The evening of the very first lottery had everyone on campus glued to the TV or radio, save a few of us who had other considerations. I was facing a major Econ exam scheduled for early the next morning and, not being an A student, needed every minute of study.
Studying in an apartment with a TV blaring out life-altering numbers was impossible so I headed to the library stacks. This worked until about 8 or 9 pm when my girlfriend arrived, bubbling over with great news; my lottery number was in the 300s! Wow, was I relieved. That is until she told me that some of the five others she was watching for did not fare so well. Since she was prone to occasional lapses in accuracy, I immediately sought confirmation that she was absolutely sure about my birthdate and my number. She reluctantly admitted that she could not be 100% certain because she was watching for so many others.
That was it; I could no longer concentrate. I headed home to find my room mates watching the TV and on the phone. By now, it was near the end of the lottery and the broadcasts did not offer timely recaps of earlier drawings. If you missed your number, you had to wait an interminable time for it to reappear in some random order. Finally, we all confirmed our numbers. One room mate got a very disheartening number, around 130. The other was in the mid-200s. Mine was 364!!! What is more, the lottery used the first initial of one’s last name as the tie breaker. Mine was the absolute last letter, effectively making my draft number 365.
As I recall, the draft anticipated that numbers above 200 were unlikely to be called, but they never passed the mid 90s. I never knew anyone who was called. Oh yes, I got a B on my Econ exam.[Editor’s note: According to the Selective Service, the highest number called for duty from the 1969 lottery was 195; from the 1970 lottery–125; from the 1971 lottery–95]