December 11, 1934, remains one of the important dates in A.A. history—the day Bill W. guzzled his last drink en route to Towns Hospital. But the events leading up to this fortunate event also provide important reflection.
On a “bleak day in November” (p. 8) Ebby T. carried his Oxford Group message of sobriety to Bill who was extremely impressed, and although the gin and pineapple juice cocktail on the kitchen table won the day, Ebby was to visit again, igniting Bill’s curiosity enough to provoke a visit to the Calvary Mission where Ebby was a resident. This was on Friday, December 7th. Bill drank on the way there and offered a drunken “testimony” from the podium.
Bill then spent Saturday and Sunday, December 8th and 9th, in his bedroom tapering off. Amazingly, Bill temporarily lost all desire to drink. However, he came home roaring on Monday, December 10th. This provoked an argument with his wife, Lois who angrily lamented: “You don’t even have the decency to die! You’re crazy! You’re crazy!” Upon which Bill picked up her small sewing machine and slammed it against the wall. Lois was, of course, terrified!
Bill rode the subways that night, panhandling funds for a bottle of booze. (Just imagine!) He came back home on Tuesday morning, December 11th and when he noticed the damaged wall caused by his drinking episode, he fell into deep remorse. Recalling Ebby’s success he left a note for Lois explaining he was off to Towns Hospital for yet another treatment. (He had been treated there several times previously) The train fare for Brooklyn to south Manhattan was a nickel and, fortunately for us, Bill had six cents left. Then he espied a store where he still had credit and departed with four bottles of beer.
Bill arrived at Towns Hospital with a beer in one hand and two philosophy books in the other. He announced to his loyal physician, Dr. William Duncan Silkworth, that he had found an answer. This was Bill’s final treatment at Town’s Hospital. He never drank again!
Page 13 of the Big Book explains how, after Ebby’s visit, Bill ingested the basic ingredients of what now constitutes our Twelve Steps. This was December 13, 1934, seven days after his first trip to Calvary Mission. Bill, on that day, had a sudden and profound spiritual experience (Pg 14). If not for Bill’s final surrender to Step One during those seven days in December, A.A. would not be here today. -Bob S, Richmond, Indiana