AA History

Big Book – A Close Shave

Posted by Love and Service

A Close Shave – Henry J Zoeller 
Akron, Ohio
Original Manuscript, p. 348 in 1st edition

Harry found sobriety in March of 1937, but he may have entered the fellowship as early a January 1937.

He was born in 1890, the youngest of five sons to a “fine Christian mother, and a hard working blacksmith father.”

At the age of eight he began tasting his father’s beer, and by fourteen, when he quit school, he was drinking wine and hard cider.

He worked as a barber, and acquired several lucrative shops, some with poolrooms and restaurants attached.

He married in 1910, during the time he was running his own shops, and fathered ten children.

But the time came when he could no longer finance his own business, so he began to float about the country, working at various jobs, but invariably getting fired in a short time because of his unreliability.

His children were usually desperately in need because he spent his money for drinking instead of providing for them.

He finally secured a job in a shop in a small town near Akron. His reputation for drinking soon became more or less generally known, and he was irritated by a deacon and the pastor of a church who when they were in the shop constantly invited him to church and Bible classes.

He earnestly wished they would mind their own business. But he became friendly with these men, and at last they persuaded him to go to Akron and talk with Dr. Bob.

He listened to Dr. Bob for two hours, and although his mind was quite foggy, he retained a good deal of what was said.

He felt that the combined effort of these three Christian gentlemen made it possible for him to have a vital spiritual experience.

That was in March 1937. At the time he wrote his story, he had not had a drink since.

He had regained the love of his family and the respect of the community, and said the past few years had been the happiest of my life, spent helping others who were afflicted with alcoholism.



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