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~ My journey & joy through CAL & AFG adventures ~


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CAL – Item # P-15 – Three Views of Al-Anon

P-15WHAT I LEARNED:  1. This pamphlet’s additional title is: “Alcoholics Speak to the Family”, & so far on this “reading” journey it marks the second appearance of Bill Wilson’s contribution to our pamphlets.  It starts with a small excerpt from his talk at the first Al-Anon trial conference in 1961.  The other main sections are from a 1969 article from AA’s journal The Grapevine, & “An Open Letter to My Family” (based on material which appears in “Guide for the Family of the Alcoholic” (item # P-7)).

2. After reading The Grapevine article, I now know not to try doing Al-Anon 12th Step work with the alcoholic.   That must explain why it’s the only Step that is different from AA’s.   It’s their responsibility to “carry this message to alcoholics”, & it’s ours to carry it “to others.”

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CAL – Item # P-3 – Alcoholism, a Merry-Go-Round Named Denial

P-3WHAT I LEARNED:  1. How great would it be to give a talk at an AFG Conference & it goes over so well, they want to turn it into a pamphlet?!  Well that’s what happened in 1968 to one non-member: the former director of the Charlotte Council on Alcoholism.  This pamphlet was published a year later &, since then, has only had 1 revision in 2003.  A new “historical perspective” preface was added (& I’m guessing that’s when the WSO website info was included too), but other than that, the original text is the same.

2. By far, this is my #1 selling pamphlet in District 6  – nothing else comes close & now I can see why.  It’s completely different than any other pamphlet I’ve read to this point.  It’s a play in 3 acts starring the following roles: The Alcoholic, The Enabler, The Victim, & The Provoker.  I won’t give away how the play ends… but it reminds me that I have a choice in the role(s) I play & who I pick as my supporting cast!

**BONUS:  The author of this pamphlet also contributed to another “grandfathered-in” piece of outside literature that was published 7 years earlier.  (Hint: see item #P-7!)


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CAL – Item # P-17 – The Twelve Steps & Traditions

P-17WHAT I LEARNED: 1. Continuing on with my historical jaunt through the pamphlets… 1961 was a major year for Al-Anon.  After being around for 10 years, they finally had their first trial Conference that year & the concept of having Conference Approved material was adopted — yet, at that time, groups were still allowed to publish their own material so long as it was only used locally – see page 99 from Many Voices, One Journey (B-31).  Every group was given 1 free copy of this pamphlet when the ’61 Conference Summary was sent out.  Per that Summary, this pamphlet was “compiled & revised from The Forum.”

2. I’ve always been told that the Traditions aren’t rules, but suggested guidelines… however I think I like them described better using the phrase in this pamphlet: as precautionary principles.  Examples are told of what has happened when the Traditions were not followed & that is what gives them their importance.

3. I also now have a new appreciation for Tradition Eight after reading the section regarding giving gifts to Sponsors.  That, in this program, gratitude reaches forward, not backward. Smiley-Gratitude


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CAL – Item # P-4 – Alcoholism, the Family Disease

P-4WHAT I LEARNED: 1. This pamphlet is another example of outside literature being “grandfathered” in.  “Thanks” go out to a non-member, Harold Black, & the initial Kentucky & Arizona groups for their contribution to this one.  Per Many Voices, One Journey (B-31) (see page 104), it’s been around in various versions since 1952, but 1961 is the first publication date found on the back of the pamphlet because that’s when it was introduced as a “merged” pamphlet with new material from the Literature Committee – which probably explains why it’s 31 pages long!

2. There are several sections: Personal Stories, Slogans, Do’s & Don’ts, FAQ’s, WSO, Alateen, & the 12 Steps, but my favorite ones are: the Checklist to Evaluate Maturity, Thoughts to Live By, & Three Obstacles to Success in Al-Anon.  I remember hearing about the 3 obstacles, but could only remember 1 of them until I read this pamphlet.

3. At the beginning of this pamphlet, there’s a quote from a person I consider the ultimate non-Al-Anon member: Bill W.  It’s funny, but in a sad way too…   😦

4. FYI: This pamphlet sold for 25 cents in 1954.  Going back to my online inflation calculator, the cost today should be $2.17, but it’s only 80 cents.  Such a deal!

**BONUS: This is the only pamphlet in our CAL Catalog that is available in a large print version – see item # P-4L.


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CAL – Item # P-6 – Freedom from Despair

P-6Last week I finished the Alateen Newcomer Packet (item #K-18).  (What I learned about all the other items in that packet can be found in previous entries for the General Newcomer Packet (K-10)).   That means I’m done with all 6 types of packets (whoo-hoo!) & am moving on with other pamphlets.  It seems going back to the beginning is a good place to start…

WHAT I LEARNED: 1. According to page 88 of the (now discontinued) book First Steps: Al-Anon–35 Years of Beginnings (B-12), this pamphlet was the first piece of literature written outside of New York that was adopted by the fellowship.  My thanks go out to the initial San Diego Family Group for writing this one.

2. This pamphlet also appeared on AFG’s very first published price list in September 1952 – for 5 cents!  61 years later, it costs only 20 cents.  After using an online calculator to adjust for inflation, I really should be paying more than twice this!  So I’m going to double my next donation when the basket is passed as my “Thank you” to the World Service Office.

3. For a short 2-page piece, its message of the disease not being a sin & that we can get better too must have been revolutionary for its time.  Reading this today, what resonates with me is the last part: that we can be best understood by those that have been where we are now.

**BONUS:  What national monument originally appeared on the cover?  (Hint: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…”  — Hey, that sounds like me when I was a Newcomer to the program!  Ha ha :))


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CAL – Item # P-53 – Al-Anon Spoken Here

P-53 WHAT I LEARNED:  1. This is the seventh pamphlet in the general Newcomer Packet (item # K-10) & is the only one marked “Service” on the front (instead of “Recovery”).  I imagine that’s because this pamphlet is also used as outreach literature.

2. I’ve seen AA members speak at various AFG gatherings, however I didn’t know that other “outside” speakers are also allowed.  This pamphlet addresses common FAQ’s – especially regarding anything outside the program such as speakers, literature, terminology, etc


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CAL – Item # P-7 – A Guide for the Family of the Alcoholic

P-7WHAT I LEARNED:  1. This is the sixth pamphlet in the general Newcomer Packet & is one of the few examples of early “outside literature” being grandfathered into the CAL catalog.  It was issued in 1962 & is primarily based on an article by a non-member: the former director of the Charlotte Council on Alcoholism.

2. This pamphlet focuses on the disease & reads like a mini dissertation on its psychological effects.  The “bad check” analogy is fantastic!

**BONUS: A few years later, a talk from the author of this pamphlet was also used as the basis for another pamphlet which just happens to be my top seller…  (Hint: see item #P-3!)