When I turned 18 in 1968, the first thing I remember doing was reporting to the local office of the Selective Service System and registering for the DRAFT. Because I was in high school I was given a deferment until I graduated. After that, it was go to college or risk being drafted.
This was rather important as hundreds of American young men were being killed and wounded each week in the 30-year war being fought throughout Indo-China. I did not want to be one of them. Being killed didn’t unduly bother me — it was the fear of being wounded and permanently disabled or being captured and tortured that weighed on my mind.
If I had been drafted, I would have gone — that wasn’t an option. 4-F? No, I was healthy; no bone spurs, just fat. I suspect the DIs would have taken care of that without a second thought. It was, therefore, in my best interests to stay in school and go to college.
USC, UCLA, Harvard, Yale, . . . No, these kinds of schools weren’t in the cards. I was not an athlete; I was not an outstanding scholar; I was not a minority or hardship case — just an average student with a hard-working father and a stay-at-home mother doing their best to raise two boys in the turbulent sixties.
Use bribery to get John or me into a name school? What a laughable concept. My parents’ ethics would not have permitted it and our finances . . . well, we could afford Catholic high school tuition, but not much else.
For college there were two choices for me — Pasadena City College (our local 2-year junior college) or Cal-State Los Angeles (CSCLA), a commuter 4-year school. I chose Cal-State and the next year my brother chose PCC.
My high school diploma would have been enough to get into PCC but Cal-State required a minimum score based on high school GPA and SAT scores. I had no trouble getting in.
In our junior year we took the PSAT — no choice, we all did it — and my score was in the low 1200s (600+ in both Math and Language). I took the SAT in my senior year and, for practical purposes, duplicated my PSAT results. This score, combined with my 2.8 high school GPA gained me entry to Cal-State — and a continuing student deferment (assuming I stayed in school and kept my grades up).
Compared with my high school, Cal-State was easy. I could schedule my classes so I didn’t have to attend five days a week; there was plenty of time to study and do research in the library and I got a job in the Industrial Arts Department.
In a bit of irony it turned out that my high school Architecture (junior year) instructor was teaching architecture at Cal-State. Although I’d skipped the freshman drafting classes (upper class students had filled the spaces), I still needed to take them to fulfill the requirements for a minor in Industrial Arts (my major was History). He nixed the whole thing.
You already know this stuff and it would be a waste of your time and mine, he told me. I’d already come to that conclusion but requirements were requirements and an “Easy A” was an “Easy A” and good grades helped with my deferment. So, I ended up with an “A” in both classes but what I really did was draw his class examples and help out the other students. He was right; I really did know all the material, but repetition and helping others learn the material reinforced the knowledge.
December 1969 rolled around and the Vietnam War Selective Service Lottery came into being. It would assign a random number for one’s order of being drafted into the military for those of us born 1944-1950. To say that this was important was understating things. It was a matter of life and death. Have a low number and get drafted; have a high number no worries (short of a land war with China).
My best friend drew with a low number, finished his quarter at Cal-State and enlisted in the Army rather than be drafted and ended up, after training, being stationed in California for the remainder of his enlistment.
I ended up with an absurdly high number and dropped my deferment — eventually being placed in, if I remember correctly, the 1-H holding category.
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The next year my brother was also assigned an absurdly high lottery number but he didn’t like going to school as much as I did and enlisted in the Air Force. (He was one of those evacuated from Saigon on April 30, 1975.)
I graduated from Cal-State in 3 years. (Not because I was brilliant, but my high school taught me to work hard. I took “too many units” at times and did not take off the summer quarters.) When my classmates graduated, I received my “5th-year” teaching credential.
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I would like to know how President Bush (2) got into college. What was his high school GPA and what were his scores on his entrance exams, and college grades. Or, was it just a case of dad’s (Bush 1) connections and money that got, and kept, him in school. And, how he really got out of being drafted. (His Lottery number would have been 327 in 1970.)
I’d like to know the same about President Trump. By the way his Lottery number in 1970 would have been 356.
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President Trump must be impeached. — Carthago delanda est.