On 6 April 1944, Dave A. wrote the New York office asking for guidelines on organizing an AA group. That was the start of Alcoholics Anonymous in Orlando. Coming from Jacksonville and Daytona Beach where meetings were “plentiful,” he found Orlando barren of AA. Dave had found another AA member from East Orange, New Jersey, Samuel E. W. Sam impressed Dave because he was “acquainted with Mr. Bill Wilson, of whom I have heard so much.”
Dave placed an ad in the Orlando Morning Sentinel announcing the place and time for the first AA meeting. It was held at the Lamar Hotel, 409 West Central Boulevard. Before the first meeting, they were “laying out plans — with four prospects in sight.” (Dave passed away on October 8, 1986, more than 41 years after writing this 1944 letter.)
By 1946 the group had its first home—the second floor of an office building at 27 East Central. There were 30 steep steps to climb. All early members remember how difficult it was to ascend those steps to their first meeting. The joke was, if you made those steps, you would probably make the program.Dave and Ernie Y., who came from Winter Garden, were often sitting there by themselves.
When Jackie L. called, it wasDave Y. who took her to her first two meetings; he then left her on her own. When she came on her own,Dave was delighted and knew she was really serious about AA. The group met on Tuesday nights. The six members wereDave and Ernie Y., Sam W., Connie R., Carol D., and Ruth M. Soon afterward “Doc” C. and Gordon J. came to the group. A Saturday night Speaker’s Meeting was started with each member expected to take a turn speaking.
Some members took the term “anonymous” quite seriously. During closed meeting nights, family members of the alcoholics met in a separate room. The only access to this room was through the AA meeting room. Family members were therefore obligated to come early, then wait and leave late, to give the AA members concerned with anonymity a chance to arrive and depart unobserved by the non-AA’s.