Sunday, July 19, 2009



Betty B was a student nurse at City Hospital in Akron Ohio in 1934. She worked in the operating room, where Dr Bob sometimes "officiated". She had no idea Dr Bob was an alcoholic, but did recall that his hands shook sometimes, and his eyes were nearly always red, bloodshot.

She thought a lot of Dr Bob. She said , "When he walked into a room, he brought 'something different'". She could "feel it".

Only many years later, when Betty B herself came into the AA program, did she then realize that City Hospital's Dr Smith, and AA's Dr Bob, were one and the same.

She said that he was the "kindest man, especially to all the nurses and really so to the student nurses".

Betty Brooks was kind of short, with the most beautiful grey eyes. They sparkled as if she had dusted them with some magical powder--like those Tinker-Bell pictures I remember. Her eyes matched exactly the color of her perfect, tightly-wound hair with a bun on back.

And her smile...her smile was a genuine outpouring of wordless things, like, "Come on in. It will be all right. You can do it. You are loved. You are respected. We all know you here. Come back next week. Don't drink between meetings." While others were saying these things with near-rude gruffness, this old woman, Betty, simply smiled those words lovingly while nodding her head at a newly sobering alcoholic.

How do I know this? Betty was my first AA friend. I did have a sponsor, Jim, right off the bat. He and Betty worked together with me, and it worked! It seems to me now, that AA people worked together more then, than now. The year was 1974. My brain was pure mush..no exaggeration, and my life was chaos, but I was unaware of that. All I desired was a gallon of White Port to get me through this AA business this night. Betty helped me so much. I now know why she was present at every meeting I attended.

Betty and her husband Paul occasionally sat at the bar where I worked, offering me support with glances of encouragement, or a few (private) AA bon mots during the evening. I also played violin behind the bar at that time.

Warning...digression coming. Reminds me...for those who have been following all year this is an old story:

My sponsor asked me once if being sober for 4 weeks affected my violin playing. I told him definitely, in a negative way. My vibrato was slow, notes out of tune, bow scratching produced a bad tone, and a weak sound was all I could get out of the box. Without missing a beat, he said, "Oh! Your hearing got better!"

Translated, that remark meant to me that my life all along had been a real mess, but that I did not know it until I sobered up a little. Awareness had begun to happen.

And this is how that awareness is today translated: The second part of this blog will be tomorrow night...or I'll be again into Blongsville. NOTE: A "Blong" is a looong blog.

To all peeps: Let's stay sober today? That is NOT a question!

References to BettyB and Dr Bob taken from "Dr Bob and the Good Oldtimers" Page 46 and 48.


Andrew said...

Grinning while i await tomorrows installment.

Keep at it Steve. I really like reading your words.

Cindy said...

ah gee, i like you

Mike Golch said...

Keeping it real.spealing of a Blong.I got on my sire.

Rhonda said...

Love this post...
and I love your story...
"Awareness had begun to happen"
I'm looking forward to tomorrow.

Lou said...

I'm amazed they even came to where you worked..well, you did work in a bar!
I'll be back for this serial story.

Madison said...

Wow, I wonder if somebody ever suggested a different career. How hard it would be to stay sober in a bar!

Gin said...

Oh this is good and I have a feeling it's going to get better! Can't wait! Happy Monday Steve!

Steve E. said...

Oboy, when you write that way...the pressure is on. That's what's wrong with Part II...the expectations are seldom met

For me, tending bar was a job, and I was good at it. And the people who began their drinking day at 4:30 PM and were still there at 2:30 AM--well, they helped me to stay sober, by my observing what booze did to them.

Always I am glad to read your comments

Yep, I guess we are "Blongers"!

You picked out a really meaningful thought from my words. Thanks for being here!

Quite a few of the Long-Timers came to the lounge. They helped me much-o! (Rhymes with "Smootch-o" -grin!

And I didn't mention we had lot of classical music there. Opera singers visiting Naples wold come and sing with the pianist, and my violin accompaniment--NIGHTLY! After I sobered, it was REALLY FUN!

Hootin' Anni said...

I love blongs!!!!! Steve, they tell so much more than the short ones and we get a better feel of what you've been through.

I had [I say had because he's no longer on this earth as a living soul, but still in my heart of course] a brother who loved his drink. It was hard liquor and beer...always. From morning to night. He died of a blood clot, and I swear it was because of his drinking. You won't convince me otherwise. Anyway, when I married Bud, he knew of course my brother's fixation with the drink...and he said once to me "Your brother, we all don't know what he's like when sober because he never is."...That was strong words but it made me realize the truth that I tried to hide from myself.

It's a long road, and a daily task that you obviously have conquered thanks to your friends, sponsors and not to forget the ONE IMPORTANT one....YOU!!!! You did it with strength and will. Trust me.

Now, what would you call a long comment...commlong?

Syd said...

Great story. Glad that your hearing improved. There are a lot of benefits to AA.

Ann H. said...

This is a great story Steve. I will be back for Part II!

Ed G. said...

What a great treasure (Betty) you've collected your journey.

I spent the weekend in a business meeting where, as I sat in the back of the room, I realized I was hearing the people in my head who were no longer there louder and clearer than those at the microphone.


g-man said...

It's so odd to read a Blog from one of the very few people on the planet older than me...hehehe

Carol said...

Great to hear you!

Cat said...

For a blong it is unfinished!



Tall Karen said...

I miss one day and I'm totally confused....Looking for clues...I hope we hear part 2 some day.

God bless XoX

Steve E. said...

Not to be confused, Tall Karen.

It's just another sober alcoholic who broke his promises one too many times. And now broke his committment to the community.

I'm telling you, he's a bad one -grin