These archival articles have been appearing on the back page of THE INTERGROUPER for over two years. The articles have covered the period starting in 1944, a year that produced the earliest record of AA in the Orlando area, to the early 1980s, when Marie G., our first office administrator, died.
In a few months, these articles will be suspended until the present becomes history. In the meantime, each group is encouraged to keep individual historical records to facilitate picking up from where we left off in the early 1980s. If any group desires help in acquiring their history, we cab set an appointment to meet at the Intergroup office. We can provide you from our Archives an envelope containing about every schedule printed since 1970. That’s an easy way to come up with an approximate beginning date for your group.
Next, one might want to review THE INTERGROUPER, which often contains more specific information on starting dates, as well as articles pertaining to the group. Your group might even be the topic of one of our archival taped interviews. A tape recorder is also available for your use at the Intergroup Office.
After checking the schedules and THE INTERGROUPER, talk to your group’s old-timers. If practical, tape the interview. We have a couple of helpful guides for conducting interviews. You may be surprised to learn, as I had, that Al-Anons are a good source for remembering dates and places associated with the early formation of a group. Then again, maybe we should not be surprised—most of us were zonked! Keep in mind that what happens in your group today may be historically valuable 10 years from now. Record early information and events now. Following is an example from a recently started group.
“The pastor of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church, on Howell Branch Road in Goldenrod, was very receptive when Joe H., a parishioner, showed him the 1975 schedule and map of where AA meetings were located in Central Florida. The pastor was already sold on AA, having witnessed its success while serving a parish in Ocala. With the encouragement of the priest, Joe arranged to have the weekly church bulletin reflect some aspects of the AA program —one week the Preamble, then a question taken from the pamphlet Is AA For You? the next, week, and so on. The priest regularly advised those with a drinking problem to go to AA. Often he would arrange a one-on-one meeting between Joe and the drinker.
“Through the years, many AAs had asked the Church for a meeting place, but space and church activities precluded availability on a regular basis. There were enough parishioners alone to start a group. On one Sunday, while exiting the church, several AAs found themselves in a group when one of them said, ‘Shall we have a moment of silence?’ Ail smiled, secretly knowing.
“After a church expansion, the church made a meeting room available. Joe and Basia H. made arrangements for the key, setting of the alarm system, cabinet space, etc. The Intergroup Office administrator was contacted to ascertain exclusivity of the name. The Home Group, and initial dissemination of information regarding meeting times and place, namely St. Peter and Paul Church Education Center, every Thursday, 8:00 p.m., closed except for the last Thursday of the month open speaker’s meeting, during which anniversaries are celebrated.
“The first meeting was held on March 14, 1991. Our kickoff speaker was Jack D. of the Live Oak Group. Twenty-eight sat at several round banquet-type tables. Two pots of coffee were made—one regular, the other decaffeinated. Although prohibited in the classroom, the good Father arranged for the smokers a planter (ashtray) outside the door, as well as the installation of large flood lights to brighten the outside space for the meeting ‘afterglow.’ This is now a regular practice.
“When the attendance at closed meetings reached 28-30, it was decided to split the meeting. Next there evolved the routine to do all the opening formalities together–moment of silence. Serenity Prayer, preamble, recitation of ‘How It Works,’ announcements and chips (less than a year)—before drawing the partition.
“At the first service (business) meeting, Mary L. was elected Secretary/Treasurer, Basia H., Intergroup Delegate, with Jack D. as her alternate, and Richard G. the GSR. Not until after Richard attended his first GSR meeting was it learned that he was a relative newcomer. Jack D. was therefore made group GSR and Richard his alternate. They both attend the GSR meetings.
“The Home Group numbers 24 members. Names of the initial members are now a part of the group’s history, to be enlarged upon as events dictate. Attendance at closed meetings is usually about 25-30, with a few more than that at the once-a-month open meeting. Sobriety amongst the members ranges from a couple of months to years numbering in the dozens. Subjects during the closed discussion meetings are varied, but stay within the primary purpose of Alcoholics Anonymous.”
Don’t you know that 10 years from now, members of The Home Group will enjoy reading the above? How about your group?
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