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The Ninth A.A. International Convention
This convention drew 48,000 people from 75 countries.
Dr. Bob's son and daughter, Bob Smith and Sue Windows, and Bob's wife Betty were all in attendance.
It began, as had become the custom, with the Friday night flag ceremony. Nell Wing, Bill's secretary and later AA archivist, wrote that:
Nell tells little of what transpired at the convention (and I have no other sources), but she told an interesting anecdote about herself:
"Now, 44 years later, here I was in Seattle again and the recipient of the 10 millionth copy of the Big Book. No words can adequately express my deep gratitude to this beloved Fellowship and my cherished friends therein."
So now we have some insight into why Nell Wing, who was not an alcoholic, could be so comfortable with and dedicated to the many members of AA.
My most significant memory of the Opening "Big Meeting" held in the King Dome, was the flag ceremony, watching the trooping of all the flags, but when the flags of Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia were paraded down the aisle, it put me on my knees in gratitude, for I well remembered the horror expressed in my family and amongst our neighbors in 1939 when those 3 countries fell at the beginning of WWII. Many of our neighbors in town were natives of those countries.
Attending workshops, the Marathon Meetings, catching catnaps in the corners of halls in the hotels or in any vacant chair, singing the old songs at the piano in the hotel lobby all night long with hundreds of other members, many very talented. One fellow played the piano for a good six hours, until he just couldn't go anymore. He flaked out in a sofa in the lobby.
Although registered attendence was only about 48,000, I believe that at least another 5,000 unregistered happy sober drunks were attending the open meetings and wandering the streets of Seattle. I was outside the hotel enjoying the sun, smoking a cigarette, watching them all, and two Seattle police on beat came by. I asked them what they thought of the whole thing. One said, "When you A.A.'s started arriving, we had 150% of normal force on duty, we didn't know what to expect with that many drunks in town. Now, 24 hours later, we are at about 75% normal. You A.A.'s are handling all our problems with drunks, taking care of them and hauling them to your meetings, are out in the streets helping directing traffic, making our job easier ... We Love It!! Things are real quiet and peaceful!!"
Later that day, I was standing in a square near the Space Needle, watching all the wandering ex-drunks, spotting and meeting old and new friends from all over, having a grand time, when out of the blue came a shout, "Hey, Barefoot!!!" I looked in the direction of the shout, saw a fellow trotting toward me through the croud. I knew I knew him, remembering the face. We put a hug on each other, said the usual "How you doing?" and talked a bunch of small talk... Finally, screwing up some courage because I could not remember his name, I asked, "Where do I know you from?? I am sorry, but I can't remember your name."
He replied with his name and "We only met once, in Tokyo in 1982, I was the newcomer in the meeting. I had come from New Zealand on business, had toured the Ginza for a couple of days, hit a bottom, and made it to my first A.A. meeting there in Tokyo. When the meeting was over you and another oldtimer took me to an "American" coffee shop and talked with me for a couple more hours, then we went our ways. I have been sober since. Thank you!"
I remember that meeting, I had been in Tokyo for a week on business, had not been to meeting that week, tried to locate a meeting, spent 20 minutes on the phone with the operator, and her supervisor, until they finally understood what I was asking for, got the address, and then with a cab driver located the meeting place. It was only a few blocks from the Kaio Plaza hotel where I was staying. It was obviously a meeting that had been established by a Californian, as the meeting format was identical to that of my homegroup in So.Cal. I was Home!!
What a pleasure it was to meet with him once again to share the gratitude, the joys, the freedoms and the accomplishments of Sobriety in the program of Alcoholics Anonymous!! We can do together that which we could NEVER do alone!!!
Love and Peace, Barefoot
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!!
KEEP COMING BACK!
On the Web Oct 26, 2002 in the Spirit of Cooperation
Three mighty important things, Pardn'r, LOVE And PEACE and SOBRIETY