Topic: "Greetings" (8)
Such was the salutation that headed the most dreaded, if not the most numerous, pieces of mail delivered during the twentieth century. For the most part, these letters directed an individual to report for military service. The commonly held assertion during the first part of the century was that the message therein was "polite, but firm." During the latter half of the century the correspondence emanating from a local Draft Board created such a firestorm that it was eventually eliminated.
At the College of the Shire things were as they were throughout Middle Earth. Frodo and his friends came to believe that the War fought in Southeast Asia was not only a mistake in and of itself, but they grew increasingly aware of the fact that they were being called to fight on the wrong side. Coming to such a conclusion was both painful and divisive. It was during such a time that the following actually occurred.
He was a Republicant, and he refused to accept the fact that the US of A could ever make a mistake, do something illegal, or even act imprudently. " After all," he was fond of saying, "my Father serves on the local Draft Board back home, and he told me that they only call true, patriotic Americans to serve their country. Therefore," he added, "when my time comes, I will go willingly." Even at the College of the Shire, the commonly-expressed response to that diatribe was "Bullshit."
To prove a point, a cabal was born over copious amounts of 3.2% beer on a cold winters night. One of the co-conspirators had access to sheets of paper with semi-official looking headings of all kind. Little effort was required in the fashioning of a command to appear for a Pre-Draft Physical Examination. The heading "Greetings" was the first word entered to the body of the letter. According to the letter, the individual was directed to report to a specific address in his home county, at a certain time and date, in order to establish his physical capacity to serve.
Since the event was something every male over the age of 18 was required to experience, it did not strike the victim as too, too unusual that he was to report to the US Post Office near his permanent address in Bluefield, West Virginia, at 5:30 AM on the 17th of February, even though that particular day happened to be a Sunday. The letter further explained that the enclosed pre-paid ($17.50) Greyhound Bus Ticket from the terminal serving the College of the Shire to Bluefield would be matched by a return ticket to the College of the Shire and given to him upon completion of the Physical Examination. Furthermore he was warned not to eat or drink anything that morning, and that a box lunch would be provided to him prior to his departure from the location of the Physical Examination en route to the Bus Terminal in Bluefield upon completion of said examination.
The ticket was for a departure at 3:00 AM. The cost of the ticket, unknown to the addressee, involved contributions from 35 male classmates at the College of the Shire. The letter was postmarked from Bluefield and dated less than a week after one of the co-conspirators had gone home to Bluefield for the weekend.
It was later learned that the four inches of snow that fell during the night was matched by temperatures well below Fahrenheit defined freezing levels for water. It was unsurprising also that every commercial or governmental establishment was closed until after the Noon Hour services of the multitudinous number of churches in that faithful community. The first bus, by the way, scheduled to depart for the terminal serving the College of the Shire would depart at 3:00 PM. There was no return ticket or reservation listed (the military term for such an occurrence is SNAFU) on behalf of the subject of the cabal. The box lunch was obviously also misplaced.
The assumption existed for many years that said subject did not call his parents in order to come and get him because of a demonstrated level of pride extending beyond good judgment. It is also known that he never mentioned what took place on that day, even to those whom he had informed ahead of time about his planned Physical Exam. Frodo is sure they must have questioned him when he was actually called for a "more official" Physical Exam less than three weeks later.
Frodo was reminded of these events when he recently learned that the subject therein now lives in Texas.