In the late 1970's and early 1980's, A.A. all over the St. Joseph river valley experienced a period of rapid growth, producing a huge influx of raw beginners, along with the creation of many additional meetings. Three of the old-timers got together -- Bill Peters, Don Helvey, and Marcel "Ben" Benson -- along with two other men who were relatively new to the program -- Chainsaw Clint Becker and Jan N. -- and put together a short piece called the A.A. Tools of Recovery, summarizing the seven most important things which they felt that these newcomers to the program needed to know. Benson was a Frenchman and Clint got his nickname from an incident that happened back when he was still drinking. He was working as a tree trimmer at that time, his wife got mad at him and locked him out of the house, and he cut the door out with a chainsaw.
The Tools of Recovery are still to this day read at the beginning of many A.A. meetings in Elkhart, Mishawaka, South Bend, and other parts of the St. Joseph river valley region along with reading the twelve steps.
Many of the good old-timers, like Submarine Bill and Raymond I., believed that it was important to repeat these basic principles over and over, until newcomers had them instinctively drilled into their heads, and could repeat them almost like a litany.
The first principle made it clear that the way an alcoholic kept from getting drunk was not to take even the first drink. The next five were the things that not only got people sober but kept them sober. Good sponsors like Bill and Raymond noted that those who relapsed and returned to drinking had almost invariably failed to do one or more of these five things in any serious and dedicated way. And the seventh principle was a constant reminder that A.A. meetings could not function properly unless members could talk about all of their feelings and anything that was bothering them, in an accepting and shame-free atmosphere, without worrying about whether it was going to be repeated outside of the group. That was a solemn pledge which the members of the group had to make to one another.
For A.A. in the St. Joseph river valley, the Twelve Steps and the Seven Tools of Recovery were the basic foundation stones upon which everything else was built.