Where It All Began… EBBY T. – The Man Who Carried The Message To Bill W. By Walter L. via Silkworth.net
In 1960, at the Long Beach, California Convention of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson wrote this dedication in an AA book that he gave to Ebby Thacher.
No day passes that I do not remember that you brought me the message that saved me – and only God knows how many more.
It was Ebby who found relief from his alcoholism in the simple spiritual practices of the Oxford Group which was an attempt to return to First Century Christianity – before it was complicated and distorted by religious doctrines, dogma and opinions. The program offered by Ebby to Bill involved taking a personal moral inventory, admitting to another person the wrongs we had done, making things right by amends and restitution, and a genuine effort to be of real service to others. In order to obtain the power to overcome these problems, Ebby had been encouraged to call on God, as he understood God, for help.
Bill was deeply impressed by Ebby’s words, but was even more affected by Ebby’s example of action. Here was someone who drank like Bill drank – and yet Ebby was sober, due to a simple religious idea and a practical program of action. The results were an inexplicably different person, fresh-skinned, glowing face, with a different look in his eyes. A miracle sat directly across the kitchen table from Bill. Ebby was not some”do-gooder” who had read something in a book. Here was a hopeless alcoholic who had been completely defeated by John Barleycorn, and yet, had in effect, been raised from the dead. It was a message of hope for an alcoholic – that God would do for us what we could not do for ourselves.
Bill continued to drink in a more restrained way for a short while, and then was admitted to Towns Hospital on December 11, 1934. Ebby visited him there on December 14th and essentially helped Bill take what would become Steps Four, Five, Six, Seven and Eight.
But that “boost” from Ebby’s visit wore off and that night, Bill’s feeling of hopelessness deepened and a terrifying darkness yawned in the abyss. As the last trace of self-will was crushed, Bill said to himself, with neither faith nor hope,
“I’ll do anything, anything at all! If there be a God, let Him show Himself!”
The Conference approved biography, Pass It On, quotes Bill as describing this experience: