From the March 2011 magazine.

March 2011: The old wrecking crew

A member looks back on crazy drinking days when he meets his old buddy in AA

"Kirk used my head for a basketball, bouncing it on the sidewalk and giving me a concussion in the process."

One Tuesday night recently we celebrated our friend Ernie’s 46th year without a drink. Ernie’s brother was here from the state of Washington to help celebrate. Something seemed familiar about Ernie’s brother. Ernie called his brother, who has 27 years of sobriety, “Spud.” I thought, I’ve only known one Spud in my life. That’s when I remembered him. He was part of a crew I was on (Spud, Cowboy Kirk, Screaming George and I) in the late fall of ’73 into late spring of ’74 in Rock Springs, Wyo., and also the Salt Lake area. Like the song “Auld Lang Syne” (Webster’s: old long since, old times, good old days, of one’s youth, etc.) asks, “Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind? Should auld acquaintance be forgot, and days of auld lang syne?”

Mountains of memories came rushing to my mind. Auld lang syne once upon a time, a friend, Dan and I decided to go to a construction job from Selah, Wash., to Rock Springs, Wyo. I ended up with a low-paying job without benefits. I started drinking with the ironworkers after work. They got me in the ironworkers union with a working permit out of the Salt Lake Assembly Hall. I remember the first take-home check for a week’s work was $488.89. Does it make a difference how much we make, if we are broke by payday? The superintendent was “Screaming George.” He was mid-40s with a wife (he’s now divorced) and two young daughters. I felt uncomfortable gambling, partying and living that lifestyle around George after meeting his family. Do drunks have a conscience?

-- Stephen H.

Sun City, California

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