen. The success of this kind of involvement in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous is evident as many of the early members have over thirty years of sobriety.
The Group has moved several times since leaving Frank’s old office, and came to the Community Congregational Church at 4111 Katella in Los Alamitos in 1990. It became a Closed Group, that is open to all alcoholics, but only to alcoholics or those with a problem with alcohol about fifteen years ago; and then became an open group around 1993. Anyone may attend an open group, but only alcoholics may participate in the meeting.
In 1964 Dry Dock #1 was started on the Terminal Island Naval Station and later moved to the Naval Hospital in Long Beach. When the Hospital closed, Dry Dock #1 also closed. All members of any Dry Dock Group are welcome to join the Icebreakers Group and quite a few have.
In 1999 the meeting grew quite large, often exceeding the capacity of the hall and the available chairs. A search was started for a hall large enough for the Group, when attendance often approached 200. In July, 2000, the Group moved to an old familiar place, McNeil Hall of the Los Altos UCC at Bellflower and Atherton in Long Beach, where we all used to meet years ago, with the Los Altos Group. We have again found a happy home, one that allows uncrowded seating for all and room for expansion.
Last revised 4/15/2002 cgb
Copyright © 2002 Icebreakers Group of Alcoholics Anonymous