On March 10th, I celebrate two birthdays: my physical birthday and my sobriety birthday.
Today I’m happy to report that I’m 53 years old and celebrating 18 years of living clean and sober. I’m one of those people who feel like life gets better with each passing year. Being sober is a huge part of that.
Yesterday my wife Laura and I made a pilgrimage to the home of Bill and Lois Wilson in Katonah, NY which is about 70 miles east of where we live. Bill was one of the co-founders of AA and Lois was a co-founder of AL-ANON.
The Stepping Stones Welcome Center is a converted two-car garage. Informational posters with photos line the walls and give the visitor background information on Bill, Lois, their life together, and the development of Alcoholics Anonymous and Al-Anon. They also have books, DVDs, t-shirts, hats, and other memorabilia for sale. The tour starts in this room with an introduction by a volunteer who then leads visitors through each room of the house, which is very much the way Lois left it when she died in 1988. (Bill died in 1971.) Lois had established the foundation with the intention of opening the home as a museum. The tour ends in Wit’s End.
Other than the kitchen table and Bill’s desk, photography isn’t allowed inside the home or Wit’s End. Click here for a virtual tour on the Stepping Stones website. It was hard not to take photos. Its a wonderful home with bulging bookshelves. Both Lois and Bill were big readers. If you’re curious about their reading tastes, click here for a spreadsheet of all the books in their house. The list includes three books by Willa Cather. I spotted two of them on the tour. It was also hard not to touch.
If you’re interested in visiting Stepping Stones, walk-in visits are not currently an option. You’ll need to make a reservation for their daily 1 p.m. tour. Volunteers told me they do fill up fast in the spring and summer, so start making plans now.
I am beyond grateful for the work of these early pioneers in the field of alcoholism and recovery. They have saved countless lives. I won’t go into detail about my story, but I will say it took me a bunch of tries before sobriety “stuck” for me. After 18 years, I still don’t take it for granted. One day at a time.
62 Oak Road
- AA: http://www.aa.org/
- Al-Anon: https://al-anon.org/
Congratulations, Chris. That’s a great achievement. (Linda)
Congratulations. What a lovely way to celebrate your double birthday.
Happy Birthday and congratulations!
Thank you, Chris, for taking us to the home of this quiet person who has helped so many. I loved reading his story and seeing how much his journey has impacted you and others. It’s a reminder to me that even doing things that seem small at the time can change the world for the better long after we are gone. In our political climate, I sometimes forget this.
I wish you happy birthday in every sense, Chris. This was a really interesting glimpse at the life and home of two people whose work has helped so many people. You make me want to learn more.
Thanks, Lory! They are such inspirations. I read Susan Cheever’s bio of Bill when it came out years ago and this visit made me want to read it again, and learn more about Lois.
Congratulations! And what a wonderful place to get to visit.
Thanks, Carol. It was a neat experience and always fascinating to learn more about their story.
Happy birthday on both counts, Chris. Eighteen years is incredible – well done! 🎈
Thanks, Paula! 😊
Congratulations to You! Every year is a milestone – I come from an alcoholic father and sober is the only way to go! One day at a time!
[…] weekend I wrote about visiting Bill and Lois Wilson’s home in Katonah, NY. My wife and I arrived before the welcome center opened, so we drove to town to take […]
[…] As a friend of Bill’s and a history buff, I’ve done some reading about the early days of Alcoholics Anonymous. Last year Laura and I visited Stepping Stones, the home of Bill and Lois Wilson, co-founders of, respectively, AA and AL-ANON. You can see some photos of our visit HERE. […]