This week’s Here’s To Your Health is the beginning of Keith L.’s story. It is about his past history, his recovery from chronic alcoholism and what his life is like today.


In the book, Alcoholics Anonymous, it talks about how we found God, I was spoon fed God as a child because I grew up in Ohio where Alcoholics Anonymous began. When I read “A.A. comes of Age” it quoted the first Chairman of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bernard Smith, who said, “True fellowship is based on ideas, God and service.”

Fellowship does so much for us recovering alcoholics that we become willing to help the next person coming through our doors. That’s why I love A.A. and by God’s grace, I now have 33 years of sobriety. I can’t take credit for my sobriety because “God” did it. I just kept showing up and hanging around because the old timers told us to suit up and show up. They taught us how to behave, our behavior seemed important to them. I was an angry young man when I first came to A.A., and once during a meeting a curse word slipped from my mouth. The chairman of the meeting said, “Young man, we don’t use that kind of language around the tables of A.A!” After that meeting a tall, elegant, British lady asked me, “Sir, may I ask you a personal question?” I said, “Yes, of course.” She said, “Do you eat with the same mouth you talk with?” I told my sponsor what had happened and said to him, “I will never again use profanity during an A.A. meeting.” And he said to me, “Why would you use it anytime. Good sobriety is about building character.” And that’s how the old timers were 33 years ago.

Early on in my home group there was a guy named Buck Doyle, he formerly belonged to the “Flying Tigers,” and he was one of the most wonderful men I ever met. We could tell when somebody had been talking to Buck because they usually had a big bruise on their chest from where his finger had been poking them. I once asked him, “Why do you put a bruise on my chest?” He said, “That’s so when you take a shower and you look in the mirror, you’ll remember what I told you.” Buck said to me, “You know kid, you’re crazy as an outhouse rat, but that’s not your real problem, your problem is spiritual in nature and if you try and solve a spiritual malady (alcoholism), by figuring it out, you’ll die chasing your tail. But, you can find a spiritual solution to your problem if you’re willing to work the steps with God and another human being. And, not only will your alcoholism fall by the wayside, but so too will your other physical and mental problems.

That’s the way old-timers were back then and I absolutely loved them, they taught us how to behave, dress and speak. We never spoke at a podium without a coat and tie.

Today, I live in Ocala, Florida and people down there say, “You don’t have to be so darned formal nowadays. But I tell them, “Yes, I do, because it’s my way of honoring Alcoholics Anonymous and the old-timers who taught me to be the way I am today.” As I said before, I was born in Ohio, to Irish Catholic parents; I was their second child, but the oldest son. While I was drinking I would have told you that I grew up in poverty, but nothing could be further from the truth.

My parents were the most loving and generous people I’ve ever known in my lifetime and they not also raised their ten children, but they also provided a home for other people’s children who had no place else to go.

Every night my mother went from one bedroom to the next. She prayed with us and then either read us a story or a poem. One of her favorite poems was by Thomas Lowell and in it there was a line that always made her cry, that line was, “It’s not what we give, but what we share and the gift without, the giver is bare.” In her later years mother told me that line is what my friends in A.A. reminded her of. To be continued…

The Waynedale News Staff

John Barleycorn

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