Ed T. of Winter Park attended his first meeting in 1946. Some of our old-timers remember his sponsor Sweeny, who was a “spark plug” in the AA community at that time. Sweeny taught Ed T. the subtleties of carrying the message. During this period, 12th-step work included detoxification, family counseling, and treatment. Carrying a pint of whiskey when on a 12th-step call was normal-only a pint. The weaning operation, in most cases, included sitting up with the poor soul while he/she shook it out.
If the individual convulsed or began to see things, a doctor was called. It was not at all unusual for the doctor to shoot the patient with morphine. After a night of sitting, it was off to a meeting the next day Families were encouraged to come to the meetings, but were relegated to a back room.
Ed T. had a warehouse at 337 Morse Boulevard, where he displayed sewing machines. Now that he was known to Winter Park members of the program, they stopped by his establishment from time to time for coffee and fellowship. In time, these Winter Park members found it more convenient to meet in their town than to travel to Orlando. They came to the warehouse on their night, pushed the sewing machines back out of the way, and held a meeting. This was not a divorce from the mother group — it was treated as a supplemental or complementary meeting in their own community. The year was 1949.
It was August 29, 1947 when Ed K. and his wife Lucille walked up the long, steep flight of stairs to the Orlando Group at 27 East Central. Lucille remembered that there were 25 to 30 people at that open meeting on that Saturday right She felt at home in the group, as did her husband, but disliked being shuffled to the back room during closed meeting nights.
The family members were part of the club activities. They helped in cleaning, furnishing, painting, etc. At Christmas they decorated a tree that reached the ceiling and provided a beautiful buffet dinner. According to Lucille, “It was a sight to behold. Earlier Christmases were ruined by an unwelcome guest, ‘John Barleycorn’.”
Social contacts developed among some of the Winter Park families. When the men were at the Morse Boulevard meetings, wives congregated at one of the houses. Soon a practice set in where wives took turns at hosting, holding their own sessions, and then serving coffee and cake to the AA members who joined them after the meeting. “That really brought a close relationship to the group.” (Lucille)
The warehouse at 337 Morse Boulevard became too small for the ever-increasing size of the group. There were random meetings in the lounge of Florida Power on South Park Avenue and the old Chamber of Commerce building, also on Park Avenue. For a time they met on the second floor of what became Sir Pizza, at 590 South Orlando Avenue, a few doors south of Fairbanks on 17/92. The group then moved to 1000 North Orange, where they stayed for many years.
Ed K., Ed T., and many others made the place presentable. They donated paint, fixtures, and furniture, and did the labor themselves. When they had to take money from the treasury of the group, it was equated in their minds as a failure — that they were not “giving.”
Morgan R. lived around the comer from 1000 North Orange. Mrs. R. and other women fixed coffee for the meetings. During 12th-step calls, the wives often sat all night long and tried to bring the family into the “program.”
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