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Letter from Bill Wilson to Jim Burwell
August 23, 1949

Box 459 Grand Central Annex
New York 17, N.Y.

August 23, 1949

Dear Jimmy,

Thanks so much for all the up-to-the-minute news. Just got a letter from mother saying she nearly took the plane East. Better luck next time, though I doubt she will come down in winter weather. Lois and I devoutly hope she will make it just for once before it is too late.

I note with a lot of interest that you saw Dick Stanley. What you say is not surprising for we oldtimers, nearly all of us, are getting frightfully stale. I know that's very true of me. I have lived and worked far too long in the trouble department of AA. Anybody who does enough of that will finally go sour or crack up entirely. It is so everywhere. The oldtimer situation is getting to be a real problem. In a sense it means we all have to start over again and get back to first principles. I am glad to see at the group and intergroup levels that our service affairs are in the hands of two or five year old people. Moreover these folks were not so badly burned as we oldsters. As a class they are not so screwy.

As you have probably gathered from Dick, neither he nor Dr. Bob are for a conference. They seem sincerely persuaded that it would cause more trouble than cure. Naturally this puts me in a hard spot. It is most difficult to oppose Smithy under any circumstances and especially now on account of his health. Therefore I suppose I expect I shall just have to wait until experience makes it painfully clear to everybody that the groups must participate or the Foundation, the Office, and the Grapevine will go under. We always learn the hard way anyway. Even if a conference proved a flop, and I could know that before hand, I would still be for trying out the idea. Basically these central assets belong to the AA movement. Nobody has the right to withhold from the group their opportunity to participate in the management of their own affairs. However, time will tell the story.

Meanwhile I'm withdrawing as much as possible from any special activity hoping to be able to put some of the last ten years experience on paper. Whether I shall find the energy and the enthusiasm to see the job through, I frankly don't know, but at least I can try.

Mother always writes so enthusiastically about your helpfulness, I know it means so much to her, so please know of my great thanks.

/s/ Bill

Index of A.A. History Pages on Barefoot's World

As in so many things, especially with we alcoholics, our History is our Greatest Asset!.. We each arrived at the doors of A.A. with an intensive and lengthy "History of Things That Do Not Work" .. Today, In A.A. and In Recovery, Our History has added an intensive and lengthy "History of Things That DO Work!!" and We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it!!

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