We were I-S (student deferment), about to turn magically into I-A (fit for military service). It was December 1. All the TV rooms of Russell Hall were packed. I was a 19 year old junior in the chemistry department. I roomed on the 9th floor, and I think the 8th floor "student deferment death chamber" was the closest. That is where I proceeded… it was evening, I cannot remember the time, but I am remembering 9 p.m. Eastern Time.
The room was not solemn or glum. It was rowdy and boisterous, filled with invincible and immortal 19 year old men. Somebody passed the hat, like a church offering plate. and we were encouraged to throw in bills (not coins), with the winnings going to the student with the lowest lottery number.
Some guy in a suit, I presume the U.S. Draft Board director, emceed the TV proceedings, like a gameshow event. Nixon was the US President–he was not there.
Anyway, there were 366 numbers drawn at random from a glass cylinder. I do not remember a great deal of fanfare on the tv screen. I do remember SRO in the tv room. Our immediate futures were in the hands of the suits on TV. It reminded me of Jonathan Swift’s quote about the "confederacy of dunces".
The first number drawn was 258 (September 14), so all registrants with that birthday were assigned lottery number 1. That date was was affixed to a tote board beside the number 1.
When the lottery numbers were read, at least the first 100, there were lots of clapping, chanting, and yelling. The student who won was presented the hat with great celebration. I remember it was something like 80 dollars – a goodly sum in 1969 dollars donated by students.
I remember after the lottery, sometime in 1970, I boarded a free bus and was sent to Atlanta for my "pre-induction, post lottery military physical examination". Some on the bus had octagon soap affixed to their armpits, after hearing it would elevate blood pressure. Stories were numerous… go to a Dentist, have braces put on your teeth, etc., etc.
I had a high lottery number but my poor vision (I was about as blind as a bat) led to a I-Y deferment.
Many of my friends joined the Reserves to keep matriculating at UGA. Some of my friends immediately joined the Navy and Air Force, to escape the Army and Marine Corps. Some joined the Army and Marine Corps. Some never returned… those who went to Nam and returned received a less than warm howdy-do and welcome home.