Walter B., Cleveland, Ohio.
(OM, p. 265 in 1st edition.)
Walter first joined A.A. in September 1935.
He was known as a notorious alcoholic and a regular consumer of paregoric, an over-the-counter opiate then easily available to the general public.
Too young to enlist in World War I, he earned high wages as a machinist, and did very well at his work. He confined his drinking to weekends or occasional parties after work. But he was unsettled and dissatisfied.
He got married, and in 1924 moved to Akron, where he got a job in the largest industrial plant. Things were going well until the stock market crashed and work slowed down. Finally he was laid off.
He found another job that required him to travel. Away from home his drinking increased, and he finally lost that job. A series of jobs followed, but things continued to go down hill.
He was hospitalized several times. During one of his hospitalizations, the chief resident physician, during his rounds, asked him if he would like to stop drinking, and suggested that he send another doctor to see him. This was Dr. Bob.
For two years he stayed sober and his life was greatly improved. Then he started to miss meetings, and stopped working the program. He soon started drinking again.
On either August 16 or 18, 1939, he was the first alcoholic admitted by Dr. Bob and Sister Ignatia for the purpose of detoxification. Sister Ignatia labeled his problem as “acute gastritis” in order to admit him. She first put him in a double room. Dr. Bob asked her to move him to a private room so that he could have visitors. No private room being available she moved him to the “flower room,” where the nurses watered the flowers that patients had received. The room was also used as a temporary holding room for corpses awaiting transfer to the morgue.
He had probably been in this hospital before under various diagnoses. He talks in his story about many hospitalizations and mentions that in one Catholic hospital, a Sister had talked religion to him and had brought a priest in to see him. They were sorry for him, he said, and assured him he would find relief in Mother Church. He wanted none of it.
When he wrote his story he had been sober about a year, and intended to stay close to what he had proven was good for him. Every day he asked God to keep him sober for twenty-four hours. “He has never let me down yet.”
His wife, Marie B., wrote the story “An Alcoholic’s Wife,” which also appears in the 1st edition.