“This ladies AA group began in 1974 with a group of women alcoholics who wanted to meet regularly and listen to recordings made by alcoholics who shared their experience, strength and hope with other alcoholics. The ladies found it useful to have a discussion following the recordings…and to identify the Speak Easy Ladies Group as a closed group…limited to persons who have a desire to stop drinking.”
Thus begins each meeting of the S.E.L.G., held each Thursday from 12:00 noon til 1:30 p.m., at All Saints Episcopal Church on the corner of 17th South and Foothill Blvd. The meeting is known for the amount of sobriety in the room, as well as for its warm welcome to newcomers and returnees alike. Now in this 40th anniversary year we would like to pay tribute to some of the women who set the tone and inspired so many of us to carry on the tradition they established.
PAT, an outsize Texas personality, gave us the tradition of telling our sobriety dates when we speak. She used to say that in Texas if you don’t give your sobriety date, it’s probably because you don’t have one. PAT’s date is 6/19/64. She tells of going to her first meeting and thought AA was the cat’s meow, so she went all over Texas telling people about AA while still drinking, and never got anyone sober.
BEVERLY (8/4/74) was one of the Grand Dames of the SELG, a constant presence with her wisdom and compassion for the newcomer. Donnie (3/27/88) remembers how she stayed after every meeting to talk with any woman who was in need. Kim recalls her saying in the meeting “I’d like to hear from the newcomers”, thus giving those too shy to volunteer a chance to share and become a part of the group. Toni tells of the coaching Beverly gave her when she was in the middle of some high drama: get into the observatory and step back and just observe, not participate. To sit with her fear until it passed. “Here I am, still alive and much more free. She added so much to my early sobriety.”
KAYE (1/1/75) said: “I came here to learn to drink like a Lady.” And then she went out for 10 years and came back to learn how not to drink. Peggy (6/6/86) said, “I can still see and hear Kaye’s knitting needles. I miss her every day.”
There were many others also who gave so much to this group (BETTY, CAROLYN, GWEN, DEB, to name just a few). Margaret-Peggy summed it up for us in saying, “it was there in the SELG with those women that I learned how to do the life/living part of sobriety. I would not have survived those first sober Mother’s Days without the amazing support and love from those early women. And thoughts of all of you will get me through today.”