Saturday, February 4, 2012

The War Was At My Door

Life was good but life was complicated in early 1968. I had a burgeoning career in leather, a girl friend, a paying job and a good feeling about school I never had before. If I stayed in college, the draft couldn't touch me but I sensed a change was coming. The problem was that my love for leather work was interfering with school. My grades started to slip, I was missing classes and the lure of money and leather working was taking its toll. I dropped out of school. Not long after that, I approached the Milwaukee Organizing Committee to counsel me once again to a game plan to thwart the draft. The Selective Service System did what they needed to do and ordered me to a pre induction draft physical to determine if I was ready, willing and able to fight their little dirty war. I was up to the challenge and the game was on.

May 27, 1968 I was to report downtown for my physical. Armed with a manifesto from the MOC, I was about to do battle with the hated SSS. First course of action was to attach a whistle ring to my finger for vocal awareness that I was in their building. Next step was to share a hit of window pane acid with a friend and fellow pre inductee, Fred Hirsch. We tripped through the entire process high as kites. Both of us were determined to beat them. Instead of following orders about keeping our papers in order, we of course mixed them all up. We failed every written test they gave us. Being young and healthy we both were physically fit but MOC said that psychologically we would be unwanted if we could convince them.
For me the opportunity came when I failed the hearing test and they wanted to test me in a small individual booth. I refused to go in to this booth and just stammered that I was afraid. Remembering that the patients I had taken care of at the mental health center never knew why they were there and couldn't describe their illness if they tried was my key. I was ushered into to see the psychiatrist. He looked me over, saw the acid craze in my eyes, asked me why I wouldn't submit to the small booth and when I said I don't know that I am just afraid he muttered, "Unfit for military service, classify 4-F". I smiled inside.

My Draft Status - 1968

My friend, Fred Hirsch, who took the same trip that day was given the same deferment. We both were traumatized by that ordeal. Several months later he committed suicide.

My Wisconsin Identification Card - 1966

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