Imagine a life without this fellowship. Imagine a life where we don’t have the love and support of so many people and it’s just like our little golf squad. You know, I went golfing on Wednesday, it was the first tee, and I saw one guy I had known for about three days, and two others whom I had never met. By the seventh hole, we had camaraderie, but it wasn’t going to go anywhere else. By the time we rolled in to the 18th hole, well, that was it. As for you guys, who know each so well, and over a period of four and a half hours, so much can change. I’m going to tell you my life story briefly is concerning alcohol, and you know, I love stories. I love the people that tell stories. I’m not a spiritual giant though. I’m not going to tell you how to work the steps and I’m not going to point at you. If you are new here, I am not going to suggest that you get a home group and get a sponsor that goes by the book because what happens in that first 164 pages will change your life in every way. You know, what’s happening here tonight is I’m going to tell you about alcoholism, as it affected me and the people around me. If any of it clicks, great.
I came from a good family. I was born in Huntington, New York out on Long Island. I was the first of the three children. My Dad worked for an aviation company during World War Two and helped design and build the Thunderbolt, the plane that helped win the war in Europe. His career his career progressed we moved to upstate New York, then to Western Pennsylvania to a steel town where I went to junior high and high school. I graduated from high school and I went off to Penn State, where I went to college. That’s the brief version of what happened. I was a perfectly normal and well-adapted kid until two weeks before my eighth birthday. I can’t remember exactly when and why this was, because that’s when I was diagnosed with polio. This is right before the Salk vaccine was synthesized by Jonas Salk. There was no cure for it. A lot of kids that got that. In fact, half the people that ever got polio in this country during those years died.
Thank God I can walk, and I’m very lucky. But for nine months I couldn’t, and I was in a hospital. Nurses came into my room with boiling hot rags in a washing machine with insulated gloves and they put them all over me. Twice a day, they had to loosen up the muscles. And they did. Twice a day, I tried not to cry. I don’t know why I thought that was important. But twice a day, I failed. I cried because it was so incredibly painful. I was also isolated from other children when I was in the polio ward. Other kids were brought in they were with an iron lungs and some were fitted with the leg braces. Some didn’t survive. And but for nine months I was not allowed to be around any other children whatsoever. My younger brother and sister weren’t allowed to be in the same room with me. During that period of time, I changed. I changed from a fairly normal kid to a socially isolating person. I learned how to be by myself, to entertain myself, and to paint and listen to the radio. My parents were book readers. We didn’t have TV for another few years. So I became an odd duck. That is how it all started.