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AA History

Early AA History in the San Francisco Bay Area

AA Recovery
A History starting in 1941 for the East Bay and Alameda County

Taken from page 67 of the history of the Bay Area.
Assembled by Dean K. completed in 1984 after exhaustive research with the assistance of other AA members and records from GSO and local archives.

The following are excepts from the full history.
The full history can be located at this link.

In March 1941, the San Francisco AA Group was furnished the names of people in the East Bay, who had written the Alcoholic Foundation, New York, for help. Among those contacted was Pauline C., 1925 San Antonio Road, Berkeley. Pauline attended her first AA meeting Tuesday, March G, 1941 at the Telegraph Hill Commu- nity House on Stockton Street, San Francisco. There she met Lee T., and at Lee’s suggestion, wrote the Foundation offices for further referrals (page 70). The Foundation referred Pauline (page 71) to a Dr. Esther McE. in Omaha, Nebraska, who had a brother in 0ak1and, Grant McE. Pauline contacted Grant, and he became the No. 2 AA’er in the East Bay (see letter, page 72). A few AA meetings were held at Pauline’s home in Berkeley (see photo, page 52) unti1 April.

On March 25, 1941, another East Bay resident attended the San Francisco meeting. This man had been aware of his drinking problem, at least since the article appeared in Liberty magazine in 1939. At that time his wife obtained some literature from the Alcoholic Foundation in New York (not the book), but the husband destroyed the literature and continued to drink. When he read the Jack Alexander article in the Saturday Evening Post, he was touched, and found an AA information listing in a San Francisco newspaper, and attended his first AA meet- ing. This man was Marion W. (Nic) N., who became the leader and founder-in-fact of AA in the East Bay.

At his first meeting in San Francisco, John C. turned over to Nic some Oakland referrals Among these were Ed H., L. L. H., and Ed C. Ed H. offered his home at 454 34th Street on the west slope of Pill Rill as a meeting place, and the first AA Group meeting in the East Bay was held there in Oakland April 3, 1941. Members were Nic, Chairman; Pauline, Secretary; Grant, Ed H., Ed C., and L. L. H.

Because of the confusion and personality clashes in the San Francisco AA Group, Nic determined to start a regular Oakland Group. At first this group met in members’ homes, but membership grew to the point where a meeting place was required. Pauline was replaced as secretary in September 1941 by Ralph G., who stressed the “spiritual part of AA work”. By September 1941 meetings were being held every Monday in a room at the YMCA on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland. Member- ship at that time numbered 50 members. In October an “educational meeting for beginners” was inaugurated at the YMCA on Thursday nights. In October 1941 Pauline G. (Ralph’s wife) became the corresponding secretary of the Oakland Group, and installed a telephone in her home, offering day and night service to AA members and to the suffering alcoholic. She was not an alcoholic.

In late April 1941 a woman from Sacramento, who had heard of the AA Group in Oakland, called Nic and talked with him, then promptly drove down and brought her brother with her. This man was Elliott T. She insisted on dumping Elliott on the nervous new group members’ hands. Pauline kept him at her home while he was recuperating. The new members, being unsure of themselves, doped Elliott with paraldehyde, meanwhile taking him to the Oakland Group meetings, and sitting with him in shifts day and night. When Elliott was able to maneuver on his own once more, he returned to Sacramento, immediately rounded up some drunken friends of his, and started the first AA Group in Sacramento in May 1941.

An early member of the Oakland Group was Lemuel M. G., known as “Gil”. In September 1941 he took the responsibility of soliciting parole or probation of drunken individuals to himself, so that he sought complete control of the individuals. In event of a relapse, he sought to advise the court as to penalties which should be imposed. To further these ideas, he evicted his mother from their flat in 0akland to take in alcoholics, both male and female. Because of the congested conditions he was asked by the owner to vacate because of activities conducted therein. 

He was soliciting friends for funds to continue this work, so that he need not become employed (see letters pages 74 & 75). After his eviction from the Oakland flat, Gil proposed to open a sanitarium or rest home in San Jose, to be known as “G s Rehabilitation Center”, in which he would charge for his services as an AA counsellor but this did not work out. He thereupon incorporated himself as Humanitarians, Inc., with stated powers to receive grants, bequests from wills, and other gratuities for his services añd opened a rehab house in Richmond for men and women. Unaware of all this prior activity, Warren T., of the Group in Richmond helped Gil get a job at Kaiser Shipyards in Richmond. But after two weeks on the job there, Gil was fired for damaging equipment. About this same time the Richmond police raided the rehab house and closed it on charges of prostitution. Gil then threatened to take the matter to the New York Foundation office. But there is no further record of him in CNCA history.

To read more, click the link in the header.


AA Recovery

History of AA

AA History Early AA History in the San Francisco Bay Area A History starting in 1941 for the East Bay and Alameda County Taken from

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