Florida AA had its beginning in Jacksonville, with an Intergroup office hanging up its plaque as early as 1941-42. Gordon I, who is known by most Orlando and Winter Park early AA members, walked by the sign announcing its purpose, but declined to avail himself of its services for some time. After he did, he remembers George S. and Dave A., the two who drove the more than 100 miles from Daytona Beach to Jacksonville for their weekly meetings.
Soon afterward, Daytona Beach had enough members to start a group and hold meetings in their city. Not until 6 April 1944, when Dave wrote New York for “policies which you people in New York would want us to observe,” did Orlando AA get started.
While Dave A. is credited with starting the first AA group in Orlando, Gordon points out that the first AA meeting in Orange County occurred one Sunday afternoon in Maggie Y’s kitchen, in Winter Garden, early in 1944. In attendance were, besides himself, Tom S. (of Jacksonville), Dave A. and Ernie Y. Soon afterward, alcoholics from Wildwood, Leesburg, Eustis, and Mt. Dora began making Orlando meetings.
Gordon wanted it known that although the AA group was located in Orlando, it was truly a Central Florida group. Gordon also emphasized the fact that Tom S of Jacksonville was “the first civilian member of AA in Florida.” Apparently a Navy man, Commander C., was the first in the state to make contact with Alcoholics Anonymous (believed to be in 1941).
Gordon was visiting Tom when Bill W. came to Jacksonville looking for active AA members who would be willing to become North Florida delegates to New York. In Tom and Gordon, he found two. Tom was our first North Florida delegate and Gordon our third.
Joe H. had learned not to do a tape interview with anyone at a meeting place. Interruptions are too frequent. Instead, sitting in a car with windows closed and air conditioning running afforded privacy, comfort and a quiet atmosphere. In Gordon’s case, it presented a problem. “He wanted us to sit in his pick-up truck, which he parked right outside the door of the Winter Park Group. What a mistake! Every time he recognized an AA member walking to the door for a meeting, Gordon gave him a shout, ‘Hi there!,’ forgetting that the windows were up. After he rolled down the window, and my hearing went back to normal, he carried on a conversation with the AA. We then rolled up the window and started again. That is, until I was blasted with another loud ‘Hi!’ After several such interruptions, I managed to get whatever key points Gordon felt were important.”
The taped interview with Gordon was made in the late 1970s. Gordon remained active in the AA program, attending meetings regularly, sponsoring, and never too busy to make a 12th-step call until the end. He died in the early 1980s. Gordon was a likable person.