I remember that night pretty clearly; after all, this first compulsory draft lottery was to be America’s ultimate game show. I was a sophomore at Duke. My roommate from freshman year, Darryl D. (who had been the freshman class president), had pledged, and invited me over to his frat house, Sigma Nu, to watch.
I don’t remember when it kicked off. I got there pretty early, and soon the place was packed, with all eyes on the TV set. It was set up almost like a bingo game — "Bingo!" in the worst possible sense of the word. There was a huge jar filled with plastic eggs, each egg containing a different month and day of the year.
Rumor was that there was a campus pool, and that the lowest number drawn got a bus ticket to Canada. People were drinking beer, but at that point, I was a "stoner" and not a "juicer." I remember the guy calling the first date, but it didn’t ring any bells, so I don’t remember what it was. On either the 2nd or 3rd date called, across the entire quadrangle you could hear a "Noooo!" go up, in a loud and extended wail. I remember that clearly. It provoked a lot of nervous laughter in the room.
I remember them calling my one year younger brother’s birthdate–he got No. 109. You were supposed to be "pretty good" at 200 and higher. Next year, when he was in it for real, my brother drew No. 44. He ended up enlisting in the Marines, hoping to get enough training to stay alive if he was sent over.
The numbers got up past 200, and neither my previous roommate nor I had had our numbers called. By this time, a bunch of the guys in the room had had their birthdates called, and there were a lot of "Oh, man" types of conversations going on. When we got over 200, people stopped trying to get other people to quiet down. Both Darryl and I felt like the Angel of Death had passed over our houses. He got something north of 300. Finally, they called June 18th: No. 341. I will never ever forget that number.