Dr. Robert Holbrook Smith—better known to millions of recovering people throughout the world as “Dr. Bob”—is the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous. In this last major talk before he passed away in 1950, he relays the story of how AA was founded and what happened in the early days of AA. Dr. Bob begins this talk with the tale of what transpired in Akron, Ohio, on June 10, 1935—his sobriety date, and the official beginning of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Those who are familiar with AA history will recognize the story: Bill Wilson, sober some six months, was in Akron on business. The business portion of the trip failed, and Bill paced the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel, contemplating a drink. Instead, he called the reverend from a local church, imploring him to put him in touch with some alcoholics who may wish to recover. It was mandatory that Bill work with another man if he were to stay sober himself. Of course, that man was Dr. Bob, who became sold on the ideas Bill relayed to him, and AA was born.
Dr. Bob discusses how many other people and groups had tried to help him get sober over the years, to no avail. Bill told him what no one else had—the importance of being helpful to others. “We must learn this lesson and never forget it, if we want to maintain our insurance policy against drinking,” Dr. Bob says. Dr. Bob went on to work with AA #3, another man named Bill, who also bought the ideas Bill Wilson shared. Dr. Bob addresses the importance of giving of ourselves through service. Putting “quiet money in the dish” is helpful, but this type of giving won’t keep us sober, he maintains; but the giving of our own “effort, strength and time is quite a different matter.”
He concludes by discussing everyone’s ultimate goal: to have happiness and peace of mind. “That’s what we’re all after. When we put into practice some of the spiritual laws which it is necessary to follow to acquire those things, then we get them.”