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Grapevine : May 2011
members, Tony V. and Ulric R., but their memories have not always been consistent. The “founder” of AA in Barbados has been reported as ei- ther a Californian or a Canadian. He may even have been a Canadian with a residence in California. The version of the founding of AA in Bar- bados that has gained the most trac- tion suggests that in the early 1960s, Ed A., from San Diego, CA, who had previously been exposed to AA in the U.S., was living and working in Bridgetown, the capital city of Bar- bados. In March, 1962, Ed made a visit to the offices of the Advocate, Barbados’s principal newspaper, then located in Broad St., the main street in Bridgetown. Upon enter- ing the newsroom, he was directed to the secretary of Ian Gale, the newspaper’s editor. When he met with Mr. Gale, Ed expressed his in- terest in using the public media to spread the word about problems with alcohol. Mr. Gale told Ed, “I’ve got the right man for you,” and di- rected Ed to meet with one of his journalists, Tony V. By that time, Tony had earned a reputation as being a heavy drinker and had pre- viously been advised by Mr. Gale to cut down on the hard stuff, to leave out rum and drink only beer. In Ed’s first conversation with Tony, he said he would like somebody to write an article on alcohol abuse in Barbados, including statistics on the effects and consequences, and also that he would like to get an AA pro- gram started in Barbados. As a result, a Mr. Smith, Head- master of the St. Matthias Boys School, Christ Church, was ap- proached and proved supportive in providing a meeting place for the first regular group of AA in Barba- dos, in the annex to the St. Matthias church. A donation of $3 was given every week to the sexton to open and close the church. Ed, however, found it difficult to maintain sobriety. Af- ter umpiring a tennis match at Bach- elors’ Hall, St. James, Ed went to the podium, drunk, and announced he was the President of AA in Barbados. Another of the early members, Bert, a salesman, got sober and stayed so- ber for a little while, but drank when the pigeons that he reared won first prize in a competition. He soon so- bered up again and became a com- mitted member of AA. In those early days, between 1962 and 1965, according to Tony V., In those early days, between 1962 and 1965 ... meeting discussions centered around “who could drink the most.” Hardly anyone was staying sober. 46 May 2011 GRAPE_45-49.indd 46 4/4/11 1:03 PM