From: Pioneers of
From Farm to City -- Ethel Macy, Akron, Ohio.
(p. 261 in 2nd and 3rd editions.)
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Mel B AA Historian sent me this new photo of Ethyl
click here for
his new site
Heading: She tells how A.A. works when the going is rough.
A pioneer woman
member of A.A.'s first Group.
by Nancy O., Moderator,
A.A. History Buffs
Ethel's date of sobriety was May 8, 1941.
She was the first woman to
sober in Akron.
She came from a very poor family, the oldest in a family of seven. Her
father was an alcoholic. They moved from the country to the city
was at an age where girls want nice things and to be like the other girls
school. She felt the others were making fun of her, and feared that
wasn't dressed as well as the rest.
At the age of sixteen she was invited to spend the summer with an aunt in
Liberty, Indiana. Her aunt told her she could have boy friends
that she must stay away from one boy, Russ Macy, (his name was Roscoe, but
was called Rollo or Russ), who came from a fine family but drank too much.
Four months later, she married him, even though he drank and he was seven
years her senior. She was sure his family disapproved of her because
from the wrong side of the tracks.
They had two daughters, but about seven or eight years after they were
married his drinking became so bad that she took her children and went
She didn't see Russ or hear from him for a year. She was about
at the time and had never touched a drop of alcohol.
At the end of a year the children received a card from their father, which
she kept and cherished. It said Tell Mommy I still love
her. Soon Russ
himself arrived. She welcomed him with open arms, though he had
the clothes on his back. He told her he would never drink again and
He got a job and went back to work, and stayed dry for
thirteen years. By
the end of the thirteen years their older daughter was married and she and
her husband were living with them and the other daughter was in her last
of high school.
Then one night their son-in-law and Russ went to a prizefight. Russ
home drunk. She told him The children are raised, and if this
is the way
you want it, this is the way we'll have it. Where you go I'll go,
you drink I'll drink. And thus Ethyl started drinking.
They went on vacations in the car, drinking all the way. Ethyl did
driving. One Sunday afternoon she got picked up for drunk driving
both were thrown in jail. On another occasion she got drunk and set
house on fire.
In 1940 they read something about A.A. in the newspaper. They talked
it and thought there might come a time when they needed it.
She was having a drink in a barroom one day, and told the woman behind the
bar she wished she never had to take another drink. She was told to
Jack, the owner of the place, whom they had always tried to buy a drink,
who always refused saying he couldn't handle alcohol. (This may have
John Munier, one of the early Cleveland members.)
Finally, one morning Ethel got in the car and cried all the way to that
and told them she was licked and wanted help. But Jack was out and
said she would send him as soon as he returned. He soon arrived with
cans of beer one for Ethel and one for Russ. That was their last
from A.A. started coming to the house the next day, telling their stories,
and Jack brought them the Saturday Evening Post story about A.A., and told
them the whole thing was based on the Sermon on the Mount. Paul
visited and stressed that they read the Big Book.
So many nicely dressed people were coming in nice cars that Ethyl told
I suppose the neighbors say, 'Now those old fools must have up and
where's the hearse?'
Jack took them to a meeting at the King School on Wednesday night and
introduced Ethyl to some of the wives. Annabelle Gillam, the wife of
Gillam (Fired Again in the 1st edition), was told to take her
wing. Ethyl never forgot how she sort of curled up her nose
and said, 'They
tell me you drink too.' Ethyl often thought how that would
turn some people
away, but she replied: Why sure, that's what I'm here for.
Women had a harder time being accepted in Akron than they did in New York.
Perhaps the reason Ethel was accepted is that Russ joined at the same
Also Ethel weighed 300 pounds, and the wives probably did not consider her
threat. (Her husband was about half her weight and only about
Ethel gave a lot of credit to Dr. Bob and Anne for their recovery. The
Smiths spent at least an evening a week at the Macy's home, and Russ
Dr. Bob thoroughly enjoyed these visits.
She and Russ worked as a team and were very active from the beginning.
started what may have been the first women's A.A. group.
Her husband died on September 4, 1944. After his death, A.A. became
whole life and she sponsored many women. She died on April 9, 1963.