Sybil, Jim, Bob and Helen, Los Angeles, 1955

This is one of my most exciting discoveries. I was going through the dregs of my gmail account devoted to my play work and I found a link I sent myself five years ago, while I was doing the very character research for Our Experience Has Taught Us. It is a link to a YouTube video of Bob C. (Los Angeles) singing that was filmed by his daughter in the early 2000's. Today I realized that right there on the sidebar was a suggestion to view "The Mad Butler," a little film Bob and Sybil made in 1955, when Sybil's last name actually started with a W. and not a C. 

I would LOVE to show this video but Bob, Sybil, Jim and Helen were members who valued and cherished our Traditions of Anonymity and this is a public website. If you are dying to see it and you are an A.A. member, then message me and I will send you the link. In the meantime, enjoy the soundtrack at least! And try to picture the rest.

To describe the video, it is a silent comedy in color set to the Benny Hill theme song, a super-8 film that looks storyboarded and edited. It's about a clumsy and cheeky butler who infuriates the master of the household while the ladies find the situation immensely amusing. The men are particularly adept at the physical comedy, and there is mugging to the camera galore by the fellas and the gals. The camera is graining and jerky and I'm pretty sure they sped up the film to givee it an authentic slapstick pace.

These guys were entertainers, Jim and Sybil penned the-still-to-this-day performed sketch known as the 12 Traditions Play, available on the AA World Services website, (not to mistaken with my play on the Traditions, Our Experience Has Taught Us). This is the classic 12 Traditions Play with characters like Moneybags and Eager Beaver. They wrote and performed this play with a group of their friends, though I'm not sure if Bob or Helen were involved in it. They performed it not only in Los Angeles but all around California.

In one of her speaker tapes, Sybil has a wonderful story about how they went to Bakersfield to perform some of their short plays, 

When we got there, they had printed posters saying “celebrated Hollywood actors will portray the birth of AA.” We did the 12 step play and the Central Office play. It was a good thing, it showed people how the steps were born [ – just as this play tonight tries to show how the traditions were born – and it was a good thing, is a good thing,] and we did it at all the groups in California. Bakersfield had all these posters up, all around town, and it said “AA meeting and play, $2.50.” My troupe of ACTORS, some of them been sober a half an hour, they began to quote traditions to me and wouldn’t go on to perform. I thought about these well-meaning AA’s who didn’t know about the traditions, they had just got out. They didn’t know that the public shouldn’t have been invited.
— Sybil C. "How Our Traditions Were Born", Laguna Beach, CA - 1980

The troupe took a group conscience, our final authority after all, and it was decided that they could be of most service by performing The 12 Traditions Play.

Can you see why I just love this woman?

Back to the YouTube video.  A the time this video was taken, 1955 according to the captions, Sybil was married to her fourth husband (!), Jim W., who founded Gamblers Anonymous in 1952! Also, incredibly -- and this is one of those "is it God or is it odd moments" I live for in our history -- Jim W. took a woman who was neither an alcoholic nor a gambler through the 12 steps to help solve her problem ... Rozanne O., the founder of Overeaters Anonymous!  Isn't it amazing how this one woman, Sybil D. A. S. H. M. W. C. was a participant and witness to so many important moments in recovery history, and not just A.A. but the growth of the 12-step model as one of the most important social and spiritual movements of the 20th century?

And when she went to meetings, all she desired was for her share to be "adequate." (See my earlier post this morning.)


Sybil is wearing cat's eye glasses in the video. Her hair is permed, and do I have a story about Sybil and her perms, but that is for another day. What a smile that woman had! And my, isn't Bob handsome, and what a voice! The man could croon.

One last story, little-known and personal. Matt M., Sybil's sponsee shared with it with me and I don't think Sybil and Bob would mind at all. Consider it their Valentine's Day gift to us. This is the story about the day Bob asked Sybil to marry him. After they had both divorced, Bob from Helen and Sybil from Jim, Bob and Sybil used to drive together and attend meetings for several years. They were best friends. One day at an A.A. dance, they were sitting together at a table and someone yelled across the dance floor, "Hey, Bob, when you finally going to marry her?" Bob thought for a moment, and yelled back, "You know what, I think I will!" and he got down on his knees right then and there and proposed to Sybil. They were happily married for decades until the end of their lives.

Happy Valentine's Day. Love and be loved.

xoxo Jackie

[PLEASE NOTE: I have tried to located the "Central Office Play" and the "12 Steps Play" Sybil describes in the tape to no avail. Her daughter, Addie H. did not have a copy and the only archived document is the script of The Twelve Traditions Play. If you have or come across a copy of any older sketches without an attributed author, please message me AND contact the LA County Archives AND World Service Archives. I'm happy to do it on your behalf!]