Bill’s Story (comparison)

Comparing “Bill’s Story” to the original manuscript for our Basic Text


Comparison Format — Colors appear here only and are — — not used in the actual comparisons. — Words above brackets are from the pre-publication version. < Bracketed copy is from our Basic Text as it reads today. > ~ Format Examples ~
Rarely have we < RARELY HAVE WE > seen a person fail who has thoroughly directions followed our < path >...
~ ~ ~
Now we think you can take it! < — — — — — > Here are the steps we took...
~ ~ ~
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our — — — — — — < conscious > contact with God < as we understood Him >...
~ ~ ~


Chapter 1 < Chapter 1 > BILL'S STORY
War fever < WAR FEVER > ran high in the New England town to which we new, young officers from Plattsburg were assigned, and we were flattered when the first citizens took us to their homes, making us feel heroic. Here was love, applause, war; moments hilarious intervals sublime with < intervals hilarious >. I was part of life at last, and in the midst of the excitement I discovered liquor. I forgot the strong warnings and the prejudices of my people concerning drink. In time we sailed for "Over There." I was very lonely and again turned to alcohol. We landed in England. I visited Winchester Cathedral. Much moved, I wandered outside. My attention was caught by a doggerel on an old tombstone: "Here lies a Hampshire Grenadier Who caught his death Drinking cold small beer < . > A good soldier is ne'er forgot Whether he dieth by musket Or by pot." Ominous warning – which I failed to heed. Twenty-two, and a veteran of foreign wars, I went home at last. I fancied myself a leader, for had not the men of my battery given me a special token of appreciation? My talent for leadership, I imagined, would place me at the head of vast enterprises which I would manage with the utmost assurance.

 


 2                                                            

     I took a night law course, and obtained employment as    
investigator for a surety company.  The drive for success was 
on.  I'd prove to the world I was important.  My work took me 
about Wall Street and little by little I became interested in 
the market.  Many people lost money – but some became very    
rich.  Why not I?  I studied economics and business as well   
as law.  Potential alcoholic that I was, I nearly failed my   
law course.  At one of the finals I was too drunk to think    
or write.  Though my drinking was not yet continuous, it dis- 
turbed my wife.  We had long talks when I would still her     
forebodings by telling her that men of genius conceived their 
best projects when drunk; that the most majestic constructions
of philosophic thought were so derived.                       

     By the time I had completed the course, I knew the law   
was not for me.  The inviting maelstrom of Wall Street had me 
in its grip.  Business and financial leaders were my heroes.  
Out of this alloy of drink and speculation, I commenced to    
forge the weapon that one day would turn in its flight like   
a boomerang and all but cut me to ribbons.  Living modestly,  
my wife and I saved $1,000.  It went into certain securities, 
then cheap and rather unpopular.  I rightly imagined that     
they would some day have a great rise.  I failed to persuade  
my broker friends to send me out looking over factories and   
managements, but my wife and I decided to go anyway.  I had   
developed a theory that most people lost money in stocks      
through ignorance of markets.  I discovered many more reasons 
later on.                                                     

     We gave up our positions and off we roared on a motor-   

cycle, the sidecar stuffed with tent, blankets, < a > change  
of clothes, and three huge volumes of a financial             


 


                                                            3 

reference service.  Our friends thought a lunacy commission   
should be appointed.  Perhaps they were right.  I had had some
success at speculation, so we had a little money, but we once 
worked on a farm for a month to avoid drawing on our small    
capital.  That was the last honest manual labor on my part for
                         the the                              
many a day.  We covered <  the  > whole eastern United States 
in a year.  At the end of it, my reports to Wall Street pro-  
cured me a position there and the use of a large expense      
account.  The exercise of an option brought in more money,    
leaving us with a profit of several thousand dollars for that 
year.                                                         

     For the next few years fortune threw money and applause  
my way.  I had arrived.  My judgment and ideas were followed  
by many to the tune of paper millions.  The great boom of the 
late twenties was seething and swelling.  Drink was taking an 
important and exhilarating part in my life.  There was loud   
talk in the jazz places uptown.  Everyone spent in thousands  
and chattered in millions.  Scoffers could scoff and be dam-  
ned.  I made a host of fair-weather friends.                  

     My drinking assumed more serious proportions, continuing 
all day and almost every night.  The remonstrances of my      
friends terminated in a row and I became a lone wolf.  There  
were many unhappy scenes in our sumptuous apartment.  There   
had been no real infidelity, for loyalty to my wife, helped   
at times by extreme drunkenness, kept me out of those scrapes.

     In 1929 I contracted golf fever.  We went at once to the 
country, my wife to applaud while I started out to overtake   
Walter Hagen.  Liquor caught up with me much faster than I    
came up behind Walter.  I began to be jittery in the morning. 
Golf permitted drinking                                       


 


 4                                                            

every day and every night.  It was fun to carom around the    
exclusive course which had inspired such awe in me as a lad.  
I acquired the impeccable coat of tan one sees upon the well- 
to-do.  The local banker watched me whirl fat checks in and   
  our                                                         
< out > of his till with amused skepticism.                   

     Abruptly in October 1929 hell broke loose on the New York
stock exchange.  After one of those days of inferno, I wobbled
from a hotel bar to a brokerage office.  It was eight o'clock 
– five hours after the market closed.  The ticker still clat- 
tered.  I was staring at an inch of tape which bore the in-   
            PKF                                               
scription < XYZ >-32.  It had been 52 that morning.  I was    
finished and so were many friends.  The papers reported men   
jumping to death from the towers of High Finance.  That dis-  
gusted me.  I would not jump.  I went back to the bar.  My    
friends had dropped several million since ten o'clock – so    
what?  Tomorrow was another day.  As I drank, the old fierce  
determination to win came back.                               

     Next morning I telephoned a friend in Montreal.  He had  
plenty of money left and thought I had better go to Canada.   
                                                          to  
By the following spring we were living in our accustomed <  > 
style.  I felt like Napoleon returning from Elba.  No St.     
Helena for me!  But drinking caught up with me again and my   
generous friend had to let me go.  This time we stayed broke. 

     We went to live with my wife's parents.  I found a job;  
then lost it as the result of a brawl with a taxi driver.     
Mercifully, no one could guess that I was to have no real     
employment for five years, or hardly draw a sober breath.     
My wife began to work in a department store, coming home      
exhausted to find me drunk.                                   


 


                                                            5 

I became an unwelcome hanger-on at brokerage places.          

     Liquor ceased to be a luxury; it became a necessity.     
"Bathtub" gin, two bottles a day, and often three, got to be  
routine.  Sometimes a small deal would net a few hundred dol- 
lars, and I would pay my bills at the bars and delicatessens. 
This went on endlessly, and I began to waken very early in the
morning shaking violently.  A tumbler full of gin followed by 
half a dozen bottles of beer would be required if I were to   
eat any breakfast.  Nevertheless, I still thought I could con-
trol the situation, and there were periods of sobriety which  
renewed my wife's hope.                                       

     Gradually things got worse.  The house was taken over    
by the mortgage holder, my mother-in-law died, my wife and    
father-in-law became ill.                                     

     Then I got a promising business opportunity.  Stocks were
at the low point of 1932, and I had somehow formed a group to 
buy.  I was to share generously in the profits.  Then I went  
on a prodigious bender, and that chance vanished.             

     I woke up.  This had to be stopped.  I saw I could not   
take so much as one drink.  I was through forever.  Before    
then, I had written lots of sweet promises, but my wife hap-  
pily observed that this time I meant business.  And so I did. 

     Shortly afterward I came home drunk.  There had been no  
fight.  Where had been my high resolve?  I simply didn't know.
It hadn't even come to mind.  Someone had pushed a drink my   
way, and I had taken it.  Was I crazy?  I began to wonder, for
such an appalling lack of perspective seemed near being just  
that.                                                         

     Renewing my resolve, I tried again.  Some time           


 


 6                                                            

passed, and confidence began to be replaced by cocksureness.  
I could laugh at the gin mills.  Now I had what it takes!     
One day I walked into a cafe to telephone.  In no time I was  
beating on the bar asking myself how it happened.  As the     
whisky rose to my head I told myself I would manage better    
next time, but I might as well get good and drunk then.  And  
I did.                                                        

     The remorse, horror and hopelessness of the next morning 
are unforgettable.  The courage to do battle was not there.   
My brain raced uncontrollably and there was a terrible sense  
of impending calamity.  I hardly dared cross the street, lest 
I collapse and be run down by an early morning truck, for it  
was scarcely daylight.  An all night place supplied me with   
a dozen glasses of ale.  My writhing nerves were stilled at   
last.  A morning paper told me the market had gone to hell    
again.  Well, so had I.  The market would recover, but I      
wouldn't.  That was a hard thought.  Should I kill myself?    
No – not now.  Then a mental fog settled down.  Gin would     
fix that.  So two bottles, and – oblivion.                    

     The mind and body are marvelous mechanisms, for mine     
                    for                                       
endured this agony <   > two more years.  Sometimes I stole   
from my wife's slender purse when the morning terror and mad- 
ness were on me.  Again I swayed dizzily before an open win-  
                              ,                               
dow, or the medicine cabinet < > where there was poison, cur- 
sing myself for a weakling.  There were flights from city to  
country and back, as my wife and I sought escape.  Then came  
the night when the physical and mental torture was so hellish 
I feared I would burst through my window, sash and all.  Some-
how I managed to drag my mattress to a lower floor, lest I    
suddenly leap.  A doctor came with                            


 


                                                            7 

a heavy sedative.  Next day found me drinking both gin and    
sedative.  This combination soon landed me on the rocks.      
People feared for my sanity.  So did I.  I could eat little   
or nothing when drinking, and I was forty pounds under weight.

     My brother-in-law is a physician, and through his kind-  

ness < and that of my mother > I was placed in a nationally-  
known hospital for the mental and physical rehabilitation of  
alcoholics.  Under the so-called belladonna treatment my brain
cleared.  Hydrotherapy and mild exercise helped much.  Best of
all, I met a kind doctor who explained that though certainly  
selfish and foolish, I had been seriously ill, bodily and     
mentally.                                                     

     It relieved me somewhat to learn that in alcoholics the  
will is amazingly weakened when it comes to combating liquor, 
         It                                                   
though < it > often remains strong in other respects.  My in- 
credible behavior in the face of a desperate desire to stop   
was explained.  Understanding myself now, I fared forth in    
high hope.  For three or four months the goose hung high.  I  
went to town regularly and even made a little money.  Surely  
this was the answer – self-knowledge.                         

     But it was not, for the frightful day came when I drank  
once more.  The curve of my declining moral and bodily health 
fell off like a ski-jump.  After a time I returned to the hos-
pital.  This was the finish, the curtain, it seemed to me.  My
weary and despairing wife was informed that it would all end  
with heart failure during delirium tremens, or I would develop
a wet brain, perhaps within a year.  She would soon have to   
                                ,                             
give me over to the undertaker < > or the asylum.             

     They did not need to tell me.  I knew, and almost        
welcomed the idea.  It was a devastating blow to my           


 


 8                                                            

pride.  I, who had thought so well of myself and my abilities,
of my capacity to surmount obstacles, was cornered at last.   
Now I was to plunge into the dark, joining that endless pro-  
cession of sots who had gone on before.  I thought of my poor 
wife.  There had been much happiness after all.  What would   
I not give to make amends.  But that was over now.            

     No words can tell of the loneliness and despair I found  
in that bitter morass of self-pity.  Quicksand stretched      
around me in all directions.  I had met my match.  I had been 
overwhelmed.  Alcohol was my master.                          

     Trembling, I stepped from the hospital a broken man.     
Fear sobered me for a bit.  Then came the insidious insanity  
of that first drink, and on Armistice Day 1934, I was off     
again.  Everyone became resigned to the certainty that I would
have to be shut up somewhere, or would stumble along to a mis-
erable end.  How dark it is before the dawn!  In reality that 
was the beginning of my last debauch.  I was soon to be cata- 
pulted into what I like to call the fourth dimension of exis- 
tence.  I was to know happiness, peace, and usefulness, in a  
way of life that is incredibly more wonderful as time passes. 

     Near the end of that bleak November, I sat drinking in   
my kitchen.  With a certain satisfaction I reflected there was
enough gin concealed about the house to carry me through that 
night and the next day.  My wife was at work.  I wondered     
whether I dared hide a full bottle of gin near the head of our
bed.  I would need it before daylight.                        

     My musing was interrupted by the telephone.  The cheery  
voice of an old school friend asked if he might               


 


                                                            9 
              He was sober.                                   
come over.  < He was sober. >  It was years since             
I could remember his coming to New York in that condition.    
I was amazed.  Rumor had it that he had been committed for    
alcoholic insanity.  I wondered how he had escaped. Of course 
he would have dinner, and then I could drink openly with him. 
Unmindful of his welfare, I thought only of recapturing the   
spirit of other days.  There was that time we had chartered   
an airplane to complete a jag!  His coming was an oasis in    
        drear                                                 
this < dreary > desert of futility.  The very thing – an      
oasis!  Drinkers are like that.                               

     The door opened and he stood there, fresh-skinned and    
glowing.  There was something about his eyes.  He was inex-   
plicably different.  What had happened?                       

     I pushed a drink across the table.  He refused it.       
Disappointed but curious, I wondered what had got into the    
fellow.  He wasn't himself.                                   

     "Come, what's all this about?" I queried.                

     He looked straight at me.  Simply, but smilingly, he     
said, "I've got religion."                                    

     I was aghast.  So that was it – last summer an alcoholic 
crackpot; now, I suspected, a little cracked about religion.  
He had that starry-eyed look.  Yes, the old boy was on fire   
all right.  But bless his heart, let him rant!  Besides, my   
gin would last longer than his preaching.                     

     But he did no ranting.  In a matter of fact way he told  
how two men had appeared in court, persuading the judge to    
suspend his commitment.  They had told of a simple religious  
idea and a practical program of action.  That was two months  
ago and the result was self-evident.  It worked!              

     He had come to pass his experience along to me – if      


 


 10                                                           

I cared to have it.  I was shocked, but interested.  Certainly
I was interested.  I had to be, for I was hopeless.           

     He talked for hours.  Childhood memories rose before me. 
I could almost hear the sound of the preacher's voice as I    
sat, on still Sundays, way over there on the hillside; there  
was that proffered temperance pledge I never signed; my grand-
father's good natured comtempt of some church folk and their  
doings; his insistence that the spheres really had their      
music; but his denial of the preacher's right to tell him how 
he must listen; his fearlessness as he spoke of these things  
just before he died; these recollections welled up from the   
past.  They made me swallow hard.                             

     That war-time day in old Winchester Cathedral came back  
again.                                                        

     I had always believed in a Power greater than myself.  I 
had often pondered these things.  I was not an atheist.  Few  
people really are, for that means blind faith in the strange  
                                                       ,      
proposition that this universe originated in a cipher < > and 
aimlessly rushes nowhere.  My intellectual heroes, the che-   
mists, the astronomers, even the evolutionists, suggested vast
laws and forces at work.  Despite contrary indications, I had 
little doubt that a mighty purpose and rhythm underlay all.   
How could there be so much of precise and immutable law, and  
no intelligence?  I simply had to believe in a Spirit of the  
Universe, who knew neither time nor limitation.  But that was 
as far as I had gone.                                         

     With ministers, and the world's religions, I parted right
there.  When they talked of a God personal to me, who was     
love, superhuman strength and direction, I became irritated   
and my mind snapped shut against such a theory.               


 


                                                           11 

     To Christ I conceded the certainty of a great man, not   
too closely followed by those who claimed Him.  His moral     
teaching – most excellent.  For myself, I had adopted those   
parts which seemed convenient and not too difficult; the rest 
I disregarded.                                                

     The wars which had been fought, the burnings and chica-  
nery that religious dispute had facilitated, made me sick.    
I honestly doubted whether, on balance, the religions of      
mankind had done any good.  Judging from what I had seen in   
Europe and since, the power of God in human affairs was neg-  
ligible, the Brotherhood of Man a grim jest.  If there was a  
Devil, he seemed the Boss Universal, and he certainly had me. 

     But my friend sat before me, and he made the point-      
blank declaration that God had done for him what he could     
not do for himself.  His human will had failed.  Doctors      
had pronounced him incurable.  Society was about to lock      
him up.  Like myself, he had admitted complete defeat.  Then  
he had, in effect, been raised from the dead, suddenly taken  
from the scrap heap to a level of life better than the best   
he had ever known!                                            

     Had this power originated in him?  Obviously it had not. 
There had been no more power in him than there was in me at   
that minute; and this was none at all.                        

     That floored me.  It began to look as though religious   
people were right after all.  Here was something at work in   
a human heart which had done the impossible.  My ideas about  
miracles were drastically revised right then.  Never mind the 
musty past; here sat a miracle directly across the kitchen    
table.  He shouted great tidings.                             

     I saw that my friend was much more than inwardly         


 


 12                                                           

reorganized.  He was on a different footing.  His roots       
grasped a new soil.                                           

These next four paragraphs do not appear in the original.

     Despite the living example of my friend there remained   
in me the vestiges of my old prejudice.  The word God still   
aroused a certain antipathy.  When the thought was expressed  
that there might be a God personal to me this feeling was in- 
tensified.  I didn't like the idea.  I could go for such con- 
ceptions as Creative Intelligence, Universal Mind or Spirit   
of Nature but I resisted the thought of a Czar of the Heavens,
however loving His sway might be.  I have since talked with   
scores of men who felt the same way.                          

     My friend suggested what then seemed a novel idea.  He   
said, "Why don't you choose your own conception of God?"      

     That statement hit me hard.  It melted the icy intellec- 
tual mountain in whose shadow I had lived and shivered many   
years.  I stood in the sunlight at last.                      

     It was only a matter of being willing to believe in      
a Power greater than myself.  Nothing more was required of me 
to make my beginning.  I saw that growth could start from     
that point.  Upon a foundation of complete willingness I might
build what I saw in my friend.  Would I have it?  Of course   
I would!                                                      

The previous four paragraphs did not appear in the original.

     Thus was I convinced that God is concerned with us humans
 ,                                                            
< > when we want Him enough.  At long last I saw, I felt,     
I believed.  Scales of pride and prejudice fell from my eyes. 
A new world came into view.                                   

     The real significance of my experience in the Cathedral  
burst upon me.  For a brief moment, I had needed and wanted   
God.  There had been a humble willingness to have Him with    
me – and He came.  But soon the sense of His presence had     
been blotted out by                                           


 


                                                           13 

worldly clamors, mostly those within myself.  And so it had   
been ever since.  How blind I had been.                       

     At the hospital I was separated from alcohol for the last
time.  Treatment seemed wise, for I showed signs of delirium  
           I have not had a drink since.                      
tremens.  <                             >                     

     There I humbly offered myself to God, as I then under-   
stood Him, to do with me as He would.  I placed myself unre-  
servedly under His care and direction.  I admitted for the    
first time that of myself I was nothing; that without Him     
I was lost.  I ruthlessly faced my sins and became willing    
to have my new-found Friend take them away, root and branch.  

< I have not had a drink since. >                             

     My schoolmate visited me, and I fully acquainted him with
my problems and deficiencies.  We made a list of people I had 
hurt or toward whom I felt resentment.  I expressed my entire 
willingness to approach these individuals, admitting my wrong.
Never was I to be critical of them.  I was to right all such  
matters to the utmost of my ability.                          

     I was to test my thinking by the new God-consciousness   
within.  Common sense would thus become uncommon sense.  I was
to sit quietly when in doubt, asking only for direction and   
strength to meet my problems as He would have me.  Never was  
I to pray for myself, except as my requests bore on my useful-
ness to others.  Then only might I expect to receive.  But    
that would be in great measure.                               

     My friend promised when these things were done I would   
enter upon a new relationship with my Creator; that I would   
                                 life                         
have the elements of a way of < living > which answered all   
my problems.  Belief in the power of God, plus enough willing-
ness, honesty and humility                                    


 


 14                                                           

to establish and maintain the new order of things, were the   
essential requirements.                                       

     Simple, but not easy; a price had to be paid.  It meant  
destruction of self-centeredness.  I must turn in all things  
to the Father of Light who presides over us all.              

     These were revolutionary and drastic proposals, but the  
moment I fully accepted them, the effect was electric.  There 
was a sense of victory, followed by such a peace and serenity 
as I had never known.  There was utter confidence.  I felt    
lifted up, as though the great clean wind of a mountain top   
blew through and through.  God comes to most men gradually,   
but His impact on me was sudden and profound.                 

     For a moment I was alarmed, and called my friend, the    
doctor, to ask if I were still sane.  He listened in wonder   
as I talked.                                                  

     Finally he shook his head saying, "Something has hap-    
pened to you I don't understand.  But you had better hang on  
to it.  Anything is better than the way you were."  The good  
doctor now sees many men who have such experiences. He knows  

< that > they are real.                                       

     While I lay in the hospital the thought came that there  
were thousands of hopeless alcoholics who might be glad to    
have what had been so freely given me.  Perhaps I could help  
some of them.  They in turn might work with others.           

     My friend had emphasized the absolute necessity of demon-
strating these principles in all my affairs.  Particularly    
                                       ,                      
was it imperative to work with others < > as he had worked    
with me.  Faith without works was dead, he said.  And how     
appallingly true for the alcoholic!  For if an alcoholic      
failed to perfect and enlarge his                             


 


                                                           15 

spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others, he 
could not survive the certain trials and low spots ahead.  If 
he did not work, he would surely drink again, and if he drank,
he would surely die.  Then faith would be dead indeed.  With  
us it is just like that.                                      

     My wife and I abandoned ourselves with enthusiasm to the 
idea of helping other alcoholics to a solution of their prob- 
lems.  It was fortunate, for my old business associates re-   
mained skeptical for a year and a half, during which I found  
little work.  I was not too well at the time, and was plagued 
by waves of self-pity and resentment.  This sometimes nearly  
                           .                                  
drove me back to drink < , but > I soon found that when all   
other measures failed, work with another alcoholic would      
save the day.  Many times I have gone to my old hospital in   
despair.  On talking to a man there, I would be amazingly     
lifted up and set on my feet.  It is a design for living that 
works in rough going.                                         

     We commenced to make many fast friends and a fellowship  
has grown up among us of which it is a wonderful thing to feel
a part.  The joy of living we really have, even under pressure
                               one hundred                    
and difficulty.  I have seen < hundreds of > families set     

their feet in the path that really goes somewhere; have       
  seem                                                        
< seen > the most impossible domestic situations righted;     
feuds and bitterness of all sorts wiped out.  I have seen     
men come out of asylums and resume a vital place in the lives 
of their families and communities.  Business and professional 
men have regained their standing.  There is scarcely any form 
of trouble and misery which has not been overcome among us.   
         Western                                              
In one < western > city and its environs there are < one >    
   eighty                                                     
< thousand > of us and our families.  We meet frequently      
 at our different homes,                                      
<                       > so that newcomers may find the      
fellowship                                                    


 


 16                                                           

they seek.  At these informal gatherings one may often see    
       40         80                                          
from < 50 > to < 200 > persons.  We are growing in numbers    
and power.                                                    

     An alcoholic in his cups is an unlovely creature.  Our   
struggles with them are variously strenuous, comic and tragic.
One poor chap committed suicide in my home.  He could not,    
or would not, see our way of life.                            

                                 amoung                       
     There is, however, a vast < amount > of fun about it all.
I suppose some would be shocked at our seeming worldliness    
and levity.  But just underneath there is deadly earnestness. 
   God                                                        
< Faith > has to work twenty-four hours a day in and through  
us, or we perish.                                             

                                                         ,    
     Most of us feel we need look no further for Utopia < >   
 nor even for Heaven                                          
<                   >.  We have it with us right here and now.
               that                        my                 
Each day < my friend's > simple talk in < our > kitchen multi-
plies itself in a widening circle of peace on earth and good  
will to men.                                                  


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