Tuesday, May 15, 2007

BILL WILSON … born & bred in East Dorset, Vermont



Bill Wilson (1885-1971), the co-founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, was born (aptly enough) in a room behind the bar of this lovely old Hotel in East Dorset, Vermont. After 2 years he moved to Rutland, Vt. until the divorce of his parents.

Then, at the age of 11, Bill and his sister, Dorothy, returned to East Dorset to live with their maternal grandparents, the Griffiths, in the small white house next door to the Hotel while Bill’s mother studied to be a doctor in Boston.

In one of Bill’s memoirs he writes about East Dorset: “When I was a child , I acquired some of the traits that had a lot to do with my insatiable craving for alcohol. I was brought up in a little town in Vermont, under the shadow of Mount Aeolus. An early recollection was that of looking up at this vast and mysterious mountain, wondering what it meant and whether I could ever climb that high. But I was presently distracted by my aunt who, as a fourth-birthday present, made me a plate of fudge. For the next thirty-five years I pursued the fudge of life and quite forgot about the mountain.” *

I always loved that reading and I was anxious to visit East Dorset and to see the two homesteads for myself. I did this in 2003 and I was not disappointed. The Wilson House has been restored and is open as a guesthouse and retreat. Local groups hold several AA and Al-anon meetings in the house each week and seminars are held throughout the year.

I was particularly taken with the warmth that emanated from the rooms. They were all furnished as they would have been during Bill’s young lifetime there. The bar was gone but replaced by a huge room with a stone fireplace and with walls and ceiling hung with memorabilia, photos and old license plates.

My main objective, however, was to stand behind the “Griffith” house and to look up at the mountain that Bill had gazed upon. I chuckled to myself when I did. This rolling hill was nothing like the “vast and mysterious” mountain that he wrote about, but, that was how it appeared to him as a child.

In his lifetime Bill Wilson did prove that he could overcome the “fudge” of life and he was able to climb to the heights that he dreamed of that day. As I stood there I couldn’t help but pay silent homage to that small boy who would one day become the man that so many of us lovingly refer to as “Bill W.”

* “AA Comes of Age” pp 52-53

8 Comments:

Blogger KGMom said...

It is very interesting how large things loom when we are children (such as Bill Wilson's mountain) and how when we are grown they seem to shrink!
I did not know anything about Bill Wilson--thanks for sharing.

3:00 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

At present, I need to overcome the lemon bundt cake in my kitchen. I need a 12-step program for cake and ice cream!

Bill W. certainly did provide a wonderful program for the many people who need it and conform to it.

3:27 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

Thank the gummy mary for Bill's insight and steps for people Worldwide to take and live by.
I go back to my old Primary school every day as my kids attend it there. The rooms seemed soooo much bigger then than they are now, isn't a child's perspective amazing?

9:01 PM  
Blogger Pam said...

My husband and I cruise the back roads of Vermont often and have been through East Dorset and by the hotel. It is not far from where we live.

I did not know the history, thanks.

8:58 AM  
Anonymous Terri said...

Although I'm not a member, I have many family members and friends who are members of AA. And I have the utmost respect and admiration both for Bill W. and the entire group.
So I truly enjoyed this bit of history. I didn't know this story and I loved his saying about the fudge of life and the mountain. Very profound. Thanks for sharing this, Ginnie.

6:22 AM  
Blogger MICKY said...

A recent copy of Reader's Digest has a couple of articles on Alcoholics Anonymous. The crux of the articles is that the famous 12 Steps, don't work at all. Apparently, there's no data to support the claim that Alcoholics Anonymous is successful at getting people to stop drinking. From my own experience, the 12 Steps, shut down the critical thinking section of ones brain. What do you think? Comments are welcome!!
PEACE BE WITH YOU
MICKY

6:08 AM  
Blogger Ginnie said...

In answer to Mickey......AA doesn't claim to be the answer for every alcoholic. It is the members of AA who will attest to the fact that it is the only way that has worked for a countless number of us. To each his (or her) own way........mine has been in AA and I constantly see people come back after years of trying other methods...but I applaud whatever it is that gets one sober.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been sober some 33 years now one day at a time. I moved to Vermont and live between were Bill was born and where he and Lois are buried. I didn`t know that when I moved here. We can`t forget Dr. Bob and how AA worked by 2 drunks helping each other stay sober.I tried everything and only AA worked for me. Other programs like N A and Over eaters anonymous are based on AA princabls. Richard
Louis and Anne B were co founders of Al-anon . Peace

3:30 PM  

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