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"Those Golden Years"
(p. 327, in 3rd edition.)
Stopped in Time
joys of retirement lay ahead for the movie
publicist. Safely pensioned, with no job to
protect, at last he could drink as he pleased."
of sobriety, according to one source, was December
1970. He was 75 at the time his story was written.
Raised in Kansas,
which was dry, he did not start drinking until
he had finished college, done a stint on newspapers,
married, become a father, and been in movie
studio publicity two years.
At age thirty-two,
and unaccustomed to drinking, he was assigned
to keep media guests happy at a Halloween party
given by a major star. At the party he got drunk
and threw up, and felt disgraced and humiliated.
He vowed never to be embarrassed like that again,
and though he continued to drink, he did it
with caution when in public. Most of his heavy
drinking was at home. (Not all hidden drunks,
he points out, are housewives.)
He retired at
sixty-eight, after forty years in public relations
for Paramount Studios. He had successfully hidden
his alcoholism until he retired. He had never
lost a days work because of drinking; never
been warned about his drinking; had not lost
his wife or family; had not lost his driver's
license; had never been in jail or a barroom
fight. He had managed to protect and maintain
an image of respectability.
he was free to drink as much as he wanted. He
lived with his wife who was a heart patient.
out that: "So long as a retiree woos his bottle
at home, he stays out of public trouble. But
for him, financial security or even affluence
can be a tragedy."
When Teet retired
he said he would never be bored because he wanted
to write novels, articles, short stories, and
scripts on which he had copious notes. Creativity
at the typewriter would keep him busy and alert,
He managed to
sell a few things, but his writing career could
be summed up in the couplet "Alcohol gave me
wings to fly/And then it took away the sky."
One day he remembered
a line from an Alan Ladd movie, Shane, on which
he had worked. "The trouble is, old man, you've
lived too long."
emerging rapidly as he approached his seventieth
birthday. Death seemed the only way out. But
first he had to empty the upper cupboard full
of empties so that they would not be found after
his death. His sick wife, who didn't know the
extent of his drinking, woke and caught him
at it. She gasped and he feared she was having
another heart attack.
him to go into action. That evening he poured
out the truth to her, admitting he was an alcoholic,
and telling her that he would go to A.A. He
attended his first A.A. meeting two nights later
and never took another drink.
of those forty years as a movie press agent
was that he had worked so long in a profession
where fakery, deceit, and untruths are tools
of the trade, he instantly recognized honesty
when he heard it, from the mouths of A.A. members.
He had said
he would not be bored in retirement. He was
not. A.A. kept his retirement years full. Not
long before he wrote his story he lunched with
another retired publicist who was close to tears
in describing his boredom. Teet could not help
thinking "You poor guy. I feel so sorry for
you. You're not an alcoholic. You can never
know the pure joy of recovery within the Fellowship
of Alcoholics Anonymous."
Teet died on
June 26, 1992.