From the August 2014 magazine.

A Wonderful Life

At 74, a California old-timer expresses gratitude for his 53 years in AA

When I was 5, my mother and sister and I moved from Hollywood to Sierra Madre to live with my grandparents. It was 1943. My father had had a mental breakdown and started hiding food in the hills. He walked all the way to Arkansas and ended up in the state mental hospital. Later he became the supervisor of the alcoholism treatment program there before he died of alcoholism. With all the knowledge he had of recovery, he could not take the First Step himself.

Mom was another story. She drank daily at a local bar where she met a cartoonist who later became my stepfather. In 1943 they moved to Hollywood so he could be closer to the studio where he worked. Every night he had to walk down Hollywood Boulevard and go bar-to-bar to find Mom. He didn’t know what to do about her drinking so he talked to a co-worker who was in AA who told him to take her to a meeting—and so he did. There weren’t many women in the meeting, but she sobered up in September of 1944.

-- —Mike A.,

Arcata, California

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