Some people argue that this speaker, Clarence Snyder, should be designated a co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, due to the tremendous role he played in helping the fellowship grow in the early days. Clarence took his last drink in February 1938, and a year later he launched the first AA group in Cleveland. He penned the Big Book story, “Home Brewmeister.”

In this 1968 AA talk, Clarence discusses the history of AA including the influence of the Oxford Group, the “Four Absolutes’ (honesty, purity, unselfishness and love), and the importance of working with other alcoholics. He also runs through his thoughts and experiences with each of the 12 steps. Of special interest is his opinion on the honesty required in the 4th step:

“I don’t think there’s a rummy worthy of the name who’s capable or has the capacity to take that step by themselves. They talk about honesty… don’t ever tell (a rummy) he’s got to be honest. This is a virtue we have to cultivate and learn about… it’s hard for us to come in here with anything honest…. I would steal a red-hot stove if I could convert it into something to drink. If I had to have it, I would do it; there was nothing I wouldn’t do.”

Listen to this AA legend discuss the early days of AA and his own recovery from alcoholism.

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