Hank Cleaveland

The Life Storv of Hank Cleaveland

Interviewed Spring 1996

 

Hank Cleaveland a 67 year‑old gentleman resides with his wife in New Sharon, Maine. Hank moved to Maine from New York state where he was born and raised and currently works as a drug and alcohol rehabilitation counselor for Harbor Light Associates .

Hank has recently undergone a five‑way heart by‑pass operation following a heart attack which occurred last December ( 1995) . He is a distinguished looking, elderly gentleman with gray hair and a full gray beard. He has worked in the area of Drug and alcohol rehabilitation for many years, in Maine, where he is well know and respected for his service to that community.

Hank is also part of a distinguished group which includes: Bill Wilson, Ebby Brown, Sister Ignatia, Sam Shoemaker, Fred Stevenson and other notable personages affiliated with the founding of Alcoholics Anonymous. Hank’ s family roots go back to Europe and the family he was born into was made up of highly successful professionals who were actively involved in the social activities of their time. Today, Hank, and Martha, live in a rustic log home set well off the main road, some half mile or so. When I met Hank at his home to do this interview, he met me at his back door and introduced me to a piliated woodpecker who resided atop an old pine standing tall but worn beside his porch. Such is the charm of Hank Cleaveland .

 

 

Q:   First section of this story deals with your birth and family of origin. Could you tell me what was going on in your family, your community and your world about the time you were born ?

 

 

A: Well of course, I was too young to remember all the details as to what was about. My family lived in Brooklyn, New York at that time. I had an older brother who was seven years older than I am, who is still alive. We lived in an area of Brooklyn that was not socially the greatest. It was an area that was bordering on being a mixed neighborhood. In other words, the nearby area was inhabited mostly by Negro families. The lot on which we lived had one Negro family whose father of which worked for the Custom Services.

My father was a tax consultant for Mobil Oil at that time. Both my father and mother were college graduates. My father graduated from Amherst College, Phi Beta Kappa in 1909. My mother graduated from Vassar College in 1909. They married soon after their graduation from college. My older brother was born in Buffalo, New York, where at that time, my father worked for the telephone company prior to his moving to New York. I imagine, this is an assumption on my part, the fact that my mother’s uncle was high up on the management level of the Standard Oil Company of New York, had something to do with the fact that my father wound up working for Mobil Oil. At that time, it was known as the Standard Oil Company of New York.

My mothers’s uncle, my grandmother’s brother, was Henry Clay Folger, who was subsequently President of the Board of Standard Oil Company of New York. He was also a Shaksperiana and of course collected a lot of Shaksperiana from around the world, which had been stored in warehouses all over the world, which had never been stored in one place where it should have been. And as a consequence, he had a great deal of money. He purchased a block in Washington, D.C. next to the Library of Congress, and funded the library in that block, which is today known as the Folger Shaksperian Library . He died in the early 1 930’s . I have a copy of his will someplace. He endowed that library for $10 million, which in those days was a lot of money. The management of the handling of the library was turned over to the trustees of Amherst College. That basically is the family from which we came.

The Folger family originated up in Nantucket. It was one of the original families that settled on the Island of Nantucket. The Folger’s, the Starbuck’s, the Macy’s, and there was somebody else. At this stage of the game, I can’t remember. It was a rather prestigious family from which we came. My mother and father were very strongly convinced that a public school education was necessary, and both my brother and I went through to the high school level, the public school’s equivalent.

An interesting experience during my school years, both grammar and high school, I was always a member of the minority. In grade school, I was always in a school that was 95% black. In high school, I was in a school that was 95 % Jewish, and I grew up in that kind of background . I was suppose to go to Amherst, and in those days there were requirements of four years of Classical Language, which I took as Latin, and four years of Modern Language, which I took as French, and after my high school, did not do as well as I should have to qualify me for admission. I went to Prep School for two years in Massachusetts, and took enough Latin and French to qualify me for admission to Amherst, which I did.

I think it is important to recognize that at that stage of the game, the fact that alcohol was going to play a major role in my future began to be evident, not so much to me but to other people. I can’t believe that my family didn’t know what was going on, but they said very little about it. I suspect that was because they didn’t really know what to say. There wasn’t a lot of knowledge about alcohol in those days. Nevertheless, I was admitted in Amherst; and was interested in drinking and did whenever the opportunity presented itself. I played baseball with local baseball teams in the summertime and we also did a lot of partying.

When I went to Amherst, I pledged a fraternity that was known for it’s drinking. I also went to a fraternity that I knew who I had played against in schools and more or less looked for that atmosphere. Academically, I did all right. I flunked Freshman History, but half the class did. I took a summer course in General Biology and General Psychology in Columbia, which was accepted when I finally attempted to complete my college education at University of Maine/Farmington. They accepted them as transferrable credits, as well as all the credits that I accumulated at Amherst. So that by the time I started back at school at the age of 60, all of my core curriculum was completed, which was interesting.

I was active in church work. I am an ordained Deacon of the Presbyterian Church. Although that is not my affiliation now. I am very active with young people’s work within the church. I was raised in a Sunday School environment.

Most of the time, the people with whom I associated with also drank. We had meetings Monday night, go around the corner and have 2 pitchers of beer. It didn’t seem out of place. By and large, it was one of those early meetings on Sunday that I met my first wife. As a matter of fact, it was on Pearl Harbor Day, December 7, 1941. We became quite seriously involved, and I just prior to that time, had been called in to the President’s office and told that my behavior was not acceptable. I did some rather strange things, like showing up at the Dartmouth Winter Carnival, not on Friday but the prior Tuesday, and caught up with me there. I was told that I would have to amend my ways or I would not be accepted at Amherst. I can well remember the reaction I had to the statement that was made, which was “what the devil does this old goat think he’s doing questioning my right to do these things if I want to’?” As a consequence, I left .

It was after leaving there that I was up in New York and got involved with the folks that eventually tied me in with my gal that I finally married. Before I got up there to York, I got a job once again with Mobil Oil down in Camden, New Jersey, in what was classified as a Sales Training Program, which they did by having us work at gas stations pumping gas. Probably six of us were doing that, and we arranged our schedule in such a way so as to have a long period of time off after working a solid two‑three weeks. You could do a lot with a 4‑5 day week­ end .

Once, I was up in New York where I was drinking and came back to the job on a Monday, late, half‑in‑the‑bag, only to find out that the place had been robbed the night before, and that the boss thought I had done it. I had no way of proving that I had not done that. They wanted to fire me, but there was a man in the company who knew my father and came to me and said “Henry, I believe you and have convinced people not to fire you if you will go with me to Philadelphia to meet with some people who can help you, which seemed like a reasonable proposal.

So I went with him to Philadelphia and met with a bunch of people, including Bill Wilson, that were involved with an organization known as Alcoholics Anonymous, which I had never heard of. It was quite new. That was back in 1941. They were surprised to have someone so young, I was 21 then. They made a big deal of it. I have since realized that one of the problems I have to deal with is one of a screwed up ego. And as a consequence, the fact that they made such a big thing of my being there, really played into that characteristic. Mind you, I enjoyed it. I didn’t identify with these people very much but I somehow equated the nice things that were happening with the idea that I don’t have to drink. And I didn ‘ t .

However, it was a strange time because it was just before the outbreak of World War II and most of the people that I knew were people that were volunteering for the service or getting drafted or winding up in the service one way or the other. When I met them, subsequent to the fact that they entered the service, they were usually home on leave, and that was another party time, and that was fine with me.

And, even though my job had not terminated, I made the decision to get out of here, go up to New York and go into the service, which I did. It was in that sequence that I met with that gal that I subsequently married. She was the daughter of a very active Major in the New York National Guard, and when her father learned that we were going to get married, he influenced me to make every effort to get into OCS, which I did.

Went through OCS at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey, and was commissioned in the Single Corps. The day after I got commissioned, the two of us were married. We were down in Redbank, New Jersey, waiting for my assignment in Tomb, Alaska. My wife stayed home with her family while I went to Alaska for a year. Oddly enough, alcohol played no part during the time I spent in Alaska because there wasn’t any around. I think I had a couple of beers in the course of the year I was there. Well, no, that wasn’t the case either. We had a unit search who had been married just before he went to Alaska, and his wife was down in Vanes, California, and had learned that his wife had a baby and was very excited about that and found reason to celebrate. He got enough grain alcohol for four of us to get off on a big one.

However, I was up there during the invasion of Chenya and Patoo. I was there during the screwed up invasion of Kiska, where we lost half a dozen of our own crew at the hands of our own people. But those things happen .

In the meantime, I had decided that I would like to get into the air force and fly. By that time, my father‑in‑law had proceeded up the scale to being a Colonel in the Inspector General’s Department, which was the prestigious and effective location, and I don’t know what he did, but I was transferred back to the states to get into flight training school. My wife flew out from New York to be with me.

I finished by training and became commissioned as a pilot of twin engine aircraft. At that stage, my wife had become pregnant and went back to New York. I was also on leave at the time my older boy was born. She and the boy travelled with me to Georgia, Florida, various training stations, and finally the war finally began to wind itself down.

Our organization was shipped to the west coast to go over the Pacific area. However, we arrived in Los Angeles on VJ Day. So there was no place for us to go and wound up back in Virginia. On the way there, I wound up with a skin infection and got off the train at New Orleans spending a month getting rid of the skin infection. I had been drinking a lot and partying a lot once the infection had cleared up. I finally got back to Georgia to the Valdasta. Five of my buddies had decided we wanted to stay in the service but by the time I got back to Georgia during the time I had been in the hospital, all the other fellows had been shipped out. As a consequence, I felt I had no place to go, and finally decided I would leave the service. Three days later I was on the train to Rome, New York, where I ended my service career.

We lived with my mother‑in‑law because there were very few housing places in those days. That was not a good idea, but we had no other place to go. Eventually, I was able to get enough money together to buy a house in Brooklyn, New York. It was a two‑family house. We rented the upstairs. Things were not good. I had gone to a hospital for being drunk, which I did not know. I went to Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn for treatment which I subsequently went back to again. I did a lot of drinking .

My wife enjoyed drinking too, and she drank with me. But, it came to the point that she had handled all she could. I came home from work one day and found the apartment empty. She had gone to Texas to be with her family. She indicated that she was filing for divorce. That was in 1949. In the meantime, I had been through a successively more drastic involvement with alcohol. I went to hospitals, state mental institutions, where they had programs for alcoholism, and never got too far away from Alcoholics Anonymous, but never got too committed to it too thoroughly.

Eventually, at one stage of the game, when I had not been drinking, I met Martha, my present wife. She didn’t know me to be an alcoholic. She got to know more after she met me and learned to know more about what alcoholics were about. She went to AA with me and we were married, December 2, 1950. I had been separated from my first wife for more than a year, when she was establishing residency in Texas.

In fact, I made a hurry‑up trip to Texas hoping to establish a relationship when her father died. I drove down from Long Island to San Antonio specifically to go to the funeral and patch things up. I tried. It was a blow to learn that eventually that she married a contemporary of her father’s. She loved the army officer’s type of existence. The Officer’s Club, the parties, and the dances, etc. She married the Colonel. Not a very nice person. Had been a prosecutor. Was a nasty guy.

My wife had custody of my son. He spent summer’s on Long Island with me. Each year he asked if he could stay with me, and his mom said no. He came up one summer and was in very serious emotional state. He begged me to ask his mother if he could stay. She said she would let me know before school registration. He was 11 years old at the time. She finally wrote back and said if this is what he really wanted, fine. So he came to live with us. He was with us until he finished all his schooling, having gone to Amherst.

After graduation he entered the Doctoral Program at George Washington University. He never got his Masters, but he came out with a PhD in Psychology. He is now a clinical psychologist in Virginia. He has a private practice in Arlington, Virginia, and is a consultant for the Alcohol Program in the city of Alexandria. He’s doing real well. My present wife and I have had two other children. My daughter, who is now an RN, working in Farmington. She has 4 children of her own. My other son, is living and working in New Hampshire right now. Was married, divorced, and will probably remarry again.

That is pretty much the family background. I am still very active with church work. I am active with the Methodist Church in New Sharon. I sing in the choir. I have not been able to lately. I am now sober for over 30 years. I have become the representative from the State of Maine to the General Service Conference of AA in New York for two years.

In general, have established quite an identity within the recovering community. I have done a good deal of work with agencies that provided substance abuse services in Maine. Our own agency, Harbor Light Associates, I coached through their original licensing and to a fairly large degree, put together the policy manual, under which they operate now. I presently am about to start doing an RFP. A friend of mine in Ellsworth wants my help putting together a proposal for an adolescent program down there.

By and large, a lot of good things have happened. We came to Maine largely on my say so. My wife did not want to come. I had visions of what it was going to be like on Long Island if we stayed there. Subsequently, I wound up buying a house on Long Island and I knew that the tax situation would get out of hand, which it did. We had to get out of there before the sword fell.

So, I came up here to look for a place to live and give a down payment. After we came up here, I went to work for the Federal Government for seven years with the Department of Commerce, Census Bureau, not full time work. I was not making a lot of money. I almost went broke because I still had my house on Long Island, which had not sold .

I had two houses to pay off. Subsequently, I needed a full time job.

In 1977 or 1978, just before I went to work for ODAP, I was appointed by the governor to be on the agency that examined and determined the ability of counselors to be counselors. I chaired that committee for three years. A process by which counselors are hereby certified and licensed. Subsequently, we worked very hard to put together a whole procedure. Then a situation arose that created at least a possibility a conflict of interest and because then I had been employed by ODAP some of the funding of this committee came from ODAP. As a consequence, my three year term was just about over and while I could have been appointed again for another three year term, I decided that I would eliminate the possiblity then and decided to resign at the end of my term.

Ted Rice succeeded me at the head of the committee. You see what had happened, Bob, because of my association with AA and the position as delegate to General Service Conference, as a representative of the Business of the Certification of Counselors, I became identified with different elements all of which were involved in the substance abuse services.

I talked to some of my friends, and went to work for the Office of Drug and Alcoholism Prevention, ODAP, as a licensing agent. I was responsible for licensing all facilities that provided substance abuse services in the state of Maine, which I did mostly by myself. Except when we licensed agencies that did residential. I took our grant’s manager, and a nurse consultant to look at that aspect, also Dr. Mel Tremper. The entire crew went to residential agencies like hospitals.

I got to be known to all the agencies that we certified. My identity was growing. While working for ODAP, I became aware that the State would be willing to pay for my education cost if I wanted to continue college. So when I was 60 years old, I went back to college taking courses down at the University of Maine at Augusta, which was interesting because I was working down there. I made the sorry mistake of taking 2 courses at the same time which turned out to be very heavy deep courses. I

later found out that the University gave credits for life experience and I went to my friend, Dr. Peter Derand at Farmington. Farmington did not offer this but he felt that they could work something out. So I began to put together all the academic credits that I had had in the past. It was determined that there were enough things that I could do to make it possible so that I would not have to go back to school. I took some training by writing about the background and development of the certification process which you have seen, which incidentally was good for 15 credits. With that I graduated in 1995, and didn’t find out until graduation that I had done so Suma Cum Laudi.

I worked for the Drug Evaluation Program for a while. I worked for Adult Services, Dept. of Human Services. Eventually, I wound up with the State Employees Assistance Program looking at all facilities in Waldo, Hancock, and Washington counties that had State employees. I enjoyed that very much. Then we got involved in a budget crunch, and the Appropriations Committee decided that they wanted to privatize the function which they did, I had to take retirement from the State in order to maintain any kind of continuity of insurance coverage.

In the meantime, I had been sort of consulting with Harbor Light Associates primarily to get them going. Eventually we set up an office here. That was sort of the end of that whole process. As things stand right now, almost anywhere I go within the northeast area of the country are people who know me and people whom I know. I have good credibility, I have testified before any number of legislative committees.

 

This brings me to where I am right now, having had a heart attack at the end of November, l 995 . While I was in the hospital for the heart attack, I suffered from a stroke. And subsequently, after all sorts of tests, what I needed was surgery. I originally thought it would be an easy by­ pass, but it turned out to be a 4‑way by‑pass. The healing process is long. I still have to wear these blasted elastic stockings. My chest is pretty well healed as well as the legs. 1 have now been turned loose by the surgeon. My care now is in the hands of my personal physician.

I am still very active in AA. I go regularly, and mores o now that I can drive myself. The plans for the ruture, I don’t know. At this stage of the game, I am perfectly willing to take things one day at a time and do things that I can and am able to. I am certainly not in a position to live high off the hog as I don’t have that kind of money right now. I am anxious to get back to work, although I don’t know how much I can do right now.       But, I would like to get back to at least a part‑time basis. I used to think that 20 clients per week being a full time schedule. I don’t think I would be able to do that now. I am going to go back to work in an easy way. I am probably going to schedule a couple of clients on Fridays. That day Lise will be in the office.

By and large, that is all I am thinking about for the future. I draw fairly good Social Security. Originally, my hope had been for me to be able to work another three years which would make it possible for me to buy my military time, which would give me another 4 years. The situation being what it was might not make that possible. That would have made a difference what my retirement would be, but it was not to be. But, by and large, that is pretty much the story.

 

Q Hank, how would you describe your parents ‑ your mother and father’s personalities, the feelings you have when you think of them, the best and the worst things about them?

A: We were a very close knit family. I had a sister who was 3 years younger than I who died when I was 12, she was 9 years old. I can recall that as a very stressful time. We were close in age. I remember my older brother and I were less close, but have become closer as we have gotten older. He will be 83 this year. He is living in Colorado now, and will be coming to visit at the end of May. He is a class agent for his graduating class from Amherst and will be coming for an informal reunion in the spring. He will be coming to spend some time with us when he comes back. We have been close now. We both went to the same high school in Brooklyn. He graduated from college in 1934, graduated from high school in 1930. I graduated from high school in 1936.

I was never aware of the amount of wealth the family had. Of course, our branch of the family never had all that much money. My father made good money. I t think he made $20,000 per year, which in those days was not bad. He subsequently had a heart attack and died at the age of 62. His was an interesting family. His father was a Presbytarien minister, and they did not make alot of money. And yet, those 5 kids all graduated from college.

My uncle was a doctor, my youngest aunt had a PhD from Columbia. The other two aunts, one was a professional church organist, and the other was a librarian in the Cleveland school system. It was a surprising family given the background of where they came from. Both boys graduated from Pregonia State Normal School and then both went to Amherst.

 

I don’t remember too much. I remember as a kid, generalities. My grandmother, who was Henry Clay Folger’s sister had become widowed when my mother was 12 years old. She ‘had three sisters. Uncle Henry must have been helping Grandmother along the way because, as kids, my mother and her two sisters, and the families all went out to Long Island for the summer. My older brother learned to walk in a small town called Stoneybrook. We did alot of fishing, swimming as a closely knit family. I can remember as a kid helping the fellow who owned the field across the house with the hay. They didn’t have mechanical things in those days, so they had to hand rake the hay and then use pitch forks to pitch onto a truck then bringing it to the barn and piling onto the hay mound. I remember doing that.

I had alot of death in the family. As I say, my sister died. I had a 6 year old male cousin who died of pneumonia. My mother’s youngest sister, Mary, lost a girl, then a boy, and subsequently lost her husband. One daughter had been born a week after the boy had been buried. There was alot of dying in those days. I do remember that. Uncle Termance died. And dying became very real. One thing that I did not tell you. At one point, in my thirties, I had a blackout that lasted from Thanksgiving Day, and I came out of it when I woke up in Louisianna. I did not know where I was or how I got there. I had a little bit of money, not much, and I called home and found that my father had died two weeks before. That was a blow. Subsequently, going back to Long Island to a little town where everybody knows what the hell’s going on is a hard tale to do.

Alot of good things have happened. I started a half‑way house for young adolescent men called Your Choice in Hallowell, which currently exists. I am currently on the board, however, have not been able to be active for a little while because of the operation.

Q. What was it like for you when you were an adolescent?

A: I don’t think there were any strong characteristics one way or another. I was good at school, enjoyed socializing, was active in the young people’s organization at church.

Did you do much with your dad?

A: Not an awful lot. He spent alot of time away in Washington. I can remember him coming back and showing concern about the size and state of the Federal Government. ” It’s so big, it’s so big .” he would say. Both my mother and father were very active in social events. I remember in Brooklyn, where we lived, they were active in setting up block parties and things like that. They were very consious of their social responsibility. Pop was recognized by the local Jewish Organization as the outstanding contributor for that sort of work in the course of the year.

I had alot of colored and Jewish friends because those are the kids I was in school with. I grew up much devoid of prejudicial stuff. I still think I feel that way. I am very pleased to note that my grandchildren are being raised that way. They are smart kids and that is nice to know. I don’t think my adolescent time way any different than anybody elses.

 

Q. How would you describe your dad?

 

A: Dedicated. I remember he was church treasurer for many years. He was committed to doing what was right for his responsibilities. Just as an example, after my sister died in April, my folks were delegates to the assembly of the Presbytarian Church, which was an annual affair. That year it was held in Denver. They took me out of school and took me with them. After the General Assembley was over, we went to California, Canada, amd Lake Louise. Every time my father had a vacation, we took a trip some place. I remember we came to Maine one year. We went to various places. I would not say we were a dysfunctional family at all. My mother was also very active in the church. She was also active in Parent­ Teacher organizations.

Q:   Emotionally, what was your mother like?

 

A: Oh, well. She was not stern, in any sense of the word. She was thoughtful, very active. She taught me to read. I did not go to school until I was 7 years old. My mother kept me home and taught me reading as well as arithmetic. When I finally went to school, the teachers did not know where to put me, they moved me to 2A, then 2B, 3B. I went through g years of grammar school in 5 years. Then went through 4 years of high school in 3‑1/2. Parents were very dedicated to the children. I grew up thinking there was no other college but Amherst. We would have classmates of my fathers over to the house for parties with singing and all that stuff. I was not drinking then. I had my first drink at the age of 12, I think. My father did drink, but it was not part of his or my mother’s life. They were not opposed to drinking, it just didn’t enter into their way of living .

 

Q:   How does spirituality play a role in your life?

A: Very deeply. I think that probably the most important thing about my spiritual life is my recognition and dependence on God. My higher power, which I call God, is the influence of everything that I do. A good friend of mine, whom I won’t name, talks alot about it and he frequently says “I don’t know, I have to talk to the man upstairs”. That is pretty much the way I feel. I’ve had a number of experiences that I would call spiritual awareness. I came out of a blackout in a State Nut House. I knew where I was, I had been there before, it wasn’t my first trip. I was very confused. I was thinking about things, I had a book in front of me, but I don’t think I could read. I knew that I had been coming around to AA at that point.

In the course of those years, I have known alot of people, many of whom had experiences that made my difficulties seem very lucid, poor. And yet, they had found some means of dealing with life without the need to drink, and I never discovered that. And as a consequence, I did not know quite what was going on.

 

And then something happened. As far as I was concerned, it came from somewhere outside of myself cause I wasn’t in any condition to come up with this sort of stuff. The realization came at that point. The reason that I had not been able to come up with anything that would substantially help had to do with the fact that I had not been capable of being honest enough to make it work. I felt that I had been as honest as I was able to be as part of my process of recovery. But the sudden realization, that as honest as I had been, wasn’t enough to make it work, which was a terrible blow. Like a kick in the face. And at that point, came the thought that gee, now that I know this maybe something different can happen .

I really believe that that whole sequence of things came about as a result of the powers outside of myself. Without any question, because I knew that the condition I was in was one that could not have been produced by myself. And in very real sense, the fact that I was able to approach this heart surgery without any panic, without any concern that it was not going to be all right, was the result of the relationship that I had with my higher power. The fact that this has gone as well as it has, granted I get a little frustrated, but other than that, I have faith that this is working out as it should.

And the thing to me that is so strong is the support that has come during all this. Dick calls me at least once a week. That is strong stuff. Other people, now that I am able to get back to meetings, a couple times a week, the support that I get from there, all tied togegher. I have said it before, when I walk into a room where there is an AA meeting, there is something there that I can’t describe, but is essence of a presence that is power. And when you stop to think that you and I together can accomplish that neither of us can accomplish alone, and you look at 30 people sitting out there, all laboring in the same direction and you put together all of that power, the possibilities are endless.

I work on all of the steps to some sort of degree. Much of what I read is interesting to me but might not be for someone else. The stuff that I read, particularly historically stuff, is so very important because it is of people I once knew. People whose paths crossed mine. “Markings On A Journey”deals with Bill, Ebby, Sister Ignatia, Sam Shoemaker, all of whom I knew and worked along side of. All of that information establishes an identity with these folks. And I am particularly fond of “When AA Became of Age”. The fellow who succeeded me as delegate who came down from the Canadian border to see me four weeks ago and brought books for me. The book that he brought me is the one written by Bill’s own personal secretary of 41 years. The stuff that she talks about is so good for me to relive. One feels connected. When I had to go to Portland, a friend from AA took me. When I was unable of getting out, they brought an AA meeting over to me.

Where did you meet Bill’? I first met Bill soon after I met Ebby. Ebby is the one who brought the message to Bill. Bill always referred to Ebby as his sponsor. Now when I mentioned going to Philadelphia, Ebby was working at the sandwich counter at the time at the clubhouse that I went to. I spent alot of time there because it was nearby to Camden, where I was working. This tall skinny guy used to come see Ebby. It turned out to be Bill. Ebby spent a long time before he got sober. Ebby got sober only a couple years before he died . When B ill died, he had been sober as long as I had been now. I never expected to live this long. But here we are.

(~ When you think back, do you have strong feelings about all those peop le ?

A: Oh, sure. Absolutely. I have a thing that I use sometimes. I spent alot of time in Cleveland. I used to drink in Cleveland. Fred Stevenson ran a Cleveland Alcohol Clinic and he put me up a couple of nights, gave me food. We subsequently parted ways, he in Florida, and me in Maine.

 

We used to communicate at Christmas time. One year I had not received a card back. Along in February, I received a note from his wife, and she explained that Fred had died, and she sent an article from the local paper in Pompano Beach. In it the editorial writer told all the Fred had done and how well he was considered by everybody. Then he talked about the fact that this service not to mourn but rather to celebrate the life and when anyone needed the help, Fred Stevenson was always there. He wound up by saying that “I feel particularly strong about this, because one of the hands he reached out to was mine ” .

 

 

 

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