Tenth A. A International Convention
The only information I have on the 1995 International Convention is from the late Tex Brown. He wrote:
The Oldtimers Meeting At San Diego
The crowd was chanting, "Ruth... Ruth... Ruth... ..."
This chant will probably become the way the 60th International Convention in San
Diego will be remembered. Forty-three years sober, Ruth O 'N., from New York
City was the first of fifteen speakers chosen at random (to place principles
before personalities) from the one hundred and twenty-two Oldtimers with forty
years or more sobriety (a total of 5318 years) who were present at the Saturday
night Oldtimers Meeting at Jack Murphy Stadium. Ruth was delightful, and had
completely won the hearts of the crowd of 42,000 by the time her allotted five
minutes were up. They wanted her to finish even if it took all night.
It became the background chant between each of the fourteen remaining speakers (and in one case, during). The chant "Ruth, Ruth...." caught on and it was being heard Sunday morning and later in the week at meetings in San Diego as a celebration of A. A. itself.
The loving acceptance of the oldtimers by a much younger crowd, while lauding their individual sobriety, was at a deeper level a celebration of the force and power of the A. A. program that had kept them sober for as much as fifty-five years. The Steps, written in December 1938 when there were less than one hundred men (and no women, yet) who were sober, proved to be exactly what was needed by all of us to get sober, and most importantly to stay sober. In the next fifty-seven years many people have attempted to make changes in them.
There were proposals to add things to and proposals to
take things out of the Steps, but none of them worked. The oldtimers assembled
in front of the podium were the living proof that the 12 Steps to the A. A. way
of life was exactly what they (and we) needed.
How does this way of life work in the long run? I would like to tell you one oldtimer's story. Shep became a member of the Glenbard Group about 1950. The old Glenbard Group covered all of what is now District 40 and part of District 61. Starting out as an athiest, Shep was sober from the very start and gradually became a pillar of the group. After about 20 years of good sobriety, Shep fell victim to a severe form of Alzheimer's disease. He became helpless and was placed in a nursing home. It was the custom of this facility to have a gathering of the patients in the common room every Saturday evening. The residents were then rewarded for their good behavior with a glass of wine. It was the high point of the week.
Shep would not drink the wine. He didn't know where he was or what he was doing there. He didn't even know his own name. He did not know why, but he did know that he did not drink. Everything else was gone, but Shep still knew how to stay sober. Can you imagine a deeper and more fundamental change in the personality than this?
Many thought the Oldtimer's Meeting the high point of the Convention, a demonstration that all of us can successfully live our entire lives as sober, happy and fulfilled members of Alcoholics Anonymous.
SAN DIEGO SHORTAGE!
Past experience with A. A.'s amazing ability to consume vast quantities of coffee was duly noted by the planners of the 60th International Convention. They did not run out of coffee, but the San Diego ATM's ran out of money!
(From the Fall, 1995 issue of N. I. A. Concepts©, Area 20 Service Letter)
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