(Transcribed from workshop tape)
Hi, I’m Scott and I’m an addict. Hello family, it’s good to be here today. Many of us have the desire to know more about our own roots. That is what has basically guided me to ask a lot of questions, find people out, and talk to them over a period of time to pick-up bits and pieces of the history of Narcotics Anonymous. If there is one thing for sure I’ve been able to figure out is if NA didn’t exist, someone would have to invent it. That is about what did happen in several different places. Some of these places had ties with each other and others were totally independent of each other, but all were about recovery from the disease of addiction.
You know this whole idea of the President’s war on drugs is not a new idea. Back in the Thirties, during prohibition, there was a heavy increase in drug usage. That was especially true for opium, morphine, and heroin. The public was kind of freaked-out over “drug crazed maniacs” and there were newspaper articles and stuff like that about those kind of things in those days. In fact, I can remember seeing reprints of a poster from the American Brewers’ Association that dated back from 1933 and it talked about “reefer madness.” All of that came out in the Thirties. In 1933, the Federal Government responded to this public appeal to do something about it, by opening up a U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in Lexington, Kentucky and it was part of the Lexington Kentucky Federal Prison then. Anybody could go to it, it required a court or voluntary committal. If a person thought they needed help from addiction, they could find out about this place, go there, and commit themselves. Truth is though that medical science didn’t have a clue as to what to do with these people when they got there and you can imagine some of the experimentation that went on.
Related closer to our history is in 1947, a fellow (named Houston), who recovered in another well-known Fellowship, believed that their 12-Steps could work for addicts. He had talked to a person who had just been out of that Public Health Service Hospital and he thought he saw a way that he could help them. Then Houston talked to a Dr. Victor Vogel who was the main principle doctor behind the Lexington Hospital. He convinced him that these 12 Steps could work for addicts and Houston offered to help start a group at the hospital.
On February 16, 1947, the first meeting of that group was held and they continued their weekly meetings for over twenty years, well into the late Sixties. They called themselves the Narco Group and at other times also adopted the other name Addicts Anonymous. We know about that because some of the people that were involved in that group are around today.
An interesting thing came out of the early 1947 group at Lexington, Kentucky, a fellow named Dan Carlson, a chronic relapser. In 1947, he came to Lexington for his 7th trip. He started attending the Narco groups, and for the first time in all his visits he began to feel like maybe there was a ray of hope, that maybe there was a chance that he could stop using. He spent his six-month stay there and then he went back to New York City. There he hooked-up with someone else who quietly on the sides apparently has been a moving force in the development of what later became our Narcotics Anonymous today. Her name was Major Dorothy Barry and she was a Major in the Salvation Army. She was committed to helping poor people, street people, and particularly addicts.
In 1948, Daniel Carlson, another person, and this Major Barry started a 12-Step NA group. They called it Narcotics Anonymous and they started in the New York Federal Prison System. We don’t know what happened to it; it seemed to disappear shortly after
Apparently though the idea was working at Lexington because in 1948 in Fort Worth, Texas the Federal Narcotics Farm adopted the Lexington model. The Lexington model at that point had become the 12-Steps with the word drugs changed in the First Step.
Dan Carlson relapsed again and he came back to Lexington in 1949, but this time apparently he was able to surrender and find what he needed to find and he stayed clean every since. When he left Lexington later in 1949, he went back to New York and got the Salvation Army to give him a meeting space for a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. He also got a YMCA to give another meeting space for a Narcotics Anonymous meeting.
We know about these things because some of the folks that were there wrote about it. Dan Carlson wrote a book called “The Addict.” There was another book by a fellow named Winzell Brown called “Monkey on my Back” and it has a chapter in it called Narcotics Anonymous, and in that chapter he talks about the meeting at the Salvation Army soup kitchen. Another fellow named Father Dan Eagan, who is woven throughout the history of Narcotics Anonymous over the years, wrote a book called “Junkie Priest.” In here there is a book called “Wednesday Night at the Y.” He talks about the Wednesday night Narcotics Anonymous meeting at the YMCA.
The thing that it took me a while personally to figure out though is these people weren’t founding fellowships, they were founding groups and calling them Narcotics Anonymous, Narco groups, or Addicts Anonymous. They were pretty independent of each other and they were people that were just striving to help each other. They might have had one or two folks that just thought that this is a good thing and they sort of helped it happen but it wasn’t any kind of a movement it was just independent efforts. In 1950 we know another one of those semi-independent efforts. They called themselves the NOTROL group and they were a 12-Step group started at the Federal Prison in Lorton, Virginia which is right outside of D.C. The name Notrol is Lorton spelled backwards.
The only tie we can see so far to this is that apparently it was graduates of the Lexington, Kentucky Public Health Service Hospital. When they left, wherever they went to or whatever prison they ended-up in, they tended to start groups. They were based on the 12 Steps.
Unrelated to that, in 1950, we also know that there were Habit Forming Drug groups taking place in Los Angeles, California, usually in conjunction with AA meetings. They were also held in homes. The principal person behind them was a lady named Betty Thom. She did a lot of writing. A member of our region used to live up in Vista before he died. Last year a friend of mine and I were allowed to go through some of his books and papers, and he had inches of writing from this HFD group. They had a 12 Step guide. They had a bunch of various articles that were type-written out on pages like maybe a magazine article before it got published or something. They were very committed that the 12 Steps could work for recovery from addiction.
Jimmy Kinnon, the co-founder of Narcotics Anonymous refers to a group called Addicts Anonymous that was taking place in East Los Angeles around this same time around 1950. We don’t know anything about it except for a couple of people I’ve talked to seem to remember that maybe a fellow named Si Malos was involved. Si Malos and Jimmy butted heads for over 15-20 years and the years that followed but apparently they both had a very single purpose and that was recovery from the disease of addiction through Steps.
So from 1950 to 1953, we know that there was various things popping up in different parts of the country. In New York and Chicago, the Salvation Army. In Virginia; Lexington, Kentucky; Texas; and California these individual groups named Addicts Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Narc group, HFD, they were happening. They were oriented to 12-Step recovery from the disease of addiction. Most of them were independent of each other. The only ties we can see are, first off, they weren’t a fellowship they were individual groups, and they were either started by people that came through the Salvation Army system or they were tied to folks that had gone through Lexington Kentucky Public Health Service Hospital.
We also know something else. Lexington Kentucky Public Health Service Hospital published a newsletter. It was called the Key and late on I’ll tell you about how the Key became a part of our history. In 1954, the editor of the Key who was the editor then, I’ve talked to him. He says they had a mailing list of over 90 people, in almost every state.
In 1953, in our Basic Text, Jimmy Kinnon refers to NA beginning around July of 1953. At an anniversary dinner, Jimmy spoke about how for about six weeks they discussed and argued over forming this fellowship and how it was going to be and what it was going to be based on and how it was going to work. We think that this reference to July 1953 is because of those weeks of discussions that they had.
What we have in writing and what we also know about was that on August 17, 1953, a group of people met together for the purpose of forming a fellowship. Now Jimmy was known in the local community in San Fernando Valley as an alcoholic addict. That’s the way he introduced himself in the meeting he went to. There were often meetings after the meetings where they would sit in the coffee shop and talk about the things they couldn’t talk about in the other meetings.
When the people that got together to put together this first fellowship met, they started keeping minutes from day one. We have copies of those minutes here. They begin on August 17, 1953.
The original people consisted of Frank Carnahan, Doris, Carnahan, Guilda Kraus, Paul Rosenbluth, Steve Ryan, and Jimmy Kinnon. They met for the purpose of organizing an AANA group. The name was San Fernando Valley Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. And over the next few months, this committee met regularly, there’s dates about once a week, once every two weeks in here. They drew up a set of bylaws and in a sense we almost started as a service committee before we had our first recovery meeting. What does that tell you? We do know for a fact from the very beginning the Narcotics Anonymous that is our fellowship today consists of 12 Steps, the 12 Traditions. The First Step used the word addiction and the word we was used in each and every step. We were that way from the beginning. They set it up on purpose.
We also know on August 31 there’s an entry in the minutes that our purpose was taken from the Key. Now what they meant by that was this newsletter and this is a Xerox of a copy of this Lexington newsletter and there’s not many that you’ll ever see anymore. This copy came from the National Archives in Atlanta Georgia. A friend went there and dug through a bunch of boxes. The purpose statement that is in this Key was very similar to the wording of the first meeting announcement for the first NA recovery group and I’ll read it to you.
“NARCOTICS ANONYMOUS – OUR PURPOSE”
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“This is an informal group of drug addicts, banded together to help one another to renew their strength in remaining free of drug addiction. Our precepts are patterned after those of Alcoholics Anonymous to whom all credit is given precedence is acknowledged. We claim no originality but since we believe that the causes of alcoholism and addiction are basically the same, we will to apply to our lives the truths and principles which have benefited so many otherwise helpless individuals. We believe that in so doing we may regain and maintain our health and sanity. Which shall be the purpose of this group to endeavor to foster a means of rehabilitation to the addict, and to carry the message of hope for the future to those who have become enslaved by the use of habit-forming drugs”
Oh, yea, on September 14, 1953, they got a, I’m not sure if they got a letter or a phone call but they heard from the General Service Office of Alcoholics Anonymous. They heard from AA and AA said, “You can use our Steps, you can use our Traditions, but you cannot use our name. So they changed the name of the group to Narcotics Anonymous.
October 5, 1953, is the first documented recovery meeting of this Fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous. And I read for you the flyer that announced this thing, which is a new idea, nobody ever tried to do this quite this way before. It was held at the Dad’s Club, in San Fernando Valley. Today that building still stands it is at the corner of Cantara and Clybourn, I’ve been there. It’s a Spanish Church today. There were 17 people that signed in. I have the sign-in sheet from that original meeting. Those meetings took place every week from then on, at least into the next year and the meetings continued but at a different location in the years that follow.
Ironically though, while we started as a service committee in a sense, by the end of 1953, everybody who had been elected in this committee had resigned, including Jimmy Kinnon. He made fun of it at the 20th Anniversary dinner when he talked about that. They all had their different feelings but the meeting continued.
In March of 1954, Bill Wilson, co-founder of AA wrote a letter to the lady that was instrumental in the HFD group. I’d like to read to you a little bit from that letter because it’s kind of interesting on how that other fellowship was dealing with us. They wanted us to be something too.
Thanks a million, make it two million, for your heart-warming letter of March 11th updating me on your progress with addicts. I think this all perfectly wonderful. At this stage, I’m sure that it is the quality that counts rather than the quantity but you have been doing a quality job and inspired other to do likewise is very evident. What can you tell me of the progress of the other groups at Lexington and here in the East going under the names of Addicts Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous? At times, I pick-up very second-hand stories to the effect that we are making progress but not so much as they might if they really came to grips with the 12 Steps and had proper hospitalization.
I’m also interested in knowing how many people you feel you have really straightened up and how those have divided themselves between narcotics, who were once alcoholics and narcotic pure and simple. All of your concern in this work will surely have my warmest appreciation and I hope that you’ll let everyone have the occasion of knowing it. Meanwhile, the main transmission duct of the addict will be from our AA members who have also suffered addiction. And they should surely be allowed attendance at open AA meetings just as anyone else is. One more question. Do any of your recoveries that are straight addiction cases find difficulty in identifying themselves with other AA members? I guess I told you, I’ve noticed in many alcoholics the marked aversion to dope addicts and visa versa. (This is 1954) I wish I could write you the ling letter yours deserves but my desk is piled high. Meantime, may God love dearly, all of you.
Something else happened in 1954: our first literature of Narcotics Anonymous. If you visit the World Service Office, you can see a copy of it in a glass case. It’s called the Yellow Booklet. There was a History Convention last year in Alabama and as token to those that registered and came to the convention they reprinted the Yellow Booklet and thy put a red cover on it so nobody would try to pass it off. There are some interesting things in this original 1954 literature. First off it has 20 questions. “Do you lose time from work due to using? Is using making your home life unhappy? Do you fix because you are shy with other people?” They really cut to the bone here. Some of the other chapter titles are “What can I do about it?” and “What is the Narcotics Anonymous Program?” The 12 Steps are in here and it talks about being powerless over addiction and the word “we” is in every one of the other 12 Steps. The “Just for Today Prayer” is here, from 1954. And what is particularly interesting and helps us know that HFD and the original Narcotics Anonymous were two separate and distinct organizations, is that when I when through that member’s papers up in Vista, we found a copy of the HFD’s Just for Today Prayer that went on for about 3 pages and 20 stanzas. The Just for Today Prayer that’s in this 1954 literature is the same one that’s on your group reading cards today.
There is also something that I take particular interest in, being from Dan Diego. On the inside back cover of this original yellow book, there is two addresses. One of them is a Post Office box in Studio City, California, that is Jimmy Kinnon’s Post Office box. Let me read the other one to you.
P.O.Box13023, South Eastern Station
San Diego, California”
That’s right. Narcotics Anonymous has existed in San Diego at least four times that we know of. The fellowship that we see here today sitting in this room is a product of an effort that took place in the late 60’s and the early 1970’s. But in 1954, there is at least one member that came down here and opened up a Post Office Box and called it Narcotics Anonymous. Later on, for those who were at our San Diego Convention three years ago, there is a fellow who came and spoke named Vito. He shared about how in 1962 he came to San Diego to spend some time with his sponsor on a commune that was located out in Alpine. I think that commune just recently moved to San Antonio, Texas. It was in the news. But NAA has been here and it sort of come about and then sort of disappeared into the other fellowship for a while and come about again. If we didn’t exist, someone would have to invent us. The best anyone can tell San Diego is at least the second oldest community of the current fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous.
We also know that Jimmy was in contact with the folks back in Lexington, Kentucky, not only did he apparently get copies of the Key but in 1953, some of the old-timers that are still around remember that there was a collection taken up. Jimmy Kinnon went back to Lexington, Kentucky to participate in some kind of seminar. We don’t really know any more that that except that apparently it did happen.
From 1954 to 1959 there was basically one regular meeting and rabbit meetings. The one regular meeting took place at a Doctor Shrier’s detox center. They nicknamed it “Shrier’s Dryer” where people could go and dry out. Now Jimmy actually had a real problem with this particular meeting because you see they would go to the meeting and they would raise hands. All the alcoholics would raise their hands and then all the addicts would raise their hands. If there were more alcoholics it was an AA meeting and if there were more addicts it was an NA meeting. Jimmy was really big on the Traditions and he had a real problem with the way that meeting was different each week depending on who was there. But you have to also consider that the community of people that were attending was very small and had to hang very close together. A lot of the meeting that also took place were in people’s breakfast rooms and kitchens and so forth and they pretty much jus kept each other going one at a time.
The other fellowships that I was telling about like in New York and so forth, we also know that they started waning sometime after 1956. Danny Carlson died in 1956. There wasn’t anyone in New York to pick up the ball and continue the meeting he had started. So the best we can tell somewhere after 1956, the New York Narcotics Anonymous just sort of faded away.
In 1959 as the 50’s ended, NA was dwindling because of the fact that you couldn’t know if you were going to an AA meeting or a NA meeting like Shrier’s Dryer on any given night because some of the people had gone out. It was harder to find new people because various personality were starting to get involved there was some conflicts. NA dwindled and in 1959 for about four months there were no Narcotics Anonymous meetings of any kind. It broke Jimmy’s heart and in late 1959 we’re not sure whether December, ’59 or March, 1960, Jimmy K. Determined that this couldn’t be allowed to happen. Jimmy, Sylvia Wexler, and Penny Kennedy restarted Narcotics Anonymous and the vow they made was that they would follow the Traditions more closely. They felt that the reason it had faded away, the reason there had been personality conflicts was because there had been big shots and big mamas, I guess Betty Thom was the big mama and Si Malos might have been the big shot. The only way that they could survive as a fellowship is if they scrupulously followed the 12 Traditions, particularly the anonymity part.
Interesting to mention, a well-known member of our fellowship, Bob B. First found NA back in this time frame of 1959. His wife who happens to be here today had attended an Alanon meeting and met Jimmy Kinnon’s first wife whose name was Alice. Alma brought Bob B. to his first meetings. Bob didn’t stay clean then though.
1959 to 1962, the meeting moved from Shrier’s. Jimmy wanted to get away from the old influence and they moved to what was then a Unity church on Moorepark Street, in Van Nuys. That is the location of what later became the only NA meeting in the world and favorite story of a lot of us. There were also rabbit meetings that took place at people’s houses but in 1960 there was on basic meeting of Narcotics Anonymous.
Also in 1960, Jimmy Kinnon apparently maybe listed Narcotics Anonymous in the local phone book and we call that the first answering service that was ever established for Narcotics Anonymous.
1962, our first Little White Book appeared. This is the Little White Booklet that has evolved into the Little White Book today.
In 1963 the first H & I meeting was held. It was held at Tahachapi State Penitentiary. Bob B. happened to be one of the people they were bringing the meeting to, he was in Tahachapi at the time. He got the message and it sunk in this time, he got out in ’63 and he started attending meetings from mid-1963 on and that’s where he dates his clean time. I mention him because I know many of you know him and love him.
Also in 1963 we have some indication either ’62 or ’63 we have indication that there was a restart of Narcotics Anonymous in San Diego and we know of people that visited the meetings herein that time. They were either at the commune or apparently they like in a coffee shop after another fellowships meetings. 1963 is also when Jimmy Kinnon wrote what became the pamphlet, “Another Look.” This is a copy of the original typewritten manuscript. And on the last page there are the letters “JPK/63.”
From the beginning we have the Little Yellow Book that had some literature. But particularly from the days of 1967 Sylvia Wexler, Penny Kennedy and Jimmy, literature was important to Narcotics Anonymous, if we didn’t have numbers of people at least we could pass it on in writing and one person could give it to another. And much of our writing took place during that time frame. Our early writing it’s the White Book.
The Salvation Army also is back in the picture in 1962. They started something in Cleveland that they called Narcotics Anonymous. I always get a kick out of this. This original Cleveland, Ohio Narcotics Anonymous from 1963 had 13 Steps. I’d like to read them to you.
“Narcotics Anonymous – the 13 Steps”
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1. Admit the use of narcotics made my life seem more tolerable but the drug had become an undesirable power over my life.
2. Came to realize that to face life without drugs I must develop an inner strength.
3. Made a decision to face the suffering of withdrawal.
4. Learn to accept my fears without drugs.
5. Find someone who had progressed thus far and who is able to assist me. (Sound a little familiar?)
6. Admit to the nature and depth of my addiction. (It’s amazing how it parallels but it’s not the same.)
7. Realized the seriousness of my shortcomings as I know them and accept the responsibility of facing them.
8. Admit before a group of NA members these same shortcomings and explain why I am trying to overcome them.
9. List for my own understanding all the persons I have hurt.
10. Take a daily inventory of my actions and admit to myself those that are contrary to good conscience.
11. Realize that to maintain freedom from drugs, I must share with others the experience in which I have benefited.
12. Determine a purpose in life and try with all the spiritual and physical power within me to move toward its fulfillment.
13. God help me.
Next time you’re at a convention and someone yells, “13!” you can always say, “God help me.”
Apparently some months after that original new letter with those original thirteen steps was published, the Cleveland group was brought back into the party line of Salvation Army’s view of it, and they published their own little pamphlet and it’s got a set of twelve steps that look like the ones from New York. They used the word drugs in stead of addiction and they don’t have the word We in each of the Twelve Steps.
In 1964 we believe the Board of Trustees was formed. The dates are kind of fuzzy because they didn’t write a lot of things down in those days. Jimmy Kinnon knew he couldn’t do it all by himself. One of his original people had gone out. The other one was left with him. The main purpose of the Board of Trustees founding was to see that NA doesn’t die again. That was the main purpose for establishing the Board of Trustees. You’ve got to remember that in the 1960’s, Jimmy said that they would stick to the Traditions. The roll of our Trustees being the guardian of the Traditions seems to come from this early era. The early experience that if we didn’t stick to the Traditions we’d disappear. And what better way to embody that than to have a group of people rather than an individual.
We also know in 1965 Northern California Narcotics Anonymous begins. One of the real stalwarts in San Fernando in those days was a lady named Sylvia Magdelano and she had two brothers, Frank and I forget the other’s name (Hank). They moved to Berkley. They and someone else named Vargas started a place called the Add Center. The meeting in Berkley, Oakland, San Francisco and San Jose all draw their lineage from the movement of these folks in 1965 up to Berkley.
1966: I want to read you some things that will probably interest you. That was the second printing of out Little White Book and this time it had the stories in it. The widow of our co-founder and our co-founder himself at various times indicated who wrote what and when. I’d like to tell you a little about that.
“Who Is An Addict?” was written by Jimmy Kinnon in 1960
“What I The NA Program?” was written by Jimmy Kinnon and Sylvia Wexler in 1960.
“Why are we Here?” was written by Sylvia Wexler in 1960
“How It Works.” – the paragraphs before and after the Step were written by Jimmy K. Again the Steps having the word addiction and the word We in each and every Step and the Traditions using the word addict all dated from 1953.
“What Can I Do?” was written by Jimmy Kinnon in 1960.
“Recovery and Relapse” was Jimmy Kinnon’s story and he wrote that in 1960.
“We Do Recover” which was read by Steve at the beginning of this workshop, was written by Jimmy Kinnon in 1961.
Now some of the other people I’m going to list are still living, so I’m only going to give a first name. The ones that are deceased I’ll give the first and last name.
“1/3 of My Life” was written in 1962 by Bill P., who is still living.
“I Can’t Do Anymore Time” was written by Penny Kennedy in 1962.
“The Vicious Circle” was written in 1962 by a gentleman named Gene who is still living.
“Something Meaningful” was written by Bob B. I’ve called around and talked to a lot of old-timers and nobody knew who wrote it until last Thursday night when I happened to talk to the person that wrote it. Bob happens to be the only person whose story is in two different places under two different names written at two different times in his life. His story is also in the Basic Text, “I Found The Only NA Meeting In The World.” I asked him how is it that he rewrote his story. He replied, “Different times, different eras, and different me.” It’s a good answer! Personally, I believe that it’s very fitting that we honor this particular person this way.
There’s another story that was in the ’62 book that you don’t see today. It’s called “One Woman’s Story” and was written by Betty Gruber. They took the story out in 1976 because she went back out.
Back in 1966 our fledgling fellowship had 10 meetings. We also know that in 1967 in the Louisiana State Prison in Angola, Louisiana the Federal Prison System, the Public Health Service was getting involved again and they started another Narcotics Anonymous. They printed a newsletter which I’ve seen copies of in various places it’s more recent I guess and more copies were sent out. They have articles in this newsletter about addict convicts going out doing public information speeches and all kinds of stuff. They pretty much seem to have found this NA that they started in Louisiana as a way to document the success of their ability to recover people from addiction.
In 1967 and ’68, the Parent General Service Organization was formed. It operated much like a Regional Service Committee. The Board of Trustees met with GSRs each moth. It was the representative Service Committee.
In 1968 Jimmy Kinnon designed the NA Symbol, the diamond and the circle that you see. He was in the hospital, he suffered from emphysema and cancer for many, many years, often he was in and out of the hospital for periods of time. He felt we needed a logo or symbol.
In 1969 our then Board of Trustees put together a two-page document called the Service Structure Ideal. Later that same year they put forth the Parent General Service Organization bylaws. They are mostly interesting from a historical perspective that we started writing down the shape of our service structure.
In 1970 we know that we had twenty meetings and if you went to a Narcotics Anonymous in 1970 the group readings would of looked like this. They have “The Twelve Steps”, “The Twelve Traditions” and the third paragraph of the chapter of “We Do Recover” on it. This sheet is what was uses in the beginning of meetings.
In 1971 the first World Convention was held at the La Miranda Country Club. Sylvia Madgelano from Northern California was the speaker. As much as there were rifts back and forth between the Southern California Fellowship and the Northern California Fellowship there were also efforts to mend the wounds. This was one of those efforts. There wasn’t a real flyer for this first World Convention, what happened is the Board of Trustees sent out a letter saying, “Dear Friends, this letter is your invitation to our Narcotics Anonymous conference to be held on the weekend of November 5th and 7th at the La Mirada Country Club. They wanted to try and do something to foster unity.
I have a copy of a 1971 Southern California meeting list, it’s got 26 meetings on it, it happens to mention for San Diego information write O. L. Murdock, whoever that is. There are meetings all over from San Diego to Ventura listed on this meeting list.
In 1971 the WSO got its first location. It’s a big yellow building sitting near the corner of I-10 and Crenshaw up in L.A., 2335 Crenshaw Blvd. was the address. Bob B. was the manager of that place, he apparently lived in the other part of the apartment building and there was some office spaces in the front of it. That’s the first address that the WSO ever had.
In 1972 there were 70 Narcotics Anonymous meetings worldwide. That included some on military bases in Germany.
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In 1972 Alcoholics Anonymous told Jimmy not to use an adaptation of their prayer, “I Am Responsible”. Jimmy had taken that prayer and changed the AA to NA and AA didn’t like that. You can use the Steps and you can use the Traditions but you can’t use our name and you can’t use our literature. So Jimmy wrote “The Gratitude Prayer”. I’ve had people tell me that it didn’t sound like a prayer, but you know maybe it’s just our western culture or maybe it’s recovering Catholics but I’ve discovered prayers don’t have to be a petitioning. They can be a simple statement. “I show my gratitude when I care and when I share with others the NA way.”
In 1972 the second World Convention was held at the Elks Club in Studio City, N. Hollywood.
In 1973 the first Area Service Committee was formed. Something interesting Jimmy was there and he talked about the idea of a representative service structure of GSRs. This was a controversial thing because the Parent General Service Organization had their monthly meeting the general service meeting and there were like 33 groups in L.A. at the time and maybe 12 of them would show up and they would talk about the color of balloons they would have at the dance. I’ve got a tape of this thing and this is the kind of stuff that they mentioned. The folks up in San Fernando wanted to form together to better meet their local needs and just send one representative down to the GSO meeting and he could just vote on the things that came up that might apply to San Fernando Valley and not worry about the color of the balloons. Jimmy also talked in this meeting about NA Principles of Service. They were from that original 2-page Service Structure Idea of 4 years previous. He reads them off on the tape.
“The Six Principles of Service”
1. Each NA Group has but one primary purpose: To carry this message to the addict who still suffers.
2. Every NA Group ought to be fully self-supporting.
3. NA should remain forever nonprofessional.
4. Although NA as such ought never be organized, but we may create service boards or committees directly responsible to those they serve.
5. Our leaders are but trusted servants, they do not govern.
6. We try to carry this message to addicts and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Yes it is familiar, they’re taken from Traditions 5, 7, 8, 9, 2, and the 12th Step. But again Jimmy was very much about sticking to the Traditions.
In 1973 the 3rd World Convention was held in San Jose, the first time it left Southern California. Also in 1973 there was a 20th Anniversary Banquet. There’s a flyer for it on the table back there, that’s an original flyer, they didn’t have Xerox machines back then they used mimeograph. That’s why it’ got this blue ink on it. Jimmy spoke at that particular banquet dinner, he talked a little bit about some of the early days. He was very careful in what he said but you can a feel for a little bit of what he’s talking about. He sort of gives you fundamental understanding of partly why the Traditions meant so much to him because apparently there had been a lot of personality conflicts during the 50’s.
In 1974 the WSO moved to Highland Avenue, Hollywood. Again they would move again a few times over the next couple of years. Also in 1974 separate from the WSO, the Southern California Regional Office was established in L.A.
OK, I got to end up here pretty quick, I’d just like to mention that, through the 70’s was when we began developing our service structure. That also at the end of the 70’s when we began working on our Basic Text. There are samples back on the table of the original NA Tree and the 2nd edition Tree and there is also examples from the flyer from the World Literature Conferences at the end of the 70’s. Copies of the Gray Form which was the review form of the Basic Test. Just to give you a little bit of taste of what it was like taking to some of these people, we have a movie video of the co-founder of Narcotics Anonymous sitting in his home talking to the camera. If someone can dim the lights, it would probably make it a lot easier to see. I think it will kind of help you get a taste of what I was talking about earlier.
(video of Jimmy Kinnon plays)
My name is Phil, I’m an addict. First of all, I’d like to thank Scott for a phenomenal job. I thought, it’s weird, I’ve come and spoke before you people a number of times and I’ve really never been that anxious about it. I’ve thought a lot over the last few weeks about Jimmy and what I was going to say here today. It’s easier to come up here and talk about yourself, I mean that’s what my favorite topic is. It’s not that easy to talk about a man who saved my life. I was semi-okay till I saw the tape; I hadn’t seen this tape.
At that point, Jimmy was dying. At that point, Jimmy had been locked out of our World Service Office and thrown basically out of the service structure of Narcotics Anonymous. At that point, Jimmy was pretty much a broken man. Jimmy was my friend. Jimmy was probably the only father I’ve known in my whole life. When I was 3 days clean my sponsor took me from the recovery house and took me over to the World Service Office, which was a little room they showed at the beginning of that tape. There was that wiry guy that’s bigger than life. I don’t know how to explain that, he wasn’t much taller than me and he couldn’t have weighed much more than a 120 pounds but if you got in his face you were in big trouble. That’s all I can tell you. It was incredible because I came in there and I came in like most of us came in, after 2 ½ years of drug addiction non-stop. I came in like most of us, just brimming over with self-worth and he was in the midst of doing something and I don’t remember exactly what, there were papers flying and UPS books out and pamphlets folded and he dropped it all and the says, “Hi, what’s your name?” I was the most important person in that room at that minute. I kind of flexed up about it, I didn’t you know, I first of all didn’t know who the crazy man was, and second of all why was I so important he took me into his kitchen, that little kitchen table they showed and him and his wife Betty asked me who I was and how I had gotten clean and all that. From that time on, all I can tell you is that I got to know two of the most wonderful people in my life.
Jimmy’s belief was that no addict seeking recovery should die without the chance to recover. He lived that. He didn’t just talk it and he didn’t just write literature about it, he lived it. You heard of what he did and you’ve heard of what he’s written, maybe it wasn’t mentioned but he also carved the NA logo on a piece of leather when he was in the hospital with tuberculosis. In that tape the tuberculosis had damaged so much of his lings that he got lung cancer. Because there was such minimal amount of lung left they couldn’t go in and kill the lung cancer with lasers so he was dying and that’s when he rekindled the desire to try to give us a little bit of history about Narcotics Anonymous.
He’s also been so busy in the solution of watching Narcotics Anonymous grow. His goal was to see Narcotics Anonymous ten thousand members strong. When I went into service after he had died, there were twenty thousand meetings of Narcotics Anonymous in the world. I don’ think he ever knew that there were that many because he was always striving to get more. For many years, I never knew that Jimmy wrote all the literature, basically all the literature. You know why? Because he never mentioned it. He was too busy telling me “How you doing Phil? We were too busy trying to get an old printing press to print our IPs and things like that.
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I spent probable three days a week about a half a day at the World Service Office for the first year and a half of my recovery, I was on the Board of Directors of the WSO but it wasn’t so much like a service commitment as it was like being part of the family. When you’re in Jimmy’s house and with his wife and the people that were volunteers you worked your ass off. We folded all the information pamphlets by hand. We did all that stuff. No one showed up. There were about four or five of us that went on a regular basis and you didn’t get paid but yet you go paid in your heart. Jimmy used to come by the recovery house that I was in, I can’t mention the name of it, but it was one of the oldest in the California area, maybe the nation. He had privileged card number one at this recovery house. He used to come by and get me and take me over to his house and sometimes what we’d do that day was work on a Mustang that had two hundred thousand miles on it and should of been in a junkyard about a hundred ago. The neat part was that I don’t have all these notes and things but the neat part was Jimmy. Jimmy was like I said, bigger that life, and I think that’s why you see it and you feel it in this program. This program is a part of him. He used to sit there and I’d be under there trying to adjust something that were all the way down or something and had no adjustments left and he’d tell me something like, “Phil you know you can never go back.” That would go right over my head but I knew it was heavy you know. He’d tell you stuff that you just knew if you take this and keep it, someday it would be useful. Sometimes he would tell me things that applied right then and there.
I don’t know man, Jimmy gave me a great honor when I had about 6 months clean he let me start doing the UPS mailing. Believe me that was a great honor. Jimmy didn’t delegate thing to people easily, he wanted it done right which ended up being his demise. He le me do the mailing and then he started letting me answer letters from people around the world. One of the first letters I answered was from a gentleman from Calgary that was trying to start a meeting, he’d heard of Narcotics Anonymous and he sent a letter down asking for information. Jimmy handed it to me and says, “Go for it!” I said, “You sure? I hadn’t been clean that long. I think I had about 8 months then. He says, “Yea!” I sat down and wrote the guy a letter back and he had said that he was trying to get Narcotics Anonymous started up there and he didn’t know anything about it. He wanted to know about it. So I mailed him a starter kit and I wrote a letter in there and I told him that, how we got 30 meetings down here in San Fernando Valley and they’re 60 people strong. Some of them have been around for 20 years. Addicts are recovering and I wrote and sent the letter off and it came almost within a week. He said, “I did what you told me, I got a meeting hall, a little place in a church. I make the coffee every week. I read that literature you gave me and then I sit down and I write you and that’s my sharing.” I wrote this man on and off for like 6 months or so. What happened about the end of 6 months, I didn’t hear from him for 4 or 5 months. He was getting real disillusioned because no one would show up for the meetings and things. I guess maybe it gave me a feel for how Jimmy and some of the people like Sylvia felt when Narcotics Anonymous fell apart.
One day I’d come to the office and Jimmy goes, here you got a letter. I was from this guy from Calgary. I opened it up and the letter was kind of scratchy and wasn’t well-written and I thought the guy went out and he said, “Phil, I’m sorry I haven’t written you. Just wanted you to know that I’ve been real busy. I did like you told me, I passed out all that literature at the hospitals and the jails and stuff. Now, there’s five members of Narcotics Anonymous in Calgary. Now I have 7 months clean and we’re going strong. We have 3 meetings a week. You know I knew how Jimmy felt right then.
I don’t know. I’ve watched this program work. I’ve watched Jimmy work. I had to go to Jimmy’s house when he was dying. That’s why it was hard for me to see that tape. He used to cough and blood would come up. I guess I should give you just a little bit of history, as I know it. There was a large rift between the east and the west on the NA book. Jimmy Kinnon did not believe that the NA book was ready yet. He believed there was editing that needed to be done on the original transcript. There’s a lot of things that were a little bit splotched and kind of slapped together. He believed that things should come out right. I don’t believe it was for any selfish means whatsoever but then again that’s my personal opinion. I personally believed that we needed a book. But I’m an addict, I want what I want, now! Jimmy believed that it should wait, that it should be put together correctly and it should be edited. It should be released only when it’s ready. He said it was better to have just the right book other than the wrong book out there. That became a war between the Board of Trustees and the area back east. I’m not sure exactly what happened, I know that the World Service Office moved out of his home. He agreed to that and he was made office manager. It was a little office up on Vine but not far away. After he worked up there for four or five months, he got to a point where he had them going all in the right direction and had all of the literature organized and everything. He showed up to work one Monday and they had changed the locks on the door. That’s how we thank our founder. I went over to Jimmy’s and I just wanted to kick ass, I’m going to tell you. I wanted to go to that office, knock the fucking doors down and make those people accountable. Jimmy said, “Sit down. That’s the problem with you, you got as bad a temper as I do.” We sat and we talked and Jimmy had been crying and I knew he told me something that was real important when he said that nothing happens in this world by accident. He said that he could find a way to accept it and that he held no one personally responsible. I don’t know if I, I obviously couldn’t do quite that well. I know that I’ve seen a T-shirt that says I’m alive today because of Jimmy K. If you would have known him, you’d know that’s true. We’re obligated to find the history of Narcotics Anonymous, we’re obligated like Scott did: to realize that we didn’t just come out of nowhere. We’re not EST, we’re not Synanon, we’re Narcotics Anonymous. Where addicts can and do recover. Where there is support groups worldwide.
I remember when Jimmy got the first meeting started behind the Iron Curtain, Czechoslovakia. That’s one of the happiest times I’ve eve seen him. I remember when he got the first meeting started in the Philippines. I remember I went over that day and he was just lit up. I remember going there the last 6 months of his life, I watched him be a little more dead each time I went. I remember when he too, I mean he was on medication, the pain was horrendous and he was going to a doctor on a regular basis and they were going down his throat with tubes and scoped and pipes and everything else. He never cried or sniveled or whined. It wasn’t his way. He’d reach into his heart and he found more room to do more service for Narcotics Anonymous. That’s when he decided to make a tape of the History of Narcotics Anonymous. The man was gallant! We should be very proud. When he died there was a wonderful service. I was there. I remember one guy getting up and he said, “If you Jimmy, you’d know this was special. He had decided to start a recovery unit and he’d used Narcotics Anonymous and Jimmy Kinnon’s name to get funding for this recovery unit. I think we talked about the principles and how Jimmy believed in them. Jimmy said, “I’ll meet you for dinner.” He sat across from this man and told him, “Right now the red sauce in this spaghetti isn’t as dark as the blood in my eye for you. You never violate Narcotics Anonymous.” That was Jimmy. He believed in Narcotics Anonymous. He loved Narcotics Anonymous and as far as I know he’s one of the best friends I ever had. There’s a tape of his sharing at one of the first, maybe the only club we’ve ever had. I’m not going to ramble on, I just want us to know that somewhere in our book, someday maybe in the 10th or 11th edition we need the story of Narcotics Anonymous. Look what the hold for Bill W. and Dr. Bob. I believe Jimmy did a lot more that those guys did. It wasn’t easy and if you came here in ’69 like I did for the first time and there were only 2 Narcotics Anonymous meetings in the whole world. If you had to go to those other meetings and you were told not to share, you’d realize how special in San Diego alone, when I came down and there were 5 meetings and today there’s close to 300. You’ve got to understand what it’s like in his day, in his era, not to have a meeting to go to. To have to start your own meeting, to have to start your own fellowship. Think how many of us in this room have that ability. Once again, I just want to say he was a special man. He was my friend. He gave me my 2-year clean cake. I’ll never forget him. He’ll always live as long as he lives in our hearts. Let’s make people know who Jimmy K. was where Narcotics Anonymous came from. Thank you.