- L18-19: Visiting Winchester Cathedral during the war, Bill’s attention is “caught by a doggerel on an old tombstone” whose last line reads “Whether he dieth by musket / Or by pot.” What is the meaning of “pot” here? – A container of alcoholic drink.
- L1: Bill recounts he “took a night law course.” What school did he attend? – Brooklyn Law School.
- L4: “. . . we once worked on a farm . . . “When and where was this? – Bill and Lois worked at the Goldfoot Dairy Farm in Scotia, N.Y. (near Schenectady) from mid-April to mid-May 1925.
- L7: “Abruptly in October 1929 hell broke loose on the New Stock Exchange.” What is the historical reference here? – The stock market crash which ushered in the Great Depression.
- L20: “I telephoned a friend in Montreal.” Who was this? – Richard O. Johnson (“Dick”), of Greenshields & Co., a brokerage firm.
- L23-24: “I felt like Napoleon returning from Elba. No St. Helena for me!” What is the import of this historical allusion? – Napoleon returned from his exile in Elba and marched triumphantly on Paris. But following his defeat at Waterloo, he was exiled again, this time to St. Helena, where he died in ignominy. Inebriated with “the old determination to win,” Bill was cocksure he would snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in the 1929 stock market crash.
- L27: "We went to live with my wife's parents." What are the names of Lois' parents? – Clark Burnham of PA (lawyer, gynecologist, and Swedenborgian minister), and Matilda Hoyt.
- L31-32: “My wife began to work in a department store.” – Where was this? – At Macy’s.
- L6-7: Two people were instrumental in Bill’s first hospitalization for alcoholism: his “brother-in-law,” a physician, and Bill’s own mother. What is the latter’s name? – Emily Griffith Wilson
- What is the name of the physician, and what other role did he play in AA? – Doctor Leonard V. Strong, Jr., who twice paid for Bill's hospitalization. He was one of the first members of the AA board of trustees, a position he held from 1939 to 1954.
- L7-8: What is the name of the “nationally-known hospital” Bill was placed in, and where is it located? – Charles B. Towns Hospital on Central Park West, NYC.
- L9-11: What did the “bella-donna treatment” consist of? – The use of an extract from an herb also known as “Deadly Nightshade;” referred to also as “purge and puke.”
- L11-12: Who was the “kind doctor” that Bill met? – Dr. William Duncan Silkworth, chief physician and psychologist at Towns.
- What section of the Big Book did he write? – “The Doctor’s Opinion.”
- L13-14: The doctor explained to Bill that “though certainly selfish and foolish,” he “had been seriously ill, bodily and mentally.” These words reflect a new understanding of alcoholism that AA would come to adopt. What understanding is this? – That alcoholism is not a problem of moral failure but a physical and mental disease.
- Besides the “physical allergy” and “mental obsession,” AA would come to understand the disease in a third dimension. What is this? – The spiritual.
- From what two men did AA derive this understanding? – From Carl Jung, a psychiatrist, and William James, a psychologist and philosopher.
Cross-reference: “The Doctor’s Opinion,” p. XXV and XXXI; “A Vision for You,” p. 162; “Our Southern Friend,” p. 213.
- L14-16: “Then came the insidious insanity of that first drink, and on Armistice Day 1934, I was off again.” Armistice Day signals the end of which war? – WWI.
- What national holiday celebrates that event, and when? – Veteran’s Day, November 11.
Cross-reference: “Our Southern Friend,” p. 210, L29-317.
- L28: Ebby told Bill “how two men had appeared in court, persuading the judge to suspend his commitment.” Who were these men? – Rowland H. and Cebra G., of the Oxford Group. Cebra later joined AA, but Rowland never did.
Cross-reference: See below, Chapter 2: There Is a Solution, P26, L38.
- L25: “. . . what had been so freely given me.” What is the allusion to here? – The Bible, Matthew 10:8, the sending out of the Apostles to heal others as they themselves had been healed: “Freely you have received, freely give.”
Cross-reference: This is the first of three allusions to this passage in the BB. See below: “There’s a Solution,” p. 19, L18-19, and “A Vision for You,” p. 164, L23-24. There are also 3 allusions in the 12&12: p. 10, L28-29; p. 133, L1-2; and p. 166, L39.
- L31-32: “In one western city and its environs,” says Bill, AA had grown to include “one thousand of us and our families.” What city is he referring to? – Cleveland, Ohio.
- L6-7: Among the “strenuous, comic, and tragic” struggles of early AAs is the story of “One poor chap” who “committed suicide in my home.” – The name of this man? – Bill C., a lawyer and gambler who, while a guest of Bill and Lois, was surreptitiously selling off their clothes to finance his drinking and gambling.
- What home is Bill referring to? – Their apartment at 182 Clinton Street in Brooklyn Heights, NYC.
- Asterisk: “In 2001, AA is composed of over 100,000 groups.” How many groups were there as of the publication of the BB’s 3rd edition in 1983, according to a corresponding note for that edition? – 50,000 groups.
To hear Bill W. tell his story and that of AA, see Bill W. – Fourth International AA Convention, 1965, Toronto.
To hear Ebby T.'s story, see Ebby Thatcher, San Jose CA, 3-4-61.