From the July 1957 magazine.

Freedom--Behind Bars

NONE OF US IN AA reads headlines like these without a brief shudder...a fleeting vision of "There but for the Grace of God"...and a moment of gratitude and thanks. Those of us, that is, who go our daily way free to follow any road...as long as we stay away from just one drink. But there are many thousands who have found the inner freedom AA offers, whose opportunity to test their AA convictions is a normal world is denied them. For some the waiting is temporary...others must practice these principles in all of their affairs behind prison walls--some for years, a few perhaps forever. Joe is one of those and one of us.

I do not remember how I reached Bellevue--but I remember the DTs and the awful certainty that I would die if I stayed. . . I was back in the Bowery and then I had the strangest desire to get home. I started walking. I dimly remember passing through Connecticut. . . then Rhode Island. . . then South Boston. . . then the train home. I was full of paraldehyde and cheap wine. No food. . . no rest. Then--my favorite bar at home, and two men telling me a woman had been slugged with a bottle and the cops said that I had done it. I passed around my pay slip from the hospital in New York where I had been working, but they were still shy and then I went and dialed the number of the police station and each time lost my nickel. So I walked the mile to the station house to clear myself. That was to be my last free walk. I had forgotten I was a cop slugger, hated and feared in that station house. . . .

-- Joe G.

Norfolk, Massachusetts

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