I frequently saw of draft letters come though. I dutifully sorted them into the right bin to get to the right person. I was wondering if I was going to see a letter with my name on it. What was I going to do if one did come though? I decided if I saw a letter with my name on it, I would try to avoid getting drafted. It finally occurred to me that if a letter came in for me, I could sort it into the wrong bin. When a draft notice was sent to a person, it had a “call up” date on it. The call up date was the day that the recipient had report to the draft board.
By law, there were a certain number of days the recipient had to have received the draft notice before they had to report to the draft board. If a draft letter took too long to get to me, then it would be void. The draft board had to re-issue a call-up letter and I would be safe for a while. Soon enough, a draft letter came addressed for me, I saw it, and slid it into the bin marked Zone 9, which is the west coast. The mail would go to the zone, and then be sorted by state where it would be re-routed to Indiana.
Finally, it would be sorted again, more finely, within the streets. By the time it got back to me, it would be too late for me to report to the draft board. I looked around and only saw my coworkers minding their own business. Nobody saw me put the letter in the Zone 9 bin, I was safe. I had to be careful; nobody could know I had done this. Getting yourself out of the draft for the war was against the law, you would be sent to jail if you were caught. If anybody found out that I had intentionally rerouted my draft letter I could get arrested.
I couldn’t let that happen. I had three kids and my family needed my income. Later in the mid-1990s, I tried to tell the rest of my family. My wife was there and basically told me to shut up. She didn’t want to know what I had done and she didn’t want anybody else to know either. If she knew, and if somebody asked her, then she might not have any choice but to tell on me. I later told the story to my youngest daughter, so the secret didn’t die with me. I got to go to college and become a doctor. I was excited to get to start my own practice and follow my dream.