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AA Medallions and Our Medallion Story

There is evidence that early on many people in AA carried personal mementos to remind themselves of the importance of their sobriety. Clarence H. Snyder – “The Home Brewmeister had his last drink on February 11, 1938 and he carried this medallion made from a silver dollar and a watch fob up until just before his death on March 22, 1984. It has been dated back into the mid-1940′s, if not before, and the holes represent 46 years of sobriety. Clarence started AA group #3 in Cleveland in 1939, and in the beginning had a higher recovery rate than Bill and Dr. Bob combined. His story, “Home Brewmeister“, can be found on page 297 of the Big Book. Those who earn AA Medallions know how hard the struggle can be.

Sister lgnatia, the nun who helped Dr. Bob get the hospitalization program started at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron was the first person to use medallions in Alcoholics Anonymous. She gave the drunks who were leaving St. Thomas after a five day dry out a Sacred Heart Medallion and instructed them that the acceptance of the AA medallions signified a commitment to God, to A.A. and to recovery and that if they were going to drink, they had a responsibility to return the medallion to her before drinking. The sacred heart medallions had been used prior to A.A. by the Father Matthew Temperance Movement of the 1840′s and the Pioneers, an Irish Temperance Movement of the 1890′s.

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The practice of giving sobriety chips in A.A. is attributed to a Group in Elmira, N.Y. in 1947. The celebration of birthdays came from the Oxford Group where they celebrated the anniversary of their spiritual rebirth. People in early A.A. chose the anniversary of the date of their last drink. Buy AA Coins Online today.

Early celebrations of birthdays resulted in people getting drunk and Dr. Harry Tiebout was asked to look at the problem and he commented on this phenomenon in an articled titled “When the Big “I” Becomes Nobody”, (AAGV, Sept. 65): “Early on in A.A., I was consulted about a serious problem plaguing the local group. The practice of celebrating a year’s sobriety with a birthday cake had resulted in a certain number of the members getting drunk within a short period after the celebration. It seemed apparent that some could not stand prosperity. I was asked to settle between birthday cakes or no birthday cakes. Characteristically, I begged off, not from shyness but from ignorance. Some three or four years later, A.A. furnished me the answer. The group no longer had such a problem because, as one member said, “We celebrate still, but a year’s sobriety is now a dime a dozen. No one gets much of a kick out of that anymore.”

The A.A. Grapevine carried many articles on chips and cakes.

I got my first AA sobriety white marble the day I got sober, (I only had two marbles left when I got to AA, one was lost and the other was out looking for it.) The group gave me another marble at 30 days, 90 days, 6 months and a blue poker chip at a year. For my second year Tex gave me a bronze medallion, with this comment, “I am not going to congratulate you in giving you this chip. Why the hell should we congratulate you for doing what you should have been doing all along? But I am going to say ‘Well done, you have earned it!’”

And I will never forget the memento Tex gave me about three weeks into sobriety, a 45ACP round to use as a worry bead in my pocket and to remember his injunction “My babies don’t get drunk. If you decide you want to take the easier softer way out, come borrow the pistol, you have the bullet!!” And I still have it and sobriety!! They both saved and gave me a life!!

Love and Peace, Barefoot

Barefoot Bob - Born Aug. 8th 1933 - Died Jan 31st 2009


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