Yesterday I was cleaning out some files and ran across my old DRAFT CARD. Nothing establishes Baby Boomer street cred like one of those relics.
Since I'm in no danger of being featured on Hoarders (Charlotte may be a candidate) I'm always finding stuff I wasn't looking for when I'm throwing out stuff I don't need.
I present the DRAFT CARD as EXHIBIT A. This thing was worn and fragile from being stored in my wallet longer than my first condom driver's license. I mean, c'mon, I know it wasn't the Dead Sea Scrolls, but it's a significant relic.
It was 1974 at the tail-end of the Vietnam War. I'd just turned 18 and had to register for the draft. I put it off as long as I could without serving time in Federal prison. When I couldn't delay it any longer, I registered at the Somervell County Court House in Glen Rose, Texas.
They had the Draft Board guy set up all by himself in a huge empty courtroom (think, To Kill a Mockingbird). When I opened the creaky doors to this high-ceilinged cavern I felt like I was paying a visit to the GREAT and POWERFUL OZ. Boomers, it was. Just. That. Creepy.
Long Hair - CHECK
Lots o' Attitude - CHECK
Scared Shitless - CHECK and DOUBLE CHECK
Looked at me.
Looked back at draft form.
"Young man, I have a question for you."
I thought he was going to ask if I was packed, because there was a helicopter outside that had a seat with my name on it. Next stop, Saigon.
"This draft form correct?"
I scanned my memory trying to think of anything I'd left out or fabricated. No, I hadn't checked the "conscientious objector" box. No, I didn't list my religious preference as "Quaker" (but considered it). In the box that said "sex" I hadn't written, "Yes, please". I wasn't my usual smartass self. This was serious.
I took two steps closer to the white-haired registrar.
One more step.
The guy smelled like vegetable soup and pencil shavings.
"Lemme see your eyes."
I wasn't stoned. But, it might've been a good idea.
"Your eyes BLUE or BROWN?"
He pulled out the biggest rubber stamp I've ever seen and slammed it down on my form with a THOMP!
"Next!" he bellowed to an empty courtroom.
Panic? You bet your ass.
In 8 days I received a DRAFT CARD certifying me as 1A and putting my Draft Number at "22" (that means they would draft guys from 21 other birthdays before they took my birthday - not too comforting when you consider I was ahead of 343 other guys in the same line).
I got lucky. Richard Nixon was elected on a platform promising "Peace with Honor" in Vietnam. The war ended and my draft days were over.
I'm through cleaning out files for a while. You never know what you're gonna find. Oh, and one more thing.
Those people on Hoarders are looking saner by the minute.