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Great Jobs: Chapter 6-Getting Drafted

By Leocthasme

I had just turned 17 in May of ’41 and graduated from High School in June of that year. That is where I ventured into some of my early ‘positions’ that I mentioned.

Well, not much longer after I graduated, I was summoned before the Draft Board to begin the ‘mandatory’ year of service which was required in those days before the war began. This was the first step, examination and then classification. A1 and other A classifications meant you were on your way to service. B and so forth may have meant you were essential to your family or in some way an only support of your family. The last classification was 4F which meant you were ‘Unfit for Service’.

“Surely, I thought, I do not want any part of Army life.” My dad had passed on all the ‘good’ things he had experienced in WWI. If I have to be in service I would just as soon be a Marine. My two pals at School, had already joined, so why not me?

Well, as it happened, the draft board bussed me out to Jefferson Barracks, MO a recruiting point for much of the Saint Louis and Eastern Missouri area. There you were examined for everything from head lice to head problems. So, the first thing was to remove jewelry, watches, and glasses, ‘strip down’ and hit the line of doctors and shrinks. Everything went fine until I got to the doc who managed the eye charts.

“Read the bottom line”, he commanded.

“What bottom line”?

“Come on kid, let’s don’t be funny, read the letters from the top down”.

“I think that first one at the top is an E”, I ventured.

“Well, great, do you know the alphabet”? he asked.

“Sure do, ABCDEFG….”.

“OK, OK, read the next line”.

“What next line”? And I was not kidding, without any specs I was lucky to see the chart on the wall.

“OK, so you are going to be one of those smart alecks. See that MP over there? Get on over there, he will take care of you”.

Well I walked on over to the MP and stood there in front of him, naked as a jay bird, and finally he spoke up. “Get over to that counter and get some work clothes.. You are pulling KP, until we figure out if you can see or not”.

“OK, but can I have my glasses”?

“Look kid, watches, rings, and such are jewelry, and so are glasses. Get into those GIs and start policing the Parade Grounds”.

Well I policed the Parade Grounds for the next two days, while the army contacted my eye doctor. Good old Dr. Woodruff, who had been on my eye case since I was just over a year old, finally came through and told the army to ‘give me back my glasses, before I tripped over a tank or something’.

“Well kid”, said the MP, who had given me the clean up job, “Here are your specs and clothes. You can go on home, if Hitler or Hirohito ever invades South Saint Louis, we’ll give you a call”.

But now I had a classification of 4F.

What a put down.

Be sure to read July issue
for the next episodes in this series!
Click on author's byline for bio.


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