By Mitchell K. © 1991, 1997

Index of Chapter 6


6.1 - The Saturday Evening Post Article

6.4 - 1st A.A. Newsletter - Cleveland Central Bulletin

6.2 - Cleveland A.A. Grows by Leaps and Bounds

6.5 - Army Life in Fort Knox

6.3 - Cleveland Central Committee Formed

Chapter 7: Decentralization - Promises and Reality

Table of Contents


Chapter 6


We are thinking deeply, too, of all those sick ones still to come to A.A. - thousands, surely, and perchance millions. As they try to make their return to faith and to life, we want them to find everything in A.A. that we have found, and yet more, if that be possible. On our part, therefore, no care, no vigilance, no effort to preserve A.A.'s constant effectiveness and spiritual strength will ever be too great to hold us in full readiness for the day of their homecoming.

Bill Wilson, After Twenty-Five Years (AA Grapevine, March 1960)

Chapter 6.1


The Saturday Evening Post Article

From Cleveland, by various means, the movement has spread to Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Indianapolis, Atlanta, San Francisco, Evansville and other cities.

Jack Alexander, ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, Freed Slaves of Drink, Now They Free Others. (The Saturday Evening Post, Volume 213, Number 35, March 1, 1941) p. 92

In late 1940, The Saturday Evening Post commissioned one of its staff writers to do an exposé on Alcoholics Anonymous. His name was Jack Alexander. Alexander was famous for his articles exposing fraud and wrongdoing in the Post.

Alexander's initial objective was to "get all of the dirt" on A.A. and print it in the Post. But his investigation convinced him of a different story. And he set about writing an article " in a national publication, which would put A.A. "on the map."

In a letter written from Ruth Hock to Clarence which was undated and written in pencil on yellow legal paper, the following was stated:

One of their staff writers is definitely on the job and is now doing the rounds of some of our New York meetings. He will be out here to attend at least one Cleveland and one Akron meeting and is going to look you up for a talk. He is a very thorough person and we all feel that the result will be one exceptionally good article which should mean a lot in many ways. His name is Jack Alexander and I think he will be out here in about two weeks.

Ruth went on to discuss the fact that the Post would not do the article without photographs. She knew that this was a touchy issue with the Cleveland members and wrote:

We would like you to put out some gentle feelers on the picture situation but wouldn't like to see you have people on your neck by trying to force the situation - so, sort of try out the lay of the land and let us know. If the crowd will get together, the Post staff photographer will take the picture. So we are for a bigger and better A.A. very soon.

When Jack Alexander did arrive in Cleveland, he spoke with Clarence about photographs; and Clarence convinced him that a local photographer would probably do a better job with the expected photographs. Clarence reasoned that the Cleveland members would probably feel more comfortable with a local photographer.

Cleveland selected the Art Miller Studios. In a letter to Bill Wilson, dated January 19, 1941, Clarence wrote, "This photographer, Al Miller, is reputed to be one of the best in his line. In fact, there are only three places in Cleveland that have equipment to match his."

There was however, one little glitch that developed. About five hundred of the Cleveland members gathered for a group picture. Clarence wrote Bill, "I saw the negative of that picture & just to make you feel bad, it would have been a dandy."

But the photographer lost the negative and the picture was never printed. When asked why there was only one photo taken, Clarence wrote:

Of course we all like to play safe (since we're sober) and the question has been asked me 521 times, "Why didn't he take several pictures while he was about it?" My answer, because I asked the very same question, & he stated that "it isn't necessary & he never does & nothing can happen."

Because of Miller's loss of the negative, there was a delay in getting photos for the article. Something whether Bill nor The Saturday Evening Post cared for. Clarence wrote Bill, that the Post "wasn't satisfied with the hospital pictures, but for the life of me, I, or no one else can understand why. So we took 5 more hospital pictures, all of which look good, and sent them on." One of these hospital photos appeared in the Post article. Another, showing Clarence, can be found in appendix K of this book.

Clarence asked Bill about the possibility of getting a preview of the article, stating:

I was preparing the groups for any eventuality & would like to have some angles for my own benefit. We have had publicity before & I fully realize all the angles involved, the magazine, the editor, the reader & the subject. I understand all of that & I am in a diplomatic way trying to smooth the path for a lot of objectionable criticism from some of the more touchy or critical brethren, who mean well but have some queer ideas about such things. We have had over 700 contacts here & have prepared a couple more sanitarium set-ups to take care of any possible overflow of inquiries... We are prepared for a rush, if one occurs, in any degree. With all the members we have, it will not be difficult to absorb any amount now.

The New York office was also gearing up for the article. In a "MEMORANDUM TO THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE ALCOHOLIC FOUNDATION," dated February 19th, 1941, Bill Wilson wrote the following:

An article is to appear on March 1st in the Saturday Evening Post. This piece will be the feature number of that issue. The name Alcoholics Anonymous will appear on the outside cover of the magazine. Our message will be brought straight to the whole nation -- nearly every one of at least a million alcoholics will hear of us. Three years ago the Saturday Post published an article called "The Unhappy Drinker", an interesting piece by a psychologist and an alcoholic. The Saturday Post offices were flooded with letters and telegrams -- some 8000 in all. The Post had to hire an additional staff of girls to give these people even a nominal reply, let alone a follow up - as we must. Last week Mr. Sommers, one of the editors of the Post, told me that a far greater response was expected from the coming article on A.A.

Therefore we must base our budget upon at least 10,000 inquiries. This means that this office will have fully three times as much work to do as it had the year past. By no stretch of the imagination could our present office force handle the situation.

The March 1st issue of The Saturday Evening Post was a best seller. Apparently, every A.A. member bought a copy of the article; and it reached the millions of other Post readers. A.A. had become "national," and most of the members were proud of the way that A.A. had been portrayed. Some, however, did not approve of the article; and they expressed their opinions at the groups. Several Cleveland members stated they didn't think that their treasured and precious anonymity would now be protected and preserved. Some actually dropped out of A.A., but many of these did later return.

The office in New York was pleased with the results, stating in a proposal to all A.A. groups:

As anticipated, the Saturday Evening Post article of last March produced a flood of inquiries which, combined with our normal mail, brought the total number of letters received since then to 5,139. Each has received a personal reply. 15,000 pamphlets and 1,749 books have been shipped since March 1st. Besides, an extensive correspondence has been maintained with the groups. A.A. membership has more than doubled, standing now above 4000 members. Office activity continues at a high rate and is thus far in line with our original estimate of 10,000 inquiries for the fiscal year.

The Cleveland membership also grew. In 1941, Cleveland added fourteen new groups. Six of these were established between April and May after the Post article appeared.

A.A., nation-wide, and, especially in Cleveland, was on the move.

Index of Chapter 6

Table of Contents

Chapter 7


Chapter 6.2


Cleveland A.A. Grows in Leaps and Bounds


Speaker - Mr. Clarence Snyder, Ford Salesman,

E.D. Latimer and Co., 5362 Broadway.

Subject - "Alcoholics Anonymous"

This movement, rapidly gaining in momentum, offers the first uniformly successful hope for a large group of people. There is much all of us would like to learn of this. The program has received favorable comment in other clubs as being most instructive.

From Construction News Issued weekly by The Kiwanis Club of East Cleveland, Ohio

The year 1941 was a banner year for the growth of A.A. in Cleveland. The first group formed that year on Friday, January 3rd, was organized on and called the Lee Road Group. It met at 1637 Lee Road. A second Lee Road Group was formed as part of the original group and it met for the first time on Monday, January 6th, at the same address. This meant there were now nine meetings in the Cleveland area.

A tenth meeting - the Crawford Road Men's Group - had its first organizational meeting on February 12th with twelve members present. Its second organizational meeting which was probably its first regular meeting on February 19th, with seventeen members present. The Crawford Road meeting was held originally at 1779 Crawford Road. Clarence described its origins as follows:

There was a time in A.A. that people were coming in so fast, we had a hard time absorbing them on a one-on-one basis... I was trying to figure out how to teach A.A. in classes to people. The problem was, where to find a place to teach these classes. This was because we had no money which added to the problem.

One of the 1941 inquiries which came in to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, was from a Walter B.; of him, Clarence wrote, "He lived down on Crawford Road." Clarence took this inquiry and went to visit with Walter. When he arrived, Clarence found the address to be a funeral home. Clarence was told that Walter was living out in the back in the carriage house.

When Walter answered the door he was wearing a beret. Of meeting him, Clarence said, "He was very affable, very polite and very drunk." Walter invited Clarence inside; and, Clarence said, "Lo and behold, this place was a theater." Walter loved the theater so much that he set up his home as one. Clarence described the "theater," starting that there were a "couple of hundred theater seats, a stage and props." On the other end of the building, Walter made his living quarters. There was no one else living there besides Walter except for "this great Dane, his best buddy," as Clarence described the Dane.

Walter's hobby was putting on amateur theatrical events for the neighborhood. Most people didn't come to these because Walter was always drunk and making a fool of himself.

Clarence took a look at this theater and told Walter, "You are a gift from heaven." Walter was dumbfounded. He didn't understand what Clarence was talking about. But Clarence felt he had just found the right place for holding the A.A. classes. It was perfect, Clarence thought.

The A.A.s took over Walter's home. Clarence said of the new classes:

"All these men, who were just wandering around with no place to go anyway, were told to go to this place. They came to be taught this program. By the end of the first year, the Crawford Road Men's Group had one hundred and thirty-five members. This was from a core group of only ten."

Clarence told the author about one of Walter's neighbors, an elderly woman who once inquired about what was going on. She wanted to know about all of these strange men coming and going, the laughing and carrying on. She asked if they were drunk. Clarence told her that none of them drank even though they were once hopeless alcoholics. "You mean they don't drink," she asked? Clarence replied, "Nope, and they never will drink again." He explained to her a little about the A.A. program and told her his own story.

The Lady proceeded to tell Clarence that she had a boy who was "on the bum," and asked, "Can you fix him?" Clarence asked her where the boy was. She told him her boy was somewhere on skid row in New York City, and that he hadn't contacted her in a long time. Clarence told her about Bill Wilson, and gave her Bill's number.

This woman also had a daughter who was living in New York, and the daughter was given Bill's number in case she ever saw her brother. The brother had been an advertising manager for Calvert Distillery and got fired for drinking too much. "I guess he must have believed his own ads," Clarence observed.

Shortly, the brother contacted his sister for help, and the two got together. The sister gave him Bill's number, and the man joined A.A. Clarence recalled that this man never drank again and went on to become the first Editor of the A.A. Grapevine.

On August 20th, 1941, the meeting at Walter's "theater" had to move. The announcement for the new meeting read as follows:

We have moved to our new meeting place at 8920 Euclid Ave. 2nd floor of the Euclid-Bolton Garage Building. A new and larger meeting place, seating approximately 150 people, located on the south side of Euclid Ave. between East 89th. St. and East 90th. Street.

There is ample parking facilities in the neighborhood for those who drive.

A Special and Interesting Meeting is planned for MEN ONLY Wednesday P.M. Aug. 20, 1941. Our first meeting in our new quarters.

Phone RA. 5759 - W.E.B., Secretary

On April 21st, 1941, The Miles Avenue Group was formed in Cleveland. It branched off from the Borton Group and had its first meeting on that Monday at 10203 Miles Avenue. William H. and Frank W. were the group's sponsors. There were twenty original members; and by the end of the first year, the Miles Group had eighty-five in attendance.

Cleveland's group number twelve was the Collinwood Group. It first met on Thursday, April 24th. at the Arnold Hall on East 152nd. and St. Clair. There were fourteen members present. It had branched off from the Lee Road Friday Group; and its sponsors were: Dan M., Franklin S., Tom V. and Harvey B. S. The group, on June 25th, moved to 14709 St. Clair Avenue and met on Wednesdays. At the end of the first year, the Collinwood Group had eighty-five active members.

Group number thirteen was the Shaker Group; and it was formed on Monday, May 4th, 1941, and met at the Shaker Junior High School. It had branched off from the Borton Group with ten original members and immersed to twenty-three active members by the end of the first year. The first Secretary was Thomas C. B.

Cleveland's next group was formed on May 16th, 1941. It was the Avon Lake Group and it met for the first time on Wednesday at the home of Dr. P. The group then later moved to the Avon Lake Town Hall and met on Fridays. This group had branched off from the Lake Shore-Cleveland Group with eight original members. It later moved to the American Legion Home in Lorain, Ohio. Its sponsors were Dr. P., John B., John M. and Tom S. (Tom was one of Clarence's "babies").

The next group was not only a first for Cleveland, it was a first for A.A. as a whole. Group number fifteen was the Women's Group. Marion R., the group's secretary, wrote, "I believe it is most interesting to know we are the first women's group in the U.S."

The first meeting of that women's group was on Tuesday, May 20th, 1941, and it met at the Colonial Hotel. There were sixteen original members. The sponsors of the group were Marion R., Lila D., H. M. and Mary S. On May 27, the women began holding their meetings at the "homes of girls" and later moved their meetings to Wednesday nights at 12214 Detroit Avenue.

Clarence had always fought for women to be able to come into A.A. But Dr. Bob had been against this idea, stating, he felt women members would be too distracting and would cause problems, not only for the male members, but for their wives as well. Also, Clarence felt, Bill Wilson was not too "keen on the idea" of women in A.A. But Clarence believed the meetings should be open to any person who had a problem with alcohol, and that women were certainly not immune.

Six more meetings were formed between May 23rd and November 26th, 1941. The first of these was the Lorain Avenue Group, which met on Monday, May 23rd at 11934 Lorain Avenue. It had twenty original members and had branched off from the Brooklyn Group.

Next, the West Side Men's Group was formed and had its first meeting on September 4th. It first met at 11107 Fortune Avenue with eight original members. These later moved their meeting to Tuesday Nights at Pilgrim Church on West 14th. Street and Starkweather. The sponsors of the West Side Group were Howard E., Norman J., Elmer H., Regis L., Jim C., Bob T., Bob F. and Jim S. At the end of its first nine months the West Side Group had one hundred and thirty-three members. The group was a special interest group of sorts, as was explained by its secretary, Dr. H.C.R., who wrote, "This group is solely for recreation purposes... Requirement of membership is good standing in a parent group."

The Collinwood A.M. Group had its first meeting on Wednesday, October 1st. and met at 14709 St. Clair. There were fifteen original members; and, by the end of its first year the group had fifty-eight active members. The sponsors of the group were Al R., Don M., Frank S. and Bill C. It had branched from the original Collinwood Group.

The next group to form was the Lorain Group which met on Wednesday, October 22nd. at the Antlers Hotel. There were fifteen original members and, at the end of the first six months, there were thirty. The sponsors of that group were Tom S., Don W. and Frank B. Both Tom and Don were Clarence's "babies."

The West 25th Street Group first met on Thursday, October 30th at West 25th Street and Erin. It had thirteen original members; and at the end of its first year, there were fifty active members. The sponsors of the group were H.H.F., Tom C., Clayton B. and Tom L. This group had branched off from the Brooklyn Group.

The Lee Road Wednesday Men and Women's Group held its first meeting on November 26th at Lee and Mayfield. There were fifty original members; and, at the end of the first six months, there were seventy-five. The sponsors of the group were Albert R. G. ( from the original G. Group), Stan B., B. McD., F.D. The Lee Road Group had branched from the Thursday and Friday Lee and Mayfield Groups.

There was one other Cleveland Group, which for some reason Clarence couldn't recall, did not make the list compiled by Norm E., Recording Statistician of the Central Committee. This group was not listed among the original twenty-nine groups from May 11, 1939 through July 24, 1942. This was the Heights Group Friday, which first met on January 3, 1941, at 1637 Lee Road. It had twenty original members and had branched off from the Heights Group Thursday. Original members included George McD. and D.B.H.

There were two out-of-town groups formed in 1941 which sprang directly from the Cleveland Groups. These were the Douglass Group, which met on Tuesday, November 11, 1941, at the Grace Episcopal Church in Mansfield, Ohio. It had seven original members, four of whom had come from the Borton Group. At the end of six months, there were fourteen active members. The sponsors of the group were Marion D., Ralston Fox S. and C.T. "Duke" P. (from Toledo).

The other out-of-town group was the Geneva Group, which first met in Geneva, Ohio on September 8th. On January 30, 1942, it moved to Ashtabula, Ohio and changed its name to the Ashtabula Group. This meeting met bi-monthly since its members were still going to Cleveland to meet at the Borton Group every other week. The sponsors of the group were Jack D., William F. Harry S., Al S. and Pete S.

Clarence and "the boys and girls" were thus very busy during 1941. They were running around, answering inquiries and starting meetings. They were also beginning to form what was probably the first local Central Office of A.A. The only other A.A. office was that of the Alcoholic Foundation in New York City.

Index of Chapter 6

Table of Contents

Chapter 7


Chapter 6.3


Cleveland Central Office Formed

The legitimate object of Government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do all in their separate and individual capacities.

Abraham Lincoln

Being mindful of the need and usefulness of a central committee, our two meetings have been marked by an outstanding atmosphere of fine fellowship and co-operation between the groups. We have had excellent attendance and much interest is being shown by all committee members in the furtherance of our fellowship.

Bulletin to All Groups - regarding the second meeting of the Cuyahoga Central Committee,

August 15, 1941... Clarence H. Snyder, Chairman

In the late Spring or early Summer of 1939, the A.A. Association had been formed in Cleveland so that prospective members could have their hospital and sanitarium bills paid in a timely manner. This Cleveland committee was the forerunner of the Cleveland or Cuyahoga County A/A Committee, or "Central Committee," as it was later called. The A.A. Association kept track of alcoholics in the various centers for detoxification and kept records of their accounts there. If the bills were not paid, the Association either called up on members to pay them, or, in cases where this was not possible, the Association would accept payment responsibility for those members from funds set aside for such a purpose.

That there was still no official Central Committee in operation as of February 21, 1941, seems evidenced by a letter to the editor in the Cleveland Press by Clarence. In that letter, Clarence told what Alcoholics Anonymous was all about and used the address of the Alcoholic Foundation. He listed it as "30 Vesey street, Room 700, New York City." Clarence then also gave his own address at 8803 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland.

In his February, 1941 letter to the Cleveland Press Clarence wrote that A.A members accomplished their sobriety by following a specific pattern. He said the member must:

Have a sincere desire to quit drinking forever.

Recognize the allergy and compulsion for lifetime.

Recognize his ailment as a disease.

Accept God and live by four simple principles: honesty, unselfishness, purity and love.

Clarence continued his letter to the Press, by suggesting that one read "our book 'Alcoholics Anonymous,' a book written by alcoholics, for alcoholics, at the Cleveland Public Library." Clarence added:

The several thousand people, (over 700 in Cleveland alone) who have thus far found life and hope through this means, is ample testimony that the day of miracles has not passed.

On March 2, 1941, only one day after the Jack Alexander article appeared in the Saturday Evening Post, a meeting was held in the office of the Cleveland Switchboard Co. The purpose was to form the Cuyahoga County A/A Committee.

The announcement card for the meeting read as follows:

MOTION by B___, second by C___ - that a CLEARING HOUSE COMMITTEE be formed, and that it be composed of two (2) members from each and every A/A Group in Cuyahoga County. This Committee to have NO AUTHORITY to commit, involve or bind any one or all of the Groups in Cuyahoga County in any manner whatsoever without referring proposed ideas, plans or propositions to each individual Group for its acceptance or rejection.

MOTION was carried.

COMMITTEE MEMBERS: Kindly conform to this important rule.

C. H. Snyder, Chairman.

The meeting was held, and the motion was carried. But there was a movement to oust Clarence from the position of Chairperson. Clarence wrote Bill Wilson on March 4, 1941, asking Bill for help with this "revolution." It seems the Cleveland members were still complaining about what had transpired with the articles in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Clarence wrote:

They wanted to know how much the Plain Dealer pd. me. Why I didn't put it in the kitty. Where did I get the authority etc. etc. etc. Not one kind thing said in my behalf. This from persons I had picked out of the gutter & worked on & gave unceasingly & unselfishly of fellowship & whatever I could. Experience then, the resentment & hatred has been there. They have gone out of their way on numerous occasions to embarrass me.

These disgruntled members voted Clarence out of office, just as they had voted him out of A.A. during the original split of the Cleveland Group. They elected Bill H. as chairperson and wanted nothing to do with Clarence.

Clarence's ego was wounded. He wrote Bill Wilson, stating that Bill should "pay no attention to this so-called Cuyahoga County committee as yet. Continue to send me the names as always, & they will be followed & taken care of in a conscientious manner as always."

About the same time, a number of Cleveland members who objected to the Alcoholic Foundation's call for contributions; and they refused to support the New York office. As to this issue, Clarence added in his letter to Bill:

About the foundation money plan, don't concern yourself about that here. I wish I had known about it before Bert T____ blew in. After this revolution subsides, I can get you all the dough for the foundation that will be needed from our part of the country. And believe me when I tell you I can get it where no one else can.

Dissention continued in Cleveland for several months. A Cleveland Committee did not develop until August of 1941. A bulletin to all groups, sent out at that August, said:

At the second meeting of the Cuyahoga Central Committee meeting, held Friday evening, August 15th, the following committees were appointed by the chairman.

The "chairman" at that time was once again, Clarence Snyder. Three committees were formed. One was Entertainment, with Al "Abby" G. as chairman, one was Finance, with Wm. "Bill" H. as chairman and one was Hospital, with H. L. M. as chairman. Each of the three committees had six members from different groups around the Cleveland area. The terms of office for committee members was to be three months "or until the chairman's term of office expires, or until replaced by the chairman."

"Rotation" of officers was one of Clarence's ideas. This was to insure an equal and representative voice from within the fellowship. Also introduced at this meeting were the "new A.A. Pamphlets." The author believes these were probably similar in content to the earlier Houston Press articles, by Larry J. whom Clarence sponsored, and who moved to Texas to start A.A. there.

On August 19, 1941, a meeting of the Finance Committee of The Central Group Committee was held. Its minutes suggested to:

The representatives of the groups that they in turn propose to their respective group that they deposit with the Finance Committee the Sum of one dollar each week beginning January 1st 1942." It went on to state that "Such funds are to be used for the purpose of defraying normal expenses of the Central Committee Group such as P.O. box rental, postage and such other incidental expenses as may be required... [And to] make contributions to the Foundation in New York and such other charities as may be recommended to the finance committee by the various groups and approved by the finance committee.

A bulletin to all groups from the "third meeting of the Curahoga (sic) County Central Committee, held Tuesday evening, August 26th," announced plans for a Halloween Party and a New Year's Eve Party which was to include "all the combined groups." The bulletin also announced the availability of two A.A. pamphlets: 1) the Houston Press articles written by Larry J., and 2) the articles in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The bulletin also asked if anyone was interested in a bowling league. Thus the Fellowship was not only concerned with the meetings and 12 Step work. It was also involved in social activities.

About this time, Clarence proposed a dinner to "Honor Dr. Bob Smith;" and it was planned October 5th. Clarence felt his sponsor, Dr. Bob, should be honored for his untiring efforts in "fixing rummies."

At first the "Dr. Bob" dinner was set for the Lake Shore Hotel at 12506 Edgewater Drive in Cleveland. The Hotel had room for 450 people. Announcements were sent out to all of the Ohio groups, as well as to those in surrounding states. The event was to involve not only the dinner, but "An afternoon full of special events." All of this was to cost $1.35 per person.

The response was overwhelming. The reservations were reaching the 450 person cut off. They had to decide what to do. Would they turn people away? They decided to move the location. Clarence contacted all of the local hotels and found one which would accommodate more than 600 people.

The Hotel Statler was chosen. When built, the Statler had cost over $2,500,000 and was one of the largest hotels in Cleveland. The hotel negotiated a deal, similar to the one with the Lake Shore Hotel. The price for the room and the meal was still low.

The menu was to consist of:

Half Grapefruit -Pan Fried Veal Cutlet - Potatoes Croquette - Peas au Beurre -

Vanilla Ice Cream with Raspberry Ice - Cakes - Coffee.

All of this was to cost the committee $1.00 per person. Invitations were sent out to Bill Wilson and others; and local groups contributed to help pay the train fare to bring the speakers out to Cleveland.

Invitations were sent out to once again asking people to attend and informing them of the change of location. In a letter to Clarence dated September 30, 1941, Jim B. of Detroit wrote, "I shall deliver your affectionate message to Archie (Arch T.), but, sorry to say, he told me Sunday, he was not planning on making the trip." Jim's letter thanked Clarence for the invitation and for the information as to the change of location and informed Clarence of other Detroit members who would attend.

October 5, 1941 finally arrived. According to the press release from the Central Committee, "Approximately 850 attended [the dinner]," and "About sixteen out of town groups were represented at this assembly."

A newspaper article about the dinner was headed, "900 Reformed Alcoholics Hold Anonymous Dinner." The turn out had been so great that the article ended with the following:

The Statler's ballroom seldom has entertained a larger crowd than that which attended the dinner. Extra tables were set on the balcony and in the corridor.

As M.C. for the event, Clarence wrote a schedule of events on the back of the card which announced the meeting. It was written in pencil, and read as follows:


Dinner Announcements

Introductory Talk & Welcome to guests

Introduction - Out of town guests

Central Committee

Mr. & Mrs. Borton - Women's Group

Grace G. - Edna McD.

Dorothy S. - Mrs. Doc Smith

Henrietta Seiberling - Wally G.

Bill D. - Bill Wilson

Doc Smith - Closing Remarks


Dr. Bob Smith was overwhelmed by the response. He spoke briefly and tried to downplay his role in the founding of A.A. Everyone was pleased with the outcome. In the Bulletin to All Groups, dated October 17, 1941, Clarence wrote,

Everyone was gratified to learn that we didn't go in the red on our appreciation dinner. In fact we came out .90 to the good.

On October 21st, the Central and Group Hospital Committee met with 14 groups represented and two absent. They adopted the "rules and regulations... or general use by the Hospitals and the Sanitariums accepting A.A. patients." (see Appendix F)

The Committee continued to meet, formulate policy, set social events and inform the groups of current events concerning A.A. members. Clarence had an idea for a newsletter which would inform members of A.A. news and contain a meeting directory. The other purpose for the newsletter, which was to be called the Cleveland Central Bulletin, was to inform the membership of the whereabouts of members who were serving in the Armed Forces.

Eventually, the Central Committee decided they needed an office. On February 8th, 1945, the A.A. Cleveland District Office opened. And, though it has changed addresses many times since 1945, that District Office has continued to respond to the still sick and suffering alcoholic.

In a pamphlet put out by the Cleveland District Office in 1962 the following statistics were given.

Since the Office door opened on February 8th, 1945, more than 12,910 calls for help have been received. Of these, 7,878 were reported receptive and already started on their way back to a New Life. During the same period, hundreds of speakers have been supplied to groups and various organizations... also thousands of packages of literature have been sent out to everyone seeking information regarding Alcoholics Anonymous.

Personal contact, sponsorship, literature, a newsletter, rotation of officers, and a tremendous recovery rate were to become the trademarks of Cleveland A.A. And Clarence had fought for all of this because he wanted the still sick and suffering alcoholic to have the same chance that he had gotten. His sponsor, Dr. Bob, had given him a ministry. To help the alcoholic get well, if he wished to get well. Clarence wanted the best and did his utmost to see that Cleveland got it.

We here set forth the "Aims, Purposes and Functions of the Cleveland Central Committee." The source, an original document, was early and undated:


I. To promote unselfishness, unity and understanding among all groups: E.G .-

As individuals, we should never forget our purpose in being associated with our fellowship. Our membership is composed of persons from all walks of life, many different types of background, various stages of mental, physical and spiritual development; various temperaments, social set-ups, religious beliefs and creeds. All of us have reached the same extremity. All of us are trying to maintain sobriety, and live like human beings are meant to live. We are all interested in helping others like us to share what we have found.

The fact that we are such a cosmopolitan and democratic fellowship accounts for the fact that we have numerous perspectives among the members of our fellowship. No individual or group in our fellowship is perfect, nor perhaps will ever be, and by the same token, no individual or group is one hundred percent wrong. We feel that every one and every group has a place in our plan, and can contribute constructive ideas and suggestions for the benefit of our movement as a whole. We believe that any difference of opinion arising between individuals and groups can be brought to a satisfactory compromise, through the patient application of the principles of Love, Unselfishness, Tolerance and Understanding. By meeting together, we can get acquainted, and come to realize that no matter what our perspectives may be, we all have about the same problems, and in really understanding the other fellow, we find that he is not such a blackguard after all.

It is needless to expound at length on the merits of Unity. In our case, however, a greater unity and understanding can be responsible for the salvaging of futures, homes and lives. A duty rests upon us to discharge an obligation that no person or group of persons but us can handle satisfactorily. By one hundred per cent co-operation, can't we do a much better job of discharging that duty?

II. To establish a uniform hospital technique: E.G.-

Many constructive measures have already been worked out by the Hospital Committee; case histories, group hospital committees, new hospital connections, standard regulations for entering patients; visiting, handling "slips" etc. Much money has been saved the hospitals who co-operate. Our position with the hospitals has been strengthened. Constant attention must be paid to our hospitalization set-up, for the good of the fellowship as a whole.

III. Establishment and maintenance of a suitable promotional program: E.G.-

We want and need new members. They want and need us. Promotion of our plan is very important. It is a discharge of a duty. In the past, most of our promotional work has rested on too few of the members. Some members have done much toward helping, by sending out pamphlets at their own expense. Some groups have also done this.

Many of our members have found us through the medium of newspaper and magazine articles; talks before clubs and organizations; from physicians; members of the clergy; social and civic organizations; the courts, and others. The proper type of publicity is very beneficial to our ends, but the very nature of our work makes it necessary that we be certain, insofar as possible, that all publicity be edited by us, before being released.

Some months ago, the Central Committee appointed Clarence Snyder as a committee to check all publicity. Due to his efforts, a number of items of publicity which were of questionable value, and more than likely, of definite harm to our plan, were suppressed. For the good of all, let us co-operate, and remember to never give interviews for publication without first consulting him on the matter. Publicity seeking persons can do much harm to our groups and members, through ignorance or mercenary motives. One piece of publicity may look helpful to one group, but may cause much embarrassment or harm to individuals in another. Obviously, if every one who gets an idea about publicity is permitted to scatter it to the four winds, pandemonium would result. On sober reflection, we cannot but agree that a "safety valve" is needed in connection with this phase of our work.

We have a Post Office Box, No. 1638, Station C, to which many requests for help are addressed. An effective plan to answer these requests and make equitable distribution of the names among the groups, must be worked out and maintained.

IV. Exchange of ideas and suggestions among groups: E.G.:

No two groups operate exactly alike. Why do some groups have more social times? Some have literature tables? Some have regulations regarding admittance of "slips" outsiders, guests, etc.? Why do some groups boast a better percentage of recoveries? Why are some more successful in putting the "slipper" back on his feet? Why are meetings conducted differently in different groups? How can one group help another in matters of overlapping and hospital visitations? What ideas does your group have, to help one another maintain sobriety?

Hundreds of such questions could conceivably arise, through association of our twenty-three groups.

Index of Chapter 6

Table of Contents

Chapter 7


Chapter 6.4


1st A.A. Newsletter, Cleveland Central Bulletin, Clarence's "brain-child

Clarence was about to enter the army arid felt that A.A. members in the service of their country were going to be without the benefit of A.A meetings and friends at home, part of the fellowship which had been so successful in keeping them all sober.

He suggested that a newspaper of sorts would be beneficial to himself as well as the other members in the armed forces. Harry D., who owned the D. Company, a printing company on 1104 Prospect Avenue, offered to be the printer for the newspaper.

Many believed that Harry D. was the founder and first editor of the Cleveland A.A. newspaper. But, in a letter to Clarence, dated November 14, 1942, Harry modestly wrote; "See what God wrought! This letter accompanies the second issue of Central Bulletin, which was your brain-child, I believe."

Harry's letter continued:

Naturally I'm tickled pink with it, for it will do a tremendous amount of good in strengthening the localities as well as the men originally intended for - the boys in service.

We have a dandy editorial setup, with S. of course the finest contributor... Mark H. and I are the lesser of the two co-editors and it sure is fun, in spite of the many extra hours it demands.

Volume 1 - No. 1 was released in October 1942. It was printed on both sides of one 8,5*11 inch sheet of paper, promising that "If it is warranted, another page will be used." The size was recommended by the editors, so that, "all issues can be assembled in standard loose-leaf binders."

The standard read in bold letters:



The first page contained an editorial defining the purposes of the newspaper, a small piece on a dinner honoring Bill Wilson, a plea to secretaries to compile lists of all members who were in the service, and a call for a new name for the newspaper. It stated that "This name, 'The Central Bulletin,' does not convey its purpose."

But only one other name was submitted, and the editors decided that the name, Central Bulletin, would remain. The format for the second issue remained basically the same, except that it contained four pages, with the back page an ad reminding people to buy bonds, "For Defense."

The editorial for the second issue dealt with the dinner honoring Bill Wilson. Harry D. wrote Clarence that the editorial, written by S., "was a masterpiece. Incidentally, Wilson's talk was one too." The letter continued to discuss a point which was meant to embarrass Bill Wilson. It seems that a certain, or certain Cleveland member(s) set out to "quiz" Bill on the "financial skull duggery he was purported to have engaged in."

Many in A.A. have blamed Clarence and pointed to him as the one questioning of Bill's financial gains from the A.A. fellowship. But Clarence told the author this was far from the truth. Though Clarence didn't believe in making any money from this "avocation," he never wanted publicly to embarrass Bill.

At the time this situation concerning Bill surfaced, Clarence was in another state and in the Army. He had to hear about these concerns in the newsletter. The Bulletin also contained an article regarding gossip in the second issue of the newsletter. According to Harry's letter to Clarence, this gossip article "will sink home to the perpetrator." It seems that Harry and several other Cleveland members had an idea who this person was, but Clarence couldn't recall why they wouldn't mention his name.

The second issue also announced a 24 hour phone service and listing in the telephone directory. It contained a meeting list and "News from the Camps" letters from those in the service. In that issue, there was a short letter from Clarence stating, "If any of my friends wish to write me, address me as follows -."

The third edition came out in December of 1949. It had a new Masthead. At its center, there was a sun design, with an A.A. in the center, surrounded by the Four Absolutes. On either side of this sun was the title CENTRAL BULLETIN. Also this issue began a series of editorials on each of the Twelve Steps.

The May 1944 issue announced that the:

Central Committee welcomed into A.A. this month, the Arcade Group, formed of alcoholics who had been handling their problems through the Oxford Group Movement (which includes non-alcoholics as well as alcoholics). The group announced its acceptance of the A.A. program based on the Twelve Steps and will limit its membership to confessed alcoholics.

The CENTRAL BULLETIN continued to bring news to A.A. members in Cleveland and to those who had moved on to other areas of the United States New. The October 1944 issue announced the first Young People's Meeting, stating:

Age is no barrier if you wish to participate in the meetings of one of the newest groups, organized in October. The group calls itself the Young People's Group, and it was formed by several of the younger A.A 's... 20's - 30's... But they stress the fact that they do not exclude 'oldsters' from their meetings.

The group met on Wednesdays at 8:30 P.M. in the West Side Evangelical Hall on West 38th Street and Bridge.

The bulletin also announced the deaths of members. One of these articles, in the March 1947 issue read, "One of the founders of A.A. in Cleveland, Charley J___ passed away on the 3rd of March and was buried on the 6th... He was one of the founders of the Corinthians and was the originator of the name of the group." The Corinthians was not a regular A.A. meeting, it was more of a social subsidiary, founded so that members could have a place to socialize and fellowship together.

The CENTRAL BULLETIN is still published today.

The Cleveland Central Bulletin contained probably the best articles and A.A. writings in the 1940's. To delve into these writings at depth would probably increase this volume twofold. A book on the Cleveland Central Bulletin and its importance in A.A. history is in the works.

Index of Chapter 6

Table of Contents

Chapter 7


Chapter 6.5


Army Life In Fort Knox

Every citizen [should] be a soldier. This was the case with the Greeks and the Romans, and must be that of every free state.

Thomas Jefferson in a Letter to James Monroe, 1813

In the summer of 1942, Clarence decided it was time to join the army. In August, he contacted the Selective Service board to apply for Volunteer Officers Candidate training. On August 8th, his application was approved.

The earliest correspondence concerning Clarence and the army is a letter from Irwin M. wishing Clarence a "victorious return." Then on October 20th Clarence received this response from the Louisville, Kentucky office of Alcoholics Anonymous - a response to one of his letters:

Pvt. Clarence H. Snyder,

U.S. Army, Co. B, 8th Bn. A.F.R.T.C.

Fork Knox, Ky.

Dear Pvt. Snyder:-

We are very glad indeed to have your letter and are looking forward to having you attend our meetings.

We meet at the Kentucky Dairies Auditorium, Third and Kentucky Streets, at 8:00 o'clock, and if you can possibly get away would like to have you with us next Friday. Jim McC. is our leader here.

(Mrs.) Mildred Z.

Clarence kept up with his meetings and, by mail, received news of what was going on with Cleveland A.A., and he received the Cleveland Central Bulletin. There were many Ohio members in the armed forces, and the newsletter was a means for these members to get A.A. news from home.

By this time Clarence had married Selma Kitterer who was living in Cleveland during Clarence's army service. Selma was related to Theodore A. Kitterer, Minister of the First Evangelical and Reformed Church on Arlington Avenue and Thornhill Drive. She was also related to Superintendent Rev. Armin A. Kitterer of Evangelical Deaconess Hospital. Evangelical Deaconess was one of the early hospitals to which A.A. members were taken for "drying out."

A.A. members at Deaconess hospital were paying $8.00 per day for private rooms plus medications and extras. Any A.A. member having a semi-private room could have another A.A. member stay there "without additional charge for room and attendance."

In a letter to Dorothy, his ex-wife, Clarence described a typical night in the army as follows:

Last night I went to Elizabethtown to do a little shopping & relaxing & staying at the U.S.O. all night. I went to a picture show, with lots of blood spilled. A cowboy picture, vintage 1909 & a Sabotage picture without vintage. I ate lunch in E. Town today and had a fine meal. Our grub here at camp is, as a general rule, terrible. Poorly cooked, poorly served & many times not enough. They specialize in grease here, & I shouldn't be surprised to see the ice cream served in grease if we ever get ice cream.

As part of his 14-16 hour daily routine, Clarence was receiving Officers Candidate training. He was made a squad leader, "which," he wrote Dorothy, was "in essence a corporal, with a squad of men to mother, leach, be accountable for and report on."

In his letter to Dorothy, Clarence also asked about the dinner that had been held for Bill Wilson. Clarence said:

I haven't heard much news on the Sunday party for Bill W. Next time you write, I will appreciate a sort of detailed report I do know that they had 450 for dinner & another 300 afterward... what finally happened re: the matter of Bill & Doc's remuneration from the Foundation."

Clarence and Dorothy kept up with their correspondence throughout Clarence's stint at Fort Knox. Dorothy relayed news about their son and about A.A. doings. Selma was not involved in any A.A. matters and knew little about A.A. news.

In the army, Clarence made plans to go into business with Hank P., who was Bill Wilson's partner in the office in Newark. Bill and Hank left had several arguments, over what Hank said was Bill's leaving him out of the "glory" for writing the book. And there was also a lot of talk about Hank's having an affair with someone at the office. Hank left A.A.

Hank was married to Dorothy Snyder's sister. After Clarence's tour in the army, he was classified 1A in the draft on July 17, 1943 and on August 30, 1943 the Selective Service finally responded regarding Clarence's application to be an Officer in the army. They referred it to another department.

Clarence worked with Hank selling porcelain mugs and figurines all throughout the 1940's. After Hank's divorce from Dorothy's sister, the business finally went under and Clarence's association with Hank dissolved. The last correspondence from Dorothy regarding the fiasco with I lank was in 1947. Hank never really stayed sober and died drunk and on pills.

There is some possibility that Hank convinced Clarence to join the army but there has been no documentation to that suggestion.

After Clarence left the army, he returned to Selma and to Cleveland A.A. He continued his work there in helping to carry the message. Clarence always believed in doing his best, whether it was in the army or in business or in his avocation, which was working with alcoholics.

Index of Chapter 6

Table of Contents

Chapter 7