Magazine

From the September 2011 magazine. First printed in July 2001.

Voices of Long-Term Sobriety

From Section 2, Living History

How AA Came to Geneva, Nebraska

IT WAS A Saturday evening in April 1964, and usually I would have been uptown at a bar. But I was home suffering from the flu (for a change it was something other than the "brown bottle flu") when a man named Hartley came to visit. My wife reluctantly admitted him to our apartment, believing he'd come to take me out drinking. But Hartley had a different purpose.

He'd seen me at a Lincoln, Nebraska, AA meeting more than a year before, and he wanted to know if I was staying sober. I told him no—"I guess I'll always be a drunk." Then he dumped an armload of Grapevines and AA literature in my lap and asked me to help him start an AA group in Geneva, a rural Nebraska town of 2,300. I couldn't turn him down: it was as if somebody else was doing my thinking for me.

-- Jerry P.

Hastings, Nebraska

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