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Letter from Jim Burwell to Bill Wilson
January, 16th 1948

3943 Louisiana Street
San Diego 4, Calif.     

January, 16th 1948

Dear Lois and Bill,

It was swell hearing rom [sic] you at last, especially to hear you all are coming out our way this spring.  I think you will be very agreeably surprised at the real progress of AA on the Coast.  They seem to go to many more meetings than the Eastern groups and all the groups seem to e shaping up beautifully, especially in the last year or so.  One of the things I do especially like out here in [sic] that they read the Fifth Chapter of the Book before the meetings.  This seems to have more meaning to the new fellows than the reading of the Steps alone.

The business deal I wrote you about did not materialize so no harm was done. I left the Government (War Assets) in August and played around with a couple of things.  Now I hope I have a sales job that might work out for the long pull but will not mention it until you come out.

January 8th was my tenth year in AA but 10th year of sobriety will not be completed until June 15th, so hope you will be here for it.

Bill, your plans for an annual national conference with rotating representation from the country at large is the best news I have heard from NY since the Grapevine was started.  In my opinion it will be the big step in making AA solid for the future - it will help AA groups to understand each other better and it will do more to sell, consolidate and perpetuate the AA traditions than anything else possible.  It will also save many new groups much of trial and error that has been necessary in the past, and I think you will be very agreeably surprised to see how well they will all get along together in conference.

Your idea of dividing the country into quadrants sounds fine.  However, I would suggest, first, that you have a preliminary meeting of about twelve or fourteen AA's from the heavy membership area.  You can then present your conference ideas to them and they can polish them up - then they will go back to their own groups and present the ideas as their own.  This, I believe, would make for better acceptance of the plans nationally and will make all feel part of the planning.  My thought would be to have each of the following areas send a representative to New York for a round table discussion of a national conference and rotating board:             

New YorkAtlanataSeattle
BostonSt. LouisSan Francisco
PhiladelphiaDenverLos Angeles
Washington, DCDallasCleveland

Would suggest that each area pick their representative from among their five oldest and most active AA's and that their sobriety should at least be five years wherever possible.  The area should finance the trip and the men chosen should be in a position to take time off and be willing to circulate among their local groups on their return and put the idea over to them.  Of course all this could be suggested and sold to the groups gradually through the Grapevine and special letters to the groups at large.  I would do everything to make the groups feel that this was their party and that all the constructive ideas would be considered.

It has always been my idea that the drunk will support anything in which he is given an active part.

So much for that.  Rosa and I do love it out here.  Everyone has been grand to us and we feel a real part of the community and the local AA.  Rosa has been very active and helpful in the Women's Group and I am really trying hard to stay out of the middle of things.  I am a great believer in the oldtimers getting on the sidelines and letting the two and three year boys and girls do the dirty work.  Us oldsters got to know too much!

I'm so glad George Hood was able to give you the "History" and that you hope to assemble similar material in order that a factual story may be written up - you are so right that with the passage of time so much is apt to be lost or forgotten.  

We have had a great deal of fun with your mother - we were all together for Thanksgiving and Christmas both this year and last.  She is one grand fellow and is now a real AA - that's what she says.

Well, all here are looking forward to your visit and are so glad to hear all the good reports on how well you and Lois are.

Best to you both,


/s/ Jim

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!!

ABC Page 60 -- Barefoot's Recovery Pages



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