I was living on Regent Street in Madison, WI as an undergrad at the UW on December 1, 1969, huddling around a radio with my five roommates listening to the drawing. I was the first one out, at number 150. Everyone else was well into the 200s, with a couple in the 300s. They referred to me as "the dead man" after that night. My number turned out to be high enough, though.
My side story on that first ever lottery is that I hadn’t been back to my parents’ home for some time because my mother had such a fit over the length of my hair, so I just stayed away. I didn’t make it "home" that year until the Easter break, at which time I saw a letter from the Selective Service System, addressed to me, sitting on the TV, which is where the mail was put until someone claimed it. My mother hadn’t forwarded it to me, probably in retaliation for my refusal to see her, for several months. You can imagine my shock when I opened it and saw a neatly typed "I-A" listed under my draft status instead of the expected student deferment (II-S). I made a bee line to the local draft board office, which was run by a lady whose last name was Ritter, but who was affectionately(?) known as Clara Critter to all of us who had to register with her. Clara told me that I had been reclassified because she hadn’t received any information about my enrollment from the UW. She handed me forms for the appropriate bureaucrat to fill out in order to restore my deferment while casually mentioning that my draft board had just about reached its quota for that year, and that they weren’t going to get anywhere near number 150. That was a surprise to me as I thought that the magic number marking the end of the to-go list was a national number. She assured me, though, that there was a numerical quota for each board, and that each board thus cut off at different numbers. There were enough slackers left from my high school class who hadn’t gone to college, and who had lower numbers than me, in order to meet her allotment for that year, at least according to her. I went through agony trying to figure out whether she was telling me the truth, or suckering me into becoming the next guinea pig for Nixon’s war. I took a deep breath and decided to play the odds, since my one year exposure was only a few months from completion. I had lived through most of my year of draft eligibility in blithe ignorance, so I ultimately concluded that I could survive another couple of months if need be. I didn’t return the forms, didn’t get my status changed, and didn’t get drafted. All’s well that ends well, I guess, although it’s tough to believe that, given the names on that wall in D.C.