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The Eleventh A.A. International Convention
Minneapolis, MN, 2000

by Barefoot

I arrived Wednesday afternoon in Minneapolis, just in time for a rain squall. I traveled there, as usual, on the motorcycle towing a trailer, riding across southern Canada from North Idaho. I camped outside of town in my own "private" spot, about 12 miles outside the city, finding a free and wonderful campsite on an abandoned state highway easement, off the highway a hundred yards in a grove of old oak and maple trees.

Most of my time Thursday morning and Friday morning was spent at the 2318 Club about 14 blocks from the Metrodome, and at my campsite, working at getting the motorcycle running right again and "spiffed up," in time for the motorcycle run Saturday.

The 11th International was grand, meeting again with folks I have known for upwards of 26 years from all over the world, 87 countries represented, 70+ thousand to join with in sobriety, in fellowship and in prayer.

Friday morning, I met Alex from Lancaster area of England again after 20 years, a man with whom I had spent most of 3 days at New Orleans in 1980. I was coming down the hall with a fresh cup of coffee, wending my way through the crowd, and all of a sudden was engulfed in a HUG, almost spilled my drink...LOL...

I saw Walt again, a man I had first met the year before in a supermarket in Mazatlan, Mexico, when I was looking for flints for my Zippo. We had spent an hour there jawing, having picked up on a One Day At A Time phrase, and had a meeting right there in the entry to that Mexican store. I met Walt again at a campout and sober Powwow at Inchelium, WA in late 1999, and yet again at International ... I was outside the dome, having a cigarette, and this voice behind me asked, "Did you ever find any flints for the Zippo?" What a Joy to cross paths again!!!

I ran into a sponsee from 1975 whom I has lost track of in 1977, and who was now sober 25 years. And an old friend and lover from 20+ years back, Carolyn, who had gone on another runner and "POOOF", but was now sober 10 years and still as beautiful as ever. The sobriety and fellowship and the Love and Peace, what more can be said, it was GRAND !!!

Thursday night I listened to Clancy I. tell about all of the International Conventions he has attended from the first in 1950 to this one in 2000

Friday night, for the "Big Meeting", 50,000 and more A.A. members, from 87 countries around the world, gathered at the Minneapolis Metrodome to participate in the world's largest A.A. meeting, marking the start of the 11th International Convention 2000 of Alcoholics Anonymous. The convention marked the 65th Anniversary of Alcoholics Anonymous. It was the largest convention in A.A. and in Minneapolis history.

An A.A. member representative from each country in attendance carried their country's flag in a special ceremony at the beginning of the meeting, and all were welcomed to Minneapolis.

Unfortunately, unless I wasn't paying attention and missed something, the Serenity Prayer was not offered to begin the meeting and the reading of "How It Works" was omitted. When I realized this, I said the Serenity Prayer myself and invited God into the deal.

The opening speaker gave a talk concerning events in Eastern Europe, and Hungary in particular, and for me, was not a "grabber."

I went on the motorcycle run Saturday morning out to Hazelden with an Irishman from Dublin, Peter, whom I had met Friday morning at the 2318 club, doubling behind me. They had good cookies, pastries and cold drinks for us when we got to Hazelden.

On Saturday I heard Tom I., Searcy W. and "Smitty" S. from Texas. "Smitty" is Dr. Bob's son.

While in prison Tom I. joined A.A. and with the program and God's help, turned his life around, 180 degrees. He was then just one year away from retiring as warden from the prison he was first penned up in. His words, "Miracles don't happen in A.A.?" -- They are a fact of life for us in program.

Searcy W. from West Texas got sober in Dallas, May 5, 1946, 56 years ago[2002]. He worked closely with Bill W. in the early days, helping Ebby T., Bill's sponsor, get sober again in the 1950s. Ebby had carried the Oxford group message to Bill in November 1934.

After A.A. got started Bill always said that Ebby was his sponsor. But six months after he gave Bill a clue on how to stay sober, Ebby went back out in the Bowery in New York City and had stayed drunk on and off for eighteen years. Then in early 1953 Bill Wilson came to Dallas. Searcy was head of a clinic that took wet drunks. Bill and he had lunch, and after that lunch Searcy asked Bill, "What would you rather see happen now that's never happened in A.A. before?" Without hesitation Bill said, "I'd rather see Ebby have a chance to get sober."

Bill didn't even know where Ebby was, but a couple of friends found him in the Bowery. They dried him out a bit and gave him a pint of whiskey to get on the plane with, and he flew to Dallas to sober up. Ebby was in bad shape physically, mentally, spiritually and every other way imaginable after being drunk for the better part of eighteen years and living on the streets. He was very unruly, cussing Bill, Dr. Bob, Searcy and everybody else. Ebby was still very resentful at himself because he could have been one of the forefathers of A.A. [Which indeed he was, he just couldn't stay sober.]

Finally, Ebby asked if he could go to a meeting with Searcy, and they went over to the Suburban Club. Ebby got sober and stayed that way while in the Dallas area. He got to helping others, and a job, and did pretty good. He stayed 4 or 5 years in the Dallas area, then returned to New York. Ebby's health was failing him, and he drank again. Bill was in touch with him all the time, and he made arrangements in 1963 for Ebby to go to a halfway house in upstate New York. Ebby was sober 2 1/2 years when he died in 1966.

Searcy helped in the editing of the Twelve Traditions in 1947, helping in getting them accepted at the 1st International at Cleveland in 1950. Searcy got sober the same year as two of my sponsors and has out lasted them all. Searcy has a web site ... it is never to late to cyber and share your ESH on the web. --- http://searcywdallastx.bigstep.com/homepage.html

Smitty talked about life growing up in the Smith family and some about his life. Smitty is in Al-Anon. He is now at 84 [2002] the last who was there when it all began at the Gate House of the Sieberling estate, Stan Hywett Hall in Akron, when Bill met Dr. Bob for the first time. His sister Sue Windows passed away Feb 9, 2002. [I met with Smitty again in Spokane in April 2002 when he spoke at a convention here.]

Listening to these speakers brought a lot of Gratitude to me, almost like I was listening to my sponsors that have passed on. The thing that I really heard was "Let's not louse it up with a lot of psychobabble. Let's keep it simple. It all boils down to Love and Service. Read the Big Book, stay active and go to meetings." Those were the last words of Dr. Bob to Bill and the First International Convention in 1950.

Fifteen A.A. members celebrating 40 or more years of sobriety shared their individual experience, strength and hope with us Saturday evening during the "Old-Timers Meeting" at the Metrodome.

Sunday morning and early afternoon I spent in meetings at the 2318 club with Peter, Alex, Carolyn, and two of my friends from Friends In Recovery on the Web, and people from my homegroup in Idaho. I still had a little work to do on the motorcycle to get ready to leave, getting it done before noon.

I left Minneapolis about 5pm, heading south to visit my sister in Kokomo, then north to Dearborne to visit Henry's Museum and Greenfield Village, then up into the north of central and western Canada on the way home, meeting new friends in meetings everyday along the way...

Love and Peace, Barefoot

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

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 from the Big Book



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On the Web Oct 26, 2002 in the Spirit of Cooperation

Three mighty important things, Pardn'r, LOVE And PEACE and SOBRIETY