Alcoholics Anonymous History In Your Area
The Towson Women’s Group
Love and Service Over 40 Years
On a quiet Friday night in March, I rushed to keep an appointment that I had made with two members from the Towson Women’s Group. I had just left the Baltimore Institution Committee and was trying desperately to be on time. I arrived at Georgetta E’s home and was greeted by Georgetta and her fellow member, Doris R. They welcomed me with open arms and turned the next hour or two into a magical excursion into that mix of love, service, commitment, and fellowship known as the Towson Women’s Group.
Georgetta and Doris then proceeded to weave memories of that tapestry that is AA, as seen through eyes of two members of the oldest Women’s AA group in Area 29 – Maryland. (Georgetta has 35 years of sobriety and Doris 37 years.)
The Towson Women’s Group was founded in the spring of 1961 by Anne P., Isabelle K., Enid S. and Rowena M. The first meeting place was at 212 Washington Avenue, Towson, Maryland. From its small beginnings in 1961, the group grew to 34 active members in 1971 and was at its peak at 48 members in 1984. The group currently has 24 active members.
The group was active in Intergroup, 12-step work, area service, and institutions. Towson Women’s Group brought the first AA meetings to Shepherd Pratt, the House of Good Shepherd, and Jessup’s Women’s Prison.
Looking at the pictures from the past with Georgetta and Doris, I could see the love and sadness in their eyes as they talked about past members no longer with us in person, but always in our hearts and our actions. Their legacy went into the formation of unwritten traditions that go hand in hand with the written ones that keep AA solid and growing.
Before I enter into a paragraph or two about one of the founding members, Anne P., I want to point out that the Towson Women’s Group is not Anne P. or Georgetta or Doris. It is that combination of all past and present members, some deceased, some living, some sober and some not, who gave their blood, sweat, and tears to establish, and then continue on, that collage of AA love and service known as the Towson Women’s Group.
Many stories flowed around about Anne P., one of the original four, who was instrumental in establishing and carrying on the traditions of this particular group. She was that blend of love and strength that could melt your heart or knock you down, whatever was needed to keep AA and the Towson Women’s Group afloat. Anne P. had been known over the years to stand toe to toe for “her girls” and was known on several occasions to stand up against what was politically incorrect at the time and fight physically for one of her girls. She also had wit and charm about her. When some of the women got in a little pity party, Anne would pack them up and take them down to the Old Chip House in Baltimore, which offered hard core, low bottom, tough love AA. It was an experience you didn’t want to miss.
Another little tradition, particular only to this home group, is that Anne gave every home group member an animal nickname. She would make cards for the members for their anniversary and for Christmas. She would cut out intricate little figures of the member’s specific animal and paste them on the card. Georgetta (kangaroo) and Doris (pony) gave me two cards that were over 30 years old.
Close your eyes and you can still see them: the hen, the beaver, the deer, the pony, the kangaroo, the cat, the fish, and on and on. You can feel their presence and feel safe and secure. You’re in the presence of a true AA home group, that close knit family that started out with Bill and Bob (with Anne and Lois right nearby) and has blossomed into groups that cover the four corners of the earth – Love and Service with that extra little pinch of compassion and tenderness.
Towson Women’s Group hasn’t been without controversy over the years, especially since they are solely a women’s meeting. They battled that issue and also the court issue and came out strong and united since all issues were decided as they should be, with guidance from General Service and the final outcome determined by the individual group conscience. I can assure you that if a man would stumble into the Towson Group for a meeting, directories would fly and this tight-knit group would make sure that the person found an AA meeting nearby.
This group truly represents all that there is good about Alcoholics Anonymous. It has been a home and haven for many women who, for some reason or another, just did not feel comfortable in a smoke-filled room full of men. A need for this meeting existed in Maryland, and the Towson Women’s Group has filled this need admirably. Every member of the Towson Women’s Group made a conscious decision to allow themselves to be a conduit for their Higher Power to use them in whatever manner He or She may wish. Through practicing the traditions and steps on a daily basis, they made themselves available to be instrumental in the growth of AA in Maryland.
I can’t describe in words how beautiful, humbling, and spiritual it was to share those few hours with two of the most delightful AA members that it has ever been my privilege to meet. Honesty, dignity, mutual respect and laughter made up this evening of time travel in the history of AA in Maryland.
Thank you, Towson Women’s Group, for being there for the suffering alcoholic who may have fallen by the wayside had you not had the courage and foresight to carry the message of Bill and Bob to those who were afraid and alone.
Copyright © March 2002-2006 Property of Maryland General Service, Inc. of AA
— http://www.marylandaa.org/ —