First Steps Before Any Steps Existed

First Steps Before Any Steps Existed

GNN Note – Excerpt from on the history of Alcoholics Anonymous. If you want to learn how to get clean and sober from your addictive behavior, be it drugs, alcohol, pornography or whatever – fill in the blank – knowing what these men did BEFORE the 12 Step program was born is where to learn how the 12 Steps were born – this is how people got their life back BEFORE there was a watered down version in book form.  / END


Dr Bob’s father, Judge Walter Smith, died. (DBGO 10)

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Jan, Frank Buchman met Sam Shoemaker in Peking (now Beijing) China. Shoemaker had a spiritual conversion experience and became a devoted member of Buchman’s First Century Christian Fellowship. (NW 29, 47-52, RAA 117-118, AGAA 209)

Jan, Lois left her Aunt Marian’s School in NJ. (LR 22, RAA 118)

Jan 24, spurred by rumor that Bill W might soon go overseas, he and Lois were married at the Swedenborgian Church in Brooklyn, NY. The wedding date was originally Feb 1. Lois’ brother Rogers Burnham was best man. Bill’s last stateside posting was at Ft Adams near Newport, RI. (BW-RT 100, PIO 58, 407, RAA 146, BW-FH 27, WPR 57)

Feb 15, Dr Bob and Anne’s adopted daughter, Suzanne (Sue) was born. (CH 11, PIO 140)

Jun 5, Dr Bob and Anne’s son, Robert (Smitty) was born. (CH 2, PIO 140)

Jul 18, Bill W sailed from Boston to NY Harbor on the British ship Lancashire. Later, on the voyage to England, an officer shared brandy with him. Detained in London, Bill visited the Winchester Cathedral and experienced a “tremendous sense of presence.” He read an epitaph on the headstone of a Hampshire Grenadier (Thomas Thetcher) later to be cited in Bill’s Story in the Big Book. (BW-RT 102-108, PIO 59-60, RAA 146)

Nov 11, Armistice Day. World War I ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month. (BW-RT 109, RAA 146, www)


Jan, the 18th amendment to the US Constitution, for the prohibition of alcohol, was ratified. (www)

Mar, Bill W sailed from Bordeaux, France on the S.S. Powhatan to NY Harbor. (BW-RT 109)

May, Bill W was discharged from the Army at Camp Devens. (BW-RT 109)

Summer, Bill & Lois moved into her father’s home at 182 Clinton St in Brooklyn, NY. (BW-RT 113, LR 27, PIO 62, 407, RAA 147)

Lois’ father, Dr Clark Burnham, got Bill W a job as a clerk in the insurance department of the NY Central Railroad working for his brother-in-law Cy Jones. After “some months,” Bill was fired. (PIO 63, BW-RT 119, BW-40 57) For several weeks, he worked on the NY Central piers near 72nd St in Manhattan, driving spikes into planks. Threatened with violence, because he would not join a union, he decided to move on. (AACOA 54, PIO 63, BW-RT 114)

Aug, Bill W and Lois set off for an extended month-long walking trip thru ME, NH and VT. Lois encouraged it partly to give them time to think and partly to get Bill away from drinking. (LR 27-30, PIO 64-65)

Oct, Congress passed the Volstead Act (National Prohibition Act) over President Wilson’s veto. (www, GB 170)


Feb, Lois got a job with the Red Cross at the Brooklyn Naval Hospital. (LR 31)

Bill W and Lois moved into a one-room furnished apartment on State St (around the corner from Lois’ parent’s home on Clinton St). Bill, not finding what he wanted to do, was restless and increased his drinking. (LR 31)


Frank Buchman was invited to visit Cambridge, England. His movement The First Century Christian Fellowship would later become the Oxford Group and receive wide publicity during the 1920’s and 1930’s. Core principles consisted of the “four absolutes” (of honesty, unselfishness, purity and love – believed to be derived from scripture in the Sermon on the Mount). Additionally the OG advocated the “five C’s” (confidence, confession, conviction, conversion and continuance) and “five procedures” (1. Give in to God, 2. Listen to God’s direction, 3. Check guidance, 4. Restitution and 5. Sharing – for witness and confession). (DBGO 53-55, CH 3) (GB 45 states Buchman dated the founding and name of the OG when he met with undergraduates from Christ Church College of Oxford U).

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