Chips/Tokens/Medallions

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Chips/Tokens/Medallions

Postby Tommy-S » Sun Sep 16, 2012 8:27 pm

A Little on the History of Chips/Tokens/Medallions

Q. Why do AA members use tokens, medallions, and chips to mark sobriety? When did that practice start?

A. The chip system is thought to have begun in Indianapolis in 1942. The tradition is believed to have started with Doherty S.**, who originally brought A.A. to Indianapolis. Doherty himself, in a letter to Bill, seems to indicate the practice originated in Indianapolis in 1942.

Nell Wing wrote in 1962 about the history of the chip system: "…The chip system might have begun in Indianapolis….reference was made in a letter from Doherty to the start of giving out ‘chips’ and ‘tokens.’ This was in 1942. I imagine this would be about right, because most of the early groups started in 1940 and it would take about a couple of years to think of anniversaries and marking any time of sobriety. I asked Bill about this and his memory is that the system started in Indianapolis."

In Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, it indicates that Sister Ignatia in Akron, working at St. Thomas Hospital, also used medallions: “Sister Ignatia gave each of her newly released patients a Sacred Heart medallion, which she asked them to return before they took the first drink. She would occasionally give out St. Christopher medals as well…” (page 195).
We don’t know precisely who started this system first, or when and how it spread to other groups. As with many things in AA, the exact nature of the history eludes us! (Frequently asked Questions on AA History)

http://www.aa.org/lang/en/subpage.cfm?page=287#siete


The Campfire Group

The practice of giving chips, medallions or some token of sobriety—particularly to newcomers—has been going on since the 1940s. The Mt. Vernon Group in New York, I understand, gave different colored poker chips to mark 1, 3, 6 and 12 months of sobriety.

I used to go to Mammoth Lakes, California, high in the Sierra Mountains, in the summer for the climate and the wonderful trout fishing. While they had several A.A. groups, there was one which I think was unique, the Campfire Group. This group held its meetings around an open campfire in a natural pine grove on Monday nights.

This group developed its own version of sobriety chips, which were handmade by one of the members. I had the pleasure of receiving two of these wooden chips for Birthdays I celebrated there. Unfortunately, the Campfire Group was put out of business in 1992 by neighbors complaining to the city about the fire hazard of the campfires.
Don McI., Burbank, California (Markings)
http://www.aa.org/en_pdfs/markings2-99.pdf

Thanks




** Doherty S, dry 3 years on his own, contacted AA NY in 1940. He became a pioneer of AA’s in Indianapolis. He also 12 – Stepped and Sponsored Father John Doe, who's "AA" became the basis of the “Little Golden Books”, which were later incorporated into “Sobriety without End” and “Sobriety and Beyond”
Together, we don't have to cave in or wimp out to that Fatal First One, no matter what today!
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Tommy-S
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Re: Chips/Tokens/Medallions

Postby leejosepho » Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:44 am

In Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, it indicates that Sister Ignatia in Akron, working at St. Thomas Hospital, also used medallions: “Sister Ignatia gave each of her newly released patients a Sacred Heart medallion, which she asked them to return before they took the first drink ...“

I once took a chip for 90 days or whatever, but my sponsor made me give it back because I had lied! ;)
=======================
"We A.A.s do not *stay* away from drinking [one day at a
time] -- we *grow* away from drinking [one day at a time]."
("Lois Remembers", page 168, quoting Bill, emphasis added)
=======================
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Re: Chips/Tokens/Medallions

Postby Tommy-S » Mon Sep 17, 2012 1:02 pm

Thanks Joe,

I had a 30 or 60 day poker chip in my pocket one liberty call overseas that saved my life.

I went into a store to get a sandwich or candy bar, and behind the counter were rows upon rows of liquor bottles. With the mirror behind them, it looked like thousands.

I started shaking, thinking about all the 'drinks' I was missing.

Out of habit, I thrust my hands into my pockets (we call them "Army Gloves"), and felt that Chip. I pulled it out, looked at it, and knew I didn't want to go through getting sober again (assuming I could). I didn't drink that day.

Today, I keep my medallion in my wallet... It's a source of embarrassment sometimes when I pull my wallet out, as the round indentation it makes looks suspiciously like the prophylactics we were so 'proud' to be carrying back in High School.

It's staying right where it is... I may need another 'reminder' some day :) Thanks
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Re: Chips/Tokens/Medallions

Postby Texan » Sun Oct 07, 2012 7:38 pm

The groups here in town give them out for each month of the first year, then at eighteen months, then annually from then on. I heard one old timer complain a few weeks back that since the practice of giving them each month of the first year, the attendance at Birthday nights held on the first Sunday of each month has dropped dramatically.
Keep on Keeping on, One Day at a Time.
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Re: Chips/Tokens/Medallions

Postby Tommy-S » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:35 am

Thanks, Bill

Of the groups I have been a member of, including my current home group, they give out the 1,2,3,5, & 9 month aluminum token when they are earned. (Those some groups have a token for each month). Others use just 4 colors of plain poker chips (24 hours, 1, 3, & 6 months...Reminders that we gamble with our life IF we stop doing AA)

For us, Birthday night at the end of the month is normally for those who have celebrated a yearly anniversary (complete with cake)

There is one group I know who does Not present a White Chip (24 hour poker chip), starting with 30 days.

And one of the local AA clubs has a tradition of giving a silver dollar...And drilling holes in the coin for each year sober.

In some of the prison meetings I was involved in, due to facility regulations, chips & medallions were not permitted, so we gave out paper certificates.

In Dubai, I was given a silver plate (about the size of a dog tag) with the Circle & Triangle on it for my 25th Anniversary by an Indian fellow... It was the most unique token I had ever seen

I imagine there are other ways, but it all comes down to celebrating AA success (and a good excuse to eat More cake :)

Thanks
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