In 1966 Tuli (Naphtali) Kupferberg published “1001 Ways to Beat the Draft”. I acquired a copy, but it was of little use to me as I was (at least at the time) fairly safe with my 2S (student) deferment. A couple of years later while living by myself in a tiny apartment on Borland Road near Cal State U at LA I was “invited” by my local draft board for a pre-induction physical.
The event was scheduled for the day before Purim, a day known as the Fast of Esther (Ta’anit Ester תַּעֲנִית אֶסְתֵּר). I arose early, skipped breakfast, and drove to the draft board’s office somewhere in downtown LA. When I arrived I joined a number of young men, none of whom I knew, or even looked familiar. We were told to strip to our underwear, put our clothes in cubbies, and were given little canvas draw-string pouches to hold our valuables (wallet and keys was all I had).
Standing in a circle facing the center an officer came around with a doctor and administered the “cough test” which was my first ever encounter with an inguinal hernia. This was followed by someone else, writing notes on a clipboard who asked each of us in turn:
“Do you have any scars or identifying marks”.
I replied: “Yes, circumcision.”
The officer asked me to spell it.
“C I R C U M …”
At that point, the officer realized what the scar was and (I guess) decided that it wasn’t sufficiently distinctive for his purposes. He looked at me askance and moved on to the young man standing beside me in the circle.
The following station on our physical exam was upstairs. We stood in line and one by one stepped onto a large scale (about a yard square). When it was my turn, the officer checked my height and adjusted the weights so that the balance would show my accurate weight. I’ve been rather thin my entire life. (My pediatrician told my parents that I was “slender”.) At that point in my life, the most I’d ever weighed was 114 lbs. The officer noted my weight aloud as “111 lbs.” I stepped off the scale to move onto the next part of the exam, but the officer called me back and asked that I stand on the scale again so he could take another reading. I stepped back on the scale and asked the officer if I should put down the pouch with my valuables. He grudgingly nodded his head yes. I put the pouch on a shelf beside the scale and he took his second reading: “110 lbs.”
I don’t remember anything about the remainder of the exam. It turns out that 111 lbs. is the minimum weight requirement to be drafted. I received a 1Y deferment, a temporary physical deferment. I imagine the army thought that someone might fatten me up so I could fight in Vietnam.
I fasted the remainder of the day. That evening I’m sure I ate some hamentaschen and may have gained the missing pound then and there.
Shortly after this experience with my draft board, the system changed to a lottery and my number was unlikely to be called.
Thank you, Esther!
This button dates from the Latke–Hamantash Debate during the 2008 McCain/Obama presidential election campaign.
your lapel buttons
Many people have lapel buttons. They may be attached to a favorite hat or jacket you no longer wear, or they are poked into a cork-board on your wall or collected in a jar. If you have any lying around that you do not feel emotionally attached to, please let me know. I preserve these for the Jewish people. At some point, they will all go to an appropriate museum. You can see most of the buttons shared to date.