Excerpt from "A.A. Comes of Age"
|$4,450 from stock subscribers|
$2,539 from Dr. Silkworth's boss Charlie Towns and
$1,000 from W. Cochran at hand.
Back in 1939 his sum had probably the purchasing power of about one million dollars of today.
A solid basis for a book project of 5000 copies.
Now you learned, that they did not divide the last hundred
dollars among themselves, but
$2,190 for Henry Parkhurst
$2,563 for Ruth Hock
$1,558 for Bill W.
$6,311 total and remaining cash at hand $1,678
agent in the matter of the money. Our stockholders were already
loaded for every share they could take; they had had it. Maybe good
old Charlie Towns would be the man. So it fell my lot to go to
New York and put the touch on him. Mr. Towns was not too favorably
impressed when he heard where we stood, but he came through
with the hotel bill and about a hundred dollars to spare.
We took a cheerful view. Soon the book plates would be made, the
presses would roll, and 5,000 books would be ready when the Reader's
Digest piece broke. Henry and Ruth and I divided the last hundred
dollars among us and we all returned to New York in high spirits.
We could be patient now; prosperity was just around the corner..
|It is astonishing to read that Ruth Hock was merely a secretary who typed letters and manuscripts. Wow, $2,563 was a pretty good salary for a mere typist at this time!? She earned more than her boss Henry! How could that be? |
Well, the balance sheet is a bit tricky here. Page 173 of "AA Comes of Age" reveals a solution to that sort of contradictive secret:
Neither Henry nor Ruth received considerable cash. Bill managed to "satisfy" them with "meaningless stock certificates" [sic]. In truth it were not even real stock certificates, because Works Publishing could not issue any. A company of that name did not exist before June 1940. So what Ruth and Henry got were "subsriptions". Here is how they looked like. See last page!
If Henry and Ruth received almost no cash, we have to add, say, $4,000 to the remaining $1,678 making a total of squarely $,5,600 at Bill W.'s discretion. Where the heck did this awful lot of money go?
It was April, 1939. Henry, absolutely broke, was
trying to get work. Ruth, living at home, was given meaningless stock certificates in the defunct Works Publishing as pay. She cheer-fully
accepted these and never slackened her efforts. All of us were
going into debt just for living expenses.
Again "AA Comes of Age" gives the answer between the lines - not easy to discover for a superficial reader.
Printing cost for the 4,730 big books was $2,414 only (including $825 for book plates). Had Bill paid Mr. Blackwell's invoice still ($5,600-$2,400=) $3,200 would have remained with Bill. But Cornwall Press' invoice was not paid, because
Bill had stolen and eaten up a good deal of the money for himself.
Mr. Blackwell asked Bill's bank and the police for help. As a result of that Wilson lost his house and went "underground" as a bankrupt homless person.
I reminded Jerseyites at the Convention of early meetings in Upper
Montclair and South Orange and in Monsey, New York, when Lois
and I moved over there about the time the A.A. book came off the
press in the spring of 1939, after the foreclosure of the Brooklyn
home of her parents where we had been living. The weather was warm,
and we lived in a summer camp on a quiet lake in western New
Jersey, the gracious loan of a good A.A. friend and his mother. An-
other friend let us use his car. I recalled how the summer had been
spent trying to repair the bankrupt affairs of the AA. book, which
money-wise had failed so dismally after its publication. We had a hard
time keeping the sheriff out of our little cubicle of an office at 17
William Street, Newark, where most of the volume had been written.
We attended New Jersey's first A.A. meeting, held in the summer
of 1939, at the Upper Montclair house of Henry P., my partner in the
now shaky book enterprise. There we met Bob and Mag V., our
great friends-to-be. When at Thanksgiving snow fell on our summer
camp, they invited us to spend the winter with them at their house
in Monsey, New York
|We learn that bankers were more effective than police officers in Bill's case. They took over the house in short and sold it, throwing Wilson out. However, he continued to live on third persons expenses. Despite being broke, he managed to drive a Lincoln automobile and could draw on $50 a month. This convenient sum (comparable to $5,000 in 1999) was sneaked out of "tiny contributions" from people, who were themselves "broke". |
Then, on May first , fresh calamity fell upon 182 Clinton Street. Lois
and I had been living in a house which belonged to her parents be-
fore their death. The bank had taken it over and rented it to us for a
nominal sum. The mortgage was so big the bank had found great dif-
ficulty in selling the place, so we had been able to stay there several
years. But at this moment they found a purchaser and we had to get
out. From its four floors the old brick house disgorged its furniture
into a moving van. The warehouse had to pay the mover, since we
could not. All our worldly goods were in hock with the warehouse-man,
and they were to stay that way for two years more. Where could
Friends rallied around. A small fund, just about the first money
our Foundation ever had, was set up a s the "Lois W. Home Replace-ment
Fund." To this, surrounding A.A. families began to make tiny
contributions. Small, of course, because everybody was broke. Out of
this, the Trustees began to pay Lois and me $50 a month. A newer
member, Jack C. loaned us a battered Lincoln automobile. But where
would we live? The question was settled by Howard and his mother,
who owned a summer camp on a remote lake in western New Jersey.
Here we stayed until snow flew in November. This interval gave us
the needed opportunity to revive the bankrupt book project.
|Those $50 a month continued until spring 1940. Wilson did practically nothing but sneak money out of others and passively "watch AA unfold".|
Bill puts the conflict between him and Henry merely on the level of jealousy. Despit being married to Lois, Bill tried to hit on Ruth, though she was in Love with Hank and considered a marriage with him. But there was more. Hank's objections were of other nature. Hank did a job to earn his living. Bill was but a parasite at that time.
As noted earlier, Lois and I moved to the home of Bob and Mag in
Monsey, New York, to spend the winter of 1939 and the early spring
of 1940. A little after this we moved to a friend's apartment in New
York City, then briefly to a room in Greenwich Village, and finally
to A.A.'s first clubhouse, "The Old Twenty-Fourth," where we re-
mained until the spring of 1941. The contributors to the "Lois W.
Home Replacement Fund" kept up their good work. Thus we were
comfortable enough, and our happiness grew as we watched A.A.
One sad incident marred the early spring of 1g40. Not knowing
where any of us might live in the future, we had chosen Box 658 at
one of New York's downtown post offices as the most central point of
the whole metropolitan area, Long Island and New Jersey included.
It now seemed right for us to establish a small office near this box.
Backed by the book stockholders and by Ruth, I made this proposal.
Henry, whose job took him into western New Jersey, objected vio-
He wanted to take the book business and Ruth wherever he
went. His job was not going too well, and he was on what we nowa-
days call a "dry bender." The more we insisted the more adamant and
violent he became. He was heavily beset with other problems, too. At
length he broke down completely and went on a terrific bender after
four years of sobriety. He never again showed any real sign of recov-
ery, and he went on drinking until his death recently. Considering
what he had done for the book, and the further fact that he was one
of our first New York members, this was hard to take.
|The conclict led to separation. But what did Hank Parkhurst complain about?||page 187|
Now to flash back for a moment to the spring of 1940. Over
Henry's strong objections, we had moved from the tiny cubicle of an
office in Newark to one slightly larger at 30 Vesey Street, New York
City, next door to our downtown post office box.
|Time and again: there were no "stock certificates" at that time. There were but subscriptions. Repeating a lie does not transform it into truth. Real "stock certificates" were issued only in ||page 187|
The affairs of Works Publishing, however, were still in pretty
sketchy shape. It had never been incorporated, and the only evidence
of its existence were the stock certificates that Henry and I had manu-
factured, the books in the warehouse, and the canceled checks that
gave a rough idea of how the money had been spent. Four hundred
|Now we come closer to the reason||page 188|
shares of stock, to 'be equally divided between Henry and me, had
never been issued and could not be issued, under our original agree-
ment, until the cash subscribers had received all their money back.
When they heard that the book was making money, some of the
cash subscribers, including even Charlie Towns, began to get rest-
less. They wanted to know why all of the profits of the book were
being spent to finance a Headquarters for A.A.