Pioneers of A.A.
“This newsman covered life from top to bottom; but
he ended up, safely enough, in the middle.“
Jim’s date of sobriety was July 1937. He was described as tall and skinny, and a real lone wolf.
He was born in Australia, and it is uncertain when he first came to America. He received a liberal arts education and apparently married while in college or soon after.
Jim had itchy feet and soon after college, estranged from his family, he went to Great Britain where he became a bookmaker’s clerk on the British racing circuits, and was far better off financially than the average professional man. When money was missing he was fired and he sailed for New York, knowing he was through among the English “bookies.”
He continued to travel far and wide, working at a variety of jobs in many cities in this country and abroad, and he also spent some periods as a hobo. On one occasion he left his wife and baby in Scotland and sailed for New York.
Many of his jobs were with newspapers, the first one in Pittsburgh. While working on a newspaper in Ohio he stayed sober for two years, except for a one-night drunk in Chicago, and kept a quart of medicinal whiskey in his apartment to taper off the occasional newspaper alcoholics who were sent to see him. He stayed sober for a total of four years, the last two during World War I when he served in a Canadian regiment.
Discharged in 1919 he made up for his dry spell: Quebec, Toronto, Buffalo, and Pittsburgh, were the scenes of man-sized drunks until he had gone through his readjustment discharge pay. He again became a reporter on a Pittsburgh paper.
He was working in a large Ohio city when his wife came over from Scotland to join him. The new job lasted five years. He quit that job moved to Washington, D.C., then Texas.
Washed up in Texas he returned to the town he had left five years before. His wife made several attempts to get him to stop drinking, but without success.
While working in a small bookstore Jim was called to a hospital to see a friend with whom he had once worked. (This man was probably Earl T., “He Sold Himself Short”). His friend had insisted he visit. He was hospitalized for alcoholism and was already reaching out to help Jim. A few days later another man came into his shop to talk to him about a plan for recovery and invited him to a meeting. But Jim insisted he was on the wagon and doing fine.
It wasn’t long before he was on another bender, which lasted until his friend from the hospital picked Jim up and put him in the hospital.
In the interim he may have lost his job at the book store, since one report says that Dr. Bob found Jim on skid row selling hair oil and panhandling. But according to Jim’s story, he didn’t meet Dr. Bob until he was in the hospital.
After Jim’s recovery began, knowing he had been a journalist, Dr. Bob, asked him if he would help the Akron and Cleveland members write their stories. He took on the job gladly, urging them to get their stories on paper, and nagging them when they dragged their feet. He edited and rewrote some of the stories, but tried to keep the flavor of the original version.