Last week’s, “Here’s To Your Health,” mentioned Jack Anderson’s 1941 “Saturday Evening Post,” article titled, “Alcoholics Anonymous,” 1941 was also the beginning of another doctor’s story who was no less a “medical saint,” to area alcoholics than Dr. Bob was to Akron alcoholics.
During 1941 Dr Zweig (who was not an alcoholic) worked at a private practice on Berry Street in Fort Wayne where an Army colonel came to visit and asked him and other doctors to attend a war bond promotion at Fort Wayne’s Scottish Rite Auditorium. Dr. Zweig agreed and at the end of the rally they were asked to raise their right hands for the Pledge of Allegiance, but before they could lower their hands the officer rattled off the oath to the Army and the doctors were, “In The Army Now.”
Doctor Zweig was released from the Army in 1945, and soon after saw a former patient he had diagnosed as a chronic alcoholic, but the man was sober. Doc was faced with a dilemma, had he misdiagnosed the man, or was the AMA wrong about chronic alcoholism being incurable? Doc asked the man, how he’d gotten sober and the man said, “I’ve been attending AA meetings in Huntington, IN.” Doc’s professional curiosity became aroused and he asked his patient if he could go with him to a meeting? The patient agreed and when Doc attended the meeting, he was shocked to find other patients there he’d diagnosed as “chronic alcoholics.” Doc decided to conduct an experiment, and asked a judge to postpone sentencing a woman named “Street Car Sally,” to the Richmond State Hospital for alcoholic insanity. She was instead released into Doc’s custody, and the AA people he’d just met, their wives bathed her, gave her clean clothes, took her to meetings and each day he stopped by and gave her a vitamin shot. Three weeks later Doc took Sally before the same judge and when the court called her name, the judge looked around the room without recognizing her and he believed he had witnessed a miracle. That day in court was the beginning of a relationship between Dr. Zweig and AA that lasted from 1945 until his death on December 13th, 1994. During those 49 years, Doc helped thousands of chronic alcoholics free gratis, including a fellow Fort Wayne Central High School graduate named Herb B. who’s the oldest sober member of AA living in Fort Wayne. Doc worked anonymously from 1945 – 1955, but even after the AMA changed their position on alcoholism and recognized it as a disease, he continued to work anonymously for 39 more years because of his deep humility.