Through the 1950s, AA’s in the greater Orlando area were primarily served by three groups: Orlando Central, Winter Park, and Fairbanks. Other groups came and went as need dictated or support dwindled. While the Winter Park Group stayed put for a while, Orlando Central was in for a bit of moving during this period.
Ted W. had been sober for two years when he came to Orlando from Kentucky in April 1957. He attended meetings at the 6 North Court Street location and like those who came before him, was impressed with the length and steepness of the stairs to the second floor. Money was a problem with the group—small wonder, since the donation basket very seldom had anything larger than a quarter. The group was always late in paying its bills. But when the bills got too bad, someone came up with the money.
Membership in the Orlando Central Group at the time numbered about 15-25, with a lot of extra people from nearby bars, county jail, bail bondsmen and the County Sheriff’s Office. It took Ted, the “outsider,” however, to point out that friendliness was not one of the group’s better traits. As a result, someone was assigned to stand at the top of the stairs and greet people as they came into the facility. Ted thinks that, on the whole, groups are much friendlier today than they were in his early days in AA.
From the very beginning of its life at 27 East Central/6 North Court Street (same location, different entrance), there was concern about fire. The one long flight of stairs was the only way in or out. Finally someone said, “This is a fire trap!” No one really wanted to move, but when a vote was taken (and it was close), it was in favor of a move. Their new home was 610 North Orange Avenue. The rent was high—$200 a month—the space was not as comfortable, and parking was always a problem.
Ted was to become chairman of the Alco-An Club, a job he was to hold for two years.
There were no treatment facilities or halfway houses in Central Florida during that period. Larry K. and his wife Jackie owned one of the local hotels. Larry was crippled and unable to get out, so meetings were held at the hotel. Larry also kept one room open for the benefit of a drunk who needed drying out.
Ted remained active in the AA program, traveling a great deal, having home groups in Jacksonville and Pensacola as well as in Orlando. He passed away in 1996.
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