Memories Of Gordon From Galveston


I have been thinking about some of the old-timers that I have been blessed to know. When I came into the program in 1990 there were Roy K. and Jess L. and Harvey A. Being from Oklahoma and I was in meetings with her, I knew Sylvia J. There have been some other wonderful people. I think of people like Jim E. From my memories Jim was the most gentle man. And Harry B. who was quite a character, always laughing. We don’t even talk about some of his stories. There was Frank C. from Southern California. Frank had business cards with his name, Frank and his phone number. And Frank made early morning meetings everyday. What humility.

I’d like to write about Gordon from Galveston. Gordon had been a Merchant Marine. Sometimes he would forget and use some of his colorful descriptions and language from those times. He had a gruff voice and was kind of rough around the edges. And, he always had time to talk. Gordon liked to go to young people’s AA conventions and retreats. He could really relate to them. Lots of difference in age but not in experiences.

Gordon always carried a gym bag with nylon cording in it. He also had marbles and some little slips of paper with a rhyme about the creations he made. If you ask anyone who was around in those days, they probably have a key holder or fob made out of a ball with a marble inside and nylon knots where the cord is being wrapped around 12 times for the Steps and other meanings.

For a new person coming to their first convention it was a status symbol to have one of Gordon’s creations and have him tell you the story of it. He was so good at reaching out to the lonely little person in the corner at their first convention and getting them involved. Gordon made people feel so special. He also carried a bottle that had two or three balls inside it to talk about the 7th Step. He would give you the bottle and say “can you shake that and can you get those balls out?” Of course it was impossible. Then he would take a piece of his nylon cording and slip it into the bottle and as he pulled it back out one of the balls would be caught and pulled out with the cord. He would explain that what we can’t do ourselves, if we hold on to God and ask him to do it, all is possible.

What a mentor he was for me. He walked his own path. He used string and marbles and empty bottles to talk about the spiritual concepts that are so hard to understand. He modeled for me that it’s okay to walk a different path and carry the same message a different way.

Often Gordon’s experiences were a little more raw than some of ours. He did not speak at conventions because his boundaries of what he shared and how he shared it were sometimes not what most of us considered appropriate. I don’t know if there are any recordings of him. He did so much for my recovery, and I would be so upset by some comments he made or descriptions he used. Nonetheless, he was my teacher and I learned so much from him. Not everybody has to be at the microphone to make an immense difference in people’s lives.

Gordon Ball & poem

Gordon pendant

Dave T. (The String Man), Oklahoma, USA

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