Alcoholics Anonymous History In Your Area
HISTORY OF AA IN THE SAN DIEGO AREA
The Story of Alcoholics Anonymous in San Diego County
I have been searching my thousands of files for this flyer, which is currently seen around Southern California. We scanned it and filed it in my computer several months ago. It was featured around that time in my Focus magazine. There is another San Diego history brochure we are in process of computerizing. I will post it when completed.
This story does not cover all of the AA pioneers in San Diego, including Hugh Mc. and Jim B. The other brochure is obscure as well on the people who worked diligently to make Alcoholics Anonymous work in San Diego. It is unfortunate that anonymity and principles before personalities are often misconstrued by aspiring historians, who elect to write AA history without information about the wonderful personalities who carried the AA message. I spoke with Hugh Mc. on several occasions prior to his death, and I took notes. I have a distinct honor, too, in knowing several other surviving oldtimers in San Diego. This has created a framework from which, another project in the works, I am writing a rather comprehensive essay on San Diego Alcoholics Anonymous.
Nonetheless, the following flyer is interesting and I hope enjoyed by all.
The first (AA group) meeting in San Diego was held on November 7, 1940, a Friday night, in an apartment at 3229 Adams Avenue.
The meeting was (later) moved to a hall at the East San Diego Women’s Club.
On its first anniversary, the group was listing 75 members.
On December 31, 1941, San Diego AA held its first New Year’s Eve dance in a ballroom in the basement of the Maryland Hotel on ‘F’ Street.
For a time, the Friday night meeting was moved to the mezzanine of the California Theater Building in downtown San Diego.
The group meeting night was moved to Wednesday.
AA in San Diego reached a milestone in the spring of 1946. Attendance at the Wednesday night meeting was running as high as 200. It was becoming difficult for a group so large to discuss and vote on the increasing amount of AA “business” and organizational details that had to be dealt with. The solution was to invite each of the seven groups then listed in the county to send representatives to a meeting at the Chamber of Commerce building in Old Town to establish a “Central Committee” for San Diego AA. The committee held its first meeting on April 13, 1946. The new “Central Committee” in San Diego laid down the organizational framework, which eventually evolved into the Coordinating Council. Within a year the roster of groups was approaching 20 and some members of the Central Committee were convinced that the time had, come for AA to rent an office and employ a secretary full-time. The committee called a general meeting of San Diego AA members on January 29, 1947, to decide the issue. A total of 127 members attended to debate whether AA should assume this new financial responsibility. The vote was 86 to 41 in favor.
The Central Office opened in 1947 in quarters in the old Broadway Building.
It moved in 1948 to the California Theater Building, in 1971 to 2100 Fourth Ave, and in 1989, to its present location at 7075-B Mission Gorge Rd.
The Central Committee became the Coordinating Committee and finally the Coordinating Council, with the voting system and committee structure undergoing many changes in ensuing years.
The first issue of “The Coordinator”- newsletter distributed to AA groups and members in the San Diego area- appeared in October 1948. The newsletter served to keep members abreast of the news about AA activities, and also to remind them of their obligation to the support of the Central Office. Contributions from groups, and the proceeds from passing the basket at the Wednesday night meeting, were consistently falling short of covering all the office’s expenses. Early in 1950 the Central Committee voted to establish the “Buck-a-Month Club” as a way for individual AA members to contribute directly to the support of the Central Office.
The General Service Conference of Alcoholics Anonymous was established in 1951. This brought into being the San Diego Area Assembly. Tom B. was elected San Diego’s first New York delegate in 1951.
From one meeting of tour alcoholics in 1940, San Diego AA has grown to include more than (500) groups with a combined membership in the thousands. In March of 1977 &1 AA office was opened in Vista as a North County branch of the San Diego Central Office. This did not fully satisfy the need for more direct services to the growing number of AA members and groups in the northern part of the county. At a meeting on June 16, 1979, representatives of North County groups voted unanimously, to establish and Support an independent office. So, beginning on July 1, 1979) AA services in the northern, and southern sections of San Diego County, were provided by separate offices. One, in Vista, and one in San Diego.