Enthusiasm vs. Experience
Alfred Whipple, 20, and Sidney-Crouch, 21, lived for most of their lives barely three-quarters of a mile apart in Ledyard, Connecticut. They attended the same one-room grammar school; they graduated together from the same high school. Last week they died together on a mountain only a few hundred miles from home.
It was while watching White Tower, a film depicting the ascent of an Alpine peak, that Alfred and Sidney first got bitten by the climbing bug. Their enthusiasm grew with the conquest of Everest, and they read everything they could find describing Hillary's historic expedition. Before long they had acquired a mass of learning on the lore of mountain climbing. Unfortunately it was all book learning.
Last week, when young Whipple and Crouch set out to scale New Hampshire's 4,000-foot Profile Mountain, they were making their maiden ascent. Their equipment was improvised and inadequate: hiking boots rather than climber's shoes, large nails instead of steel pitons, less than 100 feet of cheap rope. The tragic result was all but inevitable.
The two friends, who died of exposure and fatigue on the bleak mountainside soon after a rescue party came to their aid, were mourned together in a double funeral service. "They were good hikers," said a friend in farewell, "but not climbers. They had studied the theory of climbing, but theory could not be substituted for the experience."
Known as GA by its members, Gamblers Anonymous is the self-help organization of compulsive chance-takers. At a recent GA meeting in the basement of St. Mark's Lutheran Church in San Francisco some 30 gamblers seeking the cure met with their wives, an anthropologist from Stanford University and four prison probation officers.
The guests sat in stiff, high-backed chairs, 10 to a row, four rows in all. At the head of the room was a card table and sitting behind it was a man named Larry, the founder of the San Francisco chapter of GA. Larry introduced the visitors (the probation officers were invited by a GA named Joe who had served time in San Quentin for bad checks) and turned to the business at hand.
"The fellowship of Gamblers Anonymous is the outgrowth of a chance meeting between two men in 1957," said Larry. "These men had a truly baffling history of trouble and misery due to an obsession to gamble. They began to meet regularly and as the months passed neither returned to gambling. They concluded that in order to prevent a relapse it was necessary to bring about certain personality changes within themselves." The changes were brought about, Larry continued, when the two men enlisted other compulsive gamblers and adopted a program of interdependent help closely patterned after the successfully established Alcoholics Anonymous. Today GA has a membership of about 170, with five chapters in California and one in Las Vegas.
Perhaps, said Larry, it might be hard for a noncompulsive gambler, mildly acquainted with horse racing and Saturday night poker, to appreciate fully the work of Gamblers Anonymous. He would, therefore, call upon some of the gamblers and let their stories speak for themselves.