First Things First

Group #0005

 

Pontiac (Y.M.C.A.) (Birmingham) (Downtown) Group #0005

Downtown Pontiac
On October 28, 1941, a group called the Pontiac Group was started by Dr. C.P. (Dean) M. and Ralph B. Ralph was sponsored by Dr. “Dean”, who got sober in early 1940 in Detroit and had a practice at 8705 Dexter Blvd.

Dr. “Dean” would go on to start in 1943 the Michigan Alcoholic Rehabilitation Foundation. The Foundation started with the Bloomfield Hills Sanatorium, located at the corner of Woodward and Square Lake Road, the Foundation would eventually become Brighton Hospital. Dr. “Dean” would also be the speaker at the 1945 Ten Year Anniversary of AA held at the East Group, The No. 2 Group in Detroit. Sadly, Dr. Dean had trouble with sobriety later in life.

In Sept, 1942 the name was changed to the Pontiac-Birmingham Group. The Secretary would be Ralph B. and the membership was approximately 45 members.

In May of 1943 the group’s new secretary was A.N. D. and continued to have 45 attendees. By November of that year the group split up into two groups the Pontiac Group with 15 attendees and the Birmingham Group with 15 members also and Helen C. being the Group Secretary.

Pontiac Press Mar 30, 1943

An October 26, 1943 correspondence from Ralph B. of the Pontiac Michigan Group to GSO reads:

We hope that you folks have not thought that our Pontiac Group would forget the overdue donation for Alcoholic Foundation. Fact of the matter is that Pontiac-Birmingham Group has split into three groups. There is now a Pontiac Group, same address; Birmingham Group, Birmingham, Michigan; Flint Group, Flint, Michigan. This has been done because of gasoline shortage and also due to our Pontiac-Birmingham Group getting very large. It is our contention that small groups are of much more benefit to all (Uncle Sam says it also saves gasoline).

I am very happy about this whole thing in fact very happy with life in general. These past two years have been the very best of my life and God willing, I shall follow this way of life to the end.

You could never know how grateful all of these people are for the grand work you started and are keeping up. While we have not had the pleasure of knowing you in person, other than meeting and hearing your splendid talk in Detroit, we feel that you ever with us in our work. At some later date I hope to visit my native state (New York) and shall plan to see and talk to you and your members.

This week we plan our Thanksgiving party. Our prayer will ask spiritual guidance for all. We like to feel that we, in some small way, have started the work here. There is still loads of work to be done and so each day we try to follow are very valuable 12th step.

There seems to be no further news at this time. Oh yes- our Pontiac Group membership is now fifteen (15) active members.

Sincerely,
Ralph B.
Pontiac Michigan Group
Box 551 Pontiac, Michigan

Pontiac Press May 11, 1943
It was during this time that the Pontiac Press not only ran a series of stories of local success stories, but also how Alcoholics Anonymous was very successful across the country. These articles were so helpful in helping to guide local drunks into AA that more groups were necessary and from this group the Birmingham Group, Royal Oak Group and the Flint Group were started.

In 1944-45 Ralph B. became the Pontiac Group’s secretary again with the group growing to 46 members in attendance. They continued to grow to 48 members in 1946. They also began calling themselves the Pontiac-Y.M.C.A. Group. The meetings were open on Tuesday at 8:30 pm and closed on Thursday at 8:30 pm.

Because of the creation of other meetings in the Pontiac area the attendance started to decline and had only 20 alcoholics participating in the group in 1946. The group’s name became the Pontiac Downtown Group in 1948 and continued to meet on Tuesday at 8:30 pm, with the Thursday night meeting changing to 9:00 pm. William M. became the group Secretary.

Pontiac Press Oct 28, 1943

A March 4, 1946 correspondence to GSO reads:

The Pontiac Group got to the size that we thought advisable to start another group. About six weeks ago, Dr. Dean M., Ralph B., and myself started a new group known as the Stephens Group, located in Stephens Hall which is the rear of the Episcopal Church on West Pike Street.

We three who started this group are four to five year members and we now number 15. Our meeting is on Wednesday night and at present we hold our instruction meeting at the homes.

The other group was in the Central Committee up until the breakup. I served twice on the Committee for the Pontiac Group and was on at the time we started our new group.

Pontiac, as a whole, never felt that we belonged to the Metropolitan Detroit but, due to the fact that we were invited, we felt that we could not refuse to serve on the Committee, because we depend on Detroit for most of our speakers and are also invited to most of their social functions.

As a whole, we are not in sympathy with the group or few groups that are trying, as we see it, to control all groups.

Therefore we wish, at present, to do all business with your office and not through Detroit.

Very sincerely,
Howard L., chairman
P.O. Box 162
Pontiac, Michigan

On May 7, 1946, the Alcoholic Foundation responded to Howard’s letter with the following:

Thank you for your letter of March 4th. We know a little of what is going on internally in the Detroit Groups and we feel sure that the dissension will be ironed out given a little time.

We are glad to list this new Pontiac Group which means the second in that city. I do think that later you might find it wise to be considered just one Pontiac Group with different meetings but for the time being we shall list you separately.

Please Note: By mid-1945 AA members in the Detroit area were starting to rebel against the Metropolitan Groups of AA. Alcoholics were feeling that the “Code of Procedures” were too stringent for anyone to follow. They were also unhappy that only one person, Helen K. would be the only person allowed to speak about policy to GSO. So in 1946 they began a new Central Office.

By 1949 the group went back to using the name, the Pontiac Downtown Group and increased to 26 members.

By the 1950, the area around this location had become the skid Row of Pontiac, like most cities of County Seats do. The group broke up again, with the Pontiac Downtown Group keeping the Tuesday open talk at 8:30 pm meeting and discontinuing the Thursday meeting. In its place they started a Saturday evening open meeting held at 9:00 pm called the Oakland County Groups meeting.

In 1951-53 Chester J. R. became the secretary of both meetings and again the meeting declined in attendance to about 25 in attendance. In 1953, Chester stayed as secretary of the Pontiac Group and Lou W. became secretary of the Oakland County Groups meeting.

First Congregation Church
Chauncey C. became the secretary of both meeting in 1954-57. By 1957, the Oakland County Groups became the Oakland County Inter-Groups meeting and moved to Congregation Church, 65 E Huron at Mill St (opposite of the Post Office) and continued to hold an open meeting at 9:00 pm.

Chauncey C. Got sober in 1941 in Detroit and was always considered to be the first “blue-collar” person to get sober in the Detroit area before moving to the Pontiac area. He was a long distant truck hauler, until he eventually was able to own his own trucking company.

STATUS: Disbanded, 1961.

Copyrighted Bill T., Archivist, Area 33, Southeast Michigan
G.S.O. Archives; Area 33 Archives; AA of Greater Detroit; Pontiac Press; Gordon G.
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