Â $40,000 FIRE ON PARKHURST
FARM LEVELS BUILDINGS
PARKHURST, SR. HAD
DIED DAY BEFORE
TO STOVE MAY HAVE
An estimated $40,000 fire Friday
night killed 2,500 chickens, leveled
two-story chicken and brooder house
and destroyed a large amount
equipment on Henry Parkhurst,
Jr. farm at Jacobs Creek.
Firemen from the Union Fire Com-
pany in Titusville, the Pennington
Fire Company, and the
ship Second Alarmers, fought the
blaze for almost two
hours before the
holocaust was quenched. They theor-
ized that one of the chickens may
have caught fire from
close to one of the many kerosene
brooder stoves and
ignited the entire
motorist Henry Kirch-
ner, Titusville, who was
the Pennington-Washington Crossing
Pennington with his
wife, spotted the crackling building
informed Parkhurst who called
Just 10 minutes before the $30,000
edifice went up in flames,
had been inside making a routine
check. His father,
Sr., who died last week and was bur-
ied Thursday, had planned to install
gas brooders to replace
The structure was about
one and a
half years old, according to Malcolm
chief, who investigated. Some $10,
000 was tied up
in poultry and equip-
ment, police said.
High winds hampered the firemen
from their task
and aided the spread
of the fire. At one point, the volun-
teers had to chop holes through the
ice on a nearby
pond to draw water
for their hoses.
The raging flames were visible
miles from the scene of the fire.
Smoke poured across the
way at intervals causing motorist to
slow down. A silo
near the building
Henry G. Parkhurst, Sr. Dies
services for Henry G. Parkhurst, Sr, 57 years of age, were held
Thursday afternoon from the Blackwell Memorial Home.
died on Monday in Mercer Hospital, Trenton, after a lengthy
The Rev. A. Kenneth Magner, pastor of the First Presbyterian Church,
officiated. Interment was at the convenience of the family.
survived by his wife, Mrs Kathleen Nixon Parkhurst; two sons, Henry G.
Jr., of St Petersburg, Fla, and Robert S., and one grandson.
his wife lived on the Pennington-Washington Crossing Road. They formerly
lived on North Main Street in the borough.
The Hopewell Herald,
Wednesday January 27, 1954, Vol 79 No 17 Page 3
By Hank Parkhurst
DULL . . . listless . . . semicomatose . . . I lay on my bed in a
famous hospital for alcoholics. Death or worse had been my sentence.
What was the difference? What difference did anything make? Why think
of those things which were gone-why worry about the results of my
drunken escapades? What the hell were the odds if my wife had discovered
the mistress situation? Two swell boys . . . sure . . . but what
difference would a corpse or an asylum imprisoned father make to them? .
. . thoughts stop whirling in my head . . . that's the worst of this
sobering-up process . . . the old think tank is geared in high-high . .
. what do I mean high-high . . . where did that come from . . . oh yes,
that first Cadillac I had, it had four speeds . . . had a high-high gear
. . . insane asylum . . . how that bus could scamper . . . yes . . .
even then liquor probably poisoned me. What had the little doctor said
this morning . . . thoughts hesitate a moment . . . stop your mad
turning . . . what was I thinking about . . . oh yes, the doctor.
This morning I reminded Doc this was my tenth visit. I had spent a
couple of thousand dollars on these trips and those I had financed for
the plastered play girls who also couldn't sober up. Jackie was a honey
until she got plastered and then she was a hellion. Wonder what gutter
she's in now. Where was I? Oh . . . I asked the doctor to tell me the
truth. He owed it to me for the amount of money I had spent. He
faltered. Said I'd been drunk that's all. God! Didn't I know that?
But Doc, you're evading. Tell me honestly what is the matter with me.
I'll be all right did you say? But Doc, you've said that before. You
said once that if I stopped for a year I would be over the habit and
would never drink again. I didn't drink for over a year, but I did start
to drink again.
Tell me what is the matter with me. I'm an alcoholic? Ha ha and ho
ho! As if I didn't know that! But aside from your fancy name for a plain
drunk, tell me why I drink. You say a true alcoholic is something
different from a plain drunk? What do you mean . . . let me have it cold
. . . brief and with no trimmings.
An alcoholic is a person who has an allergy to alcohol? Is poisoned
by it? One drink does something to the chemical make-up of the body?
That drink affects the nerves and in a certain number of hours another
drink is medically demanded? And so the vicious cycle is started? An
ever smaller amount of time between drinks to stop those screaming,
twitching, invisible wires called nerves?
I know that history Doc . . . how the spiral tightens . . . a drink .
. . unconscious . . . awake . . . drink . . . unconscious . . . poured
into the hospital . . . suffer the agonies of hell . . . the shakes . .
. thoughts running wild . . . brain unleashed . . . engine without a
governor. But hell Doc, I don't want to drink! I've got one of the
stubbornest will powers known in business. I stick at things. I get them
done. I've stuck on the wagon for months. And not been bothered by it .
. . and then suddenly, incomprehensibly, an empty glass in my hand and
another spiral started. How did the Doc explain that one?
He couldn't. That was one of the mysteries of true alcoholism. A
famous medical foundation had spent a fortune trying to segregate the
reasons for the alcoholic as compared to the plain hard, heavy drinker.
Had tried to find the cause. And all they had been able to determine as
a fact was that practically all of the alcohol in every drink taken by
the alcoholic went to the fluid in which the brain floated. Why a man
every started when he knew those things was one of the things that could
not be fathomed. Only the damn fool public believed it a matter of weak
will power. Fear . . . ostracism . . . loss of family . . . loss of
position . . . the gutter . . . nothing stopped the alcoholic.
Doc! What do you mean-nothing! What! An incurable disease? Doc, you'
re kidding me! You're trying to scare me into stopping! What's that you
say? You wish you were? What are those tears in your eyes Doc? What's
that? Forty years you've spent at this alcoholic business and you have
yet to see a true alcoholic cured? Your life defeated and wasted? Oh,
come, come Doc . . . what would some of us do without you? If even to
only sober up. But Doc . . . let's have it. What is going to be my
history from here on out? Some vital organ will stop or the mad house
with a wet brain? How soon? Within two years? But, Doc, I've got to do
something about it! I'll see doctors . . . I'll go to sanitariums.
Surely the medical profession knows something about it. So little, you
say? But why? Messy. Yes, I'll admit there is nothing messier than an
What's that Doc? You know a couple of fellows that were steady
customers here that haven't been drunk for about ten months? You say
they claim they are cured? And they make an avocation of passing it on
to others? What have they got? You don't know . . . and you don't
believe they are cured . . . well why tell me about it? A fine fellow
you say, plenty of money, and you're sure it isn't a racket . . . just
wants to be helpful . . . call him up for me will you, Doc?
How Doc had hated to tell me. Thoughts stop knocking at my door. Why
can't I get drunk like other people, get up next morning, toss my head a
couple of times and go to work? Why do I have to shake so I can't hold
the razor? Why does every little muscle inside me have to feel like a
crawling worm? Why do even my vocal cords quiver so words are gibberish
until I've had a big drink? Poison! Of course! But how could anyone
understand such a necessity for a drink that it has to be loaded with
pepper to keep it from bouncing? Can any mortal understand such secret
shame in having to have a drink as to make a person keep the bottles
hidden all over the house. The morning drink . . . shame and necessity .
. . weakness . . . remorse. But what do the family know about it? What
do doctors know about it? Little Doc was right, they know nothing. They
just say Be strong-Don't take that
drink-Suffer it through.
What the hell do they know about suffering? Not sickness. Not a belly
ache-oh yes, your guts get so sore that you cannot place your hands on
them . . . oh sure, every time you go you twist and writhe in pain. What
the hell does any non-alcoholic know about suffering? Thoughts . . .
stop this mad merry-go-round. And worst of all this mental suffering-the
hating yourself-the feeling of absurd, irrational weakness-the
unworthiness. Out that window! Use the gun in the drawer! What about
poison? Go out in a garage and start the car. Yeah, that's the way out .
. . but then people'll say He was plastered. I can't leave
that story behind. That's worse than cowardly.
Isn't there some one who understands? Thoughts . . . please, oh
please, stop . . . I'm going nuts . . . or am I nuts now? Never . . .
never again will I take another drink, not even a glass of beer . . .
even that starts it. Never . . . never . . . never again . . . and yet
I've said that a dozen times and inexplicably I've found an empty glass
in my hand and the whole story repeated.
My Lord, the tragedy that sprang out of her eyes when I came home
with a breath on me . . . and fear. The smiles wiped off the kids'
faces. Terror stalking through the house. Yes . . . that changed it from
a home into a house. Not drunk yet, but they knew what was coming. Mr.
Hyde was moving in.
And so I'm going to die. Or a wet brain. What was it that fellow said
who was here this afternoon? Damn fool thought . . . get out of my mind.
Now I know I'm going nuts. And science knows nothing about it. And
psychiatrists. I've spent plenty on them. Thoughts, go away! No . . . I
don't want to think about what that fellow said this afternoon.
He's trying . . . idealistic as hell . . . nice fellow, too. Oh, why
do I have to suffer with this revolving brain? Why can't I sleep? What
was it he said? Oh yes, came in and told about his terrific drunks, his
trips up here, this same thing I'm going through. Yes, he's an alcoholic
all right. And then he told me he knew he was cured. Told me he was
peaceful . . . (I'll never know peace again) . . . that he didn't carry
constant fear around with him. Happy because he felt free. But it's
screwy. He said so himself. But he did get my confidence when he started
to tell what he had gone through. It was so exactly like my case. He
knows what this torture is. He raised my hopes so high; it looked as
though he had something. I don't know, I guess I was so sold that I
expected him to spring some kind of a pill and I asked him desperately
what it was.
And he said God.
And I laughed.
A ball bat across my face would have been no greater shock. I was so
high with hope and expectation. How can a man be so heartless? He said
that it sounded screwy but it worked, at least it had with him . . .
said he was not a religionist . . . in fact didn't go to church much . .
. my ears came up at that . . . his unconventionality attracted me . . .
said that some approaches to religion were screwy . . . talked about how
the simplest truth in the world had been often all balled up by
complicating it . . . that attracted me . . . get out of my mind . . .
what a fine religious bird I'd be . . . imagine the glee of the gang at
me getting religion . . . phooey . . . thoughts, please slow down . . .
why don't they give me something to go to sleep . . . lie down in green
pastures . . . the guy's nuts . . . forget him.
And so it's the mad house for me . . . glad mother is dead, she won't
have to suffer that . . . if I'm going nuts maybe it'd be better to be
crazy the way he is . . . at least the kids wouldn't have the insane
father whisper to carry through life . . . life's cruel . . . the
puny-minded, curtain hiding gossips . . . didn't you know his
father was committed for insanity? What a sly label that would be
to hang on those boys . . . damn the gossiping, reputation-shredding,
busybodies who put their noses into other people's business.
He'd laid in this same dump . . . suffered . . . gone through hell .
. . made up his mind to get well . . . studied alcoholism . . . Jung . .
. Blank Medical Foundation . . . asylums . . . Hopkins . . . many said
incurable disease . . . impossible . . . nearly all known cures had been
through religion . . . revolted him . . . made a study of religion . . .
more he studied the more it was bunk to him . . . not understandable . .
. self-hypnotism . . . and then the thought hit him that people had it
all twisted up. They were trying to pour everyone into moulds, put a tag
on them, tell them what they had to do and how they had to do it, for
the salvation of their own souls. When as a matter of fact people were
through worrying about their souls, they wanted action right here and
now. A lot of tripe was usually built up around the simplest and most
beautiful ideas in the world.
And how did he put the idea . . . bunk . . . bunk . . . why in hell
am I still thinking about him . . . in hell . . . that's good . . . I am
in hell. He said: I came to the conclusion that there is
SOMETHING. I know not what It is, but It is bigger than I. If I will
acknowledge It, if I will humble myself, if I will give in and bow in
submission to that SOMETHING and then try to lead a life as fully in
accord with my idea of good as possible, I will be in tune. And
later the word good contracted in his mind to God.
But mister, I can't see any guy with long white whiskers up there
just waiting for me to make a plea . . . and what did he answer . . .
said I was trying to complicate it . . . why did I insist on making It
human . . . all I had to do was believe in some power greater than
myself and knuckle down to It . . . and I said maybe, but tell me mister
why are you wasting your time up here? Don't hand me any bunk about it
being more blessed to give than to receive . . . asked him what this
thing cost and he laughed. He said it wasn't a waste of time . . . in
doping it out he had thought of something somebody had said. A person
never knew a lesson until he tried to pass it on to someone else. And
that he had found out every time he tried to pass this on It became more
vivid to him. So if we wanted to get hard boiled about it, he owed me, I
didn't owe him. That's a new slant . . . the guy's crazy as a loon . . .
get away from him brain . . . picture me going around telling other
people how to run their lives . . . if I could only go to sleep . . .
that sedative doesn't seem to take hold.
He could visualize a great fellowship of us . . . quietly passing
this from alcoholic to alcoholic . . . nothing organized . . . not
ministers . . . not missionaries . . . what a story . . . thought we'd
have to do it to get well . . . some kind of a miracle had happened in
his life . . . common sense guy at that . . . his plan does fire the
Told him it sounded like self hypnotism to me and he said what of it
. . . didn't care if it was yogi-sim, self-hypnotism, or anything else .
. . four of them were well. But it's so damn hypocritical . . . I get
beat every other way and then I turn around and lay it in God's lap . .
. damned if I ever would turn to God . . . what a low-down, cowardly,
despicable trick that would be . . . don't believe in God anyway . . .
just a lot of hooey to keep the masses in subjugation . . . world's
worst inquisitions have been practiced in His name . . . and he said . .
. do I have to turn into an inquisitionist . . . if I don't knuckle
down, I die . . . why the low-down missionary . . . what a bastardly
screw to put on a person . . . a witch burner, that's what he is . . .
the hell with him and all his damn theories . . . witch burner.
Sleep, please come to my door . . . that last was the eight hundred
and eighty-fifth sheep over the fence . . . guess I'll put in some black
ones . . . sheep . . . shepherds . . . wise men . . . what was that
story . . . hell there I go back on that same line . . . told him I
couldn't understand and I couldn't believe anything I couldn't
understand. He said he supposed then that I didn't use electricity. No
one actually understood where it came from or what it was. Nuts to him.
He's got too many answers. What did he think the nub of the whole thing
was? Subjugate self to some power above . . . ask for help . . . mean it
. . . try to pass it on. Asked him what he was going to name this? Said
it would be fatal to give it any kind of a tag . . . to have any sort of
I'm going nuts . . . tried to get him into an argument about miracles
. . . about Immaculate Conception . . . about stars leading three wise
men . . . Jonah and the whale. He wanted to know what difference those
things made . . . he didn't even bother his head about them . . . if he
did, he would get tight again. So I asked him what he thought about the
Bible. Said he read it, and used those things he understood. He didn't
take the Bible literally as an instruction book, for there was no
nonsense you could not make out of it that way.
Thought I had him when I asked about the past sins I had committed.
Guess I've done everything in the book . . . I supposed I would have to
adopt the attitude that all was forgiven . . . here I am pure and clean
as the driven snow . . . or else I was to go through life flogging
myself mentally . . . bah. But he had the answer for that one too. Said
he couldn't call back the hellish things he had done, but he figured
life might be a ledger page. If he did a little good here and there,
maybe the score would be evened up some day. On the other hand, if he
continued as he had been going there would be nothing but debit items on
the sheet. Kind of common sense.
This is ridiculous . . . have I lost all power of logic . . . would I
fall for all that religious line . . . let's see if I can't get to
thinking straight . . . that's it . . . I'm trying to do too much
thinking . . . just calm myself . . . quietly . . . quiet now . . .
relax every muscle . . . start at the toes and move up . . . insane . .
. wet brain . . . those boys . . . what a mess my life is . . . mistress
. . . how I hate her . . . ah . . . I know what's the matter . . . that
fellow gave me an emotional upset . . . I'll list every reason I
couldn't accept his way of thinking. After laughing at this religious
stuff all these years I'd be a hypocrite. That's one. Second, if there
was a God, why all this suffering? Wait a minute, he said that was one
of the troubles, we tried to give God some form. Make It just a Power
that will help. Third, it sounds like the Salvation Army. Told him that
and he said he was not going around singing on any street corners but
nevertheless the Salvation Army did a great work. Simply, if he heard of
a guy suffering the torments, he told him his story and belief.
There I go thinking again . . . just started to get calmed down . . .
sleep . . . boys . . . insane . . . death . . . mistress . . . life all
messed up . . . business. Now listen, take hold . . . what am I going to
do? NEVER . . . that's final and in caps. Never . . . that's net no
discount. Never . . . never . . . and my mind is made up. NEVER am I
going to be such a cowardly low down dog as to acknowledge God. The two
faced, gossiping Babbitts can go around with their sanctimonious
mouthings, their miserable worshipping, their Bible quotations, their
holier-than-thou attitudes, their nicey-nice, Sunday-worshipping,
Monday-robbing actions, but never will they find me acknowledging God.
Let me laugh . . . I'd like to shriek with insane glee . . . my mind's
made up . . . insane, there it is again.
Brrr, this floor is cold on my knees . . . why are the tears running
like a river down my cheeks . . . God, have mercy on my soul!
salesman, early New York A.A. fall & winter 1935, met Bill
Towns Hospital; drinking cost executive position Standard Oil New
Jersey; plan organize gasoline dealers northern New Jersey form
cooperative buying organization [Honor Dealers] 17 William Street
Newark, spring 1937 Bill & he worked out Newark New Jersey office
several business propositions, nothing evolved; Ruth Hock secretary,
made available Bill help Big Book; wife Kathleen lived Teaneck New
Jersey; 1935 about 1937 went number Oxford Group meetings & house
parties with Wilson's; 2nd prospect Bill from Dr. Silkworth 1937, 1st
drunk New York Bill worked with stayed sober any time; story
[Unbeliever] 1st edition Big Book; present meeting December 1937
Rockefeller raise money; co-leader with Jim B. Big Book liberals, less
God stuff, strong psychological emphasis, wanted soft-pedal 12 steps;
partner Bill formed Works Publishing Company early 1939 publish Big
Book; believed wrote chapter 10 Big Book [To Employers]; along with Bill
edited New York A.A.'s Big Book stories; Wilson's lived with them after
losing 182 Clinton Street April 26 1936; Hank & Kathleen started holding
Sunday meetings home Montclair New Jersey soon after Wilson's lost there
house; started drinking 1939 after 4 years; wife sued divorce after
sober, wanted take Big Book, Ruth Hock secretary away New York, asked
Ruth his & Bill's secretary marry him, turned down, didn't attend
Rockefeller dinner February 8 1940; couldn't account A.A. money made up
stories robbery, got drunk after 4 years April 1940; had little do with
A.A. several years due resentment against Bill; started stories
Cleveland reference Bill making A.A. a racket; remarried Kathleen after
couple bad marriages; died Pennington New Jersey 1954 death ascribed
drinking (A 16,74,154,157,159,163-164) (B
250,263,274,282,284-285,298-299,301,321) (D 108)
(E 15,18) (G 79) (H
62,106,144,201) (L 98,101,127,130) (N 75) (P
161-162,168,191,199-200,213,228,235,243) (W 160)
Henry G. (Hank) Parkhurst.
Mike O. of "The Just Do
It" Big Book Study Group of Alcoholics Anonymous," Debary, Florida.
||Hank Parkhurst was a business dynamo
who was the first alcoholic to recover in New York, following
Bill Wilson. Thus, Hank was New York's AA#2. His was a vital
contribution to AA: without Hank Parkhurst the Big Book might
never have been published.
Hank was born March 13, 1895,
in Marion, Iowa into a family that had lived in that area for
several generations. He was so gifted an entrepreneur that an
associate once described him as being able to produce a good
idea a minute for business. He had been a Standard Oil of New
Jersey executive who was fired because of his drinking. Hank
sought treatment at Charles B. Towns Hospital in Manhattan. He
met Bill Wilson there during the autumn of 1935.
Parkhurst was the first New York alcoholic
other than Bill to stay sober for any substantial amount of
time. Hank was sober approximately four years, before he drank
He is mentioned in "The Doctor's
Opinion" (page XXIX of the Big Book). Doctor Silkworth describes
him as "--a case of pathological mental deterioration."
But, Silkworth added, "He adopted
the plan outlined in this book." And, the doctor admitted he hardly
recognized Hank when he saw him a year later.
But, perhaps more importantly, Hank
is credited with contributing the major interview around which Bill
wrote the chapter, "To Employers." (Some historians believe that Hank
himself actually wrote this entire chapter except the first two
After Bill and Lois Wilson lost their home at 182
Clinton Street, Brooklyn Heights, they moved to Montclair, New Jersey on
April 26, 1939, and lived with Hank and his wife, Kathleen Nixon
Parkhurst. Hank and Kathleen had moved to Montclair from Teaneck, after
Hank got sober. (He's noted, again, in the Big Book, on page 136, as
"--a man who was living in a large community." That reference is to
Parkhurst could be quite personable and was
considered a handsome man. He was tall, broad-shouldered, and red-haired
and had been a good athlete in school. He and Kathleen had two sons:
Henry G. Parkhurst, Jr. (Hank, Jr., and Robert Stewart Parkhurst (Bob)
and at least one grandson.
Hank was an agnostic when he came to
AA. But, he evolved spiritually into a belief in a "universal power." He
and Jim Burwell led the fight against any mention of God in the Big
Book. Parkhurst and Burwell wanted to leave God out of the book
altogether, to make it a psychological book and refer only to the
spiritual nature of recovery, produced by the practice of the principles
of the Twelve Steps. The verbal war over the mention of God produced the
compromise "---as we understood Him" which became part of the Book.
Parkhurst was renting an office at that time at 11 Hill Street,
Newark. This office housed Hank's company, Honor Dealers. It was a
cooperative firm. Through it, gas station owners could buy gasoline, oil
and automotive parts at lower prices through joint purchasing. Some
thought it was Hank's way of getting back at Standard Oil for firing
him. But, the business went nowhere. It is considered likely that Bill
authored the first two chapters of the Big Book in this Hill Street
Hank then moved to another office at 17 William Street
in Newark, one block north of the Hill Street address. The new office,
#601, faced east, the preferred exposure. But, Hank's money ran out, he
didn't pay the rent and the county sheriff evicted him. He then moved to
a smaller office on the same floor of the same building, #604, which
faced west. Bill dictated much of the remainder of the Big Book to Ruth
Hock in this building. Ruth was a secretary for Honor Dealers and served
in a similar capacity to the energetic effort, which would produce AA.
It was Hank who was the driving
force behind the idea of forming a private company to publish the Big
Book. The Trustees of the Alcoholic Foundation had opposed the idea of
self-publishing. There were rewards, to be sure.
Self-publishing could produce a
financial return six times greater than author's royalties. But, among
the Trustees, the common feeling was that self-publishing was risky,
that most such enterprises failed out of ignorance of the publishing
business and that neither Bill nor Hank knew anything about publishing.
That opinion was expressed by a majority of the Trustees at the
Foundation's first meeting, April 11, 1938. (The Foundation was
established on that date as a charitable, tax-exempt entity to provide
the movement with a legally formed, New York-based center.)
told Bill that since the Board of Trustees had not and would not raise a
cent for the publishing project, he and Bill should not wait but should
publish the book by themselves. They had little or no money, so: Hank
convinced Bill that they should form a stock company and sell shares to
their fellow alcoholics. Not only did Hank guarantee Bill that this
approach would succeed, he insisted it was the only way to get the Book
published. Bill felt somewhat reassured because a widely respected
publishing executive, Eugene Exman of Harper Brothers, had told him that
drafts of the first two chapters looked good and that a society like
theirs really should own, control and publish its own literature.
So: Hank and Bill formed Works
Publishing Company, Incorporated, on September 21, 1938. (Some
historians say that the company never was legally incorporated.) They
issued six hundred shares of stock with a par value of $25.00 per share.
Bill and Hank each received one-third of the shares. The remaining two
hundred shares were to be sold to their fellow alcoholics.
Money from the sale of stock would
be used to pay expenses of the Newark office and to enable Bill and Hank
to continue their work full time on the publishing project. The
Alcoholic Foundation would receive author's royalties from the book
sales. Hank signed the certificates as "President." Sales were slow.
Parkhurst, the self-appointed "President," had handled all the
finances for Works Publishing. But, later, when he was asked to account
for the money, he had no records. It appeared he had mixed the funds for
Works, Honor and the fledgling fellowship together, along with his
personal money and had no idea how to separate them.
publication date of the Big Book was April 1, 1939. It was printed by
Cornwall Press, in Cornwall, New York. The US Copyright Office says
there were 4,730 copies in the first printing. The first ten copies were
delivered April 10th of that year to the Newark office Hank and Bill
shared. It was a joyous moment!
But, things soon went downhill for
Hank. First, Bill obtained a postal box for the young fellowship across
the Hudson River in lower Manhattan. Bill felt this location was the
most convenient for reaching the area they intended to serve: New York
City, Long Island and New Jersey. Bill then proposed moving the
Alcoholic Foundation office itself to a point nearer the postal box. He
felt there was no need to keep an office in Newark; Hank had closed
Honor Dealers. But, since it had been his office, Parkhurst was upset
about Bill's decision. The actual move, on March 16, 1940, to 30 Vesey
Street, Room 703, in lower Manhattan angered Hank. And, when the
furniture from his office moved across the Hudson, Hank was furious,
even though he had sold the furniture to Bill. (That furniture remained
with Bill Wilson for the rest of his life. First it went to AA
headquarters in Manhattan. Later it moved to Bill's studio, "Wits End,"
at his home, "Stepping Stones," at Bedford Hills, in the rolling, wooded
hills of picturesque, suburban Westchester County, just north of New
For Hank, this troubling episode appears to have been
the least of it. In other respects, he was beginning to collide with
life and getting bruised heavily in the process. He was becoming (as Dr.
Silkworth previously described it) "--restless, irritable and
He had taken a new job-one he did not want -- in
western New Jersey. He had intended to take the office, the furniture
and Ruth Hock with him.
Further, Hank wanted to divorce his
wife, Kathleen, and marry Ruth. But, Ruth declined to go west with him
and moved instead to the young fellowship's new office in lower
Manhattan. Ultimately she said "No" to Hank's marriage proposal. Hank
blamed Bill for her refusal.
Hank further resented Bill's asking
him to turn in his stock certificates in Works Publishing, Inc. Members
of the fellowship had decided in 1940 that all book sales profits should
go to the Alcoholic Foundation. They decided that Bill and Hank should
return their shares in Works Publishing. And, they asked those other
members who had purchased shares of the stock to sell them to the
Foundation at par value. In this way, the alcoholics reasoned, the
fellowship would own the Big Book and anything it published in the
future. Bill and Dr. Bob were to receive author's royalties from the
book sales, so that they both might continue to devote their full time
to the affairs of the fellowship.
Bill complied immediately. He
turned in his shares of Works Publishing, Inc. stock to the Alcoholic
Foundation. But, Hank, who had started drinking again, refused. He held
onto the stock until he appeared unexpectedly one day, scruffy, drunk
and destitute, at the New York office. He insisted the furniture in that
office was his and demanded payment for it, even though he had been paid
for it previously. Bill offered to pay for it again if Hank would hand
in his stock. Hank accepted two hundred dollars and handed over his
shares. He subsequently accused Bill of taking advantage of him in his
drunken state. Later, Hank approached Bill several more times claiming
he had never been paid for the furniture and Bill paid him again each
Then Hank learned that AA had granted Bill a $25.00 a week
payment from the sale of the Book. Hank considered the arrangement
wrong. He resented it and was said to have become quite jealous of all
the attention showered on Bill as A.A.'s co-founder.
oldest son, Henry G. Parkhurst, Jr., later that Hank always felt Bill
had treated him unfairly with respect to the stock, the revenue from the
Book sales and his office furniture. Years later sales of the Book
mushroomed. But, Hank received no share of the profits.
difficult to say precisely when Hank returned to drinking, but it
appears to have been late in 1939. Lois Wilson's diary for September 6,
1939, says Hank was drunk. Kathleen Parkhurst had reported Hank was
drinking on September 5th. He never recovered, completely, although
there were some occasional, brief periods of dryness.
Kathleen divorced in 1939 and Hank married at least two other women
during a return to drinking that lasted on and off for approximately
eleven years. One of the women he married and divorced was a
sister-in-law of Cleveland AA pioneer, Clarence Snyder. He later married
an oil heiress from a wealthy Houston family. She died about 1950 of a
cerebral hemorrhage. Sources say Kathleen married a Wally van Arc, who,
they say, was involved, somehow, in the publishing of the Big Book.
(AA's Archivists at GSO New York say they have no information whatever
on anyone named Wally van Arc.) Later, during a brief period of dryness,
Hank re-married Kathleen. Several sources say Kathleen was also an
alcoholic: an episodic or periodic drunk. Hank's obituary identified
Kathleen as his widow. Exact dates of these marriages, divorces and the
re-marriage have proven unavailable.
Hank moved to Ohio and
began spreading malicious stories there about Bill, charging that Wilson
had diverted AA's money to his own personal use. Despite the fact that
Hank was drinking, some Ohio AAs believed him, including Clarence
Snyder, who had started AA in Cleveland. A number of the Ohio AA's began
calling for Bill's expulsion, accusing him of financial trickery and
dishonesty. One Ohio A.A. swore he knew personally that Wilson had taken
as much as $65,000 from A.A. during the previous year. Several groups in
Ohio wanted to secede from A.A. because of the charges and turmoil.
To meet the situation head-on, Bill and Dr. Bob, hosted a dinner for
all concerned in June 1942 in Cleveland. After dinner, they all gathered
in a hotel parlor, where a local committee, complete with its own
attorney and certified public accountant, interrogated Bill. Both Bill
and Dr. Bob quietly but firmly denied all allegations and answered all
questions. Wilson presented the committee with a recent audit of all of
A.A.'s financial affairs, showing, openly and clearly, his 25-dollar a
week payment from sales of the Big Book. An identical payment had been
arranged for Dr. Bob. (Bob had given some of his money to Bill and
returned much of the rest to AA.) And, although it had nothing to do
with the AA treasury, both Bill and Bob voluntarily told the committee
of the 30-dollar-a-week income each received from a private fund set up
to support them by John D. Rockefeller, Jr. so that both of them could
continue their AA work full-time. The committee's CPA carefully examined
the audit, read it aloud, pronounced it accurate beyond question, and
thus completely exonerated Bill. The committee members apologized to
But, the emotional scars remained for Wilson. All this
grief and scandal had been caused by a man he had helped to stop
drinking, a man who once had been his partner. Opinions vary as to
whether they ever completely settled their differences.
Parkhurst died January 18, 1954, at Mercer Hospital in Pennington, New
Jersey, within two months of his 59th birthday. Lois Wilson said his
death was due to drinking. Others claimed it was pills. Some thought it
was both. His obituary says only that he died after a lengthy illness.
Others noted that Hank's disagreements with Bill and his subsequent
resentments, mostly over Big Book matters, apparently kept Parkhurst
from returning to AA.
Despite the pain and trouble he caused
during the final years of his life, Alcoholics Anonymous would appear to
owe a huge debt to Henry G. Parkhurst. Ruth Hock, who was there for the
entire adventure, said the Big Book definitely would not have been
written without Bill and surely could not have been published without
Hank. His story, "The Unbeliever" appeared in the first edition of the
book that he was so instrumental in publishing.
SOURCES: The archives of the AA
General Service Office; AA publications: "Alcoholics Anonymous"�,
"Alcoholics Anonymous Comes of Age"�, and "Pass It On"�; "Lois
Remembers"� by Lois Burnham Wilson; "Bill W."� by Francis Hartigan;
"Not-God"� by Ernest Kurtz; "Bill W. And Mr. Wilson"� by Matthew J.
Raphael; The Hopewell (N.J.) Herald�; the US Copyright Office,
Washington, DC and AA historians Al R. and Joe H.
for the above sources. Any errors are my own.
during 1997 by Mike O. (Michael O'Neil) of "The Just Do It Big Book
Study Group of Alcoholics Anonymous," Debary, Florida. (Author Revised:
1998, 1999, 2000, 2001.)