The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

The 12 Traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous, the principles that hold our groups and society together.

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby avaneesh912 » Thu Dec 11, 2014 8:09 am

What country is that being done in?


I heard this in one of the talks by Myers Raymer where he talks about one of the groups having greeters who ensured no one carries a big book into their meeting. People will be asked politely to leave the book in the car if they see sombody carrying a book. Though, I have not experienced in F2F meetings, I personally experienced it in one of the yahoo groups early in my sobriety. With the enthusiasm I got listening to the great workshop, I use to quote from the big book, the tenth step promises and the need to move beyond 4th step and I was shut of from that group. Luckily I found this group and my resentments evaporated pretty quickly. And this has been my home-group (on-line) since then. And then there are some people who occassionally would join the group and take a stab at what we share from the big book.This group is strong enough that we have survived those onslaughts.
Last edited by avaneesh912 on Sun Jun 28, 2015 4:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
User avatar
avaneesh912
Trusted Servant
 
Posts: 4643
Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 12:22 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby PaigeB » Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:36 am

It is good to hear that most of the folks who posted here seem to have "good" literature based AA near them.
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
The e-AA Group's 7th Tradition link: www.e-aa.org/group_seventh.php
User avatar
PaigeB
Trusted Servant
 
Posts: 10392
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Location: Iowa USA

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby positrac » Fri Dec 12, 2014 4:57 am

PaigeB wrote:It is good to hear that most of the folks who posted here seem to have "good" literature based AA near them.

Foundations are made from harden materials as to last and our literature is the best asset we have to carry the message to the drunk who still suffers. As you know this it is a refresher to me and like my Bible it gives me hope that those old coots and the stories haven't changed this life except for the additional distractions we have now.

:wink:
You must live your life from beginning to end: No one else can do it for you.
Hopi Proverb
User avatar
positrac
Forums Old Timer
 
Posts: 1135
Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2014 4:03 am

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby johnd » Sun Jun 28, 2015 4:09 pm

Thank You Page,
A.A. has come a long way... John D.
Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans- Anonymous
User avatar
johnd
Forums Long Timer
 
Posts: 814
Joined: Wed Nov 09, 2011 2:50 pm
Location: Massachusetts

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby ezdzit247 » Mon Dec 07, 2015 1:02 pm

PaigeB wrote:The Story of Irma Livoni
As related by Matt,M., a sponsee of Sybil C.
Here is the story about Irma Livoni. Each year around this time I try to tell this true story about what happened not just on Dec. 7th, 1941 (Pearl Harbor Day), but what happened to one of the few women who was in AA at that time, and about a letter she received in the mail, on Monday, December 8th, which virtually kicked her out of AA......

In Dec of 1984, I had been sober for 2-1/2 years, and working with my sponsors Bob and Sybil Corwin since January of 84. Sybil had gotten sober in March of 1941, so at the time she was 43 yrs sober. We were driving home from a meeting and she asked me the date (to her it was just Sunday). I told her it was Dec. 8th, and that yesterday (Dec. 7th) was the anniversary of Pearl Harbor Day.

She said "Matt, have I ever told you about Irma Livoni?"
"Nope, who is she?"
She said, "Well, when we get back to the house, come in for coffee and I'll tell you a story about AA history and some of the reasons we have tradition 3. Oh, and by the way Matt, did you know that the literature specifically protects 'queers, plain crackpots, and fallen women, and since you and I are at least two out of those three, we should be especially grateful for tradition 3? I'll show you it when we get home."

I laughed out loud, as Sybil had a great sense of humor, and she had been a taxi dancer, back before she got sober, you know one of those "10 cents a dance" ladies, and she was divorced twice, and was a single mom, as well as an alcoholic back then, so the term "fallen woman" was something that hit close to home. She had told me that it was very different back in the 30's and 40's for a woman to be an alcoholic. Sybil said It was a time when women wore hats and gloves, and "respectable women" were not usually found in a bar, or at "whoopie parties."

Our Thursday night step study had voted to not cover the traditions after we got to step 12, so I figured they must not be very important and thought I'd probably be bored with the conversation, but she got my attention telling me that "queers, crackpots and fallen women" were mentioned, so I agreed to come in for coffee. Besides Sybil had been sober longer than I had been alive. I didn't argue with her very much.

Sybil got down her copy of the big book. She said, I want you to find the traditions in there, and read me tradition 3. It was a 1st. Edition Big Book. Thicker than mine. I said, "Is this why they call it the Big Book?" She said, "Exactly, Bill had it printed on big paper, with big margins around the type, so that people would think they were really getting something for their money." I looked in the back of the book, where I thought the traditions were, but couldn't find them. "I can't find them, Sybil." "Exactly. That's because we didn't have any traditions back in 1941 when I came in. And Matt, AA was in mortal danger of destroying itself, which is why we have traditions now." Then she had me find them in my 3rd. Edition B.B. and in my 12 &12. I didn't read it all, just the caption heading, and then she started telling me the story of IRMA LIVONI....

Irma was a sponsee of Sybil's. She also became a member in 1941, just after Sybil. Sybil took her into her home. (Sybil told me that many people's bottoms were very low then, no home, no job, no watch, no car, nothing). Sybil said it was different then for a woman to be an alcoholic. That most of them had burned all their bridges with their families, and were looked down upon, even more so than male alcoholics. Sybil said she watched AA help Irma get sober, watched AA help Irma get cleaned up, watched AA help Irma get her first job in sobriety, and watched AA help Irma get her first apartment in sobriety. Then she said that on Dec. 5th, 1941, a self-appointed group of the members signed a letter to Irma and mailed it on that Friday, Dec 5th, 2 days before Pearl Harbor.

Here is a copy of the letter:
ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
Post Office Box 607
Hollywood Station,
Hollywood, California
December Fifth, 1941
Irma Livoni
939 S. Gramercy Place
Los Angeles, California
Dear Mrs. Livoni :
At a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles Group of Alcoholics Anonymous, held Dec. 4th, 1941, it was decided that your attendance at group meetings was no longer desired until certain explanations and plans for the future were made to the satisfaction of this committee. This action has been taken for reasons which should be most apparent to yourself.

It was decided that, should you so desire, you may appear before members of this committee and state your attitude. This opportunity will be afforded you between now and December 15th, 1941. You may communicate with us at the above address by that date. In case you do not wish to appear, we shall consider the matter closed and that your membership is terminated.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS,
Los Angeles Group
Mortimer Joseph
Frank Randall
Edmund Jussen Jr
Fay D. Loomis
Al Marineau
I was stunned. "How could they do this, Sybil?"
"Because we didn't have any guidelines, any traditions to protect us from good intentions. AA was very new, and people did all sorts of things, thinking they were protecting the fellowship."

Sybil then said to close my eyes and imagine my being in the following setting. Sybil explained that Dec. 7th, 1941 was Pearl Harbor Day (a Sunday). She said that that Sunday night everyone in LA was afraid that Los Angeles would also be attacked and bombed. There was a citywide blackout, people were so terrified. She said that on Monday Dec. 8th., President Roosevelt gave the speech that talked about "the date that will live in infamy" and that we were now at war with Japan and Germany.

She said, that was the day that Irma received her letter. There was only one meeting in the entire state of California when Sybil came in, in 1941. By December there may have been two or three, but Irma had nowhere else to go, no one else to turn to. No other group in California that she could ask for help. Sybil said, "Imagine only one or two meetings in your entire state, and being shunned by your family, and by society, and by the only group of people who were on your side, your AA group. Imagine them shutting the door on you and sending you such a letter, Matt." I shivered at the thought of it. It was Christmas time, the stores were decorated and now poor Irma was all alone. I thought about how it was in 1984 with 2000 meetings a week to choose from in Southern California. and then I imagined having no other help for a hopeless alcoholic.

Sybil told me that Irma never came back to another meeting, left AA and died of alcoholism. She wrote to Bill about the incident, and I cannot tell you that this is the reason that the following is a part of the 3rd. Tradition, but it certainly seems to apply.

>From Tradition 3, page 141: ... that we would neither punish nor deprive any AA of membership, that we must never compel anyone to pay anything, believe anything, or conform to anything? The answer, now seen in Tradition Three, was simplicity itself. At last experience taught us that to take away any alcoholic's full chance was sometimes to pronounce his death sentence, and often to condem him to endless misery. Who dared to be judge, jury and executioner of his own sick brother?"

JUDGE JURY AND EXECUTIONER... I remember looking at those words again and again, and they seemed to get larger and larger.

JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER,
JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER,
JUDGE, JURY AND EXECUTIONER,
I hadn't really noticed EXECUTIONER when I had read it the first time at my 12 &12 study group. Again I felt so bad for this poor lady.

Wow, those words really had a different meaning than when I had read the traditions before. So here it is, 23 years later, and each December 7th and 8th I always think about Irma Livoni, and how lucky I am, that we have traditions now. I also think of how lucky I was to have met Sybil and so lucky that she appointed herself my sponsor.

Years later I realized how everything she ever taught me was like gold. But in 1984 I had no idea who Sybil really was or how lucky I was to have her as my sponsor. She was like a piece of living history, but I really didn't realize how valuable that was in explaining WHY we do some of the things we do (like the story she told me about how they never said "Hi Sybil" and no one said "Hi my name is Matt and I'm an alcoholic" back then). Besides being one of the first women in AA, Sybil was the first woman west of the Mississippi. She also became the head of LA's central office for 12 years, and she became close friends with Bill and Lois. She and Bob even used to go on vacation with them. She used to tell me all sorts of stories about Bill Wilson and things he said to her. He was very interested in how AA would work for women, as there were very few women worldwide in AA back in 1941. Marty Mann came in before Sybil did, but very few stayed sober....

I learned that night that no one can get kicked out of AA. We can ask a disturbing wet drunk that he needs to settle down or we might have to ask him to step outside for that day, but we don't vote to kick anyone out forever. And we don't shun people because our guidelines, our traditions tell us that no one has to believe in anything (they don't have to be like me) and they don't have to conform to anything(they don't have to dress a certain way, or have no facial hair, or pay anything). Even if I get drunk again, I am still welcome at any AA meeting.....

So that's the story about Irma Livoni. Feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who might be interested in knowing a bit about how and why the traditions got started. I think it sort of puts a face on tradition 3: the face of a woman I never knew, who got kicked out of AA. Who got drunk and died.....

Thank God for Tradition 3, and thank God for all of you. I truly appreciate and cherish all the people in this group.

Best AA love to you all,
Matt


it's that time of year again. Resurrecting this thread and saying thanks again, Paige, for posting the story of Irma Livoni.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
User avatar
ezdzit247
Forums Old Timer
 
Posts: 2077
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:38 pm
Location: California

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby clouds » Tue Dec 08, 2015 6:42 am

Yeah, I bet lots of us have been kicked out of places and organizations, fired from jobs, even disinherited and rejected by families. Not one of us could be kicked out of AA today though. Traditions rock!
" Burn the idea into the consciousness of every man that he can get well regardless of anyone. The only condition is that he trust in God and clean house." page 98 A.A.
User avatar
clouds
Trusted Servant
 
Posts: 1061
Joined: Mon Mar 23, 2015 11:45 am
Location: España

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby Feeya » Wed Jun 22, 2016 11:42 am

What an amazing woman Sybil must have been.
What a great story.
Someone seems to be cutting onions near my eyes...
Thank you for sharing that!
One day at a time.
User avatar
Feeya
Forums Contributor
 
Posts: 326
Joined: Sat May 21, 2016 6:53 am

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby ezdzit247 » Wed Jun 22, 2016 12:31 pm

Feeya wrote:What an amazing woman Sybil must have been.
What a great story.
Someone seems to be cutting onions near my eyes...
Thank you for sharing that!


I agree. Sybil was an amazing woman. There are other amazing AA women in AA's history, like Nancy O. and Marty M., one of AA's first lesbian members, whose invaluable contributions helped AA evolve into the amazingly effective, inclusive fellowship it has become today. Glad you like to read, Feeya. History is AA's greatest asset and the Yahoo AA History Groups, Silkworth and Barefoot websites have archived lots of great stuff from AA's early history.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
User avatar
ezdzit247
Forums Old Timer
 
Posts: 2077
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:38 pm
Location: California

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby PaigeB » Wed Jun 22, 2016 12:40 pm

Be sure and check out your LOCAL district archives too!
If I'm not able to say how I'm working my program today, then I'm not working my program.
The e-AA Group's 7th Tradition link: www.e-aa.org/group_seventh.php
User avatar
PaigeB
Trusted Servant
 
Posts: 10392
Joined: Fri Jun 24, 2011 12:28 pm
Location: Iowa USA

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby Feeya » Wed Jun 22, 2016 10:57 pm

ezdzit247 wrote:
Feeya wrote:What an amazing woman Sybil must have been.
What a great story.
Someone seems to be cutting onions near my eyes...
Thank you for sharing that!


I agree. Sybil was an amazing woman. There are other amazing AA women in AA's history, like Nancy O. and Marty M., one of AA's first lesbian members, whose invaluable contributions helped AA evolve into the amazingly effective, inclusive fellowship it has become today. Glad you like to read, Feeya. History is AA's greatest asset and the Yahoo AA History Groups, Silkworth and Barefoot websites have archived lots of great stuff from AA's early history.

I am definitely going to read up on that, thank you for the suggestion!
One day at a time.
User avatar
Feeya
Forums Contributor
 
Posts: 326
Joined: Sat May 21, 2016 6:53 am

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby PastDelegate57/65 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 4:12 pm

I cannot believe that this stupid story is still being circulated. As an AA History Buff, a Past Conference Delegate and countless other service positions in my 28 years of AA life, it appalls me how these thing keep circulating though AA Historians have refuted Sybil C, Matt M and their distortions of events. This thing was debunked years ago when they found the records of Irma Livoni showing that she died in 1974.

The story is the result of Sybil who was known to spin wild tales. Her Sponsee Matt M, who is nothing more than a drama queen, really kicked it into high gear. The ONLY truth in the entire article is the fact that the Group did ask Irma, who was disrupting their Group, to appear before a Group meeting to explain her intentions.....in other words, did she want to get sober or continue to stir things up. By the way, I have copies of the documents, her birth and death certificate, marriage records and gravesite.

She never showed up and was never seen again in Southern California AA. So years later, we get Sybil, who's only claim to fame is that she didn't drink and didn't die for a long time, decided to spin a tale it has been repeated. There are awesome opportunities to learn AA History, Traditions, etc out there folks. Don't fall for this nonsense. I have enjoyed the opportunity to carry the AA message all over the Country at Conventions and Service events. Myths and Urban Legends are many in AA. Don't be a sucker.
PastDelegate57/65
Forums Newcomer
 
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2016 4:01 pm

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby Brock » Thu Jul 21, 2016 4:40 pm

Thanks for saying what you did, and welcome here. The thing is well respected AA sites carry this story, places like Barefoot's World which many of us quote, and most of them welcome information from members, who have evidence showing where their site may be inaccurate. I would think the evidence might have been sent to them already and the inaccuracies corrected, but am not saying that their word is golden or is yours, but you have raised some possible doubt. Keep in mind the story says she died an alcoholic, it doesn’t say when, so just not sure what the various documents would prove, thanks again for the information it's interesting.
"Good morning, this is your Higher Power speaking. I will not be needing your help today."
User avatar
Brock
Forums Coordinator
 
Posts: 3171
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2012 1:45 pm

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby avaneesh912 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 5:34 pm

I cannot believe that this stupid story is still being circulated. As an AA History Buff, a Past Conference Delegate and countless other service positions in my 28 years of AA life, it appalls me how these thing keep circulating though AA Historians have refuted Sybil C, Matt M and their distortions of events. This thing was debunked years ago when they found the records of Irma Livoni showing that she died in 1974.

The story is the result of Sybil who was known to spin wild tales. Her Sponsee Matt M, who is nothing more than a drama queen, really kicked it into high gear. The ONLY truth in the entire article is the fact that the Group did ask Irma, who was disrupting their Group, to appear before a Group meeting to explain her intentions.....in other words, did she want to get sober or continue to stir things up. By the way, I have copies of the documents, her birth and death certificate, marriage records and gravesite.

She never showed up and was never seen again in Southern California AA. So years later, we get Sybil, who's only claim to fame is that she didn't drink and didn't die for a long time, decided to spin a tale it has been repeated. There are awesome opportunities to learn AA History, Traditions, etc out there folks. Don't fall for this nonsense. I have enjoyed the opportunity to carry the AA message all over the Country at Conventions and Service events. Myths and Urban Legends are many in AA. Don't be a sucker.


I love it. Never cared about history. There is too much atrocities going on in the fellowship today to worry about some stray incident which may or may not have occured.
Show him, from your own experience, how the peculiar mental condition surrounding that first drink prevents normal functioning of the will power (Alcoholics Anonymous, Page 92)
User avatar
avaneesh912
Trusted Servant
 
Posts: 4643
Joined: Fri May 30, 2008 12:22 pm
Location: Atlanta, GA

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby ezdzit247 » Thu Jul 21, 2016 5:43 pm

PastDelegate57/65 wrote:I cannot believe that this stupid story is still being circulated. As an AA History Buff, a Past Conference Delegate and countless other service positions in my 28 years of AA life, it appalls me how these thing keep circulating though AA Historians have refuted Sybil C, Matt M and their distortions of events. This thing was debunked years ago when they found the records of Irma Livoni showing that she died in 1974.... Don't be a sucker.


Interesting....but what is your point?

Are you alleging that the letter purportedly sent to Irma Livoni from the Los Angeles AA Group is a fake?


Dear Mrs. Livoni :

At a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Los Angeles Group of Alcoholics Anonymous, held Dec. 4th, 1941, it was decided that your attendance at group meetings was no longer desired until certain explanations and plans for the future were made to the satisfaction of this committee. This action has been taken for reasons which should be most apparent to yourself.

It was decided that, should you so desire, you may appear before members of this committee and state your attitude. This opportunity will be afforded you between now and December 15th, 1941. You may communicate with us at the above address by that date. In case you do not wish to appear, we shall consider the matter closed and that your membership is terminated.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS,
Los Angeles Group
Mortimer Joseph
Frank Randall
Edmund Jussen Jr
Fay D. Loomis
Al Marineau



As I posted earlier in this thread, while Matt M's version of the Irma Livoni story is urban legend in AA, no one really knows whether or not Irma drank again as result of receiving that infamous letter telling her that she had been kicked out of AA except Irma herself. What is known, thanks to Charles K.'s research over at Yahoo Groups, is that Irma had been incarcerated in a state mental hospital in 1940, joined AA in 1941, and never had anything more to do with the members of the Los Angeles AA group, including her sponsor Sybil, following her receipt of that letter. Public records in California indicate that Irma lived another 33 years after 1941, married Harold T. Craig in 1943, became widowed in 1956, died in Long Beach, CA in 1974 at the age of 67, and was buried with her husband at the Inglewood Park Cemetery in LA county. Since there is no record of Irma ever again being arrested or admitted to another state mental hospital, I am going to presume that God as I understand Him kept her safe, sane, and sober after she was kicked out of AA.
“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children...to leave the world a better place...to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” -- Ralph Waldo Emerson
User avatar
ezdzit247
Forums Old Timer
 
Posts: 2077
Joined: Tue Mar 11, 2014 4:38 pm
Location: California

Re: The Story Irma Livoni, circa 1941

Postby whipping post » Thu Jul 21, 2016 7:14 pm

Welcome Pastdelegate. Look forward to reading more from you.
User avatar
whipping post
Forums Contributor
 
Posts: 386
Joined: Wed Oct 29, 2014 10:20 am

PreviousNext

Return to The 12 Traditions of AA

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest