I received a high lottery number in 1970 but don’t recall the exact number, except that it put me pretty much out of harm’s way. What was curious is that I was classified as 4-F in 1969 and I didn’t expect to be in the lottery. I got the classification after my second draft physical notice in 1968 (my first was in 1965 when I quit undergraduate school and lost my student exemption, but got it back when I transferred to the UW) that came soon after I was arrested at the 1968 Democratic National Convention (no coincidence there!).
About 30 or so of us from the Madison campus were on that bus to Milwaukee in the early Spring of 1969, and many of them, as I was, were anti-war activists. And in that bus there were more feigned, imagined or exaggerated illnesses and maladies than you could find on WebMD today, more medical literature memorized in support of those maladies, more doctor’s notes and more shrink notes, and more pills and sundry substances pumped into so many bodies to elevate blood pressures, cause nausea, and induce diarrhea than you could have imagined packed into one bus, all in an effort, not always successful, to insure against acceptance into the military!
It took some weeks to recover from the damage they inflicted on themselves for this event. I for one had shrink letters which helped get me the 4-F classification, and I "got" the depression I claimed and ended up taking medication for it!
And I have to say that those doctors and other military personnel at the exam center were some of the most patient people in the world with all the shenanigans that went on there by our group. A lot of us were turned down just to get rid of us and end the chaos. We were really out of control and obnoxious.
But certainly I can recall that all of my friends and I watched that lottery intensely and cheered for those getting the high numbers, and shared the dismay of those who got the lower ones. I remember parents from all over the country calling to find out the good news or deliver it, or calling to commiserate with their sons when the news was bad.
I can remember a lot of drinking at those moments, whether the news was good or bad. We couldn’t afford the hard stuff so it was cheap gallon jugs of wine and beer.
Those were interesting times and the memories are not difficult to recall. The draft and the lottery shaped and changed our young lives then, and have left a tattoo on our memories to this day.